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IrishStew

"Lawyer side gigs"

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This is a random question, but a friend of mine got into a discussion and we weren't sure about one of the premises. 

If you work for let's say a large corporate firm and a family friend for some reason needs a lawyer and cannot afford one for whatever reason, are you allowed to represent them outside of your work hours? 

For a more concrete question, let's say you're a 3rd year call working on Bay Street and your Aunt gets a DUI. Can you, even though you won't have the best expertise in that area, become her lawyer and represent her outside of your job?

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Are you a lawyer? Because it's pretty obvious to most counsel about what we would/would not do.

If you're a student, look to the Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically about representing family members/people you know, and competency. You may also want to review employment contracts law.

Anecdotally, while I was in another jurisdiction, a bay street lawyer DID come to my (3 hour away) jurisdiction and pretend to play criminal lawyer. The JP flipped his shit when he realized that counsel had no idea what she was doing (she wasn't even a litigator so she had no basic clue as to court decorum) AND that the accused was her brother.

 

Edit: I see you're not even a student yet. Wrong section - this section is for practicing lawyers/articling students, which kind of makes sense why you're asking the question.

But no. You're not acting in an impaired if you're a corporate solicitor with no understanding of criminal law or the technical intricacies of an impaired (we don't have DUI - we have over 80 and impaired operation). We technically can - I can technically take any file (except real estate as I am not insured) - I won't given that I am obligated to act within my competency. I can learn, such as when I took on a custody dispute that included farm land claim (steep learning curve but within my comfort level to learn).

Acting for family is a bad idea - refer them out.

You may also want to review an employment contract. When I worked for Legal Aid, for example, my contract stipulated no paid legal work. Some firms may not care. My current firm lets me essentially do what I want so I probably could but I've already told my dad (who lives in my current jurisdiction) that I won't touch his will or provide family legal advice to his close friends.

Edited by artsydork
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7 minutes ago, IrishStew said:

This is a random question, but a friend of mine got into a discussion and we weren't sure about one of the premises. 

If you work for let's say a large corporate firm and a family friend for some reason needs a lawyer and cannot afford one for whatever reason, are you allowed to represent them outside of your work hours? 

For a more concrete question, let's say you're a 3rd year call working on Bay Street and your Aunt gets a DUI. Can you, even though you won't have the best expertise in that area, become her lawyer and represent her outside of your job?

I'll take you at your word that this is not seeking legal advice for you or your friend...everything I state is unresearched, from memory, imperfect, lacking info, etc. This raises concerns about law, ethics and competence, the employment contract with the law firm, etc. especially if done secretly even worse.

But, also morally, let's put it this way. Does the hypothetical person want their Aunt to be convicted and punished severely, while also the lawyer gets fired from their job and gets in trouble with the law society and their insurer? Because secretly acting in an area of law one knows nothing about for a family member seems to increase the chances of that. And my understanding is that even among criminal lawyers DUI practice is highly specialized, not something to dabble in.

I could give an anecdote, but the one already given is better.

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4 minutes ago, epeeist said:

I'll take you at your word that this is not seeking legal advice for you or your friend

Lol this is not legal advice whatsoever; it's just an intellectual and philosophical discussion we were intrigued with. Your points about ethics, contractual obligations, and lack of experience came up in this chat, but the premise of the argument is what we're not sure of.

Assuming their contract with their employer allowed them to and this Aunt insisted that their beloved niece/nephew represent them rather than another lawyer... Would they even be *allowed* to?

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13 minutes ago, IrishStew said:

Lol this is not legal advice whatsoever

13 minutes ago, IrishStew said:

Would they even be *allowed* to?

Asking whether someone would be allowed to undertake a course of action within a regulated context is a request for an opinion, based upon legal considerations, and with possible, foreseeable legal implications. That's legal advice.

The requester's subjective reason for asking -- i.e., that this is "an intellectual and philosophical discussion--" does not necessarily determine whether the forthcoming response will constitute legal advice. 

Edited by realpseudonym
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This is an automated response to a topic that appears to be requesting legal advice. Please refer to the following post regarding such requests:

 

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