Law Times

February 11, 2019

The premier weekly newspaper for the legal profession in Ontario

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 15

LAW TIMES COVERING ONTARIO'S LEGAL SCENE | FEBRUARY 11, 2019 3 BY ANITA BAL AKRISHNAN Law Times MIXING personal and professional expenses, getting the wrong kind of trust account from the bank and glossing over retainer letters are some of the biggest mistakes made by lawyers striking out on their own, said a panel at the Ontario Bar Association's Institute on Feb. 6 in Toronto. The panel included: Phil Brown, counsel of professional development and competence at the Law Society of Ontario; Aaron Grinhaus, lawyer and law firm consultant at Grinhaus Law Firm; Ian Hu of LawPro; Andrew Swales of Next Gen- eration Legal Accounting; and Anne Kennedy of Pallett Valo LLP. Swales told the audience that he meets most of his clients through the auditing process. In addition to separating personal and professional expenses, other challenges faced by new firms are in billings and collections and deposits. For example, mov- ing money from a trust account to a general account needs to be authorized by a signature, and law firms need to build that into their process, he says. "The best way to be prepared is start early. Choose an account- ing software. There are a lot of options that are cost effective and efficient for different prac- tice areas. So, there's no excuse," he says of the audit process. Grinhaus noted that, unlike a regular corporate bank account, banks should not charge month- ly fees to trust accounts because that money belongs to clients. However, the banks make that mistake so often that it's become a "running joke," said Brown, who encouraged lawyers to have good relationships with their lo- cal bank branch manager. "You don't have to have a trust account, but you will need it at some point, so just get it from the beginning," says Brown. "And don't give your trust ac- count number to your clients." During a practice review, lawyers are expected to have a retainer letter in every file, which Brown says surprised him when he practised as a criminal lawyer. But Hu and Kennedy both stressed the important aspects of retainers. Hu noted that LawPRO's on- line sample retainers all include language that emphasizes the professional nature of the client- solicitor relationship. "If they start screaming at you or swearing at you, you can say, 'This is a professional relation- ship. It's in our retainer agree- ment.' Stop them right away," he says. Kennedy noted that retainer agreements become important reference points as a lawyer's practice grows and a lawyer needs to check whether they have any conf licts of interest with new clients. For example, she says, retainers can spell out which email addresses or phone lines are used for confidential conversations and who can ac- cess them. Without retainer documents, it can become fuzzy determin- ing "who was the client" when there are multiple family mem- bers or businesses involved in the case, she says. "The longer you are in prac- tice, the more you are going back to those retainers," says Kennedy. Brown noted that non -engagement letters are also good to keep records of, so there is no question about a missed limitation period or a service they expected you to provide. "[Non-engagement letters] should be going out the door with everyone who doesn't en- gage you," he says. Technology can pose a chal- lenge for record-keeping, espe- cially as younger lawyers and cli- ents move toward communicat- ing by text message, says Brown. "It makes sense in this world of f leeting communications; you want to memorialize them. You want to make sure you've somehow documented a con- versation," says Brown, who sug- gested screenshots as a possible solution. New practices can also be es- pecially vulnerable to fraud, says Hu, when fraudsters pose as new or existing clients and use email addresses to request trust money, dragging the lawyer into potential money-laundering operations. He suggested using ID veri- fication, talking to the client on the phone or in person and avoiding using contact informa- tion provided by email. Grinhaus added that lawyers need to pay attention to building the right team and choosing the right structure for their firms. "In addition to the budget, which I think is the most im- portant part of the business plan, the structure is critical as well," says Grinhaus, who noted that business structures such as LLPs are only really available to lawyers and accountants. "Build a firm foundation and then you can build this thing as high as you want." LT Anne Kennedy says retainer agreements become important reference points as a lawyer's practice grows. NEWS Tips for lawyers that want to go solo Banking, retainers common mistakes by new firms TWO JUDICIAL VACANCIES ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE TORONTO The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee advises the Attorney General of Ontario on the appointment of Judges