- Why did the Law Society implement the new Practice Audit component of the Program?
- What are the benefits for paralegals who have been selected for a Practice Audit?
- Who is eligible to participate in the Practice Audit Program?
- Does it affect all sizes of legal services practice?
- What are the possible outcomes of a Practice Audit?
- Will a Practice Audit affect my standing with the Law Society Referral Service (LSRS)?
- How many Practice Audits will be conducted annually?
- Will all paralegals be reviewed?
- How will I know that I have been selected for a Practice Audit?
- How much will I have to pay if I am selected?
- How long will the Practice Audit take?
- How much time will I have to implement any recommendations?
- What if I am an associate or employee of a firm and the Reviewer identifies deficiencies in firm-wide systems?
- What will the Reviewer will be looking for?
- Where can I find more information?
Why did the Law Society implement the new Practice Audit component of the Program?
Convocation approved the Practice Audit component as an integral part of assuring the continuing competence of paralegals. The Law Society expects the Program will be an excellent resource for paralegals. It is designed to identify any practice management issues, which, if neglected, could have an adverse effect on the quality of legal services offered to the public. The Program may benefit paralegals by reducing client complaints and negligence claims.
What are the benefits for members who have been selected for a Practice Audit?
- Selected paralegals will receive personalized, on-site guidance aimed at helping them to address and correct any practice deficiencies.
- Reviewers will assist paralegals in identifying efficiencies in their practice, which will lead to a better run and more effective practice.
- Paralegals will receive specific advice, tailored to their own practice, on setting and meeting best practices expectations.
Who is eligible to participate in the Practice Audit Program?
Any licensee holding a Class P1 license is eligible to participate.
Does it affect all sizes of legal services practice?
Yes, any licensee holding a Class P1 license is eligible, regardless of the size of practice.
What are the possible outcomes of a Practice Audit?
Outcomes of a Practice Audit could include the following: closing of the file, follow-up activities, undertaking to remedy deficiencies, follow-up review, Proposal Order, or referral to Professional Regulation. The Program is intended to be a proactive measure to assist paralegals in strengthening their practice management skills. In every instance, the goal is to work with the paralegal to address deficiencies before they become matters that could adversely affect service to clients. However, where misconduct is found, Reviewers, like all lawyers under subrule 7.1-3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and like all paralegals under sub rules 9.01(2)–(8) of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, are obliged to report that misconduct.
Will a Practice Audit affect my standing with the Law Society Referral Service (LSRS)?
If in the course of a Practice Audit, you are found to have failed to meet minimum standards of competence, then you will not be permitted to become or remain a member of the LSRS until you have satisfied the Law Society that you are meeting minimum standards of professional competence.
How many Practice Audits will be conducted annually?
Approximately 75 P1 licensees will be selected annually on a random basis to participate in a Practice Audit.
Will all paralegals be reviewed?
Only those paralegals in private practice will be included in the pool of potential candidates.
How will I know that I have been selected for a Practice Audit?
Participants will be contacted by the Reviewer and a date for the Practice Audit will be determined in conjunction with the paralegal, usually within six weeks. The Reviewer will provide the paralegal with a list of books and records, documents and other information to be available at the Practice Audit. Pre-arranged appointments offer a number of advantages. They provide the paralegal with the opportunity to block dedicated time for the attendance and to allow the paralegal to begin a process of self-assessment and reflection on their current approaches to practice management.
While the advance notice is designed to accommodate your schedule, the Law Society must balance your needs and preferences with its public protection mandate. For this reason, if you seek to defer the Practice Audit appointment, or subsequently cancel your Practice Audit appointment, you may be required to fax or e-mail a copy of your most recent trust reconciliation (trust bank statement(s), detailed trust reconciliation(s) and client trust listing) to the Practice Review Department. Failure to do so may result in a referral to Professional Regulation.
How much will I have to pay if I am selected?
There is no fee required from paralegals for a Practice Audit.
How long will the review take?
On average, a Practice Audit will take a full day.
How much time will I have to implement any recommendations?
Approximately six months. Depending on the matters identified by the Reviewer, a follow-up Practice Audit might be required following the six-month period.
What if I am an associate or employee of a firm and the Reviewer identifies deficiencies in firm-wide systems?
If the Reviewer has concerns about processes or procedures which are beyond the scope of your responsibility, then depending upon the nature of the concerns and the potential risk to clients, further action may be required to ensure that the firm's management has notice and takes remedial action.
What will the Reviewer will be looking for?
The Reviewer will be assessing basic practice management systems in the paralegal's office, focusing on such areas as:
- Client Service and Communication
- File Management
- Financial Management
- Professional Management
- Time Management
- Personal Management
Where can I find more information?
For more information about the Program, please phone the Law Society's Resource Centre at 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 ext. 3315.