Setting Up Private Practice in the NWT
Here are the steps you need to follow if you want to set up a practice in the NWT.
ARE YOU AN ACTIVE MEMBER?
If you are going to be practicing in the NWT, you need to be an active member of the Law Society of the NWT.
ARE YOU INSURED?
If you are going to be in private practice, you must be covered by the mandatory insurance provided by CLIA. The insurance year runs from July 1 to June 30.
You may also want to consider whether you want to apply for excess insurance. Excess insurance is voluntary.
HAVE YOU RECEIVED APPROVAL FROM THE LAW SOCIETY?
Effective January 1, 2020, all new firms, including sole practitioners, in the NWT will require the approval of the Law Society of a Responsible Lawyer. As well, all new firms, including sole practitioners, require the approval of the Law Society to maintain a trust account. (Rule 114). These approvals must be obtained prior to commencing your law practice.
Within four months of obtaining your approval of a Responsible Lawyer and of a trust account, all new firms, including sole practitioners must, along with your accountant, complete an Accountant’s Report.
All law firms, including sole practitioners will be required, by September 1 of each year, to provide the Law Society with a Law Firm Self Report, completed by you and your accountant, for a period ending no earlier than June 1 of the preceding year. The Self Report is required whehter or not you maintain a trust acount. If you have a trust account, the Self Report must be accompanied by an Accountant’s Report.
We encourage you to contact the Law Society to discuss these requirements, well in advance of the date you intend to commencing private practice.
DO YOU HAVE SUCCESSION AND DISASTER RECOVERY PLANS?
Every lawyer inprivate practice is required to have a Succession Plan and a Disaster Recovery Plan. Information on creating plans can be found here.
Here are other issues you should be aware of as you start your practice:
- Do you need a business license?
- Do you need to register with the WSCC?
- Have you registered with Revenue Canada?
- Do you need a drop box at the Yellowknife Courthouse?
The Law Society of Alberta has created a Start Up Kit for those considering opening their own office. While some of the information is specific to Alberta lawyers, it is a useful resource for those considering setting up their own office. You can access it here.