If a complaint has been filed against you to the Law Society of Ontario (“LSO”), then you need the assistance of a knowledgeable and skilled professional discipline lawyer at your side. Posner Craig Stein (“PCS”) defends lawyers in investigations and proceedings at the LSO. Being the target of a complaint by a client, colleague, employee or other member of the profession or public, and facing allegations of professional misconduct can be anxiety-provoking, frustrating, and time-consuming. Entrusting PCS with your LSO case means that you will have an experienced and trusted advocate at your side throughout the complaints and discipline process. We understand the potential impact that complaints and professional misconduct allegations can have on your reputation and financial situation. We know that your livelihood can depend on ensuring that the complaint is found to be without merit and that allegations of professional misconduct are dismissed. Our lawyers work tirelessly, creatively – and in a relentless manner.
The LSO’s Complaints and Compliance department first determines whether the LSO has jurisdiction over the matter. If it does, the department determines whether a complaint or allegation of misconduct or incapacity can be resolved at this early stage, or whether it requires referral to the Intake & Resolution department.
The intake & resolution department may conduct an investigation under section 49.3 of the Law Society Act and may resolve the matter at this stage by closing the file without further action or after taking remedial action. In cases involving more serious allegations, it may refer the file to Investigation Services for further investigation under sections 49.2(2) or (4) of the Law Society Act.
PCS defence lawyers have extensive expertise in assisting lawyers in guiding them through the investigatory stage of a LSO complaint and assisting them with LSO audits. The earlier a lawyer retains quality defence counsel, the better the opportunity we have to ensure you walk away with your reputation, license, and livelihood intact. In an audit, we will work in concert with you to ensure you are well prepared. In an investigation, we will ensure that all of the relevant information that demonstrates your competence and integrity is placed before the investigator, so that the LSO has the tools it needs to dismiss any complaints against you.
When a complaint is filed, you have a professional obligation to respond promptly to all communications from the LSO and to co-operate with the investigation. If you do not fulfill these obligations, you may be subject to discipline proceedings under the LSO’s Summary Hearing Process, in addition to any proceedings relating to the original complaint.
PCS assists lawyers in making submissions to the PAC (a committee of benchers). The PAC screens complaints, and may authorize disciplinary proceedings, interlocutory proceedings, or a more informal resolution. It can refer a lawyer to the Hearing Panel for a hearing for professional misconduct or incapacity, or instead of referring the complaint to the Hearing Panel, it can order an informal resolution outside of the disciplinary hearing process.
It is essential to consult with a lawyer at this stage of the complaint process. If the PAC authorizes a hearing and a Notice of Application (“NOA”) is issued and served upon you, the matter becomes public including the details of the allegations against you. This can result in serious reputational and financial damage. A lawyer has the opportunity to make written submissions to the PAC. PCS defence lawyers have skill and expertise in crafting elegant, cogent and persuasive submissions to convince the panel at the PAC to dismiss the complaint. Your time, reputation, and finances can be saved by working early on to have the complaint dismissed.
Hearings before the Hearing Division involve hearing from witnesses, cross-examination, calling evidence, and making submissions before the panel. Our team of defence lawyers have extensive expertise in these areas, developed over decades in tribunals and courtrooms across Ontario.
Carefully calibrated and effective cross-examination of witnesses called by the prosecution in your discipline proceeding can result in a dismissal of professional misconduct charges. The key to success is extensive preparation, skillful and targeted questioning, and the experience to adapt to the witness’s answers as they come. PCS defence lawyers will bring these skills and attributes to your defence.
If the LSO Hearing Division has reached an unfair or unreasonable decision, you have legal recourse. Lawyers can appeal to the LSO Appeal Division. These appeals involve the examination of the record of the proceedings before the Hearing Panel, the drafting of written legal arguments, and oral arguments before a panel.
Our defence lawyers bring their experience and skill to bear on your case. We will subject the record of your proceeding to microscopic scrutiny to properly develop the arguments that have the greatest chance of winning on appeal. Our trial and appellate experience gives us the necessary perspective to properly examine a record, and find the errors that will provide you with powerful arguments on appeal.
Critical to success on appeals is written advocacy – and PCS’s written work is polished and persuasive. PCS’s experience in written advocacy has been honed over years of preparing written submissions in many different Ontario tribunals, and courts including the Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada. When it comes time to argue an appeal, we will be fully prepared to present your case in a forceful and persuasive manner.
If the Appeal Division declines to set aside a decision of the Hearing Panel, a lawyer can seek to appeal to the Divisional Court of Ontario. Much like hearings before the Appeal Division, appeals before the Divisional Court of Ontario involve an examination of the record of the proceedings below, the drafting of legal arguments, and making oral arguments before a panel of Ontario Superior Court judges. PCS defence lawyers are experienced in arguing cases before the Divisional Court and we will pursue every avenue to help protect your reputation, your legal license, and your financial well being.
Beyond the LSO complaint’s process, PCS defence lawyers also assist lawyers with other regulatory issues, such as practice and advertisement issues, billing issues, and licensing issues such as navigating license suspensions or revocations and license reinstatement.
Posner Craig Stein is the right lawyer defence firm to handle complaints made against you or other regulatory issues affecting your practice because:
If you are a lawyer and have been the subject of a complaint or are facing practice or licencing issues, it is to your benefit to retain an experienced defence lawyer immediately. Posner Craig Stein may be able to help you avoid serious consequences, such as reputational and financial damage.
Come meet with us, in confidence, at out office, by phone, or a virtually to discuss your options today. Put your trust in the Posner Craig Stein team of highly skilled defence lawyers with proven experience.