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Mobility and Inter-jurisdictional Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are intended to provide you with an overview to the provisions respecting mobility. The questions and answers are intended as a guide only. Lawyers seeking to exercise temporary or permanent mobility in Ontario should read the applicable by-laws. In the event of discrepancy between these FAQs and the by-laws, the by-laws apply.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is inter-provincial mobility?

    Inter-provincial mobility is the term used to describe the manner in which

    • a lawyer called to the bar in one Canadian province or territory can provide legal services temporarily in or with respect to the law of another province or territory; and

    • a lawyer called to the bar in one province or territory may be called to the bar of another province or territory.

     

    In Ontario, the by-laws addressing temporary mobility are based upon Agreements negotiated among members of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to which the Law Society of Ontario is a signatory. These agreements are
    • the Inter-Jurisdictional Practice Protocol (signed 1994; By-Law approved in Ontario in June 2001);

    • the National Mobility Agreement (signed December 2002; By-Law approved in Ontario in March 2003);

    • the Territorial Mobility Agreement (signed November 2006; By-law amendments approved in Ontario in November 2006); and

    • the National Mobility Agreement 2013 (signed in 2013 and will come into effect only once implemented by each law society; By-Law amendments approved in Ontario in April 2021).


    In Ontario, the requirements respecting permanent mobility are based upon "transfer" rules that have been approved over the years and the provisions in the National Mobility Agreement, National Mobility Agreement 2013, and Territorial Mobility Agreement referred to above.

    NOTE: 
    Lawyers from provinces or territories outside of Ontario who are interested in temporary or permanent mobility in Ontario must familiarize themselves with the applicable by-laws.

    Lawyers from Ontario who seek to exercise mobility elsewhere in the country must consult the law society in the jurisdiction in which they wish to exercise temporary or permanent mobility. The requirements to which they will be subject will depend upon whether the jurisdiction in question is a signatory to the National Mobility Agreement and/or Territorial Mobility Agreement and has implemented rules under those Agreements (see below). Please note that in some jurisdictions there is no temporary mobility without a permit. For example, in order to be entitled to practise law in Nunavut, a lawyer must either become a member of the Law Society of Nunavut or must apply for a Restricted Appearance Certificate, which allows a lawyer to actively practise law in Nunavut on up to three legal matters for one year. In order to avoid the unauthorized practice of law in another jurisdiction, lawyers from Ontario must ensure they are familiar with the requirements in the jurisdiction in which they wish to practise law.

  • 2. What by-laws govern mobility in Ontario?

    The main mobility provisions are contained in Section 9 and Part VII of By-Law 4.

    By-Law 6 (Professional Liability Insurance) also has mobility related provisions.

  • 3. How do I know which by-laws or part of by-laws apply to me?

    The mobility rules will apply only to lawyers who are "entitled to practise law" in a jurisdiction that has signed and.or implemented the National Mobility Agreement or the Territorial Mobility Agreement. The jurisdictions are as follows:

    British Columbia
    Alberta
    Saskatchewan
    Manitoba
    Ontario
    Nova Scotia
    New Brunswick
    Newfoundland and Labrador
    Prince Edward Island
    Quebec (other than lawyers who qualified for membership in the Barreau du Québec under the Entente entre le Québec et la France en matière de reconnaissance mutuelle des qualifications professionnelles)

    The Territories - Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut implemented the Territorial Mobility Agreement relating to permanent mobility only.

    While Quebec has not yet implemented the National Mobility Agreement 2013, in April 2021, the Law Society of Ontario approved changes based on that agreement permitting certain Quebec lawyers to practise law and become licensed in Ontario subject to the same terms and conditions as lawyers from other Canadian provinces.

    The National Mobility Agreement is a reciprocal agreement. In other words, both a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is a member authorized/entitled to practise law and the jurisdiction in which the lawyer wishes to exercise temporary or permanent mobility must have signed the Agreement and/or implemented it. Otherwise, the lawyer will be subject to the same mobility requirements as those from non-signatory, non-reciprocating jurisdictions.

  • 4. How can I practise law in Ontario on an occasional basis?

    By-Law 4 provides for the "occasional practice of law" in Ontario. This by-law sets out the provisions for temporary mobility with or without a permit.

    Part VII of By-Law 4: Occasional Practice 100 days: ss. 40-45 applies to you if you are authorized to practise law in a territory or province of Canada outside Ontario and the governing body in which you are authorized to practise law has signed and/or implemented the National Mobility Agreement.

