Policy Objective and Scope
For the purposes of this policy, “Personal Information” means any information, recorded in any form, about an identified individual, or an individual whose identity may be inferred or determined from the information. This policy does not cover any information, recorded in any form, about more than one individual where the identity of the individuals is not known and cannot be inferred from the information. In Alberta “personal information” does not include business contact information such as your office address, job title, business phone number, email address, fax number or other related business contact information.
McLennan Ross LLP (“the Firm”) is a law firm with offices in Edmonton, Calgary, and Yellowknife. As professionals, we are dedicated to maintaining high standards of confidentiality with respect to the information that has been provided to us. This policy, along with the Firm’s Internal Confidentiality policy, has been prepared to affirm our commitment to maintaining the privacy of our clients and others and to inform you of our practices concerning the collection, use and disclosure of Personal Information collected by the Firm. In addition to ensuring compliance with this policy, we will comply with all Federal, Provincial or Territorial privacy and data protection laws that apply.
Our obligations as legal professionals are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct and those of the Law Society. These obligations apply to all professionals, employees, contractors, and agents who provide services in connection with our delivery of services to our clients. Using contractual or other arrangements, the Firm will ensure that agents, contractors and third party service providers, who may receive Personal Information in the course of providing services to the Firm as part of our delivery of products and services, protect that Personal Information consistently with the principles expressed in this policy.
As a general rule, all information concerning the business and affairs of a person or organization acquired for the purpose of determining whether the Firm will enter into a professional relationship or in the course of a professional relationship will be held in strict confidence and not revealed to anyone unless expressly or implicitly authorized by the person or organization concerned. A professional relationship commences when the Firm agrees to be retained to provide services to a particular individual or organization. In order to protect their own interests, individuals or organizations should not send confidential information to the Firm until they have had a direct discussion with a professional at the firm regarding the retention of the Firm to provide legal services.
The Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information
Your provision of Personal Information to the Firm means that you agree that we may collect, use, and disclose your Personal Information in accordance with this policy. If you do not agree with these terms, you are requested not to provide any Personal Information to the Firm. Unfortunately, certain services can only be offered if you provide Personal Information to the Firm. Consequently, if you choose not to provide us with any required Personal Information, the Firm may not be able to offer you those services.
The Firm will collect from individuals or organizations only such information as is required for the purposes of providing services or information to them. When we make directed individual requests for your relevant Personal Information from a particular organization or business, such as medical professionals or financial institutions, we will obtain your prior consent.
The Firm collects email and mailing addresses from individuals attending seminars or subscribing to publications offered by the Firm. The Firm uses information collected through such contacts to send them the publication they have requested, and also to provide information that may be of possible interest.
The Firm does not sell, trade, barter, or exchange for consideration any Personal Information it has obtained.
Unless permitted by law, no Personal Information is collected about an individual, without first obtaining the consent of the individual to the collection, use and dissemination of that information. Consent may be written, verbal or implied as necessary to further your legal needs.
Personal Information will be collected, to the extent possible, directly from the individual concerned.
The Firm has controls in place to ensure that Personal Information is not used for any purpose other than that for which the Personal Information was provided.
We use your Personal Information to provide legal advice and services to you and to administer our legal business incidental to providing legal services, such as client billing.
The Firm may, from time to time, disclose Personal Information to organizations that perform services on behalf of the Firm. Personal Information will only be provided to such organizations if they agree to use such information solely for the purposes of providing services to the Firm to act in a manner consistent with the relevant principles articulated in this policy.
There are circumstances where the use and/or disclosure of Personal Information may occur or where the Firm is obliged to disclose information without consent. Such circumstances may include, where:
- required by law or by order or requirement of a court, administrative agency, or any other government tribunal
- the Firm believes, upon reasonable grounds, that it is necessary to protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of an identifiable person or group
- it is necessary to establish or collect monies owing to the Firm
- it is necessary to permit the Firm to pursue available remedies or limit any damages that the Firm may sustain
- the information is public
When obliged or permitted to disclose information without consent, the Firm will not disclose more information than is required.
The Firm endeavours to ensure that any Personal Information provided and in its possession is as accurate, current, and complete as necessary for the purposes for which the Firm uses that information. You have the right to request a correction of the Personal Information that we hold about you.
You may request access to the Personal Information that we have about you. The request must be in writing and directed to the Firm’s Chief Privacy Officer. We will respond to your access request in accordance with the applicable law, and within any time frames required by law. We will charge a reasonable fee for retrieval and copying of your Personal Information. By law, we must deny you access when:
- your file contains Personal Information of a third party and the information cannot be severed to maintain the privacy of the third-party information
- required or authorized by law (for example when a record containing Personal Information about you is subject to a claim of legal professional privilege by one of our clients)
We may also deny access when your information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings against you, including unpaid bills to the law firm.
The Firm endeavours to keep Personal Information only as long as it is required for the reasons it was collected. The length of time varies, depending on the product or service and the nature of the information. This period may extend beyond the end of a person’s relationship with us but it will be only for so long as it is necessary for us to have sufficient information to respond to any issues that may arise at a later date. When your Personal Information is no longer required for the Firm’s purposes, we will employ procedures to destroy, delete, erase, or convert it into an anonymous form.
Currently, the principal places in which the Firm holds Personal Information are in the cities where the Firm has offices or where off-site storage facilities are located.
The Firm endeavours to maintain adequate physical, procedural, and technical security with respect to its offices and information-storage facilities so as to prevent any loss, misuse, unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification of Personal Information.
The Firm further protects Personal Information by restricting access to it to those employees that the management of the Firm have determined need to know that information in order for the Firm to provide its services.
In terms of communicating Personal Information to the Firm, you may wish to note that there is no method of transmitting or storing data that is completely secure. Mail, telephone calls, faxes and transmissions over the Internet are all susceptible to possible loss, misrouting, and interception. The Firm attempts to strike a reasonable balance between security and convenience. In communicating with clients and others, the Firm often uses methods of communication that are less secure than some of its less convenient alternatives. An example of this is email. When we use email, it may be sent as unencrypted plain text. This is done for our clients’ convenience but has the security concern that, if misrouted or intercepted, it could be read more easily than encrypted email.
McLennan Ross Website
The Firm provides clients and others with general access to its website. Our web servers track general information about visitors such as their domain name and date of visit. The Firm’s Web servers also collect and aggregate information regarding which pages are being accessed as well as information volunteered by visitors through online surveys or subscriptions to electronic newsletters. This information is used internally, only in aggregate form, to better serve visitors by helping us to:
- manage our sites
- diagnose any technical problems
- improve the content of our website
Amendment of McLennan Ross Practices and This Policy
This policy is in effect and is subject to periodic revision. Any amendment will be posted on the Firm’s website. Policy changes will apply to the information collected from the date of posting of the revised policy to the Firm’s website as well as to existing information held by the Firm.
All firm members are required to review this policy annually and confirm that they have done the necessary review and will comply with this policy.
In the event an individual has questions about access to Personal Information or the collection, use, management or disclosure of Personal Information, that person should contact any of the following: the professional with whom he or she has had contact or the Firm’s Chief Privacy Officer, Vicki Giles.