Law Society of Saskatchewan
The Initiatives section is a new feature of the Law Society website. The Law Society dedicates itself to an in-depth exploration of some of the major issues affecting the legal system in Saskatchewan, and professional regulation nationally and internationally. The Law Society collaborates with and consults several stakeholders to support this work in accordance with our strategic plan. We are currently delivering major initiatives in several areas:
• Access to Justice
o Alternative Legal Service Providers – The Ministry of Justice and the Law Society of Saskatchewan jointly undertook a project to explore the possibility of allowing non-lawyers to provide some legal services.
o Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project (SALI) – To address the growing public need for legal information, the Law Society’s Legal Resources department and several other legal information providers launched a project to improve access to legal information for Saskatchewan residents through the public library system
• Truth and Reconciliation – Recognizing the importance of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the advancement of reconciliation, the Law Society of Saskatchewan has committed to responding to Call to Action #27 from the Calls to Action Report. We have developed several Continuing Professional Development programs to offer cultural competency training and will continue to develop further resources.
• Equity – The Equity Office at the Law Society of Saskatchewan is committed to both eliminating discrimination and harassment and promoting equity in the legal profession. Through our confidential email and toll-free phone line, we assist individual lawyers, articling students and support staff who ask for help in resolving complaints of discrimination or harassment by listening to complaints, assessing the nature of the complaint, and informing the individual about potential measures for dealing with the complaint. When resolution is required, complaints will be referred to an independent mediator. The Equity Office has also developed policies to implement equity in the workplace.
• Saskatchewan Justicia Project – The Justicia Project was developed in Ontario by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2008 as a partnership between the law society and law firms to work collaboratively to share best practices, develop resources and adopt proactive programs to support the retention and advancement of female lawyers in private practice. The ultimate goal of the Justicia Project is to create better work arrangements for both lawyers and firms. The Saskatchewan Justicia Project was introduced in November of 2014.
• Innovating Regulation – The practice of law and the public’s demands for legal services are changing. Driven in part by new technologies, new business models and access to justice concerns, delivery and regulation of legal services has begun evolving around the world. In response, the Law Societies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been examining a spectrum of regulatory tools that includes entity regulation, compliance-based regulation and alternative business structures to determine which, if any, might be effective in our jurisdictions. The Prairie Law Societies determined that proactive regulation of law firms in addition to regulation of individual lawyers was appropriate and has been working towards a regulatory framework that incorporates that approach.
In Saskatchewan, The Legal Profession Act, 1990 was amended in 2014 to include firms as members of the Law Society. Under the 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. 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.
To determine the most meaningful way to engage with law firms though proactive regulation, the Prairie Law Societies conducted a pilot project in 2017 to test a new resource which helps firms assess the robustness of their practice management systems and firm culture. The Law Firm Practice Management Assessment Tool (the “Assessment Tool”) helps a firm recognize its 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 in addressing practice management concerns.
The About Us section of the website contains foundational information about the Law Society, including:
- Mission, Vision, Values and Direction – See our 2019 – 2021 Strategic Plan for more information.
- Executive – The Executive Committee provides direction and oversight for the strategic and operational planning of the Law Society and develops agendas for Benchers meetings to ensure that the Benchers exercise their oversight, regulatory and policy development responsibilities.
- Benchers – The Law Society of Saskatchewan is governed by a board (Benchers) of lawyers and non-lawyers who hold a board meeting (convocation) usually five or six times each year. The Benchers govern the Law Society by setting and enforcing standards for admissions, professional conduct and quality of service.
- Convocation – The Benchers hold a board meeting (convocation) usually five or six times each year.
- Committees and Task Forces
- Annual and Financial Reports
- Awards, Bursaries and Scholarships
For a general overview of the Law Society, please see our new informational video:
As we mentioned in our post yesterday, three categories of Quicklinks have been added to the main page of the new Law Society website: Public, Lawyers & Students, and Resources and Support. We believe that these Quicklinks should eliminate approximately 80% of the site searches that occurred on the old site. In today’s post, we’d like to highlight specifically what can be found in this new section.
The Public Quicklinks include the following commonly visited pages and common concerns:
- What does the Law Society do? – An overview of the Law Society with information concerning our Mission, Vision, Values, and Direction, Executive and Benchers (Board), and Annual Reports. See also the new video overview we recently created.
- Find a Lawyer – The Find a Lawyer directory allows lawyers to be searched by firm/organization, city or first or last name. A lawyer’s contact information is available via this service which allows you to contact lawyers directly. The Find a Lawyer directory includes the ability to search for a lawyer by practice area. This page also includes information for the public if they are unable to afford a lawyer.
- Understanding Lawyers’ Fees –Information on billing practices and fees, and tips for keeping legal costs down.
