by R Dale Janowsky, QC
Years of education (minimum six years university, one year articling) plus years of experience provide a lawyer with the training to guide clients through the legal processes of daily life. Of all that we have learned, first and foremost, it is to act in the best interest of our clients, including our clients’ right to choose who represents them.
One of the fundamental rights of every citizen is that of choice. Governments build their political platforms on the right to choose. Their constituents usually reject monopolistic practices. Whether it is choosing representation in parliament, purchasing a new automobile, finding an appropriate financial institution or selling a home or business, citizens want the right to choose.
Over the past number of years, the legal profession has been encroached upon and eroded. Many law practices have lost considerable revenue to accountants drafting letters of intent; financial advisors suggesting an “estate plan”; mortgage brokers with the ‘best deal’ and financial institutions preparing and registering their own security documents for consumer loans. Do these professionals suggest to their clients that they should first consult with a lawyer before signing any documents? Unlikely. As lawyers we have been aware of these questionable practices without taking action – until now.
The Lawyers Business & Property Network is a non-profit society helping lawyers assist their clients with business, property and financial transactions. We provide an independent voice for our members. We say “enough is enough.” Let us do our job according to the law, as we have for decades past.
Lawyers have been representing their clients in real property transactions since the 1890’s. Many lawyers have dropped conveyancing from their practice. It doesn’t pay anymore. However, a handful of lawyers have realized that, by increasing the level of service to existing clients, they can save their clients money. Servicing clients in this way increases revenue for lawyers. This activity by lawyers has garnered the attention of realtors. They are not happy about sharing the pie.
Recently, controversy arose because the real estate industry has attempted to restrict our activities. They sought government intervention to change the Real Estate Act. Specifically they wanted to change the current lawyers’ exemption as it applies to our employees.
“A direct result of the monopolisation of real estate services by estate agents is the ability of estate agents to ensure that consumers are prevented from having the benefit of legal advice.” –Real Estate Lawyers, Victoria, Australia: www.relv.com.au
The Network (www.thenetwork.ca) offers the public choice, privilege, insurance, knowledge and is committed to having its members provide advice before their clients sign any financial transaction (i.e., buying a home or business).
The Network has received approval from the Law Society of B.C. including the ethics committee and law society insurers. Funded solely by membership fees, The Network operates on less than a shoestring budget. As the president and founder, I put in many volunteer hours.
In my capacity as president, I have been appointed to a task force to review the exemption and make recommendations acceptable to all parties. The goal is to avoid government intervention. My involvement is a good indicator to government that The Network has a voice independent of the Law Society and CBA.
The Network is constantly looking at ways to attract new members. By linking with a lawyer referral service offered by the CBABC, I plan to offer members greater exposure to a global market.
R Dale Janowsky, QC, President and Founder, Lawyers Business & Property Network
The Lawyers Business & Property Network
Join The Network and Mr. Janowsky will show you how to increase your revenue by working your existing files. The Network has 59 members in B.C., two in Alberta and one in Ontario. For more information call 250-372-2022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published in the April 2004 issue of BarTalk. © 2004 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.