When Ishwar Sharma, a Toronto criminal and immigration lawyer practicing in the heart of “Little India,” received a phone call from a practice management reviewer from the Law Society of Upper Canada to schedule an appointment, his heart began thumping.
Following in the footsteps of the Law Society of British Columbia, the Barreau du Québec is compelling all of its 23,000 practising lawyers to go back to school as of this month and complete no fewer than 30 hours of approved continuing legal education courses every two calendar years to remain in good standing.
Three years after Guy Pratte and Alexander De Zordo convened a meeting with the managing partners of Montreal’s top law firms and the chief justices of Quebec courts to discuss the necessity of adopting a pragmatic approach towards pro bono, the Barreau du Québec finally forged ahead and recently announced the creation of a new not-for-profit organization, making Quebec the fifth jurisdiction in Canada to adopt a coordinated approach to pro bono service delivery.
“We got the ball rolling,” De Zordo said humbly, a partner and regional chair of the Borden Ladner Gervais Pro Bono Committee in Montreal and member of the provisional board of directors of the new entity. “We found that the attribution of pro bono work was not as well structured in Quebec as in the other provinces. Everyone was in agreement.”