File a complaint
The Law Society has authority to review the conduct and competence of lawyers practising in BC, including lawyers in private practice, legal aid lawyers, government lawyers and Crown prosecutors. The Law Society can also review the conduct of a lawyer outside the practice of law if the conduct reflects badly on the legal profession.
We do NOT have the authority to
- give legal advice;
- intervene in a court proceeding or change a court decision;
- insist that a lawyer take a case, remain on or withdraw from a case or do something specific in a case;
- make a finding that a lawyer was negligent;
- review a judge's conduct or review a complaint about a judge;
- regulate the amount of a lawyer's bill or reduce your legal fees (If you believe the fees charged by your lawyer were not reasonable, there are steps you can take);
- pay you money or make a lawyer pay you money because of a lawyer’s mistake (If you believe a lawyer has made a mistake you may wish to seek legal advice about your options. In those rare instances in which a complaint involves the misappropriation or possible misappropriation of trust funds by a lawyer, you should also be aware of the Law Society's trust protection coverage).
If your concern falls into any of the above categories, we recommend that you speak with your lawyer or seek the advice of another lawyer to help you with your case.
How to file a complaint about a lawyer’s conduct
For other complaints, please follow these steps:
Step 1 Talk to the lawyer or the lawyer's firm. Misunderstandings can arise because of a lack of communication. Often you can resolve these misunderstandings simply by discussing your concerns.
Step 2 If you still wish to file a complaint, it must be in writing. Use of either the Law Society's online complaint form or the paper complaint form is optional, but make sure your complaint includes:
- the lawyer's name
- details of your concern
- your name, address and phone number
- copies of any relevant documents
Step 3 Send your complaint to Professional Conduct.
The Law Society does not charge for its services and you do not need to retain a lawyer to represent you.
If you have difficulty speaking or writing English, please ask a friend or someone in the community to help. If that is not possible, we may be able to help you if an appropriate linguist is employed at the Law Society. The Law Society is not responsible for providing or paying for translation services if no such linguist is available.
If you are filing a complaint because you think your lawyer has stolen from you, you may also be entitled to make a claim for reimbursement under trust protection coverage.
Investigations are confidential to make sure the process is fair to both the person filing the complaint and the lawyer. If the matter has already been reported in the media, the Law Society can confirm only that an investigation is underway.
All information you provide to the Law Society will be forwarded to the lawyer for his or her response.
If your complaint results in the lawyer being cited for a discipline violation, a public hearing will be held. In this case, only information protected by client/solicitor privilege can be kept private unless an order is made by the hearing panel that other information not be disclosed to protect the interests of any person.
Under the Legal Profession Act, information obtained during an investigation is generally confidential and cannot be used in other proceedings except with the consent of the author. The Law Society, however, is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. As a result, information gathered by the Law Society may be disclosed, on request, to other persons whose interests are affected by it.
How long does the process take?
There is no set time for an investigation of a complaint. Generally speaking, the more serious or complex the issues, the longer the review of a complaint will take. However, the Law Society does its best to handle all complaints promptly and fairly. About 85% of complaints are resolved within one year, most of them in much less than one year.