LSO Good Character Investigation & Hearing Representation

Whether you are just filling out your Law Society of Ontario Licensing Application, self-reporting conduct, or if you have been notified that you are the subject of a Good Character Investigation, you need experienced representation. Failure can result in your license not being issued.

My experience as  Law Society Bencher (2010-2019), Law Society Tribunal Adjudicator and a member of the Proceedings Authorization Committee provided me with a unique perspective on how the Law Society works and the best way to navigate a Good Character Investigation and represent you in a Good Character Hearing.

Still have questions? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your situation, options, timeline, and costs.

Michelle Haigh Signature

President & Licensed Paralegal

Good Character Investigations and Hearings FAQs

  • What happens if I do not disclose my past misconduct to the Law Society of Ontario

    While the Law Society of Ontario may issue your license, if they uncover or are informed of your past misconduct at a later date you will automatically be the subject of a good character investigation and most likely a good character hearing. It will be more difficult to defend yourself at this stage. The application process is a disclosure test and you are best to divulge all past misconduct upfront and address the same. We can assist you with the application process as well as any investigation or hearing.

  • How do I know if certain past conducts need to be disclosed to the Law Society of Ontario?

    It is better to always disclose and address any misconduct. If you omit something, even if in error, it appears that you may have deliberately misled the Law Society of Ontario. You may need to address more than the past conduct and explain why you answered questions in your application incorrectly. Sometimes the Law Society takes your failure to disclose more seriously than your past misconduct.

  • What are examples of potential events or conduct that I should disclose during the Law Society of Ontario's application process?

    Some examples of potential events or conduct that you should disclose are:

    • Past discipline from another regulator
    • Dismissal from a previous job
    • Criminal offences
    • Past Judgments
    • Bankruptcy or Consumer proposal

    This list is not exhaustive and it is best to contact Michelle Haigh to discuss your specific situation

  • How much does it cost for us to represent you during a Good Character Investigation or Hearing?

    The earlier you contact us in the process, preferably prior to filing your application, the easier it is to mitigate the cost. Fees can range from $295 to ten thousand dollars depending on the situation and if the matter goes to a full hearing. We can discuss your options, costs and timeline at your free 30-minute consultation. Either way we are a fraction of the cost of a lawyer.

  • What is the Good Character Requirement?

    To be licensed as a lawyer or a paralegal in Ontario, the Law Society Act requires that an applicant be of “good character.”  The good character requirement is ongoing, applying to applicants throughout their licensing term.

    The good character requirement is intended to protect the public and maintain high ethical standards in the professions by ensuring that persons who are licensed as lawyers and paralegals show respect for the rule of law and the administration of justice and conduct themselves with honesty, integrity and candour.

  • What happens if you answered yes to at least one question on good character in your Law Society of Ontarios licensing application?

    The application will be reviewed in the Complaints & Compliance department of the Law Society’s Client Service Centre. This department determines whether the issues disclosed are sufficiently serious to warrant further review by the Law Society’s Professional Regulation Division. In most years, between 40-50% of these applications do not require additional review and are promptly returned to the licensing process.

  • If I answer yes to any of the good character questions, what supporting documents do I need to provide?

    The following is a list of documents that will help the Law Society consider your application with respect to any affirmative answer to one or more of the good character questions.

    This list is offered as a guide only and you should contact Michelle Haigh to discuss the best way to respond when answering affirmative to one or more of the good character questions.

    Questions about good morals

    Supporting documents

    • Have you ever been convicted or sentenced for an offense under any law?
    • Are you currently the subject of a criminal prosecution?
    • A certified copy of the following documents:
      • The police information form, indictment or other charging document (usually available from the clerk of the court where your case was heard)
      • Any provisional release form, promise to appear, surety bond, if applicable.
    • All judgments, orders and reasons for decision rendered by the Court (available from the clerk of the court where your case was heard)
    • Disclosure (evidence provided by the prosecution in accordance with its obligations), if available
    • Police reports, if available
    • Pre-sentence report or pre-sentence report, if applicable
    • Pardons, if necessary
    • Criminal record check
    • Has a judgment been rendered against you for a fraud offence?
    • Are there any outstanding civil judgments against you?
    • Did you disobey a court order to do or refrain from doing something?
    Pleadings, including:

    • Declaration
    • Defense
    • Questioned
    • Counterclaim
    • Complaint
    • All judgments, orders and reasons for decision rendered by the court, including orders for costs
    • Have you ever been fired from a job where the employer alleged a motive?
    • Termination letter or dismissal documents from your employer
    • Record of Employment (ROE) issued by Service Canada
    • Any investigation report or other report prepared by or for your employer in relation to your conduct, if any
    • Have you been suspended, expelled, reprimanded or disciplined by a professional order of which you were a member?
    • Have you been refused or withdrawn a license because of a breach of good character?
    • Have you ever been refused admission as an applicant or member of a professional body?
    • Certificate of competence from the professional order
    • Complaint, if any
    • Disciplinary decision, if any
    • Notice of suspension, disqualification, reprimand or other disciplinary action
    • Decision to refuse or revoke permit
    • Decision to refuse admission
    • While attending a post-secondary institution, were you ever the subject of any allegations of misconduct, or were you ever suspended or expelled from or penalized by a post-secondary institution for misconduct?
    • Complaint, if any
    • Decision to suspend, expel or penalize you
    • Notice of Decision to Suspend, Expel or Penalize You
    • Certificate of Academic Achievement (official document obtained from the registrar of the educational institution stating the misconduct or penalty)
    • Are you currently the subject of a bankruptcy petition or assignment, or proposal to creditors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act , or have you ever been a (e) bankrupt or an insolvent person, under any law?
    • Opinion of the “trustee in bankruptcy”
    • Notice of release
    • Conditional release, if applicable
    • Have you ever been disciplined by an employer, or been a respondent in proceedings, for a human rights violation?
    • Any investigation report or other report prepared by or for your employer relating to your conduct, if any.
    • Any warning letter, letter of conduct or memorandum on file setting out the circumstances of the disciplinary action.
    • All pleadings relating to human rights proceedings (such as request, response and reply)
    • All judgments, orders and reasons for decision rendered by a court relating to your conduct.
    • Signed consent to allow employer or former employer to provide disciplinary or procedural documents directly to the Law Society
    • Have you ever been disciplined or imposed a penalty by a court, tribunal or regulatory body?
    • All pleadings (declaration, defence, motions, responses and replies)
    • All judgments, orders and reasons for decision by the court or regulatory body
  • What happens if I do not respond to the Law Society or Good Character Investigator?

