The Benchers have given the nod to new initiatives on trust assurance, custodianships, new firm practice and government relations, beginning this year
Priorities for the year ahead
In 2006 the Benchers and staff began work on a number of operational priorities to improve the Law Society’s effectiveness as a regulatory body and to assist BC lawyers.
Approved by the Benchers, these priorities will bring about changes in several areas:
A new trust assurance program – The Law Society is restructuring its trust assurance program in two key respects: 1) law firms will continue to file an annual trust report, but in most cases will no longer need to engage an outside accountant and 2) the Law Society will conduct regular audits in law firms on a six-year rotation, or more frequently if required. The program will begin in 2006 and be phased in over the next three years. It is intended to assist lawyers and their staff in meeting trust accounting standards as well as addressing serious trust problems where they exist. The program is funded entirely by the trust administration fee (TAF): see details below.
Custodianships to be managed in-house – Under the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society can apply for the appointment of a practising lawyer as the custodian of a lawyer’s practice to temporarily oversee or wind up the practice, such as in a discipline matter or following the death or illness of a lawyer. For efficiency and to reduce costs, the Society intends to manage many of these custodianships directly rather than contracting them out, beginning later this year.
Government relations strengthened – The Law Society is working to make its relationship with government more effective, to enhance all channels of communication and cooperation across ministries and to seek regular consultation on matters affecting the public interest in the administration of justice, the profession and the practice of law.
“New Firm Practice Course” coming soon – Early in 2007, the Law Society will offer a free, self-paced course via the internet to assist lawyers who are moving into solo or small firm practice. Lawyers newly setting up in small firm practice will complete the course, and it will be voluntary (and encouraged) for all others.