With Canadian Law Societies becoming more and more transparent, many innovative processes have been adapted to give greater insight into what happens at the courts and why. This has also allowed people to file a complaint against lawyers at the Law Society of Ontario. If there has been a complaint filed against you, then you will be notified and asked to respond. Consulting a Professional Misconduct Lawyer to represent you will ensure that your response is not used against you in the future and they would guide you through the process.
What are the main problems that are being faced?
A lot of the complaints are either closed or resolved without formal discipline. As these cases are handled outside of the public eye, it makes it difficult to examine whether the decision which has been made is in accord with the public interest mandate of the law societies or not. It also poses a problem in being able to accurately understand the issue that arose between the lawyer and the person who has filled the complaint. This narrow downs the information available about how law societies exercise their regulatory mandate.
What are the steps that have been taken?
Law societies often calculate public aggregate data regarding complaints. The Law Society of Upper Canada Annual Report gives details about the complaints concerning firm size, years of practice and areas of practice. The Complaints Resolution Commissioner in Ontario keeps a check and maintains the balance function. The commissioner could be asked to review the investigation if the complainant is not satisfied with how the case was handled. There might be confidential requirements which could forbid the benchers or employees from disclosing any information regarding the complaints or investigations.
Should all information regarding complaints be made public?
The idea of making all complaint related information public may seem very attractive, but, however many complaints are frivolous and add undue burden on the lawyer. Many a time, the clients may not want to make their identities and affairs public. As legal proceedings are a sensitive matter, having a sense of privacy is understandable. A middle ground should be established in such a situation. Suppose if law societies have a set of written internal policies or institutional priorities that are used when deciding whether to proceed with investigation or discipline, then this type of information should be made public as it would not harm interests of both the parties involved.
Publishing complaints and their resolutions anonymously could give a better picture of what happens when the case doesn’t proceed to formal discipline. If it turns out to be too expensive then the law societies could annually rotate through certain themes like conflict or fees or even area of practice.