The Law Society of Alberta is the self governing body for Alberta’s lawyers. Its authority comes from Alberta’s Legal Profession Act.
The Law Society recognizes the importance of privacy and the sensitivity of personal information it obtains in carrying out its regulatory functions. Personal information is managed in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act and other applicable laws.
This policy outlines the principles and practices the Law Society follows in administering personal information. It applies to the Law Society and to the Alberta Lawyers’ Insurance Association ("ALIA"), a subsidiary corporation of the Law Society established under the Legal Profession Act. It also applies to anyone providing services on the Law Society’s behalf.
What is personal information?
“Personal information” means information about an identifiable individual, including name, address and phone number, age, gender, identifying numbers, financial information, educational history, and regulatory information.
What personal information does the Law Society collect?
The Law Society collects personal information relevant to regulating lawyers who provide legal services in Alberta. The activities in which personal information is collected include:
- lawyer accreditation and membership, including lawyers practising in Alberta under
- administering insurance matters by ALIA;
- complaints or disciplinary investigations and hearings, which can lead to a reprimand, a fine,
the imposition of conditions, a suspension and/or disbarment;
- Assurance Fund investigations and hearings, which can lead to an individual being
compensated for funds misappropriated or wrongfully converted by a lawyer;
- auditing of law practice accounts, records, and funds, to assist in the prevention and
detection of misuse of client funds;
- practice review proceedings and investigations;
- good character hearings, including any necessary investigations;
- applications for reinstatement by disbarred, suspended and inactive members, including
- the investigation and prosecution of cases involving the unauthorized practice of law.
The Law Society usually collects personal information from the subject of the information. It may collect information from other sources with permission or as authorized by law.
When the Law Society collects personal information directly from an individual, it will inform the individual of the purposes for which it is collecting the information, except when the individual voluntarily provides the information for an obvious purpose.
How does the Law Society use and disclose personal information?
The Law Society uses and discloses personal information only for purposes for which an individual’s consent has been obtained, except as authorized by law. If the Law Society needs to use or disclose personal information for any new purpose, the Law Society will seek the individual’s consent, unless authorized by law.
The Law Society needs an individual’s consent to collect, use, or disclose personal information, except in circumstances where otherwise authorized by law. An individual’s consent is established if:
- The individual voluntarily provides personal information for an obvious purpose;
- The Law Society obtains the individual’s express written or oral consent;
- The individual does not decline or object to the Law Society’s collection, use, or disclosure of personal information within a reasonable time after the Law Society has given the individual notice of its intention to do so; or
- The individual’s personal information was collected before January 1, 2004, in which case the Law Society can use and disclose the information for the purpose for which it was collected.
An individual may withdraw or vary consent to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information at any time, unless the Law Society needs the personal information to fulfil its legal obligations, or if the collection, use, or disclosure without consent is authorized by law. If an individual decides not to give consent, or if the individual withdraws or varies it, the Law Society may not be able to provide certain services.
Examples of when the Law Society is authorized by law to collect, use, or disclose personal information without consent include if doing so is authorized by a statute or regulation such as the Legal Profession Act, or for the purposes of an investigation or legal proceeding.
Safeguarding personal information
The Law Society protects personal information in a manner appropriate to its sensitivity and in accordance with applicable law. The Law Society has made arrangements to secure against the unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or destruction of personal information.
When the Law Society collects, uses, or discloses personal information, it makes reasonable efforts to ensure that it is accurate and complete. An individual who is aware of any errors or omissions in their information may contact the Law Society, which will consider the request and make the necessary changes whenever appropriate.
The Law Society retains personal information for business or legal purposes for as long as is reasonable. When the information is no longer required, the Law Society destroys it securely or transfers it as authorized by law to the Legal Archives Society of Alberta for permanent retention.
Right to seek access to, and correction of, personal information
Subject to certain exemptions at law, an individual is entitled to:
- Seek access to their personal information in records in the Law Society’s custody or control;
- Ask about the Law Society’s use of their personal information and the names of persons to whom, and the circumstances in which, the personal information has been disclosed outside the Law Society; and
- Request a correction of an error or omission they believe to be in their personal information.
Access or correction requests should be in writing and directed to the Law Society’s Information Officer. The request must provide enough detail to enable the Law Society to process the request. The Law Society will respond in 45 days, unless it extends the time as authorized by law. The Law Society may charge a reasonable fee to provide access to an individual’s information (but not to make a correction). The Law Society will advise the individual of any applicable fees before processing the request.
Certain Matters Privileged
In regulating the legal profession, the Law Society handles information subject to privilege or confidentiality between lawyers and their clients. When the Law Society obtains this information from a lawyer, it undertakes all the obligations the lawyer would have in relation to that information, subject to the Legal Profession Act and Law Society Rules.
Communicating with the Law Society
If individuals have any questions or concerns about the Law Society’s administration of their personal information, or if they wish to request access to or correction of their information in records in the Law Society’s custody or control, they should contact the Privacy Officer.
If the individuals are not satisfied with the Law Society’s response, they may contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta.
Privacy Statement, Version 2005_V1 (September 2005)