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LSO COVID-19 Response

FAQs: Practice Management

Lawyers and paralegals have been asking the questions set out below, which are grouped by the following topics.

Licensee Supports

Practice Interruptions

  • What should lawyers or paralegals do to plan for ongoing practice interruptions associated with COVID-19?
    Lawyers and paralegals should have disaster or business continuity plans in place for their workplaces. In light of COVID-19, these plans should address situations involving a serious infectious disease outbreak, including a pandemic or a severe seasonal outbreak that results from a virus or other agent (“pandemic plan”).  Lawyers and paralegals should ensure that their pandemic plans meet their specific business and operational needs, and comply with legislative and regulatory requirements, restrictions, and public health recommendations. For more information, see the Office Management section of this FAQ.

    If lawyers or paralegals do not have such plans in place, or existing plans do not adequately address the concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, they should consider reviewing the below resources and following the recommended planning steps identified therein [See disclaimer.]:
    Last updated: March 30, 2021
  • What specific practice management considerations should lawyers or paralegals keep in mind when preparing or updating a pandemic or business continuity plan?

    Lawyers and paralegals should be mindful of the following practice management considerations when dealing with practice interruptions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic:

    Keeping Abreast of Legislative Changes
    In response to COVID-19, the federal and provincial government have introduced and adopted legislative and other measures to protect Canadians, both individuals and businesses, during the pandemic.  Lawyers and paralegals should consider monitoring the following sites for up to date information on these measures and how they impact their practice:


    Understanding Required Practice Adjustments for Working Remotely
    Lawyers or paralegals who work remotely from home or another location, as part of their pandemic or business continuity plans, should consider whether all the key information they require is readily accessible and current. This includes client contact information, client files, staff and service provider contact information, bank account information, and passwords for personal and staff voicemail, computers and emails.

    Lawyers and paralegals should also consider how they will:

    • keep client information confidential from family members or others
    • communicate with clients
    • secure and receive deliveries to their offices
    • continue to delegate to, and appropriately supervise, non-licensees and other staff.


    If non-licensee or other staff are also working remotely, lawyers and paralegals must ensure that the non-licensee or other staff are able to maintain confidentiality in doing so.

    For more information, see the question “How can I ensure that client confidentiality is protected when working remotely?” below.

    Ensuring Awareness of Entitlements Relating to Illness or Absence of Staff
    Lawyer and paralegal employers should ensure they are aware of the changes introduced by the federal and provincial government to assist employers and employees in mitigating the financial impact of COVID-19. This includes, for example, the introduction of a new type of unpaid, job protected leave relating to COVID-19. For more information, see the question “Are employees entitled to take a leave relating to COVID-19?” below.

    Lawyers and paralegals should also consider what specific tasks are impacted if staff are unable to attend the office and ensure that coverage is provided so that clients are not prejudiced.

    In the event that lawyers or paralegals are themselves unable to continue to manage their practice due to illness, they should have a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property including Law Practice or Paralegal Practice in place. See the Law Society’s Contingency Planning Guide (for Lawyers) (for Paralegals) for more information.

    Maintaining Ongoing Communication
    If lawyers or paralegals are changing their business hours, if alternative means of communication will be used or there will be delays to communication, or if other changes to firm operations are anticipated, lawyers and paralegals should communicate this information to clients and staff as soon as practicable. Lawyers and paralegals may consider using email updates, notices on their websites, or other means, as appropriate, based on the needs of their clients and staff.

    Last updated: March 30, 2021
  • What should I do if I have to wind-up my practice temporarily or permanently?

    If you intend to temporarily or permanently wind-up your practice, or if you have questions about the procedures and requirements to wind-up your practice and/or to close your trust account, please review the resources available here. If you still have questions about winding-up your practice, you can contact Trustee Services by email at PracticeWindUpAssistance@lso.ca. If you do not have access to email, you may contact the Trustee Services by phone at 416-947-3366, toll-free 1-800-668-7380 ext. 3366.

