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February 2016 Convocation


Lawyers’ conduct rules amended re: conflicts of interest
Convocation approved changes to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct to reflect the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Canadian National Railway Co. v. McKercher LLP, as well as other developments in the law and related changes made to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Model Code of Professional Conduct

According to McKercher, a lawyer, and by extension a law firm, cannot act for a client whose immediate legal interests are adverse to those of another existing client, unless both clients consent. The “bright line” rule applies regardless of whether the matters are related or unrelated. 

The commentaries to Rule 3.4-1 (Conflicts of Interest) and Rule 3.4-2 (Consent) were amended to provide guidance to lawyers regarding their ethical obligations in this area. The Law Society sought input from the profession on the proposed rule changes in 2015. Full report.

Lawyers’ conduct rules amended re: incriminating physical evidence
Convocation approved the addition of new rule 5.1-2A and related commentary to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct. The new rule prohibits the concealment, destruction or alteration of incriminating physical evidence. The adoption of the new rule follows a call for input regarding proposed rule amendments held in 2015 and the addition of a similar rule to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Model Code of Professional Conduct in 2014. Full report.

Additional funding for Professional Regulation Division approved
Convocation approved the use of $500,000 from the General Fund Balance to amend the 2016 Professional Regulation Division budget to fund additional resources for investigations and disclosure. Full report

Summary revocation authority approved for licences suspended by Tribunal
Convocation approved a policy, in principle, that will enable the Law Society to revoke through a summary process the licence of a lawyer or paralegal whose licence has been indefinitely suspended by the Law Society Tribunal. The policy applies to lawyers and paralegals whose licence has been suspended for at least two years due to the licensee’s failure to comply with an order of the Tribunal. Amendments to the Law Society Act are required to implement this policy. Full report.

Consent Resolution Conference pilot project discontinued
Convocation agreed to discontinue the Consent Resolution Conference after a pilot project that ran four years. The Consent Resolution Conference was an alternative to the regular investigation and hearing stream for conduct matters. It enabled licensees and the Law Society, in appropriate cases and with public interest protections, to agree to an early resolution of conduct matters following an expedited investigations and discipline process, where the licensee admitted misconduct allegations. Convocation agreed with the views of the Professional Regulation, Paralegal Standing and Tribunal Committees that as the pilot project was very minimally utilized, in part because other options are proving more effective in addressing early and effective resolution of conduct matters, it should be discontinued. Full report.

Human Rights Monitoring Group interventions approved
Convocation approved interventions in the following cases:
• Lawyer Shu Xiangxin – China
• Lawyer Wang Qiushi – China
• Lawyers in Honduras
• Lawyers Christopher Lephuthing, Haae Phoofolo, Khotso Nthontho, Koili Ndebele, and Tumisang Mosotho – Lesotho
Full report.

Paralegal Rules of Conduct amended re: working with unauthorized persons
Convocation amended Rule 6.01 (6) of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct regarding working with unauthorized persons to replace the phrase “committee of Convocation appointed for the purpose” with “panel of the Hearing Division of the Law Society Tribunal”. The change reflects the current process whereby Convocation has designated the Tribunal for this purpose. Full report.

Consultation on proposed amendments to Paralegal Rules of Conduct
The Paralegal Standing Committee will be requesting comments from paralegals on proposed changes to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct on the following topics:
• Advertising
• Conflicts of interest
• Short term pro bono legal services
The proposed amendments arise from changes to the Model Code of Professional Conduct adopted by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. Additional information about the consultation will be communicated to paralegals in the coming weeks. Full report.

Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group established
A working group was established by the Professional Regulation Committee (PRC), at the Treasurer’s request, to obtain more information about advertising and fee arrangement issues from a variety of stakeholders, including those in the personal injury sector. This information will provide additional context to the PRC’s consideration of referral fee arrangements, contingency fees and marketing and advertising issues. In 2015, the PRC conducted a call for input regarding proposed amendments to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, including marketing and advertising rules. The Committee determined the need for additional study based on submissions received. Full report.

Discrimination and Harassment Counsel activity report received
Convocation received a report on the activities of the Discrimination and Harassment Counsel (DHC), from July 1 to December 31, 2015. The Discrimination and Harassment Counsel confidentially assists anyone who may have experienced discrimination or harassment by a lawyer or paralegal. The Law Society provides the service free-of-charge to the professions and the Ontario public. Full reportDiscrimination and Harassment Counsel website

Federation of Law Societies consulting on model code amendments 
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is seeking feedback on draft amendments to its Model Code of Professional Conduct. The proposed amendments involve rules on competence, dishonesty/fraud, and incriminating physical evidence. Feedback is also being sought on a new rule addressing responsibilities that arise when a lawyer leaves a law firm. The deadline for providing feedback to the Federation on the proposed amendments is June 30, 2016. More information.

Convocation approved reappointments to the Law Society Tribunal. Motion.




Public Transcript


Committee of the Whole

Treasurer’s Remarks

Consent Agenda - Motion

  • Confirmation of Draft Minutes of Convocation – January 28, 2016
  • Motion – Law Society Tribunal Appointments
  • Report of the Director of Professional Development and Competence – Deemed Call Candidates

Professional Regulation Committee Report

  • Amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Proposed Summary Revocation Authority for Indefinitely Suspended Licenses
  • In Camera Item

For Information

  • Federation of Law Societies Standing Committee on the Model Code of Professional Conduct Consultation
  • Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group
  • 2015 Annual Report of the Complaints Resolution Commissioner
  • Professional Regulation Division Quarterly Report

Paralegal Standing Committee Report

  • Amendment to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct
  • In Camera Item

For Information

  • Consultation on Proposed Amendments to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct

Tribunal Committee Report 

  • Report on the Consent Resolution Conference Pilot Project

Audit and Finance Committee Report 

  • Use of General Fund Balance (Reserves)

For Information

  • Other Committee Work

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

  • Human Rights Monitoring Group Requests for Intervention

For Information

  • Human Rights Monitoring Group Responses from Human Rights Organizations
  • Discrimination and Harassment Counsel Semi-Annual Report for the Period July 1 to December 31, 2015
  • Public Education Equality and Rule of Law Series Calendar 2016

Paralegal Award Selection Committee Report (in camera)

Law Society Awards Committee Report (in camera)

Report of the LL.D. Advisory Committee (in camera)

Compensation Committee Report (in camera)

Reports for Information Only

Professional Development and Competence Committee Report

  • Annual Resource and Program Report

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

Convocation was webcast February 25, 2016. View the archived webcast.

Terms or Concepts Explained