Employment & Labour

Use logic when giving gifts in the workplace

Gift giving in the legal profession must be done with common sense and ethics in mind, employment lawyer Arthur Zeilikman tells Lawyers Weekly.

In a recent article, the legal publication says giving and receiving gifts during the holiday season may seem appropriate, but can also present issues.

The guiding principle when it comes to exchanging goods, says Zeilikman, is the professional obligation to act ethically, whether the gift giving involves a co-worker or a client.

“We’re officers of the court and fiduciaries to our clients,” says Zeilikman, of Zeilikman Law. “Token gifts are OK, but you can’t cross the line and adorn your clients with gifts or expect any from them. It should be guided by common sense given the nature of our profession.”

Zeilikman says he has received the occasional box of chocolates or gift basket, which is fine, “but if you give somebody a gold necklace then it’s kind of strange and may be inappropriate.”

The Model Code of Professional Conduct, published by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, stipulates that “a lawyer must not accept a gift that is more than nominal from a client unless the client has received independent legal advice,” reports Lawyers Weekly.

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