Membership Application

Click here to download 2017 Membership Form

January 30th, 2017

Dear Member:

Thank you for supporting the Renfrew County Law Association in 2016.

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to renew your membership for the 2017 year. The membership fee has not changed and remains $175.00 for regular and associate members and $100 for junior members (nb.  NEW ***those who have been practicing less than FOUR years).  Please note too that, as in previous years, lawyers making renewal payments by the end of February (February 28, 2017) will receive a $50.00 voucher towards a 2017 RCLA CPD video replay session.

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform RCLA members about the benefits of membership and what the current executive is aspiring to accomplish.

Many of the benefits of membership are well known.   These benefits include access to the lawyers’ lounge and to all of the services provided there (including coffee and drink service, charging station and wireless service).  You are entitled to a preferred rate for CPD programs.

The Association attempts to support our legal community by organizing many social events throughout the course of the year.  As a member, you are invited to take part in the annual social events which our Association organizes and subsidizes.

Your membership supports the administration of our area library.  The Association oversees a  budget of approximately $160,000.00 annually.  We employ and provide direction to one full time and one part time assistant librarian for this purpose.  Our executive and library committee commits many, many volunteer hours to ensuring that our area library is able to provide to its members access to all relevant up to date paper, electronic and online resources necessary to support our practices.   Members are entitled to twenty-four hour/day access to these resources and borrowing privileges.

The Association additionally hosts approximately 40 CPD video replays each year to support our members’ need for continuing education programs at a reasonable price. The Association additionally provides photocopy and research services to its members free of charge.

Perhaps less well known are the other benefits of membership.  In particular, the RCLA, as the sole organization in Renfrew County made up of LAWYERS only, strives to advocate its members’ positions on significant issues.  We meet regularly to address the issues of the day. Sometimes those issues are locally based, and historically have involved such issues as court facilities and court services issues that have arisen from time to time.

More often, we have been facing issues that are critical to the survival of our practices- the same issues being faced by numerous other rural counties in Ontario, ie appropriate legal aid rates, preserving and advocating to protect against the infringement of our areas of practice by persons who are arguably less qualified to provide the requisite standard of service (be they financial institutions or paralegals) .  Many of our members may be unaware that our association has a vote in FOLA (Federation of Ontario Law Associations, formerly County District Law Presidents Association) which meets twice yearly and lobbies the Law Society, Legal Aid and other key parties on issues of importance to the Counties.  All 46 counties have one vote each, which means that our vote is significant.  As President, I participate in regular telephone meetings and other communications with CDLPA on behalf of the Association.

Members of the Executive travel to twice yearly FOLA meetings to discuss and  vote on the issues that are most pressing. Current issues concern the proliferation of paralegals and their potentially emerging areas of practice;  the role of libraries and the extent to which they should be funded and available, alternative business structures (which many believe have the potential to undercut several areas of practice including personal injury and real estate);  the financial challenges of small /rural practices;  and finally legal aid.

If these issues matter to you, then I encourage you to renew your membership and communicate in writing to me at any time on these or other issues facing our bar.  Our executive is striving to ensure its members’ voices are heard.

Finally, I can advise that once again scholarship application forms were sent to all law schools with the hope to support and encourage local candidates.  Last year’s successful applicant was James Bennett.  We are presently considering the many students who applied for the scholarship this year and I hope our sponsorship will encourage the individual, once chosen, to return to practice in the area and devote their skills to the people of Renfrew County.

Thank you again for your loyalty to and participation in the RCLA.  If you have any questions or require assistance, please feel free to contact me or any other member of the RCLA Executive.

Yours truly,

Mary Fraser