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We want Alberta to be a leader in proactive compliance. We know that better proactive outreach and risk mitigation benefits all Alberta lawyers. This is why the filing requirements for the Annual Report include the Law Firm Self-Report and the Trust Safety Accounting Upload OR the Accountant’s Report:
Rule 119.38 requires all law firms, unless exempt, to provide a completed Law Firm Self-Report to the Law Society annually. The report is proof of compliance with Part 5 of the Rules.
In this report, your law firm provides details regarding your practice, trust accounting and other related activities during the preceding year. In general, one report is completed for the practice and this will satisfy the filing requirements of all the lawyers (associates and partners) of your practice. You as the Responsible Lawyer (RL) are accountable for all filing requirements of your law firm.
All law firms are required to e-file the annual Law Firm Self-Report via the Lawyer Portal.
- E-file a complete Law Firm Self-Report via the Lawyer Portal annually by March 31. The online Law Firm Self-Report is divided into four sections outlined below:
- Firm Practice Profile
- Bank Account Information
- Trust Bank Account Reporting
- Law Firm Self-Report:
- Section A: General Information
- Section B: General Bank Account
- Section C: Trust Bank Account
The sections that need to be completed will depend on whether your law firm operates a trust bank account. If your firm does not operate a trust account, you do not have to complete the Trust Bank Account Reporting section or Section C of the Law Firm Self Report. The following chart outlines these filing responsibilities depending on your firm’s situation:
2. Ensure that Membership Services has your current contact information (including telephone/fax numbers, mailing/email addresses and change of name). Please submit all change requests to Membership Services prior to submitting your Self-Report.
The list below provides further resources when completing your Self-Report, including additional forms that may be required depending on your circumstances.
Check out our webinar on how to e-file the Law Firm Self-Report for further information.
Trust Safety staff are also available to answer questions and provide any information you require to help your firm smoothly e-file your Self-Report via the Lawyer Portal. Do not hesitate to contact us by emailing Trust Safety or calling 403.228.5632.
All Responsible Lawyers (RLs) who operate a trust account must file a Trust Safety Accounting Upload in accordance with subrule 119.38.
Approved Accounting Software
If you operate a trust account, you must use an approved accounting software to maintain your prescribed financial records. The following vendors have been approved:
Please review the Software Comparison Chart for more details and a side-by-side comparison of the above vendors on many of the key features.
Using the Connect Tool with Approved Accounting Software
The Trust Safety Accounting Upload is created using an approved accounting software and is submitted through the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Connect Tool (Connect Tool). As all law firms are required to use the Connect Tool for their annual filings, the RLs at your law firm are automatically enrolled in the system and set up with an account. An email will be sent directly to all RLs with their username and temporary password.
Note: You should receive your login information directly from PwC via email. If you did not receive two emails with your login information, or if you did and are still having any issues logging in, please contact Trust Safety immediately at the general Trust Safety email or call 403.228.5632.
To log in to the Connect Tool:
- Once you have your username and password, go to the Connect Tool login page.
- Follow the prompts to reset your password and set up your account.
- If you have not prepared your electronic data upload or Accountant’s Report yet, log out of the Connect Tool and return using the link above when you are ready to submit your upload.
Using the Connect Tool with Approved Accounting Software
You can use any of the approved software vendors to generate trust accounting data before uploading it to the Connect Tool. View the following user guides and tutorial videos for more information about the approved software vendors:
|Clio and SFTP Software||User Guide|
|Clio and SFTP Software||Video Tutorial|
|EsiLaw and SFTP Software||User Guide|
|EsiLaw 360 and SFTP Software||User Guide|
|EsiLaw 360 and SFTP Software||Video Tutorial|
|Leap Legal||User Guide|
|PC Law and SFTP Software||User Guide|
|PC Law and SFTP Software||Video Tutorial|
The Accountant’s Report is prepared by the law firm’s accountant in accordance with subrule 119.38. Only Responsible Lawyers (RLs) with trust accounts and permission to file an Accountant’s Report in lieu of an accounting upload are permitted to do so. If you have been granted permission, the Accountant’s Report is submitted through the PricewaterhouseCoopers Connect Tool (Connect Tool). More information on using the Connect Tool is available under the Trust Safety Accounting Tool section.
As all law firms are required to use the Connect Tool for their Annual Filings, the RLs at your law firm are automatically enrolled in the system and set up with an account. An email will be sent directly to all RLs with their username and temporary password.
Please note that we will not accept older versions of the report or reports that do not include the test month reconciliation package.
The mandatory designated filing date for all law firms is Dec. 31. For firms that operate a trust account, the filings include the Law Firm Self-Report and either the Trust Safety Accounting Upload or Accountant’s Report. For firms that do not operate a trust account, the filings include the Law Firm Self-Report.
Late Filing Fee and Administrative Suspension
Late filing fees will begin after the due date (March 31) up to a maximum of three months late or $1,500 in late fees.
The RL is administratively suspended on July 1 if the Annual Reports are not filed three months after the due date and any late fees remain unpaid.
- Lawyers who are administratively suspended will have 15 days from the date of suspension to seek reinstatement through compliance with all requirements by submitting the Annual Reports and paying the late fees along with the reinstatement fee of $230 plus GST. Lawyers will be immediately reinstated when these conditions are met.
- If this is not completed within 15 days, the lawyer must make, to the satisfaction of the Executive Director, the necessary arrangements for an active, practising lawyer to take possession of the firm’s client files, records and trust funds. Should the lawyer reinstate, he or she must then reapply to Designate a Responsible Lawyer and Operate a Trust Account.
In summary, law firms that do not comply and file by the due date will be subject to the following late fees and administrative suspension:
|Dec 31||Designated Filing Date (Year-End)||$0||$0|
|March 31||Annual Report due date||$0||$0|
|April 1||1 month late||$250||$250|
|May 1||2 months late||$500||$750|
|June 1||3 months late||$750||$1,500|
|July 1 RL is administratively suspended*|
|Post-July 1||Firm files Annual Report, which terminates RL’s administrative suspension||$225**||$1,725|
|Total Late Filing Penalties – $250 (Minimum) – $1,725 (Maximum)|
|* The RL is automatically suspended if the firm is more than three months late filing its Annual Reports and remains suspended until the Annual Reports and all related fees are submitted.|
|** In addition to late filing fees, a reinstatement transaction fee is required when the RL returns from suspension.|
Accountants who can issue an Accountant’s Report are chartered professional accountants as defined in the Chartered Professional Accountants Act (Alberta). If a lawyer is retaining an accounting firm to maintain his/her books and records monthly, he/she must ensure that the Accountant’s Report is performed by another accounting firm.