Recent rule and by-law amendments

Posted: 06/08/2017

NoticeConvocation made the following amendments to Law Society rules and by-laws:

May 2017

By-Law 11 amended
By-Law 11 [Regulation of Conduct, Capacity and Professional Competence] was amended respecting the exercise of investigative powers under the Law Society Act and applications by licensees regarding the payment of orders for costs.

April 2017

Lawyer and paralegal conduct rules amended re: referral fees
Convocation approved a cap for referral fees based on a percentage of the legal fee:  15% for the first $50,000 of legal fees and 5% of all legal fees thereafter, to an absolute cap of $25,000. Related measures to increase the transparency of referral fee arrangements were also approved. The lawyer and paralegal rules of conduct and By-Law 9 [Financial Transactions and Records] were amended to implement these policies.

Paralegal conduct rules amended re: conflicts of interest
Amendments to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct enhance guidance to paralegals on the obtaining of consent from a client, where there is a conflict of interest, by eliminating the distinction between express and implied consent. The corresponding guidelines were also amended.

February 2017

Advertising rules strengthened
The conduct rules governing the advertising of legal services were amended to:

  • Provide detailed guidance on what awards may be used for marketing purposes
  • Require licensees to identify in their advertising whether they are a lawyer or paralegal
  • Prohibit advertising of second-opinion services
  • Make explicit that lawyers and paralegals may not advertise for work they are not licensed to do, not competent to do or do not intend to do.

Rules of conduct amended re: threatening criminal proceedings
The lawyer and paralegal rules of conduct were amended to clarify the scope of the prohibition against threatening criminal proceedings. The prohibition was expanded in 2014 to include regulatory proceedings. The rule applies to threats without reasonable and lawful justification to initiate or proceed with a charge for an offence under the Criminal Code or other federal statute, a provincial or territorial statute, or a municipal by-law. The rule also applies to a threat to make a complaint to a regulatory authority.

By-Law 7.1 amended re: experiential learning and licensee supervision
By-Law 7.1 [Operational Obligations and Responsibilities] was amended to clearly articulate the supervisory responsibilities of licensees in regard to law students who represent clients or provide legal advice or legal services in experiential learning programs. By-Law 7.1 was also amended to permit Ontario educational institutions that offer a legal services program to provide paralegal students with experiential learning opportunities. Related amendments were made to By-Law 4 [Licensing].

Paralegal Guidelines amended re: Incriminating Physical Evidence
Amendments to the Paralegal Guidelines provide further guidance regarding a paralegal’s ethical obligations when confronted with incriminating physical evidence. The Guidelines are intended to be read with Rule 4.01 (5.2) (The Paralegal as Advocate), a new rule approved by Convocation in April 2016.

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