Mandatory Information Programs are available province-wide for family law litigants. Consistent with the best traditions of the legal profession, some lawyers generously give their time to present these Programs. The purpose of the lawyer's presentation at these sessions is to provide litigants with some front-end general or generic legal information on the legal process and issues prior to the litigants appearing before a judge.
In some cases, the lawyer making the presentation may represent a family law litigant whose opposing party attends that session of the Program. To avoid potential conflicts of interest, when presenting Mandatory Information Programs lawyers should be guided by the following:
Lawyers should use care to provide only general legal information as opposed to legal advice or legal services specific to an attendee's situation. Legal information might include information about court procedures and forms, alternative dispute resolution, rules, statutes and legal terminology. By contrast, legal advice would include an interpretation of the law, a recommendation as to the specific course of action to take or the application of law to a person's specific factual circumstances. Lawyers should use neutral language in their presentations and should refrain from expressing opinions based on facts. It is recommended that lawyers adhere to the presentation script as closely as possible. Finally, to manage client expectations, lawyers may wish to discuss with their clients at the outset of the retainer the purpose of the Mandatory Information Program and the lawyer's role when presenting at the Program.
If an attendee at the Program indicates an interest in retaining you to provide legal services, at that point all normal conflict of interest requirements apply.
Lawyers doing these presentations should be aware that this activity is an eligible educational activity for the purposes of a lawyer's required CPD hours and counts for 3.5 Substantive Hours and 0.5 Professionalism Hours.