Advertising and Fee Arrangements

The Law Society’s Advertising and Fee Issues Working Group is considering potential regulatory responses to issues relating to advertising, referral fees, and contingency and other fee practices.

The Working Group has received a great deal of information about these issues, including advertising that may be false or misleading and fees that are not transparent and appear to have an impact on the way in which legal services are being provided, including:

  • Advertising for legal services with a view to obtaining referral fees
  • Use of endorsements and awards that are not objectively verifiable
  • Lack of clarity in “all-in” pricing for legal services
  • Disproportionate referral fees, both upfront and as a percentage of the result in a contingency fee matter
  • Lack of transparency in contingent and referral fee arrangements  

The nature and volume of advertising for legal services is evolving rapidly, along with the legal services marketplace. The Law Society established the working group, in February 2016, to determine whether by-law and rule amendments may help ensure advertising and fee practices continue to be accurate, transparent and in the public interest.

On February 23, 2017, Convocation agreed to cap and further regulate the fees a lawyer or paralegal may charge for referring a client to another licensee. A cap on referral fees was approved in principle. Rule amendments to implement the policy, and related proposals for additional requirements to increase transparency in marketing and to ensure genuine consent in referral fee arrangements will be considered by Convocation in the coming months.

Convocation also approved amendments to strengthen the rules governing the advertising of legal services, adding new public protection measures. The Working Group will continue to consider contingency fee arrangements, and advertising and fees in real estate.
 
More information about the issues being considered is available in the Working Group’s report and summarized in the Fact Sheet.

History



milestone-circle-points-right

2011 – 2014 – Concerns about advertising are growing. A specialized Investigations team is established to respond. Complaints grow from 115 to 141 complaints, including those initiated by the Law Society.
2015 – Professional Regulation Committee develops proposed amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct and conducts a Call for Input.


milestone-circle-points-left

 

milestone-circle-points-right

Nov 2015 - Professional Regulation Committee reviews input and determines further study is required before deciding on advertising and marketing rules.

Feb 2016 – Professional Regulation Committee establishes the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Working Group.


milestone-circle-points-left



milestone-circle-points-right

March to May 2016 – The Working Group holds focus group meetings with legal organizations and the professions to gain better understanding of current practices and issues.
June 2016 – The Working Group reports overview of input to Professional Regulation Committee and Convocation. (Working Group Report Tab 2.2.2)


milestone-circle-points-left


milestone-circle-points-right

July 2016 – Call for Feedback to licensees about potential regulatory responses. (Working Group Report Tab 2.2.1
Sept 2016 – Call for Feedback closes. The Working Group will review feedback received.



milestone-circle-points-left


milestone-circle-points-right

Feb 2017 – The Working Group reports to the Professional Regulation Committee and Convocation.

2017 - Working Group to provide detailed rule changes to Convocation.

milestone-circle-points-left 


Related Documents:

pdf-icon Professional Regulation Committee Report to Convocation - February 2017

pdf-icon Fact Sheet - February 2017

pdf-icon Professional Regulation Committee Report to Convocation - June 2016

pdf-icon Call for Feedback Fact Sheet - July 2016