Part-time Membership Fees

Our exploration of part-time fees is motivated by equity, diversity and inclusion goals. It is also driven by access to justice considerations for the public. Not everyone wants to, or is able to, engage in full-time private practice. Lawyers may have family duties, health problems or other priorities that only allow them to practise part-time. These lawyers are currently paying a full-time fee but are working part-time hours and making less money.

Over the years, the Law Society has had frequent requests from Alberta lawyers to consider a part-time fee option. These lawyers have noted that the cost of licensing

Our exploration of part-time fees is motivated by equity, diversity and inclusion goals. It is also driven by access to justice considerations for the public. Not everyone wants to, or is able to, engage in full-time private practice. Lawyers may have family duties, health problems or other priorities that only allow them to practise part-time. These lawyers are currently paying a full-time fee but are working part-time hours and making less money.

Over the years, the Law Society has had frequent requests from Alberta lawyers to consider a part-time fee option. These lawyers have noted that the cost of licensing fees creates a barrier to continuing or starting a part-time practice. These pressures disproportionately affect female lawyers. Attrition of women in private practice is much higher than men.

A more flexible fee structure could help facilitate re-entry to the profession for inactive lawyers. It could also reduce attrition of lawyers who leave the profession due to the ongoing cost of practice. Encouraging lawyers to stay in practice, even part-time, could expand the pool of lawyers available to assist the public with legal matters. It is a loss to the profession and the public when skilled lawyers leave because of issues around practice flexibility and finances.

No other province in Canada has a reduced law society membership fee for part-time practice lawyers. Some provinces do have discount membership fees to facilitate parental leaves. British Columbia and Ontario do have a reduced insurance premium for part-time lawyers. This infographic provides a snapshot of part-time fees around the globe.

The Alberta Lawyers Insurance Association has not reviewed a part-time insurance levy and it is too early to assess whether a part-time insurance fee will be an option.

A part-time fee will affect the Law Society’s revenues. The Law Society needs to maintain its operating budget. Creating a part-time fee status would likely increase fees for full-time lawyers to offset the costs. We are hopeful that a portion of this cost will be offset by some inactive lawyers returning to practice and fewer lawyers going inactive.

Regulation of part-time status would likely be enforced by way of undertaking or declaration from the part-time lawyer to the Law Society confirming they will abide to the terms of the part-time status. For more information, please review our FAQ.