Budget moderates fee increases for lawyers — no increase for paralegals
The Law Society’s governing body today approved its 2014 budget with a modest annual fee increase of 0.8 per cent for lawyers and no increase for paralegals.
The 2014 fee for a practising lawyer will increase by $15, from $1,851 to $1,866, while the fee for licensed paralegals will remain at $996.
“While the current economy continues to be challenging, the Law Society needs to ensure its finances are well managed,” Law Society CEO Robert G.W. Lapper, QC, said.
This is Mr. Lapper’s second budget since taking the position of CEO in February 2012.
“The Law Society needs to continue to be in a position to meet its strategic priorities, while honouring its obligations to manage financial resources as effectively as possible,” he said.
In addition to its core mandate of regulating the legal profession in the public interest, the Law Society’s priorities for 2011-2015 include facilitating access to justice, strengthening professional competence and regulation, supporting equity and diversity, enhancing tribunals, and studying alternative business structures.
The primary factors underlying the 2014 budget are:
- growth in the number of lawyers and paralegals
- the use of fund balances to mitigate annual fees is being phased out in a measured manner
- increasing professional development revenues
- the results of an operational review initiating changes directed at the organization and management of operations, and potential efficiencies
- development of the Pathways pilot project, which will allow lawyer licensing candidates to either article or complete a Law Practice Program, starting in the 2014-15 licensing year.
Included in the annual fee for lawyers and paralegals is a Compensation Fund levy. No change in the provision for claims is budgeted. Both Compensations Funds, lawyer and paralegal, are financially and actuarially sound.
Included in the annual fee for lawyers is a county law library levy providing $7.5 million in financing, the same as in 2013.
“We are pleased that for the first time, the Law Society has developed a medium-term financial plan to accompany the budget for 2014 — both documents ensure operational sustainability and ongoing support of the Law Society’s core functions,” Law Society treasurer Thomas G. Conway said.
The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest.
The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.