    If you do not respond to correspondence from the Law Society regarding your problem of good character, or if you do not provide the documents or information requested by the investigator assigned to your case within the prescribed time, your license application could be considered abandoned. You will not be able to make another claim unless you can demonstrate a material change in circumstances and only after a period of one year from the date your claim was deemed abandoned. 

    [1] Section 8(3) of Law Society By -Law No.  4 requires an applicant to provide all documents and information specified in the licensing application with respect to the applicant’s good character, and that all such documents and information be delivered at the time specified by the Bar.
  • Can my license be refused without a Good Character Hearing?

    The Law Society Act provides that a licence may only be refused after a hearing by the Hearing Division of the Law Society Tribunal.

  • Do I need legal representation in a Good Character Investigation or Hearing?

    Although not required, we strongly encourage you to hire a legal representative to help you when you are the subject of a good character investigation.

    If you retain the services of a legal representative, you must still respond promptly to inquiries from the Law Society and continue to cooperate with the investigation.

  • Can I be refused a license or have my licensed revoked due to issues related to Good Character?

    Under s. 27(4) of the Law Society Act , an application for a license can only be refused after a hearing by the Law Society Tribunal, Trial Division. Therefore, at the end of the investigation, it will be determined whether your license application should proceed to a hearing or whether the issue(s) of good character should be considered and the application referred to the licensing process. profession.

    The decision on how to handle your request is made on a case-by-case basis. However, the Investigations Department will consider the following:

    The facts revealed by the investigation;
    If the Law Society can prove the conduct in question;
    Whether it is in the public interest to hold a hearing to consider the matter
  • How Good Character is Assessed by the Law Society of Ontario?

    In the licensing application, an applicant must answer questions that assist the Law Society in determining whether the applicant is of good character. These questions allow applicants to self-report conduct or circumstances that may raise issues about their character. Self-reporting includes providing full and detailed information about the issues and providing any supporting documentation.

    If an applicant’s circumstances change after submitting an application, the applicant must immediately notify the Law Society’s Licensing and Accreditation Department to update the applicant’s answers to any of the good character questions, as necessary.

    Answering yes to one or more of the good character questions does not necessarily mean that an applicant will be refused a licence.

    When an applicant answers yes to one or more of the good character questions, the applicant’s application is reviewed in the good character review process.

  • What happens if the application is transferred to the Professional Regulation Division?

    Applications that are transferred to the Professional Regulation Division are reviewed in the Intake & Resolution department. At this stage, any good character issues are either:

    1. “cleared” on the basis that the issues disclosed do not require additional review and are not sufficiently serious so as to require investigation of the applicant’s character;
    2. resolved by requesting additional information or clarification that allows the issue to be cleared; or
    3. referred to the Investigations department for further review.

    At this point, most licensing applications are either cleared or resolved and are returned to the licensing process

  • What happen if the application is transferred to the investigations department?

    If further review in the Investigations department is necessary, the applicant will be notified in writing and will be provided with an explanation for the investigation.

    If the good character investigation was initiated as a result of information that the Law Society received from a source other than the applicant, the applicant will be provided with details of that information.

    The Investigations department may ask the applicant to provide additional factual information and reference letters, and the applicant will be given an opportunity to provide additional information or explanation about the issue. Third parties may be interviewed, if required. At the conclusion of an investigation, a determination will be made about whether the licensing application should be referred to a hearing, or whether the good character issue(s) should be cleared and the application returned to the licensing process. In making that decision, the Investigations department will consider the facts revealed by the investigation, whether the Law Society can prove the conduct in issue, and, if so, whether it is in the public interest to hold a hearing to explore the issue.

  • What happens at a Good Character Hearing?

    At the hearing, the Law Society bears the initial burden of proving that the conduct disclosed or alleged calls into question the plaintiff’s good character. It is then up to the applicant to prove that he is of good moral character.

    The panel presiding over the hearing will consider the following factors in considering the applicant’s good character:

    The nature and duration of the misconduct;
    If the applicant has remorse;
    What rehabilitation efforts, if any, have been undertaken, and with what results;
    The applicant’s conduct since the misconduct;
    The time that has elapsed since the misconduct.

    Upon completion, the Trial Division will issue a written order to determine if the applicant is of good character and therefore eligible for a permit. Tribunal decisions are subject to the usual avenues of appeal.

  • How long does it take for a Good Character Investigation?
    The time it takes to investigate a claimant’s reputation depends on the nature and complexity of the problem disclosed or alleged. Staff involved in the good character review process are aware of licensing dates and timelines, and every effort is made to ensure that an applicant’s licensing is not delayed or postponed. Responding promptly and completely to any request for information or documents from Law Society staff will help the applicant to continue their licensing process within the prescribed timeframe.
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