Breaking down barriers to national practice

Lawyers want to be able to work across Canada

Lawyers in Western Canada want to be able to practise nation-wide. They hope to convince their counterparts in the east to abolish interprovincial barriers.

Lawyers who want to work in more than one province now have to pass the bar exam for each province, pay the fees and join the provincial law society. If a lawyer practises without meeting these requirements, he or she could face criminal charges.

Eric Macklin, president of the Alberta Law Society, says that these demands mean more work and more cost for out-of-province lawyers. Mobility would improve client service, according to Macklin.

So far, the law societies of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have agreed to forego individual provincial requirements. That means that lawyers from those provinces can now practise anywhere in the west for up to six months in any 12-month period.

The western law societies will meet next month with representatives from Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces in an attempt to convince them to remove remaining barriers. If they are successful, all Canadian lawyers will be able to practise anywhere in the country.

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