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Alberta Law Society - Advisory

Thursday, April 05, 2012 (with revisions May 30)

Printable Version

In this issue:
From The President: Creating Awareness about Retention and Re-Engagement of Lawyers in Alberta
Biography of Steve Raby, QC
Executive Director’s Report: Retention and Re-Engagement of Lawyers in Private Practice of Law a Key Focus of Law Society
Integrated Competence Strategy a High Priority
Why Does the Law Society Gather Information from Lawyers?
Your Annual Fees at Work
Federation of Law Societies Promotes Cause of Justice
Common Law Degree Implementation Approved and Underway
Law Students Awarded for Academic Excellence
Play Your Part in Achieving Personal And Career Satisfaction
Agreement Extends Mobility to Members of the Chambres des notaires du Québec
Return to Law Practices Bring Challenges and Rewards
Retention and Re-Engagement Task Force Conceived as An Access to Justice Strategy
Trust Safety Program Builds Public Confidence in Lawyers
Trust Safety, Lawyer Regulation and the Small Firm Practitioner: A Dialogue with the Law Society
Frequently Asked Questions about Trust Safety Program Forms
Who May Act as a Barrister in an Alberta court?
Ethically Speaking: Procedural and Ethical Obligations Under the New ‘Drop Dead" Rule
A Neutral Corner: Preparing for Maternity or Parental Leave
Understanding the Challenges Internationally-Trained Lawyers Face
Summary of Disciplinary Matters

From The President: Creating Awareness about Retention and Re-Engagement of Lawyers in Alberta

By Steve Raby, QC, President, Law Society of Alberta
 
I am honoured to serve as President of the Law Society of Alberta in 2012. I am entering my ninth year as a Bencher and it has become very apparent to me that the pace of change in the legal profession is accelerating rapidly and there are numerous external pressures on regulators of the legal profession to not only make significant changes, but to reorganize themselves so they are nimble enough to respond quickly to the changing environment.

>>To read more, click here

Biography of Steve Raby, QC

Education and Credentials:
• U of A, LL.B., 1977; Called to the Alberta Bar, 1978
• Appointed Queen’s Counsel, 2004

>>To read more, click here

Executive Director’s Report: Retention and Re-Engagement of Lawyers in Private Practice of Law a Key Focus of Law Society

By Don Thompson, QC, Executive Director, Law Society of Alberta

Supporting the retention of women lawyers and lawyers from diverse backgrounds in the private practice of law is a key focus of the Law Society. 

    Understanding the changing demographics among lawyers enables the Law Society to be aware and proactive in developing policies and programs to support lawyers. The information gathered annually through its fee billing enables the Law Society see trends occurring, and to be proactive. 

>>To read more, click here

Integrated Competence Strategy a High Priority

By James Glass, QC, Bencher and Chair, Continuing Competence Committee, Law Society of Alberta

To fulfill a 2010-2013 Strategic Plan goal, the Continuing Competence Committee is researching and developing recommendations to the Benchers on an integrated competence strategy.

    As a first step in the integrated strategy on continuing competence, the Committee was asked this year to develop a definition of “competence”.  Considerable time and debate resulted in the Committee adopting the definition of competence in the model Code of Conduct. This definition is a working definition for the committee to guide its work.

>>To read more, click here

Why Does the Law Society Gather Information from Lawyers?

By Jocelyn Frazer, Equity Ombudsperson, Law Society of Alberta

Each year, the Law Society of Alberta gathers information from lawyers on the Member Information Update Form. Not only does the Law Society seek updated information for its records, such as current business contact details and email addresses, but it also collects statistics for its policy work. 

    Information from the form helps the Law Society to maintain accurate and up-to-date information regarding lawyers. Current contact details assists in our communications with lawyers.

>>To read more, click here

Your Annual Fees at Work

>>To read more, click here

Federation of Law Societies Promotes Cause of Justice

By Mona Duckett, QC, Bencher Representative to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada

Of the fees you pay to the Law Society of Alberta every year, $60 is sent on to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC). You’ve probably had little or no contact with the FLSC, so let me take this opportunity to tell you what you’re paying for. 

    The FLSC is the coordinating body of the 14 law societies in Canada. It is a voluntary organization, with no statutory foundation and has only the powers vested upon it by the consensus of its members. Those members are the regulators of Canada’s 103,000 lawyers and Quebec’s 4000 notaries. The Federation, like law societies, is mandated to act in the public interest.

>>To read more, click here

Common Law Degree Implementation Approved and Underway

By James Eamon, QC, Bencher and Chair, Credentials and Education Committee, Law Society of Alberta

The Law Society’s strategic plan includes promoting and ensuring high ethical standards and competence on the part of all those seeking admission to and practising law in Alberta. The Law Society has taken a significant step forward in this plan by accepting the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s proposal to implement a uniform national requirement for Canadian common law degrees. 

