Law societies sign mobility agreement at Vancouver meeting

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada met in Vancouver in November, at which time the law societies signed the new Territorial Mobility Agreement.

Under the Territorial Mobility Agreement, the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories law societies agree to join the common law provincial law societies in the National Mobility Agreement with respect to permanent mobility (the transfer of lawyers from one jurisdiction to another).

The agreement means BC lawyers will be able to become members of any of the territorial law societies without having to complete course work or exams. BC lawyers practising temporarily in the territories, however, will still have to obtain a permit from the appropriate territorial law society.

The Territorial Mobility Agreement will become operational as each territory enacts the rules necessary to implement the program. The Law Society of BC’s Benchers adopted rules at their November meeting to implement the agreement.

The Territorial Mobility Agreement will last for five years, during which time the territorial law societies can evaluate their ability to become full participants in the National Mobility Agreement, including the temporary mobility provisions. At the expiration of the five years, each territory will have the option of signing on to full mobility (both permanent and temporary) or withdrawing from the agreement.

The Law Society of Prince Edward Island also signed the National Mobility Agreement so that all common law provinces are part of both the temporary and permanent mobility programs.

The signing was part of the Federation’s annual conference, which took place in Vancouver November 2 to 4 and was attended by delegates from all Canadian law societies, including Quebec’s Chambre des Notaires.

Founded in 1926 and incorporated in 1972, the Federation provides a unified voice for provincial and territorial law societies on matters of national and international importance.

Ongoing Federation initiatives include:

  • preparation of a National Model Code of Conduct;
  • discussions with the federal Department of Justice concerning a protocol for law office searches;
  • monitoring World Trade Organization negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services;
  • refining provisions relating to interprovinical and territorial lawyer mobility;
  • discussions with the Canadian Payments Association on a protocol for cheque imaging and retention;
  • working with the Canadian Bankers’ Association on issues relating to timely provision of mortgage discharges by financial institutions;
  • ongoing discussions with federal government officials on anti- money laundering programs;
  • interventions in litigation where issues relating to the governance and independence of the legal profession are at stake;
  • CanLII, the national virtual law library;
  • the National Committee on Accreditation, which assesses and accredits foreign law degrees for purposes of applying for admission to Canadian law societies.

The conference included a presentation by the Barreau du Quebec and the Chambre des Notaires on practice inspection programs in their jurisdictions and how similar comprehensive practice inspection programs might be developed and introduced in other jurisdictions.

Delegates also heard from Nunavut Premier and lawyer Paul Okalik, who spoke about the evolving role of the Northern bar.

Federation elects new President

William H. Goodridge, QC, of St. John’s, Newfoundland was elected President of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada at the Federation’s Council meeting in Vancouver.

Mr. Goodridge is a partner at Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales in St. John’s. He was President of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001 – 2002 and was appointed to the Federation’s Council in 2003. He has served as Chair of the Litigation Committee and as a member of the Committee on Continuing Legal Education Programs. He was elected Vice-President of the Federation in 2005.

He practises in the areas of insurance, professional negligence, government regulated industries and municipal law.