Best Practice Publications


We welcome you to use our best practice publications as guidelines for building a better practice – and promoting excellence in advocacy.

Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples, and First Supplement

The Advocates' Society, in partnership with the Indigenous Bar Association and the Law Society of Ontario, developed the Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples in 2018. The Guide is intended to serve as a helpful resource for lawyers to learn about important historical and cultural elements that provide context for the professional relationships among Indigenous persons, their lawyers and other participants in the justice system. The Guide also provides practical tools to help lawyers represent Indigenous clients as effectively as possible.

In 2022, The Advocates' Society, the Indigenous Bar Association, and the Law Society of Ontario published the First Supplement to the Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples to provide lawyers with key information about the significant advancements in the law and the practice of law involving Indigenous peoples since 2018, including:
  • Land acknowledgments;
  • The need to take a trauma-informed approach to legal practice;
  • The publication of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls;
  • Canada's passage of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and Indigenous child welfare legislation;
  • Developments in the law and litigation related to treaty interpretation, and the duties to consult and accommodate and to obtain free, prior and informed consent; and
  • The application of Gladue principles to contexts beyond criminal law.
We hope this Guide and its Supplement will contribute to the national conversation on reconciliation and access to justice.

The Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples
Guide pour les avocats qui travaillent avec des parties autochtones
First Supplement to the Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples
1er Supplément au Guide pour les avocats qui travaillent avec des parties autochtones

The future of advocacy and work arrangements ‘post’-pandemic: Perspectives of young advocates

For many advocates across Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed their working environments and means of delivering legal services. Some of these changes have been particularly acute for young advocates, many of whom have embarked on their legal careers in a virtual world.

As law firms and legal organizations grapple with what a return to ‘normal’ looks like, members of the Young Advocates’ Standing Committee (YASC) of The Advocates’ Society, a national association of Canadian litigators, sought to understand how young advocates are thinking and feeling about this return. Should we all revert back to the way things were before the pandemic? Or has COVID sparked new ideas and new ways of working that we should maintain and expand?

To help answer these and other questions, YASC developed a survey for young advocates about the future of advocacy in the ‘post’-pandemic world. YASC interviewed or surveyed more than 220 young advocates across Canada. Although the responses reflect a diversity of views and lived experiences, 10 key takeaways emerged and have been summarized in this report. The takeaways touch on things like the kind of work setup young advocates desire, mental health, the use of technology, and mentorship.

The future of advocacy and work arrangements ‘post’-pandemic: Perspectives of young advocates

Best Practices for Remote Hearings, Second Edition

Collaboratively developed by the E-Hearings Task Force of The Advocates’ Society, the Ontario Bar Association, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, the Best Practices for Remote Hearings, now in their second edition, provide guidance for lawyers and parties about the preparation and conduct of a remote hearing.

The Best Practices cover civility and cooperation with opposing counsel and parties, pre-hearing preparation, issues to discuss with the judge in advance of the hearing, how to prepare clients and witnesses, document management, hybrid hearings, and court etiquette. The Best Practices also include tips for how to present on-screen, hardware and software requirements and recommendations, advanced features of Zoom, MS Teams, and CaseLines, and further resources to consult. Practical checklists and a sample virtual hearing protocol are also included for counsel to ensure they have everything in order before undertaking a remote hearing.

Best Practices for Remote Hearings, Second Edition
Overview of the Best Practices for Remote Hearings, Second Edition
Checklist: Preparing Your System for a Remote Hearing
Checklist: Counsel Preparation in Advance of Meeting with Adjudicator
Checklist: Matters to Consider Reviewing with Judge In Advance of Hearing
Checklist: Preparing Your Witness for a Remote Hearing
Sample Virtual Hearing Protocol

Pratiques exemplaires pour les audiences tenues à distance, Deuxième édition
Aperçu des pratiques exemplaires pour les audiences tenues à distance, Deuxième édition
Liste de contrôle : Préparation de votre système pour une audience à distance
Liste de contrôle : Préparation de l’avocat avant la rencontre avec le décideur
Liste de contrôle : Questions à examiner avec le juge avant l’audience
Liste de contrôle : Préparer un témoin à une audience à distance
Exemple de protocole relatif à la tenue d’une audience virtuelle

Principles of Civility and Professionalism for Advocates

In 2000, The Advocates’ Society held a symposium on civility, which led to the development of its original Principles of Civility for Advocates. In 2009, the Society created the Principles of Professionalism for Advocates to broaden the guidance provided to advocates. In 2013, the Society’s Young Advocates Standing Committee added Best Practices to accompany the broader principles and provide practical solutions to issues commonly faced by advocates.

