Law Society's 2008 Budget and Annual Fees
Convocation approved its 2008 budget with only a 3 per cent increase in lawyers' annual fees. This means the 2008 total fee for a practising lawyer in Ontario will increase by $52 to $1,653. The 2008 fee is still 5 per cent lower than the fee in 1998.
For more information, please see the Budget Summary and Finance Committee report .
Law Society's Certified Specialist Program revamped to boost participation
Convocation approved a proposal to continue and improve the Law Society's Certified Specialist Program. The changes are designed to encourage increased lawyer participation and enhance accessibility and awareness.
The decision followed a detailed review of the program and input from the profession.
The program will operate as follows:
- Certified Specialists will be entitled to include the credentials "C.S." after their names.
- The number of continuing legal education courses that Certified Specialists will be required to take has been reduced from 18 to 12 hours, with no specification regarding participation as a learner. The requirement for 50 hours of self-study for each specialty remains the same.
- The threshold for eligibility for certification as a specialist in any given specialty area is reduced to 30 per cent of practice in that area.
- A lawyer will only be able to be certified in two specialty areas at any one time.
- Applicants to the Certified Specialist Program must demonstrate that they have completed 36 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) specifically related to the areas of specialty, in the three years prior to application - which is an average of 12 hours per year. (The previous requirement was 90 hours of CLE over five years - or 18 hours a year.) As before, applicants must also demonstrate 50 hours of self-study in the area related to the specialty per year in the three years prior to application.
- The program application process will move to an administrative compliance process based on standards and criteria developed by the Specialty Committees. Speciality Committees played an essential role in the redesign of the program, initiated in 2004. The Committees put substantial time and effort into the development of criteria that are widely accepted within the profession as accurately defining the knowledge and skills requirements for each of the specialty areas. After three full years of application, these standards and criteria have proven to be extremely effective in benchmarking specialists and thus Committees are no longer required to vet each application.
- The Certification Board will be reconstituted to consist of between eight and 12 members, including one lay bencher and two elected benchers. The rest will comprise lawyers who are not benchers.
- The program will operate on a self-funding cost recovery basis from fees generated by lawyers applying for certification and from Certified Specialists who renew their certification. This will commence either by January 1, 2008 or as soon as possible - but not later than January 1, 2009.
For more information see the Professional Development and Competence Committee report.
New by-law clarifies lawyer's supervisory responsibilities over non-lawyers at set date courts
Convocation approved a new by-law that will allow non-lawyers to continue to appear in criminal court to set trial dates under the direct supervision of a lawyer with the express instruction and authorization of the lawyer.
The passage of Law Society By-Law 7.1 [Operational Obligations and Responsibilities] permits unlicensed persons to appear in set date court on behalf of lawyers, as long as the lawyer has:
- given the non-licensee express instruction and authorization to do so;
- has effective control over the non-licensee's provision of services;
- directly supervises the non-licensee; and
- assumes complete professional responsibility for the activities of the non-licensee.
The new by-law replaces most of Rule 5.01 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers, which has been revoked. Rule 5.01 will be replaced with a new rule on supervision that references the By-Law.
For more information, see the Professional Regulation Committee report .
October Convocation began with a series of committee and other appointments.
Bencher Janet Minor was appointed Chair of the Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee. Ms. Minor was also appointed to the Ontario Justice Education Network for a term of three years.
Bencher Avvy Go was appointed to the Human Rights Monitoring Group.
Bencher Mary Louise Dickson was appointed the Treasurer's designate on the Ontario Bar Association Council for a period of two years.
Jack Ground and Bencher Jack Rabinovitch were appointed to the Finance Committee. Mr. Ground was also appointed to the Hearing Panel.
Benchers Nicholas Pustina, Susan McGrath and Baljit Sikand were appointed to the Compensation Fund Committee.
Convocation also agreed that the Real Estate Issues Working Group be composed as follows:
Bencher Bradley Wright (co-chair)
Don Thomson (co-chair) (Toronto Practitioner)
Bencher Bob Aaron
Clare Brunetta (CDLPA)
Sally Burks (Ottawa Practitioner)
Ray Leclair (Ontario Bar Association)
Greg Mulligan (Orillia Practitioner)
Bencher Nicholas Pustina
Bencher Alan Silverstein
Emerging Issues Committee dissolved
Convocation agreed to dissolve the Emerging Issues Committee. The decision was based on improved processes that have developed since the Committee was formed in 2001 for dealing with new and emerging issues at the Society.
For more information see the Emerging Issues Committee report