January 24, 2002
Law Society Prepares for 'Real Time' Electronic Transfer of Funds by Lawyers
Convocation approved amendments to By-law 19, which pave the way for the "real time" electronic transfer of real estate closing funds between lawyers in the e-reg? environment.
The By-law amendments are an important first step towards facilitating real time electronic funds transfers (EFT) as an integral part of the workflow of e-reg. The amendments ensure consistency between what is required of lawyers who undertake electronic transfer of funds and the existing software applications of financial institutions.
The Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company (LPIC) is currently engaged in discussions with a financial institution interested in facilitating EFT for e-reg transactions. Once additional information and details are available, the Law Society and LPIC will notify all lawyers of developments on this important initiative. Lawyers interested in being kept informed of news on this matter are asked to forward a request by e-mail to LPIC at firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Closing Funds EFT" in the subject line.
Professional Regulation Committee Report
Motion to Amend By-Law
Minimum Expectations for Professional Development Set
The Law Society took an important step in implementing its Competence mandate when it adopted the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) component of its Competence model at Convocation. The CLE Component of the model is based on the concept of minimum expectations - there are no mandatory requirements except that members report the amount of professional development they undertook in the past year in the Member's Annual Report. The reporting requirements will begin with the 2003 Member's Annual Report. More details about implementation will be provided on this site.
The minimum expectations for professional development are intended to encourage members to take active steps to maintain their competence. Professional development consists of both self-study and participation in CLE activities. The minimum expectation is 50 hours of self-study and 12 hours of CLE activities annually. Self-study includes reading or conducting case specific or work-related research from sources such as legal journals, case law and CLE materials. CLE activities include attending CLE programs, participating in group discussions, attending video replays in group settings, writing published articles and participating in post-LLB degree programs. The CLE component adopted by Convocation contains a complete list of eligible activities.
The Continuing Legal Education component is one of five which make up the competence model adopted by Convocation in March 2001. An extensive consultation with the profession was part of the process leading to the approval of the model. The PD&C report, Implementing the Law Society's Competence Mandate: Report and Recommendations , provides an overview of the entire competence model and discusses the rationale for its design.
The Law Society's authority and obligation to regulate competence, both in the public interest and that of the profession at large, was significantly expanded in February 1999 when amendments to the Law Society Act were proclaimed.
Professional Development and Competence Committee Report
Law Society Taking Steps to Keep Public Informed of Discipline Process
The results of all discipline hearings, including those under appeal, will now be published in the Ontario Lawyers Gazette (OLG) and communicated to the media through news releases. Previously, the results of Discipline Hearings under appeal were not published in the Gazette or included in news releases until after the appeal was heard - despite the fact that the media and the public could attend the Hearing or receive information about Hearing results from the Law Society. The revisions to this policy enhance the transparency of the discipline process, reinforcing the Law Society's commitment to keep the public well informed.
Convocation, rather than approving the Professional Regulation Committee's recommendations, voted to accept two options presented by the Committee. The member's name, the results of the Hearing and the fact that the member has appealed will be published in the OLG and included in discipline news releases. Members may apply before the Appeal Panel for an order that the Society not publish the decisions of the Hearing Panel due to exceptional circumstances.
Professional Regulation Committee Report
New Working Group on Contingency Fees Established
To ensure a proactive approach to the issue of contingent fees, the Professional Regulation Committee established a new working group. The focus of the working group will be to prepare a proposal for the regulation of contingent fees. The Law Society aims to be in a position to engage the Ontario Government in discussions about reform anticipated after the Ontario Court of Appeal considers an appeal from the Superior Court of Justice in a case that permitted contingent fees.
The issue of contingency fees was most recently considered at the May 2001 Convocation when the Rules of Professional Conduct were amended. The Professional Regulation Committee's May 2001 report included a draft amendment to subrule 2.08(4) - Contingent Fees. However the Committee recommended to Convocation that consideration of the amendment be deferred until the Court of Appeal reached a decision and the profession was consulted in light of that decision.
