Federation News Archive - 2012

New Federation President takes office

Posted November 15, 2012 The Federation of Law Societies of Canada (“Federation”) is pleased to announce that Bâtonnier Gérald R. Tremblay, C.M., O.Q., Q.C., Ad.E., has been elected President for the 2012-2013 term. Mr. Tremblay has been the representative of the Barreau du Quebec on the Council of the Federation since 2009, and has served as the Federation’s Vice President since 2010. He is counsel in the firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP in Montreal, and practices in the areas of civil, corporate, commercial and environmental law, as well as class actions, constitutional and administrative law litigation. Mr. Tremblay holds a degree from the Université Laval, and earned his law degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa. He was called to the Barreau du Québec in 1968. He served as Bâtonnier of the Barreau for the 2008-2009 term. Mr. Tremblay was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1987, named Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1988, member of the Order of Canada in 2003, Officer of the National Order of Québec in 2005, and awarded the title Advocatus Emeritus (Ad.E) in 2010. “With the advent of mobility of lawyers between Canadian provinces over the last ten years, the mission and priorities of the Federation have evolved considerably since the organization was founded in 1926”, says Mr. Tremblay. “What was once an annual conference of law society Presidents, has now become a national organization with proper resources to focus on the law societies’ efforts to develop consistent national standards of regulation of the legal profession in Canada, and to share and harmonize best practices.” The major national Federation initiatives currently underway include a Model Code of Professional Conduct, which is being adopted by law societies across Canada, a national admissions standards project to ensure common standards of entry to the legal profession, and national standards dealing with complaints and discipline. “Being able to work in the public interest at the national level as President of the Federation is a great honour”, says Mr. Tremblay. “Over the next year, I will work to ensure there is continued progress in the Federation’s national projects. I also share the preoccupation of all law society leaders across Canada that we need to find ways to increase access to justice for ordinary Canadians.” He notes that this issue has been identified as a priority for the Federation. “One of the major initiatives in recent years was…

Federation Council Approves New National Competency Profile

October 21, 2012 The Council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has adopted a new national competency profile as a standard for admission to the legal profession. The vote occurred during the Council's regular meeting in September, 2012. “This important step of approving the National Competency Profile is the result of 2 years of focused, detailed work” says John J.L. Hunter, Q.C., President of the Federation. “The competency profile has now been formally referred to the law societies for their approval, subject to the development of a suitable implementation plan.” To ensure that the National Competency Profile accurately reflected the knowledge, skills and abilities required for new members of the profession to practice competently, the Federation conducted a large-scale survey of members of the profession to help refine the proposed competencies. The survey tested the relevance and frequency of use of the proposed competencies. This admissions initiative began in 2009 when the Council of the Federation approved a project to develop national standards for admission to the legal profession. It was initiated largely because of mobility, and the recognition that mobility of the profession makes it sensible to have the same standards for admission in all jurisdictions. “To ensure we meet our mandate to regulate in the public interest, we need the assurance that all legal professionals practising in any Canadian jurisdiction have met the same standards of competence regardless of where they are first licensed”. At their September meeting, Federation Council members also approved a plan for the next phase of this major national initiative. It will include an analysis of implementation options, and ongoing development of a national “good character” standard. A group of law society policy and credentialing counsel has been working on a framework for a National Fitness and Suitability to Practise Standard that will address the good character requirement and issues related to medical fitness. A draft framework of the standard was included in the Phase One report. “We plan for Phase Two to conclude with a detailed roadmap of the process for implementation, a plan to manage the transition to national standards, and identification of the resources that will be necessary to manage the implementation process” Mr. Hunter explained.

Federation surveys new members of legal profession as part of National Admission Standards Project

(May 9, 2012) Starting on May 9, 2012, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada will be inviting new lawyers and Quebec notaries to participate in a large scale survey on the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to ensure that new members of the profession are competent to practise law. The survey will test the validity of a draft competency profile, a key element of an initiative undertaken on behalf of Canada’s law societies to establish national standards for admission to the legal profession.“Law societies are mandated by provincial and territorial statute to regulate the legal profession in the public interest” notes Federation President John Hunter, Q.C. “The duty of law societies to protect the public begins with ensuring that those admitted to the practice of law are competent and of good character.” “ With an increasingly mobile profession, consistency in admission standards is more important than ever, as admission to the profession in one province or territory effectively guarantees admission in all others” Mr. Hunter explains. “The goal of the National Admission Standards Project is to develop and implement standards for admission to practice that are consistent across the country.” A profile of the competencies required on entry to the profession and a common standard for ensuring that applicants meet the requirement to be of good character are the first steps in the admission standards project. Working with a consultant with extensive expertise in credentialing, and staff from the law societies and the Federation, volunteers from the legal profession in all regions of Canada have prepared a draft competencies profile drawn, in part, from those already in use in a number of jurisdictions. To ensure the validity of the profile and to assist in identifying the most critical competencies, the profile will be tested through a large-scale survey. The data from the survey will be used to refine the competency profile to reflect the knowledge, skills and abilities that new members of the profession actually need when they enter the practice of law. Once the competency and good character standards have been agreed upon, the Federation and its member law societies will begin to consider the options for implementation of the standards. Canada's 14 provincial and territorial law societies govern over 100,000 lawyers and 4,000 Quebec notaries in the public interest. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is their national coordinating body. The Federation leads the development of…

