Upcoming Changes to Active Non-Practising Status Effective Feb. 1, 2024
At the Oct. 4, 2023 Board meeting, the Benchers approved Rule changes that revise the existing active non-practising status to better accommodate lawyers going on leave. These Rule changes will come into effect on Feb. 1, 2024.
At various stages in their career, a lawyer may take a leave from the practice of law and change their status. We understand that lawyers go on leave for various reasons. For example, lawyers may take maternity or parental leave, while others take a leave for medical, mental health, caregiving, educational or other reasons.
When taking a leave, lawyers can choose to hold the same active practising status or change their status to suit their circumstances. The Law Society does not select the status for lawyers going on leave.
Current Status Options
Currently, the annual fee to hold active non-practising status is the same as the full active status membership fee ($2,490 + GST).
Lawyers who go on leave therefore often change their status from active to inactive to avoid the higher cost of maintaining active status. Lawyers who choose inactive status are required to pay a small inactive fee ($230 + GST) and no indemnity fee, as they do not provide legal services.
Changing their status to inactive can have implications for these lawyers, both professionally and financially. Lawyers who hold inactive status are not allowed to vote or run in a Bencher election, and being inactive for a period has historically impacted promotion or partnership eligibility. As well, if a lawyer decides to return to active status, they are required to go through a potentially time-consuming reinstatement process and pay a reinstatement fee. These impacts tend to adversely affect women, as maternity and parental leaves are the most common reasons for taking a leave from practice.
Changes to Active Non-Practising Status
To address this concern, the new Rule changes amend the existing active non-practising status to make it a more viable option for lawyers taking a leave. Effective Feb. 1, 2024, the active non-practising status will be available at a reduced membership fee. The status will also allow for an expedited reinstatement process for lawyers with no disciplinary proceedings who hold the status for three consecutive years or less and are looking to return to active status. Current inactive lawyers who want to elect active non-practising status are still subject to the reinstatement process. Lawyers who elect active non-practising status can also participate in a Bencher election.
There will be no eligibility requirements to hold this status. It will be available to lawyers who need or want to take a leave from practising law for any reason.
Further details on the features of the status, how to apply, exceptions and what this means for lawyers who currently hold the status will be released closer to the effective date. For more information on other existing statuses, visit our website.