For many years, the Society's Principles and Best Practices have been valued resources for the profession. Together, they reflect the collective wisdom of leaders of the bench and the bar on matters of professionalism and civility, and have garnered respect from advocates and judges alike.

In 2019, a national Task Force reviewed these principles to ensure they reflect the current realities of advocacy practice throughout Canada. The Task Force engaged in a national consultation process that included members of the judiciary, the Society's Young Advocates and 10+ Standing Committees, its Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, leaders of Practice Groups and the membership at large.  On February 20, 2020, a renewed and consolidated version of these principles and best practices, now known as the Principles of Civility and Professionalism for Advocates, was approved.

Principles of Civility and Professionalism for Advocates
Cases Citing The Advocates' Society's Principles of Civility and Professionalism for Advocates (2003-2020)


Best Practices for Civil Trials

The practical solutions in Best Practices for Civil Trials can help make any civil trial more efficient and cost-effective. Its aim is to enhance access to justice and preserve the civil justice system.

In January 2014, Associate Chief Justice Marrocco of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice laid down a challenge to the Board of Directors of The Advocates’ Society to scrutinize civil trials and determine practices that would lead to the more efficient trial of civil actions.  The Society formed the Civil Trials Task Force, led by Brian Gover (Chair) and Brad Berg (Vice-Chair), which conducted cross-practice and cross-jurisdictional research into best practices for dispute resolution hearings.  In January 2015, the Society hosted the Civil Trials Symposium, where over 100 representatives of the bench and bar as well as experts from other jurisdictions shared their ideas on what practices would make civil trials more efficient.

The work of the Task Force and Symposium participants has culminated in the publication of The Advocates’ Society’s Best Practices for Civil Trials.  The Best Practices, through the consultation phases in which the Task Force has engaged over the past several months, have received widespread support from both the bar and the judiciary.  

Best Practices for Civil Trials

Communications with Experts

Appropriate communications with expert witnesses – especially when it comes to preparing experts’ reports and affidavits, as well as preparing experts to testify – is an important issue for the profession.

The Advocates’ Society weighed in on this topic by producing two valuable documents:

Position Paper on Communications with Testifying Experts
Principles Governing Communications with Testifying Experts

The latter document has been judicially endorsed and applied on numerous occasions, including by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Moore v. Getahun, 2015 ONCA 55.

Paperless Trials Manual

Why go paperless? It can reduce the cost of litigation and make trials more efficient. The Paperless Trials Manual provides practical guidance on how to do it. The Advocates’ Society is pleased to release its most recent publication, the Paperless Trials Manual.  Designed for advocates, judges and the court system generally, the Manual provides guidance on how to conduct a paperless trial.  Paperless trials, when conducted properly, reduce the cost of litigation and cause the conduct of a trial to be more efficient.

The Manual recognizes that the technologies used at a paperless trial need to be cost-effective and proportional.  The Manual accordingly adopts cost-effective technologies that apply to trials of all shapes and sizes – from the small one-day trial involving a few witnesses and a handful of documents to the large, multi-month trial involving hundreds of witnesses and hundreds of thousands of documents.

Paperless Trials Manual

The Advocates’ Society Guide to Mentoring

The Advocates’ Society is committed to providing effective mentoring to advocates who are in the early stages of their practice.  In addition to our regular mentoring events, we welcome you to read our 2017 publication entitled “The Advocates’ Society Guide to Mentoring.” This resource was developed by a joint CMM/YASC Task Force and provides helpful advice for both mentees and mentors who seek to develop a mentoring relationship, as well as a sample mentoring agreement and information on CPD credits for mentoring across Canada.

The Advocates' Society Guide to Mentoring
CPD & Mentoring Across Canada

Other Resources


Online Filing Service: Ontario Civil Claims

Civil claims online filing is available across Ontario as of November 27, 2017, following a successful pilot of the service earlier this year for actions in the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton, London, Newmarket, Ottawa, Sudbury and Toronto.

This new online service builds on the success of the small claims court online filing service.  With the civil claims service, litigants or their counsel can start a civil action online in the Superior Court of Justice — 24/7 — without visiting a courthouse.

With this service, users can submit the following documents for filing with the Superior Court of Justice online:

  • Statement of Claim
  • Notice of Action
  • Affidavit of Litigation Guardian of a Plaintiff under a Disability
  • Request for Bilingual Proceedings
  • Consent to File Documents in French
The service also allows:
  • online payment of court fees by credit card or Interac
  • delivery of a court-issued Statement of Claim or Notice of Action by email
  • draft submissions to be saved and submitted at a later time
  • online transactions to be tracked (online access to a history of a user’s submissions, draft submissions and online fee payments)
Staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s office will present free online demonstrations and Q&A sessions for this new service. Please see below for dates, times, and access details for these free demonstrations. Advance registration is not necessary. Mark your calendars.

