The hidden date for this stamp can be found in the bottom-right corner of the old photograph.
"No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding."
- Plato, Laws
Greek author and philosopher (427-347 BC)
Back in the early 1900s, it took a group of astute legal minds to "understand" the need for a collective approach to law in the newly formed province of Saskatchewan. Perhaps drawing from Plato's profound insights, they recognized that a cohesive organization would help foster a stronger understanding of law within the young province's judicial system. A century later, their efforts are the indirect impetus behind a domestic rate (52¢) stamp that commemorates the Law Society of Saskatchewan's 100th anniversary.
When it came to designing this commemorative issue, the biggest challenge, according to designer Catherine Bradbury, was finding visuals to represent the traditional concept of law. "The key photograph of the stamp," explains Bradbury, "is the historic photo of the Benchers, who were founding members of the law society." The second visual is a photo taken from the registry role of the society. This role has been signed by every member of the society since its foundation. "The colours," says Bradbury, "are all derived from the handmade paper found on the inside cover of the role." These colours are also meant to blend with the historic photograph, giving the stamp a sense of unity.
The "Benchers" Bradbury refers to were a group of nine who met annually to set policies for the practice of law under the banner of the Law Society of the North-West Territories. Formed in 1885 and incorporated thirteen years later, the society became conflicted when Alberta and Saskatchewan became independent provinces in 1905. Should the society split? Or remain a single entity? Given that the two provinces had separate legislative powers with their own distinct laws, it became clear that the notion of uniformity was both idealistic and impractical.
In April 1907, the Saskatchewan legislature passed the Act Respecting the Legal Profession and the Law Society of Saskatchewan (LSS), permitting the creation of a new provincial law society. Five months later, on September 16, 1907, the incorporation of the Law Society of Saskatchewan became official.
That historic milestone was just one of many. In June 1913, female members were welcomed to LSS as students-at-law. Four years later, Mary Cathcart became the first woman admitted to the Saskatchewan Bar. The Society published its first issue of the Law Society Gazette in 1929, introduced the Saskatchewan Bar Review Quarterly in 1936 and the Practitioner's Journal in 1981. It established the Bar Admission Course in 1960 and launched The Centre for Professional Legal Education in 2004.
Each step in its turn has helped to bring a greater understanding of judicial responsibility within the province and supports the Society's mandate: "To govern the legal profession by upholding high standards of competence and integrity; ensuring the independence of the profession, advancing the administration of justice, the profession, and the Rule of Law, all in the public interest."
In September 2007, the Law Society celebrates its centennial under the theme, "100 Years of Integrity"-an achievement of which Plato most assuredly would have been proud.