B.C. articling students can now act as commissioners

As of Sept. 1, the Law Society of British Columbia’s has a new regulation that allows articling students to serve as commissioners and take affidavits in B.C. The move extends the work the LSBC started in 2011 giving students greater powers to act.

“This rule change was part of ongoing efforts by the Benchers to help make legal services more accessible and affordable for the public,” LSBC spokesman David Jordan said in an e-mail.
 
“In September 2011, new law society rules took effect that allow articled students to provide all legal services that a lawyer is permitted to provide, with some exceptions, with the supervising lawyer responsible for ensuring the student is competent and properly prepared.”

Jordan said the authority granted to lawyers to act as commissioners for affidavits happened to fall under the Evidence Act, and at the time that act did not extend the authority to act as a commissioner of affidavits to articled students.

“The law society requested that the act be changed, and it was. So as of Sept. 1, acting as a commissioner for affidavits is included in the services an articled student can provide.”

The new service will be a positive benefit to legal firms, said Bradley Morse, dean of Thompson Rivers University law school, especially for the smaller law firms that are common throughout B.C.

“It is often difficult to find enough work for students in one-, two-, or three-person law firms, so this is another thing that a student can now do,” he said.

At the same, he said, students often bring language skills into a law firm and that skill combined with the commissioner abilities can be valuable as the student can now assist in interpreting and dealing with documents where the client may have English as a second language.

It will also free up the time of a senior lawyer who can now delegate such duties to an articling student, said Morse.

“That’s a benefit to the public in terms of cost,” he said.

Allison Cowen, manager of student and associate programs Farris & Co., said it was another service that articling students can provide.

“When it occurs on a file, it saves having to bring someone in. And, it’s good experience for the student.”

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