Now that I am responsible for my own expenses I’ve taken a hard look at that number: $2,108.58. And this does not include my insurance premiums to LawPRO (the base premium being $3,350.00 per lawyer, for a total of $5,458.58 in fees and premiums).
How is the LSUC spending the revenue from our annual fees? What are our fees used for? Why do we pay so much? Are we paying more or less than lawyers in other provinces in Canada?
I decided to start digging. (You may be thinking that I must have lots of spare time on my hands. I don’t. I am just an extremely curious person and I like to know where my money is going). I sat down with a hot coffee and snacks, prepared for a lengthy investigation. This was short lived. One simple Google search produced the most recent LSUC Annual Report (2014), including 30 pages of financial statements . . . and down the rabbit hole I went. . . Here are a few highlights of what I learned:
How do our fees compare to fees in other provinces?
According to a handy chart compiled by the Law Society of British Columbia, we pay the second highest combination of law society fees and insurance premiums in Canada. Only Alberta beats us at a whopping $7,011.00. Saskatchewan is the most affordable province for practicing lawyers where fees and premiums total $3,273.00.
Perhaps I am one of only a few lawyers who wonder about this stuff, but after reading this, are you content with the amount we are paying and where our money is going? Do you read the Annual Report and financial statements? Or, are you at a firm that pays your fees and you really don’t care?
Aside from the financial stuff, the Annual Report also includes an overview of the priorities set by the LSUC: addressing access to justice issues; competence and professional standards; equity, diversity and retention; professional regulation; business structures; and tribunal issues. The Report also has some interesting statistics on the make-up of the profession. (Ever wonder what percentage of lawyers in Ontario are women? It’s 41.9%.)
If you are curious like me, the full Annual Report can be found here.
Erin C. Cowling is a freelance litigator, researcher & writer at Cowling Legal Freelance and President and Founder of FLEX LEGAL, a network of freelance lawyers.