General Staff Issues

While non-lawyer staff are invaluable (and usually essential) to the operation and growth of a practice, remember that once a staff member is hired, you shift from the role of "lawyer" to that of "lawyer-employer." A lawyer-employer needs to consider many other practical issues. While a thorough overview is beyond the scope of this Module, you should consider, among other things:

  • providing continuing education for staff to ensure they stay current in areas relevant to your practice;
  • setting aside time for regular staff meetings to give and receive feedback and to inform employees of the firm's direction;
  • reviewing employment law obligations along with tax deductions and benefits (some of these matters are discussed in other Modules, such as the Taxation and Employee Deductions module in the Law Business Essentials course)
  • establishing rules and policies on how technology, such as email and the Internet, are to be used by staff; and
  • emphasizing the confidential nature of all of the information the staff will access, and the obligation to preserve client confidences. Remember that you must take all reasonable steps to ensure the privacy and safekeeping of a client's confidential information (Rule 3.3-1 of the Code of Conduct).

Remember, as a lawyer, you have complete professional responsibility for all work entrusted to you. You must directly supervise staff to whom you delegate tasks (Rule 6.1-1 of the Code). 

Make sure to conduct appropriate background checks for new employees, especially if those employees will have access to client information and trust accounts. 

This is the tip of a very large iceberg. Before you hire, take the time to educate yourself about staff issues and develop a plan.


If you would like more information on this topic, here are a few additional resources available on the Law Society’s website:

Outline of a Law Office Manual (including delegation and supervision topics to address)

What Can a Student-at-Law Do? (guidance on what an Articling Student can and cannot do)

Guide for Effectively Managing Trust Safety Risk (including information on what can and cannot be delegated to staff with respect to trust accounting)

Locum Connect Handbook (includes information about arranging for a locum to oversee your practice and how the locum will delegate and supervise while doing so)

Last modified: Monday, 21 August 2023, 1:41 PM