Lawyers and paralegals of the Law Society can apply to be exempt from the requirement to pay the Law Society annual fee and submit the Law Society annual report if the standards set out in By-law 5 s. 4 (1)–(5) and Part II of By-law 8 s. 5 (3)–(8) are satisfied. It is necessary to complete an exemption application and provide all required documentation. These requirements exist to ensure that the lawyer or paralegal's practice is wound up in an orderly fashion by confirming that their files have been transferred to another lawyer or paralegal and that any trust accounts etc., are properly disbursed and closed (where applicable).
Who can apply
- Lawyers and paralegals who are in good standing and are 65 years of age or older and no longer practising law or providing legal services in Ontario; or
- Lawyers and paralegals of any age who are in good standing and are incapacitated and unable to practise law or provide legal services
- A completed and original Application for Exemption from the Requirement to Pay the Annual Fee and Submit the Law Society Annual Report.
- Evidence that all open trust/mixed trust (and estate accounts if applicable) have been closed and have a zero balance (for applicants who were Sole Practitioners in Ontario at any time within the last 3 years from the date of their application).
- Evidence that the applicant no longer has any signing authority over any trust/mixed trust (and estate accounts if applicable) (for applicants who were Partners/Employees/Associates of a law firm or paralegal firm in Ontario at anytime within the last 3 years from the date of their application).
- Submission of all applicable Law Society fees and annual filings. Under By-law 5 s. 4 (5), licensees are responsible to pay all Law Society annual fees up to the end of the month in which the Law Society considers the application to be complete and approved for exemption.
- An original letter from a qualified medical practitioner confirming that the applicant lawyer or paralegal cannot continue to practise law or provide legal services because of their condition is required, if the application is based on incapacity.
Lawyers who are estate trustees or powers of attorney may apply for exemption from fees, but will be required to submit the Law Society Annual Report as long as they remain estate trustees or powers of attorney.
Lawyers and paralegals who wish to return to the practice of law or provision of legal services after being granted a formal exemption must inform the Law Society prior to their return. If the exemption application was based on incapacity, an original letter from a qualified medical practitioner stating that the applicant is fit to return to the practice of law or provision of legal services is required.
All applications and pertinent attachments are reviewed by By-Law Administration Services (BAS). If the review reveals that the application and/or attachments are deficient, a BAS Representative will contact the applicant to request additional information or clarification or to advise of changes necessary for compliance to By-law 5 s. 4 (1)–(5) and Part II of By-law 8 s. 5 (3)–(8).
BAS requires up to 45 business days to process exemption applications. The applicant will receive a letter confirming formally that they are exempt from the requirement to pay annual fees and the requirement to submit the Law Society Annual Report.
There is no fee for the exemption application, however, all Law Society annual fees owing up to the end of the month in which the Law Society considers the application to be complete and approved for exemption must be paid in full.
Links to Application and additional information for closing your practice
Links to Applicable By-laws
- By-law 5: Annual Fee
- By-law 8: Part II Reporting and Filing Requirements, Annual Report
Application and Law Society Annual Report filing related questions should be directed to By-Law Administration Services by contacting the Law Society Resource Centre at (416) 947-3315 (toll-free 1-800-668-7380 x3315) and asking to be transferred, or email BAS using the Contact Page.
To pay annual fees contact the Membership Services department by calling the Resource Centre at (416) 947-3315 (toll-free 1-800-668-7380 x3315) and asking to be transferred, or email Membership Services using the Contact Page.