    In such instances, and provided you meet the professional liability insurance and defalcation coverage requirements set out in the by-law, you may without permission of the Law Society of Ontario practice law on an occasional basis if you:

    (a) are authorized to practise law in a province or territory of Canada outside of Ontario;

    (b) are not the subject of a criminal proceeding in any jurisdiction;

    (c) are not the subject of a conduct, capacity or competence proceeding in any jurisdiction;

    (d) are not the subject, and have no record, of any order made against you by a tribunal of the governing body of the legal profession in any jurisdiction of which you are or were a member that revoked your membership, disbarred you or permitted you to resign;

    (e) are not the subject of, and have no record, of any order made against you by a tribunal of the governing body of the legal profession in each province and territory of Canada of which you are a member suspending or limiting your rights and privileges, other than for failure to pay fees or levies to the governing body, for insolvency or bankruptcy or any administrative matter;

    (f) do not currently have terms, conditions, limitations or restrictions on your authorization to practise law in each jurisdiction in which you are authorized to practise law; and

    (g) do not establish an economic nexus with Ontario. (see below)

    If you are ineligible for mobility without prior permission you must apply for a permit to practise law on an occasional basis in Ontario in accordance with the by-law. If permission is granted, the Society may impose such terms and conditions as it considers appropriate. Currently, there is no fee for such an application.

    Lawyers from the Territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut), Quebec lawyers who qualified for membership in the Barreau du Québec under the Entente entre le Québec et la France en matière de reconnaissance mutuelle des qualifications professionnelles, and Quebec notaries may only practise law in Ontario with a permit pursuant to ss. 46.1-52 of Part VII of By-Law 4: Occasional Practice of Law.

  • 5. What does "authorized to practise law" mean?

    Some provinces and territories use the term "entitled to practise law". Ontario uses "authorized to practise law".

    In both cases it means that to be eligible to practise law on an occasional basis in Ontario or to transfer permanently to Ontario (see below) under the National Mobility Agreement, you must first meet the requirements imposed by your own law society for its members to be entitled or authorized to practise law.

    If you wish to take advantage of section 9(1.1) and/or (2) of By-Law 4, you must be or become authorized (entitled) to practise law in your home jurisdiction.

  • 6. If I am eligible for mobility under ss. 40-45 of By-Law 4 is there any limitation on this eligibility?

    You may practise law on an occasional basis for not more than 100 days in a calendar year.

    "Day" is defined to include any part of day spent working on an Ontario related file. The onus is on you to keep a record of the days on which you practise law on an occasional basis in or with respect to the law of Ontario. The Society may require you to provide proof of compliance with the by-law, including proof of the number of days on which you have practised law on an occasional basis in accordance with By-Law 4. This includes any time spent on Ontario files, whether or not you are physically in Ontario.

  • 7. Is it possible to extend the 100 days?
    Yes, with the permission of the Law Society. You must apply for an extension to the Law Society using the permit application, before the end of the 100 days.
  • 8. What constitutes the practice of law under By-law 4?

    You will be considered to be practising law in Ontario if you:
    (a) perform professional services for others as a barrister or solicitor with respect to, or relying on the laws of Ontario or the laws of Canada applicable to Ontario, or

    (b) give legal advice with respect to the laws of Ontario or the laws of Canada applicable to Ontario.

    This means that you could be practising law in Ontario whether or not you are physically in Ontario. For example, if you give legal advice with respect to the laws of Ontario on the telephone, by e-mail or through correspondence from a province outside of Ontario you are considered to be practising law in Ontario. You must therefore keep a record of all of these activities as any time spent counts towards the 100 day allotment under the NMA or 20 days otherwise allowed.

    It also means that you are practising law in Ontario if you do so with respect to the laws of Canada applicable to Ontario.

    Lawyers who practise law on an occasional basis for a single employer (corporate counsel) are also practising law for the purposes of By-Law 4.

    You will not be considered to be practising law in Ontario for the purposes of the by-law if you perform professional services or give advice solely on the law of another province.

