Chapter 2: Integrity

Chapter 2     Integrity

SECTION 2.1 INTEGRITY

2.1-1 A lawyer has a duty to carry on the practice of law and discharge all responsibilities to clients, tribunals, the public and other members of the profession honourably and with integrity.

Commentary

[1] Integrity is the fundamental quality of any person who seeks to practise as a member of the legal profession. If a client has any doubt about their lawyer's trustworthiness, the essential element in the true lawyer-client relationship will be missing. If integrity is lacking, the lawyer's usefulness to the client and reputation within the profession will be destroyed, regardless of how competent the lawyer may be.

[2] Public confidence in the administration of justice and in the legal profession may be eroded by a lawyer's irresponsible conduct. Accordingly, a lawyer's conduct should reflect favourably on the legal profession, inspire the confidence, respect and trust of clients and of the community, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

[3] Dishonourable or questionable conduct on the part of a lawyer in either private life or professional practice will reflect adversely upon the integrity of the profession and the administration of justice. Whether within or outside the professional sphere, if the conduct is such that knowledge of it would be likely to impair a client's trust in the lawyer, the Law Society may be justified in taking disciplinary action.

[4] Generally, however, the Law Society will not be concerned with the purely private or extra-professional activities of a lawyer that do not bring into question the lawyer's professional integrity.

[4.1] A lawyer has special responsibilities by virtue of the privileges afforded the legal profession and the important role it plays in a free and democratic society and in the administration of justice, including a special responsibility to recognize the diversity of the Ontario community, to protect the dignity of individuals, and to respect human rights laws in force in Ontario.

[Amended - June 2015]

2.1-2 A lawyer has a duty to uphold the standards and reputation of the legal profession and to assist in the advancement of its goals, organizations and institutions.

Commentary

[1] Collectively, lawyers are encouraged to enhance the profession through activities such as:

(a) sharing knowledge and experience with colleagues and students informally in day-to-day practice as well as through contribution to professional journals and publications, support of law school projects and participation in panel discussions, legal education seminars and university lectures;

(b) participating in legal aid and community legal services programs or providing legal services on a pro bono basis;

(c) filling elected and volunteer positions with the Law Society;

(d) acting as directors, officers and members of local, provincial, national and international bar associations and their various committees and sections; and

(e) acting as directors, officers and members of non-profit or charitable organizations.

[2] When participating in community activities, lawyers should be mindful of the possible perception that the lawyer is providing legal advice and a lawyer -client relationship has been created.

[New - October 2014]