COVID-19

Click on a law society to learn measures they are taking amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Law Society of British ColumbiaLaw Society of Alberta
Law Society of SaskatchewanLaw Society of Manitoba
Law Society of OntarioBarreau du Québec
Chambre des notaires du QuébecLaw Society of New Brunswick
Nova Scotia Barristers’ SocietyLaw Society of Newfoundland
Law Society of Prince Edward IslandLaw Society of Yukon
Law Society of Nunavut

Law Society of British Columbia

May 12, 2020:  In a virtual town hall, the Law Society of British Columbia’s President, Craig Ferris, Q.C. and Executive Director Don Avison will update their members and the public on the law society’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and on its recovery plans.  The session will offer an opportunity to ask questions about priorities and issues related to addressing impact of the pandemic.

May 1, 2020: LSBC President Craig Ferris, Q.C., in a video statement, thanked the legal profession in B.C. for their leadership through the state of emergency caused by COVID-19 pandemic.  He also outlined the measures and solutions the law society has implemented to date to assist them in being able to continue their work.

April 27, 2020: The Law Society (LSBC) issued a practice direction on how to proceed with tribunal hearings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The direction applies to discipline and credentials hearings and section 47 reviews.

April 17, 2020: Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia approved two amendments to the Law Society Rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first is to permit lawyers to use electronic documents or information obtained through public bodies, such as BC Online, to verify the identity of an organization. The other gives the Executive Director discretion to extend the payment of second instalment of indemnity fees, which has now been extended to August 31, 2020.

April 17, 2020: The Law Society recognizes that it may be challenging for some lawyers to complete their continuing professional development (CPD) credits as in-person opportunities may be cancelled or lawyers may have financial concerns due to COVID-19. To assist lawyers with options for fulfilling their CPD requirements, we have compiled the following list of free online programs.

April 9, 2020: The law society has posted a series of FAQs dealing with COVID-19 related issues, including client identification and use of electronic signatures.

April 6, 2020: Lawyers who test positive for the COVID-19 virus, or who are being treated as presumptively positive, may be required to provide information to the provincial health officials, including the names and contact information of clients or other individuals with whom they had recent contact. The Law Society has developed Guidance for Lawyers to assist with maintaining confidential information while complying with legal responsibilities for disclosure to health officials.

Law Society of Alberta

June 15, 2020: Remote Bar Admissions. The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench will continue to conduct Bar Admissions remotely. Effective immediately, Bar Admissions will be conducted via Webex, which will allow a student’s family and friends to attend via Webex link. Details are here.

April 27, 2020: Bar Admission Ceremonies. To help contain the spread of Covid-19, the Provincial Court is limiting attendance at Bar Admission ceremonies and implementing social distancing measures in court proceedings, effective immediately. Until further notice attendees are limited to the Applicant and their Principal. Ceremonies will be scheduled as needed with priority given to urgent court proceedings.

April 16, 2020: As the events surrounding COVID-19 continue to unfold, we are carefully monitoring the latest updates and recommendations from the Federal and Provincial governments, Alberta Health Services and the City of Calgary. Following the direction of health experts, the Law Society of Alberta, Alberta Lawyers Indemnity Association (ALIA) and Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) have decided to extend our office closure until May 31, 2020. We will re-evaluate the office closure at that point as further information is provided from government and health agencies as well as the City of Calgary.  During this time our staff will continue to work remotely to address any urgent needs and deliver essential services. We will post any further updates to our website as needed.

April 9, 2020: Mentorship in Times of Crisis – Recruiting Mentors and Mentees for Mentorship Programs.  In these unprecedented times, it is all the more important for us to help one another deal with the challenges and isolation caused by the office closures, remote work arrangements and financial fallout we may be experiencing. Though in-person meetings should be avoided, valuable mentorship can still be provided by video or telephone, and we are inviting new participants to engage remotely in both our Mentor Connect and Mentor Express programs, and to find out more about mentorship opportunities and tips for remote mentorship.

April 6, 2020: Changes have been made to articling requirements due to COVID-19. Effective April 6, the articling term in Alberta changes to a minimum of eight months and a maximum of 12 months for any student-at-law enrolled after Jan. 1, 2019. Students clerking with the courts also have more flexibility in the term of articles. The law society is also reminding the profession that articling students are subject to Alberta’s employment standards regulation and must be paid.