    Last updated: March 21, 2021

Office Management

Confidentiality

  • How can I ensure that client confidentiality is protected when working remotely?

    Licensees working remotely should take measures to manage or minimize the risks that remote work environments can pose to client confidentiality. These risks include:

    • increased vulnerability to cyber attacks or data breaches;
    • sharing confidential information across unsecure platforms;
    • technical work disruptions; and
    • offices that are shared with or accessible by others.


    Licensees are strongly encouraged to review and, if needed, adjust current workplace policies and procedures to adequately address and mitigate these risks. In developing these remote work practices, licensees should consider:

    • Whether licensees or their employees require training on cybersecurity best practices and procedures to better understand, identify, and avoid cybercrime dangers.
    • Whether remote work devices, networks, and software have the latest security updates to protect and maintain client confidentiality.  
    • How to advise clients of remote work communication practices, including identifying the risks and measures taken to safeguard their confidential information.
    • Whether to restrict the use of personal devices or equipment and personal email or online accounts for work-related matters. 
    • How to protect confidentiality when using online communication platforms or cloud storage services.  
    • How and under what conditions client property can be removed from the office.
    • How client property should be used, secured, stored, managed, and returned.
    • How to prevent the accidental loss or inadvertent disclosure of confidential information.


    For additional guidance and practical steps for complying with your professional obligations in a remote work environment, including the duty of confidentiality, licensees should contact the Practice Management Helpline.

    In addition to the duty of confidentiality, licensees should be aware of their legal obligations under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. For more information, licensees may wish to consult PIPEDA and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website.


    Last updated: June 20, 2022

  • Do my confidentiality obligations prevent office support staff from performing their work remotely?

    No, but as a licensee you are required to assume complete professional responsibility for your practice, which includes ensuring that you and your employees (whether licensee or non-licensee; full-time, part-time, or temporary) abide by the Law Society’s rules of conduct and by-laws. This duty includes ensuring you and your employees understand the obligation to protect confidential client information from unauthorized access or disclosure and know what steps to take to safeguard client documents against loss, damage, or misuse. The obligation to maintain client confidentiality applies whether you or your employees are working physically in the office or from a remote location. 

    Remote work environments can present unique challenges for licensees in meeting their practice management and professional responsibilities. To manage these challenges, licensees should implement strategies to protect client confidentiality while working remotely. For more information see the question How can I ensure that client confidentiality is protected when working remotely?" above. 

     

    Last reviewed: June 20, 2022

Cybersecurity

  • Is there increased cybersecurity risk during COVID-19?

    Yes, there is. Licensees and their staff are strongly encouraged to exercise vigilance and take precautions during COVID-19.

    Cyber threat actors often seek to exploit individuals and organizations during periods of rapid change, stress, or confusion. These actors threaten the privacy, financial security, and safety of individuals and organizations through the theft of personal and proprietary information. Licensees may wish to consult the Government of Canada’s National Cyber Threat Assessment 2020 Report for information on the most significant cyber threats facing Canadians and Canadian organizations.   

    For a list of considerations to help licensees safeguard personal and confidential client information against unlawful or unauthorized access, disclosure, or theft see the question How can I ensure that client confidentiality is protected when working remotely?” above.

    Licensees may also wish to review the following resources:

    • practicePRO®’s Cyber Dangers webpage which contains articles to help licensees understand cybercrime exposure and take steps to reduce cyber breaches. 
    • The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security’s Cyber Security Tips for Remote Work*, which provides tips for practicing good cyber hygiene when working from any remote location.
    • The Government of Canada’s GetCyberSafe.ca* website which provides simple, realistic, and achievable steps to make individuals and organizations more secure. 


    [Disclaimer.]


    Last updated: June 20, 2022

Virtual Meetings

  • How can lawyers and paralegals communicate effectively with clients while using physical distancing?

