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.
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