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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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In this issue:
Changes to the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta
Law Society of Alberta Greets Two New Faces to the Bencher Table; Bids Farewell to Two Long-Serving Public Representatives

Changes to the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta

In-House Counsel Holding Trust Accounts

At the December Bencher meeting, the Benchers passed rules to enable in-house counsel to operate a trust account. Such accounts operated by in-house counsel will be brought into the Law Society trust safety regime, including reporting requirements and accountabilities.

View the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta.

Rules Regarding Approval of Common Law Degrees

Driven by the recent addition of new Canadian law schools Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, BC), Lakehead University (Thunder Bay) and the Université de Montréal (Montréal), the Federation of Law Societies of Canada established the Common-Law Degree Approval Committee in February 2012.

The Approval Committee considers new law programs, and decides whether they meet the standards for the competence of graduates, as well as institutional standards for the number and quality of staff, library resources, etc. The Committee has the expertise to determine whether the academic requirements and standards for competence in Canadian law are met and are sufficient for approval of a law degree program.

A number of Canada’s provincial and territorial law societies, including the Law Society of Alberta, agreed to respect the determination of the Approval Committee in order to avoid duplication of work at the local level and to ensure consistency across Canada. The Approval Committee is comprised of seven members with special expertise appointed by the Council of the Federation - four have regulatory experience in Canadian law societies and three are Deans at Canadian law faculties.

The Law Society Rules were silent regarding these approvals, although in 2011 the Benchers approved a report recommending that these approval decisions be made nationally by the Approvals Committee. On December 12, 2013, the Benchers passed rules to clarify that, for Alberta, the approval of Canadian common law degree programs will be decided by the national Approvals Committee.

The Law Society of Alberta has been active in these matters throughout the process, including the establishment of competence standards for law school graduates, the determination of the process for approving and monitoring law degree programs, and having an Alberta lawyer on the Approvals Committee.

Since 2003, we have seen an emergence of uniform national requirements related to different areas of practice of Canadian Law Societies, including the National Mobility program, enabling lawyers to move easily between provinces; the expansion of the National Accreditation program, to assess the competencies of lawyers with law degrees from outside the country; and a move toward national standards in areas such as the Model Code of Conduct, discipline standards, anti-money laundering rules, and national admission standards.

These programs of national standards are operated by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

View the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta.


Law Society of Alberta Greets Two New Faces to the Bencher Table; Bids Farewell to Two Long-Serving Public Representatives

Thank you Larry Ohlhauser, MD and Wayne Jacques, CA; Welcome Glen Buick and Robert Dunster

The Minister of Justice and Solicitor General has appointed two new Public Representatives as Law Society of Alberta Benchers. Glen Buick and Robert Dunster will join the Benchers for a three-year term, replacing Larry Ohlhauser, MD and Wayne Jacques, CA, both of whom have been vital members since 2007. We are also happy to announce Amal Umar, MA, will continue to serve as Public Representative, as her appointment has been renewed for three years.

We wish to thank Dr. Ohlhauser and Mr. Jacques for their many years of dedicated service to the Law Society. Their contributions have made a significant impact and their good work will continue to assist the Law Society in fulfilling its vision of being recognized as a model regulator.

The inclusion of Public Representatives helps the Law Society achieve its public interest mandate by adding a unique perspective to the Benchers. They are a vital link between the Law Society and the public it serves.

We thank all those involved in the selection process and we look forward to working with the new faces around the Bencher table.

Glen Buick has served in a variety of roles with both the provincial and federal governments throughout his career, including Former Assistant Deputy Minister, Cultural Development and as Canadian Ambassador to Chile (1978-82). Additionally, he has sat as Ministerial representative on several boards in the arts community in Alberta. Since retiring in 1994, Mr. Buick has chiefly devoted himself to family and volunteer activities. He is a recipient of an Alberta Centennial Medal and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Mr. Buick obtained his B.A. from Queen’s University.

Robert Dunster was a senior executive with the Provincial government for nearly thirty years, including working in the departments of Attorney General, Solicitor General and Justice. Following his retirement in 2005, Mr. Dunster served on the Edmonton Police Commission, the Board of the Canadian Association of Police Boards and is currently the Director and Secretary of the Edmonton Council for Safe Communities (Reach). Mr. Dunster received his B.A. from the University of Manitoba.


Marketing Matters

By: Law Society Practice Advisors

Thinking of renewing Yellow Pages advertising contracts? It may also be time to reflect on the most ethical and effective law firm marketing practices.

Chapter 3 of the Code of Conduct contains the rules governing lawyer advertising. No longer are lawyers bound by stodgy limitations mandating the publication of colorless vanilla business cards. Marketing should now facilitate access to justice by communicating useful information to the public about what lawyers really do. The public interest is best served when people can easily find the kind of lawyer they need in a location convenient to them.

But that does not mean lawyer advertising is a free-for-all. Canadian law societies require that marketing communication be true, accurate, verifiable and neither confusing nor misleading. Above all, it is expected to be "in the best interests of the public and consistent with a high standard of professionalism".

Also, respect for client confidentiality suggests that there is a very narrow scope for personal testimonials in advertisements. Practice specialization is not recognized in Alberta, therefore a lawyer should not claim to be a "specialist" or "expert".

Within these rules, lawyers are able to build a definitive “brand” by consulting advertising professionals, using a wide range of advertising media and targeting selected markets with thoughtful, professional advertisements. If lawyers have any questions about the ethical compliance of the marketing strategy, they may seek the Law Society Practice Advisors’ opinion on any aspect of it.


Family Law Town Hall Meeting

Court of Queen's Bench 
Courtroom #317
Edmonton, AB
February 5, 2014
12:30 p.m.


Missing Will

Ms. Doreen Lesyk is currently searching for the last will and testament of Mr. Gary Richard Lesyk of Bonnyville, AB who passed on December 16, 2013. Ms. Lesyk believes the will may have been executed by a lawyer in Edmonton. If you have any information regarding this estate please contact Ms. Lesyk by email or 780-427-8499.


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Law Society of Alberta
Calgary Office
Suite 500, 919 11th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta T2R 1P3
Phone: 403-229-4700

Edmonton Office
Suite 800, Bell Tower
10104-103 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 0H8
Phone: 780-429-3343

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