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If I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed in my practice (or my personal life is affecting my work life), can the Law Society help me?

The Law Society provides membership in the Professional’s Assistance Program for all members of the Law Society. This program ensures that effective counselling and emotional assistance for personal problems is available to members.

The Professional’s Assistance Program is available 24 hours a day/365 and available in person, telephone, video, or online. The service is both multicultural and multilingual as needed.

See the Insurance & Risk Management > Professional’s Assistance Program page on our website for more details.

I am a member of the Professional’s Assistance Program – can I provide this program to my staff or family?

The program is available to member lawyers, their staff, articled clerks, students, and their families.

Do I have to pay for this program? Do I have to pay for speaking with a counsellor?

The Insurance and Risk programme pays for the program as we are committed to ensuring that you have the support you need to serve the public properly. There is no charge to use the service or for additional appointments.

I know that service to the profession is an important part of the job of being a lawyer, but how do I find volunteer opportunities?

There are many different ways to give back to the profession in a volunteer capacity. The Law Society posts volunteer and job opportunities on our website News section so it’s a good idea to check these on a regular basis to see if something interests you.

Serving on Law Society committees and/or the Bencher’s is an excellent venue for volunteering and being involved in the decision making of the Law Society. When a committee needs additional members, an email is sent to all members for expressions of interest in service and it is posted to our website.

Why are there so many forms for the Law Society?

The Law Society is mandated to regulate the legal profession. In order to do this we require members to self-report changes and actions regarding their practice. This is done by the completion of forms mandated by the Law Society Rules and the committees that govern the various aspects of the Law Society.

Do I have to provide a form every time I made a change to my employment/professional status?

Yes, see the Rules.

Can I file my forms electronically?

While the forms are not yet set up to be completed electronically and emailed, you can provide a copy of the form by email, fax, registered mail, or in-person.

I need to see a member of the Law Society staff, can I just come in or do I need to make an appointment?

We strongly recommend making an appointment as our staff have many responsibilities and meetings and there is no guarantee that they will be available to meet with you without an appointment.

Please note that the Law Society is locked during open hours and there is no access to the upper floors. If you do come down to the Law Society to meet with someone, please note that you must come into the Law Library/Law Society reception and ask for the person you are meeting with. The staff of the Law Library will contact that person on your behalf.

Insurance & Risk Management

I am a new lawyer, do I have to have insurance? I have existing insurance, do I need the Law Society’s insurance?

All lawyers in private practice must purchase the Law Society’s mandatory professional liability insurance coverage. Excess insurance coverage is voluntary. Further, all practicing lawyers must pay an annual fee to maintain the Assurance Fund.

For more information, please see Insurance & Risk Management > Coverage

A claim has been filed against me, when do I have to report this to the Law Society?

All insured members are are required to report a claim or potential claim as soon as possible after learning of it.

To report a claim a member must complete a New Claim Report and provide this form and all relevant file documentation to the Insurance and Risk Manager.  While this form can be provided by mail or e-mail, we encourage use of a courier and requiring a signature.

The claim will be investigated by the Insurance & Risk Manager and monitored by the Claims Review Committee. At any time during the process, the Insurance & Risk Manager is happy to answer questions.

For more information, please see Insurance & Risk Management > Reporting a Claim

I have professional liability insurance coverage ~ am I covered in the case of a data breach or other cyber attack?

Yes, Part D of the Insurance Coverage provides coverage for cyber attack. This does require that the firm has taken all reasonable steps to protect their computer systems and data.

For more information, please see Insurance & Risk Management > Coverage

What is the transaction levy?

The transaction levy is a fee that is required to be paid by lawyers each time they engage in litigation, personal property, or real estate transactions. This fee was instituted to support the Lawyers Professional Liability Insurance Program, which in turn provides essential protection for members engaged in the above noted transactions.

Rule 10.04 of the Law Society Rules explain about how the required transaction levy fee is to be applied as well as exemptions. A Transaction Levy Summary Form, form 10.04A, as well as accumulated levy monies, are to be remitted on a quarterly basis to the Insurance and Risk Manager.

