The Law Society is always looking at ways to improve the way we regulate. At the February Board meeting, the Board approved
changes that simplify regulation of Alberta’s pro bono legal clinics and clarify the insurance status of lawyers volunteering at these clinics.
The first Rule change expands the definition of law firm in Rule 2 to include “approved legal services providers”. As a starting place this will be limited to pro bono legal clinics. The Law Society is collaborating with Pro Bono Law Alberta and clinics across the province to make this change.
With the Law Society's support, approved legal services providers will meet and maintain requirements to ensure a standard of practice management and service delivery. This Rule change will create a transparent process for new pro bono legal clinics to be established and strengthen the standard and availability of legal services in Alberta.
The second Rule change was related to amendments of the insurance exemptions found in Rule 148. The new Rules provide much needed clarity around the ability of lawyers, who are otherwise exempt from insurance, to volunteer at pro bono clinics.
Under the new Rule 148, there will no longer be a list of clinics. If a legal clinic is an “approved legal services provider”, a lawyer exempt from insurance can volunteer for pro bono work with that clinic. This will expand the opportunities for insurance exempt lawyers to do pro bono work, while increasing the pool of volunteers for legal clinics. Both these Rule changes come into force on July 1, 2019.
Additional Rule changes, to come into force at a date to be determined, will require all law firms, including approved legal services providers, to register with the Law Society and appoint a “Designated Representative” for communication with the Law Society.
We will share more detailed information as the changes come into place.