Public complaints about CanLaw lawyer referral service

The Law Society has received complaints from the public and lawyers regarding an online lawyer referral service called CanLaw (www.canlaw.com). The complaints come primarily from women who report receiving abusive and obscene emails from CanLaw when they request a referral for a lawyer (especially if the referral is for a family relations matter).

One woman who requested a referral received a reply which said: "Are you stupid? You want us to provide you with thousands of lawyers' names for free? Piss off you pathetic lunatic."

A woman who requested a referral in a custody dispute, but had her credit card rejected when she tried to pay CanLaw's $5.00 service charge, received this reply: "You are a deadbeat. You are also a lunatic. I hope you and your family die. Now go to hell."

The woman who received this email was particularly concerned because she had provided CanLaw with a great deal of personal information, including her home address and phone number, the type of legal dispute she was involved in and her credit card number.

Women lawyers who have registered with CanLaw also report receiving abusive emails. One lawyer who was not registered with CanLaw, but asked CanLaw to stop sending her unsolicited emails, received a response calling her "another stupid little girl who got through law school on her back" and a "despicable, ignorant, round-heeled, feminist bigot."

Some members of the public mistakenly assume CanLaw, which is based in Toronto, is in some way affiliated with or approved by provincial law societies or the Canadian Bar Association. CanLaw is not associated with any law society or with any bar association and its principal is not a lawyer.