Part-time Membership Fees Update

November 4, 2019

The ability to choose a part-time membership status and pay a reduced membership fee becomes a reality in 2020.

At the February 2019 Board meeting, the introduction of a part-time membership fee pilot program was approved. For the purposes of the pilot, part-time membership is defined as a lawyer who works fewer than 20 hours per week on average and fewer than 750 hours per year in total on billable tasks, excluding pro bono work, and has gross billings of less than $90,000 per year globally.

Our exploration of implementing part-time fees was motivated by requests from Alberta lawyers; data gathered from our exit surveys and the Retention & Re-engagement Task Force Report; as well as from our own goals in support of furthering equity, diversity and inclusion within the profession and supporting access to justice for the public.

We conducted a survey in Fall 2018 with the profession. We heard from 1,043 survey respondents and 84 per cent were in favour of implementing a part-time membership option. More details about our engagement with the profession about part-time fees can be found here.

Participation in the Part-time Membership Fee Pilot

Inactive lawyers should review the rules for reinstatement (Rules of the Law Society of Alberta 115-118) and Application for Reinstatement to evaluate requirements that may be needed for this status change.

Full time, active lawyers, will be able to make the status change through the Lawyer Portal by certifying that their practice meets the criteria for part-time membership.

Lawyers with a part-time status who are not exempt from the mandatory indemnity program will still be required to pay the full assessment (as well as any applicable surcharges) to the Alberta Lawyers Indemnity Association (ALIA). A part-time levy is not an option at this time.

ALIA plans to consider the option of a part-time indemnity levy after the Law Society’s part-time practice fee pilot project has concluded and data collected from that pilot is collected for analysis by ALIA’s actuary and Board.

Further details about the process of changing to part-time membership will be provided in early 2020.