This policy is made pursuant to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. It is a complex Act and provides some additional exceptions to the privacy principles that are too detailed to set out here. There are some rare exceptions to the commitments set out below.
As a law firm, privacy of personal information is an important principle at Ain Whitehead LLP. We are committed to collecting, using and disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the services that we provide. We try to be open and transparent as to how we handle personal information. This document describes our privacy policies.
WHAT IS PERSONAL INFORMATION?
Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. It includes information that relates to personal characteristics, health, history, activities and views. Personal information does not include business information (business address and phone number), which is not protected by privacy legislation.
COLLECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION
HOW DO WE COLLECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION?
We collect information only by lawful means and not in an unreasonably intrusive way. Wherever possible we collect your personal information directly from you, both at the start of a retainer and in the course of our representation. In most cases we ask you to specifically consent to the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information. Normally, we ask for your consent in writing, but in some circumstances we may accept your oral consent or your consent may be implied by your conduct with us.
Sometimes we may obtain information about you from other sources, for example, your real estate agent, insurance company, accountant, financial advisor, mortgage broker or government agencies.
As a firm, our primary purpose for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information is to serve our clients, and members of the general public. We collect information about various individuals for this primary purpose.
- to provide legal services and advice
- to give legal opinions
- to contact the client
About Members of the General Public
- to gather and review information that is relevant to a legal issue affecting our clients
- to provide notice of special events (seminars or conferences, for instance)
- to make the general public aware of legal services in general or our firm in particular
- on our website, we only collect, with the exception of cookies, the personal information that you provide and we only use that information for the purposes for which you gave it. Cookies are only used to help you navigate our website and are not used to monitor you.
We will, on request, remove such personal information from our distribution lists.
We do not sell personal information or address lists to third party marketing companies.
Like most organizations, we also collect, use and disclose information for purposes related to or secondary to our primary purposes. The most common examples of our related or secondary purposes are as follows:
- to invoice clients for services rendered, process credit card payments, and collect unpaid accounts
- to advise clients and others of new developments in the law or firm news and changes
- to send greeting cards, invitations to events or firm marketing materials
- to ensure high quality services (i.e.) assessing performance of staff and partners
- to assist external advisors with audits or other quality assurance reviews
- Lawyers in Ontario are regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada which may inspect our records and interview our staff as a part of its regulatory activities in the public interest.
- Our firm believes that it should report information suggesting serious illegal behavior as well as serious misconduct, incapacity or incompetence of other practitioners to the proper authorities. These reports could include personal information about our clients, or other individuals, to support the concern, although we try to keep this disclosure to a minimum and are always mindful of solicitor and client privilege.
- Various government agencies have the authority to review our files and interview our staff as part of their mandates (although solicitor-client privilege restricts their access to much of this information). In these circumstances, we may consult with professionals (lawyers and accountants, for instance).
- Clients or other individuals may have questions about the services that we have provided after they have been received.
- We retain our client information, as required by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
- If Ain Whitehead LLP or its assets were to be sold, the purchaser would want to conduct a “due diligence” review of the firm’s records to ensure that it is a viable business that has been honestly portrayed to the purchaser. This due diligence may include some review of our accounting and service files. The purchaser would not be able to remove or record personal information. Before being provided access to the files, the purchaser would be required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Only reputable purchasers who have already agreed to buy the organization’s business or its assets would be provided access to personal information, and only for these limited purposes.
- In providing legal services, we use a number of consultants and agencies that may, in the course of their duties, have limited access to personal information that we hold. These consultants include computer consultants, office security and maintenance, bookkeepers, accountants, file storage companies, temporary workers, credit card companies, website managers, cleaners and/or other lawyers. We restrict their access to any personal information that we hold as much as is reasonably possible. We also have their assurance that they will follow appropriate privacy principles.
PROTECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION
The essence of the solicitor/client relationship is based upon trust and confidence. It has always been of the utmost importance to us, as a law firm, to endeavor at all times to protect the personal information that we collect. We are bound by the rules of our profession dictated by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
HOW WE PROTECT PERSONAL INFORMATION
- Paper information is either under supervision or secured in restricted areas.
- Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in restricted areas. In addition, passwords are used on computers.
- When information is delivered outside of our offices, whether by fax, phone, email, courier or otherwise, we endeavor to use only reputable companies and agencies.
RETENTION & DESTRUCTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions that you might have about the services that we have provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. It is our practice to destroy any unnecessary documents by shredding them. We destroy unnecessary electronic information by deleting it. Alternatively, we may send all or some of a client file to the client once a matter is completed.
ACCESS TO YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
With some exceptions (one of which is quite broad), you have the right to see what personal information we hold about you. We can help you identify what records we might have about you and help you understand that information, if there is any confusion. We will need to confirm your identity, if we do not know you, before providing you with this access. We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee for such requests.
If there are any issues surrounding the disclosure of information, we may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible, providing you, to the best of our ability, with particulars as to why the information cannot be released. If we collect personal information about you for a client, there is a good chance that this information would be protected by solicitor and client privilege and we will not provide access to it without our client’s consent.
If you believe that there is a mistake in the information that we have collected, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any legal opinions that we may have formed and/or provided. We may ask you to provide evidence that our records are wrong. When we agree that we have made a mistake, we will correct that mistake and notify anyone to whom we sent the incorrect information. If we do not agree that we have made a mistake, we will still agree to include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.
Ain Whitehead LLP uses or may use remarketing with Google Analytics to advertise online.
Third-party vendors, including Google, may show our ads on sites across the Internet.
Ain Whitehead LLP and third-party vendors, including Google, use first-party cookies (such as the Google Analytics cookie) and third-party cookies (such as the DoubleClick cookie) together to inform, optimize, and serve ads based on someone’s past visits to your website.
Ain Whitehead LLP and third-party vendors, including Google, use first-party cookies (such as the Google Analytics cookies) and third-party cookies (such as the DoubleClick cookie) together to report how your ad impressions, other uses of ad services, and interactions with these ad impressions and ad services are related to visits to your site.
Ain Whitehead LLP uses data from Google’s Interest-based advertising or 3rd-party audience data (such as age, gender, and interests) with Google Analytics to optimize ads and improve website usability for our target audience.
By using the following Ads Settings, users can opt-out of Google Analytics for Display Advertising and customize Google Display Network ads. Users are also able to opt-out of sharing data with Google Analytics with the following browser add on: browser opt-outs.
REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION
As required by the privacy legislation, we are obligated to make available to you, at a reasonable cost, the personal information that we have about you, subject to overriding considerations of solicitor/client privilege. For further details about making a request for information, please contact our Information Officer, who would be pleased to assist you.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
You can email our Information Officer or send correspondence to:
Ain Whitehead LLP
27 Clapperton Street, Suite 100A
For more general inquiries, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees the administration of the Act in the private sector. The Commissioner also acts as an ombudsman for privacy disputes.