How do I complain about a lawyer or paralegal?
The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. This includes making sure that they:
- are licensed and insured to practice law
- are qualified to help you with your legal issues
- follow the rules of conduct set by Law Society of Ontario about how to behave professional
- take part in continuing education to learn about the law and how to behave professionally
One way that the LSO does this is by responding to complaints about lawyers and paralegals.
Before making a complaint to the LSO, try to talk to your lawyer or paralegal and try to resolve things before making a complaint. Most lawyers and paralegals want to solve problems before they become complaints.
If the lawyer or paralegal works in a firm or company, talk to a more senior person. For example, you could talk to a partner at the firm about a lawyer you're having a problem with. Or, you could talk to the lawyer responsible for supervising the paralegal you're having a problem with.
The LSO is not able to help with every type of complaint. They usually deal with complaints about a lawyer or paralegal who didn't do their job properly or behaved unprofessionally. They don't deal with issues about the amount of a lawyer or paralegal’s bill.
Your complaint must show that your lawyer or paralegal did things that are against their professional responsibilities. If your complaint doesn't show this, the LSO will not investigate.
Complaints must be filed within 3 years of when the problem happened or you became aware of the problem.
Some complaints are closed within 1 month and others are resolved within 1 to 3 months. If your complaint is complicated, or if it raises serious professional conduct issues, it may take up to 1 year or longer to complete an investigation. If there is a discipline hearing, it could take even longer. But most complaints do not end with a discipline hearing.
If there is a discipline hearing, it is between the LSO and the lawyer or paralegal. You are not a party
If the LSO cannot help with your complaint, they will tell you why and try to give you information about other sources of help.