WHAT WE DO Authorized by Provincial Legislation to protect the public interest, the Law Society is funded by lawyersâ€™ fees and is governed by a Board of Directors, known as Benchers. The majority of Benchers (17) are elected by their peers to ensure regional representation and the remainder (4) are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Trial Division to ensure public representation.
This team is supported by a full time Executive Director and staff. Together, we strive to ensure that lawyers are providing the highest quality of service to the public by providing access to research, education opportunities and by establishing best practice standards.
The Law Society is also actively engaged in supporting public access to sound legal advice and encourages lawyers to participate in pro-bono legal clinics.
Everything we do is in the public interest.
ACTING IN THE
PUBLIC INTEREST The Law Society protects the public interest by promoting competence, high quality of service and professionally responsible conduct. We have multiple departments, all of which are geared toward public protection:
Education and Admissions
To ensure competence both at admission and ongoing
To ensure compliance with ethical and other professional rules
To ensure the maintenance of adequate insurance coverage for professional liability
To provide an opportunity to access compensation for theft by a lawyer
To protect clientsâ€™ property when a lawyer ceases to practice
The Law Society also provides: i) free access to legal resources at the Law Library or through the online resource tool CanLII which is fully funded by lawyers; ii) a comprehensive online lawyer directory.
PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND REGULATING THE PRACTICE OF LAW
The Law Society is responsible for developing professional practice standards for lawyers and ensuring they are followed. The Law Society works with its counterpart organizations across the country to develop rules which are consistent and responsive to the needs of the public.
The Law Society has established standards for the regulation of the practice of law, in part, through the Law Society Rules, which provide guidance on matters including, but not limited to, admissions, competence, client property and discipline.
The Law Society has also adopted a Code of Professional Conduct which establishes the minimum standard of conduct expected of lawyers. The Code is directed toward ensuring that the legal profession remains dedicated to practicing in accordance with the highest standards of competence, honesty and professionalism.
Lawyers are required to act, at all times, in accordance with the Law Society Act, 1999, the Rules and the Code of Professional Conduct.
The Law Society has both the ability to investigate issues of
non-compliance and provide disciplinary measures, where needed.
OUR PLACE IN THE
LEGAL SYSTEM The Law Society is the gatekeeper to the practice of law in the Province. No person may practice law without a license or authorization from the Law Society to do so. A license will only be issued to a person who is: i) of good character and reputation; and ii) fit to engage in the practice of law. In accordance with national mobility rules, a lawyer entitled to practice in another Canadian jurisdiction will be authorized to practice law in this Province on a temporary basis. The Law Society is committed to ensuring that lawyers provide the highest quality of service to the public.
COMPLAINTS PROCESS Please contact the Law Society if you have a concern about a lawyer’s conduct. Outlined below is a snapshot of the discipline process followed by the Law Society:
Allegation An original written document alleging that a lawyer has engaged in conduct deserving of sanction is received by the Law Society. Is it an “allegation” as defined by the Law Society Act, 1999? • If yes, the Vice-President may, where appropriate and with the consent of the complainant and the lawyer, attempt to resolve the matter through alternative dispute resolution. The lawyer will be asked to respond to the allegation. If the matter is not resolved in a satisfactory manner, it will be referred to the Complaints Authorization Committee (CAC). • If no, the Vice-President informs the complainant and the process ends.
Complaints Authorization Committee The CAC must determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the lawyer has engaged in conduct deserving of sanction and it has investigatory powers to aid in this determination. If the CAC believes that there are reasonable grounds it may: i) counsel or caution the lawyer; ii) instruct the Vice-President to file a complaint and refer the matter to the Disciplinary Panel; iii) make application for custodianship; and iv) suspend or restrict a lawyerâ€™s license.
Disciplinary Panel If a matter is referred to the Disciplinary Panel, the Chair of the Panel will appoint an Adjudication Tribunal which will determine whether the lawyer has engaged in conduct deserving of sanction. The Tribunal is comprised of two lawyers and one member of the public. â€˘ If no, the complaint will be dismissed. â€˘ If yes, the Tribunal may make an Order in accordance with the Law Society Act, 1999, which ranges from a reprimand to disbarment. While the complainant may be a witness, the Law Society and the lawyer are the parties to the hearing. Hearings are held in public unless the Tribunal determines that it is in the public interest to order otherwise.
Law Society of Newfoundland & Labrador 196-198 Water St, St. Johnâ€™s p: 709.722.4740 e: firstname.lastname@example.org