>>To read more, click here

Law Students Awarded for Academic Excellence

The Law Society is pleased to award the following scholarships, prizes and bursaries to University of Calgary and University of Alberta law students.

>>To read more, click here

Play Your Part in Achieving Personal And Career Satisfaction

By Marian V. De Souza, LL.B., Executive Director, Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society (Assist)

On the issue of retention in the legal profession, let’s say that by analogy, the Law Society is the employer. The Law Society governs who and what it takes to form a company. If we continue the metaphor then, as members, we are the employees. 

    The Law Society is obtaining feedback from members on the subject. Similar to an employer that conducts an employee satisfaction survey, it is important to understand the different things that motivate each of us. If, on the other hand, systemic issues are identified, hopefully, like companies that make the “Top Employer” list, constructive changes will be implemented to improve retention.

>>To read more, click here

Agreement Extends Mobility to Members of the Chambres des notaires du Québec

An addendum to the Québec Mobility Agreement was recently approved by the Benchers to extend mobility rights to members of the Chambres des notaires du Québec. 

    This now extends the scope of the national mobility agreement by facilitating reciprocal permanent mobility between the common law jurisdictions and the Chambres des notaires. The inclusion of the Chambre within the national mobility agreement now completes the mobility framework for all members of the Federation.

>>To read more, click here

Return to Law Practices Bring Challenges and Rewards

By Derek Sankey

Faced with relatively high rates of attrition among lawyers, particularly women, in the first several years of practice, law societies across the country are looking at ways to support and retain women in the private practice of law. 

    The Law Society of Alberta recognizes the importance of a diverse legal profession in serving the public interest in the delivery of legal services. With this in mind, it renewed its efforts in 2010 by forming the Retention and Re-engagement Task Force. Considerable research has been undertaken by the Task Force to further study the attrition of lawyers and where difficulties in the private practice of law are being encountered by lawyers.

>>To read more, click here

Retention and Re-Engagement Task Force Conceived as An Access to Justice Strategy

By Frederica Schutz, QC, Bencher and Chair, Retention and Re-Engagement Task Force

Created as an Access to Justice strategy, the Retention and Re-Engagement Task Force has been researching the issues affecting the retention and re-engagement of lawyers in the private practice of law. 

    The Strategic Directions report of the Law Society’s Access to Justice Committee identified the need for a task force to enhance access to justice for Albertans by developing programs and policies to retain and re-engage lawyers in the private practice of law.

>>To read more, click here

Trust Safety Program Builds Public Confidence in Lawyers

By Jim Glass, QC, Bencher and Chair, Trust Safety Committee, Law Society of Alberta

In its first full year of operations, the Trust Safety Program has successfully mitigated the risk related to financial loss arising from theft and errors. 

    Since it was launched, the Law Society has received over 1980 applications from law firms to operate/register a law firm. These also include the exemptions from operating a trust account as some law firms practise law without receiving or disbursing trust funds. Approximately 70 per cent of applications have been approved without conditions. 

>>To read more, click here

Trust Safety, Lawyer Regulation and the Small Firm Practitioner: A Dialogue with the Law Society

The “big picture” rationale concerning new regulatory measures and the Law Society’s Trust Safety program will be discussed at a CBA section north meeting in Edmonton April 26, 2012. 

    Jim Glass, QC, Bencher and Chair of the Law Society’s Trust Safety Committee, has been invited by the CBA’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Committee to discuss the needs and concerns of solo and small firm lawyers in this regulatory scheme. As well, the section meeting will provide important and constructive feedback on the Law Society’s program. 

>>To read more, click here

Frequently Asked Questions about Trust Safety Program Forms

>>To read more, click here

Who May Act as a Barrister in an Alberta court?

By Molly Naber-Sykes, Counsel,  Law Society of Alberta

Section 106 of the Legal Profession Act states no person shall act as a barrister or as a solicitor in any court of civil or criminal jurisdiction unless the person is an active member of the Law Society.  This provision ensures barristers are competent to appear in our courts, bound by the Code of Conduct, have liability insurance, pay into the Assurance Fund, and are subject to discipline by the Law Society.

    The cost of legal representation and difficulty in accessing representation has resulted in our courts frequently being asked to permit a non-member to advocate before them. The Law Society recently intervened in two cases, one criminal and one civil, in which non-members sought to act as barristers in an Alberta court.  The Court of Appeal confirmed an advocate must be on the rolls of the Alberta society or a reciprocating society in order to act as a barrister in an Alberta court.

