NSBS historical timeline


1749 Bar of Nova Scotia founded; attorney oath rolls commence
1788 First suspensions of lawyers from practice in Supreme Court
1797 Retiring Chief Justice Thomas A.L. Strange gifts his law library to the Province; the beginning of the Barristers’ Library


1808 First, unsuccessful attempt to enact a legal profession bill
1811 Legal Profession Act passed; supersedes and replaces Rule of Court. Existing attorneys become “barristers”
1817 King’s counsel (Crown attorneys) appointed
1818 Legal Profession Act renewed for seven years
1825 Legal Profession Act lapses; Society of Nova Scotia Barristers formed as provincial law society; The Law Society (England) founded
1826 New barristers’ and attorneys’ rolls opened and new Rule of Court enacted
1836 Legal Profession Act restored
1844 Failed attempt to incorporate Society
1846 Legal Profession Act renewed for 10 years
1851 Legal Profession Act made permanent
1858 Society of Nova Scotia Barristers incorporated and renamed Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
1860           Society reconstituted; Premier William Young becomes first President; preliminary law examination introduced; Law Students Society formed; Premier Young becomes Chief Justice, the only President of the Society to be so honoured
1872 Bill to give Society standing in relation to the Bar fails to pass; formal law student examinations introduced
1874 Stillborn Halifax school of law incorporated
1875 President of Society, William Alexander Henry, appointed puisne justice of the new Supreme Court of Canada
1880 Attorney General John S.D. Thompson, later Premier of Nova Scotia (1882) and Prime Minister of Canada (1892-94), becomes Society President; Society authorized to initiate calls to the Bar in open court
1881 Faculty of Law established at Dalhousie University
1883 Dalhousie Law School opens
1885 Legal Profession Act amended to give Council regulatory control of the Bar; Attorney General becomes ex officio member of Council
1887 Provincial Barristers’ Association established to advocate for Bar reform
1891 Council recognizes Dalhousie’s LLB course as counting towards Bar admission
1895 Robert Laird Borden, later Prime Minister of Canada (1911-1920), becomes President of the Society
1896 Earliest Society records survive
1897 Bill to open the Bar to women fails to pass
1899 Modern Barristers and Solicitors Act passed; Society entrenched as law society in which membership is compulsory for all lawyers


1900 Society unveils in Halifax County Courthouse a bust of Prime Minister Sir John S.D. Thompson in robes as Imperial Privy Councillor, donated to the Society by Lady Thompson after her husband’s death in 1894 
1900 James Robinson Johnston is the first African Nova Scotian lawyer called to the Bar in Nova Scotia
1904 County representatives outside Halifax added to Council
1910 Chief Justice added to Council
1915 First woman articled clerk admitted: Emeyln MacKenzie
1917 Barristers and Solicitors Act amended to confirm that women articled clerks may be called to the Bar
1918 Frances Lilian Fish of Newcastle, NB, is the first woman called to the Bar in Nova Scotia (September 10)
1929 Chief Justice removed from Council
1935 Society publishes catalogue of books in Barristers’ Library
1936 Society begins publishing Annual Reports
1939 Barristers and Solicitors Act revised and consolidated
1941 Discipline Committee is established
1946 Dean of Dalhousie Law School added to Council; posts of Secretary and Treasurer combined
1947 Post of Second Vice-President established
1949 Knowledge of Latin dropped as a requirement for Bar admission
1950 Lawyers' wives attend the annual dinner of the Society for the first time
1951 First Annual Meeting takes place outside Halifax; Society establishes Legal Aid Committee
1952 Barristers and Solicitors Act further revised and consolidated
1954 Society introduces annual refresher course for practising lawyers
1955 First lawyer from outside Halifax elected President of the Society: F.W. Bissett KC
1956 First woman elected to Council: Barbara Hughes QC
1957 Society establishes Lawyers’ Fund for Client Compensation
1959 Post of Honorary President created
1969 Provincial director of legal aid appointed; Attorney General’s Committee on Legal Aid established; Council districts created
1970 Barristers and Solicitors Act amended to authorize establishment of Professional Liability Claims Fund
1972 Professional liability insurance becomes mandatory for all practising lawyers
1974 Council adopts Canadian Bar Association Code of Professional Conduct; Nova Scotia Law News commences publication; Society relinquishes responsibility for legal aid
1975 Bar Admission Course introduced
1976 Law Foundation of Nova Scotia established
1977 Continuing Legal Education Society of Nova Scotia incorporated; Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission established
1978 Society publishes The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and its Judges, 1754-1978
1979 The Society Record commences publication
1986 Lay persons appointed to Council (now called Public Representatives)  
1987 Council readopts revised Canadian Bar Association Code of Professional Conduct
1988 Society publishes Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct: A Handbook for Lawyers in Nova Scotia, which replaces the CBA Code of Professional Conduct
1989 Doane Raymond conducts administrative review of Society; Executive Director position created to replace Secretary-Treasurer
1990 Darrel Pink becomes first Executive Director of Society; Society responds to Report of the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr. Prosecution; Society publishes revised and enlarged edition of Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct: A Handbook for Lawyers in Nova Scotia; Nova Scotia Barristers’ Liability Claims Fund incorporated
1991 Society issues report of review of conduct of members criticized in the Marshall Inquiry Report
1993 James A. Michael of Shubenacadie is the first Mi’kmaq lawyer called to the Bar in Nova Scotia (June 18); Jill Hamilton QC is elected the Society’s first woman President; Gender Equity Committee established; Committee to Review Society Programs issues final report
1996 Barristers and Solicitors Act amended to permit law practices to incorporate
1997 Society appoints first Equity Officer: Catherine Meade


2000 Society establishes Race Relations Committee (now Racial Equity Committee)
2002 “Discussion Paper Regarding a Proposed Legal Profession Act in Nova Scotia” released
2004 Barristers and Solicitors Act repealed and replaced by Legal Profession Act: NSLN merged into Society Record
2005 Legal Profession Act comes into force; barristers and solicitors become “lawyers”; Nova Scotia Barristers’ Liability Claims Fund Inc. renamed Lawyers’ Insurance Association of Nova Scotia (LIANS)
2008 Society publishes online Annotated Nova Scotia Civil Procedure Rules
2010 Legal Profession Act amended to clarify Society’s purpose; allow for a reduction in Council’s composition; authorize Fitness to Practise Program; and clarify privilege associated with information in the Society’s possession
2011 Council reduced to 21 members from 33; Fitness to Practise Program introduced; Professional Standards for the Practice of Family Law introduced
2012 Society’s new Code of Professional Conduct comes into force on January 1, replacing the Legal Ethics Handbook: Nova Scotia Law News ceases publication in April, with Vol. 37, No. 2