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In-house Corporate Counsel

Looking for definitions of terms?

By-Law 6 of the Law Society Act requires that all Ontario lawyers who practise in Ontario pay the insurance premium annually, to ensure they have malpractice coverage in place. However, certain categories of lawyers can apply to exempt themselves from paying this premium.

If you are employed by a single employer and provide professional services only for and on behalf of the employer and will not provide legal services to anyone other than the employer, you may be eligible for exemption. Learn more about exemption eligibility.

What coverage do I have?

You have a maximum of $250,000 per claim/in the aggregate Run-off coverage for claims brought against you.

What is the premium?

There is no premium for lawyers exempt under this category.

How do I apply?

File an Application for Exemption.

If you qualify for exemption but wish to increase your coverage limits

You can enhance your insurance coverage in several ways:

  • Increased Run-Off coverage protection: To increase your Run-Off coverage protection and/or purchase expanded coverage for certain services yet to be performed as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust, or attorney for property
  • Excess insurance: For additional protection above the $1 million per claim/$2 million aggregate coverage
  • Standard coverage: $1 million per claim/$2 million aggregate coverage

The standard insurance coverage includes defense cost coverage (to a sublimit of $250,000 per claim and in the aggregate) for claims brought against you by your corporate employer. This coverage applies only to services you provided after January 1, 1997. For details, see Endorsement No.11 of the LAWPRO Policy.

As in-house corporate counsel, you may be eligible for the 50 per cent premium discount available to lawyers who meet the part-time practice criteria.

To qualify for an exemption you can only provide professional services to your employer. You cannot be providing professional services in private practice. For example, you would not be able to advise one of your employer’s clients about a will or estate matter, undertake litigation for a family friend, or provide real estate-related services to anyone but your own employer.

If you also provide professional services to your employer’s customers or clients, or to organizations outside the “employer group”, you are deemed to be providing these services in private practice and are no longer exempt from paying the premium.

As well, if you provide professional services to any other individuals, including family, friends or associates (even on a pro bono basis) you are considered to be in private practice, and must pay the insurance premium.

If you do not qualify for the exemption, but your practice of law is less than 20 hours per week, you may qualify for the Part-Time Practice premium discount.

Exceptions to the “provide professional services only to your employer” rule:

Innocent Partner Coverage

As part of the $250,000 Run-Off Coverage you receive free of charge, you are provided with run-off protection against innocent partner claims.

This means that if claims are made against you once you leave private practice, for the dishonest, malicious, criminal or fraudulent acts of a former partner or associate, your Run-Off Coverage provides you with sublimit coverage of up to $250,000 per claim and in the aggregate for repair costs, claim expenses and indemnity payments. This is subject, however, to any erosion in this limit as a result of all other claims reported by you under the Run-Off Coverage.

1. Pro bono services provided through an approved pro bono professional services program associated with Pro Bono Ontario.

You will be provided with the standard Run-Off coverage of $250,000 per claim/in the aggregate for approved pro bono services, even though the services are provided while exempt under the program.

You will not be required to pay any deductible amount for any claims relating solely to such professional services.

If you provide pro bono work for not-for-profit organizations (not associated with Pro Bono Ontario), you may continue to qualify for exemption. Learn more about pro bono services.

2. Certain services as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust, or attorney for property

As you wind down your private law practice, it may be that you are named or act as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust or attorney for property, even though the rest of your practice is being wound down or turned over to one or more lawyers who remain in practice.

If so, you can expect to have certain obligations to the Law Society, even though you may not be required to pay the Law Society’s annual fee, including:

  • having to declare to the Law Society such trusteeships or powers of attorney upon retirement (or change to a non-practising status); and
  • having to file the appropriate exemption forms each year with LAWPRO to confirm that you continue to be exempt from the payment of insurance premium levies.

The criteria under which a retiring lawyer who continues to act as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust or attorney for property, can apply for exemption from payment of insurance premiums and levies are fully set out in the exemption eligibility of the Application for Exemption.

This exemption is available to you, regardless of whether you are acting on a single trusteeship or power of attorney, or a number of trusteeships or powers of attorney.

However, this exemption may not apply to every instance in which you act as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust, and/or attorney for property.

For example, your role must be residual work from your past practice in Ontario, which would not be the case where you have only been named in retirement.

As well, this exemption would not apply to any trusteeship or attorney for property, where you have been named or are acting in respect of a member of your own family. For this purpose, members of the lawyer’s own family means “related persons” as defined under section 251(2) of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

If these are the only types of occasions in which you have been named or act as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust, or attorney for property in relation to your retirement, you would not elect exemption on the basis of eligibility rule (h). Instead, you would simply look to apply for exemption on the basis that you are not engaged in the practise of law in Ontario.

3. Certain mentoring services provided pursuant to LAWPRO-approved risk management protocols

Increased Run-Off Protection


This optional coverage is available for lawyers who have only standard Run-Off coverage and would like to increase their coverage protection.

Run-Off coverage protection can be increased to $500,000 or $1,000,000 on a 2 to 5 year basis. Innocent Partner Buy-Up (sublimit coverage within Run-Off Buy-Up coverage) can also be increased to those limits.

Premium

Increased Run-Off coverage protection is underwritten on an individual basis, depending on several factors including the number of years you practised, areas of law in which you practised, and how long it has been since you were in private practice.

To apply complete the application form.

First time applicants should apply at least 60 days before the coverage is to be in place. This is particularly important for lawyers leaving private practice, as you want to ensure the desired coverage limits are in effect on the day you actually leave private practice.

Coverage for certain services as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust, or power of attorney

If you are exempt on the basis that you are named or act as estate trustee, trustee for inter vivos trust or attorney for property even though the rest of your practice is being wound down, you may wish to apply for and purchase protection for these services yet to be performed.

Although the standard $250,000 Run-Off coverage does not provide protection for these services, you may purchase expanded coverage for these services. This expanded protection may be included within the $250,000 Run-Off coverage limit, or increased Run-Off coverage limits outlined above. Through a deeming provision, services of this type that have yet to be performed may be included under the Run-Off coverage protection provided to you.

Coverage terms

Once your additional limit term has expired, you can apply for further term policy coverage. If you choose not to re-apply, your coverage limits will return to the $250,000 per claim/aggregate limit, subject to any claims already reported while on exemption. This includes claims reported while any increased Run-Off coverage protection was in force, since your increased Run-Off coverage protection provides increased limit protection only, and does not replace the standard Run-Off coverage.


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