May 2016 e-Bulletin Resources for Lawyers

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Preservation of Client Property 

 From time to time, clients entrust property to their lawyers for safekeeping. In such cases, lawyers’ obligations to their clients are set out in section 3.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”).

 

In general terms, lawyers are required to care for client property as a careful and prudent owner would and observe all relevant rules and law about the preservation of the property provided to the lawyer (r. 3.5-2). The duties outlined in this Rule are closely related to those regarding confidential information. The lawyer should keep the client’s papers and other property out of sight as well as out of reach of those not entitled to see or access them.

 

The Rules provide guidance to lawyers holding client property on the appropriate procedures to follow (rr. 3.5-3 to 3.5-7). Specifically, unless satisfied that the client is aware that the property is in the lawyer’s custody, a lawyer must notify the client upon receipt of the client property. Once the lawyer has either notified the client or determined that notification is not necessary, the lawyer must clearly label and identify the client’s property and place it in safekeeping distinguishable from the lawyer’s own property. A lawyer must also maintain such records as are necessary to identify the property. Finally, upon request, the lawyer must account promptly for the property and deliver it to the client. Alternatively, the property should be delivered to the client at the conclusion of the retainer. If the lawyer is unsure of the proper person to receive a client’s property, the lawyer must apply to a tribunal of competent jurisdiction for direction.

 

Record keeping obligations for client property vary dependent on the type of property with which the lawyer has been entrusted. For example, under subsection 18(9) of By-Law 9, lawyers are required to maintain a valuable property record to document trust assets other than money. Valuable property, for the purpose of this record keeping requirement, includes mortgages, transfers, or other instruments registered in the lawyer’s name in trust, stocks, bonds, or other securities in bearer form, jewellery, or any other property that a lawyer could convert on his or her own authority to cash.

 

Valuable property does not include term deposits, deposit receipts, savings accounts, or similar deposits that are maintained for individual clients at chartered banks or registered trust companies. These are trust monies and must be recorded in the financial accounting records set out in By-Law 9. Likewise, wills, securities registered in the name of the client, corporate records, and corporate seals are not included in the valuable property record as they cannot be sold or negotiated by a lawyer. A list of these properties may be maintained, but this list must be separate from the valuable property record.

The Bookkeeping Guide for Lawyers, available on the Law Society website, provides further information on the details that must be contained in the valuable property record, including an example, as well as guidance on the preparation of other financial records for lawyers who are entrusted with client property. 

 

 Additional Resources

  • Visit the Your Practice section of the Law Society Gazette for Rules Recap: quarterly updates of Law Society rule and by-law amendments.
  • See the Practice Management Guidelines -practical tools to assist lawyers in assessing, maintaining and enhancing their quality of service.
  • For assistance interpreting your obligations under the Rules, please contact the Practice Management Helpline at 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380, ext 3315.

Mental Health Strategy approved

 

A long-term mental health strategy, approved at April Convocation, builds on the Law Society’s existing mental health initiatives and lays the groundwork to explore additional supports or programs that fall within the organization’s mandate. The long-term plan and vision will address mental health and addiction issues through both preventive and regulatory strategies. A key element is consideration of the role that diversionary and confidential processes — including capacity hearings held in the absence of the public — may play in appropriate circumstances. The plan is the work of the Mental Health Strategy Task force, which was initiated last June at the request of the Treasurer. Read the full report.

 

Law Society Referral Service (LSRS) 

 

This month marks the fourth year of the Law Society enhancing the LSRS to ensure greater access to legal services. In May 2012, LSRS expanded to include paralegal subscribers, an online service, and trained Legal Information Officers to help identify legal issues, offer referrals and provide additional resources. We have further evolved to an exclusively online service, www.findlegalhelp.ca, providing referrals 24 hours a day, and added a crisis line, intended for people who are unable to use the online service, such as those in custody, in a shelter or residing in a remote community without access to the Internet.

 

Celebrate our success by joining LSRS and become part of an important public service that has proven its value for more than 40 years. The potential benefits of joining LSRS include building your business, expanding your profile and contributing to your community. The cost to join the service is $282.50 per year (including applicable taxes). Applicants who join now will have their fees pro-rated monthly to the end of the calendar year.

 

Your Member Assistance Program is here for you and your family

 

As a lawyer, you are provided with a Member Assistance Program (MAP) — a confidential service designed to help members maintain their mental health and achieve their health and wellness goals. But do you know what the program includes, who is eligible to receive support, or how to access services? Individuals eligible for MAP services often don’t realize that, for example, if they have a daughter who is suffering with depression, she can also seek counselling; or that couples counselling is available for members and their partners. MAP’s goal is to reach as many people as possible who, if they knew they were eligible, would benefit from these confidential services. Learn more.

 

 

 AJEFO Annual Conference (Association of French Speaking Jurists of Ontario)

 

The 2016 AJEFO Conference offers an excellent opportunity to perfect legal knowledge, to obtain updates on the major legal decisions of the year, and to enable professional networking, all in French. This year, the conference will be held in Niagara Falls on June 24-25. More information and to register.

 

New! The LSUC Store

 

The Law Society has launched an updated online platform called the LSUC Store. Law Society merchandise, certificates and letters are available for purchase. You will be able to purchase CPD programs from the fall 2016 calendar later this month. While it functions much like the current CPD website, additional features make the ordering process easier and more convenient, including manual discounts, cancellations, group orders and access to store credit. Read the FAQs to learn more.  

 

2015 Law Society Annual Report

 

The Law Society’s online annual report details our performance for 2015 — with messages, charts, other updates and financial statements — and lays out our strategic direction for 2015–19. Also view the 2015 Tribunal Annual Report and the 2015 LibraryCo Inc. Annual Report.

 

 

Equity Legal Education Series - Save these dates

 

May 31 - Access Awareness event - More information and to RSVP.

June 23 - National Aboriginal History Month event

June 28 - Pride Week event

 

Details of each event will be posted closer to the event date. See photos from past events on our Facebook page.

 

Important Dates

 

May 26 Convocation - check this month's web page for the link to online viewing of Convocation and the archived webcast.

 

May 30 - Final date to file the 2015 Lawyer Annual Report and Class L3 Licence Annual Report. Failure to file by this date will result in a $100 late fee on or about this date and referral for suspension. NOTE: As of January 1, 2016, the process to report mixed trusts accounts has changed. Learn more.

 

May 31 - Final date to file the 2015 Multi-Discipline Partnership Report. Failure to file by this date may result in referral for suspension on or about this date.

 

May 31 Final date to file the 2015 Affiliation Report. Failure to file by this date may result in referral for suspension on or about this date.

 

 June 23 - Convocation - check this month's web page for the link to online viewing of Convocation and the archived webcast.

 

For more resources, visit the Manage Your Practice section under For Lawyers or phone 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 ext 3315. 

 

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