Since February 2020, the Law Society has been piloting a part-time membership status to explore if it would help retain lawyers, particularly young female lawyers, in private practice. At the December 2021 Board Meeting, the Benchers approved a two-year extension of the pilot to allow for further analysis of the status and the criteria being used. The Benchers conducted an extensive review of the parameters and eligibility criteria over the course of 2022 and 2023.
At the April 27, 2023 Board Meeting, the Benchers approved a permanent part-time membership status option based on updated eligibility criteria, to be implemented in 2024. As the changes do not come into effect until 2024, lawyers who currently hold part-time membership status or who apply for part-time status in 2023 will continue to use the existing eligibility criteria.
During the review, the Benchers considered the original goal of the pilot and recognized that others in the profession could also benefit from the option of part-time status. The Benchers focused on the financial barrier that can arise for some lawyers when required to pay the full active membership fee. The goal of the part-time status option was therefore broadened to assist any lawyers facing financial barriers to practising law, which, if addressed, would enable them to continue to practise law on a part-time basis.
Offering a part-time membership status is consistent with the goals of equity, diversity and inclusion and access in our Strategic Plan.
More information will be released in the coming months about the new criteria, how it will be implemented and how this affects lawyers who currently hold part-time status.