VANCOUVER BC, March 3, 2022 – The Government of B.C. has introduced amendments to the Legal Profession Act which will provide the Law Foundation of BC the authority to approve the interest rates and service charges on lawyers’ pooled trust accounts. If passed, the amendments would establish similar requirements to those currently in place in Ontario. This will help promote certainty and reliability for the funding that the Law Foundation distributes as grants to support access to justice programs and initiatives in communities throughout the province.
“This is a good thing for people throughout BC, particularly for those who are unable to afford representation in dealings with the justice system,” says Lindsay LeBlanc, Chair of the Law Foundation of BC. “This benefits the collective good by providing more financial certainty for organizations providing vital free or low-cost services across the province.”
The Law Foundation is an independent non-profit foundation created to receive and distribute the interest on funds held in lawyers’ pooled trust accounts. This legislation will help ensure stable and reliable funding for the Law Foundation’s important work serving communities in BC through grants, scholarships, and other initiatives within the Foundation’s five mandate areas — legal aid, legal education, legal research, law reform and law libraries.
“There can be no better use of the interest on client funds held in lawyers’ pooled trust accounts than improving the availability of legal services in communities all over BC,” says Lisa Hamilton, President of the Law Society of British Columbia. “These funds and the work of the Law Foundation are an important way that the legal profession we regulate contributes to improving access to justice.”
If these amendments are enacted, lawyers will not need to take any action in response to the legislative change. The board of the Law Foundation will be adopting measures that ensure existing arrangements between financial institutions and the Law Foundation are deemed approved when the change comes into force.
“We have established good working relationships with financial institutions since the formation of the Foundation more than 50 years ago and will continue to honour our agreements with valued partners,” said LeBlanc. “The Law Foundation is grateful to the financial institutions that have in the past provided competitive rates of return on lawyers’ pooled trust accounts and we thank members of the profession who in the past have chosen preferred financial institutions.”
About the Law Foundation of British Columbia
The Law Foundation of British Columbia (the Law Foundation) is an independent non-profit foundation established in 1969 under the Legal Profession Act. The Foundation receives the interest on funds held in lawyers’ pooled trust accounts maintained in the banks and credit unions of the province. The Foundation in turn distributes these funds by way of grants devoted to the approximately 150 programs that it funds on an ongoing basis across the province. To learn more about the Law Foundation, please visit lawfoundationbc.org.
About the Law Society of British Columbia
The Law Society of British Columbia protects the public interest through regulation of the practice of law, including the standards we set for professional responsibility of BC lawyers and articled students and upholding those standards through a complaints and discipline process.
For media inquiries, contact:
The Law Foundation of British Columbia
Director of Communications
The Law Society of British Columbia