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FAQ

Voting in the Bencher Election

Voting

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Who can vote?

Active members of the Law Society of Alberta, as of September 30, 2020, are eligible to vote.

Voting information will be emailed to the preferred email address on file with the Law Society. It will be emailed on November 2, the day that voting opens.

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When can I vote?

Voting opens on November 2 and closes at 4:30 pm (Mountain Standard Time – GMT-07:00) on November 16.

You can vote, using eBallot anytime during the voting period.

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How many votes do I get?

You can vote for anywhere from 1 to 17 candidates.

One seat is reserved for the President-Elect Darlene Scott and we have two District Representatives, Bed Melnyk (Central) and Ryan Anderson (South) that have been acclaimed. This leaves 17 available seats for the election.

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Can I vote for candidates who are not in my geographic region or district?

Members can vote for any candidate, regardless of whether they are in your geographic region or district. If a member in Calgary votes for a member in Edmonton, that vote counts.

Candidates are elected from all votes cast throughout the province, not just votes from voters in their region or district.

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How do I vote with eBallot?

Voting opens November 2 and closes at 4:30 pm (Mountain Standard Time – GMT-07:00) on November 16. You can vote using eBallot at any time during the voting period.

You will receive your voting credentials (username and password) from eBallot via your preferred email address on file with the Law Society.

To vote in the 2020 Bencher Election, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the voting site directly, or use the link found in the email from eBallot.
  2. Log in using your Law Society of Alberta Member ID and provided password.
  3. Electronically mark the ballot next to the names of candidates of your choice.
  4. Follow the instructions on the page to submit your votes.

Please note: If you do not have a copy of your email with your login credentials, click this link, enter your Member ID and click Submit.

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What should I do if I have issues logging in?

For issues logging into your ballot, contact eBallot at help@eballot.com or contact their Voter Support hotline at 1-866-984-3125.

If you voted in the 2017 election, you may have your previous password saved in the password autofill field on the ballot. Please ensure you use the new password provided in your email to access the 2020 ballot.

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I never got my voting credentials. What do I do?

If you do not have a copy of your email with your login credentials, click this link, enter your Member ID and click Submit.

If you did not receive a copy of your original credentials, check your Junk/Spam folder on your email account.

Tabulation

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Who wins?

Candidates are elected based on the total number of votes received, subject to the district calculation, explained below.

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How do you determine the winners and District Representatives?

The Law Society of Alberta has three districts.

  • The Northern District covers all areas north of Wetaskiwin. It excludes Edmonton. (All areas lying north of the 53rd parallel.)
  • The Southern District cuts through the centre of Calgary and along the top of the Tsuut’ina Nation. It excludes Calgary. (All areas lying south of the 52nd parallel.)
  • The Central District falls between the two parallels. It excludes Calgary.

Candidates from Edmonton and Calgary fall into the general pool and are not part of any district.

For voting purposes, all candidates, regardless of location, are in one large general pool.

All voters, throughout the province, will vote for their entire selection of up to 17 candidates from amongst all of the candidates, regardless of location. They do not have to vote for 17 people, but can vote for anywhere from 1-17 candidates.

We do not have specific elections for the district representatives.

Once all of the votes are tabulated, the first thing we do is identify all of our district candidates and determine who among them has the highest number of votes.

The district candidate with the highest number of votes in that district becomes the District Representative.

With 2 out of 3 district positions already acclaimed, we will be left with 16 more seats to fill, out of the original 20, after the President-Elect and three District Representatives are removed from the general pool.

All remaining candidates, including the remaining district candidates, continue to be in the general pool. Now that the district representatives are chosen, we go through the results for the remaining candidates and determine the candidates with the 16 highest total votes to fill the 16 remaining seats. The Bencher table is determined by going down the list of all remaining candidates starting from the highest number of votes until all seats are filled.

This means that all of the candidates in a district could be elected if the candidates who are not elected as the district representative fall into the top 16.

Becoming a Bencher

Becoming a Candidate

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How do I submit my nomination for the Bencher Election?

Starting August 13, you may complete your nomination on election.lawsociety.ab.ca/submit.

You will be asked for:

·         First Name

·         Last Name

·         Preferred Name

·         Email Address

·         Firm, organization, or practice setting name

·         Location of practice

·         Location of residence

·         Year of Call

·         Photo to be used on your Bencher Election website profile

 

Additionally, you must complete your nomination form on the Lawyer Portal. To complete your nomination form, follow these steps:

1.       Log in to the Lawyer Portal. If required, you can also reset your password.

2.       Click on “My Applications” and create a new Bencher Election Nomination Application.

3.       Complete the application, including the names of your five nominators (active practising lawyers in Alberta).

4.       After you submit, you will receive an email confirmation of your application. Each of your nominators will also receive an email requesting that they certify their status as a nominator.

5.       Once all five of your nominators have certified, you will receive a final email noting that your application is under review.

6.       After your nomination is reviewed, you will receive an email from election@lawsociety.ab.ca informing you if you are eligible as a candidate. You will receive a link to your candidate profile, as well as the ability to edit that profile.

Campaigning

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What are the rules around campaigning?

