By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer
Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)
The Law Society of Upper Canada, the governing body that licenses and regulates all lawyers practicing law in Ontario, is also responsible for ensuring that all lawyers comply with the Rules of Professional Responsibility which define what it means to be a ‘Competent Lawyer’.
Rule 2 of the Rules state that a ‘Competent Lawyer’ means a lawyer who has, and applies, relevant skills, attributes and values in a manner appropriate to each matter undertaken on behalf of a client including:
- knowing general legal principles and procedures and the substantive law and procedure for the areas of law in which the lawyer practices,
- investigating facts, identifying issues, ascertaining client objectives, considering possible options and developing and advising the client on appropriate courses of action,
- implementing, as each matter requires, the chosen course of action through the application of appropriate skills, including legal research, analysis, application of the law to the relevant facts, writing and drafting, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, advocacy and problem-solving ability,
- communicating at all stages of a matter in a timely and effective manner that is appropriate to the age and abilities of the client,
- performing all functions conscientiously, diligently and in a timely and cost-effective manner,
- applying intellectual capacity, judgment and deliberation to all functions,
- complying in letter and in spirit with the Rules of Professional Conduct,
- recognizing limitations in one’s ability to handle a matter or some aspect of it, and taking steps accordingly to ensure that the client is appropriately served,
- managing one’s practice effectively,
- pursuing appropriate professional development to maintain and enhance legal knowledge and skills, and
- adapting to changing professional requirements, standards, techniques and practices.
As you can see, a Competent Lawyer is not only a person with a law degree and licence to practice law, but a lawyer who possesses a long list of skills, attributes and values that will benefit the client in a time of need.