    To help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, the Ontario government continues to strongly advise all individuals to maintain physical distancing when meeting with persons outside of their households.  In light of this recommendation, lawyers and paralegals should consider conducting routine meetings with clients by phone or using video-conferencing options such as Zoom, Skype, Facetime or other platforms.

    It is also important for lawyers and paralegals to be aware of the types of engagements with clients that in typical circumstances would require an in-person meeting and that in the context of COVID-19 require a heightened risk-based approach if an in-person meeting is not going to be conducted.

    Lawyers and paralegals should be mindful of their obligations to communicate effectively with clients when selecting an alternative means of communication:

    • Commentary [8.1] to Rule 3.1-2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (“Rules”) provides that what is effective communication with the client will vary depending on the nature of the retainer, the needs and sophistication of the client, and the need for the client to make fully informed decisions and provide instructions.
    • Rule 3.01(4)(e) and (f) of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct (“Paralegal Rules”) defines competence as including communicating with the client at all relevant stages of a matter and answering reasonable client requests in a timely and effective manner.
    • Guidelines 10, 10.1, and 10.3 of the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines state that a paralegal can provide more effective client service by keeping the client informed regarding his or her matter, and being clear about what the client expects, both at the beginning of the retainer and throughout the retainer.
    • Section 3.3 of the Rules and Rule 3.03 of the Paralegal Rules require that lawyers and paralegals protect the confidential information of their clients when meeting with them virtually or in person. 

    In the context of COVID-19, if lawyers and paralegals choose to change their means of client communication, they should consider notifying clients about the alternative means of communication that they intend to use as soon as practicable. For more information about best practices in using alternative means of communication, please see the questions and answers below.

    Last updated: March 30, 2021
  • Can licensees use virtual or remote means of assessing a client's capacity such as video conferencing or telephone?
    The legal requirement(s) for assessing a person’s capacity to make a decision is not regulated by the Law Society and varies based on the task or decision at hand.

    Licensees should continue to consult the relevant legislation and case law that govern capacity and consider whether or not they have the ability to adequately assess a person’s capacity through remote means, such as on video conferencing or telephone. Depending on the context of the matter, applicable legislation may include the Substitute Decisions Act, the Rules of Civil Procedure, and/or other legislation and regulations.

    In using video conferencing or telephone as the exclusive means of communicating with a client, licensees should also assess whether there is a risk that the client may be subject to undue influence or duress.
     
    Last updated: June 20, 2022
  • Are licensees permitted to record meetings with clients conducted by telephone or using virtual communication technologies?

    Yes, however the Law Society’s rules of conduct impose a duty on licensees to inform their client(s) of their intention to do so. The benefits, risks, requirements, and risk management best practices are described in more detail below.

    There are benefits to recording meetings where client communication and confirmation of instructions may be more challenging due to remote working, physical distancing protocols prevent in-person communication, and/or where licensees are attempting to quickly adapt to the use of new technologies in their practices. However, if licensees choose to record such meetings, they should be mindful of the associated risks of doing so and take steps to manage these risks.

    Benefits of Recording

    These benefits should be considered in the context of the following risks:

    • Access by others to audio or video files of client meetings that were not securely stored, as this may result in breaches of confidentiality or privilege.
    • Some clients may be less open and honest with a licensee if they know they are being recorded.
    • Important client meeting information could be lost if there are limits on access to the recorded files.
     
    Risks of Recording

    These benefits should be considered in the context of the following risks:

    • Access by others to audio or video files of client meetings that were not securely stored, as this may result in breaches of confidentiality or privilege.
    • Some clients may be less open and honest with a lawyer or paralegal if they know they are being recorded.
    • Important client meeting information could be lost if there are limits on access to the recorded files.

    Requirement to Inform  

    After balancing the benefits and risks, if a licensee wishes to record a client conversation or meeting, the licensee must inform the client of the intention to do so. Licensees are prohibited from using any device to secretly record a discussion with a client, irrespective of whether such recording is permitted by law.

