Complaints About Lawyers and Paralegals

The Law Society of Upper Canada has a duty to regulate Ontario lawyers and licensed paralegals in the public interest.

As a part of carrying out that duty, we deal with complaints from members of the public about lawyers and paralegals. We also respond to information about unlicensed practitioners who are providing legal services or practising law.

If you have a complaint about a lawyer or paralegal, read this page.

NOTE: If you choose to make a complaint, you must do so in writing by completing this form.

How we respond to complaints

We review and assess every complaint we receive, although we may not take action on all of them.

In deciding how to respond to your complaint we consider a number of things, including whether the lawyer or paralegal you are complaining about is a risk to the public.

We also try to resolve issues about the services provided by lawyers and paralegals, such as a failure to respond to communications or to report on a transaction.

Where possible we will try to help you and the lawyer or paralegal deal with the issues. Most issues are resolved without a formal discipline hearing. We investigate when necessary and take disciplinary action in appropriate cases.

Frequently asked questions about complaints

More information about the complaints process

Complaints the Law Society can deal with

The Law Society can deal with a range of matters related to lawyers' and licensed paralegals' professional conduct.

For example, we can deal with issues relating to service; ethics or honesty; communications (including failure to reply to communications or to report on a transaction); delay; misleading, rude and discriminatory behaviour; or failure to account for, or the improper handling of, money.

If you have lost money because of a lawyer or paralegal's dishonesty, you may be eligible to apply to the Compensation Fund. Please see the Compensation Fund page for more information.

The Law Society will respond to information about unlicensed practitioners who are providing legal services or practising law. You may provide this information on the Complaint Form. Refer to Illegal Practitioners for additional information.

Complaints the Law Society cannot deal with

The Law Society does not have the legal authority to respond to some complaints. For example, we cannot investigate a lawyer or paralegal's fees, or take action if you are upset that your legal professional made a mistake.

If we cannot assist with your complaint, we will tell you and try to give you information about other sources of help for dealing with your problem or concern.

For example, if you believe that the fees charged by your lawyer were too high, contact the Assessment Office of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Contact the Small Claims Court if you feel your paralegal's fees were too high. You may also wish to read Your Legal Bill - Too High?

In addition to making a complaint to the Law Society you may also wish to explore the availability of other options, such as the civil and/or criminal justice system. If you believe that the lawyer or paralegal's conduct may constitute a criminal offence, please consider reporting it to the police. You may also wish to read the Law Society's process for reporting to law enforcement and other regulators.

If you feel your lawyer or paralegal has made a mistake, you will have to deal directly with him or her. You may wish to seek legal advice from another lawyer or paralegal about your options for suing the first one. Please note that the Law Society cannot pay you money because a lawyer or paralegal made a mistake, nor can we make that lawyer or paralegal pay you money.

Resolving your problem on your own

The best place to start is always with the lawyer or paralegal. Before you make a complaint to the Law Society, you should try to speak with the lawyer or paralegal with whom you have an issue. Most lawyers and paralegals want to solve problems and concerns before they become complaints.

If the lawyer or paralegal practises law or provides legal services with other licensees, you may ask to speak with a senior member of that firm about the situation.

If your complaint is not resolved after speaking to the lawyer or paralegal, make your complaint to the Law Society as soon as possible.

Making a complaint

To make a complaint, you need to follow four steps:

  1. Complete a Complaint Form.
  2. Provide all information that is relevant.
  3. Sign the Complaint Form and send it to the Law Society.
  4. Provide any additional information if we ask for it.

1. Complete a Complaint Form

The Complaint Form will give us all the information we need to assess your complaint.

You may either download and print the Complaint Form then complete it by hand, or fill it in online and then print it. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file

If you'd prefer, you can also request a paper copy of the Complaint Form. To do so, contact the Law Society.

2. Provide all relevant information

When completing the form, make sure to provide all relevant information including:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and other contact information.
  • The name and address of the lawyer or paralegal you are complaining about.
  • Full, accurate information relating to the complaint, including what you feel the lawyer or paralegal did wrong.
  • Copies of all documents that you believe support your complaint. (Please DO NOT send the originals.) Examples could be a retainer letter, accounts, letters from the lawyer or paralegal, important court documents or documents relating to the transaction that you are complaining about. Note that we may not be able to access documents that are stored in a Cloud and accessed online.
  • The names and contact information of any witnesses or other sources of information relating to your complaint.

3. Sign the Complaint Form and send it to the Law Society

Sign the completed form, attach copies of any relevant documents, and fax or mail the information to the Law Society at this address:

Complaints Services
The Law Society of Upper Canada
Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West
Toronto Ontario
M5H 2N6
General line: 416-947-3310
Toll-free: 1-800-268-7568
Fax: 416-947-5263

4. Provide additional information if we ask for it

You may be asked for additional information about your complaint. Please provide this information promptly.

Once a complaint file has been closed, the Law Society will not consider additional documents, information or allegations about the lawyer or paralegal if the issues should have been raised in your original complaint. 

Judicial and tribunal complaints

Information is available here for members of the judiciary and tribunal adjudicators/staff who wish to file a complaint about a lawyer or paralegal, or complaints about unauthorized practice or the unauthorized provision of legal services.

Our commitment to a respectful environment

The Law Society is committed to communicating with you in a respectful, professional and civil manner. Similarly, we expect the same courtesy from others.

We understand that the complaint process and the circumstances that give rise to complaints can be stressful. However, we will not accept racist, discriminatory or harassing behaviour or profane communications.

The Law Society is required by law to protect staff from harassing, discriminatory and threatening behaviour. Please note that repeated behaviour of this kind will result in the Law Society restricting communications or no longer communicating with you beyond advising you of the outcome of your complaint.