September 27, 2022

The Benchers have approved the 2023 practice fee and indemnity fee, as recommended by the Finance and Audit Committee. The total annual fee for full-time practising, indemnified lawyers for 2023 will be $4,103.00. The practice fee of $2,303.00 supports the strategic plan, along with key operational priorities.  The full-time indemnity fee is unchanged at $1,800.

Practice fee

The Benchers have set the 2023 fees pursuant to the Legal Profession Act based on a thorough review of the Law Society’s finances by the Finance and Audit Committee. The Finance and Audit Committee met with senior management to review the proposed 2023 fees and budgets for the General Fund and the Lawyers Indemnity Fund. The Finance and Audit Committee also reviewed the fee proposals from a number of organizations and programs supported by Law Society fees, including Courthouse Libraries BC, the Lawyers Assistance Program, The Advocate, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the Canadian Legal Information Institute and the delivery of pro bono and access to legal services. Based on these meetings and reviews, the Finance and Audit Committee made recommendations to the Benchers regarding the amounts from the practice fee that should be allocated to each of these organizations and programs. These recommendations were approved by the Benchers at their September 23, 2022 meeting.

The overall objective when setting the fees is to ensure that the operations are appropriately funded to enable the Law Society to efficiently and effectively fulfill its statutory mandate of protecting the public interest in the administration of justice.

Law Society operations

The focus of the 2023 General Fund budget, in addition to delivering the core regulatory programs, is supporting regulation to ensure that the Law Society remains an innovative and effective professional regulatory body. 

There are several key initiatives in 2023 including: 1) the development of a framework to consolidate the regulation of all legal professions under a single legal regulator 2) the review of the lawyer development and licensing program 3) continued focus on anti-money laundering initiatives 4) implementation of the Alternate Process Program  5) enhanced practice support and online courses, 6) innovation sandbox initiatives to improve access to legal services and 7) continued implementation of the diversity action plan.

2023 Operating Revenues 

General Fund operating revenues in 2023 are projected to be $32.4 million, $2.0 million (6.7%) over the 2022 budget due primarily to an increase in the number of lawyers year over year, along with increases in budgeted electronic filing revenue and interest income. The budgeted revenue is based on estimates of 14,128 full-time equivalent practicing lawyers, 627 PLTC students, and other revenues are projected at similar levels to historical actual figures. 

2023 Operating Expenses

General Fund operating expenses in 2023 are projected to be $33.2 million, a 6.4% increase, with the increase mainly due to staff wage increases, additional staff resources to support the delivery of core functions, costs relating to the digitization of the workplace and other technology upgrades, and higher external counsel fees. The 2023 budget projects a modest deficit of $775,000, which will be funded from net asset reserves.

General Fund Net Assets

The General Fund remains financially sound, with $31.9 million in net assets at the end of 2021 (excluding the TAF net assets).  The net assets consist of capital assets, primarily the 845 Cambie Street building, the capital plan, and a working capital reserve of $15.1 million. 

Trust administration fee

The goal of the Trust Assurance program is to ensure that law firms comply with the rules regarding proper handling of clients’ trust funds and trust accounting records. This is achieved by conducting trust accounting compliance audits at law firms, reviewing annual trust reports, and providing member advice and resources.  The compliance audit program ensures that all firms are audited at least once within a six year cycle, and includes audits of higher risk practice areas at least every 4 years.  For 2023, the trust administration fee (TAF) will remain unchanged at $15 per transaction.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada fee will remain at $24 per lawyer as the Federation continues to use its excess net asset reserves to fund some of their operations.  The Federation provides a national voice for provincial and territorial law societies on important national and international issues.

The Canadian Legal Information Institute

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) fee will remain at $42 per lawyer.  CanLII is a not-for-profit organization initiated by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, with the goal to make primary sources of Canadian Law accessible for free on its website at www.canlii.org. All provincial and territorial law societies have committed to provide funding to CanLII.

Courthouse Libraries BC

Courthouse Libraries BC provides lawyers and the public in BC with access to legal information, as well as training and support in accessing and using legal information. Through its information services, curation of print and digital collections, website content and training, the library provides practice support for lawyers and access to justice support to the public across the province, through its 31 physical locations. The CLBC funding for 2023 is set at $2.985 million.

The Advocate

The Advocate funding has been set at $431,000 for their 2023/2024 fiscal year. The Advocate publication is distributed bi-monthly to all BC lawyers.

Lawyers Assistance Program

LAP provides confidential outreach, education, support and referrals to lawyers and other members of British Columbia’s legal community.  LAP funding has been set at $1,140,000 for 2023, funded through the LAP practice fee allocation set at $77 per lawyer.

Pro bono funding

The Law Society of BC contributes funding to support pro bono and access to legal services.  The 2023 funding is set at $378,000 and is sent to the Law Foundation for distribution. 

Lawyers Indemnity Fund Fee

The indemnity fee will remain at $1,800 (full-time) and $900 (part-time) for 2023.  The number of claim reports has remained reasonably steady; however, annual claim reserves have been trending up over the past four years and there are additional risks to be considered.  The pandemic directly impacted the indemnity program and in 2020 and 2021, is the cause of 37 new reports.  As well, Civil Litigation practice on the plaintiff side continues to generate significant numbers of indemnity reports and payments, and changes in real estate practice including the foreign buyers tax and the new Land Owner Transparency Act requirements have resulted in increased claims activity.  These risks, coupled with the increased cost of tax and cyber claims and the negative investment returns to date in 2022, will require an increase to the fee in the coming years.

Total fee comparison with other law societies*

*Fees for Ontario and Quebec-Chambre, Notaries are based on 2021-2022 mandatory fees as that is the most current data available

For more information

If you have questions about the financial information in this notice, please contact

Jeanette McPhee, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Trust Regulation, by email to jmcphee@lsbc.org.