to the Ontario Court of Justice, and invites applications for two judicial positions in Toronto. These appointments involve presiding over criminal law matters and also involve travel within the regional boundaries as assigned by the Regional Senior Justice and/or the Chief Justice. The minimum requirement to apply to be a Judge in the Ontario Court of Justice is ten years completed membership as a barrister and solicitor at the Bar of one of the Provinces or Territories of Canada. All candidates must apply either by submitting 14 copies of the current (July 2017) completed Judicial Candidate Information Form in the first instance or by a short letter (14 copies) if the form has been submitted within the previous 12 months. Should you wish to change any information in your application, you must send in 14 copies of a fully revised Judicial Candidate Information Form. If you wish to apply and need a current Judicial Candidate Information Form, or if you would like further information, please contact: Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee Tel: (416) 326-4060 Fax: (416) 212-7316 Website: All applications, either sent by courier, mail or hand delivery, must be sent to: Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee c/o Ministry of Government and Consumer Services Mail Delivery 77 Wellesley Street West, Room M2B-88 Macdonald Block, Queen's Park Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1N3 Applications must be on the current prescribed form and must be TYPEWRITTEN or COMPUTER GENERATED and RECEIVED BY 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, 2019. CANDIDATES ARE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE 14 COPIES OF THEIR APPLICATION FORM OR LETTER. A Fax copy will be accepted only if 14 copies of the application or letter are sent concurrently by overnight courier. Applications received after this date WILL NOT be considered. The Judiciary of the Ontario Court of Justice should reflect the diversity of the population it serves. Applications from members of equality-seeking groups are encouraged. DEUX POSTES À POURVOIR AU SEIN DE LA MAGISTRATURE COUR DE JUSTICE DE L'ONTARIO TORONTO Le Comité consultatif sur les nominations à la magistrature conseille le Procureur général de l'Ontario sur les nominations de juges à la Cour de justice de l'Ontario et invite les personnes intéressées à présenter leur demande aux deux postes de juge à Toronto. Ces nominations consistent à présider des causes criminelles et nécessitent également des déplacements à l'intérieur des limites régionales, selon les assignations du juge principal régional ou du juge en chef. Pour pouvoir poser sa candidature à un poste de juge à la Cour de justice de l'Ontario, il faut, comme condition minimale, avoir été inscrit comme avocat-plaidant et procureur au barreau de l'une des provinces ou de l'un des territoires du Canada pendant au moins dix ans. Tous les candidats et candidates doivent poser leur candidature soit, dans le premier cas, en présentant 14 exemplaires du Formulaire de renseignements sur le candidat/la candidate à la magistrature courant (juillet 2017), soit en envoyant une courte lettre (en 14 exemplaires) si le formulaire a été présenté au cours des 12 mois précédents. En cas de changements à apporter à un formulaire déjà envoyé, le candidat ou la candidate doit envoyer à nouveau 14 exemplaires du formulaire de renseignements corrigé. Si vous voulez poser votre candidature et que vous avez besoin d'un Formulaire de renseignements sur le candidat/la candidate à la magistrature courant, ou encore si vous souhaitez obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec : Comité consultatif sur les nominations à la magistrature Téléphone : (416) 326-4060 Télécopieur : (416) 212-7316 Site Web : Toutes les demandes envoyées par service de messagerie, par la poste ou en main propre doivent être soumises à l'adresse suivante : Comité consultatif sur les nominations à la magistrature a/s Ministère des Services gouvernementaux et des Services aux consommateurs - Services de distribution du courrier 77, rue Wellesley Ouest, salle M2B-88 Édifice Macdonald, Queen's Park Toronto (Ontario) M7A 1N3 Les demandes de candidature doivent être déposées par l'entremise du formulaire prescrit courant et DACTYLOGRAPHIÉES ou CRÉÉES PAR ORDINATEUR et reçues au plus tard à 16 h 30 le vendredi 1 er mars 2019. LES CANDIDATS ET CANDIDATES DOIVENT FOURNIR 14 EXEMPLAIRES DE LEUR FORMULAIRE OU DE LEUR LETTRE DE CANDIDATURE. Une télécopie ne sera acceptée que si 14 exemplaires du formulaire ou de la lettre de candidature sont également envoyés par service de messagerie de 24 heures. On n'accordera AUCUNE considération aux candidatures reçues après cette date. La magistrature provinciale doit refléter la diversité de la population qu'elle sert. Nous encourageons les membres de groupes de promotion de l'égalité à présenter une demande. Untitled-1 1 2019-02-05 1:23 PM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Law Times - February 11, 2019