Honourary degrees to be awarded
Convocation approved the award of the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa on The Honourable Frances Kiteley, The Honourable Sidney Linden, Major General Richard Rohmer, The Honourable Harriet Sachs and Mr. George Thomson. The degrees will formally be conferred at the Call to the Bar ceremonies in June to be held in Ottawa, Toronto and London.
Update on retention of women initiatives
Parental Leave Assistance Program - Effective March 12, 2009, the program provides business income replacement to sole practitioners and practising lawyers who are partners in firms of five lawyers or fewer, who do not have access to other maternity, parental or adoption benefits and who meet the eligibility criteria.
Practice Locum Program - Starting May 1, 2009, the program is a registry of lawyers who are available to provide legal services on an interim basis. The program will allow practitioners to rely on competent lawyers to maintain their practice while on a leave of absence.
Justicia Project - More than 50 medium and large firms have signed on since the project was launched in the fall and are committed to sharing best practices and adopting programs to support women lawyers.
Details of these initiatives are available on the Law Society's website under Retention of Women Initiatives .
A report with an update on retention of women initiatives was presented to Convocation.
Certified Specialist program 'recent experience' redefined
The "recent experience" requirement of the Certified Specialist program is now more flexible. Seven years experience is still a prerequisite for application however the revised definition permits practice experience in a common law jurisdiction outside Ontario to count toward this requirement. The definition was revised to accommodate the varied life experience of the bar and absences from practice, such as parental leave.
The new definition is as follows:
1) Applicants must have engaged in the practice of law for at least seven years before the day they apply for certification.
2) Applicants must have practised in the area of law in which they seek to be certified for at least five of the seven years, as follows:
- In Ontario for two years immediately before the application;
- Any other three years in Ontario or any common law jurisdiction.
More information is available in the report to Convocation .
Harassment and discrimination model policy redrafted
The Law Society has released a revised model policy that sets out a template of a policy for law firms to address harassment and discrimination in a prompt, effective and confidential manner. The model policy can be used by firms of all sizes, and by legal clinics and other legal organizations. The new model policy is based on a previous version that was redrafted to be more user-friendly and to reflect changes in legal obligations.
The Law Society has produced several model polices to assist in the development of policies and programs aimed at promoting equity and diversity in all aspects of the legal profession. The model policies are available on the Law Society's Equity and Diversity web page .
By-Law 7 amended re: professional corporation names
By-Law 7 [Business Entities] was amended to ensure uniform regulation of the names for professional corporations and other business entities for the provision of professional services by lawyers and paralegals. In October 2008, rule 3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and rule 8 of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct on marketing and advertising were amended to articulate key principles applicable to marketing and advertising professional services including firm names. As the provisions on names of professional corporations in By-Law 7 included some of the language now deleted from the rules, the By-Law was amended to be consistent with the rules.
New policy on Foreign Legal Consultant participation in arbitrations
Convocation approved a policy to permit Foreign Legal Consultants to participate in arbitrations held in Ontario in the following circumstances:
- where the law governing the proceeding and the law at issue is either international law or the law of the Foreign Legal Consultant's home jurisdiction, or,
- when assisted by counsel licensed to practise law in Canada, where the law at issue is either international law or the law of the Foreign Legal Consultant's home jurisdiction and the law governing the proceeding is Canadian.
The policy originates from ongoing consultations between the Federation of Law Societies and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) on issues relating to international trade in legal services. Canada has been asked to expand its trade commitments to permit Foreign Legal Consultants to appear as counsel in arbitrations in certain circumstances.
See the Professional Development and Competence Committee report to Convocation for more information.
Law Society supports expansion of Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program
The Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program will now serve a Friday meal in addition to the meals already served on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Convocation approved a request from the Law Society Foundation for the additional support from the Law Society. As it does for the existing meals, the Law Society will contribute facilities and staff resources to the delivery of the Friday meal.
See the Law Society Foundation report for more information.
Financial statements approved
Convocation approved the following financial statements:
- General Fund - Audited Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2008
- Compensation Fund - Audited Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2008
- LibraryCo Inc. - Audited Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2008
- Combined Financial Statements of the Errors and Omissions Insurance Fund for the year ended December 31, 2008.
Convocation also appointed Deloitte & Touche LLP as the auditor of the Law Society's General Fund, Compensation Fund and LibraryCo Inc. for the 2009 financial year.
For more information see the Audit Committee report .
By-Law 14 [Foreign Legal Consultants] amended
By-law 14 was amended to reflect policy changes related to Foreign Legal Consultants, approved February 2009, that remove the residency requirement and the requirement for foreign legal consultants to carry defalcation coverage.
For more information see the Professional Development and Competence Committee report .
Form 7A of By-Law 7 [Business Entities] amended
Form 7A (Notice of Intention to Surrender a Certificate of Authorization) of By-law 7 was amended to include reference to the provision of legal services, in addition to the practice of law. The amendments to the form follow amendments made to the by-law in April 2007. Convocation amended the by-law at that time to bring paralegals within the provisions governing professional corporations.
See the Paralegal Standing Committee report for more information.
By-law 3 amended re: policy on compliance with the Federal Lobbying Act
Convocation amended By-Law 3 [Benchers, Convocation and Committees] to reflect a previously approved policy regarding the Federal Lobbying Act . In October 2008, Convocation established a policy that benchers obtain authorization from the Treasurer or CEO prior to communicating with officers and employees of the government of Canada on behalf of the Law Society.
See the Government Relations Committee report for more information.
By-Law 8 amended
By-Law 8 [Reporting and Filing Requirements] was amended to reflect previously approved policy changes. The amendments reflect Convocation's decision, in January 2009, to end a requirement that lawyers provide the Law Society with certain information about the lawyer's fiscal year. The information is no longer required for regulatory purposes.
See the Professional Regulation Committee report for more information.
Convocation authorizes Treasurer to vote the proxy in favour of proposed LAWPRO shareholder resolutions
Convocation authorized the Treasurer to vote the proxy in favour of proposed LAWPRO shareholder resolutions at the Annual and General Meeting of Shareholders of the Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company to be held May 5, 2009.
See the Treasurer's Report to Convocation for more information.
Motion re: amendment to lawyer's Rule 3.03(1)
A motion to amend Rule 3.03(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding the use of the word 'expert' was withdrawn.
See the motion and the Professional Regulation Committee report for more information.
Bencher Janet Minor was appointed a trustee of the Law Foundation of Ontario.
Bencher Dow Marmur was appointed to the Complaints Resolution Commissioner Selection Committee.