Profile of a regulator: Victoria Rees

Victoria Rees – Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
Role: Director of Professional Responsibility
Employed in various management positions with the NSBS for 29 years
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Mother of three wonderful young men; 3rd degree brown belt in karate; love to travel; voracious reader; lover of all sports, especially American football (go Patriots!); gardener; pianist
Tell us more about what you do at work
I am responsible for complaint mediation, investigation and prosecution; ethics education and advice for lawyers; claims against the Compensation Fund; trust audits; conduct risk assessment and management; Fitness to Practice Program; professional responsibility policies and procedures; 
Tell us about your organisation’s remit
Independent Governing body for the Nova Scotia legal profession; public protection; access to justice;
What projects are you currently working on?

  • National Discipline Standards, including national adjudicator training standards
  • National Model Code of Professional Conduct
  • Joint Maritime Provinces Adjudicator Training program
  • Implementing new Legal Services and Triple P regulatory model
  • The longest and most costly disciplinary hearing in NSBS history
  • Implementing restorative justice principles into the Professional Responsibility process
What are the biggest challenges facing your organisation?

  • Implementing the new Legal Services Regulation model, effecting internal and external cultural changes, and collaborating nationally on similar changes
  • Changing demographics of the legal profession; e.g. ageing
  • Increase in membership fees due to high costs of discipline hearing – costs control
  • Organizational redesign to support new Legal Services regulation model
  • Achieving significant amendments to our Legal Profession Act and regulations in 2017-18 to support new regulatory model
What do you consider to be your greatest achievements in life, and in work?
a. In life? Raising 3 unique, engaging, interesting and kind sons despite many challenges
b. In work? Contributing to excellence in regulation and governance of the legal profession in various ways over 29 years
What is the most unusual/surprising thing you have had to deal with at the NSBS?
I could write a book! Things we have received in the course of complaint investigations: many photos of various body parts we’d rather not see; a large plastic container of used lottery tickets; ‘the case of the missing diamond ring’; ‘the case of the footsteps in the snow’; a box from someone in Russia of what looked like internal organs in plastic bags, but turned out to be various parts of a birthday cake wrapped in old sweatpants; a very tall articled clerk running into my office to hide while being chased by a very small one-armed lawyer; and lawyers calling ‘actus interruptus’ to seek permission to have sex with clients!
What are the biggest changes you have witnessed during your time as a legal regulator?
So many… probably the impact of technology on how we do our work, how lawyers work, client expectations, cybercrime, supporting global law firms; and changes in access to legal information which have impacted legal service providers and the role of lawyers
What interests you most about your work?
Understanding human nature and what leads good lawyers to make bad decisions; how to identify areas of potential risk and better protect the public; helping lawyers in dark places find the light; helping staff become the best they can be.
What are you most looking forward to about the conference?
Meeting new counterparts (and seeing old friends) and thought-leaders, hearing new ideas, engaging in commiseration and support; understanding global trends in regulation; sharing knowledge and experience.

Risk Regulation for the Legal Profession

Winds of change are blowing over the legal profession. Yet, compared to other professions and industries, legal services regulation remains very much a laggard. For the most part, legal services regulation remains rigid, reactive and complaint-based. These are not characteristics that are considered regulatory best practices. Recognizing this, a number of law societies are contemplating more proactive, compliance-based regulation. Indeed, some Canadian legal regulators have already turned those thoughts into action, most notably the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and the Law Society of Alberta.  The authors of this paper assert that Canadian legal regulators should continue down this path and move to risk regulation, a more focused and efficient system of regulation.

This paper has four parts:

  • Part I – an introduction and background to the issue.
  • Part II – sets out the normative case for risk regulation.
  • Part III – addresses the third aspect of risk regulation, using practical examples to illustrate how risk regulation is actually done. In doing so, the authors draw on examples from the regulation of lawyers in other jurisdictions, specifically England and Wales and Australia.
  • Part IV – the paper ends with a brief conclusion which discusses the significant cultural and operational changes required to move to a risk regulation regime.

Link to full report

Citation: Dodek, Adam M. and Alderson, Emily, Risk Regulation for the Legal Profession (August 25, 2017). Alberta Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Canada discipline process

These materials were presented at the 2016 International Conference of Legal Regulators.

Session title: Attorney Discipline System Intake and Investigation Procedures From Around the Globe: Comparative Analysis and Best Practices

Canada national discipline standards

Canada national implementation guide


Manitoba discipline process

These materials were presented at the 2016 International Conference of Legal Regulators.

Session title: Attorney Discipline System Intake and Investigation Procedures From Around the Globe: Comparative Analysis and Best Practices

Manitoba discipline overview

Manitoba orientation manual

Manitoba suspension restriction guideline


Trends in global and Canadian lawyer regulation

This article examines Canadian lawyer regulation in light of the global trends challenging regulators worldwide. It explains why it is important for Canadian lawyers, regulators, clients, and other stakeholders to be aware of these global trends. The article also addresses the issue of whether these trends matter in a jurisdiction such as Saskatchewan that is not a global financial center on the order of New York, London or Toronto. The answer the article provides is “yes” – these trends are relevant to Saskatchewan and to jurisdictions throughout the world that care about lawyer regulation.

Terry, Laurel S., Trends in Global and Canadian Lawyer Regulation (2013). 76 Saskatchewan L. Rev. 145 (2013); Penn State Law Research Paper No. 24-2013. Available at SSRN:

This article was also presented at the 2016 International Conference of Legal Regulators.

Session title: Rethinking the application of technology to regulatory work

Trends in Global and Canadian Lawyer Regulation


Equity and Diversity in Nova Scotia’s Entity Regulation Management System

This paper was prepared for the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society as part of its programme to transform regulation. The paper sets out the equity mandate of the Society, and emphasizes that institutional continuity requires these values not be lost in the transition to entity regulation. It articulates the case for equity and diversity in entity regulation, and demonstrates that equity is fundamental in achieving access to justice. It identifies opportunities for equity and diversity to inform the regulatory framework, and discusses next steps to ensure equity becomes internalized both at the Society and within the entities it regulates.

Equity and Diversity in Nova Scotia