Changing categories

Procedure for Change of Category (from Practising)

A member in good standing may apply to hold non-practising certificate by submitting the appropriate Application for Change of Category - from Practising. This application includes an undertaking from the member to the Society not to practise law in the province of Nova Scotia, as defined by the Legal Profession Act. Suitable provisions must be made for all applicable client matters, Trust Account obligations, and outstanding claims or complaints. There is no cost associated with the submission of the application.

The obligations of a practising lawyer are defined per section 16 (1) of the Legal Profession Act. Any member who is engaged in the practice of law as defined in section 16 (1) of the Legal Profession Act must hold a practising certificate.

Procedure for Change of Category (to Practising)

A Non-practising Member may apply to be reinstated to the Practising Lawyer category of membership by submitting an Application to Change Membership Category – to Practising Lawyer. In order to be considered, an application must be complete (all supporting materials received and application fee paid).

Applications will be processed and a ruling issued by Education & Credentials staff unless there are character or fitness issues. Applications with character or fitness issues must be referred to the Credentials Committee. Applicants should submit the Application, supporting materials and application fee well in advance of the effective change category date. This will provide 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 can 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 Policy on Timelines.

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

In determining the issue of competence, the Executive Director considers the following factors:

  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 category;
  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; (Note: Section 16 of the Legal Profession Act defines the practice of law. Anyone who engages in the practice of law must be licensed to do so. It is incumbent upon the member to determine if their work qualifies as the practice of law and if so, they must seek to be licensed and insured appropriately).
  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.

If the applicant has been non-practising for less than three years or has current practice experience in another Canadian jurisdiction, and if there are no public interest issues raised by the application, the applicant will be reinstated to a Practising Lawyer upon payment of the appropriate pro-rated membership fees. Generally, if an applicant has been non-practising for more than three years, the Society’s policy has been to require them to pass the Bar Examination. Whether other conditions are imposed on these applicants will depend on the above factors.

For more information
If you have any questions regarding reinstatement to a Practising Lawyer, please call or write:

Education & Credentials
Cogswell Tower, 800–2000 Barrington Street
Halifax, NS  B3J 3K1
T: (902) 422 1491 |  F: (902) 429 4869