Extension of Part-Time Membership Fee Pilot Approved
Since February 2020, the Law Society has been piloting a part-time membership fee status to explore if the status would help retain lawyers, particularly young female lawyers, in private practice. At the Dec. 2, 2021 Board Meeting, the Benchers approved a two-year extension of the part-time membership fee pilot. The extension will allow for further analysis of the pilot and the criteria being used. Offering a part-time membership fee status is consistent with the equity, diversity, and inclusion and access to justice goals in our Strategic Plan.
In making this decision, the Benchers considered the demographics of those using the pilot, financial impact, as well as survey findings from those who have held part-time membership fee status.
Part-Time Membership Fee Status Criteria
The part-time membership fee status is half the full-time practice fee and eligibility requirements for participating lawyers include:
- being in private practice;
- working fewer than 20 hours per week on average and have fewer than 750 hours per year in total billable tasks (excluding pro bono work); and
- having gross billings of less than $90,000 per year globally.
The motivation to consider a part-time membership fee option dates to the 1990s, when Law Society reports on the status of women in the profession recommended a part-time option to allow flexibility for young female lawyers.
Since that time, additional information on the desire for a part-time fee status continued to surface consistently through exit surveys for lawyers moving to inactive status. The 2018 Part-Time Membership Fees Survey asked the profession whether they were in favour of adopting a part-time membership fee that may result in a fee increase, and posed questions about how to structure the status.
The survey results revealed several key items including:
- 84 per cent of respondents were in favour of a part-time membership fee.
- Part-time membership fees were perceived as offering benefits for both the profession (increased diversity) and lawyers personally (better work-life balance etc.).
- The majority of respondents supported a 50 per cent reduction in the membership fee with either a maximum hours ceiling or a combined hours and income ceiling.
- Concerns about fairness, in particular tracking and monitoring for compliance, and that this status would not have enough impact without the insurance levy being reduced.
The data from the 2018 survey was factored in, alongside Law Society operational considerations of the impact on Law Society resources, to the launch of the part-time membership fee pilot in 2020.
If you are a lawyer looking to change your status, further options and requirements for eligibility are detailed on this page. View our User Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to change your status through the Lawyer Portal.