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.
- 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. ”