ISSUE 2 – September 2015

BLOG: Risk assessment
A key element of fire prevention – and proactive regulation!

Andrew Garbutt, Member, Entity Regulation Steering Committee

Andrew GarbuttI think it will be clear to us all the role regulation has to play in protecting the public. Ensuring that lawyers are properly qualified to give legal advice, and do so in an ethical way, is the basic remit of all legal regulators. How will this be different under the new ‘Triple P’ approach in Nova Scotia, and what role does risk play? Let’s just take one of the ‘P’s in Triple P: Proactive. Moving from an approach that concentrates on reacting to problems that have already occurred toward trying to identify and respond to those problems or risks – before they cause any harm – is what being proactive is all about. A good example of risk assessment being used to proactively tackle a problem comes from the UK Fire Service ... whilst regulating legal services may not be as dramatic as fighting fires, the message is the same.

Read the rest of Andrew’s article on the Society’s website, on the ER Steering Committee’s blog. He is an Independent Risk and Regulation Consultant and former Director for Risk, Solicitors’ Regulation Authority of England and Wales.

A new name: ‘Legal services regulation’

Our initial edition of the Entity Regulation Update stirred up a lot of great discussion. We received plenty of helpful feedback on what worked and what didn’t. One thing we heard frequently was that “entity regulation” is a vague and confusing term that doesn’t capture the full extent of what we’re doing. The Society is building a framework for proactive, risk-based legal services regulation – and entity regulation is only a part of that. This approach is, in fact, how Council sees this project: the goal is to transform our regulation of legal services delivery in Nova Scotia.

So, in keeping with the need to accurately describe all of what we are doing, our language has evolved in this newsletter and our web information. “Legal services regulation” better describes the scope of this project, and it’s how we’ll continue to describe it from now on. Many thanks for your input so far. Please keep the conversation going, engage with us on Twitter and Facebook, and email your feedback and questions anytime to

Council considering scope of regulation of legal services

A new regulatory regime requires a significant amount of policy work that will bring together the two parts of the Society’s strategic framework. Council established a set of key policies for the transforming regulation initiative in November 2014 and January 2015. Over the summer, the Executive Committee and Entity Regulation Steering Committee developed a further series of draft policies, which were introduced to Council on September 18. For a detailed explanation, please read the September 9 memo to Council from Executive Director Darrel Pink.
These draft policies state that the Society's role is to undertake public interest regulation of the delivery of legal services [Regulatory Objectives 1 and 2]. In doing so, it will qualify and authorize lawyers and legal entities to deliver legal services. The Society will promote access to legal services [Regulatory Objective 3] in a way that encourages innovation in legal service delivery by legal entities and lawyers.
The Society will also seek to exempt certain classes of potential service providers whose work safely and effectively enhances the public's access to legal services. Legal services delivery continues to expand by multiple means, including the internet, and regulation of these services by the Society may not be possible or practicable. However, when legal services are offered in Nova Scotia by providers other than lawyers and legal entities, the Society will take steps to ensure that such services do not cause any actual harm to the public. The Society will continue to encourage innovation and the expansion of regulated legal services delivery in models that should result in greater availability and increased affordability of legal services.
If approved by Council this fall, these policies, once fully implemented, will significantly advance the Society’s two strategic directions: transforming regulation in the public interest and enhancing access to legal services for Nova Scotians.

Regulation reform: A cross-Canada checkup

Darrel Pink, Executive Director

Darrel PinkOur work on legal services regulation in Nova Scotia continues to be reflected in work that is taking place right across Canada. (Visit the Society’s website to read the complete article.) In British Columbia, the law society’s focus is on law firm regulation. Its Law Firm Regulation Task Force has a mandate to develop a framework for the regulation of law firms, responsive to the realities of legal practice in firms of various sizes, geographical locations and practice areas.

Work in the Prairie provinces began with an initial focus on alternative business structures (ABS) and their potential to open the door to innovations, which may assist in addressing unmet legal needs. As discussions evolved, it became clear that looking at ABS alone is largely impractical and ‘entity regulation’ also needs to be considered. Entity regulation would represent a move from largely regulating only individual lawyers to also regulating the organizations in which they work.

