Law Society Initiatives

CREATE Justice Bulletin — February 2019

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From Centre for Research, Evaluation, and Action Towards Equal Justice (CREATE Justice)

Declaration on Equal Access to Justice for All by 2030 made by Ministers and high-level representatives from countries and international organizations during meeting in the Hague on February 7.

CLASSIC Karaoke and Lip Sync Battle 2019 on March 1.

Register in one or all of the three remaining one-hour access to justice National Action Committee on Access to Justice Pop-Up Community of Practice teleconferences.

Regina library fair connects people with free legal resources.

Family justice in Canada is at a breaking point.

Recognizing trusted intermediaries as a systematic part of the legal system.

Pro bono law clinics for French speaking clients now offered by Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan and the Centre d’information juridique de la Saskatchewan. For more information, call 1-855-924-8543 or visit their website.

New Access to Justice and Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia aims to ‘put the public first’.

ADR Institute of Saskatchewan sponsoring an Introductory Mediation training from April 22–26.

Saskatchewan’s first Cree-speaking judge reflects on legacy of Cree court as he retires.

Stay up-to-date with the National Action Committee on Access to Justice, chaired by the Honourable Beverley McLachlin, by subscribing for committee newsletter.

Law Society Initiatives: Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information.

AI at heart of Microsoft’s Legal Navigator complete, will connect people with legal resources.

PASS IT ON! SUBMIT YOUR BITE-SIZED ACCESS TO JUSTICE NEWS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BULLETIN TO
createjustice@usask.ca AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO SUBSCRIBE FOR THE BULLETIN.

Law Librarian On Site

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By Alan Kilpatrick

Need help with your legal research? Law Society of Saskatchewan librarian, Alan Kilpatrick, will be on-site at RPL’s Central Branch to help guide you through the many legal resources available. Please contact our libraries for further information.

Thursday, March 7: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, March 21: 1:00-4:00 pm
Thursday, April 4: 1:00-4:00 pm

Are you in Saskatoon? No problem! Law Society librarian, Ken Fox, will be on-site at SPL’s Frances Morrison Central Library on the following dates:

Tuesday, March 5: 6:00-9:00 pm
Tuesday, March 19: 1:00-4:00 pm
Monday, April 1: 6:00-9:00 pm
Tuesday, April 16: 1:00-4:00 pm

Invitation to Lawyers Interested in Offering Unbundled Services and Legal Coaching

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By Kim Newsham; Family Justice Services, Ministry of Justice

Most lawyers offer comprehensive legal service, meaning they represent a client from the beginning of the matter/issue, to the end. The lawyer appears in court, drafts documents, prepares correspondence, and generally manages all aspects of the case. Research indicates that not everyone wants this level of representation, and not everyone can afford this level of representation, but may benefit greatly from specific legal services. You have likely heard about and may offer unbundled services, but may not be as familiar with ‘legal coaching’ as a type of legal practice. If you have not heard of legal coaching, a helpful definition by expert in the area, Nikki Gershbain states,

“Legal coaching is a type of unbundled legal service, where a lawyer-coach offers behind-the-scenes guidance on both the hard and soft skills of lawyering, in order to provide a (primarily) self-represented litigant with the strategies and tools needed to present their case as effectively as possible in the absence of counsel.”

The Law Society of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Justice, and CREATE Justice (the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Action Towards Equal Justice), College of Law is launching the “Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundled Services Pilot Project”. A webpage is being developed devoted to practice resources for lawyers and information for the public about unbundled services and legal coaching. Part of the public information will include a list of lawyers who offer these services. The existing list that we have currently includes about 30 lawyers, from 4 cities.

We are interested in hearing from you. We invite you to contact us to express your interest in the following:

  1.  If you would like your name added to the public list as a lawyer who offers unbundled services and/or legal coaching, please email Kim Newsham at kim.newsham@gov.sk.ca.
  2.  SAVE THE DATE: A 1-day legal coaching workshop will be held in each of Saskatoon and Regina during the October 2019 Saskatchewan Access to Justice week.  Stay tuned for further updates. If you would like to be notified about new resources and training events related to unbundled services and legal coaching as they become available, please email Kim Newsham at kim.newsham@gov.sk.ca.