    Licensees should be aware that the Law Society’s rules of conduct also require them to inform other legal practitioners of their intention to record them. Although not required by the Law Society’s rules of conduct, if other persons are present for a meeting that a licensee intends to record, the licensee should also inform such persons about their intention to record them, as there may be other legal requirements to advise persons about the recording.


    Risk Management Best Practices for Recording

    In addition to complying with the Law Society’s rules of conduct, to manage the risks of recording identified above, licensees should also consider taking the following steps:

    • Reviewing virtual conferencing service agreements to determine security, location, and accessibility of recordings and taking appropriate steps to address any issues that arise.
    • Where possible, confirming the intention to record the client in writing in advance. If that is not possible, confirming the intention to record the client at the start of the recording. 
    • Reminding the client at the outset of the call or meeting that it is being recorded.
    • Assessing on an ongoing basis whether the recording of the client meeting is undermining the client freely sharing relevant information with the licensee.


    Last updated: June 20, 2022

  • What are some best practices for using video conferencing in providing legal advice or services?

Client Identification and Verification

  • In the context of COVID-19, can a lawyer or paralegal use a virtual means of identifying or verifying the identity of a client such as video conferencing or telephone?

    Identification and verification of identity are required in different circumstances and each have distinct requirements. For more information, consult the Glossary of Defined Terms for anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.

    To identify your client or any third party, you only need to obtain certain basic identifying information (e.g., home address and number, business address and number, occupation, general nature of the type of business, etc.). This information can be obtained by email, phone, video conference, or other forms of communication. There is no requirement that identification be completed face-to-face.

    Virtual verification of identity by video conference is an emergency measure that is permitted by the Law Society during the COVID-19 pandemic until further notice. However, effective January 1, 2022, licensees should note that two additional methods to verify identity are permitted that do not require licensees to be in an individual’s physical presence: credit file method and dual process method. The option to use an agent to verify identity also remains available. For more information on these verification methods, see the Law Society’s Client Identification and Verification Flowchart and Frequently Asked Questions about Client Identification and Verification. For information on using an agent see the Law Society’s Using an Agent for Verification of Identity.

    Licensees who nevertheless choose to verify identity virtually during the pandemic should consider and manage the risks associated with doing so. For more information about the risks and how to mitigate them, see the question below.

    Last updated: January 1, 2022

  • How can lawyers or paralegals manage the risks associated with verifying client identity during COVID-19?

    During COVID-19, consider taking the following steps to help manage risk:

    1. Identify any risks of fraud, money laundering, or other illegal activity posed by the client, the services being provided, or the transaction in question, attempt to mitigate these risks, and determine whether to proceed with the retainer.

    • Stay alert to the fact that persons may attempt to use situations like COVID-19 as an opportunity to commit fraud or other illegal acts and to be particularly vigilant for red flags of fraud or other illegal activities.  For examples of how red flags may arise in different practice areas review the Law Society’s Risk Assessment Case Studies.
    • Document any red flags, what measures have been taken to mitigate that risk, and your decision on how you proceeded. You may consider using the Law Society’s Worksheet: Red Flags of Fraud, Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Other Illegal Activity to document your due diligence.    
    • If many red flags are present, determine whether you are permitted to proceed with the matter. If you know or ought to know that you would be assisting a client with fraud or other illegal activity, you must decline to act or withdraw representation.
     
    1. After conducting this risk assessment, if you will be proceeding with the matter, consider using the dual process or credit file method of verifying identity, which do not require you to be in the physical presence of the client or third party but may reduce the risk of fraud or money laundering. For more information about these methods, review the Law Society’s Client Identification and Verification Flowchart.
       

