Part-Time Practising Fees DRAFT

The Law Society’s benchers have approved a part-time practising fees pilot program, commencing April 1, 2022, which has been extended until March 31, 2027. This exciting initiative will help promote greater equity, diversity and inclusion in Manitoba’s legal profession.

Offering a part-time practising fee for lawyers who practice part-time to accommodate their child care or other regular family care-giving responsibilities is a way of recognizing that not all lawyers fit the traditional model of full-time practice. The goal of this initiative is to help reduce the rates of attrition of young female lawyers from private practice and provide flexibility to lawyers with significant, ongoing care-giving responsibilities for other family members. The pilot program will provide the Law Society an opportunity to gauge the level of interest in part-time practice before making any final decisions with respect to a part-time practising fee structure.

Part-Time Membership Fees Survey Image

Newly Added Eligibility Criteria

The benchers decided to add a discretionary eligibility criteria for lawyers who are required to reduce their hours of practice due to their own serious, chronic illness or disability.

Participate in the Pilot Program

Eligibility for Part-Time Practising Fees

Lawyers are eligible to pay part-time practising fees if they meet the following criteria:

  1. They work in private practice.
  2. They work part-time, which is defined as no more than 750 billable hours annually in total and having maximum gross billings of no more than $80,000 annually.

And

3. They are either:

who works part-time to accommodate their child-care responsibilities. Child-care responsibilities are defined as having primary responsibility for providing care for a child who is:

  • 12 years of age or under; or
  • Over 12 years of age and who, due to a significant medical condition or disability experiences physical, cognitive or behavioural barriers to performing age- appropriate independent activities of daily living for an indefinite duration.

Or

who works part-time to accommodate care-giving responsibilities* for other family members who, due to chronic illness, disability or other cause, require regular, ongoing care and/or supervision for a period of more than 90 days.

( * This includes requiring assistance and/or supervision on a regular basis with: personal care such as bathing, feeding, dressing, grooming/hygiene, mobility, toileting, administration of medication; routine activities such as meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, transportation and shopping; and arranging for supports/system navigation/community access, such as recreational activities, support groups, medical follow up and counselling.)

4. A new eligibility criteria has been added. The CEO may, in their discretion, approve the participation of members who due to their own serious, chronic illness or disability, are required to reduce their hours of practice, and otherwise meet the eligibility criteria set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 above. The CEO may require members to provide medical information in support of their application under this criteria. A condition of participation is that a member not have any outstanding debts to the Law Society or otherwise be in default of any obligations to the Law Society, except where a reasonable and satisfactory explanation has been provided and/or satisfactory payment arrangements have been made.

Part-Time Practising Fees

Lawyers who meet the eligibility criteria will pay 50% of the full-time practising fees. This does not include the insurance levy portion of the fees, of which they must pay 100%.

How to Participate

Lawyers who expect to meet the eligibility criteria can choose to pay part-time practising fees by completing and submitting the Part-time Practising Certification & Status Management Form through the Law Society member portal.

Lawyers who pay part-time practising fees must track their billable hours and gross billings to ensure they meet the part-time eligibility criteria. The Law Society has the right to audit members and those who fail to meet the criteria may be subject to disciplinary action.

If you realize that you have or expect to exceed the billable hours ceiling or the gross billings ceiling for the year,  if you no longer have child-care or care-giving responsibilities, or if your illness or disability no longer requires you to reduce your hours of practice, you should immediately notify the Law Society of your change in status to full-time practicing by completing and resubmitting the Part-time Practising Certification & Status Management Form through the Law Society member portal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Review the following frequently asked questions for further details about the pilot program and how to apply.

The part-time practising fees option is only available to lawyers in private practice. This initiative is focused on retention in private practice. Other jurisdictions have also limited part-time practising fees to lawyers in private practice. Often lawyers who work in-house or for government have their fees paid by their employer.

Once you determine you meet the eligibility criteria, you can complete a Part-time Practising Certification & Status Management Form and submit it to the Law Society through the member portal.  Your form will be reviewed and if approved you will be issued an invoice for part-time practising fees. For lawyers opting in to the pilot at the start of the year, eligibility is based on your anticipated gross billings and billable hours for the year.

