Practice Watch

Your Practice Advisor

Felicia S. Folk, the Law Society's Practice Advisor, is available to discuss your practice concerns. All communications between Ms. Folk and lawyers are strictly confidential, except in cases of trust funds shortages.

You are invited to call her at (604) 669-2533 or toll-free in B.C. 1-800-903-5300 at any time, or write to her at the Law Society office.

Communication with jurors

Please note that lawyers must not communicate with either a civil or criminal jury with respect to deliberations that took place in the jury room and that are not subsequently addressed in open court. The slightest communication with jurors about the case they are trying is prohibited.

In addition to the common law rule of jury secrecy, section 649 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence for a juror to disclose matters that arose in the jury room.

The Court of Appeal in McCready v. Scott, No. 230/68, Vancouver, November 6, 1968 (unreported), confirmed that communication with a juror in a civil matter about the jury's deliberations is also prohibited.

The court may find a lawyer in contempt of court where the lawyer attempts to elicit information from a juror.

Who's listening?

Be sure you have disconnected your phone line after leaving voicemail messages. If you leave voicemail over your speakerphone, and you do not disconnect properly, you may be recording your voice, your next client's voice or your dictation onto someone else's voicemail. The Law Society has become aware of several awkward and potentially damaging situations where this has occurred.

The best?

When reading the changes to the Law Society's marketing rules reported in the March-April, 2000 Bulletin, you might also review the existing, unchanged rules, in particular those that might be called the "We're the Greatest" rules.

Lawyers are prohibited from advertising themselves as "the best," "the foremost," "the leading," or "the number one" firm in a geographical area or an area of law. Chapter 14, Rule 4 of the Professional Conduct Handbook says that any marketing activity must not be unverifiable, and Rule 5 prohibits marketing that implies that a lawyer can obtain results not achievable by other lawyers, or that compares the quality of services provided with those provided by another lawyer.

The policy followed by the Law Society's Professional Conduct Department, at the direction of the Discipline Committee, is that every violation of the marketing rules will be brought to the attention of the Discipline Committee. As much as you may think you're the best in your field, please don't say so in your ads!