Paralegal annual fees will stay the same for the next three years, if Convocation adopts recommendations.
Under the Audit and Finance Committee’s 2014 budget report to the Law Society of Upper Canada, the annual fee for paralegals will be held at $996. It increases lawyers’ fees by less than 1%. These rates are projected to stay the same for 2015 and 2016.
The annual fee will be due on March 1, 2014, one month earlier than in 2013 and two months earlier than in 2012. This change is to reduce the Society’s exposure to cash flow risk.
For the first time, the Society’s annual budget includes a forecast of revenues, expenses and annual fees for the next three years. This new strategy is to give Convocation information to help with making longer-term financial plans and give licensees a heads-up on the direction of annual fees.
The draft budget calls for revenue and expense scenarios in 2014 of $101,628,400. Revenue derives from annual fees, licensing process, CPD and other revenue, and fund balances. It projects that the equivalent of 300 more full-fee paying paralegals will become members in 2014, and 600 more lawyers. The membership would include 37,200 lawyers and 4,350 paralegals.
Starting in 2014, the Law Society will reduce the amount of General and Compensation fund balances used to mitigate annual fees, from $5.4 million in 2013 to $1.5 million next year and $413,000 in 2016. Total direct expenses are decreasing, as are salary and benefits.
CPD revenue is up this year, as in the past three. Charging a “nominal fee” for professional responsibility programming starting next year is expected to generate $1.3 million in revenue.
The budget sets aside $8 million for technology enhancement projects expected to be done over the next three years, to meet the demands of both members and the public. These demands include the use of electronic communications, electronic data collection and dissemination. Making the transition from paper to electronic formats will be expensive. A review and report are being prepared on the capital spending needs.
Bencher and Treasurer’s expenses will decrease, from $3.4 million in 2013 to $3.1 million in 2014, because of reductions in bencher remuneration and functions.
Budget priorities follow Convocation’s priorities for its 2011-2015 Bencher term, which are:
- Access to justice
- Competence and professional standards
- Equity, diversity and retention
- Tribunal issues
- Business structures / law firm financing
- Professional regulation
The budget report was accepted by Convocation, Oct. 24.