New national mobility protocol comes before Federation

A proposed new national protocol on lawyer mobility will top the agenda of the Federation of Law Societies March meeting.

The National Mobility Task Force of the Federation of Law Societies is recommending to Federation delegates that a Canadian lawyer from one province be allowed to practise in a reciprocating province for up to 183 days in any 12-month period. (Under the current inter-jurisdictional protocol, visiting Canadian lawyers can appear on up to 10 matters, for not more than 20 days in any 12-month period - known as the "10-20-12" rule.)

The new proposal is closely patterned on a protocol adopted in the four western provinces last summer. Lawyers from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba can practise in any of those provinces for up to six months cumulatively in any 12-month period on an unlimited number of matters, without a permit and without payment of any fee. To practise beyond the six-

month limit, a lawyer must become a member of the host law society. For more information about the western protocol, see the July-August, 2001 Benchers' Bulletin.

The Task Force is now recommending that Federation delegates consider a Canada-wide mobility protocol with these features:

  • Temporary mobility: Subject to certain criteria, a Canadian lawyer from one province or territory would be entitled to provide legal services in any other reciprocating jurisdiction for 183 days in a 12-month period.

  • Permanent practice: To practise in another jurisdiction for more than six months in a 12-month period, a lawyer would need to become a member of the law society in that jurisdiction. However, the criteria for admission would be changed so that the lawyer would need to complete certain reading requirements specific to the jurisdiction, rather than write transfer examinations.

Both the current and proposed protocols on temporary mobility are premised on certain requirements, such as lawyers carrying comparable professional liability insurance and defalcation coverage.

To move forward on a national protocol, the Task Force has recommended that the Federation focus first on the common law provinces and then on Quebec. The situation in Quebec is more complex than in the rest of the country because it is a civil law province and because its self-regulation is limited by the jurisdiction of the Office des Professions.

As part of its proposals, the Task Force is advocating a national lawyer registry to give law societies access to relevant information about lawyers who may be practising in their respective jurisdictions.

Among the western provinces, only the Law Society of Saskatchewan so far requires visiting lawyers to give advance notice of their arrival. The B.C. Benchers, however, have recently taken the view that advance notification is necessary for regulatory reasons and are calling on the Task Force to incorporate this requirement into any new national protocol.

The Federation of Law Societies is an umbrella organization for provincial and territorial law societies, and any new protocol would not take effect unless adopted by the Benchers of those law societies.

Watch for updates on this issue in mid-March on the Law Society website at