    In addition you will not be required to include in your calculation of the 100 days any time spent practising law as a counsel in a proceeding in

    (a) the Supreme Court of Canada,

    (b) the Federal Court of Canada,

    (c) the Tax Court of Canada,

    (d) a tribunal established under an Act of Parliament,

    (e) a service tribunal within the meaning of the National Defence Act (Canada),or

    (f) the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada,

    including time spent preparing for such proceeding or otherwise furthering the matter.

    Check the definition carefully to determine whether your activities come within its scope. If you come within the definition you are subject to the by-law.

  • 9. What does it mean to establish an economic nexus with Ontario?

    An economic nexus with Ontario is established if, while practising law on an occasional basis in Ontario, you do something that is inconsistent with practising law only on an occasional basis. If this kind of connection is established, you must cease practising law immediately, but may apply to transfer to Ontario.

    You would establish an economic nexus with Ontario if you:

    • practise law in Ontario for more than the maximum number of days permitted under Part VII of the by-law,
    • open an office in Ontario from which to practise law,
    • open or operate a trust account at a financial institution located in Ontario,
    • receive money in trust for client, other than as set out below,
    • hold yourself out as willing to accept new clients in Ontario,
    • become resident in Ontario, or
    • act in any manner inconsistent with practising law in Ontario only on an occasional basis.
  • 10. What happens if I establish an economic nexus with Ontario?
    If you establish an economic nexus with Ontario, you are no longer eligible to practise law on an occasional basis in Ontario and must cease doing so immediately. You must apply to become a licensee of the Law Society of Ontario if you wish to continue practising law in Ontario. If you have applied to become an Ontario Licensee and wish to work here before you are licensed, you must apply for a permit to do so. (see below)
  • 11. I am a partner (employee, associate) in a law firm with offices throughout the country. Do I establish an economic nexus with Ontario by practising law from our Ontario office?
    The by-law provides that you do not establish an economic nexus by reason only that you practise law from an office that is affiliated with a law office in a province or territory of Canada in which you are authorized to practise law.
  • 12. While I am practising law in Ontario on an occasional basis can I receive money in trust for a client?
    If you are permitted to practise law in Ontario on an occasional basis under the by-law you may receive money in trust for a client provided that you pay the money into a trust account at a financial institution located in the province or territory in which you are authorized to practise law (e.g. your home jurisdiction) or you pay the money into a trust account that is kept in the name of and operated by a member of the Law Society of Ontario in accordance with By-Law 9 and the money is handled only by that member in accordance with the by-law.
  • 13. Are there restrictions on advertising when I am practising law on an occasional basis?
    Yes. You must not hold yourself out to be qualified or willing to practise law in Ontario except in accordance with By-Law 4 on an occasional basis. All communications including letterhead, business cards or marketing efforts, must conform to this restriction. You can comply with this by clearly identifying the jurisdictions in which you are authorized to practise law.
  • 14. How will other law societies know I have the right to practise law on an occasional basis in their jurisdiction without a permit?

    A National Database exists that allows most Canadian law societies to determine whether a lawyer is eligible to practise law in a jurisdiction on an occasional basis without a permit. A law society wishing to determine whether a lawyer is eligible for mobility without a permit can access the National Database. The National Database is available to law societies but is not available to the public.

    In Ontario some court and correctional facilities require lawyers to provide proof that they are members of the Law Society of Ontario. It is possible that they will not accept proof that you are a member of another law society. If you are concerned about being unable to access one of these facilities you may wish to contact the Law Society of Ontario to obtain a letter confirming that you are authorized to practise law in Ontario on an occasional basis. There is no guarantee, however, that the facilities in question will accept this authorization, since they are subject to their own rules that may not yet have contemplated mobility provisions.

  • 15. While I am practising law in Ontario on an occasional basis am I subject to the Law Society Act ?
    The Law Society Act, the regulations, by-laws, rules of practice and procedure and the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to you with necessary modifications.
  • 16. While I am practising law in Ontario on an occasional basis can I commission affidavits?

    No. The Commissioner for Taking Affidavits Act provides that barristers and solicitors entitled to practise law in Ontario are commissioners for taking affidavits by virtue of their office. A lawyer practising law on an occasional basis does not meet the necessary definition.

    The Notaries Act sets out the basis upon which a person may become a notary in the province of Ontario. The Appointment is done by the Attorney General of Ontario who may appoint such persons as the Attorney General considers fit. The person must apply and meet the criteria set out in the Act.

