A lawyer's or paralegal's status and associated category determines whether he or she is obliged to pay fees and the amount of the annual fee. Those with a fee-paying status may pay a reduced fee for parental leave.
There are also fee exemptions for those who qualify based on years of practice, age or incapacity (By-Law 5.4).
It is the lawyer's or paralegal's responsibility to notify the Law Society immediately regarding a change in status. A change of status may result in a refund.
Fee-paying Statuses and Categories
There are eleven fee paying statuses and three associated categories which determine the percentage of the annual fee that is due:
Fee-paying Statuses and Categories
||Applicable Fee Categories*
||Sole Practitioner in Ontario
||Partner in a Professional Business in Ontario
||Employee in a Professional Business in Ontario
||Associate in a Professional Business in Ontario (practising in the manner of an employed lawyer)
||Employed in Education in Ontario
||100% or 50%
||Employed in Government in Ontario
||100% or 50%
||Otherwise Employed in Ontario
||Not in Ontario
||100%, 50% or 25%
||Legal Clinic Lawyer/Paralegal
||100% or 50%
* Parental leave (25% fees) may be applicable to all categories except H. There are no reduced fees for part-time work.
Explanation of Categories
- 100% of Annual Fee - Lawyers or paralegals who practise law or provide legal services, whether they do so in Ontario or in some other part of the world, including law teachers who practise or provide legal services, or federal, provincial and municipal government, corporate employees and other lawyers or paralegals who provide legal advice, opinions, or services with respect to the laws of Ontario or Canada.
- 50% of Fee - Lawyers or paralegals who do not practise law or provide legal services, including those employed in education, in government or in a corporation in a position where not required to practise law or provide legal services.
- 25% of Fee - Lawyers or paralegals who do not engage in any remunerative work and do not engage in the practise of law or provision of legal services in or outside of Ontario, or who are in full-time attendance at a university, college or designated educational facility and not practising law or providing legal services, or who are on pregnancy or parental leave and who do not practise law or provide legal services.
By-Law 5, section 2 outlines the requirements for the amount payable and the required due date.
The Law Society makes special provisions for parental leave, which is defined as leave from employment or practice for reasons of maternity, paternity or adoption. Under this policy, lawyers or paralegals may apply for a reduction in the fee to the 25% category for each full month for which parental leave is taken.
Exemptions from Requirement to Pay the Annual Fee
There are several non-fee paying statuses as a result of exemptions (see below). Additionally, lawyers appointed to judicial office and suspended lawyers or paralegals do not pay fees.
- Automatic Fee Exemption - 50 years - This status is granted by the Law Society to lawyers and paralegals who have been entitled to practise in Ontario for a continuous period of 50 years. No application is necessary.
- Fee Exemption at age 65 - Lawyers and paralegals who are 65 years of age and over, and permanently retired from the practise of law or provision of legal services are exempted from the annual fee under By-Law 5. For more information, please click here.
- Incapacity - Lawyers and paralegals who are incapacitated and therefore unable to practise law or provide legal services may be exempt from the annual fee under By-Law 5. For more information, please click here.
Appointment to Judicial Office
Pursuant to section 31. (1) of the Law Society Act, lawyers or paralegals may have their licence placed in abeyance under certain situations. While their licence is in abeyance, they are exempt from the payment of the Annual Fee and from filing the Annual Report.
To have their licence placed into abeyance, lawyers and paralegals must write to the Law Society's Membership Services department and advise of the date they stopped practicing or providing legal services (if applicable) and the date they were appointed, along with any changes to their mailing or contact information. A copy of the Order in Council is also required as proof of the appointment.
Eligible lawyers and paralegals include those who are appointed as:
- full-time judges of any federal, provincial or territorial court,
- full-time masters of the Superior Court of Justice,
- full-time case management masters, or full-time prothonotaries of the Federal Court of Canada;
- full-time members of the Ontario Municipal Board
Restoration of Licence
Upon ceasing to hold office as described above, lawyers and paralegals may restore their licence by writing to the Membership Services department and advise of the date they stopped holding office, what they intend to do upon restoration of their licence and also advise of any changes to their mailing or contact information.
Once their licence is restored, lawyers and paralegals become responsible for payment of the Annual Fee and filing the Annual Report if they return to an active status.
Lawyers or paralegals who are 65 or older may choose to be placed directly into a retired status if they do not intend to resume the practice of law.
It is the lawyer's or paralegal's responsibility and obligation to notify the Law Society immediately of any change in status, including the effective date. Changes may be reported by completing and faxing the
Change of Information Form for Lawyers (pdf)
Avis de changement d'information (pdf)
Change of Information Form for Paralegals (pdf)
Avis de changement d'information des parajuristes titulaires de permis (pdf)
or by contacting the Client Service Centre.
Lawyers or paralegals changing from or closing down a private practice will be contacted by the Law Society to confirm the location of client files and status of trust funds. The Law Society receives thousands of calls annually from clients trying to locate their former lawyers/paralegals and their files. The Law Society's status change package is designed to ensure that the Law Society's records appropriately reflect the state of current and former lawyers/paralegals files and client accounts to enable the proper direction of enquiries.
If a lawyer or paralegal becomes entitled to a pro-rata reduction of the fee as aresult of a change in status, By-Law 5 provides the formulas for the calculation for the adjustment to the fee. If entitled to a refund as a result of the adjustment, subsection 3 (6) provides that "A licensee shall apply to the Society to claim an entitlement to a refund...". Applications should be made by contacting the Client Service Centre.
There is a deadline for making the application for a refund. Subsection 3(7) provides that "An application to the Society under subsection (6) shall be made before the end of the year in respect of which the licensee claims an entitlement to a refund under subsection (5)." Subsection 3(8) provides that "A licensee who does not comply with subsection (7) is not entitled to receive a refund."
In order to protect the interests of lawyers and paralegals, a refund issued to a third party requires the written consent of the lawyer or paralegal.
Are you in the right fee category?
Schedule C to Bill 14, The Access to Justice Act, 2006 came into force on May 1, 2007. This Schedule amended many of the provisions of the Law Society Act. Of particular significance, effective May 1, 2007,the Act was amended to prohibit any person from providing legal services in Ontario unless the person is licensed to do so by the Law Society or the person is permitted by the Law Society to do so without a licence."Provision of legal services" is defined in subsections 1 (5) to (7) of the Law Society Act.
The amended Law Society Act will affect some lawyers who are currently paying 50% of the annual Law Society membership fee. Lawyers who are currently paying 50% of the annual fee and who are providing legal services within the meaning of subsections 1(5) to (7) of the Law Society Act must immediately inform the Law Society and pay 100% of the annual fee. Depending on an individual lawyer's circumstances, additional requirements may also have to be satisfied, including completion of the Private Practice Refresher Program and payment of insurance premium levies to LawPRO.