2009 Annual General Meeting of The Law Society of British Columbia

July 27, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Registration: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm (in Vancouver); 11:45 am – 12:30 pm (other locations)
Call to order: 12:30 pm

Main location: Vancouver

Audio-conference locations: Abbotsford • Castlegar • Fort St. John • Kamloops
Kelowna • Nanaimo • Prince George • Prince Rupert • Smithers • Victoria


Member resolutions to the meeting

In accordance with Rule 1-6(6), all member resolutions submitted to the meeting must be in writing, signed by two members in good standing and received by the Executive Director no later than 5:00 pm on Wednesday, August 19, 2009.

If you have any questions regarding resolutions or amendments, please contact Bill McIntosh, Manager, Executive Support, by telephone at 604 443-5706 (toll-free in BC 1-800-903-5300), fax at 604 443-5770 or email at bmcintosh@lsbc.org.

Business

The business of the Annual General Meeting will include the following:

  • Election of Second Vice-President for 2010
  • Appointment of Law Society auditors for 2010
  • Practice fee resolution
  • Member resolutions (if applicable).
Practice fee resolution

Pursuant to section 23(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act, the practice fee is set by a majority of members voting on a resolution at a general meeting or by referendum. The Benchers have resolved that the 2010 practice fee be set by a vote at the Annual General Meeting.

Resolution 1 – Practice fee, submitted by the Benchers

WHEREAS:

A.  the Benchers have determined that the amount of $1,320.04 per practising lawyer is required to maintain and operate the programs of the Law Society and to otherwise discharge its statutory mandate during the year 2010; and

B. the Benchers have determined that it is appropriate to advance the interests of the Law Society by paying per practising lawyer the amounts to the organizations indicated below:

 

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada

$20.00

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

$30.74

Pro bono contribution

$13.22

BC Courthouse Library Society

$166.00

Lawyers Assistance Program

$56.00

The Advocate

$27.50

BE IT RESOLVED THAT, commencing January 1, 2010, the practice fee be set at $1,633.50 pursuant to s. 23(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act.

Overview of 2010 fees

The Benchers are recommending no increase in the annual practice fee for 2010. The Benchers have determined that in the current economic circumstances, maintaining the annual practice fee at the 2009 level will still provide for a balanced General Fund budget (non-trust administration fee-related) with no use of reserve. The Benchers have also approved a $100 reduction in the Special Compensation Fund assessment and a $200 increase in the Lawyers Insurance Fund assessment. The increase in the insurance assessment is intended to help fund an expected increase in claims activity and reduced investment income as a result of the economic downturn. The result is that the total fees paid by members will increase by 3.1 per cent for insured members and decrease by 5.6 per cent for members who do not pay for insurance. The Bencher presentation on fees and associated budgets (PDF) for each Fund is available at lawsociety.bc.ca (see the link from this Notice of 2009 AGM in the Publications & Forms / Notices section).

 

Annual practice fee

$1,633.50

Special Compensation Fund assessment

$50.00

Lawyers Insurance Fund assessment

$1,600.00

Total

$3,283.50

2009 fees

$3,183.50

Increase (3.1%)

$100.00

Practice fee

The Benchers recommend a practice fee to the members based on a thorough review of the Law Society’s finances by the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee met with Chief Executive Officer Tim McGee and senior management to review the proposed 2010 fees and budgets for the General Fund, the Lawyers Insurance Fund and the Special Compensation Fund. The Finance Committee also reviewed the budgets and finances of the BC Courthouse Library Society, the Lawyers Assistance Program and the Advocate. Based on these meetings and reviews, the Finance Committee made recommendations to the Benchers regarding the fees for each of the funds. These recommendations were reviewed by the Executive Committee in June and approved by the Benchers at their July meeting.

The overall objective of the practice fee recommendation is to ensure that operations of the Law Society’s General Fund are appropriately funded to enable the Law Society to efficiently and effectively fulfill its statutory mandate of protecting the public interest in the administration of justice.

Law Society operations

The Benchers are able to recommend no increase in the practice fee due to careful consideration of all the operational and capital budget requirements for the Law Society operations funded by the practice fee. While costs will increase due to market-based salary adjustments and anticipated external counsel expenses, expense reductions have been budgeted based on expected efficiencies and the deferral of some capital expenditures to future years. These savings, coupled with an expected increase in revenue for 2010 (based on average practising membership of 10,300), will offset the budgeted increase in General Fund expenses for 2010.

