Law Foundations in Canada

History of The Manitoba Law Foundation

The Manitoba Law Foundation was created on October 23, 1986 by the Manitoba Legislature through an amendment to The Law Society Act, now called The Legal Profession Act. Under the statute, the objects of the Foundation are to encourage and promote legal education, legal research, legal aid services, law reform, and the development and maintenance of law libraries.

The Foundation is a statutory corporation. It is independent and is not an agency of the government. For tax purposes it is a “non-taxable corporation”, but it is not a registered charity.

Law foundations first came into existence in 1968 when the first law foundation was established in New South Wales, Australia. Lawyers visiting New South Wales from British Columbia at that time learned about how the interest on lawyers’ trust accounts was being used for the public good, and upon their return to Canada, recommended the model to the B.C. government. The Law Foundation of British Columbia was the first established in Canada, in April 1969. From 1971 through 1986, similar law foundations were formed across Canada and now exist in every province and territory. There are also similar foundations across the United States, where they are called “IOLTA” (for “interest on lawyers’ trust accounts”) programs. The American programs were modeled on the Canadian law foundations.

Canadian law foundations belong to a national body, the Association of Canadian Law Foundations (the “ACLF”) that meets annually and allows law foundations to share information. Most, if not all, Canadian Law Foundations also belong to the National Association of IOLTA Programs (“NAIP”) and are linked through NAIP to the American Bar Association Commission on IOLTA.