Friday, September 25, 2009

Law Society Announces Civility Complaints Protocol

From a press release by the Law Society of Upper Canada, which regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario:
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 24, 2009) - The Law Society and the Ontario Courts have established Civility Complaints Protocols designed to improve civility and professionalism among lawyers and paralegals appearing in court proceedings.

The Civility Complaints Protocols were developed in consultation with the Chief Justices of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice.
...The protocols provide a procedure for trial judges to refer incidents of misconduct to the Law Society. They also provide for a new process whereby judges can request that lawyers receive mentoring from a panel of senior members of the bar. The mentor will meet with the lawyer to discuss the conduct in question and assist in his or her development as an advocate...
BACKGROUNDER

Civility Complaints Protocols

The Civility Complaints Protocols announced today are part of the Law Society's drive to improve civility and professionalism among lawyers and paralegals. Uncivil or unprofessional behaviour during the course of a trial adversely impacts the administration of justice.

To develop the protocols, the Law Society consulted with the Chief Justices of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice.

The protocols ensure that not only is there an accessible means for judges to refer instances of inappropriate conduct to Law Society regulatory processes, but also establish a mentoring option for less serious matters.

Trial judges now have three options when responding to misconduct in the courtroom:

1. in the most serious of cases, to make a finding of contempt

2. to refer the misconduct to the Law Society to open a regulatory file on the matter

3. to refer the misconduct to the Law Society with a request for mentoring.

Arrangements are being made for there to be panels of senior members of the bar to provide mentoring to lawyers on appropriate courtroom conduct. Mentoring can show the lawyer or paralegal appropriate responses to the pressures of appearing in court. The agreement of lawyers to provide mentoring demonstrates the profession's commitment to improving civility and professionalism. Discussions on establishing mentoring relationships for paralegals are in progress.

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