April 6, 2020: The law society has increased the subsidy provided to the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education’s PREP students by $1,000, thereby reducing the tuition payable by the student or their firm from $3,600 per student to $2,600 per student for students who commence PREP in 2020. This additional subsidy is for one year only.

April 6, 2020: The law society’s rules have also been amended to allow official transcripts from Canadian universities and certificates of qualification from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, respectively, to be provided through secure electronic means, which eliminates the need for paper copies of transcripts to be mailed.

Law Society of Saskatchewan

April 8, 2020: Law Society has made the decision to extend a reduction in articles to those who have already started their articling term. The reduction from 12 to 8 months will apply to any student who commences their articles in 2020. The Law Society’s goal in making this reduced articling term available to incoming students is to avoid articling positions being terminated as a result of the COVID-19 situation.

March 26, 2020: The Government of Saskatchewan enacted emergency regulations that  enable lawyers, during public emergency periods, to execute and witness certain documents covered by these pieces of legislation via electronic means.

March 25, 2020: Effective March 31, 2020, as a temporary response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Law Society is reducing the 12-month articling requirement to a minimum of 8 months for those students-at-law who have commenced their articling term. We anticipate that final marks for the CPLED program will be available by early May, as is consistent with past years.

March 25, 2020: The Law Society of Saskatchewan issued an Emergency Practice Directive to the profession to guide practitioners who want to use the emergency measures announced by the provincial government. These changes enable lawyers, during public emergency periods, to execute and witness certain documents via electronic means.

Law Society of Manitoba

May 12, 2020: Having postponed the 2020 recruitment of articling students for 2021-2022 positions in Winnipeg, the Law Society of Manitoba and participating firms developed new Recruitment Guidelines.  The law society also announced that admission requirements for the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) for the 2020/2021 year have been revised to allow students with a Canadian common law degree or a Certificate of Qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation to register without secured articles for intakes in June and December 2020.

April 14, 2020: Articling Requirements. Effective immediately, those who are admitted as an articling student in the 2019 or 2020 calendar year will be eligible to be Called to the Bar providing that they have completed all educational requirements and have served articles for a minimum of thirty six weeks. This will be accomplished through allowing articles to be abridged by up to 16 weeks. Those law firms who are able to continue to employ and effectively supervise their articling students are encouraged to do so for the usual 52- week term. Students who are scheduled to begin their articles in 2020 may begin as late as October 1, 2020 and will still be eligible to be called to the Bar in June 2021.

April 14, 2020: The Call to the Bar scheduled for June 18, 2020 will be postponed indefinitely and rescheduled likely to late Fall of 2020. In the interim, an administrative process will enable students to receive a conditional call subject to being presented to the Court of Queen’s Bench at a date and time to be set by the Law Society.

April 9, 2020: Computer Virus Pandemic. In the past two weeks, two Manitoba law firms have been hit by viruses – not COVID-19, but computer viruses, specifically a ransomware virus called MAZE. It is suspected that someone clicked on a link or an attachment in an email that was infected with a virus which in turn infected the firms’ entire systems. As a result of the virus attack, they have no access to email, Word, their accounting software, or any of their backups, including cloud backups. Everything is tied up by MAZE and they have been asked to pay an enormous ransom to regain access to any of their work.

April 9, 2020: Connect Now: New Manitoba Blue Cross Mental Health Resource for the Legal Profession. These are stressful times for everyone. Working remotely is challenging. Social distancing and isolation increases those challenges. Manitoba Blue Cross has launched a new mental health support for you and your family members that can be accessed immediately, called Connect Now.

April 9, 2020: Annual Member Report Now Due May 1, 2020. The usual deadline for filing the Annual Member Report is April 2020. Given the unusual circumstances associated with the COVID-19 crisis, the Law Society extended the deadline to submit your annual member report to May 1, 2020. Please be sure to file your report by that date.

April 6, 2020: We recognize that a very significant issue for lawyers, law firms and articling students (both the current and incoming class) revolves around the ability of law firms to effectively supervise articling students remotely, the impact on students’ ability to complete their articles and obtain their Call to the Bar. We are working to address this quickly, and have obtained feedback from the profession through a survey conducted last week. The Benchers of the Law Society will be asked to consider a broad range of issues that impact on articling students and law firms at a meeting to be convened on Monday April 13, 2020 at 2:00 pm.

