- Become a Lawyer
- Application & Admission
- Bar Admission Program
- Bar Call & Enrolment
- General Process
- Become a Principal
- Visiting Lawyers
- Membership Services
- Billing Cycles, Filing Deadlines and Other Key Dates
- How to Become a Member in Alberta
- Status Options & Contact Information Changes
- Making a Payment to the Law Society
- Membership & Indemnity Program Renewals
- Member & Indemnity Certificates
- Indemnity & Indemnity Exemptions
- Professional Corporations (PCs)
- Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
- Alberta Lawyers Indemnity Association (ALIA)
- About ALIA
- Report a Claim
- Group Policy
- Indemnity Levy
- Enhanced Surcharge Protocol
- Civil Litigation Filing Levy Pilot
- Universal Cyber Coverage Program
- ALIA Board
- Financial Reports
- Indemnity Forms
- Making a Payment to ALIA
- Continuing Professional Development
- Practice Advisors
- Trust Accounting & Safety
- Practice Management Consultations
- Equity Ombudsperson
- Fraud & Loss Prevention
- Approved Legal Services Providers
- Forms & Certificates
To be eligible to become a principal in Alberta you must:
- be an active lawyer with four years of active practice experience in Alberta immediately preceding your application; and
- have completed Mandatory Principal Training.
For further information review the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta, Rule 55.
To be suitable to become and remain a principal in Alberta, the following factors may be considered:
- current and previous conduct and disciplinary matters;
- current and previous claims against the Assurance Fund or ALIA group policy;
- current and previous Trust Safety matters;
- failure to comply with previous requirements in relation to an articling student;
- previous proceedings before the Credentials and Education Committee relating to acting as a principal; and
- any other relevant matter.
For further information, review Rule 55(5). A suitability review and decision may result in an approval, denial or an approval subject to conditions. This decision may be appealed to the Credential and Education Committee.
The Law Society does not pre-approve lawyers to act as principals. Lawyers are evaluated for eligibility and suitability to act as a principal once a student-at-law application is received from the student wanting to commence their articles. Eligibility and suitability decisions are made at the time the application is received and cannot be made in advance given that a review of the principal’s current situation is required.
If you have practised in another province or your active practice experience is not immediately preceding the student-at-law’s application, you can apply in writing via email to Membership for a waiver of these requirements and a decision will be made by an authorized delegate of the Executive Director. A detailed explanation by the lawyer seeking a waiver should be provided.
The Rules allow a principal to supervise a maximum of two students-at-law concurrently. If you want to have more than two students-at-law under your supervision, you must provide a written request to Membership and a decision will be made by an authorized delegate of the Executive Director. Typically a detailed explanation outlining why three or more students-at-law are required and how these students will be supervised is helpful in assessing these requests.
Generally, you can act as a principal to a family member. Acting as principal to your spouse is strongly discouraged and may not be approved as it presents a conflict of interest.
You need to have an active practising status to be eligible as a principal. This means you can be:
- active, indemnified;
- active (part-time), indemnified;
- active (pro bono); and
- active, exempt (in-house counsel).
If you are working in private practice, you must carry Alberta Lawyers Indemnification Association (ALIA) coverage. If you are working for a government or corporation, you must ensure that the student-at-law will be indemnified for errors and omissions.
If you have a part-time status, you are eligible to have a part-time student-at-law. You cannot supervise a student-at-law on a full-time basis.
For more information, see Supervising Your Student-at-Law.
If a principal is suspended (administratively or otherwise), the articles may terminate. Principals need to ensure that fees are paid on time and take all steps to avoid an administrative suspension. If a principal is suspended due to a disciplinary matter, the principal needs to inform the student-at-law and, if possible, arrange for a new principal to supervise the student (subject to the Law Society’s approval) (Rule 57.3).