Pro bono services and pro bono sanctioned services

Lawyers in private practice pay the annual indemnity fee and enjoy coverage for any claims arising out of their provision of legal services, including those provided on a pro bono basis.

As lawyers not in private practice (retired, non-practising or in-house) do not pay the annual indemnity fee, they are not protected by the compulsory policy for any claims arising out of their pro bono legal services, with one exception. The Law Society supports a number of programs providing certain legal services to people who cannot afford a lawyer. The policy provides professional liability coverage, without payment of the indemnity fee, to lawyers in good standing for ‘sanctioned services’. These are pro bono services delivered to an individual, previously unknown to the lawyer, through a pro bono legal services program provided both the program and the services are approved by the Law Society. ProBono BC is an approved program and ensures that the services provided are also approved. Even after a retired member ceases to provide sanctioned services, they will remain covered for any error arising while performing sanctioned services. Also, if a claim arises from a retired member providing sanctioned services, the deductible will be waived. For information on approved pro bono sanctioned services programs, consult the Access Pro Bono website.

For details about how the coverage operates for lawyers providing general pro bono services, as well as sanctioned services, see the Information Sheet: Pro Bono Services.

If you would like the Indemnitor’s position on coverage in a particular set of circumstances, please send a detailed description of the circumstances, in writing, to one of the advance ruling advisors.

Providing free advice to friends and family

You should be sensitive to the unique risks you attract if you agree to provide legal advice to friends or family – often for no charge. About to act for family and friends? (Resist — it’s just too risky) outlines those risks – including the lack of coverage when acting for family – and offers concrete practice tips to help you avoid them.