Best Practice Publications
We welcome you to use our best practice publications as guidelines for building a better practice – and promoting excellence in advocacy.
Principles of Civility and Professionalism for Advocates
In 2000, The Advocates’ Society held a symposium on civility, which led to the development of its original Principles of Civility for Advocates. In 2009, the Society created the Principles of Professionalism for Advocates to broaden the guidance provided to advocates. In 2013, the Society’s Young Advocates Standing Committee added Best Practices to accompany the broader principles and provide practical solutions to issues commonly faced by advocates.
For many years, the Society's Principles and Best Practices have been valued resources for the profession. Together, they reflect the collective wisdom of leaders of the bench and the bar on matters of professionalism and civility, and have garnered respect from advocates and judges alike.
In 2019, a national Task Force reviewed these principles to ensure they reflect the current realities of advocacy practice throughout Canada. The Task Force engaged in a national consultation process that included members of the judiciary, the Society's Young Advocates and 10+ Standing Committees, its Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, leaders of Practice Groups and the membership at large. On February 20, 2020, a renewed and consolidated version of these principles and best practices, now known as the Principles of Civility and Professionalism for Advocates, was approved.
Principles of Civility and Professionalism for Advocates
Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples
The Advocates' Society, in partnership with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Law Society of Ontario, has developed the Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples. The Guide is intended to serve as a helpful resource for lawyers to learn about important historical and cultural elements that provide context for the professional relationships among Indigenous persons, their lawyers and other participants in the justice system. The Guide also provides practical tools to help lawyers represent Indigenous clients as effectively as possible. In some small way, we hope this Guide will contribute to the national conversation on reconciliation and access to justice.
The Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples
Guide pour les avocats qui travaillent avec des parties autochtones
Best Practices for Civil Trials
The practical solutions in Best Practices for Civil Trials can help make any civil trial more efficient and cost-effective. Its aim is to enhance access to justice and preserve the civil justice system.
In January 2014, Associate Chief Justice Marrocco of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice laid down a challenge to the Board of Directors of The Advocates’ Society to scrutinize civil trials and determine practices that would lead to the more efficient trial of civil actions. The Society formed the Civil Trials Task Force, led by Brian Gover (Chair) and Brad Berg (Vice-Chair), which conducted cross-practice and cross-jurisdictional research into best practices for dispute resolution hearings. In January 2015, the Society hosted the Civil Trials Symposium, where over 100 representatives of the bench and bar as well as experts from other jurisdictions shared their ideas on what practices would make civil trials more efficient.
The work of the Task Force and Symposium participants has culminated in the publication of The Advocates’ Society’s Best Practices for Civil Trials. The Best Practices, through the consultation phases in which the Task Force has engaged over the past several months, have received widespread support from both the bar and the judiciary.
Best Practices for Civil Trials
Communications with Experts
Appropriate communications with expert witnesses – especially when it comes to preparing experts’ reports and affidavits, as well as preparing experts to testify – is an important issue for the profession.
The Advocates’ Society weighed in on this topic by producing two valuable documents:
Position Paper on Communications with Testifying Experts
Principles Governing Communications with Testifying Experts
The latter document has been judicially endorsed and applied on numerous occasions, including by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Moore v. Getahun, 2015 ONCA 55.
Paperless Trials Manual
Why go paperless? It can reduce the cost of litigation and make trials more efficient. The Paperless Trials Manual provides practical guidance on how to do it. The Advocates’ Society is pleased to release its most recent publication, the Paperless Trials Manual. Designed for advocates, judges and the court system generally, the Manual provides guidance on how to conduct a paperless trial. Paperless trials, when conducted properly, reduce the cost of litigation and cause the conduct of a trial to be more efficient.
The Manual recognizes that the technologies used at a paperless trial need to be cost-effective and proportional. The Manual accordingly adopts cost-effective technologies that apply to trials of all shapes and sizes – from the small one-day trial involving a few witnesses and a handful of documents to the large, multi-month trial involving hundreds of witnesses and hundreds of thousands of documents.
Paperless Trials Manual
The Advocates’ Society Guide to Mentoring
The Advocates’ Society is committed to providing effective mentoring to advocates who are in the early stages of their practice. In addition to our regular mentoring events, we welcome you to read our 2017 publication entitled “The Advocates’ Society Guide to Mentoring.” This resource was developed by a joint CMM/YASC Task Force and provides helpful advice for both mentees and mentors who seek to develop a mentoring relationship, as well as a sample mentoring agreement and information on CPD credits for mentoring across Canada.
The Advocates' Society Guide to Mentoring
CPD & Mentoring Across Canada
Online Filing Service: Ontario Civil Claims
Civil claims online filing is available across Ontario as of November 27, 2017, following a successful pilot of the service earlier this year for actions in the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton, London, Newmarket, Ottawa, Sudbury and Toronto.
This new online service builds on the success of the small claims court online filing service. With the civil claims service, litigants or their counsel can start a civil action online in the Superior Court of Justice — 24/7 — without visiting a courthouse.
