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10 Things to Know About Hiring a Criminal Defence Lawyer

The Law Society of Ontario is responsible for regulating the legal profession in our province. This ensures that consumers are protected from fraudulent or incompetent attorneys, and that there is consistency in what clients can except. Broadly speaking, lawyers are allowed to provide legal counsel on all Ontario laws, although most lawyers specialize in a particular field. If you find yourself in the position of needing to hire a criminal lawyer, you want to make sure you do your research. You will want to find a lawyer who understands your particular situation, is experienced, and will work to get you the best possible result. Here are some important things to know while hiring a criminal defence lawyer:

  • In order to be qualified lawyers must hold an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree and a degree in common law – either a Juris Doctorate (JD) or a Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
  • In order to complete the Law Society’s Lawyer Licencing Process, lawyers must complete an articling program, licencing examinations (i.e. the Ontario Bar Exam) and an online professional responsibility and practice course.
  • Lawyers are bound by the Law Society Act, Law Society By-Laws, and Rules of Professional conduct. As such, they must meet certain ethical and professional standards, and are subject to discipline if they do not. These documents are available to the public on the Law Society’s website.
  • Before hiring a lawyer, you should call multiple practices and compare their offerings.
  • Ask how much the firm charges, and whether they charge per hour or per case.
  • Book a time to meet with your prospective lawyer in person and question them about their relevant experience.
  •  Ask for a quote or estimate to be provided for your specific case.
  • Inquire about how you will make payments – for example, will it be on a weekly or monthly basis? Does the firm have an option for you to pay your fees in installments instead of in a lump sum?
  • Ask if there will be any fees beyond your initial quote – your lawyer should be transparent with you about these and similar matters.
  • Understand that the Law Society is not responsible for setting fees. Each lawyer is responsible for setting their own fees, and so prices will vary from practice to practice. It is a good idea to compare different lawyers so you can find someone who fits with your budget.

Hiring Process

This is not an exhaustive list, and only includes guidelines. You may wish to do some additional research to ensure that you find the best criminal lawyer possible for your particular situation. For more information regarding the professional standards for Ontario lawyers, visit the following website for public resources: The Law Society Tribunal also has a record of current complaints and proceedings so that you can protect yourself against dishonest practitioners: