The New Code of Conduct for Lawyers

So, the public might imagine that the Law Society of Upper Canada’s release of new Rules of Conduct for lawyers next month is directly tied to the lawyer who was just caught, allegedly improperly disbursing trust money. The public would be wrong.

Yesterday the Law Society held a two hour webinar on the new Rules and given the technical difficulties the webinar encountered due to the amount of users, I was among many who tuned in.

When I tuned in I was surprised, in a way, that the changes were required. It seemed to me, a lawyer who practices in the trenches, that many of the changes were simply the common sense application of the rules we currently have.

It’s not complicated. Here are the simplified Rules of Conduct, in my humble opion:

1. don’t steal from your clients;
2. don’t lie to your clients, other lawyers or Judges;
3. don’t tell people who your clients are, unless the client says it is o.k.;
4. don’t act against a client you previously represented;
5. don’t tell people what your client told you, unless your client says it is o.k. or someone is going to immediately get hurt if you don’t;
6. be polite and respectful to your clients, other lawyers or Judges;
7. document all instructions from your clients and all advice that you give them.

The pages and pages of discussion that are in the new Rules are really just an academic exercise in detailing the simple commandments included in the above Rules. While some people may enjoy academic contemplation, the reality is: follow the above and you’ll be fine.

Inga B. Andriessen JD