September 22, 2020
Trust Account Fraud Update
Law firms have been a rising target for fraudsters over recent years, with reports of fraud and claim amounts increasing year-over-year. Lawyers should be aware of common types of fraudulent activity and pay close attention to their records, communication platforms and system security. Although fraud cannot be fully prevented, certain steps can be taken to minimize risk and loss.

The charts below represent a summary of fraudulent activity reported to the Law Society’s Trust Safety department this year, with a total loss of $94,000.
Although cheque fraud remains the most common type, fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often executing well-planned and executed ransom and cybersecurity attacks.

Fraudulent cheques are typically categorized by forged signatures that look undistinguishable from those of the lawyers within the firm.

Ransom/cybersecurity attacks involve hacking into the firm’s accounting systems and demanding a ransom to recover their data. Even if the firm pays the ransom or is able to get their data back, the information may still pose a risk if it is corrupted.

In instances of e-transfer/wire fraud, the fraudsters masquerade as a law firm employees or clients to obtain funds.

Measures to minimize risk – Your ounce of prevention

Frequent monitoring of your trust and general accounts is recommended to ensure no unsolicited transactions have occurred, or if they have, they are caught and remedied quickly. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure your computer systems are secure, updated and backed up regularly.
Be wary of emails and phone calls from unknown individuals and entities and always verify the email address you receive correspondence from.

Finally, consider whether you have or should get insurance that would indemnify you for a fraud loss.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, contact the Law Society’s Trust Safety department via email or at 403.228.5632. 
2020 Bencher Election – Deadline for Voting Eligibility September 30
The 2020 Bencher Election will be held November 2 to 16, 2020. Only members of the Law Society having active status as of September 30, 2020 are eligible to vote.

Please ensure that your review your contact information and status in the Lawyer Portal before September 30 to ensure we have an accurate email address, as your voter information package including your login information will be sent via email.

Candidate information will be available on October 13. For more information on the Bencher Election, visit the website.
Apply to Serve on a 2021 Committee
Committee volunteer work is offered to lawyers who are interested in contributing to the work of the Law Society. Diversity of perspectives plays an important role in helping us achieve our mission of serving the public interest by promoting a high standard of legal services and professional conduct.

Committee appointments will be approved at the February 2021 Bencher meeting and committee members are appointed for a three-year term. If you are interested in volunteering on the following committees, please fill out this online application form

Please note: lawyers currently serving on committees will be contacted directly by email.

Committee meetings will be conducted virtually unless otherwise indicated. For those exceptional meetings which occur in person, parking and mileage costs will be reimbursed in accordance with Law Society policy.

Anticipated Committee Vacancies

  • Audit and Finance (2 vacancies): The Audit and Finance Committee has approximately seven, two-hour meetings per year. 
  • Conduct (8 vacancies): The Conduct Committee meets in panels of three once a month (always a Tuesday). Most meetings last no more than an hour and the panel composition is based on the committee member’s availability.
  • Indigenous Advisory (5 vacancies): The Indigenous Advisory Committee meets for 2 hours, approximately seven times per year. Five members of this committee are Alberta lawyers in good standing, at least four of whom must be Indigenous.
  • Practice Review (2 vacancies): The Practice Review Committee meets in panels of four on Wednesdays at 7:45 a.m. There are approximately 16 panel meetings each year, most lasting no more than an hour and the panel composition is based on the committee member’s availability. On average, committee members participate in four panel meetings each year.
All committee meeting materials are provided electronically. You are encouraged to review the committee descriptions.
The deadline for applications is October 31, 2020.
New Chair of Legal Aid Alberta
The Board of Directors of Legal Aid Alberta has appointed Ryan Callioux as the new chair of the board at its Annual General Meeting on September 15, 2020. Callioux replaces Deanna Steblyk, QC who served as board chair from September 2017 to August 2020.

Called to the Alberta Bar in 2002, Callioux is an Edmonton-area lawyer who has dedicated his professional legal career to helping families and children. Practicing family law for the past 18 years, he is an experienced litigator on child welfare cases and has advised government on risk management initiatives to reduce domestic violence and enhance legal services to protect children. Callioux has been a member of the LAA Board since 2016.