Mid-Winter Meeting 2011 Reports, Campaigns and Resolutions
With the icy waters of the St. Lawrence River as a backdrop, CBA Council members gathered in the Charlevoix region of Quebec February 18-20 for the 2011 Mid-Winter Meeting. Highlights of the meeting include:
Photo caption: Jack Innes, QC, (right) receives the Doug Miller Award from CBA President Rod Snow.
Foundation for Change Report of the Public Commission on Legal Aid in British Columbia
Commissioner Leonard Doust, QC released the findings of the Public Commission on Legal Aid on March 8, 2011, detailing nine key recommendations for improving British Columbia’s legal aid system. The CBABC President Stephen McPhee welcomed the Public Commission’s report, saying “The public clearly believes that the issue of access to legal services is one that governments, lawyers, judges and communities are expected to work together to fix. The people of B.C. have loudly and passionately made the case that access to legal services is essential. We know that an investment in legal aid and the justice system saves money in health and social services down the road, and what we now know as a result of the Commission’s work is that taxpayers expect their leaders to make that investment a priority – particularly in tough economic times.”
The specific recommendations of the Commission are summarized as follows:
- Legal aid must be recognized as an essential public service
- New approaches must be developed to define core services and priorities
- Financial eligibility guidelines must be modernized and expanded
- Regional legal aid centres and innovative service delivery must be developed
- Ongoing public engagement and political dialogue are necessary
- Long-term, stable funding must be established
- The legal aid system must be proactive, dynamic and strategic
- There must be greater collaboration between public and private legal aid service providers
- More support must be provided to legal aid providers.
Read the Public Commission’s full report: www.publiccommission.org
Artists’ Legal Outreach
The Artists’ Legal Outreach (the ALO) is a group of volunteer lawyers and law students committed to working with artists and arts organizations under the direction of Martha Rans (artistslegaloutreach.ca). Martha, a charity and non-profit lawyer, teaches copyright at Emily Carr, and is presently Project Lead of Creative Commons Canada. The ALO began as APLAWS, the creation of the late Burt Harris. In March, with CARFAC-BC, ALO gave eight workshops across B.C. on copyright for visual and media artists. In December, ALO published the first of their Copyright Toolkits for artists. This spring ALO is presenting Estate Planning for Artists with the Burnaby Art Gallery. This fall, ALO is organizing a series of art exhibits/dialogues around copyright and the impact of digital technology called Art, Revolution and Ownership.
CBA Criticizes Immigration Minister’s Comments About Judges
The CBA says that recent criticism of judges and courts by the federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism will erode public confidence and weaken the administration of justice. “Your public criticism of judges who follow the law but not the government’s political agenda is an affront to our democracy and freedoms,” said CBA President Rod Snow of Whitehorse in a letter dated February 22, 2011, to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. The CBA letter received extensive coverage in the media following its release.
News release and letter: www.cba.org/CBA/News/2011_Releases/2011-02-22-Kenney.aspx
2011 Edition of CBA Advocacy Now Online
The latest edition of Canadian Bar Advocacy, published annually by the Legislation and Law Reform Committee, is now available online. Read about CBA policy positions on solicitor-client privilege and conflicts of interest, as well as trends in business development and professional interests, access to justice, and improving the law and the administration of justice. A limited number of hard copies are available through your CBABC.
Canadian Bar Advocacy: www.cba.org/CBA/Advocacy/pdf/CBAAdvocacy2011-eng.pdf
Clinical Mediation Training at UBC
Since 2001, the UBC Faculty of Law has partnered with Mediate BC to offer law students a unique experience in Small Claims Court mediations. Each year, up to 24 students take part in an intensive five-day training program that prepares them to participate as mediators in the Court Mediation Program at Robson Square, Surrey and North Vancouver Provincial Courts. Cases typically include personal injury, construction, strata disputes, contract disputes, wrongful dismissal actions and neighbour disputes, often ranging into high emotion matters, multi-party disputes and complex legal issues.
The program allows law students to develop communication skills valuable not only in mediation advocacy but also in client counseling and negotiation, and to gain new perspectives on the role of counsel in negotiations, mediator ethics, and the impact of culture and power dynamics. Students have the opportunity to observe and learn from counsel who work to help the client achieve a result that meets the client’s interests. At the same time, students also learn by seeing lawyers who attend Small Claims mediations without reading the Rules governing the mediation session, lawyers who haven’t prepared themselves or their client for the process, and lawyers who see mediation as a chance to scare unrepresented opponents.
While most graduates of the Mediation Clinic work primarily as lawyers following their graduation from law school, some members of every class have completed their mediation training and joined the Mediate BC rosters in both civil and child protection areas, many making a career in the mediation field. In fact, one early graduate, Kyra Hudson, is now Program Manager of the Child Protection Mediation Practicum.
