Recently, the Law Society’s Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group issued a report regarding capping referral fees in personal injury matters. In response to the report, the Law Society of Upper Canada’s governing board approved a cap on referral fees set at 15% for the first $50,000 of legal fees and five per cent for each subsequent amount, to an absolute fee cap of $25,000.
The Working Group continues to investigate contingency fee arrangements and fees and advertising in real estate. Further reports are expected in the near future.
Whether it is a hot topic in the news or not, family law lawyers are often asked whether they will work on a contingency fee arrangement instead of docketing hourly for their work. The answer is always “no”.
The Rules of Professional Conduct (which governs all lawyers in Ontario) currently forbids family law lawyers from having contingency fee arrangements with their clients. The rationale for this rule is that family law lawyers should not have any stake in their client’s settlement. In other words, having a greater payday because higher child support or spousal support was negotiated negates the basic tenets of family law – which is to advocate and protect our clients’ legal entitlements.
Accordingly, we family law lawyers docket hourly for our work. For those who find docketing difficult to understand, the “6 minutes intervals” on which our dockets are based is outlined in the following chart.