 

Law Society Initiatives: Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information (SALI)

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By Melanie Hodges Neufeld, Director of Legal Resources and partners: Ministry of Justice; and Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan 

To address the growing public need for legal information, the Law Society’s Legal Resources department and several other legal information providers have launched a project to improve access to legal information for Saskatchewan residents through the public library system: the Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project (SALI). The SALI partners include CREATE Justice; the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan; the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA); the Public Libraries of Saskatchewan; and the University of Saskatchewan Library.

Public libraries act as trusted intermediaries and credible information providers. Public library space and locations will also aid in increasing the delivery of legal information to the public. The space is accessible to all residents and provides free Wi-Fi access to utilize online resources. Public library branches are also present in most communities throughout the province, even smaller and more remote centres, and act as the main community hub in many locations.

Our role in the SALI project is to provide public library staff with the skills needed to deploy their expertise in the context of legal information, making them a powerful resource for members of the public seeking information related to their own legal problems. A training webinar and resource entitled “Detecting Legal Problems and Legal Information Sources” was developed and distributed to public library staff in 2018.

A public campaign based on this webinar and resource also launched in October 2018 to coincide with Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week. This campaign includes posters, brochures and short videos on detecting specific legal problems. Please see the Law Society website under Initiatives for more information and to view the videos.

CREATE Justice Bulletin – January 2019

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‘Justice’ named Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, determined through data as a top lookup throughout 2018.

New legal café offers alternative to law office.

The 2019 CBA Saskatchewan Branch Mid-Winter Meeting, focused on ‘Enhancing Justice’ took place from January 31-February 1.

Public Legal Resources Fair and Workshops at Regina Public Library were held on February 2.

Invitation to submit access to justice activities to be included in a national coordination effort by February 11.

In case you missed it, student research assistants help advance health and data topics at CREATE Justice.

Thomas Cromwell and Beverley McLachlin on access to justice and the next year for the Action Committee.

CLASSIC Karaoke and Lip Sync Battle 2019 tickets available.

Public Access to Legal Information at the Law Society Library.

New drop-in clinic for family law help at Regina Public Library.

New Walk-In Counselling now available Monday and Wednesday afternoons at CLASSIC.

New drop-in clinic for wills and estates help at Saskatoon Public Library.

Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan hosts first annual Pro Bono Rocks Funspeil and recognizes PBLS volunteers.

Law Librarian now on site at Regina Public Library during two afternoons a month to help patrons find legal information and resources.

PASS IT ON! SUBMIT YOUR BITE-SIZED ACCESS TO JUSTICE NEWS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BULLETIN TO createjustice@usask.ca AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO SUBSCRIBE FOR THE BULLETIN HERE.

Update on Law Society Initiatives – December 2018 Convocation

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By Barbra Bailey, Director of Policy

Proactive Regulation of Law Firms

 The environment in which a lawyer practises can play a significant role in determining professional conduct, yet the entities through which lawyers provide services have been largely unregulated.  To address this, The Legal Profession Act, 1990 was amended in 2014 to include firms as members of the Law Society.  According to that Act, one of the duties of the Law Society is to protect the public by assuring the integrity, knowledge, skill, proficiency and competence of members, which implies that the Law Society should be proactive in taking steps to assist the membership to meet those requirements.  With the amendment to the Act, this duty now extends to law firms.

The Law Societies of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba (the “Prairie Law Societies”) have been working together to examine various approaches to regulating law firms (in addition to regulation of individual lawyers) and have determined that a proactive approach would allow both law firms and the Law Society to be more responsive to a diverse and profoundly changing environment, to enhance the quality of legal services, to encourage ethical legal practice and to foster innovation in legal services.  Accordingly, the Prairie Law Societies have been working together to develop a consistent regulatory framework that incorporates that approach across the prairies.