Federation highlights law society anti-money laundering measures at Senate committee

The President of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has affirmed the proactive role played by law societies to fight money laundering and called on the Senate committee responsible for reviewing changes to Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to ensure that any amendments preserve the independence of the bar and protect solicitor-client privilege.   When the legislation was enacted in 2001, lawyers and Quebec notaries were required to report suspicious transactions of their clients. “The Federation and law societies challenged the application of that legislation on the grounds that it would interfere in a fundamental way with the relationship between lawyer and client and the solicitor-client privilege, which is a principle of fundamental justice in this country” John Hunter, Q.C. said in a presentation to the Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee on April 4, 2012.  Instead, the Federation developed a model rule for the regulation of the profession, later adopted by all of Canada’s law societies. “Our rule prevents lawyers from receiving more than $7,500 in cash for a financial transaction,” Mr. Hunter said. The Federation took additional measures in 2008 to develop a Model Rule on Client Identification and Verification Requirements that was adopted by all of Canada’s law societies. The government introduced similar rules and wants to apply them to the legal profession, but the Federation has challenged their constitutionality. “The government rules required law firms to take steps to identify and verify the identity of their clients, to prepare reports of financial trans-actions and to keep those reports in case law enforcement wanted to access them” Mr Hunter explained. “We took exception because we do not want lawyers writing reports about their clients for the government.  We do not think that is the appropriate role, given the importance of the solicitor-client relationship.”  The Federation President said that Canada’s law societies and legal profession remain supportive of all initiatives to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.  He noted that Canada’s law societies have stepped up to the plate in a way that exceeds what other legal regulators around the world have done, “and put in place rules and regulations that should resolve - to the extent that rules can - the prospect that lawyers may unwittingly be used as dupes by clients by putting cash into their accounts.”  The issue will also be heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal later in 2012.…

Addendum signed to include Quebec notaries in National Mobility Agreement

Canada’s law societies have taken another step in the implementation of national mobility for members of the legal profession with the formal signing of an Addendum to the Quebec Mobility Agreement, extending Canada’s national mobility regime to Quebec notaries. The signing ceremony was held March 15, 2012 during the Federation’s Semi-Annual Conference in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. “When the members of the Federation entered into the National Mobility Agreement in 2002 and the Territorial Mobility Agreement in 2006, we established ourselves as leaders in professional mobility” the President of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, John J.L. Hunter, Q.C., told the representatives at the signing ceremony. The Addendum, Mr Hunter noted, means there is now a system of mobility in Canada that permits every Canadian lawyer and Quebec notary to move between jurisdictions. “This is a tremendous accomplishment”, Mr. Hunter said. “In crafting a mobility regime that covers lawyers and notaries from common law and civil law jurisdictions we have perhaps demonstrated that despite our different legal traditions we are more alike than we are different. And that is something of which we should be very proud". [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="276"] Federation President John J.L. Hunter, Q.C. with Chambre des notaires President Jean Lambert (left)[/caption]    

Federation approves proposal for new law degree program at the Université de Montréal

For the second time in a year, the Council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (Federation) has set the stage for development of a new common law degree program in Canada. The Council has adopted the recommendations of a committee that reviewed an application for a new program from the Université de Montréal. The Université de Montréal has been conferring law degrees in Quebec civil law since 1879 through its Faculty of Law and it now wants to issue law degrees in common law so its holders can apply for admission to law societies in common law provinces and territories. The Federation’s recommendation for approval will now go to the individual law societies for their review and approval, as they have the ultimate authority to recognize Canadian law degrees conferred upon individuals seeking admission to law society bar admission programs. Last year the Federation Council adopted committee recommendations that led to the creation of new common law programs at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario and at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Until then, it had been more than 30 years since a new faculty of law had been approved in Canada. The committee report dealing with the Université de Montréal proposal, and the university’s submission, are posted on the Federation’s website.