April 30, 2020
Surviving the Pandemic: Your Firm's Financial Well-being
Ensuring your physical health and that of those around you is critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This should be your first order of business.

Protecting your firm’s financial health is also essential to ensuring that your practice survives the crisis. It is important to think about what you can do now to make sure you can continue to operate your business once the crisis passes. 

The following are some practical tips and actions you can take to protect your financial health during these uncertain times. 
Trust Account Risk Management
This is a reminder that opportunities for fraud/theft could proliferate in unprecedented times like this. Office closures combined with uncertainty of job/business security and external economic instability increases the pressure for people to act unethically. 

A commitment to embracing, implementing and practising strong internal controls is integral to ensuring the protection of trust funds. Fraud risk assessment, management and response continue to be a high priority for Trust Safety. 

What proactive measures can firms take now to prevent fraud? Here are the top five prevention strategies:

  • Monitor inactive accounts or client ledger accounts with high balances for unusual entries and transfers.
  • Make sure monthly bank reconciliations are being done. This is a key control that compares your book balances to your bank balance and ensures that it matches.
  • Separate duties or tasks. Tasks must be segregated so that a single person is not able to perpetrate the fraud and then cover it up. For example, the person who receives a payment should be different from the person who records the transaction in the system or performs the reconciliation/verification of the transaction. In smaller firms, segregation of staff duties may be more challenging. You should engage in other control measures in smaller firms, such as reviewing withdrawals from Trust Accounts to ensure they are for legitimate reasons.
  • Follow the money by performing audits to ensure the transactions make sense.
  • Pay attention to documents and the supporting paperwork. Remember that good documentation does not mean something happened, only that someone said it happened.

Visit our website for additional proactive measures and tips you can take now to reduce the risk of theft in your practice. Questions? Please contact Trust Safety via email . We are here to help.
New Resource: Practice Transition Webinars
The Law Society has created several webinars to guide lawyers through important information, options and resources related to the transition of their legal careers. The videos provide general information to lawyers who are starting their own firms; moving to another firm; planning to become inactive; or seeking to reinstate, retire or resign.

Please note: These webinars were recorded before the circumstances related to COVID-19. Information and restrictions provided by government and public health authorities may differ from some of the information provided below. Visit our  FAQ  and  updates  page for more information related to the pandemic.
The Court Answers Questions from the Bar: CBA Webinar
On April 23, 2020, the Chief Judge, Deputy Chief, and Assistant Chief Judges of the Provincial Court participated in a webinar with members of the Canadian Bar Association. The webinar provided the opportunity for members of the bar to put forward questions on a variety of topics, and receive current information directly from the Court. The questions posed, and the answers provided, are available in the  Court answers questions from the Bar - CBA Webinar  document, posted on the  COVID-19 Court Information Page .
Remote Access to LexisAdvance Quicklaw to Support Research During COVID-19
Alberta Law Libraries is happy to offer temporary remote access to LexisAdvance Quicklaw Fundamentals to their registered members (you must be a member of the Law Society of Alberta and registered with Alberta Law Libraries). This will provide you remote access to content identical to what would be available if you were to be accessing the content from one of the courthouse libraries. For more information, please see the Alberta Law Libraries' Stay Current posting. 
Not sure if you're a registered client or want to become one? Contact the Alberta Law Libraries team . For real-time library updates, subscribe to Stay Current via email, RSS or Twitter to learn more about how they're connecting Law Society members with resources and research support during COVID-19.
Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: COVID-19 and Bar Admission Ceremonies
Individuals who are eligible and want to seek admission to the Bar of Alberta are asked to apply through the Court's Emergency/Urgent Hearing Request online form, available here .