December 8, 2020
Lawyer Licensing & Competence in Alberta
The professional development of all lawyers is vital to the growth and future of the legal profession in Alberta and that is why the competence of lawyers is at the forefront of everything we do in both our proactive and our regulatory work.

Equipped with feedback from our 2019 articling surveys and a new five-year Strategic Plan that highlights competence & wellness as one of our four strategic goals, the Law Society is in a strategic position to progress our work in lawyer licensing and competence. 

The Lawyer Competence Committee (LCC) is looking at the efficacy of articling as training for new lawyers, strategies for the ongoing training of lawyers beyond articling including changes to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program and the role of wellness in lawyer competence. This work reinforces the important role of the regulator in lawyer competence and recognizes that access to competent legal services is fundamental to the public interest. 

In February 2020, the filing requirement for the current CPD program was suspended for two years (2020 – 2021) to allow us time to improve the overall competency requirements for lawyers both in articling and throughout their career. We recognized at that time that a modern and dynamic CPD program would take time to build and that is why we created the space to do so. Two key projects we are currently progressing are:

  • Establishing an Indigenous Cultural Competency education requirement for all Alberta lawyers to meaningfully address our obligation arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action; and
  • Working with our stakeholders to develop a new competence framework for lawyers throughout their entire career that is proportionate, effective and dynamic, and incorporates wellness as a key component. 

While there is much work to be done over the next five years, we will launch Indigenous Cultural Competency education in spring 2021. New CPD requirements will begin in September 2022. Details of the new CPD program will be provided to lawyers in advance to allow time to plan activities to satisfy the new requirements. 

Future opportunities to provide feedback on specific issues regarding our work in lawyer licensing and competence will be offered to the profession as part of our ongoing decision-making.
Indigenous Cultural Competency Education Update
In October, the Law Society approved Indigenous Cultural Competency education for all active Alberta lawyers. The selected program, called The Path (National), was vetted by Indigenous lawyers and the Indigenous Advisory Committee. Within the Law Society, it was also vetted by the LCC, the Indigenous Initiatives Liaison and Benchers. The Path (National) also has the endorsement of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) and is well-regarded across Canada. Having selected The Path (National), we began work to develop Alberta-specific content to make our own version, which we refer to as The Path (Alberta).

We will launch The Path (Alberta) in spring 2021 and lawyers will have 18 months from the launch date to complete the program. The 18-month timeline will apply to all lawyers who change to active status following the launch of The Path (Alberta), effective from the date they become active. 

We understand that the content in The Path (Alberta) may be repetitive for some lawyers who have previously had training in this area, but for many it will be new. Since The Path (Alberta) contains new Alberta-specific content not in The Path (National), we welcome all lawyers to complete the Alberta program, even if they have other Indigenous cultural competency education and learnings that meet our exemption criteria. 

Please keep in mind, this educational opportunity is not meant to be in depth and cover every issue or perspective on the topic of Indigenous cultural competency. It is a starting point for lawyers to gain a basic understanding of Indigenous history and issues in Canada and Alberta. We believe that lawyers have an ongoing obligation to educate themselves on the issues that are relevant to the communities where they live and practise law. 

The Path (Alberta): Timelines, Costs and Exemptions

The Law Society has approved several key parameters including timelines, costs and exemptions for the Indigenous Cultural Competency education. For more information, read our FAQ.


All active lawyers will be given 18 months to complete The Path (Alberta), which constitutes approximately six hours of online education. The 18-month timeline will apply to all lawyers who change to active status following the launch of the program, effective from the date they become active.

Inactive or suspended lawyers that complete The Path (Alberta) while inactive will meet the education requirement upon reinstating to active status. 


There are a few parameters that have been approved in regard to costs:

  • There is no additional cost to active and inactive Alberta lawyers to take The Path (Alberta) through the Law Society.
  • Costs for the program will not be covered for suspended lawyers.
  • Alberta lawyers who have completed The Path (National) through other organizations, including the CBA, will not be reimbursed for the cost of the program. 


Alberta lawyers who have completed The Path (National) through the CBA or another organization, or have completed the Indigenous Canada program at the University of Alberta, will meet the education requirement and are exempt from taking The Path (Alberta). However, lawyers that meet the exemption are still welcome to complete The Path (Alberta) if they are interested.

In addition, Alberta lawyers that certify they have previous education or knowledge equivalent to The Path (National) or The Path (Alberta) will be exempt if they choose not to take the program. The previous education or knowledge equivalent should include training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism. As well, the education must be sufficient to address Call to Action 27 which includes:

  • History and legacy of residential schools
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Treaties and Aboriginal rights
  • Indigenous law (Indigenous legal traditions)
  • Aboriginal-Crown relations

Audit Program

We understand that lawyers may receive Indigenous cultural competency education in many ways, and this adds complexity to making exemptions. It is expected that lawyers will come forward with courses offered by universities and other learning institutions. Others will have experiences with Aboriginal law and Indigenous law or legal traditions. And we also know that cultural experiences and Indigenous status or ancestry may be raised. 

The Law Society will not pre-emptively evaluate or accredit individual programs or experiences. Lawyers seeking an exemption will be required to certify that they have met the criteria outlined above. Individual lawyers will be relied on to make their own assessment of their prior education and experiences. 

The Law Society will establish an audit program to review exemption certifications. 
Lawyer Licensing and Competence Report Approved
The LCC has been working with well-known legal analyst, Jordan Furlong, on a report of recommendations for lawyer licensing and competence in Alberta. The report was approved at the December 3, 2020 Bencher meeting and work is underway to prioritize the recommendations, as well as consider resourcing, timelines for implementation and future engagement opportunities for the profession. Read the full report.

Prioritizing the Recommendations

We have grouped our work into three main categories: Lawyer Licensing, New Lawyer Development and Continuing Learning. We have also categorized each recommendation as achievable in the short (2021 – 22), medium (2023), and long term. 

Work on the long-term recommendations is not lower priority. In fact, work on many of these recommendations needs to begin immediately and will require future engagement with the profession and key stakeholders on specific issues to gather feedback for future decision-making. 

Work on developing a lawyer competency framework will also begin immediately because much of the proposed work in lawyer competence must be grounded in a common understanding of core lawyer competencies. 

For the short-, medium- and long-term priorities, read the FAQ.  
December 2020 Board Recap Video
Watch the latest edition of the Board Recap Video as President Kent Teskey, QC and President-Elect, Darlene Scott, QC discuss:

  • the election of the new President-Elect and Executive Committee;
  • the reduction of the practice fee for 2021 and introduction of instalment payments;
  • program parameters for the upcoming mandatory Indigenous Cultural Competence education program; and
  • the approval of the Lawyer Licensing and Competency in Alberta report, related recommendations and next steps.
Provincial Court of Alberta Announcement

Normal business operations, including counter services and scheduled court matters, resumed in Camrose and Killam Provincial Court on Monday, December 7, 2020. 
Court of Queen's Bench Announcement

In response to the State of Public Health Emergency declared by the government on November 24, 2020, the increase in active COVID-19 cases in the Province of Alberta, and the current and anticipated numbers of legal system participants, including court staff, who may be unable to participate for COVID-19 related reasons, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta is announcing these modifications to its schedule for the week of December 7, 2020. Further announcements in respect of the subsequent weeks may follow.