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September 2015 Convocation


New process for surrender of licence approved

Convocation approved, in principle, a new process to permit lawyers and paralegals who are under investigation or involved in discipline proceedings, to apply to surrender their licences. The new process would only be used where the public interest does not require a full prosecution, and may contribute to a more efficient Tribunal process by shortening or not commencing hearings. By-law amendments are required to enact the process and will be considered by Convocation at a future date. Full report.

LAWPRO insurance premiums announced

Convocation approved LAWPRO's report setting out the Law Society's professional liability insurance program for 2016. The base premium for professional liability insurance coverage for Ontario lawyers in 2016 remains at $3,350 per lawyer for the sixth consecutive year. Full report.

Paralegal conduct rules amended re: paralegals transferring between law firms

Convocation amended the Paralegal Rules of Conduct regarding conflicts of interest resulting from paralegals transferring between firms. The amendments include:

  • New Rule 3.03 (10) clarifying that when a paralegal transfers from one firm to another, the paralegal may disclose confidential client information “to the extent reasonably necessary to detect and resolve conflicts of interest” that may arise as a result of the transfer, provided the disclosure does not prejudice the client.
  • Amendment to Rule 3.05 (2) regarding law firm disqualification, to clarify that a firm may not be required to cease representation if all reasonable measures have been taken to ensure that there will be no disclosure of confidential client information.
  • New Rule 3.05 (6) providing that a transferring paralegal shall exercise due diligence in ensuring that each member and employee of the new firm complies with the rules and does not disclose confidential information.
  • New Rule 3.05 (1.1) providing that the transfer rules do not apply to a transfer within a government.

The amendments are consistent with recent changes made to the lawyers’ conduct rules, which were based on the Federation of Law Societies of Canada Model Code. Full report.

Lawyers’ rules of conduct amended re: language rights

Convocation amended the Rules of Professional Conduct that address a client's right to receive legal services in the official language of their choice to include explicit reference to aboriginal languages. Full report.

ABS Working Group reports on initial assessment and next steps

The Law Society’s ABS Working Group delivered an interim report outlining its initial assessment and the directions it will consider further.

The Working Group has decided not to continue to consider structures involving majority ownership, or control, of traditional law firms by non-licensees. Through its research and consultations, the Working Group considers that the experience to date in other jurisdictions does not show that the benefits of majority non-licensee ownership, or control, outweigh regulatory concerns.

The Working Group plans to focus its study on change with the potential to foster innovation or enhance access to justice. This includes minority ownership by non-licensees, franchise arrangements, ownership by civil society organizations such as charities and new forms of legal service delivery in areas not currently well served by traditional practices. Full report.

Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines amended re: limited scope retainers

The Paralegal Standing Committee added new provisions regarding limited scope retainers to the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines. The new provisions: 

  • Advise that a paralegal should consider confirming in writing with the client when the limited scope retainer is complete, and consider providing notice to the tribunal of the completion of the retainer;
  • Caution the paralegal not to mislead a tribunal as to the scope of a retainer, and to consider whether disclosure of the limited nature of the retainer is required by the rules of practice or by the circumstances; and
  • Advise the paralegal to consider whether it may be necessary to obtain instructions from his or her client before disclosing the retainer to a tribunal, or to an opposing party or counsel for an opposing party.  

Limited scope retainers, also known as “unbundling” or limited representation, involve a paralegal taking on part of a legal matter without the expectation that the paralegal will represent the client for the entire proceeding. In June, Convocation approved similar provisions to the commentary to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct. Full report.

Form 1 to be incorporated into Lawyer and Paralegal Annual Reports

Starting in 2016, licensees will no longer have to file a Form 1 with the Law Foundation of Ontario, as the information will be incorporated into the Lawyer Annual Report and the Paralegal Annual Report. Additional details will be provided to licensees in October and November.

Convocation approved a number of appointments. Motion



Consent Agenda – Motion

  • Confirmation of Draft Minutes of Convocation – June 25, 2015 and September 10, 2015
  • Motions
    • Committee and Other Appointments
    • In Camera Appointments
  • Report of the Director of Professional Development and Competence - Deemed Call Candidates

Address by Ian M. Hull, Chair, Law Society Foundation Board of Trustees on the Toronto Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program

Professional Regulation Committee Report

  • Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct – Language Rights
  • New Process for Administrative Surrender of Licence
  • For Information:
    • 2015 Lawyer Annual Report
    • Professional Regulation Division Quarterly Report
    • Report of the Alternative Business Structures Working Group

Paralegal Standing Committee Report

  • In Camera Item
  • Amendments to Paralegal Rules of Conduct - Transferring Paralegals
  • For Information:
    • Amendments to the Paralegal Guidelines - Limited Scope Retainers
    • 2015 Paralegal Annual Report
    • Other Committee Work


Address by Thomas G. Conway, President, Federation of Law Societies of Canada


Audit and Finance Committee Report

  • Law Society of Upper Canada Financial Statements for the Six Months ended June 30, 2015
  • LibraryCo Inc. Financial Statements for the Six Months ended June 30, 2015
  • LAWPRO Financial Statements for the Six Months ended June 30, 2015
  • In Camera Item
  • Performance of Investment Manager
  • Investment Compliance Reports
  • Other Committee Work

Tribunal Committee Report

  • Tribunal 2015 First and Second Quarter Statistics

Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee/Comité sur l’équité et les affaires autochtones

  • Report
    Discrimination and Harassment Counsel Semi-Annual Report
  • Appointments to the Equity Advisory Group
  • Public Education Equality and Rule of Law Series Calendar 2015 – 2016

Report from The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG)

Lunch – Benchers’ Dining Room

Convocation was webcast on September 24, 2015. View the archived video.

Terms or Concepts Explained