Unauthorized practice of law

Under the Legal Profession Act, only trained, qualified lawyers (or articled students under a lawyer’s supervision) may ­provide legal services and advice to the public, as others are not regulated, nor are they required to carry insurance to compensate clients for errors and omission in the legal work or claims of theft by unscrupulous individuals marketing legal services.

When the Law Society receives complaints about an unqualified or untrained person purporting to provide legal services, the Society will investigate and take appropriate action if there is a potential for harm to the public.

From November 14, 2012 to May 31, 2013, the Law Society obtained undertakings and covenants from 11 individuals and businesses not to engage in the practice of law.

The Law Society has obtained orders prohibiting the following individuals and businesses from engaging in the ­unauthorized practice of law:

  • Steven Serenas consented to an injunction order that prohibits him from engaging in the practice of law, regardless of whether he does so for or in the expectation of a fee, gain or reward. Serenas is also prohibited from commencing, prosecuting or defending a proceeding in any court. Serenas consented to pay restitution in the amount of $1,000 to the Law Society’s witnesses, a fine in the amount of $2,000 and the Law Society’s costs. (April 13, 2013)
  • Mr. Justice Greyell granted an injunction against Ralph Charles Goodwin, also known as Yuxweletun, and his company Gaia-Watts Enterprises Ltd. d.b.a. Touchstone Committee and Touchstone Committee Law Institute. Goodwin was found to have falsely represented himself as counsel to the court and to other parties. The court also found that Goodwin and his company offered and provided various legal services for a fee, including appearing on behalf of the accused in criminal matters, giving legal advice, drafting legal documents and delivering demand letters. Goodwin and his company are prohibited from referring to themselves as lawyers, counsel, attorney, a law firm, law institute or a law corporation, and any other title that connotes that they are entitled or qualified to engage in the practice law. Goodwin is also prohibited from commencing, prosecuting or defendant a proceeding in any court and must advise the Law Society of any proceeding or legal matter in which he is involved, in any manner whatsoever, other than representing himself as an individual party to a proceeding acting without counsel solely on his own behalf . The Law Society was awarded its costs. (March 28, 2013)

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