    2. If you decide to use video conferencing to conduct verification of client identity, you should

    • Consider requesting that the client send a high-resolution image of the identification document by secure means in advance of the video conference and asking the client to show the original identification document during the video conference;
    • Ensure that you are reasonably satisfied that the identification document is authentic, valid, and current;
    • Compare the image in the identification document with the client to be reasonably satisfied that it is the same person;
    • Record, with the applicable date, the method by which you verified the client’s identification; and
    • Document the efforts that you made to verify the client’s identity in accordance with the existing client identification and verification requirements and the reasons why you were unable to verify the client’s identity in accordance with the existing requirements.
     

    In response to COVID-19, lawyers and paralegals should be aware that validity periods for government issued forms of identification that expired on or after March 1, 2020 were extended. For further information, see the FAQ, “In the context of COVID-19, what if a client’s identification has recently expired?


    Last updated: January 1, 2022

  • In the context of client verification during COVID-19, what if a client’s driver’s licence has expired?

    To ensure the health and safety of their employees and the public, the Ontario government extended the validity of identification documents, including drivers’ licenses, that expired on or after March 1, 2020, so that in-person visits to renewal facilities could be avoided. Information on the extended validity and renewal requirements for drivers’ licences in Ontario is available here.  

    On September 1, 2021, the Ontario government announced that it will be reinstating the renewal requirements for provincial identification documents. Persons with expired driver’s licences have until February 28, 2022 to ensure these documents are renewed. The Minister of Transportation is encouraging Ontarians to plan ahead and renew their documents online using Service Ontario’s online portal.

    For the purposes of verifying client identity, if a person presents a driver’s licence that expired on or after March 1, 2020, lawyers and paralegals must continue to determine that the document is an original government-issued photo identification document, but can, until the renewal deadline of February 28, 2022, consider the driver’s licence as valid and current. Alternatively, lawyers and paralegals may wish to consider using the credit file or dual process method to verify the identity of the person. For more information on these methods of verification, review the Law Society’s Client Identification and Verification Flowchart.

    As the approach to this issue may vary among provincial and territorial governments in Canada, lawyers and paralegals should check with the appropriate authority in other jurisdiction(s), if applicable.

    Last updated: February 9, 2022

Commissioning and Notarization

  • Can a licensee use remote or virtual commissioning?

    Yes, but only if certain conditions are met.

    For detailed information on the conditions for remote commissioning as well as its governing legislation, the risks associated with it, practice tips to mitigate risk, and best practice resources, see the Law Society’s Remote Commissioning resource.

    Last reviewed: June 20, 2022

  • Can a licensee use remote or virtual notarization?

    Notarizing is governed by the Notaries Act (the “Act”) and is not regulated by the Law Society. Licensees acting as a notary public are required to comply with the requirements set out in the Act.

    Effective August 1, 2020, amendments to the Act allow for remote notarization if regulations made under the Act so provide and the conditions set out in the regulations are met.

    Regulations permitting or setting out conditions for remote notarization have not yet been made. As a result, the Act does not permit licensees to remotely notarize documents at this time.

    The Law Society will provide updates to the legal professions about remote notarization if regulations are introduced.

    Note: Amendments to the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act and a new Regulation on remote commissioning also came into force on August 1, 2020. These amendments and the Regulation enable remote commissioning if the conditions set out in the Regulation are met. For more information see the above FAQs on Commissioning.

    Last updated: June 20, 2022

Signing Documents

  • Can electronic signatures be used to execute documents?

    The Law Society does not regulate how documents are executed. This is a substantive legal issue and is context specific. Licensees should, therefore, review applicable legislation to determine if electronic signatures are permitted in the context of their matters. For example:

    Last updated: June 20, 2022
  • Do retainer agreements need to be signed?

