1. Requirements for All Firms
a) New Firms
Effective April 1, 2019, any new law firm that wishes to open and operate a trust bank account must first have a practising lawyer approved to be the trust account supervisor and that person must complete the education program. Successful completion of the education program requires passing an examination. Only after the approved person has passed the examination can the firm open a trust bank account.
b) Transition for Existing Firms
Firms that are operating a trust bank account on March 31, 2019 may continue to do so provided that a practising lawyer applies to be the trust account supervisor prior to April 1, 2019 and, if approved, that individual successfully completes the education program by October 1, 2019, by passing the examination.
c) Sole Practitioners
Sole practitioners are required to become trust account supervisors over their own trust accounts unless arrangements are made with the Law Society to have a designated trust account supervisor. As such, sole practitioners will be required to apply, be approved and successfully complete the education program and exam in the same way as trust account supervisors for firms with two or more lawyers.
d) Space Sharers
Under Law Society Rule 5-42(3), independent (sole) practitioners who share space and certain common expenses with other practitioners, must maintain separate trust bank accounts and cannot deposit trust monies into a trust bank account operated by any other of those practitioners.
If you are practising in such an arrangement, you will be required to become a trust account supervisor as described herein unless arrangements are made with the Law Society to have a designated trust account supervisor.
e) Designated Trust Account Supervisor
Whether you are practising in a firm, as a sole practitioner or you are in a space sharing arrangement, you have the option to designate a practising lawyer from outside of your firm to be your trust account supervisor. This individual will have to be approved and complete the education as in the ordinary course.
However, because this person is from outside of your firm, all clients of your firm will have to be advised at the outset of the retainer that such an arrangement has been made and that contractual steps will be taken to protect their confidentiality and privilege. In addition, the firm will have to conduct conflicts checks in each matter for the protection of the clients.