Lawyers preparing for retirement should consider retired membership in the Law Society — it’s now easier to qualify and the cost is modest. Not only does retired membership help lawyers remain connected with the profession, but offers an opportunity to participate in the delivery of pro bono legal services.

Lawyers now qualify sooner for retired membership

The eligibility requirements for becoming a retired member of the Law Society have been relaxed, allowing BC lawyers to qualify earlier.

Under Law Society Rule 2-4, as recently revised, a BC lawyer can become a retired member if he or she:

  • has reached the age of 55 years;
  • has been a member of the Society in good standing for 20 of the previous 25 years; or
  • has engaged in the full-time active practice of law for 20 of the previous 25 years.

The rule formerly required a lawyer to have reached 65 years of age, have been a member in good standing for at least 25 consecutive years or have been engaged in active practice for at least 25 consecutive years.

In changing the criteria for retired membership, the Benchers took into account the fact that some lawyers will retire before reaching age 65. Moreover, while many lawyers may have practised for 25 years, they have not necessarily done so on a consecutive basis.

Pro Bono Law of BC had asked the Benchers to review these eligibility requirements as a means of encouraging more lawyers to retain Law Society membership on retiring from practice and thereby enlarging the pool of lawyers eligible to offer pro bono legal services. While retired members must provide an undertaking not to practise law, there is an exception for certain pro bono services and, if a retired member opts to participate in an approved program, he or she is protected by liability insurance coverage.

In addition to relaxing the eligibility requirements for retired membership, the Benchers have granted the Credentials Committee authority to waive all or part of the reinstatement fee for an applicant for retired membership on conditions it considers appropriate. A waiver may further encourage those senior members of the bar or those judges who have recently retired to re-enter the profession and offer their expertise for the cause of pro bono.

The retired membership fee for 2005 is just $75 a year. All current retired members will receive renewal notices shortly. For more information, contact the Member Services Department at

If you would like to learn more about pro bono opportunities, see the Pro Bono Law of BC brochure included in this mailing or contact the Society at