  • 17. While I am practising law in Ontario on an occasional basis may I give an undertaking to an Ontario lawyer?
    Yes. You are subject to the Law Society of Ontario's Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to the giving and fulfilling of undertakings.
  • 18. If I am in-house counsel in another province do I require professional liability insurance to practise law in Ontario on an occasional basis?
    No. Provided you are otherwise eligible to practise law on an occasional basis in Ontario and you continue to function only as in-house counsel while in Ontario you do not require professional liability insurance. For complete information on insurance requirements you should read By-law 6.
  • 19. If I practise as part of an LLP or Professional Corporation in another jurisdiction, does that status automatically apply in the jurisdiction in which I exercise temporary mobility?
    The National Mobility Agreement and the rules or by-laws of each signatory jurisdiction set out the rules for mobility for individual lawyers. Lawyers must determine whether the jurisdiction in which they wish to exercise temporary mobility has provisions for LLPs and Professional Corporations and, if so, what those provisions require.
  • 20. If an allegation of misconduct or incompetence or incapacity is made against me with respect to my practice of law in Ontario on an occasional basis what law society governs the matter?
    The law society of the jurisdiction in which you are authorized to practise law will usually take carriage of the matter, in consultation with and with the cooperation of the Law Society of Ontario. The Law Society of Ontario may take carriage if the governing body of the jurisdiction in which you are authorized to practise law agrees. The primary considerations in making such a decision will be public interest, convenience and cost.
  • 21. How can I become permanently licensed to practise law in Ontario?

    By-Law 4 governs permanent mobility or transfer to the bar of Ontario and allows lawyers licensed in other Canadian jurisdictions to become licensed to practise law in Ontario. If you are authorized/entitled to practise law in a province or territory of Canada outside of Ontario and the law society in a province or territory in which you are authorized/entitled to practise law has signed and/or implemented the National Mobility Agreement or the Territorial Mobility Agreement, ss. 9(1.1) and/or (2) of By-Law 4 may apply to you.

    Subsection 9(1.1) exempts Quebec lawyers who are licensed with the Barreau du Québec and authorized to practise law in Quebec from the requirement to have a common law degree or a certificate of qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation in order to become licensed in Ontario.

    Subsection 9(2) exempts lawyers who are authorized to practise law in a province or territory of Canada outside Ontario from writing the Ontario licensing exams in order to become licensed in Ontario.

    The mobility provisions outlined above do not apply to apply to Quebec lawyers who qualified for membership in the Barreau du Québec under the Entente entre le Québec et la France en matière de reconnaissance mutuelle des qualifications professionnelles. If ss. 9(1.1) and/or (2) do not apply to you, section 9 (1) of By-Law 4 applies to you and you must apply to become licensed in Ontario through the regular Licensing Process.

  • 22. What do I have to do to become permanently licensed to practise law in Ontario?

    You must first be authorized/entitled to practise law in accordance with the definition given to that term by the law society from which you are making the application to transfer. (See above) Your certificate of standing must state that you are entitled to practise.

    If you are not so authorized/entitled to practise law you must (a) take steps to become authorized or entitled, or (b) apply to transfer pursuant to section 9 (1) of By-Law 4 and enroll in the Licensing Process. (See above)

    Lawyers from Canadian common law provinces may be called to the bar and admitted and enrolled as a solicitor in Ontario under section 9 (2) if they meet the following:

    (a) be authorized to practise law in a province or territory of Canada outside Ontario;

    (b) have fulfilled the requirements of the Law Society Act for admission to membership in the Society;

    (c) be a graduate with a common law degree from a law school in Canada approved by Convocation or have a certificate of qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation; and

    (d) have certified that you have reviewed and understand the reading materials that the Law Society requires you to review.

    Lawyers from Quebec (other than lawyers who qualified for membership in the Barreau du Québec under the Entente entre le Québec et la France en matière de reconnaissance mutuelle des qualifications professionnelles) may be called to the bar and admitted and enrolled as a solicitor in Ontario under section 9(1.1) and (2) if they meet the following:

    (a) be a member of the Barreau du Québec and authorized to practise law in Quebec;

    (b) have fulfilled the requirements of the Law Society Act for admission to membership in the Society; and

    (c) have certified that you have reviewed and understand the reading materials that the Law Society requires you to review.

  • 23. How do I apply to become permanently licensed to practise law in Ontario?

