The British Columbia Law Institute was created in January 1997 by incorporation under the Provincial Society Act. The broad purposes of the Institute, described in Article 2 of its Constitution, are to:
- promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its adaptation to modern social needs,
- promote improvement of the administration of justice and respect for the rule of law, and
- promote and carry out scholarly legal research.
BCLI carries out scholarly research, writing and analysis for law reform, collaborating with government and other entities, and providing materials and support for outreach and public information. CCEL carries out similar work focused on issues of interest to older adults. The work of BCLI / CCEL as an independent law reform agency involves a continuum of activities which, as they relate to a particular area of law, often continue over several years. These activities include:
- Issue identification: Initially investigating social and legal issues through formal and informal discussions and processes to determine law reform needs;
- Defining a law reform project: Describing, defining, prioritizing law reform issues as potential projects for legal research and law reform work;
- Creating a plan: Developing legal research and law reform project plans including funding plans for projects;
- Project Approvals: Obtaining approvals and funding for projects;
- Research, writing and consultation: Carrying out the legal research, analysis, writing and consultation to carry out projects;
- Knowledge Mobilization: Carrying out knowledge mobilization activities to obtain feedback about issues, raise awareness of issues, and develop discussion and consensus relating to recommendations; and
- Ongoing outreach: Ongoing outreach activities to support understanding of law reform needs and maintain and develop key stakeholder relationships.
BCLI is the effective successor of the British Columbia Law Reform Commission and retains various reports and materials of the former Commission. The by-laws of the Institute provide that it is composed of 16 members, ten appointed by stakeholder groups and the balance serving as “members-at-large.” Every member of the Institute is also a director.