July 26, 2001
New Bencher Elected
July's Convocation began with the election of new Bencher, Janet E. Minor, to fill the vacancy, created by Vern Krishna's election as Treasurer in June, in the number of benchers elected from the Province of Ontario "A" Electoral Region (the City of Toronto) on the basis of the votes cast by all electors.
Committee Assignments Announced
As one of Law Society Treasurer Vern Krishna's first items of business in his new role, the Treasurer announced Bencher assignments to the Law Society's various committees.
List of Committee Assignments
New Committees Formed Through By-Law 9 Amendments
Convocation approved several amendments to By-Law 9, to enable the creation of two new committees and the name change of a third to more accurately reflect its mandate. Section 2 of By-Law 9 was amended to allow the creation of an Emerging Issues Committee, and an Inter-Jurisdictional Mobility Committee, and to change the name of the former Legal Aid Services Committee to the Access to Justice Committee.
The mandate of the Emerging Issues Committee is to monitor emerging policy issues affecting the Law Society and the legal profession that do not fall directly within the jurisdiction of any other standing committee, to undertake and direct research into such policy issues and to develop for Convocation's approval strategic plans and other proposals relating to such policy issues.
The mandate of the Inter-Jurisdictional Mobility Committee is to develop for Convocation's approval policy options on all matters relating to the inter-jurisdictional mobility of members of the legal profession.
Law Society Appointment to Family Rules Committee
Convocation approved the appointment of Laurie H. Pawlitza of Goodman & Carr LLP as the Law Society's representative on the Family Rules Committee.
Budget Proposal for Virtual Law Library Approved
Convocation provided its approval to the budget for CanLII, the Virtual Law Library project.
At a meeting of the Federation of Law Societies in February, 2001, delegates were advised that approval of a three-year funding proposal for CanLII would be sought at the Federation's meeting in Saskatoon in August. Delegates were asked to seek authority from their respective law societies to approve the budget proposal at the August meeting. The projected cost per member of each law society in each of the three years is about $10 to $15.
One of CanLII's goals is to provide a resource to the legal profession that will make it possible for lawyers to have free access to a wide range of primary Canadian legal materials. It is already the case that the price lawyers would have to pay to purchase the equivalent publications and services available in the CanLII collection far exceeds the annual contribution of lawyers to the cost of CanLII. These potential savings to users of CanLII will continue to escalate as the collections on CanLII grow.
The software used to monitor the CanLII site shows that visits are increasing. In May, 2001, CanLII received an average of 16,604 hits per day, with an average of 7,301 pages viewed per day. The average number of visits per day was 542, with an average visit length of 13 minutes.
Report on CanLII - Virtual Law Library
Amendment to By-Law 36 (Discrimination and Harassment Counsel)
By-Law 36, adopted at June Convocation to make the office of the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel (DHC) permanent, was amended by Convocation to address issues with respect to disclosure.
By-Law 36 includes a requirement in subsection 6(1) that the DHC maintain the confidentiality of information obtained in the fulfilment of his or her duties. Subsection 6(2) provides that the By-Law supersedes any requirement in the Rules of Professional Conduct that may require the DHC, if a member of the Law Society, to disclose to the Society information about the misconduct of another lawyer. Amendments to the Rules were approved by June Convocation for consistency with the By-Law.
Convocation was of the view, however, that the DHC should not be prohibited from the permissive disclosure of imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm, as discussed in Rule 2.03(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Convocation approved the amendment of Subsection 6(3) of By-Law 36, revoking clauses (c) and (d) and substituting the following:
(c) disclosure of information where the Counsel has reasonable grounds to believe that there is an imminent risk to an identifiable individual or group of individuals of death, serious bodily harm or serious psychological harm that substantially interferes with the individual's or group's health or well-being and that the disclosure is necessary to prevent the death or harm;
(d) disclosure by the Counsel to his or her counsel; or
(e) disclosure with the written consent of all persons whose interest might reasonably be affected by the disclosure.
Report on Motion to Amend By-Law 36 - Discrimination and Harassment Counsel
Federation Delegate Re-Appointed
Bencher Gerald A. Swaye, Q.C. (of Hamilton) was re-appointed the Law Society's delegate to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada .
Advancing Cause of Justice in Zimbabwe
Convocation moved a motion to convey to the Government of Zimbabwe the Law Society's deepest concerns and strongest condemnations of the attacks by the Government of Zimbabwe on the principles of the independence and integrity of the bar and the judiciary and the rule of law, and to the principles of democracy, liberty, and responsibility, specifically and without limitation the forced retirement of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, and the intimidation of judges and officials in the administration of their justice system. The Law Society of Upper Canada called upon the Government of Zimbabwe to affirm and act upon an abiding commitment to the principles enunciated above, and thereby gain the respect of ourselves and the international community.
New Call to Bar Dates Set
Beginning in 2003, Convocation has determined that the Law Society will hold two ceremonial calls to the Bar - one in July, to be held in Toronto, London and Ottawa, and another in the fall, to be scheduled as the number of calls warrant.
The new dates were needed with the implementation of the Law Society's new model of the Bar Admission Course in May 2001. The new model introduced greater scheduling flexibility for students and shorter time between graduation from law school and call to the Bar. Under the new model and the flexible options, students will now complete the Course by either June or September, in the year following their entry into the Course. Scheduling two calls reduces the potential waiting period for call to the Bar following completion of the Course.
In March 2001, Convocation accepted the Admission Committee's recommendation that the year 2002 be treated as a transitional year, with one call to the Bar in September, and requested that the issue of call dates in subsequent years be brought back after further consideration.
Admissions Committee Report
Continuum of Legal Education Task Force Update
In April, 2001, Convocation approved Terms of Reference for the Task Force on the Continuum of Legal Education, to consider law school, pre-call and post-call phases of a lawyer's education and training.
Having considered the scope of its Terms of Reference, the Task Force was of the view that, while the time frame set out provides an important window of opportunity, it would not be possible to address the full range of the issues appropriately within this time frame.
Convocation, therefore, approved an amendment to the Terms of Reference for the Task Force, and directed the Task Force to report and make recommendations by April 2002, on issues related to the post-law school, pre-call component of the continuum.
Task Force on the Continuum of Legal Education Report