 March 30 2020: the Law Society offices are currently closed until  Monday, May 4, 2020, with a work at home plan for all employees in effect.

Law Society of Ontario

June 8, 2020 – Articling. The Law Society of Ontario has amended its summer student recruitment procedures for 2021 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, the LSO is abridging recruitment timelines and staggering its process for second year students by asking employers to collect applications on two separate dates, depending on whether the students fall under Group A or under Group B. This separation, which does not prioritize either group, is based on factors such as the expected release of a school’s fall semester grades and whether the school conducts on-campus interviews. Additional details are available here.

April 17, 2020: The Law Society Of Ontario will be holding a virtual Convocation meeting beginning at 9:00 am, Thursday, April 23. As we are still establishing the optimal technological solution to support the meeting, April Convocation will not be available for live public viewing. The agenda and reports are available on the law society web site. A transcript of the meeting will be posted following the meeting.

April 7, 2020: The Ministry of the Attorney General advised that an emergency Order In Council has been made under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act with respect to the virtual commissioning and execution of wills.

To assist licensees, the Law Society of Ontario is offering a free Continuing Professional Development program, “Your Wills and Estates Practice and the COVID-19 Pandemic: What you Need to Know Right Now.” The program is expected to be available on-demand. Practice management guidance will be issued by the Law Society to the professions as soon as possible, and posted to our COVID-19 Practice Management FAQs.

April 3, 2020: The offices of the Law Society of Ontario will remain closed until May 4, 2020.

April 2, 2020: The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) announced that the lawyer licensing examinations and the call to the bar ceremonies scheduled to take place in June 2020 have been cancelled due to COVID-19. We are actively exploring additional dates for the lawyer licensing examinations in late summer/early fall. An administrative call to the bar process will be made available to candidates who have fulfilled licensing requirements so they may proceed with the next phase of their legal careers without delay.

March 29, 2020: Lawyers and paralegals who pay fees monthly will not have money withdrawn from their accounts on April 7 as planned, the Law Society of Ontario said. Instead, the collection will be made the first week of June, said the regulator, which sent a more detailed email with licensees. The law society also said that lawyers or paralegals who have yet to pay their lump sum fees — which total $2,334.58 with tax for most types of lawyers — have until June 1 to do so. Previously, the law society tacked on a $150.00 late fee to payments after March  2.

Barreau du Québec

April 23, 2020: The Barreau extended the period of free online continuing education to May 31, 2020.

April 23, 2020: The Barreau extended the deadline for payment of annual bar fees to September 1, 2020.

April 16, 2020:  In order to assist lawyers working in family law and the users of Jurifamille, the Corporation des services du Barreau du Québec extended, at no cost, all licenses to the software that allows for the calculation of support payments. The extension will be in effect until courts assume their regular activities.

April 8, 2020 – The Barreau announces it is offering a webinar on the ethical obligations of lawyers related to COVID-19.

April 2, 2020 – The École du Barreau announces that a final 4.5 hour evaluation of students will take place through an online platform on May 25.

March 20, 2020 – The Barreau launches a special legal clinic to offer free 15-minute telephone consultations to the public to address questions and concerns related to COVID-19.  The service has been receiving an average 450 calls a day with questions related to COVID-19 and labour law, criminal law, family law and immigration matters. In addition, the Barreau announces that it will begin offering free online continuing education that is available through the Barreau’s Webpro catalogue as well as through the training of the Fonds d’assurance de la responsabilité professionnelle of the Barreau du Québec for 30 days, as of March 23, 2020.

March 18, 2020 – The Barreau informs articling students and their supervisors that they are now authorized to continue their internships by telework.

March 16, 2020 – The Barreau announces the creation of a Facebook support group for lawyers, called   “Lawyers of Quebec – Support Group – COVID-19”.

March 16, 2020 – The Barreau announces the deadline for payment of  membership fees will be delayed until June 1, 2020.

March 14, 2020 – The Barreau creates a unique email address to handle questions about the Barreau and COVID-19, which receives more than 150 messages daily. They also create a dedicated webpage to offer information from governments, courts and tribunals related to measures being taken in response to COVID-19. The Bâtonnier also initiated special messages to members , almost on a daily basis, to share news related to COVID-19.

March 13, 2020 – The Barreau announces that its offices are closed, and that employees would maintain services through telework.

March 12, 2020 – The Barreau announces the closure of the École du Barreau, which will be begin offering lessons online as of March 13.  All information related to École du Barreau and its operations during COVID-19 are available here.

