Making a complaint about a lawyer

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society regulates Nova Scotia lawyers, and handles complaints about lawyers relating to the rules of ethical and professional conduct (Code of Professional Conduct) lawyers must follow, and may discipline a lawyer if they have broken those rules. The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society does not deal with complaints about a lawyer's fees (see Disputes about a lawyer's bill), and does not generally investigate complaints alleging a lawyer was negligent (made a legal mistake).  It is best to contact the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society if you have questions about whether they can help in your situation.

If you feel your lawyer was negligent you will likely need to speak with another lawyer to get a legal opinion about the situation. You can also contact the Lawyers' Insurance Association of Nova Scotia, a not-for-profit company that provides mandatory liability insurance and administers the insurance program for practising insured members of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

Go to the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society website at nsbs.org/concerns-with-a-lawyer/filing-a-complaint/ for details about the complaint process, or contact the Barristers’ Society at:
Telephone: (902) 422-1491
Address: Cogswell Tower, 800-2000 Barrington Street, Halifax NS B3J 3K1.

Disputes about a lawyer's bill

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society does not deal with disputes about a lawyer’s bill. If you have a dispute with your lawyer about the lawyer’s bill:

1. Speak with or write to your lawyer. Ask for more detailed information about the bill. Ask the lawyer to explain any fees or disbursements (out-of-pocket expenses) you do not understand. If you cannot resolve the dispute directly with the lawyer, see if you can speak with the managing lawyer or executive director of the firm, assuming it is not your lawyer.  If that does not work, you have the option of going to Small Claims Court to have the lawyer’s bill assessed. This assessment of a lawyer's bill is also called a "taxation" of a lawyer's bill.

2. Small Claims Court - Taxation. ‘Taxation’ means a Small Claims Court adjudicator can ‘tax’ or review your lawyer’s bill, including fees and disbursements, to decide whether the bill is reasonable. The taxation process includes looking at whether the percentage fee under a contingency fee agreement is reasonable. 

Contact the Small Claims Court for more information. You will find court contact information at www.courts.ns.ca, or look under ‘Courts’ in the government pages of the telephone book.