The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the legal profession in our province in the public interest.

In my brief remarks when I swore in the new president and Benchers of the Law Society in January of this year—pre-pandemic, a long time ago—I ad-libbed (always a dangerous activity for a judge!) along the lines of:

You are the custodians of the rich traditions of the legal profession but you are not curators in some museum.

What I meant of course was that we look to the Law Society, among others, to preserve and pursue the values that are critical to the rule of law in our democratic society: an independent bench and bar diligently protecting and advancing the rights of the public.

But at the same time, the leaders of the legal profession are more than just curators of the status quo. We must frankly admit the system’s failings and, with imagination, look to reform our legal institutions where necessary to ensure all people have real access to the fruits of the rule of law.

I am pleased to say that the Law Society is embracing that challenge. It is moving ahead with new, exciting initiatives that aim to address the access to justice gap in our society, at least to a degree. Let me describe some of these initiatives here.

The Futures Task Force has come up with 23 recommendations aimed at enhancing the delivery of legal services. The recommendations include exploring emerging technologies, amending regulatory structures to allow for innovation in legal service delivery and alternative business structures, and the authorization of “regulatory sandboxes” to allow innovation to be piloted and evaluated in a controlled environment.

This latter recommendation complements the work of the Law Society’s Licensed Paralegal Task Force in considering the scope of practice for paralegals.

I congratulate President Craig Ferris and the Benchers for developing an ambitious and far-sighted agenda for transformative change in the legal profession.