Chambre des notaires du Québec

April 1, 2020: Permission obtained from the government allows Quebec notaries to virtually sign documents. It is important to remember that these solutions are an alternative offered to notaries and customers who have urgent transactions to carry out. They are not a duty of service for Quebec notaries, but rather a means of facilitating the legal protection of citizens in need during this period of health restrictions.

Law Society of New Brunswick

April 23, 2020: June Admission Ceremony. The June 16, 2020 admission ceremony is scheduled to proceed with modified procedures allowing for remote attendance, if required. Candidates eligible to be called on June 16 can expect further communication in the coming weeks with relevant details.

April 23, 2020: Bar Admission Program and Bar Examinations. In the normal course, the 2020/2021 Bar Admission Program contains a combination of computer-based learning and assessment, and in-person learning and assessment. The first in-person session was set to take place on June 11-12, 2020. At present, we anticipate that we will not be able to hold this session in-person; however, details on alternate (remote) delivery will be communicated to candidates registered in the program after the application deadline of June 1, and we do not anticipate a delay in delivery of this session.

April 23, 2020: Changes to Articling Requirements. For candidates enrolled in the 2020/2021 admission program, who begin articles after April 1, 2020, and would, but for an insufficient articling term be eligible to be called in June 2021, the minimum articling term is reduced from 12 months to 9 months. With the June 2021 admission ceremony currently scheduled for June 15, candidates would be required to complete their 9 months of articles no later than June 14, 2021. This means that the latest possible start date is September 14, 2020. As with the regular 12-month period, the 9-month articling term is inclusive of Bar Admission Program activities that occur during the articling term. Out of an abundance of clarity, a candidate slated to begin articling on September 14, but who is registered in session A of the Intensive Skills Training which runs from September 14-25, would still satisfy the 9-month requirement so long as they begin work on September 28, 2020.

Notwithstanding the forgoing, candidates and principals are encouraged to begin articling terms earlier than September 14, wherever possible, to allow for firm and articling orientation prior to commencing the Intensive Skill Training session. Please note that the period of time during which a candidate is a student-at-law, and subject to Law Society oversight, is not being reduced, and remains one-year. Therefore, candidates beginning articles earlier than September 14 and who complete the minimum 9-months prior to June 2021 are not eligible to be called prior to June 2021; therefore, candidates and principals are encouraged to extend articles beyond 9-months where possible.

April 2, 2020: The closure of the law society office has been extended to April 30, 2020. Staff will continue to work remotely. Please continue to use your usual means of communication with the law society and its staff, bearing in mind that replies from staff may be delayed.

March 16, 2020: All in-person events hosted by the Law Society have been cancelled until the end of April, at which point the situation will be re-evaluated. No external groups will have access to the Law Society offices during this period. Council and committee meetings may be altered to be held by teleconference.  All Bar Admission Courses, discoveries, mediations, etc. hosted at the Law Society offices are cancelled until the end of April.  Discipline hearings are cancelled unless completed by teleconference or video conference.

Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society

August 5, 2020  At its Council meeting of July 24, 2020 and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSBS Council passed a resolution to lower its membership fees for 2020-2021 by 50% for qualifying members on a one-time basis.

To qualify for the fee reduction, members must :

  1. have been called to the bar within the last 7 years, or;
  2. self-identify as a member of an equity-seeking group, or;
  3. be in a primary care-giving role in relation to dependants;
    and
  4. have experienced job loss or reduced employment income of at least 40% due to Covid19; or
  5. have experienced a reduction of gross billings of at least 40% for the period of March 2020 to August 2020 as compared to either March 2019 to August 2019 or September 2019 to February 2020.

Members who work in Canada’s or Nova Scotia’s civil service or for Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission or Dalhousie Legal Aid Service do not qualify.

Council also approved a recommendation that the LIANS Board considers granting a similar reduction in the Insurance Levy for qualified candidates.

June 4, 2020  NSBS published The Lawyer’s Guide to Reopening the Office to assist its members in returning safely to the workplace upon the lifting of emergency measures related to COVID-19. The guide offers COVID-19 prevention tips and best practices in supporting employees, risk management, preparing the office for a safe return to the workplace and preparing for future interruptions in service.

