Society news2017 NSBS Annual Report now available online
The Society's 2017 Annual Report and Financial Statements are now available on the website.
The documents, along with a 2017 Annual Report Summary booklet, were presented at the Society’s 2017 Annual Meeting on June 17 at the Schulich School of Law in Halifax.
It was a pivotal year for the ongoing priority to transform regulation, Past President R. Daren Baxter QC, TEP said in his year-end report: “We moved from talk to action. Our focus is on implementing changes in the way we regulate, with a view to easing the regulatory burden and encouraging innovation in the delivery of legal services.”
The Society designed and tested a Management System for Ethical Legal Practice (MSELP), which includes 10 elements based on existing ethical rules, as well as tools and resources to support enhanced quality of practice. Pending legislative amendments to the Legal Profession Act, the Society is working toward implementing the new MSELP self-assessment process for law firms in 2018.
A new “Triple P” approach to regulation – proactive, principled and proportionate – now guides “all aspects of the Society’s work and is responsive to a diverse and rapidly changing world, intended to enhance the quality of legal services and to facilitate innovation,” said Mr. Baxter, also emphasizing the Society’s new three-year approach to fiscal planning and budgeting.
Read Mr. Baxter’s full report in the 2017 NSBS Annual Report. The 70-page document also includes reports from the Society’s regulatory and Council committees, Executive Director Darrel Pink, the Equity & Access Office and Public Representatives, plus detailed updates on professional responsibility, admissions and credentialing activity.
A few highlights from the 2016-2017 year:
EXCELLENCE IN REGULATION AND GOVERNANCE
- Council adopted the Strategic Framework to guide the Society’s activities for 2016-2019.
- The Regulatory Objectives are now driving all operations and activities, to regulate in a manner that is risk-focused, proactive, principled and proportionate (Triple P).
- Legal Services Support, a new approach to regulation, is being implemented following extensive consultation and research, with a launch expected in early 2018.
- The Society has requested legislative amendments to the Legal Profession Act to enable a new legal services regulation model.
- The risk management protocol continues to evolve, with Triple-P risk indicators that allow the Society to ‘educate towards compliance’ and resolve many matters earlier without a formal regulatory response.
- 460 callers used the Society’s informative telephone complaints intake process (down 12.6% from the previous year).
- Our work is changing the conversation with complainants and lawyers at the earliest intake call stage by encouraging informal dispute resolution, expanding tools and resources to help educate both parties, and incorporating restorative justice concepts.
- The Succession Planning Task Force is examining all aspects of this issue.
- A new three-year budgeting process aligns with the Society’s overall planning cycles. Calendars and timelines are changing to better reflect the requirements of implementation of the Strategic Framework.
Online resource improvements:
- An enhanced Code of Professional Conduct launched in May 2017, with contextual links to ethics advice, decision digests and other added value materials.
- A new Online Lawyers’ Reading Room provides lawyers and articled clerks with access to licensed ebook collections from Irwin Law and Emond Publishing.
- The website has a new section with checklists and guidelines for opening a new practice. Guides for new lawyers, articled clerks, principals and international transfers were also added.
- New professional standards for law office management and criminal law practice continue to be developed; a number of new and revised real estate and family law standards were introduced.
IMPROVING THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
- A new Equity and Diversity Standard was added to the Professional Standards in Law Office Management.
- Council approved a plan to add two new Public Representatives to Council.
- Community engagement and stakeholder collaboration increasingly drive the Society’s access to justice work through local and national A2J networks such as partnering with United Way Halifax and participation in CBA-NS Law Day, Access to Justice Week and a roundtable hosted by the Action Committee on Access to Civil and Family Justice.
- The Society’s #TalkJustice approach to public engagement was adopted for broader application by the Access to Justice Coordinating Committee. The project asks Nova Scotians to help improve delivery of justice and legal services by sharing their stories and experiences via an online tool at talkjustice.ca. A number of community workshops also took place through the year.
- A collaboration among justice sector stakeholders continues to improve criminal justice services in Nova Scotia. It launched an early resolution pilot in February, promoting initial sentencing positions in some cases. It is also working to increase the use of video conferencing in efforts to reduce court delays, increase safety and improve access.
- The Society and a group of pro bono lawyers are key partners in the North Preston Land Recovery Initiative to resolve long-standing land title issues in African Nova Scotian communities.
- A formal three-year implementation plan is under development to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
- The Society continues to promote cultural competence. The Skills Course provides this education to all articled clerks; the Society provides workshops to staff, Council, committee chairs and targeted committees on cultural competence, mitigating unconscious bias, worldview intelligence and more.
- The online Equity Portal continues to grow, assisting legal entities in building cultural competence and equity strategies with training videos, toolkits, model policies, a reference library and more.
- The Society developed new Guidelines to Support Trans and Gender-Variant Clients, Colleagues and Employees (to be launched July 20 during a Pride Week workshop).