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Chapter 6

Chapter 6     Relationship to Students, Employees, and Others


Direct Supervision Required

6.1-1 A lawyer shall in accordance with the by-laws

(a) assume complete professional responsibility for their practice of law, and

(b) directly supervise non-lawyers to whom particular tasks and functions are assigned.


[1] By-Law 7.1 governs the circumstances in which a lawyer may assign certain tasks and functions to a non-lawyer within a law practice. Where a non-lawyer is competent to do work under the supervision of a lawyer, a lawyer may assign work to the non-lawyer. The non-lawyer must be directly supervised by the lawyer. A lawyer is required to review the non-lawyer's work at frequent intervals to ensure its proper and timely completion.

[1.1] A lawyer may permit a non-lawyer to perform tasks assigned and supervised by the lawyer as long as the lawyer maintains a direct relationship with the client or, if the lawyer is in a community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, as long as the lawyer maintains a direct supervisory relationship with each client's case in accordance with the supervision requirements of Legal Aid Ontario and assumes full professional responsibility for the work.

[2] A lawyer who practises alone or operates a branch or part-time office should ensure that all matters requiring a lawyer's professional skill and judgment are dealt with by a lawyer qualified to do the work and that legal advice is not given by unauthorized persons, whether in the lawyer's name or otherwise.

[3] to [5] [FLSC - not in use]

[5.1] A lawyer should ensure that the non-lawyer is identified as such when communicating orally or in writing with clients, licensees, public officials, or with the public generally whether within or outside the offices of the law practice.

[5.2] The following examples, which are not exhaustive, illustrate situations where it may be appropriate to assign work to non-lawyers subject to direct supervision.

[5.3] Real Estate - A lawyer may permit a non-lawyer to attend to all matters of routine administration, assist in more complex transactions, draft statements of account and routine documents and correspondence and attend to registrations. The lawyer must not assign to a non- lawyer the ultimate responsibility for review of a title search report or of documents before signing or for review and signing of a letter of requisition, review and signing of a title opinion or review and signing of a reporting letter to the client.

[5.4] In real estate transactions using the system for the electronic registration of title documents ("e-reg" ™) only a lawyer may sign for completeness of any document that requires compliance with law statements.

[5.5] Corporate and Commercial - A lawyer may permit a non-lawyer to attend to all matters of routine administration and to assist in more complex matters and to draft routine documents and correspondence relating to corporate, commercial, and securities matters such as drafting corporate minutes and documents pursuant to corporation statutes, security instruments, security registration documents and contracts of all kinds, closing documents and statements of account, and to attend on filings.

[5.6] Wills, Trusts and Estates - A lawyer may permit a non-lawyer to attend to all matters of routine administration, to assist in more complex matters, to collect information, draft routine documents and correspondence, to prepare income tax returns, to calculate such taxes, to draft executors' accounts and statements of account, and to attend to filings.

[New - November 2007]

6.1-2 to 6.1-4 [FLSC - not in use.]

Electronic Registration of Title Documents

6.1-5 When a lawyer has a Personalized Security Package, the lawyer shall not permit others, including a non-lawyer employee, to use the lawyer's Personalized Security Package.

6.1-6 When a non-lawyer employed by a lawyer has a Personalized Security Package, the lawyer shall ensure that the non-lawyer does not permit others to use the Personalized Security Package


[1] The implementation across Ontario of a system for the electronic registration of title documents imposes special responsibilities on lawyers and others using the system. Each person in a law office who accesses the e-reg ™ system must have a Personalized Security Package. The integrity and security of the system is achieved, in part, by its maintaining a record of those using the system for any transactions. Moreover, under the system, only lawyers entitled to practise law may make certain prescribed statements. Statements professing compliance with law without registration of supporting documents may be made only by lawyers in good standing. Only lawyers entitled to practise law may approve electronic documents containing these statements. It is, therefore, important that lawyers should maintain and ensure the security and the exclusively personal use of the Personalized Security Package. When in a real estate practice it is permissible for a lawyer to delegate responsibilities to a non-lawyer who has a Personalized Security Package, the lawyer should ensure that the non-lawyer maintains and understands the importance of maintaining the security of the Personalized Security Package

[2] In real estate transactions using the e-reg ™ system, a lawyer who approves the electronic registration of title documents by a non-lawyer is responsible for the content of any document that contains the electronic signature of the non-lawyer.

[Amended - January 2018]

Title Insurance

6.1-6.1 A lawyer shall not permit a non-lawyer to

(a) provide advice to the client concerning any insurance, including title insurance, without supervision,

(b) present insurance options or information regarding premiums to the client without supervision,

(c) recommend one insurance product over another without supervision, and

(d) give legal opinions regarding the insurance coverage obtained.

[New - March 31, 2008]

Signing E-Reg™ Documents

6.1-6.2 A lawyer who electronically signs a document using e-reg™ assumes complete professional responsibility for the document.

[New - March 31, 2008, Amended - October 2014]


Recruitment and Engagement Procedures

6.2-1 A lawyer shall observe the procedures of the Law Society about the recruitment of articling students and the engagement of summer students.

