Annual Fees Reduced by 10 per cent and Introduction of Instalment Payments in 2021
As the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic continues to affect the legal community in Alberta, the Law Society has focused on cost recovery throughout 2020 to allow for a fee reduction of 10 per cent in 2021. The Law Society of Alberta Board has set the 2021 practice fee at $2,340 per active lawyer, following four years of practice fees at $2,600 per active lawyer.
In March 2020, the Law Society undertook a comprehensive budget review to identify opportunities to reduce spending as operational needs shifted due to the pandemic. Budgeting during this time requires careful consideration of the short, medium, and longer-term effects, balanced against the Law Society’s commitment to achieving its strategic goals through proactive regulation.
Invoices for 2021 practice fees will become available February 2021.
Also starting in 2021, the Law Society is implementing the option of an instalment plan for payment of the annual practice fee to give lawyers more flexibility around fee payment. By moving fee payment to two equal, annual instalments, lawyers now have the option of spreading their financial obligations through the year rather than paying one lump sum.
If lawyers opt to make instalment payments, the first payment is due on March 15, 2021, with the second payment due on September 15, 2021. There will be an additional $50 service charge on the March 15 deadline for lawyers who opt to pay their fees in instalments. Lawyers are also welcome to continue paying the entire fee in one lump sum payment on March 15, 2021.
This change to instalment payments aligns us with the other Law Societies in Canada, all of whom who offer instalment payments for their practice fees. More information regarding practice fees and payment can be found on the Law Society website.
Practice Fee Reduction - Frequently Asked Questions
We believe it was important as an organization to be mindful of the impacts this pandemic is having on the legal community. We dug deep and looked at ways the Law Society could reduce operational spending in 2020 to allow for the fee reduction in 2021.
The 2021 fee reduction will apply to all full and part-time, active members.
As a fiscally responsible regulator, the organization underwent a budget review in early 2020 to find cost savings as our operational needs shifted due to the pandemic which would support a reduced budget in 2021. More than $2.3 million in one-time cost reductions made it possible to reduce the practice fee in 2021 by 10 per cent.
Budgeting during a pandemic requires careful consideration of the short, medium, and longer-term effects, balanced against the Law Society’s commitment to achieving its strategic goals through proactive regulation.
How did the Law Society come up with the budget reduction in 2020 to support this fee reduction in 2021?
Many of the changes in the budget that resulted from the 2020 review were from areas that were affected by the pandemic, including staff travel, in-person events, use of external contractors and in-person staff professional development.
While the Law Society cannot commit to what practice fees will be after 2021, the organization is mindful that the economy may continue to be challenged throughout the pandemic. This will continue to be something that the organization assesses and stays on top of as we move through next year. We will continue to operate in a fiscally responsible manner while ensuring our ongoing operations continue to serve in the public interest.
Member fees are due March 15, 2021 and can be paid in either one lump sum or lawyers can now choose two instalment payments. If you opt to pay in two instalments, your first payment is due March 15 and the second payment is due September 15, 2021.
Instalment Payments - Frequently Asked Questions
The decision to move to two equal instalments was made to give lawyers some financial flexibility in making their fee payment during these challenging economic times.
After consulting with other jurisdictions and looking at the model used by the Alberta Lawyer’s Indemnity Association (ALIA), we determined that following the biannual model would provide lawyers with an option to reduce their immediate costs while maintaining resource and budgetary stability within the Law Society.
ALIA includes a service charge on their first instalment for their indemnity levy. Will there be a service charge on Law Society practice fees?
The Law Society will be implementing a $50 service charge on the first instalment.
Payment to the Law Society can be made through your online bank (for individual lawyers) or via electronic funds transfer (for firms/firm administrators).
Setting up Online Bill Payment is an easy, one-time process. If you’ve ever paid a bill through your online bank, the process is the same – simply record your member ID and invoice number via the Lawyer Portal, certify that you will complete your payment and submit.
For support on setting up online payment, contact your financial institution.
For all Alberta lawyers, practice fees are due March 15, 2021. If you opt to pay in biannual instalments, your first payment is due March 15 and your second payment is due September 15, 2021.
No, Lawyers must acknowledge in the Lawyer Portal by March 15 if they want to pay one lump sum or in two equal instalments.
Lawyers are welcome to continue paying the entire fee in one payment as per the current practice.