Two members of the first class of UBC law students mediators, Peter Eastwood and Philip Di Tomaso, were central figures in the launch of the CoRe Conflict Resolution Clinic. Similar in concept to LSLAP, CoRe Clinic is now a registered charity that provides mediations for low-income individuals and not-for-profits while providing additional mentored mediation experience to graduates of the Mediation Clinic. The CoRe Clinic welcomes referrals of matters in a wide variety of areas, including cases that may not be cost effective to litigate. For more information on CoRe, see www.coreclinic.ca.
CLEBC Plans for New Incapacity Legislation
The incapacity provisions of the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act, 2007, are scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2011. Changes include the introduction of advance directives for health care decision making, a detailed framework relating to enduring powers of attorney, and revisions to representation agreement legislation.
Other provisions, such as those relating to adult abuse and neglect legislation and to health care consent legislation, will also be implemented on September 1, 2011.
The adult guardianship provisions of the Act are not being brought into force at this time.
Work is now well underway at CLEBC to educate the profession about these important changes. We will offer a course in June Co-Chaired by Hugh McLellan and Jay Chalke to address these developments. Look for a CLE-TV program as well.
An overview and the full text of the amended legislation and regulations appears in Annotated Estates Practice 2011 (published in May). The 2011 update to BC Estate Planning and Wealth Preservation (also published in May) also includes detailed coverage of the changes. Wills Precedents: Annotated Precedents, updated in February 2011, discusses the legislation, and the next update of that book will fully incorporate it.
For further information contact CLEBC customer service at 604-893-2121 (toll-free in Canada at 1-800-663-0437) or at www.cle.bc.ca.
Courthouse Libraries BC: Extended WiFi
With branches in Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George now offering free WiFi, in addition to North Vancouver, Vancouver and Victoria, Courthouse Libraries BC has heralded in 2011 with more digital offerings to support B.C. lawyers in practice. WiFi will soon follow in New Westminster, Nanaimo and the Barrister’s Lounge at 222 Main.
Long awaited, Quicklaw, with quantum and precedents databases, is now under license in many branches (visit http://bit.ly/CLBC-QL for details).
Give Your Two Cents, Win a Kindle™
The Library wants your input on how it supports and informs lawyers through free CPD training offerings and more lawyer-oriented content on www.courthouselibrary.ca. Fill out the web survey at http://svy.mk/theclbc for your chance to win a free Kindle™ e-book reader.
Stay in Touch and Get Updates
Call the Library at 1-800-665-2570, connect with the Legal Community Liaisons, Nate (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Meghan (email@example.com), add RSS feeds, or follow @theCLBC on Twitter.
Family Law Advice Only a Phone Call Away
After only three months of service, legal aid’s new family law telephone advice service has been a positive experience for clients and lawyers.
“It saved my life,” says a recent client who called the service, which is known as Family LawLine, and spoke to one of the legal aid lawyers.
“[The lawyer] gave me some information, I used it and everything worked out 100 per cent,” the client said. “Within two days, I had my issues worked out – he did a really good job.”
Kenyon McGee, one of six lawyers providing advice for the service, says he has received a lot of positive feedback from clients.
“Our clients seem to be extremely satisfied,” says McGee, whose practice is based in the small Kootenay community of Winlaw. “A lot of these people are worried, frightened and don’t know where to turn. At the end of the call, they’re calmed down and pointed in the right direction.”
The Family LawLINE provides “next step” advice about family law issues such as custody, access, guardianship, child support, spousal support, property division, family agreements, adoption and court procedures. The Legal Services Society’s (LSS) contracts with lawyers, who have remote access to the service, to provide the advice. The LawLine is available every weekday from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. through the LSS’s call centre 604-408-2172 (for Greater Vancouver) and 1-866-577-2525 (no charge, elsewhere in B.C.).
Canada’s Best Diversity Employers
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP have been recognized as two of many of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers that have exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs.
For more information, visit
BarTalk incorrectly published The Law Society of British Columbia’s website address – the correct URL is
Mediation TIP: Bring Your Client to Mediation!
Client participation in the mediation is the key to settlement. While lawyers provide needed legal advice, usually the clients were directly involved in the dispute and want to tell their story directly in the mediation. Remember, in Small Claims mediations a lawyer cannot appear on behalf of a client – if that happens, the mediation won’t proceed and the client will be noted absent, resulting in a default order or dismissal of the claim.
COURTESY OF MEDIATE BC SOCIETY www.mediatebc.com
These articles were published in the April 2011 issue of BarTalk. © 2011 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.