- Making a Complaint Against a Lawyer – General information for the public if they believe they have a complaint and information on the Law Society Complaints Process.
- Complaints Outcomes – The possible courses of action that may be followed if a matter against a lawyer raises valid concerns.
- Find Court Forms – The Queen’s Bench Forms in both PDF and Word format.
The Quicklinks for Lawyers & Students include:
- Update Profile/Report CPD Hours – This links to the Member Profile login page which allows Law Society members to update their member profile or report continuing professional development hours (CPD).
- Saskatchewan Lawyers’ Insurance Association (SLIA) – SLIA has a new webpage. Please visit the SLIA website for information on liability insurance for members of the Law Society.
- CPD on Demand – Numerous CPD activities available on demand to allow members to access relevant CPD in a convenient manner. Activities include Recorded Versions and Study Group Resources.
- Law Society Forms & Fees – Law Society Forms, Trust Account Forms, and Law Society Fees and Assessments.
- Becoming a Lawyer in Saskatchewan – Information for students, national mobility transfers and international students on becoming a lawyer.
- Careers & Classifieds – Listing of available law-related careers.
The Quicklinks for Resources & Support include:
- Member Resource Section – Formerly named the ‘Members’ Section’, this section was renamed to provide clarity for members. This section still includes Westlaw and other legal resources. If you previously had Westlaw or another resource bookmarked, you may need to log in again on the new site.
- Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) – Providing a free, confidential assistance program for Saskatchewan lawyers, judges, law students and their immediate families.
- Act, Code and Rules – A direct link to the Legal Professions Act, 1990, the Code of Professional Conduct and Law Society Rules.
- QB Rules and Forms – The Queen’s Bench Forms in both PDF and Word formats.
- Resources Search – Simple, one-stop searching for books, e-books and videos from the Law Society Library.
- News, Media and Publications – Links to popular news sources and resources such as Legal Sourcery, Case Mail, the Limitations Manual, and Annual Reports.
- External Resources – Links to popular external resources and organizations such as CanLII, Courts of Saskatchewan and the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA).
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.
The Law Society launched our new updated website on January 11. Thank you for your patience as we work out a few bugs and for your feedback on future improvements. Please continue to provide feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to provide updates as new improvements are implemented.
Over the next several days, we will highlight specific changes and enhancements to better familiarize the users with the new website. Today we focus on the new main page.
The new website not only has a more attractive look but has been reorganized based on feedback and analytics of the old site.
The menu is located in the top left corner. The main menu headings have been simplified and are mostly unchanged from the previous website. However, please note the inclusion of a new ‘Initiatives’ page and the switch from ‘Library’ to ‘Legal Resources’.
In the top right corner, please note the new slider feature. This is where information concerning new innovations or projects will be housed.
In the middle of the page, three categories of Quicklinks have been incorporated: Public, Lawyers & Students, and Resources & Support. We believe that these Quicklinks should eliminate approximately 80% of the site searches the occurred on the old site.
Below the Quicklinks, we have replaced our news section with the latest posts from our award-winning blog, Legal Sourcery. Previously, items from our news section would be reposted on Legal Sourcery. We have decided simply to post news items on the blog to avoid this reduplication. Posting news items in the blog format also allows users to search for items by keyword or category.
Stay tuned for a closer look at the changes outlined above and other website enhancements.
At Convocation on December 6, 2018, the Benchers elected Leslie Belloc-Pinder, as President, and Gerald Tegart, Q.C., as Vice President, for 2019. We congratulate our new President and Vice President and would like to thank our outgoing President, Craig Zawada, Q.C., for his tireless work in 2018. Please see our website for a full list of our newly elected Benchers.
Leslie Belloc-Pinder, President LL.B, BA
Leslie Belloc-Pinder graduated at 22 from the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan in 1984. She articled and worked as a junior lawyer with McDougall Ready Wakeling for a couple of years and then joined Legal Aid in the Saskatoon Rural Office. In 1989, she began her 29 year career with her partners at Hnatyshyn Gough.
Ms. Belloc-Pinder’s practice focused primarily on civil litigation with an emphasis on child protection until her appointment as an adjudicator with the Indian Residential Schools Independent Assessment Process from 2009 to 2016. In that capacity, she travelled across Canada listening to the evidence of claimants seeking compensation for abuse they experienced in residential schools and writing hundreds of original and appeal decisions.