    Only where contingency fees are being charged under a standard form contingency fee agreement. In most contingency fee matters, the Solicitors Act and its regulation require that lawyers and paralegals use a Standard Form Contingency Fee Agreement, which must be signed by the client and the lawyer or paralegal. Where contingency fees will be charged but a Standard Form Contingency Fee Agreement is not required, as a best practice, lawyers and paralegals should consider signing and having the client sign the agreement, but it is not required. For more information on the contingency fee requirements, see the Law Society’s Contingency Fees page.

    Although the Law Society requires that lawyers and paralegals enter into written retainer agreements with clients for limited scope representation, there is no requirement that limited scope retainers be signed. It is, however, a best practice.

    For all other matters, written retainer agreements are optional. However, as a best practice, the Law Society’s existing guidance materials do recommend that all engagements be confirmed in writing by way of either a retainer agreement executed by the client or an engagement letter. Additional information about the terms to include in retainer agreements or engagement letters is available in the Law Society’s Retainer Agreement or Engagement Letter resource. 

    In order to comply with public health recommendations or directives to exercise physical distancing, at this time, lawyers and paralegals are encouraged to confirm the essential terms of an engagement in writing through whatever means is most practical. For example, lawyers or paralegals may wish to send an email to a client confirming the terms of engagement and asking the client to acknowledge the terms by email. Alternatively, lawyers or paralegals who wish to continue to use written retainer agreements may mail, email, or courier documents to their clients for signature.

    Last reviewed: February 4, 2022

Litigation

Real Estate

Wills and Power of Attorney

  • Is remote execution and witnessing of wills and powers of attorney permitted?

    Yes. Bill 245, Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021 (“Bill 245”), which received Royal Assent on April 19, 2021, amended the Succession Law Reform Act  and the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 to permanently provide for the remote execution and witnessing of wills and powers of attorney.

    For a high-level summary of the requirements for the remote execution and witnessing of wills and powers of attorney see the questions below.
     

    Last reviewed: June 20, 2022

     
  • What are the requirements for wills executed and witnessed remotely?

    The requirement that the testator or witness be present or in one another’s presence for the making or acknowledgement of a signature on a will, or the subscribing of the will may be satisfied through the use of audio-visual communication technology if:

    • At least one witness is a licensee within the meaning of the Law Society Act at the time of the making, acknowledgment, or subscribing of the will. 
    • The making or acknowledging of the signature and the subscribing of the will are contemporaneous.
    • Any requirements specified in the Regulations are met (there are none at this time).


    Unless otherwise noted, all other requirements for wills remain in place.

    The above requirements came into force May 20, 2021. For wills executed remotely before this date, licensees should consult O. Reg. 129/20, Signatures in Wills and Power of Attorney (“O. Reg. 129/20”) and Schedule 9 to Bill 245. Licensees should note that the requirements identified above are not identical to those under O. Reg. 129/20. Specifically, licensees are now required to ensure that all signatures required for a valid will are made contemporaneously​For more information, licensees should consult the Law Society’s Remote Commissioning resource.

    Last updated: June 20, 2022

  • What are the requirements for powers of attorney executed and witnessed remotely?
    The requirement that witnesses be present for the execution of a power of attorney may be satisfied through the use of audio-visual communication technology if:
    • At least one witness is a licensee within the meaning of the Law Society Act at the time the power of attorney is executed.
    • The signatures required to execute a power of attorney (i.e., donor and witnesses) are contemporaneously made.
    • Any prescribed requirements are met (there are none at this time).

    The above requirements came into force on May 20, 2021. For powers of attorney executed remotely before this date, licensees should consult O. Reg. 129/20, Signatures in Wills and Power of Attorney (“O. Reg. 129/20”) and Schedule 8 to Bill 245. Licensees should note that the requirements identified above are not identical to those under O. Reg. 129/20. Specifically, licensees must now ensure that all signatures required for a valid power of attorney are made contemporaneously. For more information, licensees should consult the Law Society’s Remote Commissioning resource.

    Last updated: June 20, 2022
  • What process must be followed to complete the remote execution of a will or power of attorney?

