The Family Justice Review Committee has received a number of legitimate
complaints from people who have reported that their lawyer did not represent
them or their children effectively and in many cases actually caused harm to their case and to their
Parents have complained of lawyers conducting themselves in an unprofessional
and unethical manner. Some of these complaints include:
have served court documents on opposing clients with a very short period of
time to respond or to be in court. Some parents have been reported
being served documents in which they have been given as little as one day to
have threatened to quit providing services to their client if the client
does not do as the lawyer advises them to do.
have refused to present evidence in court that the client felt was relevant
to the case
have signed consent agreements and made special deals with the other side
without their own client's knowledge.
funded lawyers representing children have billed the government for services
which they did not deliver.
In the matter of
the conduct and practice of lawyers it is the position of the Family
Justice Review Committee:
lawyers permit their clients to record client/lawyer meetings if so
requested by their clients.
who represent children allow parents to have a support person present at any
child lawyer/parent meetings or discussions.
argue in court to allow his/her client to record their own court proceedings
using their own equipment if it is their client's wish to do so.
follow the instructions of their client even if they do not agree with their
That no lawyer
should come to any agreement or sign any documents with any opposing party
without the full knowledge and understanding of their client of the specific
issues in the documents.
For lawyers who represent children
permit their child clients to have any support person be present with the
child during any client/lawyer meetings if this is requested by their child
That if a
lawyer is to present recommendations to the court which will affect the
child and if the child is mature enough to comprehend the nature of the
proceedings before the court, then the lawyer should fully explain the
recommendations as well as the rationale behind the recommendations.
That the lawyer
shall audiotape or videotape the testimony of the child client if requested
to do so by the child client.
meetings with children be video or audio recorded if requested by any party
in a court proceeding.
That if the
child client indicates that he/she has lost confidence in the lawyer
representing him/her, that the lawyer will assist the child to find another
lawyer to represent him/her.
That the lawyer
will not act as the solicitor for any child involved in any child protection
hearing, should the lawyer or anyone else in the lawyers law firm have acted
on behalf or accepted any referral or payment of money from any child
protection agency within the past five (5) years.
That the lawyer
shall support the child's attendance in the courtroom if the child expresses
a desire to be present in the court to observe proceedings.
Complaints against Children's Lawyers
Billing for Government funded Children's Lawyers
certificates be issued to lawyers before engaging in a matter to represent a
child stipulating the amount of time that has
been allotted to a case in which they represent a child and that copies of
this certificate be provided to children above the age of 12 and to all
parents or guardians. All parties, including the child should be informed of
exactly how much lawyer time has been allotted to the matter, just as is
done with legal aid certificates for adults.
completion of a file where a lawyer represented a child, a detailed billing
should be sent to the parents for their confirmation and approval.