Trying to decide which lawyer to hire to help you and your family following a car accident or other personal injury claim? There are many excellent questions and considerations that should go into making this important decision. Experience, reputation, price and comfort will likely be part of that decision-making process. But another important question to ask is whether your prospective lawyer is a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA)?
OTLA was formed in 1991 by lawyers acting for plaintiffs. Its purpose is to promote access to justice for all Ontarians, preserve and improve the civil justice system, and advocate for the rights of those who have suffered injury and losses as the result of wrongdoing by others, while at the same time advocating strongly for safety initiatives. OTLA has approximately 1500 members including approximately 1000 lawyers.
Hiring a lawyer who is a member of OTLA means your lawyer spends almost all of his or her time advocating for Plaintiffs, not insurance companies or institutional defendants. Your lawyer represents the “little guy”. Your lawyer is part of an organization that believes strongly in the rights of accident victims and those who have suffered a wrong. Your lawyer will also have access to and have participated in continuing legal education seminars and organized chat lines with other OTLA lawyers. These are tailored directly to advocating for Plaintiffs, allowing them to best serve your interests.
All OTLA lawyers are required to abide by a code of conduct to strive to meet the highest standard of professionalism in law. The OTLA Code is a set of Standards of Conduct for Excellence which implements the Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct specifically for Plaintiffs’ lawyers. An OTLA lawyer understands the importance of their reputation to the profession and the public. The OTLA Code illustrates its members’ dedication to this initiative. Unfortunately, not all lawyers practicing in this area are able to or willing to meet these requirements.
An OTLA member contributes with their time and money to various safety initiatives and government and public relations efforts to help make our lives and laws better for those that have suffered wrongs. These initiatives include a Helmets for Kidscampaign that has presented over 30,000 bike helmets to children in need. OTLA has pressed for government changes to help the rights of accident victims. OTLA is the only organization to draft a fully compliant contingency fee agreement. By hiring an OTLA lawyer you are indirectly supporting these important initiatives.
The marketing of legal services for a personal injury lawyer have become very competitive and saturated. Trying to choose between many professionals can be challenging. One important and distinguishing factor should be whether your lawyer is a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.