    The process to complete a remote execution of a will or power of attorney is not prescribed in Bill 245.
    To ensure a consistent process is used and documented, and to mitigate the risks associated with not being in the physical presence of testators, donors, or witnesses, lawyers may wish to consider developing or adopting a checklist which can be used to help them execute wills or commission powers of attorney with the assistance of audio-visual communication technology.

    The following resources are provided to assist:


    You may also wish to review LawPRO®’s article, Tips to Manage the Important New Changes to Wills Powers of Attorney and Succession Law.

    [Disclaimer]

    Last reviewed: June 20, 2022

  • How can I assist a client who wishes to make a will if neither remote nor in-person execution are possible?

    Where remote and in-person will execution are not possible, lawyers may wish to explore the use of holograph wills with their client. For more information, consider reviewing: 

    Emergency Holograph Wills for Clients in Isolation
    Sample Client Holograph Will Instruction Sheet

    Last reviewed: June 11, 2021

  • Should wills or powers of attorney be executed remotely in all instances?

    No. Although Schedules 8 and 9 of Bill 245 amend the Succession Law Reform Act and the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 to permanently permit lawyers to remotely execute and witness wills and powers of attorney, there may be times when the execution of a will or power of attorney should not be conducted remotely. For each matter, lawyers should assess the specific circumstances and client instructions to determine if remote signing and witnessing is possible and appropriate. For example, lawyers should consider whether any of the following are potential issues in a particular matter:

    • Lawyer, client, or witness access to or competence with suitable audio-visual communication technology
    • Client capacity
    • Client duress, coercion, or undue influence
    • Red flags of fraud with respect to the will or power of attorney

    If any of these issues are present, lawyers should take appropriate steps. Depending on the circumstances, lawyers should
    • ensure that the issue is resolved to their satisfaction prior to the remote execution or witnessing,
    • decline to proceed with a remote execution, or
    • in some cases, refuse to act in or withdraw from the matter.


    Last reviewed: June 20, 2022

  • Do these legislative changes impact paralegal scope of practice?

    No. Paralegal scope of practice did not change; it continues to be defined by By-Law 4 made pursuant to the Law Society Act.

    While either a lawyer or a paralegal are required to be a witness to remote execution, only lawyers are permitted to prepare and provide legal advice about wills or powers of attorney.

    For greater certainty, nothing in Bill 245, the Succession Law Reform Act, the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, or the emergency orders previously enacted and extended by the Ontario Government permit a paralegal to prepare a will or power of attorney or to provide legal advice about wills and powers of attorney, including about the operation or effect of the will or power of attorney being remotely executed.

    Last reviewed: June 11, 2021

  • What other supports are available in respect of will or power of attorney execution during COVID-19?

    Practice Management Helpline: If lawyers have specific questions about how to comply with their professional obligations or navigate practice management issues in the context of COVID-19, they may wish to contact the Law Society’s Practice Management Helpline at 416-947-3315 or toll free 1-800-668-7380 extension 3315, Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT, and select the option to connect with the Helpline.

    Coach and Advisor Network: Lawyers and paralegals can access the Law Society’s Coach and Advisor Network, which provides access to short-term, outcome-oriented relationships with Coaches and Advisors drawn from the professions. Coaches support the implementation of best practices and Advisors assist with substantive and procedural law inquiries on client files. Lawyers and paralegals can request time with a Coach or Advisor here.

    [See Disclaimer]

    Last reviewed: June 11, 2021

*The COVID-19 Pandemic is a rapidly developing event. The Law Society of Ontario has prioritized speed and breadth in assembling resources that may be of use to licensees in this extraordinary time. Selection for inclusion is not an endorsement of the material or its author, and the Society cannot guarantee the quality or accuracy of the content. Licensees must exercise their own professional skill and judgement when adopting and applying any of the legal information contained in these materials. This compilation is not exhaustive, and the Society may add or remove material at any time.

Terms or Concepts Explained