The Law Society of Upper Canada generated a surplus of $1.8 million in its unrestricted fund in 2004.
The surplus was achieved largely as a result of revenues, particularlyfrom professional development and competence revenue, cost recoveriesby the enforcement unit, litigation cost recoveries, Ontario Reportroyalties, and fees for mobility applications. According to the financeand audit committee's report to Convocation last month, net expensesfor the year varied from budget by less than $50,000.
Membership fees in 2004 generated $35.1 million, a $1.2 million increase from 2003, largely as a result of membership increasing by 700 to 35,300.
Professional development and competence revenues increased to $12.2 million from $11.3 million, while PD&C expenses increased by $2.5 million to $17.5 million. These increases are attributable to:
- development and implementation of the new licensing program;
- expenses for the education administration system redesign;
- increased number of bar admission course students and
- increased uptake in CLE events, particularly at remote sites.
Professional regulation expenses increased to $10 million from $9 million in 2003, due in part to business process changes, selection of a vendor to build a new case management system, and full implementation of the intake and enforcement units.
Mortgage fraud investigations factored into this increased expense, particularly in retaining outside counsel and added staff. Costs attributable to these investigations totalled $1 million in 2004, with an additional $1 million allotted in 2005.
Unclaimed trust funds totalled more than $1 million in 2004, from $729,000 in 2003. Subject to certain provisions in the Law Society Act which enable the LSUC to recover its expenses associated with recovering these funds, all net income from unclaimed trusts are paid to the Law Foundation of Ontario.
Cash and short-term investments have decreased by $4 million to $22.2 million, and as approved by Convocation in 2004, $10 million was transferred to a new long-term portfolio.
The increase of capital assets to $18.1 million from $16.9 million is due to the start of the renovation project for Osgoode Hall which started in September 2004.
Transfers to LibraryCo for county libraoes totalled $5.9 million, in line with last year's amount, while the repayable allowance program provided $285,000 to 85 students.
The special projects fund expenses in 2004 were for the sole practitioner and small firm task force ($201,000), and most of the revenues were to fund the referendum on bencher remuneration in 2005.
Bencher Alan Silverstein was the only person at Convocation who questioned the surplus. "Under 'liabilities and surplus,' an increase in the premium stabilization fund of $5 million, and yet premiums for members went up by $175 in 2005. If you had $5 million additional dollars in 2004, why were the members asked for another $175?"
The answer from Michelle Strom, the president and CEO of LawPro, was "forecasting results is not a perfect science."
The increased cash was a "reflection of the strength of the economy in 2004 and the fact that real estate transactions did not drop the way they were forecasted to in 2004."