What is a “Lawyer of Record” in Civil Court cases?

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Lawyer of Record is a term often used in civil court cases. The courts have specific rules regarding the appointment and removal of lawyers of record. This lecture explains the term and its implication in a civil case.

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of the law firm, Formative LLP. Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals. Subscribe today to learn more.


Show Notes:


Lecture Slides:

Machine Transcription:

Welcome everyone this is Amer Mushtaq from YouCounsel

There is a term that is often used in court cases (in civil cases) it’s called Lawyer of Record.  What does this term mean? What are its implications? What is it that you need to know?  We will discuss that today.  Before we begin, we have the disclaimer that this course is not legal advice.  For any specific questions please contact your lawyer or paralegal or contact your Law Society

Lawyer of Record: what does it mean?  We will define that term.  We will explain it—how do you appoint? How do you remove a lawyer of record? And, what are some of the consequences if there is a removal order issued for the removal of a lawyer of record?  We will talk about that.  Let us begin with the meaning of “lawyer of record”.  Lawyer of record is essentially a lawyer whose name appears in all of the court documents on behalf of a client.  This happens usually when someone commences a court action and they go and hire a lawyer and that lawyer drafts documents, submits it in the court system and serves it on other parties.  In those documents that lawyer if he is retained to represent you as a party for the entire matter he or she will put is or her name as the lawyer of record.  Every court document will show that that specific lawyer represents that specific party.  If there are any notices or any documents that need to be served or sent to that party they are directed towards that lawyer.  Therefore, essentially it’s a lawyer for the purposes of that court action.  He or she is the lawyer of that specific party and that’s what the court records indicate.  How do you appoint and remove a lawyer, we’ll talk about that.

There are three simple ways of appointment or removal.  If you already have a lawyer and he or she is your lawyer of record and when you appoint another lawyer then that’s one way of removing that lawyer and appointing the other one.  There is a specific mechanism specified in the Rules of Civil Procedure.  The new lawyer has to serve what’s called a Notice of Change of Lawyers on the previous lawyer and on all of the parties or their lawyers and then file it with the court.  That announces and puts in court records that there is a new lawyer who has been appointed.

There is another method of changing or removing the lawyer.  It is called Notice of Intention to Act in Person.  You are a party.  You were represented by a lawyer.  He or she is the Lawyer of Record.  At some point you decide that you no longer require that lawyer’s services and you wish to represent yourself, then, in that case there is a specific notice called Notice of Intention to Act in Person.  You serve that Notice on the lawyer, i.e., the previous lawyer and all of the lawyers of the other parties.  Then you file it with the court.  That ensures that you have the capacity or ability or permission to represent yourself. 

In case of a Corporation, as you may know—we have another lecture on this—but just to briefly tell you that a Corporation cannot represent itself, unless it has the permission of the court. The third category where a lawyer can be appointed or removed is if the Corporation removes it’s lawyer and then seeks the permission of the court to say that the Corporation intends to represent itself and the court grants that permission, then that’s the third mechanism by which the lawyer is appointed or removed.

The fourth mechanism is by Court Order.  The last one is by way of a Court Order.  The first three are by understanding and by mutual agreement.  The last one through Court Order is usually when there is some sort of conflict and the party is unwilling or is not reasonably agreeing for the lawyer to remove himself or herself.  Then there is a motion that needs to be brought in court for that specific order.  The court issues an order which basically says that that specific lawyer will no longer be the Lawyer of Record for a party.  That is the fourth scenario in which the lawyer could be removed.  Just so you know the fourth scenario, as a way of example, arises in some cases when the lawyer and the party have a break in relationship either because of their understanding of how the case needs to proceed or the party may have lost confidence in its lawyer or the party may not have paid legal fees to the lawyer.  Some of those issues arise and that leads to lawyers seeking an order from the court to have himself or herself removed.   

With respect to the lawyers removal and appointment—all these matters, including Lawyer of Record, Rule 15 of the Rules of Civil Procedure of Ontario is the one that deals with that.  We have discussed Rule 15 in another lecture which was on self representation.  This Rule is specific to all kinds of representation and Rules 15.03, 15.04, 15.05 and 15.06 are sub rules of Rules 15 that specifically deals with the appointment of a lawyer, the removal, the intention to act in person or a corporation’s desire to represent itself. 

You can have a look at that.  I will quickly show you the slide where these rules are and then you can review them on your own later on.  One thing to keep in mind, which is important, is that once the Court has issued a removal order you have literally 30 days, and if it’s the order of your lawyer you literally have 30 days to either appoint another lawyer or serve the Notice of Intention to Act in Person or in case of a Corporation, to get the permission to self-represent. 

This timeline is important.  This timeline is triggered when you have been given or you have been served with the Notice with the Order from the court that so-and-so lawyer is removed, then within 30 days you have to either appoint another one or if you want to self-represent then the Notice for that.  If you’re a Corporation and want to self-represent, then, you have to get permission from the court to self-represent or hire/appoint another lawyer.  That needs to be done in 30 days.  If it is not done within 30 days the court actually has the power to dismiss your case altogether or stay it or whatever it deems appropriate.  These timelines are important to keep in mind in case that there is a removal order for a lawyer. 

These are some of the basic things that we wanted to touch upon so that you understand the purpose of a “lawyer of record” and the circumstances of its appointment and removal.  Any questions or comments, please post on our website or on the YouTube channel and if you require any legal advice by all means contact us.  Thank-you for listening.

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