November 2015 e-Bulletin Resources for Lawyers

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Language Rights

Under the Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”), a lawyer must, when appropriate, advise a client of the client’s language rights, including the right to proceed in the official language of the client’s choice (r. 3.2-2A).  The lawyer should advise the client of the client’s language rights as soon as possible.  The lawyer should be aware of relevant statutory and constitutional law relating to language rights including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 19(1) and Part XVII of the Criminal Code regarding language rights in courts under federal jurisdiction and in criminal proceedings.  The lawyer should also be aware that provincial or territorial legislation may provide additional language rights, including in relation to aboriginal languages (commentary [1] and [2] to r. 3.2-2A).

The choice of official language is that of the client not the lawyer.  When a client wishes to retain a lawyer for representation in French, the lawyer must not undertake the matter unless the lawyer is competent to provide the required services in French.  In such circumstances, the lawyer should carefully consider whether it is possible to render those services in a competent manner as required by rule 3.1-2 and related commentary. 

In order to provide competent services, the communication should be effective for the client for whom it is intended.  A lawyer who offers services in Ontario in the French language should have sufficient knowledge of the French language, including sufficient knowledge of French common law terminology (as opposed to civil law), to competently act for the client.  The lawyer should be able to communicate effectively, orally and in writing, with the client and, where applicable, effectively represent the client before courts, tribunals, and/or quasi-judicial tribunals.

If a lawyer does not feel competent to undertake the matter for reasons described above, the lawyer should recognize his or her lack of competence for a particular task and the disservice that would be done to the client by undertaking the task.  In such circumstances, the lawyer should either decline to act or obtain the client's instructions to retain, consult, or collaborate with a lawyer who is competent for that task (commentary [6] to r. 3.1-1).


The Lawyer Referral Services provides online referrals to lawyers or paralegals who are able to provide services in French.  A crisis line is available to the public Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  The crisis line can be reached at 1-855-947-5255 or 416-947-5255.  The line is for those in custody or who are otherwise unable to use the online service.  Individuals can also request to be referred to a lawyer or paralegal who speaks languages other than English or French, or a lawyer who accepts legal aid certificates. 

The Law Society’s online Lawyer and Paralegal Directory includes information about the lawyer or paralegal’s ability to offer the services in French.  To visit the Law Society’s Directory, click here

The Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO) also provides an online directory of lawyers who provide services in French.

The Law Society’s Guide Advising Clients of their French-Language Rights – Lawyers’ Responsibilities is available online.  The Guide is designed to assist lawyers in understanding their responsibility to advise clients of their language rights under the Rules of Professional Conduct.

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.

Law Practice Program Work Placements  The Law Society encourages lawyers to offer a paid work placement and help train the next generation of lawyers. Offering a work placement is a four-month commitment from January to April. Work placements may be in any area of practice, size of firm and type of organization, including in-house counsel, legal clinics, small and rural firms and criminal and family practices. LPP candidates will be an asset to any practice as they will have already benefited from a four-month skills-based training course using simulated practice scenarios and will have experience working on files from start to finish. More information about Ryerson LPP Work Placements.

Law Society webcasting Convocation  The Law Society will continue to provide live online viewing of Convocation as part of its ongoing commitment to transparency and accessibility. Archived versions of Convocation webcasts for January through October are available for viewing from their respective pages on the Law Society’s website. These webcasts provide an up-close look at Convocation and its consideration of policy issues. The next Convocation is scheduled for December 4, so check the December Convocation page a few days before Convocation for the link to the webcast.

Providing Services in French When lawyers and paralegals have clients who speak French, they have a responsibility to advise them of their French-language rights, as set out in the Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct and in the Paralegal Rules of Conduct. The resources included below describe lawyers and paralegals’ responsibilities to advise their clients of their language rights, to discuss when and in what circumstances that responsibility applies, and to ensure that lawyers are aware of their responsibility in this respect. 

There is also a brochure for members of the public about their right to receive legal services in French. You have a legal issue - You speak French 

Call for Nominations 2016 Law Society Awards. Awards for lawyers include the Law Society Medal, the Lincoln Alexander Award and the Laura Legge Award. Paralegals are eligible for the William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award. Both are eligible for the J. Shirley Denison Award. Deadline for nominations is January 29, 2016

Form 1 to be incorporated into Lawyer Annual Report  Starting in 2016, licensees who operate a mixed trust account will no longer have to file a separate Form 1 with the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO), as the information will be incorporated directly into the Financial Reporting Section of the Lawyer Annual Report (LAR).  Incorporating the Form 1 into the LAR will help you fulfil your statutory obligations, while cutting down on your reporting burden by eliminating a second mandatory report (and one that duplicated some information). 

Resources for First Nation, Métis and Inuit people now available The Law Society has created resources for First Nation, Métis and Inuit people to help them understand and access the services that the Law Society provides. These resources include two fact sheets: What The Law Society of Upper Canada does and Hiring and working with a lawyer or paralegal, and the guide Handling everyday legal problems. The ‘Handling’ guide also provides helpful information about the types of assistance that other legal organizations provide. They are currently available in English and French, and are being translated into Kanienkeha, Swampy Cree, Severn Ojibwe, Odaawa (Manitoulin Island District) and Northwestern Ojibwe. You can find these resources and other information about Law Society Aboriginal initiatives on the Aboriginal Initiatives page of the Law Society website.

Important Dates

December 4 - Convocation

December 31 - Failure to renew the Certificate of Authorization for Professional Corporations by this date will result in expiry of Certificate.

December 31 - Final date for lawyers and paralegals subject to the CPD Requirement to complete all required hours and record them on the LSUC Portal. Failure to complete and record CPD Hours will result in a $100 late fee and referral for suspension.

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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