File a Complaint Against a Lawyer

Sharing your concerns with the Society

Lawyers have ethical obligations, established in our Code of Professional Conduct, which they must follow. Most of the obligations that lawyers owe are to their clients, but lawyers also owe some obligations to the courts, other lawyers and members of the public. We regulate the ethical conduct of lawyers in Nova Scotia.

If you have concerns relating to the ethical conduct of a lawyer in Nova Scotia, we may be able to help.

We address concerns brought to our attention, but some matters may fall outside our mandate as the regulator or may not pose a need for early.

Steps to take before you file a complaint

Talk to your lawyer First, we recommend that you talk to your lawyer about your concern. Your lawyer may not be aware that they’re not meeting your expectations.

If your lawyer practices within a law firm: If you have spoken with your lawyer directly and your concern still isn’t resolved, we recommend you reach out to a managing partner. Sometimes issues can be resolved at that level too.

If this does not resolve your complaint, Review our public resources page to ensure your concern is a matter we can address. Please note that the Society cannot provide legal advice, lawyer referrals, assist with disputes about your lawyer’s fees.

If you believe you have a complaint, please select from this list what best describes your circumstances to be redirected to the best possible resource.

I have concerns or dispute what my lawyer is charging me.

We cannot assist with disputes about your lawyer’s fees. If you feel that your lawyer’s fees are too high or incorrect request an itemized account from your lawyer. If you cannot resolve this with your lawyer, you can ask the Small Claims Court to review it. The Small Claims Court has the authority to reduce the account in appropriate circumstances.

I would like the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society to intervene in a matter that is before the Courts.

Court is an adversarial process. Each side presents their evidence and it is up to the judge to determine the outcome. It is very common to disagree with the evidence the other side is presenting or submitting.

Disagreeing with the evidence submitted by a lawyer on behalf of their client is usually not a basis for the Society to become involved. We cannot interfere on your behalf in court.

If you would like to file a complaint, the complaint form can be accessed at the bottom of this page.

I would like the Society to recommend a lawyer to me or assist me in a legal matter.

The Society cannot assist with your legal matter or recommend a lawyer.

If you are looking for a lawyer:

Contact the Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-665-9779 or 902-455-3135.

If you are involved with a Civil Litigation Matter:

The free legal clinic at the Halifax Law Courts may be able to help with your matter.

You may be able to qualify for legal aid, which can get you representation from a legal aid lawyer. To do so you must contact your local legal aid office to see if you are eligible for representation by a legal aid lawyer. Please visit Nova Scotia Legal Aid’s site to find an office near you.

You also may contact the Dalhousie Legal Aid Office to see if the services they provide are able to meet your needs.

I have been denied representation by Legal Aid.

We do not have the authority to interfere with Legal Aid’s processes. Legal Aid is entitled to determine who is eligible for their services and what matters they will take on. Legal Aid outlines the process for appealing the decision on their website.

I have a concern related to lawyer’s negligence (e.g. errors and omissions).

Professional negligence is generally not considered a complaint that the Society would investigate. If you believe that your lawyer was negligent in their representation of you and that you suffered a loss as a result, you may want to contact the Lawyers’ Insurance Association of Nova Scotia (LIANS)

I am seeking compensation from the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

The Society generally cannot provide compensation to complainants. However, if you gave the lawyer a retainer or they are holding money for you in trust and you believe that they have taken that money when they were not entitled to do so, please see the information regarding our Lawyers’ Fund for Client Compensation.

I have concerns about the ethical conduct or competency of a lawyer who does not practice in Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society does not have jurisdiction over lawyers who do not practice in Nova Scotia. Refer any complaints to the law society that regulates the province or territory that the lawyer practices in.

I have a concern about the ethical conduct or competency of a lawyer in Nova Scotia and would like to file a complaint with the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

This is a complaint that can be sent to our Professional Responsibility department. There are three ways to submit a complaint. Please click on the icon to be redirected to the complaint form.

NOTE: Submitting a complaint by mail will result in delays. If possible, submit your complaint through our online form. Whenever possible, we encourage complainants to include an email address to be contacted.

I have read the above and am prepared to file a complaint

Below are the ways you can file a complaint to the Society. By clicking on an icon, you will be redirected to the complaints form to submit online, by email, or through the mail. To better understand the complaints process and how it will be processed by the Society, visit this page.

If you require more information about filing a complaint, please call the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society at 902-422-1491 or email [email protected].