26 Jul

Unclaimed Trust Funds

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Lawyers frequently take funds into their trust accounts on behalf of clients and others. Usually, it is not difficult to determine to whom those funds belong. However, what happens when the beneficial owner of funds held in trust cannot be identified or located?  

In Ontario, section 59.6 of the Law Society Act permits a lawyer (or licensed paralegal) who has held money in trust for or on account of a person for at least two years to apply for permission to transfer the money to the Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) if,

  1. The lawyer has been unable to locate the person entitled to the money despite having made reasonable efforts throughout a period of at least two years; or
  2. The lawyer is unable to determine who is entitled to the money.

The application procedure for transferring the money to LSUC is set out in By-Law 10.

You must complete and file the licensee application form, which will be reviewed by LSUC. Upon completion of the review, LSUC will notify you whether permission to transfer the money to it has or has not been granted.

If permission is granted, you must,

  1. Send a trust cheque, made payable to "The Law Society of Upper Canada, in Trust", in an amount equal to the amount of money for which you have received permission to transfer; and
  2. Send copies of your financial records relating to the money which you have been permitted to transfer.

Permission to transfer money will typically be subject to the condition that you inform LSUC immediately if you obtain any new information relating to any person entitled to the money that was transferred.

Once the money has been transferred, your liability as trustee or fiduciary with respect to the amount transferred is extinguished.

See the LSUC website for more information.

Sharon Davis – Click here for more information on Sharon Davis


01 Oct

New Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Requirements

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Commencing January 1, 2011, lawyers and paralegals in Ontario must complete at least 12 hours of continuing professional development (“CPD”) in eligible educational activities in each calendar year. At least 3 of the 12 hours must be on topics related to ethics, professionalism and/or practice management.

New members in their first two full years of practising law or providing legal services are required to take 12 hours per year of programming that integrates topics related to ethics, professionalism, and practice management for at least 25% of the program. This component must be reasonably connected to the substantive or procedural law content of the program.

All programming must be accredited by the Law Society. There are a variety of activities that may qualify for credit so you can count preparation for and presentation at CPD programs as well as attendance. Activities other than courses must be accredited in advance by LSUC in order to qualify for professionalism credit. Lawyers and paralegals seeking accreditation of activities such as teaching, writing, study groups, or mentoring must complete an Application for Accreditation of Alternate Eligible Educational Activities a minimum of 30 days in advance of the commencement date of the proposed activity. For more information see the LSUC website.

It will be interesting to see the changes in programming and perhaps even the kinds of organizations that will be providing CPD programs with the new requirements. 

If all this talk about continuing education has you ready to come out to mingle with your colleagues and discuss all things estates, Hull & Hull LLP’s breakfast series continues on October 14, 2010.    

Sharon Davis – Click here for more information on Sharon Davis.

21 Oct

Mentoring: An Offer You Can’t (or shouldn’t) Refuse

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On Monday I wrote about the importance of mentoring. Today I’d like to illustrate. A November 2008 report by former Superior Court Chief Justice Patrick LeSage and University of Toronto law professor (now Superior Court Justice) Michael Code questioned the adequacy of sanctions for courtroom misconduct.

Up until recently, judges had two options to deal with inappropriate behaviour in the courtroom: a finding of contempt or referral to the Law Society of Upper Canada for possible disciplinary action. Out of the Code/LeSage report has come the recommendation and recent implementation of mentoring as a third option for behaviour not serious enough to merit disciplinary action.

Mentoring has traditionally been a learning mechanism that is completely voluntary, in that it is sought out and arranged by mentor and mentee on a more or less informal basis. Mentoring is taken to the next level with the new LSUC Mentoring Referral Protocols, which invite Ontario Court and Superior Court judges to identify lawyers in need of mentoring. 

Requests go to LSUC’s CEO, Malcom Heins. If mentoring is considered an appropriate response, the lawyer will receive a letter identifying the impugned behaviour together with a consent form. If the lawyer accepts mentoring, he or she will be referred to the Advocates Society, the Criminal Lawyers Association or the Ministry of the Attorney General to be paired with an appropriate mentor in his or her area of practice. For more information see this article in The Lawyer’s Weekly.  

Many legal organizations offer mentoring on a casual, as needed or ongoing basis. Here are some for your reference, should you wish to be a mentee or a mentor:

  1. The Advocates’ Society
  2. The Criminal Lawyers’ Association
  3. The Law Society of Upper Canada
  4. The Ontario Bar Association
  5. The Women’s Law Association of Ontario

It is worth noting that although our regulator has reponsibility for those amongst us who do not act as we should, LSUC’s Mentorship Program extends far beyond the Mentoring Referral Protocols. It is comprised of three initiatives that match volunteer lawyers with those interested in becoming lawyers; students-at-law to provide assistance and advice with their careers; and practising lawyers in general need of advice.

Happy Mentoring!

Sharon Davis

Sharon Davis – Click here for more information on Sharon Davis.


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