The Law Society of Manitoba, in conjunction with the law societies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, conducted a survey in May and June of this year of articling students and new lawyers (those who articled in the last five years) as well as principals and those who mentored articling students or new lawyers in the last five years.
The intent of the survey was to help us better understand the nature of articles, the types of training and mentoring that articling students are receiving and how prepared articling students feel to practise law in the 21st century. We also wanted to better understand if articling students have or are experiencing any issues related to discrimination and harassment in their workplaces.
In total, the survey was completed by 736 articling students and new lawyers (549 in Alberta, 104 in Saskatchewan and 83 in Manitoba) and 407 principals, recruiters and mentors (295 in Alberta, 64 in Saskatchewan and 48 in Manitoba). The response rate in Manitoba, although better than average for an external survey, was 17.8% for students and young lawyers and 12.3% for principals and mentors. Some of the key findings from the survey of Manitoba respondents were:
7 in 10 students are very satisfied or satisfied with their articling experience. 17% are unsatisfied;
24% of Manitoba articling students and new lawyers report experiencing discrimination and/or harassment during recruitment and/or articling;
The top challenge for Manitoba students is inadequate compensation.
6 in 10 articling students work 50-plus hours per week;
50% of new lawyers lacked confidence in their training and felt only somewhat prepared or not prepared for entry level practice;
The quality of mentorship for students, mentors and principals is a challenge and impacts satisfaction with the articling experience.
Overall, the survey provided rich data which deepened our understanding on a number of issues including workloads, compensation and retention rates, and areas where both students and mentors felt that further resources or assistance may be beneficial.
The results also contained troubling reports about the incidence of discrimination and/or harassment during both the recruitment phase and the articling experience, with 24% of students in Manitoba reporting such experiences. Seventy percent of those who experienced discrimination or harassment were women. The primary types of discrimination and harassment reported included:
Discrimination based on being female or a visible minority;
Females given more administrative non-billable work;
Complimenting female students’ outfits and bodies;
Senior male counsel dismissive towards a female student;
Fewer positions offered to visible minority students;
Using students to attract clients from the same minority group.
These findings are generally consistent with a 2017 survey in Ontario which reported that one in five respondents faced harassing or discriminatory comments or conduct based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, citizenship, disability, or other personal characteristics during their articling terms. Anecdotally, in Manitoba we have been aware of complaints concerning harassment and discrimination in the profession, but it is disappointing nonetheless to hear of the extent to which these concerns exist. As one Manitoba Bencher stated when the results were provided to them in September, even one report of harassment or discrimination is too many.
What are we going to do about it? The survey results will be provided to the Law Society’s Equity Committee for consideration and discussion as to how best to address the concerns. A number of findings in the survey will help to inform our thinking around how articling might better integrate with the new PREP program and what changes and improvements might be made in future. That work is already well underway with our partners at CPLED for implementation in the new program. In addition, staff at the Law Society of Manitoba are currently reviewing the report with a view to identifying a number of opportunities to ensure that students and young lawyers are aware of existing resources available to support them in the early years of practice.
We wish to thank those who took the time to participate in the survey. Although the survey is closed, our door is always open and if you have information you wish to share, please contact our Equity Officer, Alissa Schacter.
by Alissa Schacter
Equity Officer and Policy Counsel, The Law Society of Manitoba
The country’s highest court exhibited boldness and initiative in its decision to sit outside of Ottawa for the first time in its 145-year history. Winnipeg had the great honour of hosting the nine Supreme Court judges during the last week of September.
The justices took up temporary residence in the Manitoba Court of Appeal. In addition to hearing a criminal and civil appeal, they had a jam packed schedule, which included meeting local high school students and law students, attending a reception with Mayor Bowman, hosting a Q&A event for the public at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, attending a presentation of sacred eagle feathers to the Manitoba courts, meeting with representatives of First Nations, Métis, and Francophone communities as well as with Executive members of the Law Society and Manitoba Bar Association. Chief Justice Richard Wagner even managed to make time to drop the puck at a Jets game. The justices were the guests of honour at a gala dinner attended by approximately 800 members of Manitoba’s legal profession. They mingled with the crowd in the packed foyer of the Convention Centre and played musical chairs, doing an admirable job of rubbing elbows with as many members of the bar as possible. Throughout the week, there was a palpable excitement in the air within the legal community, as their presence carried an aura of celebrity. Even beyond the legal community, many people took a keen interest and attended the hearings and the public events, which was exactly the point of the Court’s visit.
The Winnipeg visit was part of a broader commitment the Supreme Court has made to access to justice. The court has established an active presence on Twitter and Facebook, and in March 2018, it began posting plain language case summaries on its website. All of these initiatives are intended to help the public better understand the role of the Court and its decisions. As the Supreme Court presides over cases involving some of the most important social policy issues of our time, from same sex marriage and the right to assisted dying to delineating Indigenous rights, it has a hand in shaping Canada’s social fabric. It is imperative that the Canadian public understand the function of the Court so that they have confidence in our justice system. This is critical at a time when people increasingly obtain news and information in easy-to-digest nuggets via diffuse social media platforms, not all of which are reliable.
When the nine esteemed Supreme Court jurists hailing from around the country travelled to Winnipeg and spent the week meeting with a cross section of the legal and broader communities, they revealed their personalities, their senses of humour, their genuine curiosity about the local community and of course, their humanity. They put a human face on the Supreme Court and sent a powerful message that the Court wants to understand the people it serves and make itself more transparent and accessible to them. It also demonstrated the Court’s awareness of its need to adapt to the changing context in which it operates and to modernize its approach.
