A new clash between Quebec bar and former president

Here we go again. Another skirmish between a prominent Quebec City lawyer and the provincial law society that has turned ugly.

Lu Chan Khuong alleges that administrators of the Barreau du Québec illegally profited from an increase in attendance fees totaling $501,000. Khuong alleges that the Barreau’s current administrators illicitly boosted attendance fees paid to them for participating in meetings held by the law society from $300 to $800 without changing regulations. Khuong alleges that administrators charged $400 for teleconferences, and up to $800 for attending reunions.

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Former president of Quebec legal society temporarily disbarred

Stéphane Rivard could not bear to open correspondence from the Quebec taxman.

During a stretch of four years, between 2007 and 2011, letters outlining collection procedures and seizures launched against him by Revenue Quebec were put by the wayside. Rulings by Quebec Superior Court and by the Federal Court of Canada in 2012 over his tax affairs too were ignored.

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Quebec legal society calls for shift away from hourly billing

For the “survival of the profession,” the Quebec legal society is calling on its members to shift away from hourly billing to alternative pricing arrangements to better respond to client’s needs, foster greater access to justice for citizens, and encourage a healthier and more balanced professional life for lawyers.

But at a time when approximately 70 per cent of Quebec’s private practitioners still charge by the hour, the Barreau du Québec recognizes that its call for a paradigm shift will require a “total cultural change” that will be met with resistance by many lawyers and law firms who have done well by the status quo, said Claudia Prémont, the president of the Quebec Bar, which recently published an 84-page study entitled “Hourly Billing: A Time for Reflection.”

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Former Quebec law society president settling scores

Barely a couple of weeks after the former president of the Quebec legal society reluctantly resigned after a bitter and protracted fracas with the board of directors of the Barreau du Québec, Lu Chan Khuong is fighting back while raising the possibility that she may yet come back to seek another term if her electoral platform is not fulfilled by the new president.

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Women make up nearly half of the Quebec Bar’s roll

Women make up nearly half of the Quebec Bar’s roll

By 2021 more than half of lawyers in Quebec will be women, reveals the latest annual report of Quebec’s legal society.

At present, women already make up nearly half of the Bar’s Roll of Order, with 11,838 members or 49 per cent of membership, the highest percentage in North America. On average women practising the profession are younger and have less experience than men. The 12,301 men who are currently practising are around 48 years old and have 21.6 years of experience, compared with women who are 41, with 14 years of experience.

Young lawyers, those with less than 10 years of experience, represents 35 per cent of the total membership, according to the Barreau du Québec’s 2011-2012 annual report published earlier this month. And that’s where women are gaining ground on men — women make up 61 per cent of young lawyers.

How and where women practice also differs from men. More than half of men, or 52 per cent, work in private practice, 16 per cent in the public sector and nine per cent in the private sector such as in-house counsel for companies. Women, on the other hand, shun private practice. Barely one-third or 32 per cent work in private practice. Nearly a quarter, or 23 per cent, work in the public sector, 12 per cent in the private sector, and a staggering 30 per cent are on either parental leave or sabbatical or studying.

Quebec’s law society takes bold positions while others remain mum

Quebec’s law society has chutzpah.

Over the past month, it has taken a stance on Bill C-10, the Conservative government’s “tough on crime” omnibus bill, flatly stating that it “does not respond to any real need of the justice system” and pointing out that the crime rate in Canada is at its lowest level since 1973.

The Barreau du Québec took a firm position against the Harper government’s controversial decision to shelve the long-gun registry. It scolded the Conservative government for appointing a unilingual judge to the Supreme Court of Canada. And it is widely credited for forcing Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s hand to grant a public inquiry that will examine corruption in Quebec’s construction industry over a period of 15 years full powers of a public inquiry, including the power to subpoena witnesses and grant them immunity.

“Our interventions were motivated by our resolve to uphold confidence in our institutions,” wrote Claude Provencher, the Barreau’s executive director. “We want to ensure that the means put in place can truly respond to the objectives sought by society.”

Canada’s other law societies have remained silent. The Upper Law Society of Canada has over the past month issued press releases expressing its concern about the security of judges in Brazil and the human rights of lawyers in Iran. The Law Society of British Columbia celebrated excellence in legal journalism, the Law Society of Alberta honoured a lawyer for seventy years of service, the Law Society of Saskatchewan issued notices about the legal profession as did the Law Society of Manitoba. The Law Society of New Brunswick had nothing to say over the past few weeks, and the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador issued practice notes. The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society highlighted Movember.