Frequently Asked Questions
A list of commonly asked questions.
Q. Do all lawyers in Manitoba have Professional Liability Insurance?
A. Lawyers who work for the Federal Government, Provincial Government (except Legal Aid lawyers) or Municipalities are exempt. All other lawyers in private practice or working in-house for corporations are required to purchase liability insurance from the Professional Liabilty Claims Fund.Q. What sorts of claims are covered?
A. The claim must arise as a result of an error which the lawyer makes in the rendering of professional services to others. The lawyer may have been negligent, breached his or her contract with the client or fiduciary duty to the client. The Insurance Program does not involve itself in fee disputes between the client and the lawyer. Where the allegation is theft or misappropriation of trust funds or property the claim would be excluded from coverage (although the client may have recourse to the Law Society of Manitoba’s Reimbursement Fund).Q. What can I do if I feel my lawyer’s bill is excessive?
A. There are different methods available to have a lawyer’s bill reviewed or assessed. The various methods are dependent on:Q. I received a bill from my lawyer, but I do not know from looking at it, what he/she actually did for me.
a) the type of services rendered, and
b) the basis on which the fee is charged
For example, fees relating to the administration of an estate are subject to a tariff imposed by the Court of Queen’s Bench (Probate) Division. Therefore, these fees may be assessed by the Court. Fees relating to mortgage foreclosure proceedings are subject to a tariff imposed under The Real Property Act, and may be taxed by the District Registrar of your local Land Titles Office. Fees charged under a Contingency Agreement may be challenged by application to the Court of Queen’s Bench. In most cases, a lawyer’s fees may be reviewed by way of arbitration through the Law Society of Manitoba, provided the lawyer is in agreement, or by way of assessment in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
A. If the fees charged by your lawyer are based on an hourly rate, you are entitled to receive an itemized statement of account, outlining the amount of time spent on your behalf, and the particulars of services rendered. If you have not received an itemized account, you should ask your lawyer to provide one to you.Q. How can I make a complaint against my lawyer?
A. Prior to submitting a formal complaint, we suggest that you first try to discuss your concerns with your lawyer, if this is appropriate in your situation. If you have a complaint that you wish to bring to the attention of the Law Society, consider phoning us and letting us know about your concerns. Depending on the issue, we may be able to help you work things out. Should you wish to proceed with a formal complaint, your complaint must be written, and should contain enough relevant information so that we are able to understand exactly what your concerns are. An Information Pamphlet about our complaints process and a Complaints Help Form can be obtained from the Law Society.Q. How can I be sure my lawyer is giving me proper advice, or handling my file properly?
A. Should you have any doubts about the manner in which your lawyer is handling your file, we suggest that you first attempt to discuss your concerns and raise any questions you might have with him or her, in order to clear up any misunderstandings. If you are not satisfied with your lawyer’s explanations, you may wish to speak with another independent lawyer about your concerns, to obtain a second legal opinion. The Law Society may also be of some general assistance in this regard; however, you should be aware that the Law Society does not provide legal advice to members of the public.Q. Who can help me find a lawyer to represent me?
A. If you need assistance in obtaining a lawyer to represent you, the Lawyer Referral Program will provide you with the name of a lawyer in your area who practises in the area of law relating to your problem. In addition, callers are provided with general legal information when they call the Law Phone-In and Lawyer Referral Program. Please go to the Community Legal Education Association website for contact info.Q. What should I do when my lawyer does not return my telephone calls?
A. Many lawyers have very hectic schedules, with court appearances, meetings, and client interviews. Returning numerous telephone calls may not be an efficient use of your lawyer’s time. Rather than leaving only a message for your lawyer to call you, you may be able to save him or her some time by conveying whatever information or questions you may have, to your lawyer’s assistant. Alternatively, you could leave a detailed message on your lawyer’s own answering machine or voice mail system. In this way, when your lawyer does return your call, he or she will already be familiar with the reason for your call, and be prepared to respond accordingly. Alternatively, if there is no urgency you may also address your concerns in writing, and your lawyer can then respond when time permits. Should you continue to have concerns, you can phone the Law Society at 204-942-5571, or submit a letter of complaint.