Authority to Practise Law

There are limits on who has the authority to practise law, and what the practice of law entails. You should know what acts constitute the "practice of law" under the Legal Profession Act and Rules of the Law Society of Alberta because:

  • no person can practise as a barrister and solicitor unless he or she is an active member of the Law Society (section 106(1) of the Act); 
  • active members of the Law Society must pay a professional liability indemnity assessment for each policy period in order to practise law and avoid suspension (Rule 147 of the Rules);
  • you must help to prevent the unauthorized practice of law (Rule 7.6-1 of the Code of Conduct; and
  • your non-lawyer staff cannot engage in the practice of law in Alberta. See Rule 6.1-3 of the Code of Conduct for a list of activities in which a non-lawyer cannot engage, which include:
    • accepting cases;
    • giving legal advice;
    • appearing in court, except in a support capacity; and
    • signing correspondence containing a legal opinion.

To review the full list of activities prohibited for non-lawyers, see Rule 6.1-3 of the Code of Conduct and section 11.4 of this Module.

Be aware of exceptions for articling students, Provincial Court agents and university law students in section 106(2) of the Legal Profession Act,  section 62 of the Court of Justice Act, and Rules 53 and 81 of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta

As a lawyer, you are responsible for the work completed by staff. Staff are expected to act at your instruction and on your authority. You should review, spot audit, and regularly oversee the work being completed by your staff.

Consider developing an office manual that sets out standard procedures, firm policies and employee benefits, and ensure that it is available (in hard copy or electronic form) for each employee.

Last modified: Friday, 25 August 2023, 1:56 PM