As in most endeavours, you create trust by fostering greater mutual understanding and building relationships. That is exactly what the nine judges did during their time in Winnipeg. Canada’s Supreme Court has long been venerated around the world. When the Court left its grand building on Wellington Street to head west to the Prairies, it also increased its profile and esteem among Canadians.
by Alissa Schacter Equity Officer and Policy Counsel, The Law Society of Manitoba
The last week of September marked a couple of notable “firsts” for Manitoba’s legal community. The Supreme Court of Canada sat in Winnipeg, marking the first time it has ever sat outside of Ottawa in its 145 year history. In another milestone, Manitobans can now testify in court by holding an eagle feather to signify the truthfulness of their testimony rather than swearing on a Bible or affirming their promise to tell the truth.
On September 26, forty-five eagle feathers were blessed in a sunrise smudging ceremony at Oodena Circle at the Forks and then presented to a joint sitting of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and Provincial Court in the afternoon. The afternoon ceremony was attended by Indigenous elders, the Supreme Court judges and numerous judges from Manitoba’s Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench, and Provincial Court, Masters and Judicial Justices of the Peace, as well as members of the RCMP. Some of the attendees danced in their seats to the powerful sounds of Indigenous drumming and singing, which lent the court proceeding a ceremonial air. Elder Ed Azure shared a teaching about the significance of the eagle feather in Indigenous culture: since eagles are able to fly to great heights, close to the heavens, they are regarded as a “messenger from our maker” and their feathers represent honour, achievement, bravery, truth, clarity and service to others. Chief Justice Glenn Joyal and Chief Judge Margaret Wiebe both addressed the court and talked about this (incorporating the eagle feather into court proceedings) as one step on the court’s journey toward reconciliation.
Following the ceremony, the Law Society sponsored a reception in the Great Library and a tribute was made to a special guest in attendance, Marion (Ironquill) Meadmore, the first Indigenous woman to graduate from law school in Canada. She graduated from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law in 1977.
It was a moving ceremony that marked the ground breaking step of incorporating an Indigenous tradition into Manitoba’s justice system.
[Reprinted with permission from the August 2019 edition of Communiqué,by Leah Kosokowsky, Director – Regulation at The Law Society of Manitoba.]
On January 1, 2020, rule changes affecting client identification and verification and the receipt of cash will come into effect.
What does this mean for you?
All firms need to review and revise their processes to ensure compliance with the existing and new rules. These rules are critically important in the international fight against money laundering and terrorism financing and thus compliance will be enforced robustly.
What help can you expect?
The Law Society of Manitoba will provide several education sessions with resource material to assist you. The education sessions will be provided at no cost and can be applied toward your annual continuing professional development requirements.
Why are we making these changes?
Lawyers must never knowingly assist in or encourage any dishonesty, fraud, crime or illegal conduct. As the Code of Professional Conduct puts it,
… a lawyer should be on guard against becoming the tool or dupe of an unscrupulous client or others and should be alert to and avoid unwittingly becoming involved with a client or others engaged in criminal activities such as mortgage fraud or money laundering.
Money laundering and terrorism financing are significant global problems. Lawyers and law firms do not want to knowingly or unknowingly allow clients to launder money by washing it through a lawyer’s trust account.
For some time, The Law Society of Manitoba has had two sets of rules in place, known as the “client identification and verification rules” and the “no cash rules”. These decade-old rules were based on model rules developed by the Federation of Law Societies in an effort to help lawyers prevent money laundering. Over the last several years Canadian law societies have identified that to be effective a more robust set of rules is required.
After consultation with the legal profession throughout Canada, the Federation of Law Societies changed the model rules in October 2018, which changes were adopted by The Law Society of Manitoba benchers in May of 2019. The new rule amendments are being drafted and will be finalized by the benchers this fall with an implementation date of January 1, 2020 for all Manitoba lawyers.
What Kind of Changes can you expect?
Receipt of Cash Rules
Fewer exceptions to the rule that prohibits lawyers from accepting cash in excess of $7,500.
Client Identification and Verification Rules
Greater clarity of the information that must be obtained and recorded when identifying clients on all files
New methods to verify a client’s identity on files where you are paying, receiving or transferring funds
Clarification of files exempt from verification
Removal of the “reasonable measures” standard for verifying identity
Obligation to inquire into the source of the funds
Reduced time to verify a client’s identity
Additional obligations when handling financial matters for corporations, businesses, trusts or other entities
Amendments relating to the use of agents
Ongoing monitoring obligations articulated
New Trust Accounting Rule
New rule expressly prohibiting lawyers from depositing any monies into trust other than trust money that is directly related to legal services that are being provided
This will eliminate the ability of lawyers to deposit fiduciary property into trust when acting solely in a representative capacity
No change to other recently enacted rules that place record keeping and reporting requirements on lawyers who act in representative capacity
To learn more, attend one of the three free education sessions offered by The Law Society of Manitoba this fall.
The Richard J. Scott Award is presented annually by the Law Society of Manitoba to an individual who advances the rule of law through advocacy, litigation, teaching, research or writing. Activities that support an independent judiciary, an independent legal profession, access to legal services, access to justice, and public interest advocacy are all eligible.
Past recipients include: Byron Williams (2013) Irene Hamilton, Q.C. (2014) Allan Fineblit, Q.C. (2015) Jeff Hirsch (2016) John Myers (2017) Karen Dyck (2018)
The Manitoba Law Library would like to acknowledge with gratitude that we are situated on Treaty One Territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree and Dakota peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
Printing and Photocopying
If you need to use the library’s printing and photocopying services you will need to create an account. See us at the front desk for assistance.