BC Branch Highlights 2014

  • Michael Welsh

The new-year countdown

This past year was one of challenges and accomplishments.

Michael WelshForemost amongst the accomplishments was our successful intervention along with the Trial Lawyers Association of BC in the Villardell appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada that Branch President Alex Shorten addresses in his column in this issue. But there are a number of others.

  • SoloLink – Now entering its second season, our online forum focusing on the needs of small firms, sole practitioners and in-house counsel continues to gain momentum. It offers an opportunity for these practitioners to pose questions, offer advice, and exchange information; to mutually mentor and assist each other. SoloLink is a positive, real-time resource, which fills an immediate need for those practitioners who otherwise may have limited access to practice resources whether related to substantive or procedural legal matters, office management or general practice. To participate go to: sololink@cbabc.org and join. For those already participating, do not hesitate to post. All questions are good ones for which a colleague will be happy to provide suggested answers.
  • Submissions to Government: Again, as noted in the President’s column, we made a number of submissions to the BC government, including – A proposed Franchise Act, audio-recording of Medical Examinations (“IMEs”), a new draft Societies Act, the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act and revisions to wrongful death legislation to provide compensation for non-pecuniary losses.
  • B.C. Access to Justice Commission: Together with the provincial government, all levels of court, the Legal Services Society, Access Pro Bono, the Law Society of BC, the Law Foundation and a number of other participants, we are on the ground level of establishing an organization to better coordinate and promote collaboration among these groups to increase access to justice in BC.

The challenges our Branch faces mirror those of the CBA nationally. We have noted a lack of growth in membership. After taking a survey of BC lawyers, the Branch has taken the first of a number of steps to better serve our members and broaden membership. These include:

  • The Branch membership fee previously included one Section with a further fee for additional Sections. Now your basic membership fee gives membership access to all Sections and Forums. Members can use this to get all their CPD credits, a significant advantage over other lawyers who must pay for each CPD course, often at a price that equals or exceeds the CBA annual membership fee.
  • Our Branch is joining with those of each province and territory and the National CBA to undertake a major multi-year initiative, entitled “Re-Think.” We are working on a national level to make the changes necessary to our organization to enable it to serve the legal profession and the justice system in the 21st century.

Michael Welsh is a criminal and civil trial lawyer, mediator and arbitrator in the Okanagan with over three decades of courtroom experience. Michael is the current CBABC Executive Committee Secretary Treasurer.