Before you hire a lawyer, make sure that he or she is a member in good standing of the Barreau du Québec and has a license to practise law. This free and easy verification can save you time, money and most importantly, many problems.
To check whether a person is a member in good standing of the Barreau du Québec and does have the right to exercise the profession of lawyer:
- First confirm the identity and contact information of the person whose services you wish to retain.
- Validate the information by consulting the Directory of lawyers of the Barreau du Québec, ensuring that the telephone number, e-mail address and professional address provided correspond to those indicated in the Directory.
- If you do not find the person’s name in the Directory or in case of any doubt, contact Info-Barreau: 514 954-3411 (Montreal area) or 1 844 954-3411 (toll-free) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Examples of acts reserved for lawyers
Here are some examples of acts that only a lawyer can perform on behalf of others, which are frequently reported or complained of to the Bar of Montreal, since they are performed by non-lawyers. Notaries can also perform some of these acts for others:
- to give legal advice and consultations on legal matters (notaries as well);
- to prepare and draw up a document (notice, motion, proceeding) intended for use in a case before the courts (notaries as well, but only for non-contentious proceedings);
- to plead or act before any tribunal, with exceptions (see section 128. 2) of an Act respecting the Barreau du Québec for a complete list of exceptions) (notaries as well, but only for non-contentious proceedings);
- to incorporate a legal person (notaries as well);
- to make collections or make any claim with costs or to imply that judicial proceedings will be taken.
ATTENTION! This list is not exhaustive. For a complete list of acts that are the exclusive prerogative of the practising lawyer, please refer to section 128 of an Act respecting the Barreau du Québec.
Good to know
Fake Lawyers and Fake Lawyers’ Websites
Fake lawyers’ websites look real, are well-designed and look polished. The so-called lawyers are courteous, polite and convincing. Some will even use the name of a person registered in the Directory of lawyers and invite you to check it. If in doubt, call the person back at the number listed in the Directory of lawyers or write to the e-mail address listed in the Directory (not the contact information the person gave you).
The fake lawyers and the administrators of fake lawyers’ websites use many other strategies to lend credibility to their operations:
- They are active on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
- In immigration law in particular, they use the official logos of the governments of Québec and Canada or other official organizations.
- They post positive testimonials on websites (e.g., user communities, blogs, Google) and social media platforms.
- They reply systematically to victim testimonials and warnings, are reassuring and respond that services are provided by qualified and competent people.
- They make people sign credible administrative documents.
Warning lists of fake lawyers’ websites with an address in Québec and of fake lawyers reported to the Barreau de Montréal
Those lists are not exhaustive. They contain only the names of websites and so-called lawyers that we have received complaints about and whose owners or so-called lawyers have refused to cooperate with the Bar of Montreal. Some fake lawyers’ websites or so-called lawyers are not included in this list either because they have not yet been brought to our attention or their names have been modified. Stay informed!
Fake lawyers and/or cases of identity theft of real lawyers:
Fake Lawyers’ Websites
ATTENTION! Several fake lawyers’ websites target an international clientele seeking professional immigration assistance. In Quebec, only the following people can represent or advise you in an immigration process:
- Lawyers who are members in good standing of a law society of a province of Canada;
- Regulated immigration consultants who are members of the ICCRC;
- Notaries who are members in good standing of the Chambre des notaires du Québec;
- Any other person acting on a gratuitous basis.
Precautions to be taken
If the person identifies himself or herself as a regulated immigration consultant member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), make sure that his or her contact information matches those appearing on the ICCRC registry. If in doubt, call the person back at the number on the ICCRC registry (not the one he or she gave you). The ICCRC has developed a web page on fraud prevention.
As for lawyers, if the person claims to be a notary, make sure that he or she has a licence to practice as a notary by consulting the Roll of the Order of the Chambre des notaires du Québec. To verify if a person is a member in good standing of the Chambre des notaires, call the following number: 514 879-1793 or 1 800-263-1793 (toll-free).
If the person mentions that he or she will represent you free of charge, make sure that this is really the case. The person should not ask you to pay more than the administrative fees necessary to process your application, as provided by the government concerned :
- Fee list (in Canadian dollars) for submitting applications to the Government of Canada (federal); or
- Fee list (in Canadian dollars) for submitting applications to the Government of Quebec (provincial).
If a person asks for a donation or gift or offers to barter or volunteer for their services, they are not doing so for free.
Other useful resource is the Government of Canada’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Internet, email and telephone scams help page, which reads:
“It’s easy for criminals to copy a real website or build one that looks professional. Websites may claim to be official Government of Canada sites or their partners. Others may claim to offer special immigration deals or guaranteed high-paying jobs. They do this to trick people into paying them money.”