April 2016 Section Update

  • April 01, 2016

Keep Current: A review of provincial Section meetings

Joint CBABC Women Lawyers Forum & Legal Research

Meeting in Review: January 21, 2016
Speaker: Maureen F. Fitzgerald, PhD, JD, LLM, BComm
Topic: Lean Out, Not In

Maureen F. Fitzgerald, PhD, JD, LLM, BComm gave a presentation to a joint meeting of the Legal Research Section and the  CBABC Women Lawyers Forum based on her new book, Lean Out – Shatter the glass ceiling to success, happiness and work-life balance. Maureen discussed the fact that despite years of climbing corporate ladders, women are still lagging behind. Many are stalling at mid career while others are leaving to find more balanced and meaningful work. Most are working way too hard simply trying to have fulfilling lives both at home and at work at the same time. While men continue to move into the upper levels, women are told that they simply need to be more courageous or work harder to get to the top. In an intelligent and humorous presentation, Fitzgerald refused to blame women and shifted the focus to the barriers that hold women back, including double standards and the 24/7 workplace. In doing so, she not only opened eyes but provided practical tools for both men and women who want to dismantle the glass ceiling – once and for all.

Taxation Law

Meeting in Review:  January 27, 2016
Speaker: Sherra Profit, Taxpayers' Ombudsman
Topic: Maximizing Service - Assisting Taxpayers in Resolving Their Service Complaints

On January 27, 2016, the Taxation Law Section welcomed special guest Ms. Sherra Profit, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman. Ms. Profit presented to the Section while in Vancouver raising awareness of the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman (OTO) and its role, including how the Ombudsman can assist tax practitioners. The OTO is an independent body reporting to the Minister of National Revenue in respect of service related issues involving the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Attendees were treated to an entertaining “tour” of the OTO with illustrative examples that addressed the composition of the OTO, the scope of the OTO’s mandate in relation to individual taxpayers, the service complaint process, and the conduct of OTO investigations into systemic service issues at the CRA. Stay tuned for Taxation Law Section meeting announcements for spring 2016 – more great presentations are in the works for April and May.

Construction Law 

Meeting in Review: February 10, 2016
Speaker: John Logan, Jenkins Mazban Logan LLP
Topic: Construction Arbiration: Be Careful What You Wish For

On Wednesday, February 10, John Logan of Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP presented to the Construction Law Section on Arbitration of Construction Disputes: Be Careful What You Wish For. John discussed some of the pitfalls associated with arbitration from the perspective of an arbitrator, and emphasized the need for counsel to be prepared for the differences between litigation and arbitration. In particular, John stressed that counsel need to be prepared for the initial pre-arbitral meeting, in which many of the rules of the game will be set, often to the detriment of unprepared counsel. The talk was well attended and there were many questions asked and answered, along with an interesting discussion around the advantages and disadvantages of having a construction lawyer appointed as an arbitrator as opposed to a judge who may or may not have that same level of experience in the industry.

ADR Vancouver 

Meeting in Review:  February 16, 2016
Speakers: Camille Karlicki; Erin Berger, Staff Lawyers, Professional Conduct, Law Society of British Columbia; and Kari Boyle, Mediate BC Roster Society
Topic: Ethical Dilemmas, Practical Problems and Avoiding Complaints

Ms. Karlicki and Ms. Berger started by giving the Section a brief outline of the complaints and discipline process, including both early resolution and disposition by the Discipline Committee. Typical sources of complaints include complaints by opposing parties, many of whom are lay litigants.

At the beginning of 2015 there were three hundred and sixty-three outstanding complaints against lawyers in all areas. There were no complaints against lawyers acting in the role of mediator. New complaints during 2015 totalled six hundred and twenty-eight. Of the total nine hundred and ninety-one complaints in 2015, the Law Society had no jurisdiction with respect to twenty-nine. Sixty-four were resolved at the staff level without further action. One hundred and fifty-seven were not valid. Forty-five were withdrawn or otherwise did not continue. Twenty-four were referred to the practice standards committees and seventy-five were referred to the Discipline Committee, leaving three hundred and ninety open complaints in all areas at the end of 2015.

To avoid complaints, manage expectations. Endeavor to use clear, accurate and professional communications. Seek assistance early, don’t dabble in unfamiliar areas and understand professional and regulatory obligations. When responding to the Law Society, the response should be timely and substantive. Communication should be respectful, and counsel should be consulted early.

Kari Boyle closed the meeting with a few comments from Mediate BC’s perspective.