Start looking around for information on lawyers and you may find reference to the Law Society of Alberta. You might wonder what the Law Society of Alberta is, what it does, and what purpose it serves. To put it simply the Law Society serves a disciplinary and regulatory function within the province of Alberta.
What does the Law Society of Alberta do?
The Law Society of Alberta is the governing body for Lawyers in the province of Alberta. The province of Alberta has seen fit to establish a governing body for lawyers in the form of the Law Society of Alberta. The Society regulates the practice of law, it is run by a committee of benchers. Twenty of these benchers are Lawyers elected by society members, while four are members of the public who are appointed by the minister of justice.
Why is the Law Society of Alberta run primarily by lawyers?
The Law Society of Alberta is run primarily by lawyers. This is because the independence of the Law Society and the legal profession is viewed as integral to upholding the rule of law while promoting a free and democratic society. As the society notes, the rule of law requires government officials and citizens both to be bound to the law. Freedom from government interference in the legal profession is essential to this function, it ensures that lawyers can act against the government free from interference should this become necessary.
The Law Society of Alberta – Upholding the Public Interest
As per their website, the Law Society of Alberta serves to promote the public interest by holding members to a high standard of professional and ethical conduct. Specific objectives to this end include protection of those using legal services, promoting the independence of the legal profession, promoting the administration of justice, promoting the rule of law, promoting access to legal services, and promoting equity/diversity/inclusivity within the legal profession.
The standards members are held to are set out in the Law Society of Alberta Code of Conduct, and the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta. Methods in which the Law Society of Alberta holds members to a high standard are many but include: setting the level of competence that clients can expect their lawyer to hold themselves to, disallowing lawyers from misleading a tribunal (such as a court) or assisting their clients in doing so, and mandating that lawyers must act in good faith with all persons to whom they have dealings.
As per the Legal Professions Act, members of the society may face sanctions if they engage in conduct that tends to bring the standing of the legal profession into question. In this manner, the Law Society of Alberta serves to uphold confidence in legal institutions by holding its members to conduct which will not harm the public’s view of lawyers. For instance, any advertisements must be consistent with a high standard of professionalism as per Rule 4.2-1 in the Law Society of Alberta Code of Conduct.
When a lawyer makes a mistake, commits a breach of the code or the rules of the society they may face disciplinary action by the Law Society of Alberta. If a complaint is filed the Law Society of Alberta will review the complaint, if it has merit they may order an investigation and may convene a hearing on the conduct of the lawyer in question. If the lawyer is found to be guilty of misconduct they may face sanctions up to and including disbarment.
The Law Society of Alberta additionally strives to ensure accessibility of legal services. They view this as crucial to maintaining public confidence in the legal system by ensuring that people can access representation for their legal interests. To this end, the Society supports legal service providers and organizations that seek to provide accessible services.
The Law Society of Alberta also makes clear that they believe that the public interest is served by having a legal profession that is representative of the diverse backgrounds of the population. To this end, the Society has pledged to evaluate the removal of regulatory measures to ensure that the profession is accessible to people from all walks of life.
For more questions about The Law Society of Alberta please visit their FAQ page here.
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