The Law Society of Yukon (Society) is responsible for regulating the legal profession in the Yukon. This means that the Society must make sure that lawyers in the Yukon maintain a certain standard of practice. If the Society receives a complaint about a lawyer’s conduct, it reviews that conduct and decides whether it meets the standard.
A breach of the Rules or the Code, or failure to act ethically and competently might be a basis for a complaint.A breach of the Rules or the Code, or failure to act ethically and competently might be a basis for a complaint.
For example, lawyers should:
- be honest;
- keep clients informed by responding promptly to telephone calls or letters and completing work in a timely fashion;
- respect client confidentiality;
- not act in a conflict of interest (such as acting against a former client or improperly sharing a business interest with a client);
- safeguard client funds and property; and
- practise in a competent manner.
The Society’s role
The Society receives complaints about lawyers from members of the public, clients, other lawyers and judges. Once a complaint is received, the Society must follow a specific process required by the Legal Profession Act, 2017. The Society has a duty to respond to all complaints.
In dealing with a complaint about a lawyer, the Society must in general:
- protect the public;
- be accountable for the actions of its members (i.e. the lawyers); and
- decide if there is a basis for the complaint.
THE COMPLAINT PROCESS
How you can make a complaint:
- Complete the appropriate complaint form found below.
- Include copies of documents related to your complaint.
- Make sure that your current address, phone number and email are on the form so that the Society can contact you if more information is needed and when a decision is made.
- All of the information you provide will be sent to the lawyer. The lawyer can then respond to your complaint.
What the Society does:
- The Society will contact you to confirm receipt of your complaint in writing.
- Your complaint will be sent to the Chair of the Complaints Investigation Committee, who examines every complaint.
- If the CIC Chair determines that an investigation is required, a Vice-Chair will be assigned to administer your complaint.
- In most cases, your complaint will be sent to the lawyer and they are required to respond. You will be provided with a copy of that response.
- You will receive periodic updates on the status of your complaint.
- When the investigation of the complaint is complete, you will be informed of the decision.
- If you wish to appeal the decision, the Society will inform you about the steps you need to take.
How long does the process take?
Examining a complaint can be a time-intensive process and complaints are generally examined in the order in which they are received. Every matter is carefully assessed according to a process that is fair and consistent for both the complainant and the lawyer involved. The process can take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year to complete, depending upon the level of examination that is required by the investigator.
What the Society cannot do.
The Law Society does not have the authority to:
- give legal advice;
- pay compensation;
- change the decision of a court;
- insist that a lawyer take a case, remain on or withdraw from a case or take specific action in a case;
- find that a lawyer was negligent;
- address complaints about a Judge; or
- review or change a lawyer’s fees or billings.
If you have a complaint about your lawyer’s bill, contact the Clerk of the Yukon Supreme Court. The Clerk is located at the Court Registry, Law Courts Building at 2130 – 2nd Avenue, Whitehorse or call 867- 667-5441.
Lawyer Negligence (saying that your lawyer made a mistake)
Your complaint to the Society regarding a lawyer’s conduct does not amount to your making a claim against that lawyer with respect to potential negligence on their part.
The Society cannot pay you money or make a lawyer pay you money because of the lawyer’s mistake.
If you believe that your lawyer was negligent, you may wish to seek legal advice about your options, bearing in mind that limitation periods exist after which you will not be able to pursue your claim.
If you have questions, contact the Executive Director at 867-668-4231 or email email@example.com.