Rule Changes from December 2019 Board Meeting
The Board approved changes regarding information maintained on the member roll and the student-at-law register (Rules 39 and 40). The information publicly available on the Lawyer Directory was also clarified (Rule 40.1). The changes to the Rules outline what information about current and former lawyers, as well as students, can be made public. All other information not included in the rules is private and confidential.
The following information that can now also be made public on the Lawyer Directory includes:
- the date a lawyer’s membership with the Law Society ceased;
- restrictions, conditions and undertakings related to the practice of law;
- custodianship information; and
- disciplinary information for current students-at-law.
Lawyer Directory serves to help the public find a lawyer who is best suited to manage their legal needs. The rule changes ensure that the public is provided with the information needed to be informed about lawyers in Alberta.
Disclosure of Law Society Records
Changes regarding the disclosure of Law Society records were also approved (Rules 44, 45, 154 and 159.1). The rules were changed to no longer list all of the Law Society’s records as we do not maintain some of the records that were previously listed as disclosable. In addition, the rule regarding the disclosure of member records and student-at-law records, which are confidential, has been changed to limit the circumstances in which these records may be disclosed.
Conduct Committee Review Process
The Board approved changes establishing the process for a Conduct Committee review when a conduct matter is referred to that committee under section 56 of the Legal Profession Act (Rule 88). The amendments do not change the process substantially, but the Rule has been simplified and reorganized for greater clarity and increased efficiency of the Conduct Committee review process.
The amended Rule also sets out the process for conducting a Mandatory Conduct Advisory, which is one of the avenues available to the Conduct Committee during its review to investigate the matter and provide directions to the lawyer concerned.
In conjunction with these amendments, the Board also approved a new Conduct Committee Guideline and amendments to the Mandatory Conduct Advisory Guideline.
Publication of Hearing Outcomes and Notices of Suspension/Disbarment
The Board approved changes governing publication of hearing outcomes and notices of suspensions and disbarment. New Rule 106 maintains the Law Society’s ability to publish hearing outcomes following discipline hearings, appeals, resignation applications in the face of discipline, suspensions and disbarments. Written decisions will be posted without waiting for appeal periods to expire or for outstanding appeals to conclude. Publication of hearing outcomes will be timelier and more transparent as a result of the amendments. Adjudicators continue to have the authority to make publication directions, when appropriate.
The rules continue to permit the Law Society to publish statistical and educational information about hearings, and to publish information about hearing outcomes pending the publication of written decisions. Information from private hearings continues to be protected from publication.
New Rule 107 provides direction about the content of notices of suspensions and disbarments. It also clarifies the further notices required when lawyers appeal and apply to stay suspension or disbarment orders.
The new rules clarify the Law Society’s publication processes and ensure that disciplinary information is made available to the public in a timely and accountable manner.