Law Society of Alberta
|Purpose||advocate and public voice, educator and network|
|Website||Law Society of Alberta|
The Law Society is created and governed by the Legal Profession Act (Alberta). As a law society, the Law Society is much more than a professional association and every lawyer who practices in Alberta must belong to it. The Society's mandate is to regulate the legal profession in the public interest.
The Society is primarily concerned with admission and discipline of members, educating the public, and preventing the unauthorized practice of law.
The Law Society is governed by members of the profession elected by its membership to serve as benchers. In addition to elected Benchers, there are four lay benchers (non-lawyers) appointed by the Minister of Justice. There are 24 benchers in total (including the four lay benchers), each expected to serve three-year terms.
The Society has passed The Rules of the Law Society of Alberta to govern the Society, to exercise the Society's powers and duties, and for the management and conducts of its business and affairs.
The Society is a member of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
To practice law in the Province of Alberta, a person must be admitted to the bar and a member of the Society. The Society sets its own educational admission requirements. These include a Bachelor of Laws degree (which in turn requires preliminary university study), completion of a twelve-month period of apprenticeship with an experienced practitioner called articling, and completion of bar admission exams. Bar admission exams in Alberta are more akin to assignments which test practical application of the law instead of pure legal knowledge. In addition to these academic requirements, the Legal Profession Act requires that a candidate be of "good character and reputation."
The Alberta Bar is one of the few that still admits its members one at a time in a very personalized ceremony. Once admitted, lawyers in Alberta, as in other common-law Canadian provinces but unlike England, are both barristers and solicitors. Members of the Society (and judges of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta and the Court of Appeal of Alberta) are also notaries public pursuant to section 3 of the Notaries Public Act, but unlike those who become notaries public through an appointment, members of the Society do not have an appointment expiration date.
The Law Society has supervisory and disciplinary functions over its members. This responsibility includes the task of enforcing the rules of the Law Society, and to discipline offending lawyers. To aid in this task, the Society has passed a Code of Professional Conduct which is in essence a written code of ethics to which all lawyers must abide. The ultimate sanction the Society could impose is disbarment. A lawyer that has been disbarred is no longer legally able to practice law in Alberta.