Law Society makes regulatory proceedings more transparent
The Law Society will now start posting notices of application and referrals on its website, once they have been issued and served. Notices of application are documents that set out the allegations against a lawyer or licensed paralegal in Law Society regulatory proceedings. Notices of referral are documents that refer an application to the Law Society Hearing Panel for a licence to be issued or restored. Once a notice of application or referral for hearing is issued and served, the notice becomes a matter of public record. Previously, notices of application and referrals for hearing were distributed only upon request, and a summary of the notice was posted on the Law Society's website two to four weeks in advance of a hearing. Full report.
Conflicts of interest standard for PBLO's 'brief services' adopted
Convocation agreed to modify the standard for conflicts of interest for lawyers participating in Pro Bono Law Ontario's (PBLO's) court-based 'brief services' programs. This will allow lawyers to provide these services without performing a conflicts search, which could be time-consuming to the point where pro bono clients are unable to obtain assistance. The modified conflicts standard means that a lawyer may provide these services under the PBLO program unless the lawyer knows of a conflict of interest that would prevent the lawyer from acting. The Rules of Professional Conduct will be amended at a future Convocation to reflect the new policy. Full report.
Exemptions to paralegal licensing reviewed
The Paralegal Standing Committee has reviewed the exemptions to paralegal licensing that were established as the regulatory framework was constructed. Convocation approved the committee's interim report on exemptions, which made a number of recommendations regarding specific exemptions as well as recommending further consideration of the remaining exemptions. Full report
Pre-proceeding consent resolution conference approved
As an alternative to the regular investigations and hearing process, Convocation approved an expedited process for lawyers and paralegals who admit to misconduct allegations against them. The new process, called the pre-proceeding consent resolution conference, was approved as a pilot project and will be reviewed in two years time. Amendments to the Rules of Practice and Procedure to implement the process will be considered at a future Convocation.
Overview of new process
Lawyers and paralegals will be notified of the availability of the conference at the start of an investigation. A case can be selected for the consent process once the Director of Processional Regulation determines that it is appropriate for that process. This includes a full admission by the licensee, an investigation sufficient to establish that the regulatory issues are known and complete, and that the case is suitable based on the criteria set out in the policy. Once the Law Society and the licensee arrive at an agreement as to the facts and the penalty outcome, the Proceedings Authorization Committee must authorize the case for the consent process. The agreement is then considered by a resolution panel, and if that panel agrees, a notice of application is issued, and a hearing panel is convened to hear and decide the matter. Full report.
Paralegal Rules of Conduct amended re: duty to report to insurer
Convocation amended the Paralegal Rules of Conduct adding the requirement to report to an insurer an incident that may give rise to a claim on a professional liability insurance policy. Full report.
Compensation Fund Committee reconstituted
The Compensation Fund Committee was reconstituted as a more streamlined, five-member committee. The new committee will perform all committee functions related to the oversight of and policy-making for the Compensation Fund, including the grant approval function previously performed by the review sub-committee. Two lawyer benchers, one of whom will serve as chair, two lay benchers and one paralegal bencher will sit on the committee. Certain specific quorum and voting requirements were also established. Amendments to By-Law 12 reflecting the revised committee structure will be brought to a future Convocation for approval.
The Law Society will also recommend an amendment to the Law Society Act to enable licensed paralegals, who are members of the Paralegal Standing Committee but who are not benchers, to sit on the committee. Full report
Human Rights Monitoring Group
Convocation approved the Human Rights Monitoring Group's recommended interventions in the following cases:
- China - suspension, disbarment, detention and disappearance of human rights lawyers
- Colombia - illegal surveillance and harassment of lawyers and judges
- Syria - lawyers Haytham al-Maleh and Muhannad al-Hassani
- Turkey - lawyer Filiz Kalayci.
The Human Rights Monitoring Group was established to monitor human rights violations that target lawyers and judges as a result of the discharge of their legitimate professional duties. Full report.
The following benchers were appointed to the Law Society Medal/Lincoln Alexander/Laura Legge Award Committee: Glenn Hainey, Carol Hartman, Doug Lewis, Susan McGrath and Baljit Sikand.
The following benchers were appointed to the LL.D. Advisory Committee: Glenn Hainey, Carol Hartman, Doug Lewis, Susan McGrath and Baljit Sikand.