Personal injury lawyer reprimanded over ad tribunal hearing

Ontario personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger will receive a reprimand from the Law Society of Ontario after complaints about his advertising tactics in London, Ont.

Personal injury lawyer reprimanded over ad tribunal hearing
Goldfinger’s dispute was around advertisements that said he was 'London's personal injury lawyer,' after he expanded his Toronto-based firm to offices in the area.

Ontario personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger will receive a reprimand from the Law Society of Ontario after complaints about his advertising tactics in London, Ont.

Goldfinger said the outcome, which the law society tribunal accepted on Wednesday, is a lenient resolution in an issue that’s murky for many young lawyers.

“Up-and-coming practitioners have to advertise their services in order to reach new clients in a highly competitive environment,” Goldfinger said in a statement.

Goldfinger’s spat with a group of London lawyers centred around advertisements that said Goldfinger was “London's personal injury lawyer,” after he expanded his Toronto-based firm to satellite offices in the area. In particular, tribunal documents said the ads allegedly left an impression that Goldfinger’s firm was “larger than it is” and that he was “a local lawyer in multiple cities.”

Gerald Chan, one of Goldfinger’s counsel and a partner at Stockwoods LLP, says that, to his recollection, the outcome acknowledged that Goldfinger had co-operated and made best efforts to comply with the rules. Chan said more information about the resolution will be revealed by forthcoming documentation from the tribunal.

The rules around legal advertising, Goldfinger said, are “frequently updated,” “sometimes ambiguous” and “leave room for interpretation.”

After an escalation of complaints against many lawyers beginning in 2011, the law society has been investigating ways to address advertising-related concerns, including potential caps on referral fees and new rules for real estate law ads. Personal injury law ads have also come under the microscope of the law society’s professional regulation committee.

"I hope this episode will help clarify the rules for the benefit of other young lawyers and small firm owners,” Goldfinger said.

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