When the Quebec law society introduced a mandatory legal education program two years ago, even noted Montreal lawyer Gérald Tremblay and head of the Barreau du Québec at the time admitted that “it was not a natural reflex for me to contemplate sitting behind a school desk.”
Nor was it for 70 lawyers, more than half based in Montreal, who failed to complete the required training between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2011. All were disbarred recently, including Montreal-based lawyer Brent Tyler, best known for his various high-profile legal challenges to Bill 101, Quebec’s French Language Charter.
Following in the footsteps of the Law Society of British Columbia, the Barreau du Québec introduced the continuing professional development program in April 2009, compelling all of its 23,000 practising lawyers to take no fewer than 30 hours of approved continuing legal education courses every two calendar years to remain in good standing.
“Law is an evolving discipline, and it is important that people stay up-to-date,” Stuart Cobbett of Stikeman Elliott told me at the time the program was launched. “But life being what it is, some people just don’t pay attention to it. Therefore it is a good idea for any self-regulatory body to establish certain minimum continuing education requirements.”
The disbarred members will now have to pay a fee and submit a formal request to be reinstated, which will be examined by the bar’s readmissions committee.