With this service, users can submit the following documents for filing with the Superior Court of Justice online:
- Statement of Claim
- Notice of Action
- Affidavit of Litigation Guardian of a Plaintiff under a Disability
- Request for Bilingual Proceedings
- Consent to File Documents in French
The service also allows:
- online payment of court fees by credit card or Interac
- delivery of a court-issued Statement of Claim or Notice of Action by email
- draft submissions to be saved and submitted at a later time
- online transactions to be tracked (online access to a history of a user’s submissions, draft submissions and online fee payments)
Staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s office will present free online demonstrations and Q&A sessions for this new service. Please see below for dates, times, and access details for these free demonstrations. Advance registration is not necessary. Mark your calendars.
Read the letter from the Ministry of the Attorney General here.
Learn how to create a Justice Services Online account here.
See the promotional poster here.
Guidelines for Law Office Searches
In September of 2011, Convocation approved the Guidelines for Law Office
Searches to assist lawyers in protecting their clients'
solicitor-client privileged information.
If you are or suspect that you may be the subject of a law office
search, whether you or a client is the target of the investigation, you
are encouraged to contact the Law Society as soon as possible.
Call the Law Society at 416-947-3300 and ask to speak to Senior Counsel
to the Director of Professional Regulation for assistance when faced
with a law office search.
Law Society of Upper Canada's Guidelines.
Following is a summary of the Guidelines as approved by Convocation:
When the Police Arrive at a Law Office
Inspect the search warrant
Do not obstruct the Police
- Ensure that the law office is identified as the place to be searched,
- Ensure that the date the Police have attended at the law office is the date authorized,
- Ensure that the documents sought are identified,
- Ensure that the offence under investigation is identified,
- Ensure that the requisite judicial officer has signed and dated it,
- If there are deficiencies on the face of the warrant, point them out to the Police and assert that the Police should obtain a proper warrant, and
, even if you believe the search warrant or its manner of execution to be invalid.
over all documents to be seized under the search warrant.
Is a Referee required?
Where the Lawyer may be a target of the investigation, if the Lawyer is in a conflict of interest and where there is no Lawyer present, this should be raised with the Police and either the Police or the Lawyer should make an application to the Court for the appointment of a Referee.
Is an Independent Forensic Computer Examiner required?
If the documents sought are on a computer or other electronic device/media, the assistance of a Court appointed Independent Forensic Computer Examiner may be required.
Do I need a Lawyer?
You are the only one who can answer that question. However, you can contact a Lawyer and you may find it helpful to speak with a Lawyer.
Lawyers should contact the Law Society at 416-947-3300 and ask to speak to Senior Counsel to the Director of Professional Regulation for assistance when faced with a law office search.
Next steps to be taken by the Referee or the non-conflicted Lawyer
The Search Warrant has been executed - Next Steps
- Keep notes of participants, contacts, happenings and timing,
- Identify and assert privilege with respect to all documents,
- Offer to, or if requested by the Police, locate the documents and, where practicable, make and keep copies of them,
- Comply with the terms of the search warrant and give only what is demanded by the warrant,
- Retain copies of all documents, to the extent that it is possible, time permitting,
- Offer to, or if requested by the Police, seal the documents in packages marked for identification and initialed by you and the Police; taking care to ensure that the Police do not see the documents or any client names,
- Ensure that the sealed packages are delivered to the custody of the Court or an independent third party as designated by the Court in accordance with the Court order, and
- Make reasonable efforts to contact the Clients whose documents are subject to seizure to advise what is happening and advise that they may wish to obtain independent legal advice.
If necessary initiate or respond to applications before the Court that may include applications for,
- An order to unseal and access the sealed packages,
- The appointment of a Referee or an Independent Forensic Computer Examiner,
- The determination of objections to the search warrant or its manner of execution,
- The determination of issues of solicitor-client privilege,
- Further searches such as a comprehensive electronic search of an electronic device/media or a forensic image, and
- Direction with respect to the notification of the Clients of the search for and seizure of solicitor-client privileged documents.
This summary has been drafted for ease of reference. It should be read in conjunction with the Guidelines for Law Office Searches.
Read the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Guidelines
Get detailed information about how court proceedings are conducted in most jurisdictions across Canada.
Notices to the Profession from the Supreme Court of Canada
Practice Directions from the Federal Court of Appeal
Practice Directions and Notices to the Profession from the Provincial Court of British Columbia
Rules, Practice Directions and Notices from the Court of Appeal of Alberta
Practice Notes from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta
Forms and Notices from the Provincial Court of Alberta
Rules and Practice Directives from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal
Rules and Practice Directives from the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench
Practice Directives and Endorsements from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court
Practice Directions and Policies from the Superior Court of Justice
Notices in Civil Matters from the Court of Appeal of Quebec
Notices in Criminal Matters from the Court of Appeal of Quebec
Information for Legal Professionals from the Courts of Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Practice Directions for the Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal
Practice Notes from the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island
Practice Directives from the Nunavut Court of Justice