Overview of 2015 fees

The Benchers have approved a total annual fee of $3,742 for 2015, a 1.4% increase over 2014. The practice fee will increase by $52 to $1,992 and the insurance fee will remain the same at $1,750. The Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC) registration fee will increase from $2,250 to $2,500 per student, effective September 1, 2015. The presentation to the Benchers on the 2015 fees and the associated budgets for each fund is available on the Law Society website in the September 26, 2014 Bencher meeting agenda materials






Law Society operations





The Federation of Law Societies





The Canadian Legal Information Institute





The Law Foundation of BC (pro bono/access justice)*





Courthouse Libraries BC





Lawyers Assistance Program





The Advocate





Annual practice fee





Lawyers Insurance Fund fee





Total mandatory fee





* The total Law Society contribution to pro bono is $340,000 in 2014 and 2015, as recommended by the Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee. The reason the per member contribution has decreased is that the number of budgeted members has increased.

Practice fee

The Benchers have set the 2015 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 2015 fees and budgets for the General Fund and the Lawyers Insurance 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 fees for each of these funds and programs. These recommendations were approved by the Benchers at their September 26, 2014 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 

For the portion of the practice fee that funds the Law Society operations, the Benchers have approved an increase of $34.35 (2.2%). The focus of the 2015 General Fund budget, in addition to delivering the core regulatory programs and meeting the established key performance measures, is to support the Law Society’s strategic plan and priorities and, in particular, to support proactive regulation to ensure that the Law Society remains an innovative and effective professional regulatory body. 

Total revenues (excluding capital), are budgeted at $21.1 million, an increase of $780,000 over the 2014 budget. Based on the average growth in membership over the last few years, membership is projected to increase to 11,310, 1.75% more than the 2014 projection. PLTC revenue is based on 485 students. 

For 2015, the Law Foundation will no longer be able to provide an annual PLTC grant of $257,000. With this change, the costs of the PLTC program exceed the current PLTC student fees, resulting in an annual deficit of $497,000. Effective September 1, 2015, the PLTC registration fee will increase from $2,250 to $2,500, and the training course registration fee to retake PLTC will increase from $3,500 to $3,900. It was noted that the student fee has not increased since 2003, and is one of the lowest training course fees across Canada. 

The total operating expenses are budgeted to $21.1 million, an increase of $780,000 (3.84%) over the 2014 budget. The increase is mainly attributable to market-based staff salary adjustments and the addition of staff positions to support regulation and practice advice. 

There are one-time costs which will be allocated from General Fund reserve, which are related to a review of the practice standards program, the second year of the articling student pilot program and the 2015 contribution to the Canadian Bar Association Rural Education and Access to Lawyers (REAL) program. The use of reserve for these one-time costs allows these to be funded without increasing the annual practice fee.

Trust administration fee 

For 2015, the trust administration fee (TAF) will remain unchanged at $15 per transaction. TAF revenue has been stable over the past two years, and TAF reserve levels will be monitored to ensure the program is being funded and has appropriate reserve levels.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada 

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada provides a national voice for provincial and territorial law societies on important national and international issues. The Law Society’s contribution to the Federation will be increased from $25 to $30 per member for 2015.

The Canadian Legal Information Institute 

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) is a not-for-profit organization initiated by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

CanLII’s goal is 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. The Law Society’s contribution is $36.98 per member, an increase of $0.98 from 2014.

Courthouse Libraries BC 

Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC) provides lawyers and the public in BC with access to legal information, as well as training and support in finding and using legal information. The Law Foundation of BC and the Law Society both contribute to CLBC funding. The Law Society’s contribution for 2015 is $195 per member, a $5 increase over 2014. This increase of 2.6% supports CLBC in managing the rising costs of legal information. The Law Foundation reduced its 2015 grant to CLBC by 18% as part of their funding reductions. CLBC has instituted significant service/expense reductions to offset this reduced funding.

Pro bono funding 

The Law Foundation includes Law Society funding in its financial support to organizations offering pro bono legal services to the public. As recommended by the Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee in 2014, the Law Society contribution to pro bono and access to legal service programs increased in 2014, from $175,000 to $340,000 per year. For 2015, the annual contribution continues at $340,000.

Lawyers Assistance Program

The Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) provides confidential outreach, education, support and referrals to lawyers and other members of BC’s legal community. Law Society funding for LAP in 2015 is $67 per member, an increase of $7 per member, to provide market-based staff salary adjustments and succession planning.

The Advocate 

The 2015 subscription fee for The Advocate, distributed bi-monthly to all BC lawyers, is $27.50, unchanged from 2014.

Lawyers Insurance Fund fee 

The Benchers have resolved to maintain the annual insurance fee at $1,750 for 2015. The number of claims and potential claims has reduced from recession-based levels, and annual average payments have increased, but overall the program is managing the increased costs within the existing insurance fee and investment revenue. While the majority of insurance programs in other Canadian law societies have increased their fees over the last five years, effective management, good investment returns and solid reserves have made it possible to hold the Law Society’s insurance fee at $1,750 since 2011. Actuarial advice indicates that, based on industry standards, existing net reserves are at appropriate levels. However, the risks presented by the new Limitation Act, Family Law Act, and the pending Wills, Estates and Succession Act and probate rules, are expected to give rise to additional future exposures for the fund. These new risks, higher costs and lower investment returns may require an increase to the fee in future years. 

Total fee comparison with other law societies*

Total fee comparison with other law societies

* 2014 Law Society of Upper Canada and Law Society of Alberta practice fees adjusted by 2% for comparison to 2015 Law Society of BC practice fee, and the 2015 Law Society of Upper Canada practice fee adjusted to reflect $433,000 contribution to operating costs from reserve ($11.46 per member).

For more information 

If you have questions about the fees or the financial information in this notice, please contact Jeanette McPhee, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Trust Regulation, by telephone at 604.443.5712 (toll-free at 1.800.903.5300) or email at jmcphee@lsbc.org.