Guidelines for Suspended, Resigned or Disbarred Members
There has been in the past some confusion as to what activities members whose status has changed from active to suspended, resigned or disbarred may undertake. The following is an attempt to answer most of the questions the Benchers have received. Any further inquiries can be directed to the Law Society Administration.
As of the date set for the beginning of your suspension, resignation or disbarment, your status is the same as that of a non-member of the Law Society. You may not practice law in any manner or hold yourself out as being permitted to practice law. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing you may not:
a) accept new clients;
b) do any legal work or undertake to do any legal work for existing clients;
c) provide legal advice or services for fee or reward directly or indirectly;
d) commence, carry on or defend any action in any Court;
e) draft or revise any legal documents or execute any documents which require execution by a member of the Law Society;
f) notarize or commission documents or swear Affidavits or Declarations as a Notary or Commissioner for Oaths unless you have been formally appointed as such;
g) report to clients except for the purpose of advising as to your status or to deliver an account for services rendered prior to your suspension, disbarment or resignation;
h) provide services to a lawyer or law firm relating to the practice of law except with approval of the Chair of Discipline, on whatever terms and conditions the Chair sees fit; [Amended April 2003] or
i) act as principal to an articling student.
a) render and collect outstanding accounts to clients; and
b) meet with clients for the sole purpose of advising as to your status, discussing outstanding accounts or to facilitate the transfer of the client's files.
Rule 1607.1 prohibits the inclusion of a suspended member in any marketing activity unless the suspension is for a period of less than 30 days. This prohibition includes letterhead, signage, telephones and all advertising material.
Ongoing files and outstanding undertakings by a suspended member must be handled by another lawyer. It is the suspended member's obligation to make suitable arrangements to ensure that the client's interests are protected, subject to the client's right to choose who will represent him/her.
Any documents of continuing value to clients such as original wills, mortgages, etc., must, in the case of disbarred or resigned members, be returned to the client or transferred to another lawyer. If the member is suspended and intends to return to the practice, such documents may remain with the balance of files and documents pertaining to the member's practice, but must be available for production immediately if required by the client or the client's representatives.
A suspended, resigned or disbarred lawyer may not have signing authority on any trust accounts.
A suspended, disbarred or resigned member should not share office space with any practicing members of the Law Society and should not attend at his/her previous office except for the purpose of facilitating the transfer of files or assisting in the winding up of the practice. The practice of law while suspended may be viewed by the Law Society as an indication that the member in question is ungovernable.
The Law Society of Upper Canada follows similar guidelines. Please check out their web site for a comparison.