Alternative Business Structures

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The Law Society is considering whether it is in the public interest to liberalize its rules regarding the business structures through which lawyers and paralegals may provide legal services. This would permit what is known as alternative business structures, or ABS.

The Law Society’s ABS Working Group delivered an interim report to September 2015 Convocation outlining its initial assessment and the directions it will consider further.

The Working Group has decided not to continue to consider structures involving majority ownership, or control, of traditional law firms by non-licensees. Through its research and consultations, the Working Group considers that the experience to date in other jurisdictions does not show that the benefits of majority non-licensee ownership, or control, outweigh regulatory concerns.

The Working Group plans to focus its study on change with the potential to foster innovation or enhance access to justice. This includes minority ownership by non-licensees, franchise arrangements, ownership by civil society organizations such as charities and new forms of legal service delivery in areas not currently well served by traditional practices.

The ABS Working Group was formed in 2012 after ABS was identified as a priority for the 2011-2015 bencher term. It has engaged in extensive research since its formation, including meetings with lawyers and paralegals, consulting with experts and reviewing research and related literature. In September 2014, the Working Group released a discussion paper and sought input from the professions and other stakeholders. (see below for individual submissions).

ABS Working Group Reports to Convocation 

 Additional Resources/Background Materials 

Submissions received in response to September 2014 Discussion Paper

 The Advocates’ Society
 Akazaki, Lee
 Audet, Julie
 Audet, Julie and Picard, Nathalie
 Ball, James
 Barrie Real Estate Lawyers Association
 Botsford, Blair
 Brendt, Lorne and group
 Canadian Defence Lawyers
 Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)
 Chasse, Ken
 Cognition LLP
 Conduit Law
 The County District Lawyers Presidents’ Association (CDLPA) 
 County of Carleton Law Association
 Criger, Janis 
 Criminal Lawyers Association
 Equity Advisory Group Working on ABS
 Essex Law Association
 Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL)
 Gehl, Nicholas
 Granton, Joseph
 Harris, Gordon
 Hollander, John
 Kowalski, Mitch
 LaBuik, Devon
 Law Students’ Society of Ontario (LSSO)
 Ledgerwood, Liam
 Lipinski, Baruch
 McLeish Orlando
 Ontario Bar Association
 Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (PDF available upon request)
 Ontario Trial Lawyers Association
 Southwest Region Women’s Law Association
 Stewart Title
 Teitel, Murray
 Thunder Bay Law Association
 Waterloo Region Law Association
 Wiseman, David
 Women’s Paralegal Association of Ontario