CPD, the CBABC, and You
by Kenneth Armstrong, Chair, Professional Development Committee
On January 1, 2009, the Law Society of B.C. will implement its Continuing Professional Development Program to establish educational standards for lawyers and to make participation in the program a condition of our license to practise. Apparently, almost one-third of the profession reported no formal course study when professional development was voluntary; and, nearly one-fifth reported no self-study. Now, all practising lawyers, full-time and part-time, must complete a minimum of 12 hours of approved educational activities annually. Two hours of the 12 must include any combination of professional responsibility and ethics, client relations and practice management. It does not appear self-study will be required.
The CBA is accredited by the Law Society as one of the few preferred providers of continuing professional development. Attendance at CBABC Section meetings and courses, in-person, by Webinar or by teleconference, counts toward your coursework hours. To make it easier for you, the B.C. Branch has introduced an online program at cba.org/bc to record and report your hours, provided you sign attendance sheets at Section meetings. As Chair of the CBABC’s Professional Development Committee, I plan to ensure that the CBABC assists members in meeting their continuing professional development goals by providing seminars and courses, in addition to our quality Section meetings, which are accessible and convenient for all lawyers across B.C. Section meetings may be the most affordable way for CBA members to meet continuing professional requirements. The CBABC will also continue to monitor the evolution of the Law Society’s Continuing Professional Development Program, and advocate for our members’ interests.
The Law Society will distribute further details to all lawyers in early October.
New Articling Registry Connects Law Firms With Students
The Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch and Law Society of B.C. have launched an innovative online Articling Registry for Canadian law students and B.C. lawyers. The Registry is the first of its kind to enable both lawyers and students to look for articling positions by location, timeframe, and area of practice. Firms and students can sign on and post available positions, positions sought and resumes. Postings remain current for 45 days and can be changed and modified as desired.
The Registry is designed to promote articling, including shared articles, throughout B.C., with a particular focus on sole and small firm practices outside of the Lower Mainland and Victoria region. “This was an initiative that came out of our Small Firm Task Force,” explained John Hunter, QC, President of the Law Society of B.C., “and the Task Force considered it to be likely that students who choose to article in smaller communities would, if given the opportunity, stay in those communities after being called to the Bar.”
Some sole and small firm practitioners have reported that while they may not have enough legal work to justify hiring an articling student on a full-time basis, they would be in a position to share a student with another firm. The Task Force considered it to be likely that students who choose to article in smaller communities would, if given the opportunity, stay in those communities after being called to the Bar. An increase of articling students in sole and small firms would support and strengthen the viability of law practices and the provision of legal services in both the short and long term. The Task Force received strong encouragement from sole and small firm practitioners to support and promote an expanded shared articling program.
“The goal of the Registry,” explained Kenneth Walton, Past President of the CBABC, “is to increase the number of articling students with sole and small firms which will support and strengthen the viability of law practices and the provision of legal services in both the short and long term throughout the province.”
Over the coming months, the Law Society and CBABC will be working to encourage both lawyers and law students to post information on the Articling Registry.
Students and Law Firms who are interested in participating in this exciting new initiative can visit the CBABC website: www.cba.org/bc and click:
A Message from Your Work-Life Balance Committee
On reading the Law Society’s 2007 Annual Report (available online if you threw out your copy because you didn’t have time to read it!), we noticed that 491 new B.C. lawyers joined the ranks in 2007, almost 75 per cent of whom will probably practise as sole practitioners.
Anna K. Fung, QC, also commented in her outgoing President’s message on the “eagerness and optimism” of the new members she had welcomed to the Law Society.
In addition to their eagerness and optimism, what skills will these future sole practitioners need to avoid the “oversights,” failures of “engagement management” and “lack of communication” that are the basis of 70 per cent of claims on the Lawyers’ Insurance Fund?
They will need to proactively manage these risks with excellent time management and work-life balance skills. We are all more efficient and productive, and we all communicate better when we are less stressed and overwhelmed. So having a life is actually good risk management against these kinds of claims!
Start today with just a few minutes for yourself; you’ll soon notice the benefits. Gradually, take more time for your life and put work in its place!
These articles were published in the October 2008 issue of BarTalk. © 2008 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.