Read the letter from the Ministry of the Attorney General here.

Learn how to create a Justice Services Online account here.

See the promotional poster here.

Guidelines for Law Office Searches

In September of 2011, Convocation approved the Guidelines for Law Office Searches to assist lawyers in protecting their clients' solicitor-client privileged information.   If you are or suspect that you may be the subject of a law office search, whether you or a client is the target of the investigation, you are encouraged to contact the Law Society as soon as possible.

Call the Law Society at 416-947-3300 and ask to speak to Senior Counsel to the Director of Professional Regulation for assistance when faced with a law office search.
Law Society of Upper Canada's Guidelines.
Following is a summary of the Guidelines as approved by Convocation:

When the Police Arrive at a Law Office

Inspect the search warrant
  • Ensure that the law office is identified as the place to be searched,
  • Ensure that the date the Police have attended at the law office is the date authorized,
  • Ensure that the documents sought are identified,
  • Ensure that the offence under investigation is identified,
  • Ensure that the requisite judicial officer has signed and dated it,
  • If there are deficiencies on the face of the warrant, point them out to the Police and assert that the Police should obtain a proper warrant, and
Do not obstruct the Police, even if you believe the search warrant or its manner of execution to be invalid.

Assert Privilege over all documents to be seized under the search warrant.

Is a Referee required?
Where the Lawyer may be a target of the investigation, if the Lawyer is in a conflict of interest and where there is no Lawyer present, this should be raised with the Police and either the Police or the Lawyer should make an application to the Court for the appointment of a Referee.

Is an Independent Forensic Computer Examiner required?
If the documents sought are on a computer or other electronic device/media, the assistance of a Court appointed Independent Forensic Computer Examiner may be required.

Do I need a Lawyer?
You are the only one who can answer that question. However, you can contact a Lawyer and you may find it helpful to speak with a Lawyer.

Lawyers should contact the Law Society at 416-947-3300 and ask to speak to Senior Counsel to the Director of Professional Regulation for assistance when faced with a law office search.

Next steps to be taken by the Referee or the non-conflicted Lawyer
  • Keep notes of participants, contacts, happenings and timing,
  • Identify and assert privilege with respect to all documents,
  • Offer to, or if requested by the Police, locate the documents and, where practicable, make and keep copies of them,
  • Comply with the terms of the search warrant and give only what is demanded by the warrant,
  • Retain copies of all documents, to the extent that it is possible, time permitting,
  • Offer to, or if requested by the Police, seal the documents in packages marked for identification and initialed by you and the Police; taking care to ensure that the Police do not see the documents or any client names,
  • Ensure that the sealed packages are delivered to the custody of the Court or an independent third party as designated by the Court in accordance with the Court order, and
  • Make reasonable efforts to contact the Clients whose documents are subject to seizure to advise what is happening and advise that they may wish to obtain independent legal advice.
The Search Warrant has been executed - Next Steps
If necessary initiate or respond to applications before the Court that may include applications for,
  • An order to unseal and access the sealed packages,
  • The appointment of a Referee or an Independent Forensic Computer Examiner,
  • The determination of objections to the search warrant or its manner of execution,
  • The determination of issues of solicitor-client privilege,
  • Further searches such as a comprehensive electronic search of an electronic device/media or a forensic image, and
  • Direction with respect to the notification of the Clients of the search for and seizure of solicitor-client privileged documents.
This summary has been drafted for ease of reference. It should be read in conjunction with the Guidelines for Law Office Searches.

Read the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Guidelines

Practice Directions

Get detailed information about how court proceedings are conducted in most jurisdictions across Canada.

Notices to the Profession from the Supreme Court of Canada
Practice Directions from the Federal Court of Appeal

British Columbia
Practice Directions and Notices to the Profession from the Provincial Court of British Columbia

Rules, Practice Directions and Notices from the Court of Appeal of Alberta
Practice Notes from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta
Forms and Notices from the Provincial Court of Alberta

Rules and Practice Directives from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal
Rules and Practice Directives from the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench
Practice Directives and Endorsements from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court

Practice Directions and Policies from the Superior Court of Justice

Notices in Civil Matters from the Court of Appeal of Quebec
Notices in Criminal Matters from the Court of Appeal of Quebec

Nova Scotia
Information for Legal Professionals from the Courts of Nova Scotia

Prince Edward Island
Practice Directions for the Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal
Practice Notes from the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island

Practice Directives from the Nunavut Court of Justice