Thursday, December 20, 2018

How to Retain a Lawyer For Your Professional Discipline Case

   Those faced with having to defend themselves at a professional discipline proceeding in Ontario know all too well that it is a very serious matter which calls for top notch counsel.  What is top notch counsel ?  Is it counsel who have written books on the subject matter ?  Is it counsel whose practice is primarily focused on defending the interests of the professional regulatory bodies that regulate the professions ?  Is it counsel who restrict themselves to defending the professionals ?

   One of the biggest mistakes that professionals who are seeking counsel on these make is seeking the first two group of counsel described above - those who have written books on the subject area and those whose practice is primarily involved in defending regulatory bodies.

   The best practice is to seek out counsel who are dedicated to representing the interests of professionals exclusively.  There is a very simple reason for this.  The area of professional discipline, like labour relations and human rights law, is very strongly influenced by a lawyer's ideological belief about what is fairness, natural justice and fundamental justice and what level of deference ought professional discipline bodies be granted in adjudicating cases which come before them.  The degree of variation among lawyers varies significantly. In my personal experience that variation is very pronounced and directly related to who the lawyers habitually represent in the process with those lawyers defending the tribunals singing the deference and expertise of the tribunal song and those lawyers who represent the professionals singing the natural justice and correctness song.

   Once you have passed the first hurdle in retaining a lawyer to represent you - you will want to focus on the economics or financials.  There is no doubt that litigating these cases can be very expensive. That is not a basis to write a blank cheque.  It is vital to be certain of the costs involved.  Do not hesitate to have the lawyer explain to you in plain language the costs involved in the process. You may even wish to consider a retainer based on the various steps involved in the process.

   Retaining a lawyer to defend you on a professional discipline case is like buying a house.  It is one of the few decisions in life that can forever impact your future in either a very positive way or a very negative way.  It is wise to shop around.  Make appointments with at least three lawyers, ask questions and compare.  Your professional future is at stake.  It is critical that you make an informed decision rather than one based on irrelevant considerations.  At the end of the day the question is who do you believe will give you their undivided loyalty.

NOTE: E.J. Guiste represents clients in the area of professional discipline and is available for consultation. (416) 364-8908.