nb-bernard-valcourt-220

Bernard Valcourt did not complete the mandatory 12 hours of continuing education or professional development. (CBC)

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Minister Bernard Valcourt has been banned from practising law in the province for failing to meet specific criteria laid out by the province's law society.

Valcourt did not meet the Law Society of New Brunswick's minimum requirements for continuing education and professional development in 2011, said Marc Richard, executive director of the society.

As a result, Valcourt has been suspended by the law society, as have two other lawyers — John Rocca of Saint John and Amy Sock of Elsipogtog, Richard said.

The suspensions are not for any kind of professional misconduct, he said. They are administrative in nature.

"Basically, Mr. Valcourt, and also two other lawyers, did not complete 12 hours [of] mandatory continuing education or professional developments required," said Richard.

"Each lawyer has to complete 12 hours of professional development per year and these are the lawyers who are registered with us as practising members."

Valcourt would be reinstated as soon as he completes the required number of hours, said Richard.

Andrea Richer, the ACOA minister's press secretary, said Valcourt's political position prohibits him from practising law. He was banned when he was sworn into political office in May 2011, she said.

This is the first time the law society has imposed sanctions as part of its professional development program, which started two years ago, said Richard.

"We feel it's an important thing to [do]," he said.

"We want to make sure that lawyers keep up to date with the changes of the law … but it's really, lawyers don't necessarily have to take a course on the law. It could be anything, something that would improve their competencies."

There are about 1,300 practising lawyers in the province. All but the three in question fulfilled the requirements, said Richard.