April 6, 2020
Changes to Articling Requirements and PREP Subsidy Due to COVID-19
In direct response to concerns from both students and the wider profession related to the economic and logistical challenges that are resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Law Society of Alberta has made changes to the articling requirements and has increased the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) subsidy to add flexibility for firms and organizations as they navigate the articling period.

Changes to duration of articling terms

Effective April 6, 2020, the articling term in Alberta changes to a minimum of eight months and a maximum of twelve months for any student-at-law enrolled after January 1, 2019. Students clerking with the Courts also have more flexibility in the term of articles.

Prior to April 6, students-at-law clerking with the Courts would complete a 10-month term and then an additional five months with an active member of the Law Society. With the changes to articling requirements, these students can now spend a minimum of eight months to a maximum of 10 months at the Courts, and then complete a minimum of three months to a maximum of five months with an active member of the Law Society.

These changes directly impact current students-at-law who are in the middle of their 2019-2020 articling term and students scheduled to commence their 2020-2021 articling term this spring or summer.

Articling requirement changes will be reviewed by the Board before the end of 2021

The Board has committed to reviewing these changes to the articling requirements before the end of 2021 once we have a full understanding of the impact of the change on the profession.

Changes to PREP subsidy

In another effort to help alleviate financial stress, the Law Society of Alberta has increased the subsidy provided to the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education’s PREP students by $1,000, thereby reducing the tuition payable by the student or their firm from $3600 per student to $2600 per student for students who commence PREP in 2020. This additional subsidy is for one year only.
Articling Students: Paid Employees Under Employment Standards
In August 2000, in a publication sent to the profession, the Law Society announced a key legislative change: “Minimum wage now applies to students at law”. Effective July 1, 2000, Alberta’s employment standards regulation no longer exempted articling students (and lawyers) from its application.

Twenty years later, the Practice Advisors continue to get asked whether articling students must be paid. The answer is YES. The current preamble to the Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9 articulates the underlying principles.

Termination Issues: Who is Responsible for Professional Fees?
Over the past two weeks the Law Society has received telephone calls and emails from lawyers who are facing termination of their employment as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19.

One development of concern is that lawyers facing termination are being told that Law Society fees, ALIA indemnity levies, bar association fees and other pre-paid expenses are being deducted from the lawyer’s final pay cheque and severance. In some cases, this has resulted in the terminated lawyer being presented with a bill instead of a final cheque. In most cases, the issue is not considered in the employment contract. As a result, employers are reminded that the employment of lawyers and students-at-law is subject to the Alberta Employment Standards Code

Provincial Court of Alberta Announcements
The following information is being re-issued with corrected links to guidance information. We will continue to update this guidance as more information becomes available.
Video Conference Witnessing and Commissioning of Documents Submitted to Land Titles for Registration
To assist Albertans with self-isolation and social distancing during the spread of COVID-19, effective today, the Government of Alberta is temporarily allowing the registration of Land Titles documents that have been witnessed, sworn or affirmed by Alberta lawyers using two-way teleconferencing.

  • This is a temporary measure as the government responds to the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Land Titles will only accept documents commissioned or witnessed via videoconferencing from lawyers who are active, practicing, and insured in Alberta. Lawyers are subject to the Law Society of Alberta’s client identification and verification rules and oversight.  
  • Original signatures are still required on all documents. 
  • These measures will be in place as long as the state of public health emergency remains in effect. 

For more information on the Land Titles forms that this change applies to, read the official letter. The Ministerial Order is limited to situations in which a lawyer is the witness or is acting as a commissioner or notary in administering an oath while a deponent is signing an affidavit. The lawyer must be an active practicing and indemnified member of the Law Society of Alberta. The Order also states that lawyers are subject to the Law Society’s client verification rules and oversight.

The Law Society of Alberta has also developed guidance for lawyers for using video teleconferencing for these purposes.