Foreshadowing the Future

A single regulator for multiple professions

Foreshadowing the Future

No sooner had the Law Society of British Columbia benchers begun deliberating the Cayton Report, then the Attorney General announced intended legislation to regulate lawyers, notaries, paralegals, and other “future categories of professionals” under one statute and one regulator. This step continues the government’s goal of modernizing professional regulation in all fields in British Columbia. For example, realtors, brokers, and pension providers were brought under the BC Financial Services Authority on August 1, 2021. And, all self-governing health professions are regulated under the Health Professions Act, which the government is reviewing with the intention of further “modernizing” regulation.

So, what does this mean for lawyers? Well, the senior staff of the Law Society, Society of Notaries Public, and the leadership of BC Paralegals Association have been meeting with Ministry of Attorney General staff to discuss the parameters of a single statute. This has formed the basis of an Intentions Paper to be released by the Ministry this summer. With that in hand, CBABC will begin a series of Regulation Roundtables with lawyers throughout BC in August and September. Some will be virtual and others will be in person. The goal is to help lawyers understand the potential changes and share their views so that CBABC can bring lawyers’ perspectives to discussions with the Law Society and government as the legislation is developed for introduction in Fall 2023.

What do we know so far? The legislation will clarify “protecting the public,” including how to protect the public’s interest in accessing legal services and advice. It will have clearly defined scopes of practice for lawyers, notaries, paralegals, and others. And it will include “best practices in professional regulatory governance” — presumably a nod to the recommendations of the Cayton Report.

We also anticipate that the regulation will reflect the requirements in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. The experiences of Indigenous peoples, whether as professionals or members of the public, will be considered throughout the discussions. The current work of the Law Society’s Indigenous Engagement in Regulation Task Force will significantly inform that aspect.

The “what” of the regulator’s statutory responsibilities is critical to what comes next. Will the focus of the regulator be narrow, confined to admission to practice, scope and standards of practice, investigation, and discipline? Or will it be broader, to include programming, education, and advocacy for the public interest? Being a self-governing profession means that lawyers can make decisions on governance within the legislative framework, within the mandate of the regulator. It doesn’t mean those regulated can turn the regulator into an association, representing their own interests as a profession.

Once the function of the regulator is understood, we can move to the question of governance and other questions. And that is where we return to the Cayton Report. There is a tendency to jump to Cayton’s governance recommendations — how many governors, where should they be from, what skills and experience, how many members of the public, how many lawyers, notaries, or paralegals? None of those questions can be appropriately answered until we understand the refined
regulatory responsibilities. 

CBABC’s role is always to bring the experiences of members and their clients into the discussion to help those responsible for systems understand what is needed. Your role is to share that information with our Provincial Council, Board of Directors, and Executive Director. Give us a call, email What our members say matters and CBABC provides the power of a collective to advance members’ interests, particularly in this new era.