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Firm Regulation

The Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019, introduced by the provincial government on December 9, includes changes to the Law Society Act that, if passed, will enable the Law Society to regulate firms – in addition to individual lawyers and paralegals. Any specifics of firm regulation will be implemented through by-laws adopted by Convocation, after consultation with licensees.

Firm regulation:

  • recognizes that clients have a relationship with the firm, as well as the individuals within the firm and that regulatory accountability for firms is in the public interest
  • acknowledges that many professional decisions that were once made by an individual lawyer or paralegal are increasingly determined by firm policies and procedures.
Firm regulation is expected to enhance public protection. At the same time, the new provisions are intended to be positive for firms and licensees alike. Firm regulation would:
  • streamline the reporting relationship for lawyers and paralegals in firms, reducing unnecessary burden
  • provide consumers with relevant information about firms and their licensees, enabling more informed choices
  • allow for more efficient and effective investigations into misconduct.

 

One size does not fit all
The new provisions will enable to Law Society to distinguish between types of firms and treat them differently, in a way that recognizes the realities of sole and small practices and the fact that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to firm regulation.


Consultation
The Law Society is committed to consultation with licensees on the nature and scope of firm regulation, if this enabling legislation is passed.


Background
In May 2016, Convocation approved, following consultation, the recommendation of the Task Force on Compliance-Based Entity Regulation to seek an amendment to the Law Society Act to permit Law Society regulation of entities through which legal services are provided.

Law firm regulation has existed for several years in other Canadian provinces. Similarly, firm regulation is an established part of the regulatory systems for other regulated professions and industries in Canada.

Terms or Concepts Explained