Frequently Asked Questions
1. What if I have a dispute with my lawyer concerning fees?
The Complaints Department does not assist with fee disputes. The Law Society of Alberta's fee-mediation process is available in very limited circumstances. We refer fee disputes to the Taxation Department at the Court of Queen’s Bench.
2. What is the difference between fees and disbursements?
Fees are charged either on an hourly basis or on contingency (a percentage of the settlement amount). Disbursements are costs a lawyer pays on behalf of the client, ie: court filing charges, medical legal reporting etc.
3. Can my lawyer quit?
A lawyer can cease to act for any number of reasons. The only exception is if it causes serious prejudice to the client.
4. How do I change lawyers?
You may instruct your lawyer to transfer the file to your new lawyer. However, you, as the client, are obligated to make arrangements to pay the lawyer’s statement of account.
5. Where does the interest go on money held in a lawyer’s trust account?
The interest earned in a lawyer’s trust account goes to the Alberta Law Foundation as required by legislation.
6. What happens if my lawyer misuses or steals money in trust?
You may be entitled to make a financial claim.
7. Will I be compensated if a lawyer is found guilty of misconduct?
No, you cannot make a claim for compensation unless a lawyer has misappropriated money held in your name in his or her trust account. If a lawyer made a mistake (errors) or forgot to do something (omissions) you may (after obtaining legal advice that the lawyer was negligent) make a financial claim.
8. What do I do if I suspect that my lawyer isn’t licensed to practise law?
Please contact the Law Society of Alberta's Unauthorized Practice of Law department which deals specifically with that issue.