Campaigning is essential for election to the Law Society Bencher Table. Candidates are elected by their peers, and ensuring that your peers are aware of your candidacy is critical to your success.

The Law Society provides the Bencher Election website to serve as a single platform that will give each candidate a place for their information, and we strongly encourage candidates to take advantage of this one-stop shop for their candidacy. Other forms of campaigning, including electronic messages, social media, letter-writing or any other form of communication are at the sole discretion of the candidate and will not be supported by the Law Society directly.

Please note that the Rules of the Law Society specifically prohibit statements that constitute a campaign promise or similar comment, or are libellous, in breach of the Code of Conduct or in bad taste.

The determination of the above is at the discretion of the Law Society’s Executive Director.

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Am I allowed/obligated to complete third-party surveys?

As a candidate, you may receive surveys from third-party organizations who may be looking for information on your views and candidacy. The Law Society does not expect or mandate the completion of these surveys as part of your candidacy; you are welcome to complete them as long as you remain in compliance with the Rules pertaining to campaigning.

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Is there a specific period in which I can campaign?

After you have received notification from the Law Society that your nomination process is complete, you may begin campaigning.

Appointment as a Bencher

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What happens if I’m not elected?

Throughout their three-year term, members of the Bencher table may vacate their position. In those circumstances, the Benchers may appoint a Law Society member to complete the term.

The process to appoint a member into the available position is defined in the Law Society’s rules and takes into account the potential candidate’s district representation, competencies, diverse characteristics and the results of the most recent Bencher election.

By running in the Bencher Election, you may be considered eligible for a vacant position in your district, should the need arise.

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How does the Rule 17 pertain to the appointment of Benchers?

Throughout their three-year term, members of the Bencher table may vacate their position. In those circumstances, the Benchers may appoint a Law Society member to complete the term.

The process to appoint a member into the available position is defined in the Law Society’s rules and was recently amended to take into account not only the potential candidate’s district representation and the results of the most recent Bencher election, but also the potential candidate’s competencies and characteristics, to provide greater diversity at the Bencher table.

If you run in the Bencher Election but are unsuccessful, you may be considered eligible for a vacant position in your district, should the need arise.

Being a Bencher

Time Commitment

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What is the time commitment for Benchers?

Benchers may spend roughly 300-500 hours each year on Law Society work. Benchers who chair committees and actively participate in the adjudication work, will be at the higher end of that range. Committee work is divided amongst the Benchers and external volunteers, and Benchers may sit on a number of committees and/or task forces in any given year.

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How often do the Benchers meet?

The Benchers hold meetings five times each year, with four meetings held in Calgary and one meeting being an annual planning retreat in June.

Committee meetings are typically held five times each year. Committees generally meet either toward the end of a working day (between 3-5 p.m.) or prior to the workday starting (7:45 a.m.), usually by video-conference or via teleconference.

Mandatory education sessions related to the adjudication role of a Bencher are held several times per year.

Responsibilities

The Benchers’ key responsibilities divide generally in two ways: governance and adjudication.

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What are Benchers' responsibilities regarding governance?

As a Board, the Benchers set the policy of the Law Society, enact rules pursuant to the Legal Profession Act, set standards of admission and practice, and carry out corporate responsibilities such as policy-making, business planning and budgeting.

  • Benchers sit on a number of committees and task forces which may have adjudicative and policy making responsibilities.
  • Committees are chaired by Benchers but may be comprised of Benchers, lawyers and members of the public.
  • Benchers may be appointed as Law Society representatives or delegates to outside but
    related bodies. The Bencher so appointed shall provide information or reports to and
    shall obtain direction from the Board as appropriate, to be determined by the Benchers
    or the Executive Committee at the time of appointment.

When exercising their governance function, Benchers are expected to:

  • Abide by the Board Relations Norms;
  • Attend and participate in Board meetings and meetings of committees to which they are
    appointed;
  • Attend orientation and education sessions; and,
  • Be familiar with materials provided in advance of general and committee meetings.

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What are Benchers' responsibilities regarding adjudication?

Benchers are expected to participate in various adjudicative roles, including hearings on disciplinary matters, admission and membership matters, and Assurance Fund claims.

  • Benchers will participate on panels made up of one, three, seven or 13 adjudicators,
    depending on the nature of the proceedings.
  • While the duration of a proceeding varies,
    typically, most proceedings take one to four days.
  • Benchers have decision writing responsibilities.
  • Benchers are required to participate in mandatory training sessions designed to assist them in discharging their responsibilities as adjudicators.

When exercising their adjudicative role, Benchers are expected to:

  • Accept appointments to hearing panels
  • Act as Chair of those panels from time to time, and to write hearing decisions in a timely fashion
  • Review and be familiar with materials
  • Be conversant with the guidelines approved by the Benchers
  • Act with fairness and in accordance with the principles of natural justice as a decision-maker in an administrative law context.

Compensation

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Do the Benchers get paid?

The Benchers are volunteers and donate their time to regulate the profession (the exception being an honourarium received by the President). The Law Society does reimburse Benchers for their reasonable out of pocket expenses in connection with their duties, including attending board and committee meetings, hearings, and meetings with outside bodies.

Questions?

If your question isn’t answered in the above FAQ, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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