On April 2, 2019, Bill 163, The Legal Profession Amendment Act, 2018, passed third reading. The Law Society is excited to move towards a more modern approach to regulation, and Bill 163 helps us do that. The amendments to the Act pursuant to Bill 163 are multifaceted and will positively impact the regulation of the practice of law and delivery of legal services in Saskatchewan.
The amendments enable the Law Society to implement several good governance measures which provide greater flexibility to control our own processes. Flexibility will allow us to respond more effectively and in a more timely fashion in order to ensure that regulation remains relevant to the provision of legal services as it evolves over time. This includes allowing Benchers to establish any committees they consider necessary, and to develop the supporting practices and procedures of those committees. As well, the regulatory processes relating to a member’s professional responsibility have appropriately shifted from the Act into the Rules. The amendments have also granted us the ability to develop Rules relating to our Board composition and our electoral process. Again, this provides the flexibility to ensure that we are effective, efficient and able to consider the adoption of any governance practices that, from time to time, the Benchers may determine will make us more effective, efficient or reflective to ensure the necessary skills or perspectives exist on the Board.
The Benchers will be discussing governance initiatives at our annual retreat in June. Following that, we will be consulting with the membership to receive feedback on ideas generated during that session.
Finally, as we reported in our January 2019 post, Bill 163 , enables the Law Society to implement the recommendations of the Legal Services Task Team. The Task Team released its final report in August, 2018 and included a number of recommendations on how to improve the regulation and provision of legal services in the province. The recommendations include:
- providing greater clarity to service providers about what legal services are regulated;
- expanding the list of exceptions to the prohibition against practicing law to recognize existing service providers;
- providing the Law Society with licensing authority to allow service providers to practice law with a limited license on a case-by-case basis;
- modernizing the legislation regulating legal services to provide more flexibility for future developments in this area;
- creating guidelines to help educate the public about legal services; and
- conducting pilot projects to help develop and test the recommendations.
The Law Society will implement the recommendations on a principled and incremental basis over time, first beginning with consultation and pilot projects to better inform the development of the regulatory framework that will serve the profession and, ultimately, the public interest.
The amended Act will not be proclaimed until we have completed this process and overhauled the Law Society Rules in accordance with the amendments. We expect this to be completed by the end of 2019.
We will update you as matters progress.