How do I know how many levies are required and what is the fee structure?

On the Transaction Levy page on our website, we have listed the number and type of levies per transaction.

The current rates have been in effect since 2016, and are as follows*:

  • Real estate transactions = $30.00 per transaction
  • Civil proceedings transactions = $75.00 per transaction
  • Personal property transactions = $35.00 per transaction

*Please note that all fees are subject to change and you should confirm with the Insurance and Risk Manager before remitting transaction levy fees to the Law Society.

Managing risk in my practice is a huge responsibility ~ can the Law Society help me do this?

We encourage members to review our Managing Risk section where you will find tips for loss prevention, frauds and scams, and mortgage fraud.

The Law Society also has a mentorship program where experienced practicing insured members provide less experienced members with assistance on a specific file.

Please see the Mentoring Program section on our website for program and participation details.

Membership/Practising Status

1) Fees

I need to pay my fees ~ what forms of payment does the Law Society accept?

At this time the Law Society can accept cash, personal cheques, cashier cheques, bank drafts, e-transfer, or money orders either by mail or in-person. The Law Society is currently unable to accept credit cards or debit cards.

If paying in-person by cash, exact change is preferred. If you bring more than the required amount, change will be provided at a later date. The Law Library/Law Society reception area is not able to provide change for fees.

After payment is processed a receipt will be emailed to you. For further questions, please contact the Administrative Assistant (Executive).

How do I know what I owe?

Members who are called to the Bar can expect to pay annual fees in the following areas: Practising or Non-Practising Membership Fees (depending on status), mandatory professional liability insurance policy, the excess insurance plan, and the Assurance Fund.

As rates are reviewed annually and subject to change there is no central list of fees. Please contact the Administrative Assistant (Executive) for questions regarding fees. Invoices are provided to members annually via email mid-December of each year. Payment of annual fees are due by 31 January of the year.

There are other fees which are charged on a case by case basis. Please see the relevant section of the website for those fees.

2) Continuing Legal Education Requirements

How many hours of continuing legal education credits am I required to have per year?

You are required to have 15 hours of continuing legal education per year and you are required to complete an Annual CLE Report each year and explain how you meet this requirement.

Do I have to take the Law Society’s CLE courses in order to obtain my CLE hours?

No, you do not have to take the CLE courses, however, these courses are designed to meet the requirements for CLE credits and focus on current developments in Newfoundland and Labrador and Canadian law, and are usually multi-hour sessions. Therefore we recommend these courses.

You can obtain the required number of hours by meeting the mandatory CLE requirements with a mixture of CLEs, other legal courses, a legal reading program, or attending conferences. In order to be considered for credit, CLE activities should include significant substantive, procedural, technical or practical legal content.

I do not live close to St. John’s, can I attend the CLE from a distance?

Yes, the Law Society offers live streaming of CLE’s (requires pre-registration) for those who are unable to attend the live session.

If you are unable to attend a CLE in-person or online when it is offered, you can purchase previously recorded CLE’s from the Law Society. See CLE’s for purchase on our website to see available CLE’s. For further questions and to purchase CLEs, please contact the Administrative Assistant (Education).

3) Out of Province Practising Lawyers

I am coming from out of province to appear in court in Newfoundland ~ what is required for me to appear in court?

A Canadian lawyer who comes from a province which participates in the National Mobility Agreement may provide legal services without a permit for a maximum of 100 days in any calendar year.

See Temporary Mobility for more information.

If I am in Newfoundland as an out-of-province lawyer, do I have access to the resources of the Law Society?

The Law Library at the Law Society is accessible by non-Law Society members Monday to Friday from 9 am-5 pm. Out-of-province lawyers cannot borrow, but they can make use of the library resources during open hours.

The Law Society does not provide meeting rooms or other services.

If you have questions regarding robing rooms, court services for lawyers, etc., please contact the court in which you will be appearing.

