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LSUC opening doors to Quebec practitioners

|Written By Matt Powell

Quebec lawyers will have an easier time practising in Ontario under a new agreement aiming to increase labour mobility.

Law Society of Upper Canada spokeswoman Jane Withey says the LSUC has developed a special licence that lawyers in Quebec will need in order to practise here. Called an L3 licence, the move follows years of developments on labour mobility for Canadian lawyers.

In fact, it’s been eight years since the national mobility agreement opened the doors to greater movement of practitioners throughout the country. It outlined both permanent and temporary arrangements between provinces that loosened restrictions on lawyers from crossing provincial borders to work.

Since then, all 10 provinces have signed the national agreement. But while lawyers from across the country have been able to practise in Quebec under certain limitations, Quebec lawyers who practise civil law had yet to gain the same access to working in Ontario.

At Convocation last month, however, the law society’s interjurisdictional mobility committee presented the latest agreement that will allow them to receive special accreditation to practise in Ontario.

“Lawyers wanting to get an L3 will have to be in good standing with the Barreau [du Québec] and will have to have paid their dues with both Quebec and Ontario,” Withey says.

According to the law society, L3-category lawyers will have the same professional responsibilities and be subject to the same bylaws as L1 practitioners. At the same time, they won’t have to get liability insurance from both provinces.

The mobility of lawyers in Canada falls under three frameworks: the national agreement, the territorial mobility agreement, and the Quebec mobility agreement. The latest change allows Quebec lawyers to practise here under similar restrictions to those Ontario lawyers working in Quebec face.

There, they can practise as Canadian legal advisers, a designation allowing them to provide legal advice on matters dealing with public international law and the laws of their own province as well as matters under federal jurisdiction.

Other common law provinces are now reciprocating as well. Still, Prince Edward Island and Alberta haven’t yet signed the reciprocal agreement despite a planned Canada-wide signing ceremony at Osgoode Hall on March 19, says Bob Linney, director of communications at the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

“The designation outlined in the recent agreement makes it clearer as to what can be done in other provinces,” says Linney.

Linney notes the agreement will be especially useful in places like Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., where lawyers will now be able to practise more freely regardless of which side of the Ottawa River they live on.

“The issue has always been about dealing with lawyers in other jurisdictions,” says Roy Thomas, director of communications at the LSUC. “This new agreement is helping us achieve that goal of bringing legal jurisdictions together.”

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