In other adjudicative roles, Ms. Belloc-Pinder chaired the Saskatchewan Farm Land Security Board for 10 years and was recently appointed Chair of the provincial Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeal Board. In 2016, the federal Minister of Labour appointed Ms. Belloc-Pinder to decide complaints under the Canada Labour Code and in 2017 the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change named her a review officer responsible to conduct hearings pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Beginning in January 2018, Ms. Belloc-Pinder assumed a part-time position with Canada’s largest administrative tribunal, the Immigration and Refugee Board. She now sits as a member of the Immigration Appeal Division in the Western Region.
Ms. Belloc-Pinder was a sessional lecturer for both the Colleges of Commerce (in business law) and Law (in civil procedure) at the U of S for a decade. She has devoted much time and energy advocating for women and social justice initiatives with such organizations as the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and the Saskatoon Women’s Network. She is also an avid athlete, and retired soccer team manager.
Within the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Ms. Belloc-Pinder was elected as a Bencher in 2015, Vice-President for 2018, and President for 2019. To date, she has served on the Ethics, Professional Standards, Conduct Investigation, Legal Resources and Justicia committees.
Gerald Tegart, Q.C.
Gerald Tegart was called to the Bar in 1977. He attended university in Regina and Saskatoon and has lived and practised law in Regina since graduating from the U of S College of Law in 1976. He articled with what is now the Ministry of Justice and subsequently served in the government for 37 years, as a prosecutor, a legal advisor to multiple government agencies and a legal manager, including four years as Saskatchewan’s Deputy Minister of Justice. He now practices as a sole practitioner with a focus on arbitration and other adjudicative work. He also provides advisory services to businesses and government institutions.
Gerald has been an active volunteer, both in the community and with a variety of law-related organizations. He is a past president of the Regina Bar Association, has served on the CBA Saskatchewan council and was a member of the CBA Task Force on Conflicts of Interest. He is a past member of the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan and the board of directors of the Canadian Centre for Court Technology.
In 2014 he was elected by the benchers to fill a vacancy created by a judicial appointment. Since then he has carried out regular bencher functions and has served on several committees, including Ethics, Governance, Admissions and Education, Discipline Executive and Access to Legal Services.
In 2017, he was appointed by the Minister of Justice to co-chair the Legal Services Task Team.
Collecting Demographic Data to Better Understand our Membership and Address Barriers in the Legal Profession
By Barbra Bailey, Director of Policy
The Saskatchewan public is growing increasingly diverse. Data from the 2016 Census shows that 16.3% of Saskatchewan’s population self-identified as being Aboriginal, compared to 14.7% in 2006. Further, in 2016, 10.8% of Saskatchewan’s population identified as visible minorities, compared to 3.6% of the population in 2006. Immigrants and non-permanent residents accounted for 11.65% of our province’s population in 2016, compared to 5.5% in 2006. The number of self-identifying same-sex couples increased by 6.7% from 2011-2016. The number of seniors (aged 65 and over) increased by 10.9% from 2011 to 2016. 
The Canadian legal profession is also becoming increasingly diverse and is now comprised of many equity-seeking groups. In Saskatchewan, we have seen an increase in the number of foreign-trained lawyers admitted to the bar through the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) process, with the number increasing from 5 in 2012 to 14 in 2017. However, while we can guess from statistics collected in other Canadian jurisdictions that diversity is increasing in other ways, the Law Society of Saskatchewan has not historically collected data on the demographics of our profession.
In order to better understand the makeup of the membership of the Law Society of Saskatchewan and how it changes over time, it is important to establish some baseline data. In order to do this, the Law Society began asking members to voluntarily self-identify as members of equity-seeking communities in 2017, through a survey delivered as part of the annual renewal process.
Over 900 members responded to the survey. Out of those responses, 6.5% identified as being First Nations, Métis or Inuit, 7% identified as being part of a visible minority group and 3% identified as being Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender. With respect to language, 0.5% identified French as being their first language, with an additional 1% stating that they were fluent in both French and English. A further 2% stated that their first language was something other than French or English. Finally, 2% stated that they had a physical disability and 3% identified as having mental health issues.
In order to measure changes in the makeup of our membership, the Law Society will continue collecting data through the annual renewal process on a voluntary basis.
The importance of data
The Benchers of the Law Society of Saskatchewan have identified the increase of equity, diversity and inclusion in legal service provision as a priority. A legal profession that reflects the diversity of society provides opportunities for all people to seek representation from a lawyer whom they feel comfortable with. In this way, having a diverse bar serves the public interest. The information collected through the survey will help the Law Society to both measure changes in the diversity of our profession over time, and develop and monitor equity initiatives.
The Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) Demographic Trends Report, published in 2013 as part of the CBA’s Futures Initiative, reported on 13 trends in the Canadian legal profession. One of those trends related to diversity, as follows:
According to the localized statistics available, progress on increasing diversity in the legal profession is not consistent with the make-up of the general population. An effort should be made to collect relevant data on a national basis.
