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Please complete the form below to apply to participate in the Innovation Sandbox.
For more information on the application process and what makes a good application, please review the Innovation Sandbox User Guide.
You are not permitted to offer your proposed product or service to the public until you receive written confirmation that your application has been approved and your agreement with the Law Society is completed and signed.
If you have any questions about the application process, your proposal or the Innovation Sandbox, contact the Innovation Sandbox team.
Application and Review Process
Serving in the public interest, the Law Society of Alberta sets out standards through its Rules and Code of Conduct.
As a self-governing profession, Alberta’s lawyers are expected to conduct themselves and their law practices in ways which are highly ethical and above reproach. The Code of Conduct defines the principles and high standards that are applied to every lawyer in Alberta.
The Rules set forth the specific regulations, responsibilities and professional standards all lawyers are required to meet and uphold. Various sections of the Rules address the following key areas:
- Law Society organization and administration
- Membership in the legal profession, educational requirements for admission to the Alberta Bar, and ongoing professional development
- Professional conduct and disciplinary procedures
- Duties of lawyers and their law firms
- Assurance Fund (created to protect the public)
- Liability claims against lawyers who are members of the Law Society
Upon receiving your application, you will be contacted by the member of the Law Society assigned to act as your liaison.
A preliminary meeting will guide you through the application process and help us understand the details of what you are proposing, how it differs from traditional legal services and how you would address risks to consumers or the public. Following that meeting, the liaison will work with you to ensure your application is complete and ready for review.
Once an application is determined to be complete, the Law Society begins its review.
The ﬁrst level of review is performed by the Project Manager. A second level of review is performed by the entire Innovating Regulation Group (IRG).
The review process is iterative and applicants are expected to be responsive and engaged with the IRG. The IRG will seek to understand your proposal, the potential benefits and consumer risks it represents.
Risks to be considered include:
- Consumers achieving an inaccurate or inappropriate legal result;
- Consumers failing to exercise legal rights through ignorance or bad advice; and,
- Consumers purchasing an unnecessary or inappropriate legal service.
For example, an Innovation Sandbox applicant may be targeting consumers who do not generally seek help from lawyers. In that case, the risk assessment should be against receiving no legal advice or using do-it-yourself tools on the market or from court websites.
The IRG will consider the implications of any rule waivers requested by an applicant as part of its risk assessment.
The Law Society will evaluate applications based on the Bencher-approved eligibility criteria. If an application meets the eligibility criteria, it will be accepted into the Innovation Sandbox. Eligibility criteria may include the following:
- In Scope – The proposed delivery model must advance a goal of the Law Society’s Strategic Plan, including Innovation & Proactive Regulation, Access, Competence & Wellness, and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
- Benefit to the Public – The proposed delivery model must offer a reasonable prospect of identifiable and clear benefits to the public, such as improved efficiencies, lower cost, or greater access.
- Access is Necessary – The Innovation Sandbox is designed for legal service delivery models that are outside of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta or the Code of Conduct.
- Genuine Innovation – Proposed delivery models should be innovative in Alberta, address gaps or offer a significantly different way of delivering legal services.
- Client Safeguards – The proposed delivery model must identify any reasonably foreseeable risks that may be posed to the public during a pilot, and safeguards that will be put in place to mitigate these risks and protect clients.
- Business Operating Permits – Any business permits required by the local or the provincial government must be obtained prior to operating the delivery model in Alberta.
- Readiness – The applicant must indicate when they will be ready to implement the proposed delivery model in a live environment. Readiness will be established by having a well-developed business plan, that sets out clear objectives, measures for success, safeguards for the public along with the necessary tools and resources in place.
- Exit Strategy – Applicants are required to have a clear exit strategy either for a pre-determined end date, or earlier if the IRG determines that a delivery model must cease operations during the pilot.
The IRG may approve, defer or deny applications to the Innovation Sandbox.
Each outcome will be communicated in a written report that explains the basis for the decision.
If the IRG approves an Innovation Sandbox proposal, it notifies the applicant of its decision and provides them the following:
- Letter of Approval;
- Participation Agreement;
- Innovation Sandbox User Guide;
- Applicable data reporting template; and,
- Any additional necessary documents.
The Participation Agreement sets out the scope and nature of the approved Innovation Sandbox pilot, including:
- The product or service to be provided;
- Duration of the pilot;
- Requirement to maintain eligibility requirements;
- Conditions imposed;
- Complaint handling process;
- Monitoring requirements; and,
- Interim and final reporting requirements.
Applicants are required to sign the Participation Agreement before commencing operations.
If the IRG has concerns about an application or requires additional information before reaching a final decision, it may defer the application for future consideration.
