Law Times

January 25, 2016

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Page 2 January 25, 2016 • Law Times NEWS GPLLM Global Professional Master of Laws [Get a Master of Laws] Because business issues are legal issues. So if you want to get ahead in business, get the degree that gets you there faster. ONE YEAR – PART - TIME – NO THESIS – FOR L AWYERS AND NON - LAWYERS Untitled-8 1 2015-03-02 11:15 AM "If you're going to provide pro- cedural guidelines, you have to ensure degrees of f lexibility that don't make this so burdensome as to be frankly unhelpful and something that becomes so bur- densome it increases legal costs." The LSUC became aware of the concept of compliance- based entity regulation several years ago, based on practices in Australia, where the regulation policy has been in place for more than a decade. It's also now in use in the United Kingdom and in the ini- tial stages of implementation or consideration in other Canadian provinces such as Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Earnshaw says the LSUC sees the potential policy change as a positive step in addressing problems before they happen. The LSUC established the task force in June 2015 and it has been studying the issue internationally and nationally since. Earnshaw says the current regulatory scheme at the law so- ciety is primarily reactive, with the regulator addressing public or client concerns against a law- yer or paralegal after a complaint is made. He says the key concept behind compliance-based en- tity regulation is that it's proac- tive and establishes a conduct and ethical framework for individuals and firms to act by to avoid com- plaints in the first place. He says the call for input will help establish what those regula- tions and boundaries will be, but the eventual policy, if accepted by Convocation, will include prac- tice management principles, es- tablish goals and expectations for lawyers and paralegals, and pro- vide tools to ensure compliance. "It gets out in front of the po- tential for complaints and will reduce complaints as a result," Earnshaw says. He says it's difficult to compare successes in the U.K. with compli- ance-based entity regulation to the potential impacts in Ontario as the British system is more proscrip- tive. But he adds that Australia's system is more similar. "We do find the Australian model to be more indicative of where we think this might go if the model is adopted by Convo- cation," Earnshaw says, adding that in Australia there has been a substantial drop in complaints reported . Earnshaw says that besides a potential reduction in com- plaints, a compliance-based entity regulation policy will improve practice management through the promotion of ethi- cal best practices for firms and individuals. Earnshaw says it would pro- vide f lexibility and autonomy for practitioners and firms to de- velop their own internal systems and processes to ensure compli- ance while ref lecting the scope and scale of their operations. "One of the big advantages the task force sees is that, although principles are prescribed by the regulator, the method of achiev- ing those principles by the en- tities that are regulated is not specified," Earnshaw explains. "So there's tremendous f lexibility, there's greater autonomy. Firms can adapt to those principles having regard to their size, their practice area, their work environ- ment, and so on." Having that f lexibility is im- portant, says Shane Katz, a per- sonal injury lawyer from Singer Kwinter. He says it will be vital for the LSUC to ensure imple- mentation of the new policy framework will not be too oner- ous on smaller firms and sole- practitioner practices. "Large firms have different re- sources, and to require firms that practise in the same industry but are of much smaller scale to com- ply with the exact same guide- lines and principles might not be fair," he says. Wright says sections of the proposal that touch on manag- ing client expectations cause her some concern for the smaller firm as well and how that could ultimately affect access to justice. "Management of client ex- pectations is a hugely important thing that lawyers do, so the ques- tion becomes how do you regu- late that; we need to be very cau- tious about adding burdensome regulations that are formulaic in nature because managing client expectations can happen in any number of ways," she says. "You may cause the cost of legal ser- vices to go up and unknowingly and unintentionally create larger access to justice issues." Earnshaw says that while the task force sees some great advan- tages to such a policy, he is hoping for a strong outpouring of com- ment, one way or the other, from the profession in determining if and how such a regulation should proceed, the size of operations it should govern, and how it should be monitored. For the first time in the LSUC's history, commen- tary can be provided through an online form and submissions will also be accepted by e-mail and traditional paper mail until the deadline of March 31. "If they understand the differ- ent legal industries and use that to create guidelines, policies, and procedures, it could be very help- ful for the profession," Katz adds. "The drawback could be that if those guidelines and policies are onerous in terms of the costs involved or the expectations, the smaller firms won't be able to do the compliancy work and that could really hurt a business that's barely surviving." The Law Society is offering a free informational webcast in English and French on Feb. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. to provide law- yers and paralegals with an op- portunity to learn more about compliance-based entity regula- tion and to ask questions of task force members. People are asked to register for the webcast by Feb. 3 through the LSUC web site. The webcast will also account for two substantive CPD hours. LT Regulatory shift would lower complaints: task force chair Continued from page 1 One of the big advantages the task force sees is that . . . the method of achieving those principles by the entities that are regulated is not specified. Ross Earnshaw

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