Overall expenses are expected to increase by 3.5 per cent in 2010. Approximately 80 per cent of this increase is due to market-based salary and external counsel fees adjustments.

Other budgeted changes for the Law Society operations are:

  • increase in budgeted custodianship storage expense due to a growing number of files;
  • increase in budgeted human resources expense due to union contract renewal;
  • lower cost of publications associated with greater electronic distribution;
  • lower cost of support for online courses;
  • savings from paper reduction programs, electronic distribution of the Annual Report and other green initiatives.

Based on current conditions and projecting into 2010, trust administration fee revenue for 2010 is not expected to be sufficient to cover the cost of the Law Society’s trust assurance and forensic audit programs. Without an unexpected increase in trust transactions on which the trust administration fee is payable, it is likely that some increase in the trust administration fee will be necessary in 2010. The Benchers intend to monitor the trust administration fee revenue from now until the end of the year with a view to evaluating if any increase is required and, if so, how much. 

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada provides a national voice for provincial and territorial law societies on important national and international issues, such as anti-money laundering legislation and inter-provincial mobility. Most recently, the Federation has been instrumental in coordinating a national response to the Competition Bureau’s report on self-regulating professions and looking at national standards for admissions. All law societies will contribute $20 per member for 2010, a $3 increase over the 2009 allocations.

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)

CanLII is a not-for-profit organization initiated by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. Its goal is to make primary sources of Canadian law accessible for free on the internet. All provincial and territorial law societies have committed to provide funding to CanLII. The Law Society’s contribution of $30.74 per member for 2010 is the same as in 2009.

Pro bono funding

The Law Society supports pro bono programs throughout the province with a contribution to the Law Foundation of BC of one per cent of the General Fund portion of the annual practice fee. This is an ongoing commitment. The Law Foundation distributes the money to organizations offering pro bono legal services to the public.

BC Courthouse Library Society (BCCLS)

The BCCLS provides legal information services to the profession and the public, online and through 30 branch libraries. The Law Society’s contribution to the funding of the BCCLS in 2010 is $166 per member, unchanged from 2009.

Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP)

LAP provides confidential outreach, education, support and referrals to lawyers and other members of the legal community. Law Society funding for LAP in 2010 is unchanged from 2009, at $56 per member.

Advocate subscription

The 2010 subscription cost for the Advocate, distributed bi-monthly to all BC lawyers, is $27.50, unchanged from 2009.

Special Compensation Fund assessment

The Benchers have reduced the Special Compensation Fund assessment to $50 for 2010, a reduction of $100 from 2009. The decrease is made possible by the expected conclusion of Special Compensation Fund claims in 2010, and by the management of new defalcation claims under the Part B insurance coverage. It is expected that the Special Compensation Fund assessment for 2011 will be even lower.

Lawyers Insurance Fund assessment

Serious economic downturns have always generated increased claims activity in the one to three-year period following the downturn. Not only are there more reports of claims and potential claims, but the severity of claims is often greater. This is particularly true of reports related to lending and real estate transactions. In addition to increased claims activity, the current economic downturn has also affected the value of the Fund’s investments. Like investors everywhere, the Fund has experienced a reduction in the market value of its investments which will affect the available investment return. While the total investments remain sufficient to cover the Fund’s liabilities and provide some measure of reserve, the investment income which has offset some of the insurance costs in previous years will likely be less until the economy recovers.

As a result, the Benchers have resolved to increase the 2010 insurance fee by $200. This increase is being echoed in the insurance programs in other Canadian law societies and is the first increase in the BC insurance fee since 1993. It is hoped that an early modest increase in the insurance fee will generate sufficient revenue to offset the expected increase in claims costs and help avoid a more dramatic increase a few years down the road.

Total fee comparison with other law societies

For more information

If you have any questions about the proposed fees or the financial information in this notice, please contact Jeanette McPhee, Chief Financial Officer, by telephone at 604-443-5712 (toll-free in BC 1-800-903-5300) or email at jmcphee@lsbc.org.