At its February Convocation, the Law Society of Upper Canada voted to amend its conduct rules governing the advertising of legal services with a view to strengthening their ability to protect the public. In the Law Society’s own words, the amended rules:
- Provide detailed guidance on what awards may be used for marketing purposes. Amendments to the rules provide specific direction to the professions on the type of awards and honours that are permitted in advertising.
- Require licensees to identify in their advertising whether they are a lawyer or paralegal. This will enhance the public’s awareness of the different types of licences and help the public make a more informed choice of legal service provider.
- Prohibit advertising of second-opinion services. The Working Group found that the main purpose of second-opinion advertising was to attract already-represented clients with the intention of having the client switch lawyer or paralegal — rather than to market valuable second-opinion services. Under the new rules, second-opinion services are still permitted. The Working Group found that the public is well-informed of the right to seek a second opinion and to change lawyer or paralegal. Advertising of this service is not required.
- Make explicit that lawyers and paralegals may not advertise for work they are not licensed to do, not competent to do or do not intend to do. The amended rules provide additional guidance to lawyers and paralegals in these areas to ensure that they are fully aware of their obligations to the public.
At the same meeting, the Law Society approved a policy to cap and further regulate the fees a lawyer or paralegal may charge for referring a client to another licensee. More details from the Law Society on this change can be found here.