670 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2018
LESSONS FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA
While Ontario’s problems with referral fees and advertising may not have
developed in British Columbia to the same degree, the LSO’s changes are
still instructive. In light of the LSO’s recent decision to implement changes,
B.C. lawyers might consider incorporating some of the principles and
changes adopted by the LSO into their referral and advertising “best practices”.
Examples might include:
• always confirm with your client before sharing any information
for the purposes of a referral;
• make sure clients are aware that a referral fee is being charged and
acknowledge that they have a choice in the matter and are free to
reject the referral and/or the fee;
• provide clients with at least two options for a referral;
• keep a record of all the referral fees you charge and receive, and
include a record of the referral fees in your accounts to clients;
• if you would not provide a given legal service, then do not advertise
in a manner suggesting you would; and
• be careful when referring to awards in advertising—if you do refer
to awards, make sure they have an objective and bona fide basis to
One of the issues that emerged from the Ontario experience is that the
rules were general and lacked specificity and/or guidelines. Advertising
and referral fees are issues that many professionals do not like to discuss.
Providing greater specificity offers further guidance and can help ensure
appropriate conduct in what can be a controversial area.
1. Law Society of Upper Canada, Professional Regulation
Committee, “Report to Convocation” (23 February
2017) at 57–75 “February 2017 Report”, online:
2. Ibid at 60–61.
3. Michele Henry & Kenyon Wallace, “Diamond & Diamond
under Fire”, Toronto Star (3 December 2016),
4. Law Society of Upper Canada, Professional Regulation
Committee, “Report to Convocation” (27 April
2017) at 420, 461, online: <www.lsuc.on.ca/
5. Ibid at 427–28.
6. February 2017 Report, supra note 1 at 73, 77–78;
Law Society of Ontario, Rules of Professional Conduct
, ch 4.2-1, commentary 3(c); Michele Henry &
Kenyon Wallace, “Ontario Law Society Cracks
Down on Referral Fees, Lawyers’ Ads”, Toronto Star
(23 February 2017), online: <www.thestar.com/
7. February 2017 Report, supra note 1 at 69, 76–77;
Law Society of Ontario, Rules of Professional Conduct,
ch 4.2-1, commentary 3(e).
8. Law Society of Ontario, Rules of Professional Conduct
, ch 4.2-1.2.
9. February 2017 Report supra note 1 at 73–74.