As part of that work, the Prairie Law Societies conducted a pilot project in 2017 to test a new resource aimed at helping firms assess the robustness of their practice management systems and firm culture. The Law Firm Practice Management Assessment Tool (the “Assessment Tool”) helps firms recognize their strengths and provides “things to consider” in areas where opportunities for improvement have been identified.  These include examples of how a law firm might put practices, policies or procedures into place, along with links to further resources that law firms can use to make improvements.  By its design, the Assessment Tool is intended not only as an evaluation mechanism, but also as a convenient source of best practice resources for firms. The content of the Assessment Tool is designed to help firms think about how to best serve their clients, their lawyers and their employees; an exercise that should foster both public protection – in terms of ethical, efficient practice – and good business practices.

The goal of the pilot project was to test the functionality of the Assessment Tool and determine how it could be used in helping firms work with the Law Society to ensure sound practice management systems are in place.  Pilot project participants were identified by randomly selecting firms of various sizes throughout the province, providing a representative sample of Saskatchewan firms.  Those firms were then invited to voluntarily participate in the pilot project. Ultimately, 22 Saskatchewan firms participated. A similar process was followed in Alberta and Manitoba.  Participating firms were asked to designate a representative to be the liaison for the pilot project.  The designated representative’s task was to ensure the firm undertook the self-assessment process, using the Assessment Tool, and report to the Law Society about things that the firm has been doing well and areas identified as needing improvement.

The designated representatives were then asked to complete an evaluation of the Assessment Tool and conduct an exit interview about their experience. Overall, the feedback about the Assessment Tool was positive.  The majority of participants said they thought the Assessment Tool would improve engagement with the Law Society (80%), increase general awareness and education related to the key objectives (84%) and help firms to improve their organizational policies and procedures (81%).  Participants also had the opportunity to comment on any improvements they felt should be made to the Assessment Tool and the process overall.  Much of that feedback focused on tailoring the Assessment Tool to ensure the content was appropriate for the size of the firm and making the process more efficient.  Based on that feedback, the Prairie Law Societies have been working to refine the Assessment Tool and develop an appropriate regulatory framework to guide this process.

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to foster a more collaborative relationship between the Law Society and its members, and to help lawyers and firms manage risk so that the likelihood of conduct leading to a complaint or negligence is minimized.  On December 7, 2018, the Benchers approved a framework for moving forward with law firm regulation that is centred on providing coaching and assistance through the Assessment Tool, but that would also allow the Law Society to address conduct issues at a firm level.  Work will continue in 2019 to develop the details of this framework and further updates will be communicated to the membership as they become available.

 Alternative Legal Service Providers

 In 2017, a Task Team was appointed to explore the possibility of allowing non-lawyers to provide some legal services and develop recommendations for consideration by the Benchers of the Law Society and the Ministry of Justice about the appropriate role, if any, of non-lawyers in the provision of legal services.   In carrying out its mandate, the Legal Services Task Team considered a wide range of possible approaches to address issues related to access to justice, consumer choice and effective regulation, all the while keeping the public interest central to its determinations.  To assist the Task Team’s examination, an extensive consultation with members,  legal organizations and other stakeholders within Saskatchewan’s justice system was conducted.

The Task Team released its final report in August 2018.  The report includes 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 licence 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 Benchers of the Law Society of Saskatchewan accepted the recommendations as outlined in the Task Team’s final report on September 14, 2018.  Bill 163, which would amend The Legal Profession Act, 1990 to enable the Law Society to implement the Task Team’s recommendations, was introduced in the Saskatchewan Legislature on December 3, 2018.  Subject to the passing of Bill 163, the Law Society of Saskatchewan will implement the recommendations on an incremental basis, first beginning with pilot projects to better inform the development of the regulatory framework.  The Law Society will continue to consult with the membership and other stakeholders throughout this process.