VANCOUVER - The Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, supported by $795,000 in funding by the Law Foundation of BC, is embarking on a three-year program designed to attract new lawyers to small and rural BC communities. “Access to lawyers in smaller BC communities is becoming a major issue as more and more non-urban lawyers get ready to retire”, said CBABC President Miriam Maisonville. “We want to ensure that the next generation of lawyers has the opportunity to learn from legal mentors in small town BC, and gain an appreciation of the values and benefits of practicing law in these communities.”
The Rural Education and Access to Lawyers (REAL) Initiative has six main components:
Funding for a Regional Legal Careers Officer position to promote practice opportunities in smaller communities, and match students with opportunities in local Bars.
Development of marketing materials and profile for regions at major recruitment events in Western Canadian law schools.
Funding for student visits to local law firms in smaller communities.
Fully funded summer student positions.
Ongoing liaison with local Bars to support articling positions and recruitment of new lawyers.
Oversight committee of lawyers and representatives of the law schools at UBC and UVic, and the Law Society of BC.
The Regional Legal Careers Officer for this Initiative has recently been hired. Michael Litchfield is a Yale County lawyer with experience in a large Vancouver law firm, a mid-sized regional law firm and as a sole practitioner in Kelowna, BC. Michael will be responsible for working with law firms, Bar associations and the law schools, to develop positive 'matches' of prospective lawyers and communities looking to attract new lawyers.
“Michael Litchfield is an excellent fit for a job that requires being a bridge between law students and law firms in BC’s regional communities,” said Ms. Maisonville. “Michael has already begun the process of placing law students into local summer positions, and we encourage any interested law firms and students to find out more on our website www.realbc.org or contact email@example.com.”
The Canadian Bar Association is the professional organization representing more than 38,000 lawyers, judges and law students in Canada, including 6,400 members in British Columbia.