Reflections on a year of growth
by Kerry-Lynne D Findlay
As a year of Presidential duties draws to a close, I am somewhat amazed at all we have been able to accomplish in the Branch since last August. It has been an exciting year of strengthening relationships, and expanding our influence and power base both in BC and within the National CBA.
We successfully built new bridges between the profession and government, while at the same time taking strong stances on critical issues such as BC OnLine and Legal Aid. We invested in a personalized one-to-one Government Relations program, consistently presenting our spokespersons, our viewpoints and our expertise to both the governing New Democrats and the Official Opposition Liberals. The payoff on this investment will continue to be felt in the years ahead.
We made changes to the administration of Council meetings; encouraged broad member participation in Committees; and developed cost-recovered, one-day “President’s Forums” to allow for expert presentations and panel discussions on issues of current importance to the profession. We held two very successful Forums this year, one on Solicitor’s Issues and one on Marketing, and have committed to two more to be held next year. We also took part in difficult but constructive negotiations at the National CBA level regarding governance, and the issue of fee and member service revenue sharing. In both instances, the interests of the BC Branch were strongly supported in the resulting agreements.
One of our proudest success stories this year was the establishment of the Bar Benevolent Fund. Terry La Liberte, QC and Gary Cohen, QC moved and seconded a successful motion to add $20 to the 1997/98 Law Society practice fee for this purpose. Additional funds were raised through a President’s Auction at the Branch Christmas Party, donations from the ‘88 Graduating Class at the UBC Law School, and through the continued support of local Bar Associations, law firms and individual lawyers.
The number of BC Branch Sections grew to 69, with five new Sections approved: Aboriginal Law, Vancouver Island; ADR Nanaimo; Environmental Law, Victoria; Public Sector Lawyers; Young Lawyers, Westminster. Section activity continues to be the mainstay of Branch membership participation, with active participation and interest across BC.
On behalf of the Branch, the Legislation and Law Reform Committee coordinated the review of legislation, regulations or policy in the following areas: human rights code, unclaimed intangible property, mandatory criminal record checks, freedom of information and protection of privacy, criminal injuries compensation, court order enforcement, child protection, industrial and intellectual property.
The list of the Branch’s 1998 success stories is too long for this space: Law Week, Dial-a Law, Lawyer Referral, Law and the Media Seminar, Member Services, and Communications all deserve many words of description and praise. Suffice it to say that we stand stronger and more prepared than ever for any challenge that may be thrown at our profession in the coming years.
This year’s activities and accomplishments were made possible through the efforts of the hundreds of members who served on Executive Committee, Provincial Council, Committees and Sections, or who actively assisted Local and County Bar Associations. Supported by an exceptional Branch staff, led by Executive Director Barry Cavanaugh, Director of Finance and Administration Patti Graham, and Director of Communications Caroline Nevin, the Branch has achieved significant gains on behalf of its members. To all of them, and in particular my colleagues on this year’s Executive Committee, I express my deep appreciation and thanks for your support during a busy, successful year.
This article was published in the August 1998 issue of BarTalk. © 1998 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.