I blogged about CanLaw recently in a post entitled “CanLaw Lawyer Directory: Some People Never Learn“.
I received the following reply letter this morning from Arwen Tillman, Counsel, Legal Affairs on behalf of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC):
Ms. Tillman is right. As I said in my earlier post: “ These types of lawyer directories are ungovernable by any law society.” While I did not formally lodge a complaint, the LSUC’s hands are tied. In my reply email to Ms. Tillman, I wrote:
Thank you for your reply letter. Unfortunately, it appears that the LSUC misapprehended the intent of my email. It was not a complaint, formal or informal. Rather, it was to alert the LSUC to CanLaw’s activities in order to protect the public.
What Is To Be Done? asked Lenin.
Here’s a few proposals:
1. An updated Notice to the Profession would be a good start. The LSUC’s mandate is protection of the public. Delegating the responsibility of filing complaints to others is inadequate and is anathema to public accountability. A self-governing profession must be accountable; not only to its members, but also the public. At a minimum, the LSUC should forward any formal complaints from Licensees or individuals to the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services.
2. The LSUC should consider amending the Rules of Professional Conduct to address the issue of Licensees utilizing lawyer marketing firms and lawyer directories that engage in unscrupulous advertising practices.
3. The LSUC should consider instituting some form of accreditation, certification or approval of lawyer directories. A vetting process or an ISO International Standard relating to the provision of lawyer advertising services is advisable.
When it comes to online advertising and social media law marketing, a new approach is needed. We, as lawyers, cannot leave it to the marketers to decide what is in the legal profession’s and the public’s best interest.