The applicant is advised of this decision and is encouraged to address any deficiencies in order to permit the review process to be completed without unnecessary delay.
Before the IRG denies any application, it will attempt to resolve any obstacles and address missing elements standing in the way of approval. The goal is to encourage innovation, not stand in its way.
If the noted shortcomings cannot be resolved, a written decision will clearly articulate how the application fell short. Reasons may include:
- Insufﬁciently clear proposal of business or service model;
- A failure to adequately articulate the project’s benefit or mitigate against reasonably foreseeable risks;
- An inability to report data as required by the IRG;
- Proposal is not ready to implement;
- Proposal is already permitted under the traditional rules, so an Innovation Sandbox authorization is not needed;
- Participation of a disbarred or suspended lawyer; and,
- Applicant’s service delivery model is merely a vehicle for an out-of-province lawyer to practice in Alberta.
Anyone whose application is denied can modify their application to address any deficiencies and reapply.
Approvals may be subject to various terms and conditions depending on the nature of the proposed product or service and the risks it potentially represents to the public. Operating requirements will be tailored to the individual circumstances. Participants will commonly be required to address the following:
- Insurance or Indemnity Requirements: Applications are assessed against a detailed set of eligibility criteria, one of which is whether the applicant carries appropriate insurance or indemnity coverage.
Types and coverage requirements will vary but may include cyber insurance, errors and omissions insurance, product liability insurance, tenant’s coverage, directors and officers insurance, and general commercial liability insurance, among others. The Alberta Lawyers Indemnity Association (ALIA) provides Alberta lawyers with mandatory professional liability coverage. If Alberta lawyers are practicing in the Innovation Sandbox, they still require indemnity coverage from ALIA. Applicants who are not insured Alberta lawyers should contact their broker or agent to secure appropriate insurance or indemnification coverage.
- Complaints: Participants may be required to maintain a system for addressing consumer complaints.
- Interim Reporting requirements: Participants are required to provide periodic reports to the IRG consistent with the objectives and nature of their approval. Reporting frequency and level of detail will vary from one Innovation Sandbox project to the next. Reports will generally address information such as any issues that have arisen, consumer feedback, successes and failures encountered in delivering the proposed product or service, and so on.
- Final Reporting Requirements: Before the pilot of an approved project concludes, participants are required to provide a final, formal report to the IRG. The final report will address:
- Issues that affected the operation of the product or service;
- Measures of success, including consumer interest and participation;
- Consumer feedback, including complaints and positive outcomes;
- Any additional support required from the Law Society;
- Whether the product or service achieved its objectives;
- Performance and efficiency outcomes;
- The cost of legal services delivered; and,
- Next steps.
- Disclosure and Communications: Depending on the product or service, some applicants may be required to communicate certain information to consumers. This may include any of the following:
- That they are providing legal services in a pilot through the Innovation Sandbox;
- It is a test, of limited duration, operating through the Innovation Sandbox;
- There is no guarantee of longevity or completion of the client’s matter using the product or service;
- If the product or service is provided by a non-Alberta lawyer, specific regulatory requirements may not apply;
- Informed consent disclosures (where applicable), for example, that the provider has certain limitations in terms of the tasks or functions that it is permitted to perform;
- Information about how to make a complaint or provide feedback; and,
- Other pertinent information, as determined by the IRG.
Innovation Sandbox participants may be required to sign an acknowledgment that they have disclosed this information as required. Failure to do so will be considered noncompliance and considered evidence of consumer harm.
We will use the information you provide to us, including all information in your application form and supporting documentation, contact details for your staff, and details of your organization as follows:
- To confirm that you are eligible to participate and remain in the Innovation Sandbox.
- To administer the Innovation Sandbox and to carry out evaluation and research.
- To publish research and evaluation in relation to the Innovation Sandbox, provided that when we publish research we will only use information on an anonymized and aggregated basis.
- We may share your publicly available contact details and basic information about your organization (for example what it does and where you are based). However, we will not share any sensitive commercial information with anyone helping us to run or evaluate the Innovation Sandbox, such as third parties, assessors, and coaches, without your consent.
- For our regulatory purposes, including investigations and proceedings, and any other purposes contemplated by the Legal Profession Act, the Rules of the Law Society, the Code of Conduct, Guidelines and Protocols of the Law Society, or a resolution of the Benchers. The information will be accessible to all departments of the Law Society.
- Certain categories of regulatory information may also be accessible to the Alberta Lawyers Indemnity Association (ALIA). ALIA may also be involved in assessing applications and in any ongoing assessments of participation in the Sandbox.
- Your information may be used during and after your participation the Innovation Sandbox.