September 19, 2002
New bencher elected
September's Convocation began with the election of Holly Harris as a Bencher from outside the City of Toronto. Ms. Harris fills the position left vacant by the election of Robert I. Martin as Regional Bencher.
National Mobility Agreement adopted
Taking another step towards national mobility, Convocation approved the Federation of Law Societies of Canada's National Mobility Agreement and authorized the Law Society to become a signatory to the Agreement.
Convocation also gave the go ahead for the preparation of amendments to By-laws 11, 22 and 33. Signatories are to implement the terms of agreement by approving whatever legislative, rule, or by-law changes are necessary. In the case of Ontario this entails amendments to By-law 11 (Call to the Bar and Admission and Enrollment as a Solicitor), By-law 22 (Appearance as Counsel in Specific Proceedings) and By-law 33 (Inter-Provincial Practice of Law). Once prepared, the amendments will go to Convocation for approval.
The National Mobility Agreement was accepted by the heads of Canada's law societies at the Federation's annual meeting in August. Each jurisdiction that wishes to participate in the enhanced mobility regime must approve and implement the terms of the agreement.
Under the agreement, which calls for the creation of a national registry of practising lawyers, lawyers can provide legal services in, or with respect to the law of another common law province or territory for up to 100 days on a temporary basis without permit. To be eligible to do so they must be entitled to practise law without restriction in a common law jurisdiction, have liability insurance and defalcation coverage, not be subject to criminal or disciplinary proceedings, and have no discipline record. Lawyers who are entitled to practise law in a common law jurisdiction and are of good character will also be allowed to become permanent members in another common law province or territory without having to pass transfer exams. The agreement addresses the needs of clients moving from province to province or doing business in more than one jurisdiction by allowing lawyers to more effectively meet their needs.
Inter-Jurisdictional Mobility Committee Report (including Federation Resolution on Mobility and National Mobility Agreement)
Design for Practice Enhancement Tool approved
Professional Development and Competence (PD&C) received approval to develop a tool that will enable lawyers to evaluate their own practice strengths and weaknesses. The voluntary practice enhancement tool will be designed to use self-learning, self-assessment, personal plans, support resources and consultation techniques to confirm or achieve quality measures in a lawyer's practice.
Highlights of the tool design include the following:
- lawyers will be able to evaluate their own practice strengths and weaknesses and will be given access to resources to improve their procedures
- the program will be entirely voluntary and confidential
- incentives will be provided to encourage lawyers to use the tool
- the tool will entail minimal ongoing costs following the initial design costs
The tool will be part of the practice enhancement component of the Law Society's competence model. Convocation agreed to defer part two of the practice enhancement component, the peer assessment pilot project, until there has been an opportunity to develop and evaluate the voluntary practice enhancement tool.
Professional Development, Competence & Admissions Committee Report including Practice Enhancement Program: Self-Assessment design
Implementing the Law Society's Competence Mandate: Report and Recommendations - March 22, 2001
New designation for Certified Specialists
Convocation approved the use of the designation 'Certified Specialist (area of law)' and 'Spcialiste agr(e) (domaine de droit)' by specialists certified by the Law Society to replace 'CS (area of law)' originally proposed in the Specialist Certification Business Plan approved by Convocation in June 2002 .
The new designation will come into effect with the launch of the reformulated Specialist Certification Program in October 2003 and will replace the notation currently in use "Certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in (area of law)" and "Reconnu(e) par le Barreau du Haut-Canada comme spcialiste en (domaine de droit)".
Professional Development, Competence & Admissions Committee Report
Resolution on Legal Aid adopted
Convocation adopted a resolution reasserting its continued commitment to the current certificate based legal aid system. In addition, Convocation supports an immediate increase in the basic legal aid tariff rate to $125 per hour and resolved to actively promote implementation of the increase with the Attorney-General. Watch for more coverage.
Motion Re: Legal Aid in Ontario
Working group to study ongoing survival of small firms and sole practitioners
The Emerging Issues Committee will set up a working group including sole practitioners and lawyers from small firms to examine and report to Convocation on the ongoing survival of small firms and sole practitioners. The motion to establish the working group, put forward by Bencher Judith Potter, was passed unanimously.
LAWPRO Report adopted
Convocation adopted the Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company's (LAWPRO) September report. Highlights of the report include a reduction in premiums and expanded coverage for 2003.
Please contact LAWPRO Customer Service for a copy of the report.
Ontario Bar Association Council appointments
Benchers Larry Banack, Judith Potter and Helene Puccini were reappointed to the Ontario Bar Association Council for a term of two years.
Canadian National Exhibition Association appointment
Larry Banack was appointed as the Law Society's representative on the Canadian National Exhibition Association.
By-law 16 (Professional Liability Insurance Levies) amended
By-law 16 (Professional Liability Insurance Levies) was amended to reflect the occasional practice criteria provided for under By-Law 33 and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada's Inter-Jurisdictional Practice Protocol.
Motion to Amend By-Law 16
Note: The Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee Report and the Professional Regulation Committee Report were not presented at this month's Convocation.