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Personal Injury

Advertising a hot topic at LSUC event co-hosted by John McLeish

The Law Society of Upper Canada needs to take action to rein in out-of-control advertising by personal injury lawyers, says Toronto critical injury lawyer John McLeish.

“The vast majority of the bar is fed up with tacky and tasteless marketing that breaches the Rules of Professional Conduct,” says McLeish, a partner at McLeish Orlando LLP.

The issue of lawyer advertising was just one topic of enthusiastic debate at the 2016 Oatley McLeish Guide to Motor Vehicle Litigation, an annual event that drew over 1,000 attendees — both in person and via webcast — on March 31 and April 1.

The program included panels and presentations on a wide range of issues pertaining to personal injury and insurance law, from the changing nature of advertising to new elements of Ontario's accident benefits system.

McLeish has co-chaired the program for over 15 years with his good friend, Roger Oatley of Oatley Vigmond LLP.

The program is of very high quality and people get their money's worth, McLeish tells

“The papers were fantastic, and the speakers were stellar,” he says. “When people go to that program, whether they’re a plaintiff lawyer or a defence lawyer in the personal injury or insurance world, they know they’re up to date on the current state of the law as it will affect their day-to-day practice.”

McLeish also co-moderated a panel on ethical dilemmas in trial advocacy.

He further joined with Oatley to present a paper entitled “Developing a Case for Damages for the Profoundly Brain Injured Child.”

But McLeish says of all the presentations, the discussion around advertising by personal injury lawyers was the most earnestly discussed. Most professionals in attendance agreed that the law society needs to be more proactive to curb ads that are unsavoury and untruthful, and controvene the rules, he says. 

Members of the bar are growing increasingly impatient with the pace at which the Law Society of Upper Canada is dealing with the issue of advertising, McLeish adds.

The panel, “Advertising: Where is the line and when is it crossed?,” included real examples of advertising by firms that claim to have A+ ratings (a rating that doesn’t exist in the profession) or claim to have been voted best personal injury lawyers in Toronto by a self-conducted poll. McLeish says firms post such ads on billboards, in parking lots, and even in public washrooms.

“They are offensive and dishonest ads,” McLeish says. “Members of the bar are disgusted by personal injury advertising that’s demeaning the profession.”

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