This Week in Legal Ethics – Conduct Review Database

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LegalEthicsBannerBy Melanie Hodges Neufeld

In my first post in this series, I discussed our Professional Conduct Rulings database. That database houses rulings from our Ethics Committee on specific fact situations that fall within the ethical ‘grey area’. In addition to these rulings, we also offer our Conduct Review fact situations and outcomes in a handy database to inform members and the public of conduct that is inappropriate and close to the line of “conduct unbecoming”. So what exactly is a Conduct Review?

A complaint to the Law Society that raises issues of member conduct that could potentially be “conduct unbecoming” is referred to the Conduct Investigation Committee. The Conduct Investigation Committee reviews the matter and may make a direction from the following four options:

  1. Direct charges so that the allegations of conduct unbecoming against the member are heard by a Discipline Hearing Committee
  2. Refer matters to the Ethics Committee or the Professional Standards Committee
  3. Direct no further action and dismiss the complaint
  4. Direct that the member participate in a Conduct Review

Some complaints raise conduct issues that are ‘close to the line’ of conduct unbecoming. In such a situation, the Conduct Investigation Committee will recommend a Conduct Review.

When a Conduct Review takes place, the member whose conduct is the subject of review is asked to attend with a Conduct Review Committee to “counsel the member”. This usually entails a face to face meeting between the Conduct Review Committee and the member to discuss the complaint and the issues of concern in an effort to impress upon the member that the conduct was inappropriate and bordered on “conduct unbecoming”. The meeting is meant to assist the member to identify and accept responsibility for the conduct that caused concern, to learn from the complaint and Conduct Review, and to change their conduct to proactively prevent similar situations in the future.

The results of the Conduct Review are reported to the Conduct Investigation Committee. If the report is acceptable to the Conduct Investigation Committee, it is then provided to the member and becomes a part of the member’s conduct history with the Law Society. The complainant will receive a summary of the outcome of the Conduct Review as directed by the Conduct Investigation Committee. The fact situation and outcome is also published anonymously on the Law Society website in our Conduct Review Database. As with our other databases, it is searchable by category, keyword. Date and Code of Professional Conduct section.

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