February 2008

Law Society to begin consultations on landmark proposals to enhance advancement of women in private practice
The Law Society released a landmark report identifying best practices to promote the retention and advancement of women in the private practice of law. The Law Society plans to consult with the profession about the recommendations in the report.

See the press release and the Consultation Paper for more information.

Paralegal budget and 2008 annual fee approved, start-up budget extended
The 2008 paralegal annual fee and operating budget were approved at February Convocation. The annual fee was set at $845.00. As the first paralegal licences will be issued partway through 2008, the annual fee will be prorated for the year. For example, paralegals receiving their licence in March can expect to pay an annual fee of approx. $635.00.

The annual fee includes a $625.00 general licensee fee, a $145.00 compensation fund levy and a $75.00 capital levy that applies to all licensees.

The annual operating budget of $1,868,500 covers the costs of paralegal related regulatory activities and the operation, maintenance and delivery of the paralegal licensing exam. The budget includes a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario for $300,600.

Convocation also voted to extend the start-up budget to the end of 2008 to cover on-going start-up costs, including licensing hearings for grandparent candidates. The start-up budget was first approved in February 2007 and is separate from the 2008 operating budget.

Significantly more grandparent and transitional applications were received than was originally estimated in the start-up budget. (Close to 2,200 compared to 1,200). As a result of the increased revenue from associated fees, the Finance Committee projects that there may be a small surplus in the start-up budget. A deficit of $1.5 million was originally projected.

See below for more information on the Paralegal Compensation Fund.

See Finance Committee and Paralegal Standing Committee reports for more information.

See also Law Foundation grants Law Society $300,600 for paralegal licensing process.

Rules of Professional Conduct amended to require two lawyers for transactions involving a transfer of title
Following consultations with the profession on new rules for real estate practice, Convocation approved Rule 2.04.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct requiring that there be two lawyers for transfers of title to real estate, one lawyer for the transferee (buyer) and one lawyer for the transferor (vendor). The two lawyers may practice in the same law firm so long as the general rules on conflicts of interest in Rule 2.04 are observed. The new 'two-lawyer rule' strengthens public protection in the electronic land registration system.

Rule 5.01 was also amended to advise lawyers that they assume complete responsibility for the work on the real estate matter for which they are retained by a client. The amended rule reflects the policy underlying the requirements of By-Law 7.1 [Operational Obligations and Responsibilities].

The amendments will come into effect March 31, 2008.

For more information see backgrounder and Professional Regulation Committee report.

Paralegal Compensation Fund provisions established
Convocation approved a series of provisions to establish the Paralegal Compensation Fund. The fund will be used to compensate clients who have lost money due to a licensed paralegal's dishonesty.

Licensed paralegals will finance the fund with a yearly levy. The levy for 2008 is $145.00. The per claimant limit was set at $10,000. Convocation also approved the Compensation Fund Guidelines for the processing of claims involving paralegals and the addition of two paralegal members of the Paralegal Standing Committee to the Compensation Fund Committee.

See Finance Committee and Paralegal Standing Committee reports for more information.

By-laws amended
A series of amendments were made to Law Society by-laws to make certain regulatory requirements applicable to paralegals. The first paralegal licences will be issued in the spring of 2008.

By-Law 6 [Professional Liability Insurance] was amended to implement the current requirements regarding paralegal insurance. Parts III and IV of By-Law 7 [Business Entities] was amended to permit paralegals to enter into multi-discipline partnerships with non-licensee professionals and to form affiliations with non-licensees. By-Law 9 [Financial Transactions and Records] was amended to implement policies on trust accounts, record keeping and the handling of client property for paralegals - the policies were approved by Convocation in September 2007.

See Paralegal Standing Committee report for more information.

Proceedings Authorization Committee expanded to include paralegal bencher
The Proceedings Authorization Committee (PAC) was expanded to include a paralegal bencher. The primary function of PAC is to consider requests to authorize hearings concerning the conduct, capacity and competence of both lawyer and paralegal licensees.

See joint Paralegal Standing Committee/Professional Regulation Committee report for more information.

Exemption from requirement to hold a paralegal licence
Pro Bono Students Canada, a program through which law students provide services to non-profit groups and public interest organizations, was granted an exemption from the requirement to hold a paralegal licence.

See the Paralegal Standing Committee report for more information.

Appointments
Bencher Heather Ross was appointed to the Professional Development & Competence and Government Relations & Public Affairs Committees.

Bencher Doug Lewis was appointed to the Small Firm and Sole Practitioner Working Group.

Bencher Christopher Bredt was appointed to the Professional Regulation Committee and as the Law Society's representative on the Law Commission of Ontario.

Bencher Bonnie Warkentin was appointed to the Priority Planning Committee.

Benchers Susan Hare and Paul Henderson were appointed to the Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee.

Bencher Roy McMurtry was appointed to the Law Society Medal/Lincoln Alexander/Laura Legge Award Committee.

See motion for more information.

Reports not reached
The Tribunals Committee report was not reached.

Agenda and Minutes

Reports

Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee

Finance Committee

  • Paralegal 2008 Budget
  • Extension of Paralegal Start-Up Budget
  • Paralegal Compensation Fund 2008 Levy
  • Denison Fund Applications (in camera)

Paralegal Standing Committee

  • By-Law Amendments
  • Request for Exemption: Pro Bono Students Canada
  • Compensation Fund Committee Appointment
    For Information
  • Projected Operating Budget and Annual Fee
  • Report on First Licensing Examination

Paralegal Standing / Professional Regulation Committees

  • Composition of PAC

Report of the Director of Professional Development and Competence

  • Deemed Call Candidates

Professional Regulation Committee

  • Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct Respecting Requirements for Two Lawyers for a Real Estate Transfer and Responsibility for Real Estate Transfer Documents
    For Information
  • Professional Regulation Division Quarterly Report

Tribunals Committee

  • Guidelines for Adjudicators Respecting Oral/Written Reasons for Decision
  • Publication of Tribunal Decisions - Dismissals of Applications
    For Information
  • Office of Counsel to the Hearing Panel

REPORTS FOR INFORMATION ONLY

Professional Development & Competence Committee

  • Certified Specialist Board Appointments
  • Quarterly Benchmark Report

Motions