Latest Update - April 2018
The Alternative Business Structures (ABS) Working Group submitted a report to Convocation on April 26, recommending that the Law Society make no further changes to permitted business structures at this time.
The working group reported that work will continue on the development of a regulatory framework to enable lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations (CSOs), such as charities and not-for-profit organizations — as approved in principle by Convocation last September.
The Law Society is currently working on the CSO framework and will continue to work with justice partners as it develops. Once drafted, there will be a comment period — likely in the fall.
The group plans to have the framework ready for implementation in 2019, subject to Convocation’s approval.
The Law Society’s ABS Working Group was formed in September 2012 to explore various possible options available for the delivery of legal services. It has engaged in extensive research since its formation, including meetings with lawyers and paralegals, consulting with experts and reviewing research and related literature.
In September 2014, it released a discussion paper and sought input from the professions and other stakeholders.
In September 2015, the ABS Working Group delivered an interim report to Convocation outlining its initial assessment and the directions it will consider further. At that time the Working Group decided not to continue to consider structures involving majority ownership, or control, of traditional law firms by non-licensees. The Working Group focused its study on change with the potential to foster innovation or enhance access to justice.
In September 2017, Convocation approved in principle, a policy recommended by the Working Group to permit lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations (CSOs), such as charities and not-for-profit organizations. Learn more.
ABS Working Group Reports to Convocation
Additional Resources/Background Materials
Submissions received in response to September 2014 Discussion Paper
The Advocates’ Society
Audet, Julie and Picard, Nathalie
Barrie Real Estate Lawyers Association
Brendt, Lorne and group
Canadian Defence Lawyers
Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)
The County District Lawyers Presidents’ Association (CDLPA)
County of Carleton Law Association
Criminal Lawyers Association
Equity Advisory Group Working on ABS
Essex Law Association
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL)
Law Students’ Society of Ontario (LSSO)
Ontario Bar Association
Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (PDF available upon request)
Ontario Trial Lawyers Association
Southwest Region Women’s Law Association
Thunder Bay Law Association
Waterloo Region Law Association
Women’s Paralegal Association of Ontario