Part-Time Law Practice (M09-16/17)

An employee working as a program advisor in the OPS wanted to open a part-time law practice that would be operated during non-OPS work hours.  The employee initially sought the determination for a general law practice advising on matters that did not relate to the work performed for the Ministry.  The ethics executive determined that this did not create a conflict of interest provided that a number of conditions were adhered to, including that work for the law practice would not be done using government assets or during work hours and that no ministry information would be used in the law practice.  The employee subsequently sought a determination as to whether it would be a conflict of interest for the law practice to provide legal advice and legal services in the same subject area as the employee’s work for the ministry.

  1. 3(1) of O. Reg. 381/07 – providing legal advice and legal services in the same subject area as the employee’s work for the Ministry could allow the employee to use his or her employment with the ministry to directly benefit himself or herself.
  2. 8 para (2) of O. Reg. 381/07 – the operation of the law practice could interfere with the employee’s ability to perform his or her work for the ministry, if ministry assets were used in connection with the law practice or if work for the law practice was performed during OPS work hours.
  3. 8 para (5) of O. Reg. 381/07 – the operation of a law practice in an area directly related to the employee’s work for the ministry could lead to the derivation of an advantage for both the employee and potential clients of the law practice because the employee’s expertise gained from the work for the ministry would be used in the provision of legal advice and legal services.

The ethics executive determined that it would be a conflict of interest to operate a legal practice where legal advice and legal services were provided in the same subject areas as the subject of the work performed for the ministry. The employee was advised that it would not be a conflict of interest to operate a more general part-time legal practice that was not related to the employee’s work for the ministry, provided that the original conditions described above were adhered to.

O. Reg. 281/07, s. 3 & 8.