Law Society builds framework to prioritize access to justice across organization
A new framework, approved at February Convocation, will enable the Law Society to take on an enhanced role in facilitating access to justice. The new framework has two key components:
- Focused internal resources to fully integrate access to justice objectives, including equity principles, into the Law Society's core business functions: professional regulation and competence.
- Dedicated infrastructure to support an external collaborative forum - The Action Group on Access to Justice - to foster change and collaboration.
See report for more details (PDF).
Law Society to launch consultation on alternative business structures
The ABS Working Group received approval to consult with lawyers, paralegals and others, based on four potential alternative business structure models. The models consist of business entities that provide:
- legal services only, and allow non-licensees up to 49 per cent ownership
- legal services only, with no restrictions on ownership by non-licensees
- both legal and non-legal services, except those identified as posing a regulatory risk, where non-licensees would be permitted up to 49 per cent ownership
- legal and non-legal services and any other services, except where there is sufficient regulatory risk, where non-licensees would be permitted unlimited ownership.
The details of the ABS consultation process are being developed.
Convocation also approved the Working Group's recommendations to further consider:
- a framework for the regulation of law and paralegal firms and other business entities that provide legal services
- a compliance-based regulatory regime that would require licensees and law firms to have a process in place to respond to complaints
- potential revisions to Law Society rules and by-laws regarding fee-sharing, referral fees, direct supervision and ownership restrictions - to ensure they are proportionate to the risks they are designed to reduce.
The Working Group will report back to Convocation with recommendations based on the consultation, and on the other matters as appropriate. See report (PDF) for more details.
Paralegal Rules of Conduct amended to implement Federation's Model Code
Convocation approved amendments to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct to implement the Federation of Law Societies of Canada's Model Code of Professional Conduct. The Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines were also amended. The new rules come into effect October 1, 2014. Most amendments are minor, however some changes are more substantive and introduce new standards. The Law Society is developing new and updating existing resources to assist members and will offer CPD programs on the amended rules. The lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct were amended to implement the Model Code in October 2013. See the Law Society website for more information, including a summary of changes. See also the report for more details (PDF).
Process for consideration of TWU law school program announced
Treasurer Conway outlined the process the Law Society will follow to determine the accreditation of Trinity Western University's proposed law school program. More information, including the Treasurer's full statement is available on the Law Society website.
Federation's National Discipline Standards approved
Convocation approved, in principle, the National Discipline Standards of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. The standards are expected to come into effect January 1, 2015. See report for more details (PDF).
New Compensation Fund Guidelines approved
New Compensation Fund Guidelines were approved at February Convocation. Clearer and more transparent, the new guidelines replace both the former guidelines relating to paralegals and the former guidelines relating to lawyers. See report for more details (PDF).
Accreditation framework for paralegal colleges reformed
Convocation approved reforms to the Accreditation and Audit Framework for Paralegal Education Programs to establish more stringent standards and processes for approval of college programs. See report for more details (PDF).
Amendments and rule changes approved to implement enhanced Tribunals model
Convocation made housekeeping amendments to By-Law 3, the Adjudicator Code of Conduct and the Practice Direction on Adjournments. Convocation also revoked and replaced the Rules of Practice and Procedure, Forms and Tariff and the Appeal Panel Rules and Forms. The content of both sets of rules remain largely the same with the exception of housekeeping amendments. The amendments and rule changes implement the enhanced Tribunals model approved at June 2012 Convocation and the related provisions of the Modernizing Regulation of the Legal Profession Act, 2013 (Bill 111). See report for more details (PDF).See also the report from June 2012 Convocation (PDF).
By-Law 4 amended re: Pathways Pilot Project
Convocation amended By-Law 4 [Licensing] to implement components of the Pathways to Lawyer Licensing Pilot Project approved in 2012. The amendments also implement Convocation's November 2013 approval of the Lakehead University Faculty of Law's integrated practice curriculum. See report for more details (PDF). See also more information on the Pathways Pilot Project.
Human Rights Monitoring Group interventions approved
Convocation approved interventions in the following cases:
- lawyer Nimalka Fernando - Sri Lanka
- lawyer Le Quoc Quan - Vietnam
- lawyer Xu Zhiyong - China
- Chief Magistrate and Supreme Court Registrar Peter Law and Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames - Nauru
- lawyers in Uganda
- lawyers in Nigeria
- letter proposing collaboration between the Law Society of Zimbabwe and the Law Society of Upper Canada.
See report for more details (PDF).
Progress report on paralegal regulation delivered
The Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC) delivered a report on its recent work in a number of areas, including the passage of Bill 111, its licensing exemptions review, initiatives recognizing the status of paralegals, the strengthening of the licensing process and considerations regarding scope of practise. Because of the paralegal bencher election at the end of March, the February PSC report is the last report to Convocation from the current committee. See report for more details (PDF).
Law Society writes Finance Minister re: legal aid funding
The Law Society responded to the Government's invitation for input on the pre-budget consultation process with a letter regarding legal aid funding and the need to address inadequate financial eligibility levels. See the letter to The Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, for more details (PDF).
Consultation documents to be translated
In recognition of its commitment to provide services in French to members and the public, the Law Society will now produce consultation reports on policy initiatives on which the Law Society wishes to consult with the profession as whole, in both French and English. See report for more details (PDF).
Pathways Pilot Project evaluation process reported
The Professional Development and Competence Committee provided a report to Convocation outlining the process for the evaluation of the Pathways to Lawyer Licensing Pilot Project. See report for more details (PDF). See also more information on the Pathways Pilot Project.
Pre-proceeding consent resolution process to continue as pilot project
The pre-proceeding consent resolution conference (consent process) pilot project will continue for an additional two years to permit further study. The consent process is an expedited investigations and hearing process for lawyers and paralegals who admit to conduct allegations against them. See report for more details (PDF).
Territorial Mobility Agreement 2013 amended
Convocation approved housekeeping amendments to the Territorial Mobility Agreement, 2013. See report for details (PDF).
Audit and Finance Committee report
The decision item in the Audit and Finance Committee report was approved. See report for details (PDF).
David A. Wright was appointed as the Chair of the Law Society Tribunal. Bencher Mark Sandler was appointed as Vice-Chair of the Appeal Division of the Tribunal and Bencher Linda R. Rothstein was appointed as Vice-Chair of the Hearing Division. Members of both the Appeal and Hearing Divisions were also appointed. All appointments are effective March 12, 2014. See motion for details (PDF).