Professional Conduct Rules

The Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct and Paralegal Rules of Conduct set out the professional and ethical obligations of Ontario’s lawyers and paralegals. This is a quick guide to finding current and previous versions of both sets of rules.

Current Rules

The most up-to-date versions of the rules for lawyers and paralegals are available on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s website.

To stay on top of the most recent amendments to rules adopted by Convocation, check the Law Society’s Gazette. Here, you will find quarterly summaries of changes under “Recent rule and by-law amendments”.

Pre-2014 Rules

The implementation of the Federation of Law Societies Model Code of Professional Conduct in 2014 resulted in significant changes to Ontario’s rules. Versions of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Paralegal Rules of Conduct in effect immediately prior to October 1, 2014, are available on the Law Society’s website, together with tables of concordance between the current and the pre-2014 rules.

Previous Point-in-Time Versions

Both sets of rules have undergone considerable changes over the years and you may need to see a version that was in effect on a specific date in the past. To assist with this research, the library keeps print-format versions of superseded rules. Rules of Professional Conduct are available from 1964 to current; Paralegal Rules of Conduct from 2007 to current. These rules are shelved in the 1st Floor Stacks at KF 306 L386 (for lawyers) and KF 308 L386 (for paralegals). Each version provides a “current to” date.

Digitized Rules of Professional Conduct (1964-1998)

In the past, the rules were contained in Professional Conduct Handbooks, published by the Law Society and distributed to lawyers. The first Professional Handbook was published in 1964. The handbooks were not published annually, but appeared as the need for an updated handbook arose. All available Professional Conduct Handbooks have been digitized and are available on the Law Society’s website.

To locate a particular year or edition, follow these steps:

  • Click on the “Professional Conduct Handbooks” link.
  • Once the list of editions appears, you can choose “Date” in the “Sort by” box to have the versions appear in reverse chronological order.

Further Resources:

If you are researching the history of the Rules of Professional Conduct, or the history of a particular rule, start with the excellent article by Darryl Robinson, “Ethical Evolution: The Development of the Professional Conduct Handbook of The Law Society of Upper Canada” (1995) 29 The Law Society Gazette 162-195.

For guidance on researching Law Society lawyer and paralegal discipline decisions, see our research guide How to Find Law Society Discipline Decisions.