Message from the Outgoing President of the Law Society, Carsten Jensen, QC
My term as President of the Law Society of Alberta has come to an end, and so this will be my final message to the profession. It has been a terrific honour to serve the lawyers of Alberta, and the public, as a Bencher and as President.
We now have more than 9,000 active members of the Law Society of Alberta. When I was first admitted to practice in 1991, there had been fewer than that number admitted in the entire history of the province. Our profession has seen tremendous growth and change, which has mirrored the growth of the province of Alberta.
As a result, and in line with best practices elsewhere, the Benchers have adopted a more sophisticated approach to governance and regulation. This past year the Benchers developed our second strategic plan, which is intended to guide the Law Society for the next three years. We now approach our board role as policy makers, and we hire skilled and professional managers to work under our direction doing the actual implementation.
In our regulatory and adjudicative roles, the Benchers are more and more open to alternative approaches, and to remediation. We know that most lawyers who find themselves the subject of a complaint are not lacking in integrity, and we have worked hard to find ways to deal with complaints in a way that protects the public interest, while also helping the lawyers improve their practices where that is appropriate.
There will be a Bencher election this fall, and at that time the Law Society will welcome new Benchers for a three year term. I found it personally and professionally rewarding to serve as a Bencher and encourage you to consider if this might be a role where you could give something back. If you are interested in more information about serving as a Bencher, please contact any of the current Benchers to discuss that possibility.
I am also pleased to report that the national mobility regime for lawyers was completed this past year with the full addition of Quebec to the existing mobility agreement. Canadian lawyers now have full temporary and permanent mobility rights among all the Canadian provinces (and full permanent mobility with the territories). This is a huge achievement for our clients, for the profession, and for internal trade. Of course, lawyers are under a professional obligation to not take on matters in another province that is outside of their competence.
National mobility means, of course, that we will continue to work toward national standards on things like accreditation of legal education, articling, admission to the profession and discipline. That means that there will be a greater ongoing dialogue between the Canadian law societies, and much of that will be coordinated through our national body, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. We expect that the work of the Federation will be increasingly important to Alberta lawyers as these projects are completed.
The Law Society of Alberta is in very good hands with incoming President Kevin Feth, QC, and President-Elect Jim Eamon, QC, and with all of the dedicated Benchers and staff. I wish them all the best for this coming year.