The AWL Board calls upon all members of the Law Society of Alberta to attend and vote at the Special Meeting it has scheduled for February 6, 2023.
The Special Meeting has been set to vote on a resolution (“Resolution”) to repeal Rule 67.4 of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta. Rule 67.4 provides that the Benchers may prescribe specific continuing professional development requirements (“CPD”) for members and that failure to comply can result in suspension.
The AWL Board opposes the Resolution. If passed, the concern is that it would (a) undermine the ability for the Benchers of the Law Society to mandate cultural competency education for members of the profession; and (b) send a message to members of equity-seeking groups that the legal profession in Alberta plays no part in working to achieve equity, diversity and/or inclusivity in the profession or in the justice system, and that Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is not a priority.
The Resolution was raised in a January 13, 2023 petition signed by 50 members of the Law Society of Alberta. The petition states that Rule 67.4 should be repealed on the basis that (a) it “unnecessarily diminishes and hinders professional autonomy in the area of CPD to the detriment of the profession and the public”; (b) “the Legal Profession Act does not authorize the Benchers to prescribe and mandate any specific CPD including any specific cultural, political, or ideological education on Alberta lawyers”; and (c) “under Rule 67. 1 (3) each lawyer possesses both the freedom and the responsibility to determine whether a learning activity meets the criteria of Rule 67. 1 (2) and therefore qualifies as CPD”.
The AWL Board disagrees with the arguments in the petition, and is of the view that the Legal Profession Act does indeed grant authority to the Benchers to give effect to Rule 67.4. The ability to practice law is a privilege that comes with obligations that include seeking to understand our cultural biases and how these impact our ability to discharge our duties to the profession.
It is also important to emphasize that, in the spirit of Reconciliation, the AWL Board fully supports Indigenous cultural competency training (among others) in accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #27 which specifically calls upon law societies in Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate Indigenous cultural competency training.
Please attend the Special Meeting and vote as you see fit. You must pre-register to receive the meeting link.
Link to Register for Special Meeting: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_iQZjXhLuQG-dNPowwcCF4A