Frequently Asked Questions
If you are concerned about something a lawyer has done (or not done), you should contact the Complaints Resolution Department of the Law Society of Manitoba. Before sending them a formal complaint, consider phoning them first. They may be able to help you work things out. The Complaints Resolution Department can be reached at (204) 942-5571, or toll-free at 1-855-942-5571.
If you want to proceed with a formal complaint, you must fill out a Complaint Help Form. You must sign the form. You can find a copy of the form here: https://lawsociety.mb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Complaint_Help_Form.pdf. You can also call the Law Society by phone to request a copy of the form.
When filling out the form, be sure to include:
Send the completed form and any additional documents to:
There is an appeal available to the Complaints Commissioner, a non-lawyer who is independent of the Law Society of Manitoba. The Complaints Commissioner can review the decision.
The Complaints Review Commissioner has two choices:
Legal fees are difficult to estimate. Lawyers often charge by the amount of time spent on a case. Many lawyers charge an hourly rate, which may depend on the experience of the individual lawyer. There is no standard rate for all lawyers. In property matters, lawyers may arrange fees based on the value of the property involved.
In your first meeting with a lawyer, you should discuss fees and methods of payment. If your case is likely to be uncontested, such as in a real estate, wills and estates, or some simple divorce matters, the lawyer may charge a flat rate. Ask for a retainer agreement which will make clear what you have to pay.
There is no set amount so it is best to contact a few lawyers and compare rates.
You may request an itemized bill from your lawyer. If you are having difficulty obtaining this, you can contact the Law Society of Manitoba for assistance.
The Law Society of Manitoba offers a fee arbitration program. Both you and the lawyer must agree to arbitration. The Law Society will arrange for a review of the statement of account by a neutral arbitrator or panel of three arbitrators. There is no charge for this review. Both you and the lawyer will be at the meeting. The review process is informal. You do not need a lawyer. The arbitrator will either reduce the fee or not. Contact the Law Society Fee Arbitration Coordinator by phone at (204) 926-2048 or by email at for further information or to request an arbitration.
Another option is to have the fee assessed by an officer of the Court of Queen’s Bench. You do not need your lawyer’s agreement to have the fee assessed. To arrange for an assessment call (204) 945-0344 or email . You should act quickly if you want an assessment. You only have up to 6 months after you receive the lawyer’s final statement of account to apply.
In this case, you can apply to the Court of Queen’s bench for an assessment of your lawyer fees. You need to file a Form 71A Notice of Application for Assessment of Lawyer’s Bill and a Form 4D Affidavit. The forms are available on-line here: http://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/rules/forms_e.php.
Once completed, the forms must be filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench (in Winnipeg, the Law Courts Building at 408 York Ave.).