Temporary lawyer mobility in the west

B.C. lawyers can now work in other western provinces up to six months a year

Lawyers from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba can now practise law in any western province without a permit, for up to six months cumulatively in any 12-month period, on an unlimited number of matters (or in any other province or territory in Canada that adopts reciprocal provisions).

There are no fees and no need for prior notification to the host law society - other than in Saskatchewan where the Law Society requires advance notice of a lawyer's intention to use the mobility rules.

To practise beyond the six-month limit, the lawyer must become a member of the host law society.

A Canadian lawyer belonging to a law society without similar provisions may still visit any of the Western provinces in accordance with the standards of the Interjurisdictional Practice Protocol of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. In that case, the lawyer may act without a permit on 10 matters, for not more than 20 days in any 12-month period - known as the "10-20-12" rule. In the Western provinces and in Ontario there is now no requirement that the visiting lawyer must consult a local lawyer.

To practise temporarily in another province or territory without a permit, a visiting lawyer must have professional liability insurance and defalcation coverage that is reasonably comparable in amount and substance to that in the host jurisdiction, and the coverage must extend to the lawyer's practice in that jurisdiction. A lawyer who has a criminal or discipline record, or has such proceedings pending, or who is subject to practice restrictions or conditions in any jurisdiction must apply for an interjurisdicitonal practice permit.

A lawyer planning to practise in another province should check the local requirements for doing so. The new B.C. rules governing interjurisdictional practice are set out in the Member's Manual amendment package enclosed in this mailing, and are also posted in the Resource Library section of the Law Society website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca. The Alberta rules can be found in the Resource Library section of www.lawsocietyalberta.com and the Manitoba rules at www.lawsociety.mb.ca/inter_juris.htm. The new Saskatchewan rules are not yet posted and lawyers may wish to check with the Saskatchewan Law Society office for more information.

B.C. in-house counsel who plan to work in another western province should note that in-house lawyers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba - unlike in B.C. and Alberta - are required to be insured. A B.C. in-house counsel planning to work in Saskatchewan or Manitoba should contact the law societies in those provinces for a waiver of this requirement.

The recent move to liberalize lawyer mobility rules was spurred by a joint task force of the four law societies of Western Canada. As barriers to mobility fall, B.C. has joined discussions over a possible national database to assist law societies, when needed, to identify visiting lawyers in their jurisdictions. Another joint initiative of the western law societies - through the Education Task Force - is to coordinate efforts in a comprehensive review of legal education programs - both bar admission and continuing education.