Articling debate deferred to November 22
After vigorous debate, the Law Society's governing body, Convocation, unanimously agreed to defer a decision regarding a pilot project for the transitional training component of the lawyer licensing process, as outlined in the Articling Task Force's final report, Pathways to the Profession: A Roadmap for the Reform of Lawyer Licensing in Ontario.
A report prepared by a minority group of the Articling Task Force, Embracing Change in the Licensing Process: A Minority View (see page 70), was also presented.
Convocation came to this decision today following robust and informed discussion and, most importantly, the democratic process. There is wide-spread agreement that change is necessary; the question of just how to achieve that is complex.
Convocation will debate and vote on the majority and minority motions put forward in both the reports on November 22, 2012, to determine the best way forward.
More on debate and webcast.
Paralegal Licensing Process revised
The Paralegal Licensing Process will undergo revisions to strengthen entry-level standards through the addition of substantive legal knowledge to the licensing examination. The Paralegal Standing Committee recommended the revisions to Convocation for approval following the completion of the Law Society's Five Year Review of Paralegal Regulation and the Legal Needs Analysis. The Committee concluded that the Licensing Process must be strengthened to support the growth of the paralegal profession and the possibility of expansion into other areas of practice. The revision of the licensing examination will require three years for full implementation. Full report.
Lawyer conduct rules amended re: real estate red flags
Convocation amended the commentary to Rule 2.02 (5) of the Rules of Professional Conduct to add a section on Red Flags in Real Estate Transactions, related to the issue of knowledge of the fraudulent nature of a real estate transaction. This is an issue in certain regulatory cases in which lawyers are alleged to have engaged in illegal conduct. Full report.
Paralegal conduct rules amended re: communicating with a represented party
Convocation amended the Paralegal Rules of Conduct to clarify requirements regarding communications with a person who is represented by another licensee. The amended rule makes it clear that communications with respect to the matter at issue, rather than all matters including unrelated matters, are prohibited. An exception regarding the provision of a second opinion was also added. In addition, the rules were re-organized to consolidate all provisions on communications with a represented party into new Rule 7.02. Full report.
Default period for fee payment and annual report filing further amended
The default period for the payment of annual fees and filing of annual reports will be 90 days in 2013 and 60 days for subsequent years. In September, Convocation reduced the default period from 120 days to 60 days and approved the implementation of late fees. Further assessment following that decision identified that a phased implementation of the change from 120 days to 60 days would be less onerous on members. In recognition, Convocation approved the two year transition phase. Convocation also amended By-Laws 5 and 8 to implement the new policies. Full report.
By-Law 4 amended re: mobility
Convocation amended By-Law 4 [Licensing] to more closely mirror the language of the National Mobility Agreement. Full report.
Working Group on Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees
The Working Group on Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees reported its Terms of Reference to Convocation. The Working Group will identify the unique challenges faced by racialized licensees and develop preventive and proactive strategies to address those challenges. Full report.
Discrimination and Harassment Counsel rate increased
Convocation approved an increase in the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel ("DHC") hourly fee from $250 to $315. The annual budget for the DHC program will remain unchanged. Full report.
Human Rights Monitoring Group interventions approved
Convocation approved the following requests for intervention from the Human Rights Monitoring Group:
- Syria - arrest and disappearance of human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouk
- Haiti - threats and intimidation against lawyers Mario Joseph, Newton St-Juste and André Michel
Earlier in October, the Monitoring Group considered the case of the arrest, detention and prosecution of lawyers in Turkey, and in light of the urgency in the matter, requested that the Treasurer intervene through a letter of intervention. Full report.
Bencher Christopher Bredt was reappointed as the Law Society's representative on the Law Commission of Ontario for a term of three years. Bencher Gerald Sheff was appointed to the Tribunals Committee.