>>To read more, click here

Ethically Speaking: Procedural and Ethical Obligations Under the New ‘Drop Dead" Rule

By Nancy Carruthers, Practice Advisor, Law Society of Alberta

Rule 4.33 comes into effect November 1, 2012 which is the new version of what we have affectionately dubbed the ‘drop dead’ rule.

It requires that a ‘thing’ be done to ‘significantly advance’ an action within the previous two years. If nothing has been done, a defendant can apply to strike a plaintiff’s claim.

>>To read more, click here

A Neutral Corner: Preparing for Maternity or Parental Leave

By Jocelyn Frazer, Equity Ombudsperson, Law Society of Alberta

Preparing for maternity or parental leave may be a cause of stress and anxiety for both lawyers and law firms.

There can be any number of reasons why a lawyer may take a break or a leave from practice.  Some firms have a sabbatical program, many have maternity or parental leave policies, other lawyers perhaps just want to spend six months each year in a warmer climate.  For lawyers considering any of these options, there are both practical and regulatory factors that need to be addressed.

>>To read more, click here

Understanding the Challenges Internationally-Trained Lawyers Face

The Law Society of Alberta will be investigating the challenges internationally-trained lawyers face in entering the legal profession in Alberta. 

>>To read more, click here

Summary of Disciplinary Matters

In this Summary of Disciplinary Matters, the Law Society of Alberta seeks to educate and inform lawyers on its role as an independent regulator in the public interest.

The hearing reports issued may correspond to the hearings held during this period, but may reflect hearings held earlier. All hearing reports are available at www.lawsociety.ab.ca  under Lawyer Regulation/Hearings & Outcomes/Hearing Reports.

>>To read more, click here

 

Notice: Annual General Meeting

The 2012 Annual General Meeting of the Law Society of Alberta will be held on:

THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2012
at the offices of the Law Society
500, 919-11th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta
commencing at 5:00 p.m.

The notice, agenda, and 2011 financial statements of the Law Society of Alberta and the Alberta Lawyers Insurance Association are available on the Law Society of Alberta website at www.lawsociety.ab.ca.  

 

Student Recruitment Dates

The 2012 recruitment period will be June 4 to June 15.   An employer may, any time after the commencement of the recruitment period, give notice to a student that it intends to make an offer of employment.  However, employers may only make offers of employment on June 12, 13 and 14 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Those offers must remain open for acceptance until 12:00 noon the following day.  An offer of employment may be made any time after the recruitment period.

 

Upcoming Meetings with Court of Queen’s Bench Advisors

Lawyers are invited to an open discussion regarding practices and procedures in surrogate matters with Justice G.A. Verville, the Northern Alberta Surrogate Practice Advisor; Justice J. Strekaf, the Southern Alberta Surrogate Practice Advisor, and the Surrogate Rules Committee. The meeting dates and times are;

Edmonton
Friday, April 20, 2012
12:45 pm – 1:45 pm
QB Courtroom 317

Calgary
Monday, April 23, 2012
12:45 pm – 1:45 pm
North Tower Courtroom 1800

 

Candid Conversations held with Women in Law

To encourage a dialogue between women in law practices on topical issues, the Law Society of Alberta recently hosted a “Candid Conversations with Women in Law.”

    The March 8th “Candid Conversations” event facilitated small group, roundtable discussions among women from various practice settings on topics of interest to them. In all, 49 women from the Edmonton legal community attended.

    Topics for discussion included marketing and business development; issues relating to maternity or parental leaves, and strategies for balancing personal and professional demands. Participants were grouped by area of practice or work environment and were joined by more senior practitioners with a view to facilitating an open discussion and the sharing of information, experiences and advice within the discussion groups. 

    The event was hosted by the Law Society of Alberta’s Retention of Women Working Group, in collaboration with Canadian Bar Association Women Lawyer Forum - Northern Section. Lunch was sponsored by the Counsel Network. 

    Initially assembled to organize a speaking panel at the University of Calgary to inform students on the realities of the first few years of practice, the Retention of Women Working Group has become a working group pilot project through the Office of the Equity Ombudsperson. For the past couple of years, the group has been engaged in various activities at the Faculties of Law Calgary and Edmonton to support and inform law students. The Working Group has also hosted other events including luncheons this winter at both Alberta law schools designed to encourage candid discussions between female law students and experienced women in practice which were very well received. 

    Based on membership demographic data, and reports from other law societies, we know there are challenges for new lawyers, and these often result in membership attrition in the first several years of practice. 

    While the Retention and Re-Engagement Task Force is examining this issue in greater detail, the working group is focusing on undertaking small initiatives with a view to providing tangible opportunities for lawyers to connect.

