A move to ditch a rule allowing the Law Society of Alberta to mandate legal education has failed.
On Feb. 6, a special meeting of the society was held for active lawyers to vote on a resolution to repeal Rule 67.4 of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta.
The vast majority — 75 per cent — of the 3,473 votes cast were in favour of keeping the rule in place. The Law Society of Alberta Benchers said it was “grateful” for the support and that maintaining the rule allows the society to “uphold the expectations that come with self-governance.”
The vote attracted a lot of media attention because the only time rule 67.4 has been used, to date, was to mandate an Indigenous course. It came in the wake of a petition, signed by 50 lawyers, which proposed a scrapping of the rule.
While some of the lawyers who signed expressed opposition to the Indigenous course, others bristled at the notion that it had anything to do with one course specifically — but more with the ability of the Law Society to mandate any training.
The Indigenous Cutural Competency Education course is called The Path. It has five modules and takes about five hours to complete, according to the Law Society of Alberta. The course was mandated at a meeting of the benchers on Oct. 1, 2020, and lawyers were given a deadline of Oct. 1, 2022, to complete the course of certify eligibility for an exemption.
The course was developed, according to published reports, in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 27. That asked law societies to ensure lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training.