Practising temporarily in BC
BC lawyers who wish to practise elsewhere in Canada, either temporarily or permanently, should contact the law society in the jurisdiction in which you wish to practise.
Lawyers from a reciprocating jurisdiction may be eligible to practise law in BC without a permit for up to 100 business days in any calendar year.
Lawyers from a non-reciprocating jurisdiction may be eligible to practise law in BC without a permit on up to 10 legal matters and for up to 20 business days in total during any 12-month period.
For lawyers who wish to practise temporarily in BC, you will be considered to be providing legal services in BC if:
- you perform professional services for others as a barrister or solicitor with respect to or relying on the laws of BC or the laws of Canada applicable to BC; or
- you give legal advice with respect to the laws of BC or the laws of Canada applicable to BC.
This means that you could be practising law in BC whether or not you are physically in the province. For example, if you are giving legal advice with respect to the laws of BC on the telephone, by email or through correspondence from a province outside of BC, you are considered to be practising law in BC. You must therefore keep track of all of these activities.
It also means that you are providing legal services in BC if you do so with respect to the laws of Canada applicable to BC. For example, lawyers employed by the Government of Canada who perform professional services as barristers or solicitors or give legal advice with respect to or relying on the laws of Canada applicable to BC are subject to Law Society Rule 2-16. So are lawyers who practise law on an occasional basis for a single employer (corporate counsel).
You will not be considered to be practising law in BC for the purposes of the Law Society Rules if you perform professional services or give advice solely on the law of another province.
In addition, you will not be required to include in your calculation of the 100 days any time spent practising law as counsel in a proceeding in:
- the Supreme Court of Canada;
- the Federal Court of Canada;
- the Tax Court of Canada;
- a federal administrative tribunal;
- a service tribunal within the meaning of the National Defence Act ( Canada ); or
- the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada.
Time spent preparing for the court or tribunal appearance, or otherwise furthering the matter, also need not be counted.
To be eligible to practise temporarily in BC without a permit, you must:
- be entitled to practise law in a province or territory of Canada outside of BC;
- carry professional liability insurance that is comparable in coverage and limits to that required of BC lawyers (Law Society Rule 3-39(1)) and that extends to your temporary practice in BC;
- have defalcation compensation coverage from a governing body that extends to your temporary practice in BC;
- not be subject to conditions or restrictions on your practice or membership in the governing body in any jurisdiction imposed as a result of or in connection with proceedings related to discipline, competency or capacity;
- not be the subject of criminal or disciplinary proceedings in any jurisdiction;
- have no disciplinary record in any jurisdiction; and
- not have established an economic nexus with BC (Law Society Rule 2-17).
If you do not meet the criteria above, you can apply for an inter-jurisdictional practice permit.
Seeking an extension
If you wish to seek an extension, you must request permission from the Law Society before the end of the 100 days.
Receiving money in trust
If you are permitted to practise law in BC on an occasional basis, you may receive money in trust for a client provided that you pay the money into a trust account at a financial institution located in the province or territory in which you are a member and authorized to practise law. Alternatively, you may pay the money into a trust account that is kept in the name of and operated by a member of the Law Society of BC (Law Society Rule 2-25).
You must not hold yourself out to be qualified or willing to practise law in BC except in accordance with the rules governing temporary practice. Any communications, including letterhead, business cards or marketing efforts, must conform to this restriction. You can comply by clearly identifying the governing body or bodies in which you are authorized to practise law.
Proof of membership
Some court and correctional facilities in BC require lawyers to provide proof that they are members of the Law Society of BC. It is unlikely proof of membership in another law society will be acceptable.
Lawyers from other jurisdictions visiting BC may not take affidavits in BC for use in BC (BC Evidence Act).
Authorization to give undertakings
Lawyers from other jurisdictions visiting BC are authorized to give undertakings in accordance with the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.
Complaints and allegations
If an allegation of misconduct, incompetence or incapacity is made against a lawyer practising temporarily in BC, the law society of the governing body of which the lawyer is a member will usually take jurisdiction over the matter, in consultation and cooperation with the Law Society of BC. The Law Society of BC may take jurisdiction if the other law society agrees. The primary considerations in making such a decision will be public interest, convenience and cost.