The Canadian Bar Association

The Canadian Bar Association deals with a variety of issues in the public and professional interest, including lawyers’ professional interests, solicitor-client privilege, fairness in the legal system, access to justice, and independence of the judiciary and the legal profession. The Canadian Bar Association engages in advocacy as well, and it can take many forms, including policy resolutions adopted by a National Council, court interventions, and submissions to the government. CBA’s professional staff and members are involved in lobbying issues identified by CBA members, developing government policy, and responding to government initiatives.

The Canadian Bar Association is a voluntary association for lawyers and other members of the legal profession. Its major purpose is to support its members and serve as their voice, facilitating law reform. The association is committed to protecting the commercial and professional interests of its membership and advances its goals through the efforts and work of its task forces, committees, and sections. They operate at the branch and national levels.

Membership is voluntary in all provinces of Canada except New Brunswick. All lawyers are members of the association by agreement with the legal profession. About half of all lawyers on the territory of Canada are members of the Canadian Lawyers Association. The national office is found in Ottawa and has a staff of 80 members. Among its tasks are to provide continuing legal education, professional services, meeting coordination services, and others. The national office also administers the databank and website of the association.

The Council is the body that makes policy decisions, and its voting members (about 225 in number) meet twice a year. The second vice president and the treasurer are elected by the national Council. The association also works through standing committees and special committees. Standing committees are, for example, the Canadian Legal Conference Steering Committee and Legislation and Law Reform. Legislation and Reform coordinates the mandate of the Canadian Bar Association to pursue better administration of justice and improvement of the legal system. It vets and coordinates submissions to department officials, federal Ministers, and Senate and Parliamentary Committees. The committee proposes priorities with regard to law reform and identifies cases which are a source of concern or a subject of interest for the legal community and are suitable for public intervention. The Law Day Committee is another standing committee which works to improve the legal system and public understanding of the law. It aims to project a positive image of the Canadian Lawyers Association, jurists, and the legal profession, in general. The committee coordinates and promotes Law Day at the branch and national level. The Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee works to advance and foster professional and ethnical standards and conduct in the legal profession. It studies and identifies issues related to professional responsibility and ethnics and recommends changes to the Code of Professional Conduct of the Canadian Lawyers Association.

Special Committees are the Tax Court Liaison Committee and the Working Group on No-Fault Compensation. The latter is tasked with studying and reporting on the social values and policy promoted by the tort system. It aims to assess the degree to which no-compensation schemes compromise these values. The working group also informs the general public and lawyers about the negative effects and undesirability of such schemes. The CBA Task Force on Conflicts of Interest offers solutions, advice, and practical guidelines as to help law firms and lawyers serve clients better. The task group was created as a way to deal with the growing and serious problem of conflicts of interest reported in law firms in Canada.