Guide to Attending a Hearing

What is the Law Society Tribunal?

The Tribunal is an independent adjudicative body that makes decisions based on testimony and evidence in a similar way to courts or other administrative tribunals. Our mandate is to process, hear, and decide regulatory cases about Ontario lawyers, paralegals and licence applicants.


What kinds of cases does the Tribunal hear?

Most of the hearings before the Tribunal relate to licensee conduct – whether the licensee has violated the ethical rules that govern the professions. A conduct hearing could determine, for example, whether the licensee has mismanaged funds, advertised in a way that is false or misleading, failed to serve clients, or failed to co-operate with the Law Society, among other forms of misconduct.

The Tribunal also hears capacity cases, in which the panel determines whether the licensee is or was physically or mentally incapable of practising.

Licensing hearings are scheduled when the Law Society raises a concern about a licence applicant’s character (a person must be of “good character” to be granted a licence).

An interlocutory suspension or restriction hearing precedes some conduct or capacity hearings, when it is alleged that there is a significant risk to the public that would be reduced by suspending or restricting the lawyer or paralegal’s licence before the case is heard.

In addition to a Hearing Division, the Tribunal has an Appeal Division that hears appeals of decisions that either the licensee/licence applicant or the Law Society believes were decided incorrectly by the Hearing Division.


Who presides over Tribunal hearings?

Tribunal members, or “adjudicators”, make up the panels that hear and decide Tribunal cases, similar to judges in the courts. They may be “benchers” (members of Convocation, the Law Society’s board of directors), or appointees. They are lawyers, paralegals, or lay people. Each panel is chosen by the Tribunal Chair, with an eye to representation, areas of expertise, and fairness. Panels can be made up of one adjudicator, three adjudicators, or five adjudicators. When there are multiple adjudicators on a panel, one of the adjudicators is assigned to lead the panel as chair.


Who can watch a hearing?

Almost all Tribunal hearings are public, and so any member of the public is permitted to attend. Hearings that are not open to the public are usually held in private to protect confidential information.

All public hearings are listed on our website, along with the notice, which is the official document that initiated the proceeding. If you plan to attend a hearing, it’s wise to confirm the date and time by emailing, as the schedule is subject to change.

Whether you are interested in watching a specific case unfold, or if you’d simply like to understand more about the hearing process at the Tribunal, anyone is welcome to watch a hearing, provided they observe the guidelines (outlined below).


Where are Tribunal hearings held?

Most of our hearings are held online, via videoconference. A link to view a particular hearing can be obtained by emailing

On some occasions, we hold hearings at our offices, which are located at 375 University Avenue, Suite 402, in Toronto, Ontario.

There are four hearing rooms at the Tribunal. To find your hearing room, check the screen in the reception area. If you’re unsure of where to go, feel free to ask a Tribunal staff member for help.


Zoom Guidelines

  • Members of the public should turn off their webcam and put themselves on mute when they enter the hearing.
  • Please arrive five minutes before the start of the hearing so as to minimize disruptions. If you arrive after the start of the hearing, you may have to wait until it is convenient for the Tribunal staff to let you in.
  • Photography, video, or audio recording of the hearing is not allowed unless the panel has given its permission.
  • Always follow the instructions from the panel.
  • All behaviour during the hearing must be courteous and respectful.
  • If the panel has ordered that part of the proceedings not be public, members of the public in attendance will be placed in a virtual waiting room until the hearing resumes in public.
  • For technical instructions about how to connect to videoconference via Zoom and how to use the Zoom platform, please see our Zoom Guide.


In-Person Hearing Guidelines

  • Please turn off your cell phone before entering the hearing room.
  • Refrain from speaking to or otherwise distracting the people participating in the hearing.
  • Hats or head coverings are not permitted in the hearing room, except for religious reasons.
  • Sunglasses are not permitted except for medical reasons.
  • Most visitors choose to dress in business attire, though any style of dress is allowed.
  • Photography, video, or audio recording in the hearing room is not allowed unless the panel has given its permission.
  • No food or drink are allowed in the hearing room except for water.
  • Always obey the instructions of the panel.
  • All behaviour within Tribunal premises must be courteous and respectful. Failure to treat the proceedings with due respect can result in your being removed from the hearing.


What will happen in the hearing?

Before videoconference proceedings begin, members of the public are placed in a virtual waiting room until the host (the File Management Co-ordinator assigned to the case) lets them in at the start of the hearing.

At an in-person hearing, a Tribunal staff member will knock on the door before entering and ushering in the adjudicators, signalling those in attendance to stand for the arrival of the panel. The entrance of the panel indicates that the hearing has begun.

Also at the hearing will be Law Society counsel and the licensee or licence applicant, who may be accompanied by their own counsel as well. There may be other visitors, including members of the public and members of the media. Witnesses who have chosen to watch the proceedings after their testimony may also be present. The court reporter and the File Management Co-ordinator (FMC) will be in attendance as well. At in-person hearings, security will occasionally also be present.

As in the courts, the applicant’s case is presented first, followed by the respondent’s case.

A morning, lunch, and afternoon break will be ordered by the panel, though the timing and length of these breaks varies. Usually there is a fifteen-minute break in the morning, a lunch break of one hour to one and a half hours and a fifteen-minute break in the afternoon.


Can I access Tribunal documents?

Most documents that are filed as part of a public hearing are public once they’ve been filed, though it can take a few days for documents to be uploaded, examined, and made available.

Some examples of the kind of document that is public, unless an order has been made stating otherwise, are:

  • Notices
  • Endorsements
  • Information sheets
  • Orders
  • Reasons
  • Exhibits
  • Facta (written legal arguments)
  • Affidavits
  • Document books
  • Books of authority

If you have an urgent need for a particular document, you should contact the Tribunal at as soon as possible.

All hearings are audio recorded so that a transcript of the proceedings can be made. If you’d like to purchase transcripts of a hearing, you can do so by contacting either of these two companies:


For hearings after January 1, 2018:

Veritext Legal Solutions

For hearings before January 1, 2018:

ASAP Reporting Services


If we happen to have paper transcripts in the Tribunal office, they can be shown to you, though they can’t be copied or photographed.

If you’re looking for documents from a file that is closed, you must go through the file review process for accessing closed files. To learn more about file reviews, click here.


What are the protocols for members of the media?

Members of the media should follow the same protocols as anyone else attending a hearing.

You may want to alert the Communications Coordinator that you’ll be at a hearing so that she knows to expect follow-up questions or requests. She can be reached at

Just like members of the public, members of the media can access Tribunal documents. Members of the media can also obtain documents that are subject to a publication ban, though the contents cannot be published in whole, in part, or in summary. These documents will always be accompanied by the order that lays out the details of the publication ban.

The Tribunal doesn’t comment on the motivations or processes of the parties involved, or on panel decisions; if you’re looking for more detail on the reasoning behind decisions, you can access a copy of the panel’s reasons on our website, at or by request from the Communications Coordinator. Reasons may take several months after the conclusion of the hearing to be released.

The Tribunal is separate from the Law Society of Ontario. As such, we can’t answer questions about Law Society choices, processes or investigations. Please direct all questions related to the Law Society to the Law Society’s Senior Communications Advisor, Jennifer Wing at