1. Executive Summary
The Practice Management Guidelines [Guidelines] are practical tools to assist lawyers in assessing, maintaining and enhancing their quality of service. They provide a general framework for conducting various aspects of legal work. The Guidelines focus on eight practice management issues.
1.2 How to Use the Guidelines
The Guidelines are available in electronic form. They link directly to The Law Society of Upper Canada's sources and resources. Lawyers may download some or all of the component parts of the Guidelines for their personal use appropriate to individual needs. Each document, when printed, contains space to accommodate notations and amendments.
The Guidelines may be used as a tool within individual client files, for personal use or by a firm's management team. For example, lawyers may insert a copy of the Client Service and Communication Guideline on the inside cover of a file to act as a reminder of client service issues to be addressed with the client. Lawyers may use the Professional Management Guideline as a reference tool in career or firm strategic planning. Law firm managers may use the Financial Management Guideline as a basis for drafting firm policies relating to billing, record keeping or the handling of trust funds. Junior members of the bar may use the Guidelines as learning tools; senior members as tools to refresh or review existing practices.
Not every Guideline will be relevant or useful for all practitioners. The nature of the practice and/or individual file will determine which provisions may be assistive or mandatory. The Guidelines are a flexible tool to be used as required according to lawyers' particular circumstances.
Certain aspects of the Guidelines are mandatory and others are not.
The term "shall" is used in those instances where compliance is mandated by either the By-Laws made pursuant to the Law Society Act or the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The term "should" and the phrase "should consider" connote a recommendation. These terms refer to those practices or policies that are considered to be a reasonable goal for maintaining or enhancing practice management or client service.
The term "may" and the phrase "may consider" convey discretion. Lawyers may or may not pursue these suggested policies or practices depending upon the lawyers' particular circumstances, areas of practice or clientele.
1.4 Living Document
By their very nature the Guidelines are not static: professional requirements, standards, techniques and practices change. The Guidelines will be reviewed regularly and revised where necessary to reflect the evolving practice of law. The Guidelines will also be continually enhanced with the addition of practical tools, precedents and sample documentation available.
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