The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch has submitted its recommendations to the Ministry of Attorney General of BC, in response to the Intentions Paper released in September 2022.
The Intentions Paper asserts that reforms to modernize the regulation of lawyers and notaries, and the introduction of regulation of paralegals, are required “to help make it easier for British Columbians to access legal services and advice”.
CBABC is a long-time supporter of a single regulator model to ensure efficiency and congruence in the regulation of lawyers, notaries and paralegals. However, that support is contingent on lawyers:
- maintaining independence and self-regulation; and
- setting strong parameters for:
- the scope of practice,
- criteria for education and competencies,
- an effective investigation and discipline framework, and
- the provision of satisfactory insurance coverage.
While CBABC agrees these reforms are an opportunity to introduce changes that will contribute to increasing access to legal services, public interest would benefit more from actions such as funding the family law legal aid system or increasing funding for court services and technology. For reasons outlined in the submission, CBABC does not accept the premise that changes to regulation of lawyers, notaries and paralegals will have the impact on access to legal services that the Ministry asserts.
In October 2022, CBABC hosted a series of virtual and in-person roundtables for lawyers, CBABC members and non-members, to provide their views on the proposed reforms. CBABC engaged its Provincial Council, a 75-member body of lawyers in all practice areas throughout BC. Several of CBABC’s committees and working groups, including the Access to Justice Committee, discussed the Intentions Paper and provided input. The submission is also informed by engagement with lawyers in Spring 2022 on the Report of a Governance Review of the Law Society of British Columbia, November 2021 to explore what changes could be made.
Furthermore, the Professional Issues Committee, led by a mandate to monitor and develop recommendations regarding regulation of lawyers, has been reviewing these principles for 18 months, while referring to CBABC’s previous work from over the past 10 years. Most recently, the Committee met with representatives of the BC Paralegals Association and BC Notaries Association. All of this study and engagement informs this submission.
Read the CBABC press release
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