Hear it from the Law Society's President and President-Elect.Watch the Video
The Law Society’s 2020 Bencher Election runs from November 2 to 16.
We asked current and former Benchers to describe their experience serving at the Bencher Table: What surprised them, what matters to the Board now and what lawyers in Alberta should do if they’re thinking of becoming a candidate.
The Law Society is governed by a 24-member Board, also known as Benchers. Of the Benchers, 20 are lawyers elected by the profession every three years, and four are public representatives appointed by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. The Benchers provide strategic direction, focusing on goals that demonstrate our values and help achieve our vision and mission.
Eligibility to stand for election is set out in section 13 of the Legal Profession Act and Rule 9 of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta. All candidates will be assessed for each of the noted items upon receipt of a nomination.
In accordance with the Rules, there are three districts in Alberta. These are set out in Rule 8:
A lawyer is eligible as a candidate in a district if the candidate both “resides in that district and the lawyer’s principal office of practice is located in that district”. (Subrule 9(2)). A lawyer who does not both reside and work in the district will be considered a general candidate for election and be included in the overall pool of candidates. All lawyers eligible for district candidacy will be identified upon confirmation of eligibility.
The 2020 Bencher Election nomination process will be conducted entirely online. Nominations open August 13, 2020.
All candidates must comply with Rule 10 of the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta when submitting their nomination.
Each candidate must provide the following information via the online webform:
In addition to the above, the nomination may include a photograph of the candidate and biographical information respecting the candidate, not exceeding 500 words in length.
Additionally, each candidate will be required to collect the certifications of five active lawyers in Alberta to serve as their nominators. The certification process is completed via the Lawyer Portal; further instructions will be provided online closer to the nomination period opening.
An assessment will be made to ensure that the nomination information:
In conducting this assessment, the guidelines below will apply. These guidelines are intended to assist the Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director in the exercise of discretion to determine compliance with Rules 10(2) and (2.1). The decision of the Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director is final.
A statement shall not:
A candidate whose biographical statement or photograph is found to be impermissible may submit a new biographical statement or photograph for assessment.
The Law Society is not responsible for any candidate’s failure to meet the publication deadline for any reason and once candidate information is formatted for online publication, no additions, deletions or amendments may be made.
Throughout their three-year term, members of the Bencher table may vacate their position. In those circumstances, the Benchers will review the current composition of the Bencher table against a skills matrix. Once that work is done, they have two options available to them to fill the vacancy. They can either appoint the individual who is next in line in the election results, or they can appoint a member of the Law Society who did not run in the election. In either case, the goal is to appoint the individual whose skills are needed at the Bencher table at that particular point in time.
This process to appoint a Law Society member into the available position is defined in the Law Society’s Rules. The purpose of these Rules is to give the Benchers the ability to assess the required skills in accordance with governance best practices.