Duties of Principal

6.2-2 A lawyer acting as a principal to a student shall provide the student with meaningful training and exposure to and involvement in work that will provide the student with knowledge and experience of the practical aspects of the law, together with an appreciation of the traditions and ethics of the profession.


[1] A principal or supervising lawyer is responsible for the actions of students acting under their direction.

[New - October 2014]

Duties of Articling Student

6.2-3 An articling student shall act in good faith in fulfilling and discharging all the commitments and obligations arising from the articling experience.



6.3-0 In rules 6.3-1 and 6.3-3, sexual harassment is one incident or a series of incidents involving unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

(a) when such conduct might reasonably be expected to cause insecurity, discomfort, offence, or humiliation to the recipient(s) of the conduct;

(b) when submission to such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a condition for the provision of professional services;

(c) when submission to such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a condition of employment;

(d) when submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for any employment decision (including, but not limited to, allocation of files, matters of promotion, raise in salary, job security, and benefits affecting the employee); or

(e) when such conduct has the purpose or the effect of interfering with a person's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.


[1] Types of behaviour that constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to,

(a) sexist jokes causing embarrassment or offence, or that are by their nature clearly embarrassing or offensive;

[Amended - January 2009]

(b) leering;

(c) the display of sexually offensive material;

(d) sexually degrading words used to describe a person;

(e) derogatory or degrading remarks directed towards members of one sex or one sexual orientation;

(f) sexually suggestive or obscene comments or gestures;

(g) unwelcome inquiries or comments about a person's sex life;

(h) unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions;

(i) persistent unwanted contact or attention after the end of a consensual relationship;

(j) requests for sexual favours;

(k) unwanted touching;

(l) verbal abuse or threats; and

(m) sexual assault.

[Updated - April 2018]

6.3-1 to 6.3-2 [FLSC - not in use]

Prohibition on Sexual Harassment

6.3-3 A lawyer shall not sexually harass a colleague, a staff member, a client, or any other person.

6.3-4 and 6.3-5 [FLSC - not in use]


Special Responsibility

6.3.1-1 A lawyer has a special responsibility to respect the requirements of human rights laws in force in Ontario and, specifically, to honour the obligation not to discriminate on the grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences (as defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code), marital status, family status, or disability with respect to professional employment of other lawyers, articled students, or any other person or in professional dealings with other licensees or any other person.

[Amended - June 2007, January 2014]


[1] The Law Society acknowledges the diversity of the community of Ontario in which lawyers serve and expects them to respect the dignity and worth of all persons and to treat all persons equally without discrimination.

[2] This rule sets out the special role of the profession to recognize and protect the dignity of individuals and the diversity of the community in Ontario.

[3] Rule 6.3.1-1 will be interpreted according to the provisions of the Human Rights Code (Ontario) and related case law.

[4] The Human Rights Code (Ontario) defines a number of grounds of discrimination listed in rule 6.3.1-1. For example,

[5] Age is defined as an age that is eighteen years or more.

[Amended - January 2009]

[6] Disability is broadly defined in s. 10 of the Human Rights Code (Ontario) to include both physical and mental disabilities.

[Amended - January 2009]

[7] Family status is defined as the status of being in a parent-and-child relationship.

[8] Marital status is defined as the status of being married, single, widowed, divorced, or separated and includes the status of living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage.

[Amended - January 2009]

[9] Record of offences is defined such that a prospective employer may not discriminate on the basis of a pardoned criminal offence (a pardon must have been granted under the Criminal Records Act (Canada) and not revoked) or provincial offences.

[10] The right to equal treatment without discrimination because of sex includes the right to equal treatment without discrimination because a woman is or may become pregnant.

[11] There is no statutory definition of discrimination. Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence defines discrimination as including

(a) Differentiation on prohibited grounds that creates a disadvantage. Lawyers who refuse to hire employees of a particular race, sex, creed, sexual orientation, etc. would be differentiating on the basis of prohibited grounds.

[Amended - January 2009]

(b) Adverse effect discrimination. An action or policy that is not intended to be discriminatory can result in an adverse effect that is discriminatory. If the application of a seemingly "neutral" rule or policy creates an adverse effect on a group protected by rule 6.3.1-1, there is a duty to accommodate. For example, while a requirement that all articling students have a driver's licence to permit them to travel wherever their job requires may seem reasonable, that requirement should only be imposed if driving a vehicle is an essential requirement for the position. Such a requirement may have the effect of excluding from employment persons with disabilities that prevent them from obtaining a licence.

[Amended - January 2009]

[12] Human rights law in Ontario includes as discrimination, conduct which, though not intended to discriminate, has an adverse impact on individuals or groups on the basis of the prohibited grounds. The Human Rights Code (Ontario) requires that the affected individuals or groups must be accommodated unless to do so would cause undue hardship.

[13] A lawyer should take reasonable steps to prevent or stop discrimination by any staff or agent who is subject to the lawyer's direction or control.

[14] Ontario human rights law excepts from discrimination special programs designed to relieve disadvantage for individuals or groups identified on the basis of the grounds noted in the Human Rights Code (Ontario).

