Indigenous course to continue after lawyers vote to keep Alberta law society rule for mandated education

Alberta lawyers have voted to keep the rule allowing the law society to mandate legal education which has, so far, only been used for an Indigenous course. 

On Monday, more than 3,400 lawyers logged into the Law Society of Alberta’s “special meeting,” which resulted in a vote of 864 for and 2,609 against removing the power for the regulator to implement continuing education.

The meeting was held after the law society received a petition, signed by 50 lawyers, which proposed a resolution to get rid of Rule 67.4.

While some of the signatories are open about their opposition to the mandated course itself, others were adamant that the root of the issue is the ability for the law society to mandate education and the automatic suspension as a consequence for failing to complete the course.

The Path is a free, five-hour online course that teaches Indigenous cultural competency. All lawyers in the province were required to complete the Path by October 2022. 

After receiving a petition signed by 50 of the province’s 11,100 lawyers, the law society issued notice of a special meeting, which began at 11 a.m. Monday and ended with the vote just before 1 p.m. MT.

In a letter sent to the province’s lawyers last week, the Law Society of Alberta’s benchers, also known as its board, asked for support in opposing the resolution to be tabled Monday. 

The letter was distributed to lawyers in the province last Tuesday and focused on what the benchers described as the “privilege” of self-regulation.

“This motion comes as self-regulating professions face intense scrutiny,” wrote the benchers.

The mandatory course was developed in direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 27. It asks the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to “ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training.”

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