Protecting the public
Created by an act of the Legislative Assembly in 1797, the Law Society of Upper Canada governs Ontario’s lawyers and paralegals in the public interest by ensuring that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct.
The Law Society has a duty to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.
The Law Society regulates, licenses and disciplines Ontario’s more than 49,000 lawyers and over 7,900 licensed paralegals pursuant to the Law Society Act and the Law Society's rules, regulations and guidelines.
Like many professionals in Ontario, lawyers and paralegals in Ontario are self-governing. This means that lawyers and paralegals oversee their own regulation through the Law Society in accordance with the Law Society Act and its regulations, passed by the Ontario government.
The Law Society is funded through lawyer and paralegal licensing fees. To maintain the privilege of self-governance, the public interest must always be of paramount concern to the Law Society.
For information on who can provide legal services, please see Choosing the Right Legal Professional.
For information on how to become a lawyer or paralegal, please see the Lawyer Licensing Process and Paralegal Licensing Process.
Serving the public
The Law Society offers public services such as:
- Complaints Services, which receives and responds to complaints about lawyers and paralegals
- a comprehensive online directory with lawyer and paralegal contact information
- the Law Society Referral Service, which provides you with the name of a lawyer or paralegal who will provide a free consultation of up to 30 minutes to help you determine your rights and options
- a directory of lawyers who are certified specialists in specific areas of law
- the Compensation Fund, which helps clients who have lost money because of the dishonesty of a lawyer or paralegal.
To promote access to legal services, the Law Society supports programs such as Pro Bono Law Ontario, Ontario Justice Education Network and the Law Commission of Ontario.
The Law Society's Equity Initiatives Department seeks to ensure that law, the practice of law and the provision of legal services are reflective of all peoples in Ontario by actively participating with Aboriginal, Francophone and equity-seeking groups, through consultations, meetings and public education activities.
Supporting lawyers and paralegals
In addition to its role in overseeing and regulating lawyers and paralegals, the Law Society provides legal information and support for lawyers and paralegals. Lawyers and paralegals can phone 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 or access the For Lawyers and For Paralegals section for a one-stop access point to a wide range of services.