Federation of Law Societies consults on draft Model Code of Conduct

The Federation of Law Societies has asked the law societies across the country for feedback on a draft code prepared by the federation’s Committee on the Model Code of Professional Conduct, and the Law Society expects to do that before the end of the year.

Bencher David Zacks, QC and staff lawyer Jack Olsen represent the society on the committee — which has been working since 2005 on a template for codes of professional conduct for Canadian law societies.

“There is no expectation that all law societies would have an identical code of conduct,” Zacks says. “But societies across the country have recognized that with increasing mobility of lawyers between jurisdictions, there would be an advantage to having many common rules of conduct.”

Federation of Law Societies logo“There is a general recognition that it would be particularly advantageous to have common — or at least similar — conflict of interest rules, since the determination of conflicts is the most visible area where jurisdictional differences affect both lawyers and clients.”

The draft code is laid out in a series of rules and accompanying commentaries, unlike the chapter format of our current Professional Conduct Handbook. The commentaries are intended to go beyond the rules, providing lawyers with additional guidance that remains subject to their judgment.

After it has received comments on the draft from the law societies, the federation will finalize and circulate its Model Code of Professional Conduct. Canada’s law societies will then be asked, first, to approve that code as the federation’s Model Code, and second, to adopt as many as possible of its provisions in their own codes of professional conduct.

Member input will be solicited before the Law Society considers whether it should implement all or a part of the Model Code of Professional Conduct in place of the current Professional Conduct Handbook.