Bencher Table Vacancy

September 15, 2021

With the appointment of the Honourable Judge Sandra Mah to the Provincial Court, the Law Society has opened applications for the appointment of a new Bencher, to serve until February 2024 when the current Bencher term concludes. The Law Society encourages Alberta lawyers to volunteer their skills and talents to help protect the public interest and shape the legal profession by applying.

Benchers serve as volunteers for terms of three years, up to a maximum of nine years total if re-elected. The key responsibilities of the Benchers lie in two areas: governance (attending and participating in board and committee meetings) and adjudication (participating in hearings related to conduct, admission and other regulatory matters).

In the event of a vacancy at the Bencher table, the Benchers, using the process outlined in Rule 17 of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta, have two options to fill the seat; they may appoint an eligible member, or they may appoint the candidate who received the next-most number of votes in the previous Bencher Election (in this case, November 2020).

The Benchers amended Rule 17 in June 2019, to create the opportunity to enhance the diversity of skills and experiences at the Bencher Table, allowing the Benchers to appoint members that meet the table’s needs at that particular point in time. In those circumstances, the Benchers may appoint a Law Society member to complete the term. Rule 17 states the following:

  • In accordance with section 19 of the Act, the Benchers may establish a process to govern the appointment of a Bencher where a vacancy arises.
  • The process referenced in subrule (1) shall first consider whether there is a vacancy in the representation of a district. If so, the Benchers shall appoint as a Bencher an eligible member from that district, when possible.
  • Subsequent to the consideration in subrule (2), the process referenced in subrule (1) may permit the Benchers to consider any factors they consider relevant, including a potential Bencher’s competencies, diverse characteristics, and results in the most recent Bencher election, if any.
  • Notwithstanding subrule (1), if a vacancy arises on or after February 28 preceding the date for an election of Benchers, the Benchers need not make an appointment pursuant to section 19 of the Act to fill the vacancy.

All active members of the Law Society may apply for a vacant Bencher position. The defined Bencher Competencies can be found on the Law Society website.

Applications will be assessed based on supplementing the existing skills at the Bencher Table and the Law Society’s goals and objectives as outlined in the Strategic Plan. Applicants will be considered for the current open position as well as any additional openings for the next six months.

Benchers may spend roughly 500 volunteer hours each year on Law Society work. Benchers who chair committees and actively participate in the adjudication work will likely need to commit more hours. Committee work is divided amongst the Benchers and external volunteers, and Benchers may sit on several committees and/or task forces in any given year.

The Benchers hold meetings five times each year, with four meetings held in Calgary and one meeting being an annual planning retreat in June.

Committee meetings are typically held five times each year. Committees generally meet either toward the end of a working day (between 3-5 p.m.) or prior to the workday starting (7:45 a.m.), usually by videoconference.

Mandatory education sessions related to the adjudication role of a Bencher are held several times per year.

Online application is open until October 5 at 4:30 p.m. MST. The application will request information about your current practice, skills and ask for a current CV. The Nominating Committee is requesting that applicants keep their CV to a maximum of two pages. Please note that incomplete applications will not be reviewed and it is the responsibility of the applicants to ensure their applications are complete.

For more information on the role of Benchers, Committees and the 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, visit the Law Society website.