Message from the President: June Bencher Retreat Discussed Alternative Business Structures
By Steve Raby, QC, President, Law Society of Alberta
The June meeting of the Benchers is traditionally an opportunity to go into retreat and focus on an emerging issue.
For several days, Benchers met in Jasper with invited guests from several other Law Societies and discussed the theme of Alternative Business Structures: How the consumer interest changes the role of the regulator. As we strive to be a model regulator, we need to be aware of what is happening in the legal profession and with legal regulators across Canada and around the world.
The guest speaker, Samantha Barass, of the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England provided several insightful presentations on her organization’s consumer-based regulation which is risk-based and outcome focused. In England, the regulatory objectives are centred on protecting and promoting the public interest, improving access to justice, promoting competition in the provision of services, and increasing public understanding of citizens’ legal rights and duties.
In addition to independent regulation, the Legal Services Act sets out provisions for an independent separate legal complaints body, and new forms of legal service provision including 100 per cent non-lawyer ownership of law firms.
For the Benchers of the Law Society, this perspective helps us to understand some of the new regulatory models being implemented in other jurisdictions around the world, and the Benchers will continue to monitor the English developments.
Business Meeting Highlights
We were fortunate to have the Honourable Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Alberta provide an update on the changes happening within the Department of Justice and its new and ongoing initiatives.
The Benchers formally appointed and welcomed Bencher Derek Van Tassell to fill the vacancy left by Don Scott who was elected MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin.
The Benchers approved a motion to enable students involved in the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) process to enroll in the CPLED program while awaiting their NCA exam marks. Previously, NCA students required their marks before applying to CPLED which starts in September and October each year. Currently, NCA exam results are not available until November.