March 12, 2020
Managing the COVID-19 Situation: Taking Steps to Reduce Exposure
We take the health and safety of our staff, the public and the profession seriously. As part of this commitment, the Law Society is taking the necessary steps to follow the advice from Alberta Health Services and other government agencies as the COVID-19 situation evolves in Alberta.

While, according to Alberta Health Services, the current risk level in Alberta is low, we are taking proactive measures wherever possible in our own operations to reduce the risk of exposure for our organization and stakeholders.

What does this mean for the profession?

Beginning immediately, we have postponed all in-person events hosted by the Law Society and will continue to evaluate this decision on a monthly basis. In the meantime, we will use conferencing and webinars as alternatives to continue sharing valuable resources and information.

If you have questions about Law Society operations, please visit our website or contact our customer service team.

How can you protect yourself?

It is a good idea to take steps to protect your health and those around you in the workplace. This includes practising good hygiene and following prevention recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Government of Canada. You can also read the Alberta Health Services FAQ on the virus.

Some of the basic precautions are:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use approved hand sanitizers
  • Avoid touching your face/mouth, especially with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people and animals if illness is suspected
  • Cough into a tissue or your elbow and then wash your hands immediately
  • Follow instructions from Alberta Health Services if you think you may have COVID-19.

How can you prepare and protect your firm/organization?

Preparing for a public health event should be part of your own firm or organization’s business continuity planning. Having a plan will save valuable time and resources later. Some simple tips to consider include:

  • Increase work area hygiene by cleaning door handles, desks, phones, etc. daily
  • Suspend conventional business etiquette such as hand shaking
  • Limit in-person meetings by leveraging technology e.g. video conferencing
  • Plan for removal of work access and ensure staff have the access and tools needed
  • Notify clients and customers if work hours or your operations change
  • Keep your voicemail, website and/or social media updated regarding changes to your operations
  • Review sick leave benefits and discuss with your staff in case self-quarantine is required

This is not a complete list as there are many things to consider in your business continuity planning, but it’s a start. While the current risk level is low, there is no time like the present to plan for the future and build in systems that will protect your practice and your clients.

Judicial Appointments
Congratulations to Justice Nathan J. Whitling who was appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench on March 6, 2020.

Justice Whitling served as a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta from 2018 to 2020 and served on many committees. We thank Justice Whitling for his time, commitment and dedication.

We would also like to congratulate Justice Melanie Hayes-Richards and Justice Shaina Leonard who were also appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench.

For more information, read the Government of Canada Department of Justice’s news release.
Seeking Feedback on Model Code of Conduct Amendments
The Federation of Law Societies is proposing amendments to Model Code Rule 6.3 concerning discrimination and harassment. The draft amendments revise the rule to provide clearer guidance on prohibitions against discrimination, harassment and bullying.

The Law Society of Alberta has been engaging in initiatives related to the recent articling survey and the launch of the model Respectful Workplace Policy. As part of this commitment, we are seeking your feedback on proposed changes to Rule 6.3 of the Model Code, dealing with harassment and discrimination. For more details on the amendments, view the Consultation Memo and Draft Rules and Commentary.

The Federation's Standing Committee will carefully consider the feedback it receives, making further changes to the proposed amendments as appropriate.

The deadline for providing feedback is Friday, May 1, 2020. Please send your feedback via email to Nancy Carruthers, Senior Manager, Policy & Ethics.