April 4, 2020 The Council Task Force on COVID-19 was created by NSBS to find options to assist their members in confronting challenges posed by the pandemic. The Task Force is comprised of Council members, a public representative and representatives from the two equity committees, the finance committee and executive.  Part of their role is to remind members of the current supports and options available to them, including fee deferrals and changing to non-practising status.  The Task Force will also seek feedback from NSBS members and invites them to discuss any other challenges they may be facing.

Offices are closed until Monday, May 4, 2020, to align with the Province’s advice to practice social distancing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Staff are available remotely during our office hours (Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM) via email and phone for assistance.

The Barristers’ Society has prepared detailed FAQs for the profession. Some of the topics covered include the following:

  • The June Call to the Bar will not be in person and we are working on alternative arrangements with the Courts. We will provide an update once we have the arrangements in place.
  • The Society has modified articling requirements. During these exceptional circumstances, we have changed the articling term to a minimum of 8 months and a maximum of 12 months for any articled clerk enrolled after June 1 2019.
  • Trust accounts can be operated through electronic banking. You must continue to document transactions, which means you need to print the confirmation screen of online transactions of withdrawals and deposits. The confirmation needs to have the financial institution and account from which the funds were sent, the financial institution and account to which the funds were deposited (i.e. your trust account), the amount deposited, and the date and time of the transmission of funds. If the confirmation screen does not identify the client on whose behalf the funds have been deposited/withdrawn, electronically note on the PDF the client name and/or matter number. Also, include other details such as the source of funds.
  • The Society and LIANS are deferring the April and May fee and levy payments for our members enrolled in our Pre-authorized Payment Plan (PAP) for this year. Members on PAP will be contacted by email with further information about the process to request a deferral. This deferral of fee and levy payments applies only to outstanding fee and levy payments for this year that have not yet been paid. We have not yet made a decision with respect to annual fee and levy payments for the coming fee year July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021

Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador

April 7, 2020: Impact of COVID-19 on Articling, Current and Future Students-at-Law. This information is meant to address the impact of COVID-19 on current and future articling arrangements regulated by the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

April 6, 2020: The Law Society has decided to extend the first quarter Transaction Levy due date to July 30, 2020. This is the scheduled due date for second quarter remittances. As such, members should submit both quarters by July 30, 2020. We ask that the quarters be reported individually as usual and not be combined on the same summary form.

March 27, 2020: As previously advised, we have been consulting with the Minister of Justice and Public Safety and his staff as well as Service NL on issues which impact on the public’s access to legal services. The full update for members is here.  

March 27, 2020: Client Information Disclosure Advisory issued, intended to provide guidance to legal professionals testing or presumptively positive for the COVID-19 virus. The advisory suggests the appropriate action to take where lawyers are requested to disclose the name and contact information for clients who may have been exposed to the virus.

Law Society of Prince Edward Island

March 17, 2020: Please be advised that the Law Society Office is carefully monitoring the Coronavirus (Covid-19) public health risk. For the safety of our staff, our members and the public, effective March 17, 2020 the Society’s offices & library will close until April 30, 2020, to align with the Province’s advice. While our office is physically closed during this time, our staff is available remotely during our office hours (Monday – Friday from 9 AM – 4:30PM) via email for assistance.

April 7, 2020: There have been a number of Resources, Court Notices and Memos shared by the Law Society to its members regarding COVID-19 and the practice of Law.

Law Society of Yukon

Staff will be working remotely when possible and our response times may be slower than usual.  The Society is cancelling all in-person meetings and will use teleconferencing as an alternative for the time being. The Society will evaluate and make a decision in April on whether the upcoming Safe and Effective Practices CPD scheduled for May 7, 2020 will proceed or be postponed.  If cancelled, those who have registered will be reimbursed. Executive Elections for the Society are currently scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, 2020 and the Annual General Meeting is set for Thursday, May 28, 2020. The Society will re-assess in early May whether the AGM will proceed as scheduled.  However, it is expected at this time that the Executive elections will proceed as ballots will be circulated and returned via email/mail and do not require an in-person meeting.

The law society has posted a series of detailed FAQs.

Law Society of Nunavut

April 1, 2020: During these exceptional times, the Law Society of Nunavut (LSN) will continue to provide services at-a-distance to members of the public and its membership including inquiries related to referrals, applications for memberships and Restricted Appearance Certificates. The LSN’s main contact is Adel De Belen, Executive Administrator, Adel De Belen: administrator@lawsociety.nu.ca