Your Privacy Rights
From January 1, 2004, all businesses engaged in commercial activities must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (the “Act”) and the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the protection of personal information, which it incorporates. These obligations extend to lawyers and law firms, including Ella L. J. Bernhard. The Act gives you rights concerning the privacy of your personal information.
Ella L. J. Bernhard is responsible for the personal information we collect and hold. To ensure this accountability, we have developed this policy and trained our lawyers and support staff about our policies and practices.
Purposes for Collection of Personal Information
Our firm collects personal information for the following limited purposes:
- to establish and maintain client lists;
- to represent you as our client; and
- for internal purposes including the professional development of firm lawyers and law clerks.
What Personal Information Do We Collect?
Personal information is any information that identifies you, or by which your identity could be deduced. We collect and use your personal information in order to provide you with legal services. Our firm restricts the collection of personal information only to that information that is necessary for the purposes noted above. We are committed to collecting personal information in a fair, open and lawful manner. Wherever possible, we collect your personal information directly from you at the start of a retainer and in the course of our representation.
In most cases, we shall ask you to specifically consent if we collect, use, or disclose your personal information. Sometimes, your consent may be implied through your conduct with us.
Use of Your Information
By retaining our firm, you have confirmed your trust in us. We are honoured by this trust and take pride in serving you.
We use your personal information to provide legal advice and services to you and to administer our client (time and billing) databases. We are obliged for legal purposes to retain our client files after the end of the retainer.
Ella L. J. Bernhard does not disclose your personal information to any third party to enable them to market their products and services. For example, we do not provide our client mailing lists to other law firms.
Our firm stores and maintains personal information in conformity with the requirements of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the model code for the protection of personal information created and approved by the Canadian Standards Association.
Disclosure of Your Personal Information
Under certain circumstances, Ella L. J. Bernhard will disclose your personal information:
- When we are required or authorized by law to do so, for example if a court issues a subpoena;
- When you have consented to the disclosure;
- When the legal services we are providing to you require us to give your information to third parties (for example, a professional retained to conduct a custody/access assessment or a mediation) your consent will be implied, unless you tell us otherwise;
- When it is necessary to establish or collect fees;
- If we engage expert witnesses on your behalf;
- If the information is already publicly known.
Is My Personal Information Secure?
Our firm has developed and implemented security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the personal information kept by us. We take all reasonable precautions to ensure that your personal information is kept safe from loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. Among the steps taken to protect your information are:
- Premises security;
- Restricted file access to personal information;
- Deploying technological safeguards like security software and firewalls to prevent hacking or unauthorized computer access;
- Internal password and security policies.
We ensure that any of our employees who deal with personal information are properly trained and are aware of the necessary and appropriate measures required to protect personal information.
Our firm makes information about its policies and practices respecting the collection and maintenance of personal information available to all interested parties.
We are pleased to answer any questions that you may have regarding the collection and maintenance of personal information.
You may ask for access to any personal information we hold about you. Summary information is available on request. More detailed requests which require archive or other retrieval costs may be subject to our normal professional and disbursement fees.
Our firm is committed to maintaining accurate, complete and up-to-date personal information. If you are aware of changes to the personal information you have given to us, simply inform us of the changes and we will update our records accordingly.
Can I Request Anonymity?
Whenever it is legal and practicable, we may offer the opportunity to deal with general inquiries without providing your name (for example, by accessing general information on our website).
Communicating With Us
You should be aware that e-mail is not a 100% secure medium and you should be aware of this when contacting us to send personal or confidential information.
Requests For Access
If you have any questions or wish to access your personal information, please write to our Privacy Contact at Ella L. J. Bernhard, 80 Scollard Street, Lower Level, Toronto, ON, M5R 1G2.
On our website, like most other commercial websites, we may monitor traffic patterns, site usage, and related site information in order to optimize our web service. We may provide aggregated information to third parties, but these statistics do not include any identifiable personal information.