Lawyers interested in coordinating similar initiatives are encouraged to contact the Equity Ombudsperson, Jocelyn Frazer at 403-229-4769 or by email at Jocelyn.Frazer@lawsociety.ab.ca.

 

Networking with Other Lawyers on Parental Leave

Making the adjustment from full-time professional to full-time new parent can come with a steep learning curve. If you are interested in networking with other lawyers who are in the same situation, or if you’ve been there and have all the answers and want to share all your hard-earned knowledge, please contact Jocelyn Frazer, LSA Equity Ombudsperson by email at Jocelyn.frazer@lawsociety.ab.ca or by phone at 403-229-4769 or toll free at 1-888-229-4769.


 

Board Openings with Legal Aid Alberta

Legal Aid Alberta through a Nominating Committee is currently recruiting candidates to fill vacancies for one lawyer member and one public member on the Board of Directors. The 11-member board governs Legal Aid Alberta through policy, budget and business planning decisions.

Legal Aid Alberta is an independent organization that provides innovative and cost effective services for people in need throughout Alberta.

It operates under a Governance Agreement between Legal Aid Alberta, the Minister of Justice and the Law Society of Alberta.

If you have an interest in these positions please contact Pat Bard at 780-422-4403 or by email to pbard@legalaid.ab.ca or John Glass at 780-427-9988 or by email to jglass@legalaid.ab.ca for an application form and information package. The closing date for receipt of applications is April 15th, 2012.

For details, visit www.legalaid.ab.ca.

 

Trust Safety Program Based on Key Premises

This program is based upon the following premises:

  1. Alberta lawyers are committed to ensuring the safety of trust property for which they are responsible and recognize that there must be clear lines of accountability for trust property
  2. Competent and ethical lawyers are not trained as accountants. The Law Society has a role in providing clear guidance and direction to ensure the proper creation and maintenance of accounting systems and procedures.
  3. Not every lawyer may have the interest or capacity to create and maintain safe and effective accounting procedures. In those cases, lawyers should have an option to continue to practise while making arrangements with lawyers who have appropriate systems to safeguard trust property.
  4. New risks to the safety of trust property are constantly emerging.

Elements Form Foundation of Trust Safety Program:

As risks vary from practice to practice, the Trust Safety program implements the following elements:

Ensuring adequacy of initial procedures and systems for trust accounts.

  • Creating and supporting the position of the designated responsible lawyer from each law firm.
  • Conducting timely and effective audits.
  • Remediation and enforcement.
  • Continued excellence in risk management.

 

Feedback Sought on Trust Safety Program

Now that a full year has been completed, the Law Society will be conducting a comprehensive review of the program. The Trust Safety Committee’s first priority for 2012 is to determine if there can, in fact, be amendments to the rules, guidelines and forms that would streamline the same for the benefit of lawyers without materially adversely impacting the ultimate goals of the program. 

    The Law Society seeks your feedback on the Trust Safety program. Please email comments and suggestions to Trust.Safety@lawsociety.ab.ca by May 11, 2012. Feedback from lawyers and firms, which will be compiled together, will play an important role in the comprehensive review.

 

The Benchers and Executive Leadership Team

Stephen Raby, QC, President
Carsten Jensen, QC, President-Elect
Larry Ackerl, QC
Neena Ahluwalia, QC
Rose Carter, QC
Brett Code, QC
Nancy Dilts, QC
James Eamon, QC
Dennis Edney, QC
Fred Fenwick, QC
Kevin Feth, QC
James Glass, QC
Robert Harvie, QC
Carsten Jensen, QC
Sarah King-D’Souza, QC
Anne Kirker, QC
Gillian Marriott, QC
Frederica Schutz, QC
Donald Scott, QC
Tony Young, QC


PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES
Miriam Carey, Ph.D.
Wayne Jacques, CA
Larry Ohlhauser, MD
Amal Umar, MA

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM
Don Thompson, QC,
Executive Director
Howard Kushner,
Deputy Executive Director - Regulation
Michael Penny, QC,
Director, Policy & Research
Greg Busch,
Director, Lawyer Conduct
Lisa Sabo,
Director, Insurance
Drew Thomson,
Director, Corporate Services
Andrew Norton, Director, Business Technology
Nona Cameron,
Director, Human Resources

The Advisory is published four times a year for lawyers, stakeholders, and affiliates of the Law Society of Alberta. Articles and comments should be directed to Sheila Serup at Sheila.Serup@lawsociety.ab.ca  

Editors
Sheila Serup
Allison Jacoby

 

 

 

Printable Version

www.lawsociety.ab.ca
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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