What resources do I have at the courts as an out of province lawyer?

The Law Society is an independent body from the courts of Newfoundland so please contact the court in which you will be appearing for further questions.

4) Transfers

I am called to the Bar in another province and would like to practice in Newfoundland and Labrador, how do I become a member of the Law Society?

If you are a member of a Canadian law society who is a signatory of the National Mobility Agreement, you may apply to become a member of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Transfer applicants (called Transfer students) must complete the following forms and submit to the Education Committee for approval.

Transfer applicants will be required to pay for both the transfer fee and the Call to the Bar fees.

For more information, please see Transfers on our website.

I have a law degree from outside of Canada ~ can I be called to the Bar in Newfoundland?

All law degrees obtained from a non-Canadian university must be assessed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). The assessment will evaluate your qualifications and determine what you require in order to be called to the bar in one of Canada’s provinces or territories. These requirements are usually a combination of exams and courses. Once you have met the requirements, you will be issued a NCA Certificate of Qualification.
You will then be required to apply as a student-at-law for the province or territory in which you wish to reside and you be required to meet the requirements of a student-at-law, which involves attending the bar course as well articling.

For more information see the Student Admission section of our website.

Please note that while the Law Society provides accommodations for the NCA exams, they do not regulate the program. Questions regarding the NCA should be directed to the National Committee on Accreditation.

Trust Accounts and Funds

1) Trust Accounts/Funds

My client has brought in $10,000 cash as part of the purchase funds for his property transaction. Can I accept this?

Rule 15 defines cash transactions and limits members to receiving or accepting cash transactions to $7,500, except in circumstances specified in rule 15.02(4).

Members are required to insist on a bank draft or certified cheque in this instance.

My personal injury client is in dire financial straits and is in need of immediate funds. Am I allowed to loan them some money which will be repaid once their settlement is received?

Members are permitted to loan money to clients in certain circumstances, however, all such loans must be approved by Benchers. Please contact the Professional Responsibility Administrator at the Law Society for the procedure and documentation to make an application to Benchers. For your reference, rule 5.11 outlines the regulatory requirements.

An error has occurred in my trust account. Do I need to report this to the Law Society?

Rule 5.05(1) sets out the reporting requirements with respect to overdrafts in a trust account. It is recommended, however, to report all irregularities with respect to your trust account to the Executive Director of the Law Society. Your correspondence will be provided to the Law Society auditor for review and placed on your firm’s trust file for inclusion in the firm’s next audit file.

What is a specific trust account and when do I need to set one up?

The Law Society Rules define a specific trust account as: “a separate deposit account or instrument in a financial institution authorized by law to receive money on deposit, maintained by a member on behalf of a specific client, and designated as a trust account on behalf of that client, into which the member deposits money received in trust, at interest that is, and is intended to remain, the property of the client.”

Essentially, specific trust accounts are set up for large amounts of funds that will be on deposit more than 30 days. The deposit account established at a financial institution in accordance with the Society’s rules must be denoted as “lawyer’s name In Trust for client’s name”. Any interest earned on the account is property of the client and should be paid to them. Additionally, any income tax due on the interest earned on a specific trust account is the responsibility of the client. The lawyer must ensure that the financial institution prepares the T5 in the name of the client.

2) Client Identification

Are there rules about client identification?

Yes. Rule XVI addresses client identification and verification. For further guidance, see the practice resources found under Client Identification and Verification.

3) Audits

I’ve been told that I need to have an audit done. Why?

Audits measure the integrity of law firm financial record-keeping requirements. A primary goal of the audit is to provide on-site guidance to help law firms correct minor deficiencies with record-keeping practices before the deficiencies lead to serious noncompliance.

What authorized the Law Society to perform an audit?

The Rules of the Law Society, rule 5.09 (1), Investigations and Audits, authorized the Executive Director and their designated auditor to perform spot audits of all records and transactions to ensure compliance with the Rules regarding trust accounts.

See Trust Accounts/Funds for more information