Bar fees by the numbers // News

Precedent takes a look at how your membership fees stack up

By Jennifer Marston

On Wednesday March 10th, 2010

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FeesSpring isn’t just about shedding layers of outerwear and marveling at the novelty of leaving the office before dark. It’s also the last chance for Ontario lawyers to pay their annual membership dues: fees were officially due on January 1, but the “drop-dead” payment date is May 1. With that deadline in mind, Precedent takes a look at some bar fees for common law jurisdictions in Canada and beyond. Ontario dues paid on time: $1,736. Avoiding the embarrassment of an administrative suspension: priceless.

$2,219
Annual fees for a practising lawyer in Nova Scotia, the highest in Canada. Sure, it’s expensive to be a lawyer in Halifax, but you are near the ocean. And lobster.

3rd
Ontario’s standing in the dues line-up. Only lawyers in Nova Scotia and Alberta ($2,045) pay more.

$1,075
The lowest annual membership fees for a practising lawyer in Canada. These bargain rates are for those working in P.E.I. Take that, Nova Scotia!

$868
Dues for a member of the Ontario bar not practising law but employed in any other capacity — including flipping burgers. Ontario is the only province to set different rates for employed and unemployed nonpractising members.

$265
Average non-practising fee in Canadian jurisdictions other than Ontario.

$434
Dues levied on an Ontario member who is unemployed or on parental leave. This is a full 61% higher than the average nonpractising fees in the other jurisdictions.

$100
The lowest non-practising dues in Canada, available only to members of the Manitoba bar.

48
Number of district and county law libraries the Law Society of Upper Canada maintains thanks, in part, to annual fees.

15%
Percentage of Ontario’s practising fees allocated to compensating victims of unscrupulous lawyers. The $257 is less than half the amount Alberta lawyers contribute ($570), but five times more than B.C. lawyers pay ($50).

$182
Annual cost of maintaining a licence to practise in New York State. But don’t run off to the Big Apple just yet: that fee doesn’t cover much. Practice resources, case digests and many other services included in Ontario dues are optional — at an additional cost, of course.

1/10th
Fraction of a 13-year-call’s dues ($1,074) that a first-year call in England and Wales pays ($106). In a system where fees are geared to experience, Queen’s Counsel pay the most: $1,623 a year.

*All Canadian fees are before taxes. International fees have been converted to Canadian dollars.