Professor Joost Blom: Life of a Bencher
UBC Faculty of Law Professor and former dean, Joost Blom, QC
UBC Faculty of Law Professor and former dean, Joost Blom, QC, was recently appointed a Life Bencher by the Law Society of British Columbia. Professor Blom received this prestigious designation after serving for four (two-year) terms from 2004 to 2011. The Law Society recognizes this achievement with the title of Life Bencher.
During his time as a bencher, Professor Blom served on the Ethics committee as well as the Advisory Committee on Legal Education.
"I most enjoyed the great people that I had the opportunity to work with, which included lawyers with great standing in the profession," said Professor Blom who also enjoyed meeting with soon-to-be lawyers for their articling interviews, which often times included his former students.
Professor Blom recalls that one of the most challenging duties over his years as a bencher was the disciplinary hearings.
"The outcome of a disciplinary hearing could have a significant impact on the career of a lawyer, as well as the profession as a whole, so it was difficult balancing interests, especially when the stakes were so high."
Although this was challenging, Professor Blom knew the importance of this function and enjoyed the ethical dilemmas he faced so much that he asked to be on the Ethics committee for his entire bencher career. Another challenge that he enjoyed was analyzing the changes and trends in the legal profession.
"The Law Society has many important day-to-day administrative duties, but policy-making plays a vital role in responding to these changes in a way where the Law Society can still effectively regulate in the public interest."
Benchers are elected by members of the Law Society and volunteer their time fulfilling the Law Society's core mandate, which is to regulate the profession in the public interest. Duties include acting as a judge on discipline hearing panels and credential hearing panels; interviewing articling students, advising members on Law Society activities and on matters of professional responsibility; and acting as a liaison with local and county bar associations and members of the public.
Other UBC Law faculty members who have served as benchers are Professor Raymond G. Herbert, QC, who served from 1974 to 1981, Professor James M. MacIntyre, QC who served from 1985 to1995 and Robert D. Diebolt, QC who served from 1996-2003.
"There is definitely a significant time commitment involved in serving as a bencher, especially for practicing lawyers but the experience I had was well worth the time. It is important for us to maintain that connection between the law school and professional legal community and this position allows for us to do that."