Legal Services Regulation at the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society: a progress update

The journey to Legal Services Regulation (LSR) has taken a major step with the November 17, 2017 approval by Council of several regulatory amendments to advance the Society’s initiatives. The result is a model of regulating legal services that is risk focused, proactive, principled and proportionate. Key components of the regime and the impacts on law firms are outlined on the NSBS website.

The NSBS continues to work with government so that amendments to the Legal Profession Act will be introduced in the spring of 2018. With the proposed provisions, the Society will then have the full range of authority required to fully implement the policies previously approved by Council to enable better promotion of the public interest and the expansion of innovative legal services.

An essential component of the Society’s transformed Legal Services Regulation framework is an enhanced focus on risk. By risk, the NSBS means ensuring that:

  • lawyers and firms are able to achieve the ten elements of a management system for ethical legal practice;
  • lawyers engage in conduct that reduces risks to the public; and
  • the Society identifies and responds to these risks in a proactive, principled and proportionate way, and achieves their Regulatory Objectives and Outcomes.

Developing and embedding a risk focus in the Society’s regulatory work is unfolding on a variety of levels, requiring both internal and external culture changes, as well as changing the conversation with lawyers to offer support and to work collaboratively to reduce risk.

Read more about the NSBS approach to risk and the steps that are underway to embed a risk-focused approach in their regulatory system.

Profile of a regulator: Victoria Rees

Victoria Rees – Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
Role: Director of Professional Responsibility
Background:
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.

ICLR 2017 – Panel: “Risk Based Approach to Regulation”

A synopsis of panel session 8, which takes place on 6 October at ICLR Singapore, kindly provided by the session’s  moderator, Victoria Rees.  Conference materials will be made available to ICLR.net members after the conference.

Moderator: Victoria Rees, Director of Professional Responsibility, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, Canada

Panelists:

  • Scott MacLean, Acting Executive Director, Investigations, Office of Health Ombudsmen, Queensland, Australia
  • Paul Philip, CEO, Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority, United Kingdom
  • Kolantha Sarogenei, CEO, Lockton Companies (Singapore) Pte Ltd., Singapore

With increasing demands and expectations of regulators in an increasingly complex legal services environment, risks to the public, to the profession and to regulators are greater than ever:  For example, we’ve seen the impact of technology on the provision of and access to legal services; the rise in cybercrime; growth in global legal service providers and multi-disciplinary practices; economic downturns; changes in lawyer demographics including an aging population and rural depopulation; etc.  A competent and relevant regulator must stay abreast and, where possible, ahead of these trends in order to prepare the legal profession for changes impacting it, clients and the public.

Those who regulate lawyers and the legal profession have a shared mandate to protect the public and users of the legal services we regulate. It is essential for effective public protection to understand and manage the risks to achieving that mandate, otherwise we are ourselves at risk of losing our respective roles in the regulation of lawyers. Further, by operating in a risk-focused manner, we are better able to target our limited financial and human resources where they will best protect the public, and enhance the trusted reputation of the regulator.

This session is designed to engage the audience in an interactive discussion facilitated by panelists with experience in various forms of risk assessment and management, and risk-based regulation of lawyers. Through our experiential-based stories, we will highlight the benefits, strengths, opportunities and challenges with this approach to legal services regulation, which can take many different forms.

Through this session, participants will learn about the Nova Scotia experience launching its new Triple P (proactive, principled and proportionate) and risk-focused approach to legal services regulation. You will hear about the successes and challenges faced by the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority as they have led the way in outcomes and risk-focused regulation; you will learn more about the current status of the Appropriate Management Systems approach and risk-based regulation in Australia, within both the legal and medical professional context; and you will hear stories and lessons learned from the perspective of the professional liability insurer for lawyers in Singapore.

To provide more detailed background and resources from these perspectives in advance, each panelist will prepare a paper citing practical and relevant articles, resources and tools. Important take-aways from this session will include: understanding how to identify risks which are impacting and may impact the provision of legal services, and regulation of lawyers/firms/ABS/MDP; how to manage and respond to those risks in a proportionate manner; and how to develop a risk-focused approach to regulation, regardless of the size or complexity of your jurisdiction’s current regulatory framework.

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

 

Transforming Regulation and Governance in the Public Interest

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society is building a new model of regulating legal services as part of its strategic plan for 2013-2016. This paper,  Transforming Regulation and Governance in the Public Interest, summarizes the results of extensive research in support of this work.

Transforming Regulation

Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society

Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
Jurisdiction: Nova Scotia
Country: Canada
Regulatory function: The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society is the regulator of admission, practice and discipline in Nova Scotia.
Further information:
Nova Scotia in the IBA Regulators Directory
Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society website
ICLR members: Log in for lists of associated ICLR members.