4th Session, 40th Legislature

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Bill 19


  Bilingual version (PDF) Explanatory Note

(Assented to                                         )

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:

C.C.S.M. c. L107 amended

1           The Legal Profession Act is amended by this Act.

2           Section 1 is amended by adding the following definition:

"law firm" means a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a law corporation or any other joint arrangement or legal entity that provides legal services. (« cabinet d'avocats »)

3            Section 5 is amended by

(a) in clause (a), by striking out "10" and substituting "eight";

(b) in clause (b), by striking out "two practising lawyers" and substituting "one practising lawyer";

(c) by replacing subclause (c)(ii) with the following:

(ii) the Central and Dauphin Electoral District,

(d) by repealing subclause (c)(iii);

(e) by adding the following after clause (c):

(c.1) four practising lawyers appointed under subsection 7(1.1);

(f) by replacing clause (f) with the following:

(f) six persons appointed under subsection 7(1);

(g) by repealing clause (g).

4(1)        Subsection 7(1) is amended

(a) in the section heading, by striking out "Appointed" and substituting "Appointed lay"; and

(b) in the part before clause (a), by striking out "Four" and substituting "Six".

4(2)        The following is added after subsection 7(1):

Appointed practising benchers

7(1.1)      Four persons who are practising lawyers shall be appointed by the benchers using the criteria established in the rules made under this section.

4(3)        The following is added before subsection 7(2):

Rules re appointed practising benchers

7(1.2)      The benchers must make rules governing the appointment of practising lawyers as benchers, including rules that

(a) establish criteria for appointing practising lawyers as benchers, such as the need for representation by region, demographics, type of law practice, or professional, leadership or management skills;

(b) require that only those who are practising lawyers on the first Monday in March of the election year are entitled to be appointed.

4(4)        Subsection 7(2) is amended

(a) in the section heading and in the part before clause (a) by striking out "appointed benchers" and substituting "appointed lay benchers and appointed practising benchers";

(b) in clause (b), by striking out "benchers" and substituting "appointed benchers"; and

(c) by adding the following after clause (d):

(e) establish criteria for the eligibility of a practising lawyer to be appointed under subsection (1.1).

5           Section 23 is amended by striking out "or professional corporations".

6           The following is added after section 24 and before the centred heading that follows it:


Rules re law firms

24.1        The benchers may make rules respecting law firms that

(a) permit and regulate different types of arrangements to provide legal services, including arrangements between lawyers and between lawyers and non-lawyers, and that establish conditions and requirements for the arrangements;

(b) require law firms to register with the society;

(c) require law firms to designate a practising lawyer of the firm who is to receive official communication from the society;

(d) specify what information the law firms must provide and keep current with the society;

(e) set fees to be paid by law firms.

Application of Act and rules

24.2(1)     This Act and the rules apply to members despite any relationship they may have with a law firm.

Obligations to clients not diminished

24.2(2)     The fiduciary and ethical obligations of members, and their obligations respecting confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege, to persons receiving legal services are not diminished by the fact that the services are provided by a member through a law firm.

7           Subsection 31(1) is amended by striking out "or" at the end of clause (a), adding "or" at the end of clause (b) and adding the following after clause (b):

(c) as part of any other type of law firm if permitted by the rules to the extent provided for in the rules.

8           Section 39 is amended by adding the following after clause (c):

(d) practice arrangements for law corporations as part of another type of law firm, including rules establishing conditions and requirements for these arrangements.

9           Clause 43(b) is amended by striking out "for lawyers and students" and substituting "for lawyers, law firms and students".

10          Clause 69(2)(c) is replaced with the following:

(c) the president or the chief executive officer, or a person designated by either of them, may disclose the following to the members, to the governing body of the legal profession in a foreign jurisdiction, to the public or any combination of them:

(i) the name of the member who is the subject of the complaint, investigation or charge and the name of any law corporation of which the member is a director, officer or shareholder,

(ii) the complaint or charge against the member,

(iii) when clause 37(1)(c) or 68(c) applies, that restrictions have been imposed on a member's practice or that a member has been suspended from practising law, pending completion of the investigation and any disciplinary proceeding that may follow, and the reasons for doing so, if applicable,

(iv) the list of scheduled hearings referred to in provision 10 of subsection 71(1); and

11          Subsection 72(3) is amended by adding "or an order under section 73 to pay a fine" after "a fine or costs".

12(1)       Subsection 73(1) is amended

(a) in the section heading, by striking out "interjurisdictional";

(b) in the French version, by striking out "de collaborateur" and substituting "d'avocat adjoint"; and

(c) by striking out "an interjurisdictional law firm" and substituting "a law firm".

12(2)       Subsection 73(2) is replaced with the following:

Contravention by law firm

73(2)       If a panel finds a law firm guilty of contravening this Act, the rules or the code of conduct, the panel may do one or more of the following:

(a) reprimand the firm;

(b) order the firm to pay a fine of not more than $100,000;

(c) make any other order or take any other action the panel thinks is appropriate in the circumstances.

12(3)       Subsection 73(3) is amended

(a) in the French version, by striking out "de collaborateur" and substituting "d'avocat adjoint"; and

(b) by striking out "an interjurisdictional law firm" and substituting "a law firm".

13          The Division heading before section 77 is replaced with "PRIVILEGE".

14          Section 79 is repealed.

15(1)        The following is added after subsection 83(1):

Application of Part to law firms

83(1.1)     If the benchers make rules respecting law firms, this Part applies, with necessary changes, to law firms as if they were members to the extent provided for in the rules.

15(2)       Subsection 83(2) is amended

(a) in the part before clause (a), by striking out "persons" and substituting "persons or entities"; and

(b) by adding the following after clause (b):

(c) law firms.

Transitional rules

16          The benchers may make rules dealing with the transition to the new composition of the Law Society's governing body as set out in section 5 of The Legal Profession Act as amended by section 3 of this Act, including rules about the election and appointment of benchers in accordance with section 5 as it will read on May 4, 2016.

Coming into force

17(1)       Subject to subsection (2), this Act comes into force on the day it receives royal assent.

17(2)       Section 3 and subsections 4(1) and 4(2) come into force on May 4, 2016.

Explanatory Note

This Bill amends The Legal Profession Act.

The composition of the Law Society's governing body, the benchers, is changed. The number of public representatives is increased from 4 to 6. In addition, the requirement for the federal and provincial Ministers of Justice to sit as ex officio benchers is repealed. Practising lawyers may now be appointed as benchers in accordance with the criteria set out in the rules. The total number of benchers who are practising lawyers remains the same at 16, with 12 elected benchers and 4 appointed benchers.

The protection of the public in the delivery of legal services is extended to apply to a law firm, not just to an individual lawyer. Benchers may make rules about law firms, including rules for practice arrangements between lawyers and non-lawyers. These rules may also deal with the complaints and discipline process, the financial accountability rules and the use of a code of conduct.

Information about a lawyer who is the subject of a complaint, investigation or charge under the Act may be published before a finding is made.