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non-lawyer attorney general, AG, public interest, Askin v Law Society of British Columbia, 2013 BCCA 233


In this article, I provide a legal and policy analysis of the non-lawyer Attorney General and recommendations for legislative change. I begin in Part 1 by setting out and assessing Askin and its uptake in the case law and literature. I demonstrate that while the decision in Askin has two major weaknesses, the reasoning is presumably applicable across the country.7 In Part 2, I examine the legal consequences of Askin and its policy or practical consequences. I argue that it threatens the government’s solicitor-client privilege and that it leaves the non-lawyer Attorney General unconstrained by the law of lawyering more broadly. Against this context, in Part 3 I consider options for legislative reform and propose a path forward that will solve the legal consequences of Askin. I recommend legislative amendments that would deem the non-lawyer Attorney General to be a member of the corresponding law society so long as they held that role. I then conclude by reflecting on the implications of my analysis. If nothing else, such legislative deeming would clearly identify the reasonable expectations of the legislature and the public, as well as signal to law societies that the regulation of the legal profession must unavoidably include regulation of the Attorney General. I also recommend the recognition of a constitutional convention that only lawyers be appointed as Attorney General.