Changing categories

Changing a Category from Practising

Members in good standing may apply to hold a non-practising status (non-practising, retired, or life membership) by submitting the appropriate application form here.

Non-practicing members agree not to engage in the practice of law as defined in section 16 (1) of the Legal Profession Act.  When changing to a non-practicing status, suitable arrangements must be made for:

  • all applicable client matters;
  • trust account obligations; and
  • outstanding claims or complaints.

Members may also apply to resign their membership from the Society by submitting the application form here. This means that should you wish to return to practice law, you would need to be re-admitted to the Bar of Nova Scotia. Readmission can often be a lengthy process with additional associated costs. Applications to resign must be approved by Council.

There is no cost to submit these applications.

Changing a Category to Practising

Non-practising members may apply to be reinstated to the Practising Lawyer membership category by submitting the application form here. The application must be complete, with all supporting materials received and the application fee paid, to be considered.

Once the complete application is received, it is processed and a ruling is issued by the Education & Credentials staff unless there are character or fitness issues. Applications with character or fitness issues are referred to the Credentials Committee. Applicants should submit the application, supporting materials and the fee well in advance of their effective category change date. This provides an opportunity to address any issues with an application in advance of the reinstatement date.

We strive to process complete applications with no public interest issues within two weeks. However, it may take up to six weeks to complete the process. Timelines may be extended during periods of high application volume, particularly from April 1 to July 15. See our Policy on Timelines.

The Society’s Executive Director may permit a non-practising member to resume practice if it is in the public interest. The Society ensures that anyone who has a licence to practise law is competent.

To determine competence, the Executive Director considers:

  1. the Applicant’s overall practice experience prior to changing to non-practising;
  2. the length of time the Applicant has held a non-practising membership;
  3. what the Applicant has been doing during the non-practising period;
  4. whether the Applicant has been engaged in activities that would be equivalent to the practice of law; (See Section 16 of the Legal Profession Act)
  5. whether the Applicant has kept their legal knowledge current; and
  6. what the Applicant intends to do when they return to a practising category.

The Society reviews applicants who have been non-practicing for more than three years and considers the competence factors above to determine whether any conditions need to be met. This may include passing the Bar Examination prior to being returned to practising status.   For further information see Policy Relating to Change of Membership Category to Practising Lawyer.

Applicants who have been non-practicing for less than three years or who have current practice experience in another Canadian jurisdiction will be reinstated to a Practising Lawyer once the Society receives payment of the appropriate pro-rated membership fees (given that there are no public interest issues raised by the application).

For more information:

If you have any questions regarding reinstatement to a Practising Lawyer, please contact the Society’s Education & Credentials department at (902) 422 1491 orbaradmissions@nsbs.org.