Looking forward to the future.
by Caroline Nevin
For the Canadian Bar Association, January to June is a busy period. Not that the September to December is quiet – far from it. But the reality of any professional association is that its members are busy with their own lives in the fall, getting themselves back to work, kids back to academics and client base re-assured and/or rebuilt. Now comes the time when the grooves of life have become a bit more predictable, and attention can focus outward.
So, what’s on the horizon? In addition to the outpouring of financial support to aid organizations working to make a difference in Haiti, CBA immigration lawyers have stepped up to the plate to offer pro bono assistance to people here who want to sponsor family members in Haiti. National CBA President Kevin Carroll has written to the federal government asking them to help expedite that process (see page 19 for further information).
Closer to home, B.C. is awash in Olympic blue, green and white. Hundreds of CBA members are volunteering at Winter Olympics events and this is an exciting time for all of us as proud hosts. The CBA office will remain open every day except February 12 (the Opening Ceremonies are a block away!), and we will be available to any lawyer visiting Vancouver who needs a temporary office or a friendly cup of coffee.
The Mid-Winter Meeting of National CBA Council in Ottawa will be an interesting time too, with policy discussions about topics such as the harmonization of pension laws and legal aid.
Speaking of legal aid, watch for this to be a major focal point of our advocacy in the coming year. Many different approaches have been tried by the CBA over many years – from behind-the-scenes diplomacy to a series of Walks for Access to Justice around the province, service withdrawals, petitions, MLA meetings and court cases all the way up to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. No other organization in the country has done more on the legal aid issue and we will never give up. The key is to ensure that the public has a voice in the future of legal aid and to that end CBABC President James Bond will be talking with the Attorney General, Law Foundation, Law Society and Access to Justice coalition groups, as partners in a new process designed to have the public’s views heard. (See President’s column in this issue.)
On the Professional Development side, CBABC is kicking off its second year as an accredited PD provider, having successfully partnered with Local and County Bar Associations and local law firms to provide quick, accessible and informative professional development – “Smart PD for Smart People.” Our Sections remain one of the preferred ways that lawyers get their PD hours, through attendance but also as speakers. With 72 Sections and Forums, local PD events and an Annual Conference, and country-wide access to PD in any other Branch, we offer great value with CBA membership.
Lastly, at the Branch administration level, we invested management time throughout December in looking at every aspect of our operation, in order to restructure and re-allocate administrative budgets to better meet our member needs and to ensure the most efficient use of member dollars. Our membership has grown and changed in terms of needs and our role has changed in response. For example, there is need for more support to the PD side of our operation – including Sections – not only because of the introduction of mandatory PD requirements but also because volunteer Section executives are working harder than ever in their professional lives and need extra support in the face of CPD and new technologies such as webinars.
All in all, we expect a busy, productive and rewarding 2010 – and we wish the same for you!
This article was published in the February 2010 issue of BarTalk. © 2010 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.