The Law Society considers all complaints about lawyer conduct or competency. We receive about 1,200 complaints each year, representing a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of files handled collectively by BC lawyers per year.
The Law Society requires lawyers to practise law ethically and competently. For example, a lawyer should:
- be honest and courteous;
- keep clients informed, respond promptly to phone calls or letters and work in a timely fashion;
- respect client confidences;
- safeguard client funds and property and account for money entrusted to the lawyer;
- maintain adequate skills to represent clients effectively;
- not act in a conflict of interest (such as improperly acting against a former client or improperly sharing a business interest with a client).
The Law Society Complaints Process
Step 1 Complaint is filed (How to file a complaint)
Step 2 Assessment The Law Society determines if there is a basis for investigation. If there is not, the file will be closed.
Step 3 Investigation Complaints are reviewed and investigated by a staff lawyer and, where necessary, by a team that may also include legal assistants, commercial crime investigators and forensic accountants. Information and documents are gathered; interviews and audits may be conducted.
Step 4 Investigation concludes and one of the following decisions is made:
- Complaint is closed if it cannot be supported or proven or if the lawyer’s conduct is not serious enough to take the complaint any further
- Complaint is resolved, either with the help of the Law Society or because the lawyer and the client are able to settle the matter and there is no issue of improper conduct
- Lawyer is considered for practice support if the lawyer needs to upgrade skills, make changes to his or her practice or obtain other guidance
- Lawyer is considered for discipline if there are ethical concerns or serious breaches of Law Society rules
Complainants who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint can request a review of a complaint.