[15] In addition to prohibiting discrimination, rule 6.3.1-1 prohibits harassment on the ground of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status, or disability. Harassment by superiors, colleagues, and co-workers is also prohibited.

[Amended - January 2009, January 2014]

[16] Harassment is defined as "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome" on the basis of any ground set out in rule 6.3.1-1. This could include, for example, repeatedly subjecting a client or colleague to jokes based on race or creed.


6.3.1-2 A lawyer shall ensure that no one is denied services or receives inferior service on the basis of the grounds set out in this rule.

Employment Practices

6.3.1-3 A lawyer shall ensure that their employment practices do not offend rule 6.3.1-1, 6.3.1-2 and 6.3-3.

[Amended - April 2018]


[1] Discrimination in employment or in the provision of services not only fails to meet professional standards, it also violates the Ontario Human Rights Code and related equity legislation.

[2] In advertising a job vacancy, an employer may not indicate qualifications by a prohibited ground of discrimination. However, where discrimination on a particular ground is permitted because of an exception under the Ontario Human Rights Code, such questions may be raised at an interview. For example, if an employer has an anti-nepotism policy, the employer may inquire about the applicant's possible relationship to another employee as that employee's spouse, child or parent. This is in contrast to questions about applicant's marital status by itself. Since marital status has no relevance to employment within a law firm, questions about marital status should not be asked.

[Amended - January 2009]

[3] An employer should consider the effect of seemingly "neutral" rules. Some rules, while applied to everyone, can bar entry to the firm or pose additional hardships on employees of one sex or of a particular creed, ethnic origin, marital or family status, or on those who have (or develop) disabilities. For example, a law office may have a written or unwritten dress code. It would be necessary to revise the dress code if it does not already accept that a head covering worn for religious reasons must be considered part of acceptable business attire. The maintenance of a rule with a discriminatory effect breaches rule 6.3.1-3 unless changing or eliminating the rule would cause undue hardship.

[4] If an applicant cannot perform all or part of an essential job requirement because of a personal characteristic listed in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the employer has a duty to accommodate. Only if the applicant cannot do the essential task with reasonable accommodation may the employer refuse to hire on this basis. A range of appropriate accommodation measures may be considered. An accommodation is considered reasonable unless it would cause undue hardship.

[5] The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that what is required is equality of result, not just of form. Differentiation can result in inequality, but so too can the application of the same rule to everyone, without regard for personal characteristics and circumstances. Equality of result requires the accommodation of differences that arise from the personal characteristics cited in rule 6.3.1-3.

[6] The nature of accommodation as well as the extent to which the duty to accommodate might apply in any individual case are developing areas of human rights law. However, the following principles are well established.

[7] If a rule, requirement, or expectation creates difficulty for an individual because of factors related to the personal characteristics noted in rule 6.3.1-1, the rule, requirement or expectation must be examined to determine whether it is "reasonable and bona fide". The following must be taken into account:

(a) if the rule, requirement or expectation is not imposed in good faith and is not strongly and logically connected to a business necessity, it cannot be maintained. There must be objectively verifiable evidence linking the rule, requirement, or expectation with the operation of the business; and

(b) if the rule, requirement, or expectation is imposed in good faith and is strongly logically connected to a business necessity, then the next step is to consider whether the individual who is disadvantaged by the rule can be accommodated.

[8] The duty to accommodate operates as both a positive obligation and as a limit to obligation. Accommodation must be offered to the point of undue hardship. Some hardship must be tolerated to promote equality; however, if the hardship occasioned by the particular accommodation at issue is "undue," that accommodation need not be made.

[9] Lawyers who employ one or more workers or who contract for the services of one or more worker are also required to comply with workplace violence and harassment provisions in the Occupational Health and Safety Act ("OHSA"). Under that Act, employers must prepare workplace violence and workplace harassment policies and must review those policies as often as necessary, but at least annually. Lawyers who employ 6 or more workers must have written policies that are posted at a conspicuous place in the workplace.

[10] The OHSA requires that employers assess the risks of workplace violence that may raise from the nature of the workplace, the type of work or the conditions of work and then develop and maintain a program to implement their workplace violence policy. That program must set out how the employer will investigate and deal with incidents or complaints of workplace violence, and must include measures and procedures to control any risks identified in the assessment, for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur, and for workers to report incidents or workplace violence to the employer or supervisor.

[11] Employers must also develop a program to implement the workplace harassment policy, which must include measurers and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to the employer or their supervisor, or to another person if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser. The program must also set out:

(a) how incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and dealt with;

(b) how information obtained about an incident or complaint, including identifying information about any individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless necessary for the investigation or for taking corrective action with respect to the incident or complaint, or is otherwise required by law; and

(c) how a worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser will be informed of the results of the investigation or the results of the investigation and of any corrective action taken as a result of the investigation.

[12] The OHSA also provides that an inspector may order, at the employer's expense, a third party investigation into allegations of workplace harassment.

[Amended - October 2014, Amended - April 2018]

Terms or Concepts Explained