Territories sign on for greater lawyer mobility

The law societies of the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Nunavut are ready to sign a new agreement that will make it easier for lawyers who now practise law in the territories to transfer to one of the common law provinces, and for lawyers in the common law provinces to transfer to the territories. The agreement essentially extends the National Mobility Agreement of the Federation of Law Societies to the territories as it relates the permanent transfer of lawyers. The change is expected to be in place this fall.

BC lawyers who wish to move to one of the territories and practise there will be able to take advantage of these relaxed transfer requirements. If they wish to practise there on a temporary basis, however, they must still apply to the responsible territorial law society for a “single appearance permit.”

The longer-term objective of the Federation of Law Societies is to have all the territories and Quebec, like the common law provinces, become full signatories to the National Mobility Agreement and to have a uniform set of rules cover permanent transfers and temporary mobility of lawyers in Canada. PEI is the most recent province to agree to come under the National Mobility Agreement. To date, the territories have been reluctant to accept the temporary mobility provisions (which would accord other lawyers the right to practise in the territories up to 100 days in a calendar year). A primary concern has been a drop in permit fees to those law societies. The Law Society of Nunavut is also concerned that relaxed mobility rules could negatively impact on the development of a local indigenous bar.

Over the next five years, the territorial and provincial law societies will make best efforts to resolve issues arising from implementation of the temporary mobility provisions — and to bring all lawyers under the same interjurisdictional scheme.