    Information about how to become permanently licensed to practise law in Ontario, as well as the application form, is available on the Permanent Transfer Under the NMA or TMA page. (See above for information on how to qualify).

    Completed applications must be submitted to the Complaints & Compliance department and can be submitted by email to lsforms@lso.ca.

    Upon receipt of the completed application form and fees the Law Society will send you the reading materials and the prescribed form to certify once you complete the review of the materials. The Law Society will then process your application form.

    Transfer candidates may now be called to the bar without personal attendance. This procedure is known as the "deemed call".

  • 24. What is the transfer fee?
    The transfer fee pursuant to section 9(1.1) and/or (2) of By-Law 4 is $1450 plus HST.
  • 25. What is the nature of the reading materials?
    The reading materials are adapted from the Licensing Process materials and include readings on substantive law, professional responsibility and practice management. In addition you will be required to review specified by-laws made under the Law Society Act.
  • 26. If I become a member of the Law Society of Ontario and intend to reside and practise in Ontario but will remain a practising member of the law society in another jurisdiction am I required to have insurance in both?
    You may apply for exemption from the insurance requirements in the other jurisdiction provided that you are resident in Ontario and maintain full mandatory professional liability insurance coverage here that is reasonably comparable in coverage and limits to that required of lawyers there.
  • 27. If I apply for permanent transfer under the National Mobility Agreement, can I keep my licence with my current law society and be licensed in more than one Canadian jurisdiction?

    Yes, you may be licensed in more than one Canadian jurisdiction at the same time providing you meet the requirements for licensing in each jurisdiction.

Quebec Mobility Frequently Asked Questions

  • 28. I am a Quebec lawyer with only a civil law degree. Can I apply for permanent transfer under the National Mobility Agreement?

    Yes, you are eligible to apply of permanent transfer and become licensed in Ontario with only a civil law degree. Quebec lawyers who qualify under the mobility rules are no longer required to obtain a common law degree or Certificate of Qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation.

    On April 22, 2021, the Law Society of Ontario approved amendments to By-Law 4 to permit Quebec lawyers to become licensed in Ontario subject to the same conditions as lawyers from other Provinces. This means that Quebec lawyers (other than lawyers who qualified for membership in the Barreau du Québec under the Entente entre le Québec et la France en matière de reconnaissance mutuelle des qualifications professionnelles) can apply for licensing under the National Mobility Agreement. 

  • 29. What are the requirements and steps for Quebec lawyers to be called to the Ontario bar?

    Quebec lawyers who wish to become licensed in Ontario can now apply for permanent transfer under the National Mobility Agreement. (See above) The permanent transfer application process consists of the following:

    • submitting a completed application form and supporting documents, including an application fee of $1450 + HST; 
    • reviewing reading materials on substantive common law topics (approximately 1500 pages) and submitting a reading declaration confirming that you have reviewed and understood the reading materials and applicable LSO rules and requirements; and
    • becoming licensed through an administrative call to the Ontario bar.


    After you become licensed in Ontario, membership fees and LAWPRO insurance will apply. Fees will be prorated if you become licensed after January 1st of the calendar year. For general questions about membership status options and/or fee categories, you can contact Membership Services at records@lso.ca.

    Information about the permanent transfer process is available on the Permanent Transfer Under the NMA or TMA page.

  • 30. I am a Quebec lawyer currently registered for the barrister and solicitor exams. Do I still have to write them?

    Quebec lawyers are now eligible to become licensed in Ontario without writing the barrister and solicitor exams. If you have already registered for the exams, you have the option of withdrawing from the exams and applying for permanent transfer to be licensed in Ontario under the National Mobility Agreement.
     
    If you wish to withdraw from the licensing exams, you must contact the Licensing department directly and ask to withdraw. 

    If you wish to apply for permanent transfer under the National Mobility Agreement, you must complete and submit the required application and supporting documents to the Complaints & Compliance department. Information about the permanent transfer process is available on the Permanent Transfer Under the NMA or TMA page.

  • 31. Does the permanent transfer application fee include fees for professional liability insurance in Ontario for Quebec lawyers?

    After you become licensed in Ontario, LAWPRO insurance will apply. You may be eligible for an insurance exemption based on your individual circumstances. You will need to contact LAWPRO to determine what insurance and/or insurance exemptions you may be eligible for.

    For more information about LAWPRO including their contact information, please visit their website at www.lawpro.ca.

Terms or Concepts Explained