In Ontario, the Law Society has established a Task Force on Compliance-Based Entity Regulation, which is exploring a proactive, outcomes-focused approach where the regulator sets out expected outcomes and provides flexibility as to how they are achieved. In other jurisdictions, this approach has been found to significantly reduce complaints and improve ethical conduct.

We also remain connected to ongoing developments in Australia and England. By staying in contact with all of these organizations that regulate lawyers, we are committed to both learning from and with them, and developing the best approach we can for Nova Scotia.

LSR in the news

For more news about legal services regulation – in Nova Scotia and elsewhere – see the latest news page in the Legal Services Regulation section of the Society’s website. Also follow our Twitter feed @NSBS.

Law Society of Upper Canada backs away from radical ownership reform
The Globe and Mail | Sep. 22, 2015
The Globe and Mail | August 5, 2015
LSUC Treasurer's Blog | July 30, 2015
legalfutures | July 27, 2015 

New reports and resources online

We’ve added several new reports and studies to the Legal Services Regulation section of the website. Visit Reports and resources to download this paper from the Society’s Professional Responsibility department, written for the International Bar Association:  See the Other resources page for the following:

Frequently asked questions

Let’s chalk it up to the summer season, but it’s been fairly quiet on the FAQ front. Please send your questions to and we’ll answer them on our FAQs page. In the meantime, we’re happy to share some questions and answers developed by the Entity Regulation Committee of the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), a non-profit organization of legal professionals whose members enforce ethics rules regulating practising lawyers in the United States, Canada and Australia. See the NOBC’s Entity Regulation – Frequently Asked Questions.

Glossary: Entity regulation

Also known as “entity-based regulation,” this means regulating an organization or lawyer that carries out work that is supervised by a lawyer, including other individuals operating within the organization who are non-lawyers. Visit the Glossary of terms for more definitions. 

Innovation Profiles 

As a key aspect of our transforming regulation work, the Society is fostering an environment that encourages innovation in the legal services sector. For inspiration, we’re profiling organizations that are improving access and creating new ways to bring legal services to their clients – here in Nova Scotia, across Canada and elsewhere. Please share your ideas and suggestions for future Innovation Profiles by emailing
Profile #1: Pivot Legal Society 
Pivot logoPivot Legal Society is a Vancouver-based legal advocacy organization that seeks to challenge laws that entrench poverty and marginalization. In contrast to Legal Aid and traditional pro bono, Pivot works at the community level, collaborating with people most affected in order to identify opportunities for dramatic, widespread change.
Several high-profile victories include the establishment of the InSite supervised injection facility; suspension of three laws related to the criminalization of sex work in Canada v. Bedford; and creation of the Independent Investigations Office of BC. Read the rest of the profile and learn more about Pivot at or on Twitter at @PivotLegal.
Profile #2: Lexbox 
LexboxLexbox is a free Chrome browser extension that allows users to store, organize and monitor their online legal research. Unlike similar tools, Lexbox does not download or store the documents themselves: it stores links. This allows Lexbox to notify users when materials change, move locations or are cited in related documents.
Lexbox helps users avoid information overload by informing them about legal changes that impact specific cases or clients, rather than entire practice areas or jurisdictions. It can also automatically update past search queries, making research more proactive. Read the rest of the profile and learn more about Lexbox at or on Twitter at @MyLexbox.

Upcoming and recent consultations

See the Consultations page for recent, ongoing and future consultations. Coming up:
  • Pictou County Barristers' Society (October 9)
  • Regulatory Workshop, NSBS Staff (October 14)
  • Regulatory Workshop, NSBS Council (October 16)
  • Western Counties Barristers’ Society meeting (October 17)
  • Kings County Barristers’ Society, CPD day (October 24)

Comments? Questions?   

Do you have any comments or questions about the Legal Services Regulation initiative? Would your organization like to schedule a discussion or presentation? See Contact us and Consultations for more info.
Please forward this newsletter along to any of your colleagues who would be interested; they can contact to arrange free subscriptions via email. For ongoing updates between editions, bookmark the Legal Services Regulation section of our website and follow @NSBS on Twitter, NSBarristers on Facebook and NS Barristers’ Society on LinkedIn. 
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