December 9, 2021
Extension of Part-Time Membership Fee Pilot Approved
Since February 2020, the Law Society has been piloting a part-time membership fee status to explore if the status would help retain lawyers, particularly young female lawyers, in private practice. At the Dec. 2, 2021 Board Meeting, the Benchers approved a two-year extension of the part-time membership fee pilot. The extension will allow for further analysis of the pilot and the criteria being used. Offering a part-time membership fee status is consistent with the equity, diversity, and inclusion and access to justice goals in our Strategic Plan.

In making this decision, the Benchers considered the demographics of those using the pilot, financial impact, as well as survey findings from those who have participated in the pilot.

Part-Time Membership Fee Status Criteria 

The part-time membership fee status is half the full-time practice fee and eligibility requirements for participating lawyers include:

  • being in private practice; 
  • working fewer than 20 hours per week on average and have fewer than 750 hours per year in total billable tasks (excluding pro bono work); and 
  • having gross billings of less than $90,000 per year globally.
Rule Changes for Mandatory Principal Training Approved
At the Dec. 2, 2021 Board meeting, the Benchers approved amendments to the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta to implement a mandatory training course for principals that will launch in early 2022.
The development of the training course was previously approved by the Benchers in June, and the Rule amendments now allow the Law Society to apply the mandatory requirement for principals to complete the course, regardless of previous experience.
The Law Society is working with the Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) to develop the Principal Training course, which includes eight lessons covering such topics as Law Society duties/requirements, how to be an effective mentor, dealing with difficult conversations and cultural competency, to name a few. Topics covered were developed in response to the 2019 articling survey and a 2021 survey of principals and students specifically regarding the course content.
From these surveys, the Law Society knows that not all articling experiences are positive, either for the student or the principal. As a result, the Law Society saw the need for training that provided balanced content while also not being too onerous a time commitment for participants. The Law Society recognizes that many firms and organizations have training in place, and we have designed ours to complement and/or supplement those programs. The Law Society believes that most principals are highly ethical and do a good job. This requirement will establish baseline criteria for principals, improve consistency in the mentorship and feedback students receive, and provide principals with clarity for their role. The goal for the course is to provide a user-friendly platform for improving the articling experience.

The course is open to lawyers in a mentorship role, supporting an articling student program, or who may be considering acting as a principal in the future. If the course is completed when a lawyer is not acting as a principal, the requirement will be considered fulfilled if the lawyer applies to take on a principal role in the future.
If you have questions about the training program for principals, email Education
December 2021 Board Recap Video
In our December 2021 edition of the Bencher Recap video, Law Society of Alberta President, Darlene W. Scott, QC, and President-Elect, Ken Warren, QC, discuss:

Reminder: Recruiting Firms and Organizations for the 2022 Indigenous Summer Student Program
The Indigenous Summer Student Program (ISSP) for first and second year Indigenous law students is recruiting firms and organizations to participate in the 2022 summer student cycle. For the past 16 years, this program has received wide support resulting in various employment opportunities at small and large firms as well as government and other organizations.

Firms and organizations that are interested in participating in the ISSP are encouraged to review the criteria and submit their application as soon as possible. The 2L positions are currently posted on our website and the 1L positions will be posted starting mid-December.

The Law Society of Alberta does not have a role in the interview or hiring process, nor in the employment relationship, but will provide ongoing support and education to both the program participants and the law firms and organizations.

If you would like more information on the ISSP or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the Program Coordinator.
Court Announcements
Court of Queen's Bench

The current agreement between the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees includes a provision for holiday closure in the month of December. The Court of Queen’s Bench will be closed on Dec. 24, 2021 and through Jan. 3, 2022, inclusive. On Dec. 29, 30 and 31 a Justice will be available in Calgary to hear any emergency matters and emergency protection order reviews during this time. Learn more.

The Clerks' Office will not be accepting email filing during the Christmas closure, and similarly, courthouses will not be open so as to allow access to filing drop boxes or the counters. Filing should be provided to the Clerks' office by 4 p.m. on Dec. 23, whether through email or drop box. Read more.

Provincial Court

The Provincial Court of Alberta will be closed on Dec. 24, 2021 through Jan. 3, 2022, inclusive, with the exception of the operations described below.

Provincial Court Family and Youth will be open on Dec. 29, 2021 in Edmonton and Calgary to hear urgent Family, Youth and Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act matters requiring judicial attention.

Justices of the Peace will be available at the hearing offices in Calgary and Edmonton on Dec. 29, 2021 for scheduled bail hearings. Learn more.

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal of Alberta will be closed on Dec. 24, 2021 through Jan. 3, 2022. On Dec. 29, 30 and 31, 2021 the Court of Appeal will hear only emergency applications. Any material that would ordinarily be filed on those days can be filed on Jan.4, 2022.

Should an emergency matter need to be heard, parties may contact 403.297.6267 and the appropriate arrangements will be made to hear the matter.