The CBA’s primary report of the Futures Initiative, entitled “Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada,” published in 2014, also identified limited access to the legal profession by members of diverse and equity-seeking groups as a barrier to change in the legal profession. That report opined that lawyers from these groups could bring fresh perspectives and solutions to improving access to legal services in Canada and that, it is “important to develop models that facilitate an expansion of diversity within the legal profession, and to educate new types of lawyers who will be willing and able to innovate in meeting existing and unmet needs.” The Futures Report also listed the absence of good data on the Canadian legal profession as an impediment to change. 
The Futures Report made a recommendation that law societies should uniformly collect qualitative and quantitative data about the demographic composition of all licensed legal service providers and publish the data in aggregate form. The Report anticipates that the information collected could be used to “raise awareness of barriers, provide an evidence base for examining diversity issues, identify regulatory problem areas, and show varied progress towards better diversity and inclusivity.” 
To get a better picture of the diversity within their membership, several law societies collect demographic data about language, race/ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation/sexual identity in addition to data about gender and age. They do so by including self-identification questions in their annual membership forms. To date, at least six other law societies collect different demographic data beyond gender and age: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec and Nova Scotia. The Law Societies Equity Network (LSEN) has developed common categories for comparing this data through the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, with the goal of creating a Diversity Profile of the Canadian Legal Profession. This data can be used to both measure diversity and to develop and monitor equity initiatives.
In January 2017, the Law Society of Saskatchewan re-established the Equity & Diversity Committee (the “Committee”). The Committee’s Terms of Reference state that it shall assist the Benchers of the Law Society of Saskatchewan by:
- monitoring developments and providing advice on issues affecting equity and diversity in the legal profession;
- exploring and recommending actions and/or initiatives to be taken with respect to equity and diversity within the legal profession; and
- making recommendations for and supporting ongoing education and awareness training for members of the legal profession relating to equity and diversity.
The Committee determined that an important first step in fulfilling its purpose was to become informed about the issues affecting equity and diversity in the legal profession and to establish baseline data about the makeup of the profession in Saskatchewan. The Committee therefore decided to begin collecting demographic data from members on a voluntary basis, using the categories developed jointly by the other jurisdictions in Canada that collect this data.
How the data will be used in Saskatchewan
As part of the annual renewal process, members may choose whether to complete a short survey which asks members how they identify with respect to gender, race, sexual orientation, disability and language. The survey is conducted through Survey Monkey so that the results cannot be associated with a member’s Law Society profile. Members who wish to identify with some of these communities or traits but not others may choose to answer only certain questions.
Members will then be asked to click one of two boxes, stating that they have either completed the survey or that they have chosen not to complete the survey. The survey results will be confidential and will only be available in aggregate form. In no way can they be used to identify any individual lawyer and the Law Society will not be able to determine which members took the survey.
The Law Society of Saskatchewan has collected data for many years about age, gender and type of practice of Saskatchewan lawyers. Driven in part by these statistics the Law Society recently developed several resources that can be used by legal work places in the areas of parental leave, flexible work arrangements and mentorship with the aim of retaining lawyers who may require some supports in those areas. The statistics showed that, although 49% of law students are women, only 37% of active lawyers in Saskatchewan are women and only 53% of those are in private practice, compared to 71% of male lawyers. The initiative, called the Justicia Project, was done in partnership with volunteers from Saskatchewan law firms who saw a need for those types of supports for lawyers.
The Justicia Project has been met with positive feedback and the Law Society would like to develop further resources and programming for other segments of the profession who may be in need of supports, due to barriers they may face in their career based on their personal circumstances. In order to address the need for initiatives that support our membership, we first need to know who our members and prospective members are and what type of needs they might have. To support these efforts, the Committee has invited members to share their personal experience as members of equity-seeking groups in either entering, practicing in, or remaining in the legal profession in Saskatchewan. To expand upon this understanding, the Committee plans to consult with the membership more widely in 2019 about any experiences they have had with respect to equity, diversity and inclusion issues within the legal profession.
The aggregate statistics collected through the both the annual renewal process and the upcoming consultation will help the Law Society of Saskatchewan to enhance the representation of diverse communities in the profession, to better understand demographic trends provincially and nationally, to develop programs and initiatives within the mandate of the Law Society of Saskatchewan to address issues relating to equity and diversity in the profession, to identify any arbitrary barriers to entry and advancement and to promote equity and diversity in the profession generally. We would appreciate your participation to help us carry out this important work.
 CBA Legal Futures Initiative, “Contributing Perspective: Demographic Trends” at p. 13
 CBA Legal Futures Initiative, “Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada,” at pg. 26
 Ibid., p. 48-49.