Code of Professional Conduct
This Code of Professional Conduct was approved by the Law Society of Yukon on May 28, 2015 and amended on March 14, 2017. It replaces the Code of Professional Conduct approved by the Canadian Bar Association.
Guidelines for lawyers acting for survivors of aboriginal residential schools
- Lawyers should recognize the unique nature of residential school cases and appreciate that they have a special responsibility in these cases to facilitate their client’s healing process through, where possible:a) identifying community resources to assist the client;b) referring their client to drug and alcohol treatment programs, if appropriate;c) recognizing the need for the client to develop a personal support network.
- Lawyers should recognize that residential school cases place unique demands on the lawyer and other law office staff by virtue of the emotional nature of such cases; the amount of time and resources required for each case; and the lawyer’s role in facilitating the client’s healing process. These demands place a practical limit on the number of cases, which a lawyer can appropriately take on at any one time.
- Lawyers should not initiate communications with individual survivors of Aboriginal residential schools to solicit them as clients or inquire as to whether they were sexually assaulted.
- Lawyers should not accept retainers until they have met in person with the client, whenever reasonably possible.
- Lawyers should recognize that survivors had control taken from their lives when they were children and therefore, as clients, should be given as much control as possible over the direction of their case.
- Lawyers should recognize that survivors may be seriously damaged from their experience, which may be aggravated by having to relive their childhood abuse, and that healing may be a necessary component to any real settlement for these survivors. Lawyers should therefore be aware of available counseling resources for these clients to ensure that they have opportunities for healing prior to testifying.
- Lawyers should recognize that damage to survivors of Aboriginal residential schools may well include cultural damages from being cut off from their own society, and should endeavour to understand their client’s cultural roots.
- Lawyers should recognize that survivors are often at risk of suicide or violence towards others and should ensure appropriate instruction and training for their own employees, including available referrals in time of crises.
Adopted at the Law Society of Yukon Annual General Meeting May 10, 2001