Legal Profession Act Amendment Update

March 22, 2018

The Law Society met with lawyers across the province last fall to gather feedback on proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act (LPA). The feedback was presented to the Board in early January and the LPA Task Force was instructed to develop a recommendation for moving forward with the amendments.

The recommendation was discussed at great length during the February Board meeting and was approved, except for officially changing the term Bencher to Board member.

The approved amendments are grouped into four key areas: innovation in legal service delivery; governance and adjudication; board size; and simplification.

Under innovation, the Law Society is seeking authority to broaden how we regulate and permit lawyers to expand the scope of legal service delivery. This means looking at different types of organizations that can deliver legal services through lawyers. The amendments will allow the Board to decide whether, how and when to enact rules to implement changes to the regulatory model.

While these amendments are not a complete solution to issues around access to justice, they will allow the Law Society to do its part by facilitating innovation in the ways legal services are provided to Albertans.

Amendments to the governance and adjudication models will enable the Board to separate the governance function (strategic work), from the adjudication function (hearing work). This moves us towards best practices by creating efficiencies, reducing Board member workloads and moving us to a more strategic Board.

In terms of Board size, the proposed amendment will see the current Board of 24 reduced to between 16 to 20 members, including the four public representatives we have now. The amendment will allow the Board to decide on the number of members in the future.

And lastly, there are many outdated and complex sections of the act that can be removed, transitioned to the rules, or amended to improve the operation of the organization.

The Law Society continues to work with the government to provide as much information as needed to enact the proposed amendments. We are currently on stand-by for the spring agenda of the legislative assembly, but there is no guarantee that we will make the agenda. The LPA Amendments are slated for the fall agenda.

We will continue to provide updates as our work progresses.