The working group will have the benefit of reports of two special committees who examined the issue in detail in the late 1980s and 1990s, and the more recent, June 2000 Report of the Joint Committee on Contingency Fees .
The issue of Contingency Fees is significant to the Law Society's continued focus on promoting Access to Justice .
Professional Regulation Committee Report
Richard Tinsley Resigns as Law Society Secretary after 22 Years
With great sadness, Treasurer Vern Krishna accepted the resignation of Richard Tinsley, Secretary of the Law Society, effective January 31, 2002. Benchers thanked Mr. Tinsley for all his years of service and dedication to the Law Society.
In announcing the resignation at the Law Society, the Treasurer stated "On behalf of the Benchers, the legal profession of Ontario, and the staff and CEO of the Society, I wish to extend my appreciation to Richard for his unwavering service to the best interest of the community, and wish him all the best as he moves on to meet new challenges".
Convocation appointed Katherine Corrick, Director Policy and Legal Affairs, acting Secretary, effective January 31, 2002.
Mr. Tinsley joined the Law Society in December 1979 and was appointed Deputy Secretary in 1985 and Secretary in 1988. During his career at the Law Society, in addition to overseeing the professional regulation functions of the Society, he played a leading role in the development of several major Law Society initiatives including new rules governing lawyer advertising, public information programs, pre-paid legal services, foreign legal consultant rules, specialist certification and inter-jurisdictional mobility of lawyers within Canada.
Mr. Tinsley also served as the Society's representative on national committees of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada dealing with NAFTA and WTO and their effect on the legal profession.
In his letter of resignation to the Treasurer, Mr. Tinsley indicated that, at this stage of his life and his career, he felt that it was the proper time for him to seek out new personal challenges in the practice of law.
2003 Budget Process Determined
The 2003 Budget process is to be based on a series of program reviews. This better enables the Law Society to assess how well and how efficiently program areas are implementing Law Society policy. The process accommodates suggestions raised at Convocation during the 2002 budget debate - particularly that Convocation has an opportunity, early in the budget process, to participate in program evaluations with the Finance and Audit Committee. The 2003 budgetary process, adopted by Convocation, provides this opportunity.
Finance & Audit Committee Report
By-Laws 4, 20, 24 and 31 Amended
By-Law 4 - Office of the Secretary, By-Law 20 - Review of Complaints, By-Law 24 - Professional Corporations and By-Law 31 - Unclaimed Trust Funds were amended by Convocation. The amendments were required as a result of the ongoing restructuring of the Law Society and the role of the Secretary.
Motion for Amendments to By-Laws
Benchers Appointed to Appeal Panel
Convocation appointed the following Benchers to the Law Society Appeal Panel for the term beginning January 24, 2002 and ending May 21, 2003.
Joanne St. Lewis Appointed to Professional Regulation Committee
Joanne St. Lewis was appointed as a member of the Professional Regulation Committee at Thursday's Convocation. Ms. St. Lewis was elected as a Bencher in December 2001.
William Trudell Reappointed to Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee
William Trudell was reappointed to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee for a term of 3 years as the Law Society's representative.
Heritage Committee Mandate Approved
Convocation approved the following mandate for the Heritage Committee:
The Heritage Committee exists to advise, formulate and recommend policies to Convocation on heritage matters within the Law Society and the legal profession in Ontario with a view to:
- encouraging awareness, appreciation, and support of legal-historical activities among the legal profession and the public through activities such as research and exhibitions
- encouraging and supporting heritage initiatives within the legal profession
- the identification, designation, and conservation of heritage resources at the Law Society and within the legal profession, including living heritage, movable property, print, film and intellectual property and real property with special attention to the conservation of Osgoode Hall, its contents and grounds
- encouraging communication, cooperation and coordination among organizations involved in legal history
- working with the Law Society Foundation to identify and encourage sources of funding for the development and support of heritage activities
Heritage Committee Report