March 26, 2020
Protecting your staff during COVID-19
While the COVID-19 situation is unprecedented for many law firms, lawyers and organizations, it is important that we put measures in place to protect all employees, including legal support staff, articling students and lawyers. 

Firms and organizations should stay aware of national, provincial and municipal updates and guidance. Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation requires employers do everything they reasonably can to protect the health and safety of their employees. This means ensuring staff have everything they need to do their jobs in a healthy and safe manner. 

If your office is still operating from a physical location, it is important to protect lawyers, students and support staff by:

  • Implementing physical distancing measures such as making sure staff aren’t working side-by-side, in-person meetings are being reduced and catering is not being shared. 
  • Using electronic means and courier services to deliver information to clients and other law firms.
  • Avoiding unnecessary out-of-office errands.
  • Setting staff up to work remotely wherever possible.
  • Implementing client identification and verification processes using the dual-process whereby the client sends original documents or shows documents over video (for phone or bank statements).

This is particularly important where there are circumstances of power imbalance and fear of reprisal for saying no to a potentially unsafe situation. 

Our Practice Advisors and Equity Ombudsperson are available to provide confidential information and guidance to help Alberta lawyers, legal support staff and articling students with legal, ethical and practice inquiries. 
Guidance for legal professionals testing or presumptively positive for COVID-19 virus
A legal professional who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, who is being treated as presumptively positive, or who becomes aware that someone with whom they have had close contact has tested positive, may be required to provide information to a provincial health officer or their designate, pursuant to the relevant provincial or territorial public health act and regulations. The information sought might include the names and contact information of individuals with whom the professional has had recent contact. This may include the names of and contact information for clients. Under some circumstances, health authorities may also seek more detailed information such as the nature of the lawyer’s recent encounters with individuals or their duration. Such information is confidential and, in some circumstances, may be privileged. 

We have received questions about whether a lawyer is permitted to provide information about a client to health authorities without obtaining client consent. In a collaboration between Canadian law societies, guidance was created to deal with this type of situation.
Attending court
A reminder to lawyers, students and legal support staff that anyone who has recently returned from travel or are feeling sick are absolutely not to attend court, their offices or any other setting outside of what’s mandated by Alberta Health Services and the Government of Alberta. Alberta Health Services released new information this week on who should be self-isolating and for how long.
To protect the health and safety of Albertans, law enforcement agencies now have full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines for violations. View more information on enforcement of these orders here .
The Law Society would like to remind lawyers of their professional obligations, with one of those professional obligations being to comply with the mandatory self-isolation requirements if they fall into one of the above categories.
Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Amendments to Master Order #2
The Court has made minor amendments to clarify its Master Order #2, which sets out limitations on hearings and modified processes as a result of COVID-19.
Provincial Court of Alberta: Closure of Case Management Offices
The safety and well-being of all Albertans and all court participants including litigants, witnesses, court staff and justice partners, lawyers and the judiciary must be a priority in this time of pandemic.

Effective Friday, March 27 all Case Management Offices (CMOs) in the Province will be closed until further notice. Do not attend in person to schedule matters.