British Columbia’s mandatory continuing legal education program, the first in Canada when implemented by the Law Society of B.C. in January 2009, is gaining strong support from lawyer who see it as providing client benefits.
The results of a survey of B.C. lawyers released this month reveal that 78 per cent agree that continuing education should be mandatory for lawyers, with more than half saying that the annual requirement is likely to strengthen the quality of legal services that lawyers provide their clients.
Compliance rates gathered by the LSBC since the program’s start demonstrate most lawyers are complying with the new rules. By mid-April, only nine of B.C.’s more than 10,300 practising lawyers were still under suspension for failing to log the required number of hours for the past year.
“The survey results, plus the statistics we have been gathering since 2009, show us that lawyers are not only readily complying with the requirements, but that a majority expect the program is likely to be beneficial to clients,” said the LSBC’s director of education Alan Treleaven.
B.C. lawyers must take at least 12 hours of professional development in accredited programs. Other provinces have since implemented similar requirements. Lawyers who don’t fulfill the hours face penalties including additional fees and suspensions.
The online survey was completed by over 1,400 of the province’s practising lawyers and has an estimated margin of error of +/- three per cent, 19 times out of 20. The full survey results available on the LSBC’s web site.