Law Society of British Columbia to Widen Access to Legal Services

On September the 10th the Law Society of British Columbia elected to make changes suggested by a task force on modernisation established this January.

The task force cited ongoing changes in the legal market, which have been accelerated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the pace of change in other jurisdictions, as to why change was needed.

Recommendations include:

  • evaluate how existing and emerging technologies can better support legal services and address regulatory impediments that exist in permitting their use
  • move to amend regulatory structures to allow for innovation in legal service delivery and alternative business structures while protecting the public
  • re-evaluate current regulations and restrictions on law firm ownership and investment, as well as multi-disciplinary practice and partnership structures to ensure they are not inhibiting innovation
  • advance its initiative on the regulation of licensed paralegals to improve access to legal services
  • regularly reach out to and develop resources to support in-house counsel and government lawyers
  • continue work on Indigenous legal services by understanding where more support is needed and listen to and work with Indigenous peoples to address that need
  • re-consider the accreditation process for lawyers in British Columbia, with special consideration given to how to incorporate more skills-based training into that process

The task force was set up with the following mandate: “Recognizing that significant change in the legal profession and the delivery of legal services is expected over the next five to 10 years, the Futures Task Force will identify the anticipated changes, consider and evaluate the factors and forces driving those changes, assess the impact on the delivery of legal services to the public, by the profession and on the future regulation of the legal profession in British Columbia, and make recommendations to the Benchers on the implications of the anticipated changes and how the Law Society and the profession might respond to the anticipated changes.”

And began the recommendations by saying: “Change is constant in all aspects of our lives, and this is true in the practice of law as well. Client expectations, competition among lawyers and with other professionals, technology, generational expectations, and societal norms all affect what lawyers do and how they carry out their practice in important ways. Society’s expectations of what lawyers do and how they should do it also change. How lawyers keep up with these changes is very important for the availability of efficient and affordable legal services and for the confidence that the public has in the legal profession as a whole, and equally important for the sustainability of their practices and their personal well-being. A legal profession that is incapable of achieving outcomes that resonate with what society expects is one in which the public will eventually lose confidence. ”

Read the full recommendations here (PDF). 

FLSC launches anti-money laundering and terrorist financing risk advisory for the legal profession

The Federation of Law Societies of Canda (FLSC) has launched a series of risk advisories and risk assessment case studies, designed to help legal professionals adapt to the new anti-money laundering rules. The rule changes are based on an FLSC model rule and have been adopted by Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The new rules particularly focus on client identification and verification.

 

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B.C. Paralegal Association supports LSBC creation of ‘licensed paralegals’

The Law Society is seeking input from the profession regarding a proposal to establish a new class of legal service professional who would hold a limited scope licence to practise in the area of family law. The concepts advanced in the scope of practice proposed in Schedule A of the discussion paper are not conclusions. They have been prepared to focus discussion. The Law Society will consider written submissions received by 5:00 pm on December 31, 2018.

Submissions on this consultation paper are collected under authority of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c. 165, s. 26(c). The information will be used to analyze and develop the policy initiative described in the consultation. Please note that all submissions will be published on the Law Society website. If you have any questions about the collection, use or disclosure of this information, contact Michael Lucas in the Policy and Legal Services department, Law Society of British Columbia, 8th Floor, 845 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 4Z9, 604.669.2533 or mlucas@lsbc.org.

Download the consultation paper and draft proposal

Read more from the local legal press on the Canadian Lawyer

A step closer to law firm regulation in British Columbia

The Law Society of British Columbia is considering regulating law firms for more efficient and effective regulation.  At their meeting on December 8, 2017, the Benchers* approved the recommendations of the second interim report of the Law Firm Regulation Task Force as amended at the meeting and resolved to initiate them through a pilot project that will be rolled out in 2018.  More details of this project will be posted to the Law Society’s website as they become available.

Read the full background to this initiative

* Benchers establish the Law Society Rules, the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia and board policies, including governance policies. The Benchers also oversee the implementation and administration of programs carried out by the Law Society staff.

80% of major jurisdictions use central qualifying assessment

In an international benchmarking exercise, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in England and Wales finds that almost 80% of the jurisdictions surveyed have a common assessment as part of lawyer qualification.

Press release on SRA website

Report on SRA website