If you realize that you have or expect to exceed the billable hours ceiling or the gross billings ceiling for the year,  if you no longer have child-care or care-giving responsibilities, or if your illness or disability no longer requires you to reduce your hours of practice, you should immediately notify the Law Society of your change in status to full-time practicing by completing and resubmitting the Part-time Practising Certification & Status Management Form through the Law Society member portal. A new pro-rated invoice will then be issued to you.

If you do not change your status and it comes to the Law Society’s attention, you may be subject to disciplinary action.

Yes, you can request to switch to part-time practice by completing the Part-time Practising Certification & Status Management Form through the Law Society member portal. Your request will be reviewed by Law Society staff and if approved you may be eligible to receive a pro-rated refund. Please allow up to two weeks for your request to be fully processed.

Yes. It is critical that lawyers stay current on developments in the law. Twelve hours is a minimum requirement and is manageable, even for members who practice part-time.

Manitoba is covered under the Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association (CLIA). CLIA provinces do not have the ability to individually underwrite given the relatively small size of the program. There are an insufficient number of insured lawyers in all of CLIA to subsidize a discounted insurance levy for part-time lawyers, so a part-time insurance levy is not an option.

A lawyer requesting to pay part-time practising fees must certify that they meet or expect to meet all of the eligibility criteria and must track their billable hours and gross billings. The Law Society has the right to audit members. Making a false certification to the Law Society carries severe consequences.

The Law Society will absorb the lost revenue resulting from members switching from full-time to part-time practice for the duration of the pilot program. The Law Society will review the data gathered from the pilot program and consider any potential budgetary impacts along with the results from the pilot program in determining the next steps.

Terms/Definitions

Private practice means practising with a law firm/law corporation and excludes any government, educational, in-house or legal aid position.

This includes requiring assistance and/or supervision on a regular basis with: personal care such as bathing, feeding, dressing, grooming/hygiene, mobility, toileting, administration of medication; routine activities such as meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, transportation and shopping; and arranging for supports/system navigation/community access, such as recreational activities, support groups, medical follow up and counselling.

Billable hours refers to time spent on billable tasks. It does not include time spent on pro bono work or time spent furthering and managing the business of the lawyer’s practice.

We recognize that not all lawyers bill by the hour. These lawyers would need to track what they would consider to be “billable time” for the purpose of establishing their eligibility according to this criteria.

The goal of a billable hours cap is not to be burdensome and technical, but to accurately reflect a part-time practice.

Gross billings refer to the amount a lawyer bills, regardless of how much they collect.

The goal of a gross billings cap is not to create a financial accounting burden, but to accurately reflect a part-time practice.

Background Information & Questions

In 2019 the Manitoba Bar Association’s Women Lawyers’ Forum asked the Law Society to consider recognizing part-time status by offering discounted fees for lawyers who practice part-time. The basis for the request was that lawyers who practice part-time are disproportionately young mothers who reduce their hours of work to care for their children, making it difficult to earn enough income to cover their fees and insurance and causing some to leave the profession. Part-time practising fees are a potential tool to help address this issue. For example, female lawyers may be more likely to return to private practice after maternity leave if they can ease into it on a part-time basis with a reduced membership fee.

We conducted a survey of the profession in the fall of 2020 and heard from 479 members and students, representing an estimated response rate of 15%. The majority of respondents (82%) were in favour of implementing part-time fees.

Offering discounted practising fees for lawyers who practice part-time to accommodate their child care or other care-giving responsibilities is a way of recognizing that not all lawyers fit the traditional model of full-time practice. The goal is of this initiative is to help reduce the rates of attrition of female lawyers from private practice. Exploring these options is consistent with the Law Society’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in the regulation of the legal profession and in the delivery of legal services.

Yes. This discretionary category was added by the benchers in response to feedback received from members.

It is a loss to the profession and the public when skilled lawyers leave because of issues around practice flexibility and finances. Encouraging lawyers to stay in practice part-time, could expand the pool of lawyers available to assist the public with legal matters, resulting in an increase in access to justice. Recognizing and supporting lawyers’ diverse backgrounds and circumstances also helps foster more diversity in the legal profession.

For questions about eligibility for the pilot, please contact:
Alissa Schacter, Director | Policy and Strategic Initiatives at aschacter@lawsociety.mb.ca or call 204-926-2029.

For questions about the payment of fees, invoices or refunds, please contact:
Sandra Alleyne | Chief Financial Officer at salleyne@lawsociety.mb.ca or call 204-926-2054.