October 28, 2019
Part-time Membership Update
The ability to choose a part-time membership status and pay a reduced membership fee becomes a reality in 2020.

At the February 2019 Boar d meeting, the introduction of a part-time membership fee pilot program was approved. For the purposes of the pilot, part-time membership is defined as a lawyer who works fewer than 20 hours per week on average and fewer than 750 hours per year in total on billable tasks, excluding pro bono work, and has gross billings of less than $90,000 per year globally.

Our exploration of implementing part-time fees was motivated by requests from Alberta lawyers; data gathered from our exit surveys and the Retention & Re-engagement Task Force Report; as well as from our own goals in support of furthering equity, diversity and inclusion within the profession and supporting access to justice for the public.

We conducted a survey in Fall 2018 with the profession. We heard from 1,043 survey respondents and 84 per cent were in favour of implementing a part-time membership option. More details about our engagement with the profession about part-time fees can be found here .

Participation in the Part-time Membership Fee Pilot

Inactive lawyers should review the rules for reinstatement ( Rules of the Law Society of Alberta 115-118 ) and Application for Reinstatement to evaluate requirements that may be needed for this status change.

Full time, active lawyers , will be able to make the status change through the Lawyer Portal by certifying that their practice meets the criteria for part-time membership. 

Lawyers with a part-time status who are not exempt from the mandatory indemnity program will still be required to pay the full assessment (as well as any applicable surcharges) to the Alberta Lawyers Indemnity Association (ALIA). A part-time levy is not an option at this time.

ALIA plans to consider the option of a part-time indemnity levy after the Law Society's part-time practice fee pilot project has concluded and data collected from that pilot is collected for analysis by ALIA's actuary and Board.

Further details about the process of changing to part-time membership will be provided in early 2020.
Alberta Courts Eagle Feather Ceremony
The three Alberta Courts have embarked on an initiative to make eagle feathers available for witnesses to swear upon prior to testifying or swearing Affidavits, should they want to do so. A ceremony to formally mark the introduction of the eagle feather in all our Alberta courthouses will be held in Calgary and Edmonton on November 8, 2019 at 10:00 am. 
The availability of the eagle feather in Alberta courthouses and courtrooms is a sign of respect for Indigenous culture and beliefs and an important step toward reconciliation. 

The ceremonies will feature remarks from representatives of all three courts, several Indigenous organizations, and the Alberta Government. 

All members of the Bar are invited to attend Courtroom 1801 at the Calgary Courts Centre (601 5 Street SW), or the City Room located at Edmonton City Hall (1A Sir Winston Churchill Square). 

For more information, please contact Diana Lowe, QC, Executive Counsel to the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench at diana.lowe@albertacourts.ca or 780-427-2783.
Alberta Law Foundation Annual Report
The Alberta Law Foundation is pleased to announce that its 2019 Annual Report is now available. 
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, ALF-funded programs supported over 250,000 Albertans with legal advice, representation, education, information and referral. In total, 45 grants with an aggregate value of $14.5 million were allocated to organizations across the province, in addition to $7.8 million which was allocated to Legal Aid Alberta. 
For over 45 years, the Alberta Law Foundation has been the recipient of interest which banks, credit unions, trust companies, and treasury branches pay on clients' funds held in lawyers' pooled trust accounts. These funds are made available to organizations which provide services in keeping with the Foundation’s objects of legal research, law libraries, public legal education, and direct legal services to vulnerable populations.
Distinguished Service Awards Nomination Period
Jointly presented by the Canadian Bar Association - Alberta Branch and the Law Society of Alberta, these prestigious awards recognize the outstanding contributions of Alberta lawyers.

Award categories:
  • Service to the Profession
  • Service to the Community
  • Legal Scholarship
  • Pro Bono Legal Service

Consider nominating a worthy candidate for these awards. Please submit nominations by 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 31, 2019.

Review the submission guidelines, eligibility, and nomination package on the CBA website