James H. Brown and Associates LLP recognizes the importance of privacy and the sensitivity of personal information. As a law firm, we have a professional obligation to keep confidential all information we receive from our clients, unless clients direct us otherwise. We are committed to protecting all personal information we hold. This Privacy Statement outlines how we manage personal client information and safeguard our clients’ privacy.
1.1 Policy Requirements
As of January 1, 2004, all businesses engaged in commercial activities in Alberta must comply with the Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) of Alberta and the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPDEA”). PIPA is applicable to lawyers and law firms, including James H. Brown and Associates LLP. PIPA gives clients rights concerning the privacy of personal information. Most client information is still subject to solicitor and client privilege and PIPA does not abrogate nor limit this privilege.
1.2 Types of Personal Information
Personal information is any information that identifies a client, other than the client’s business contact information. In Alberta, business contact information is office addresses, job titles, business phone numbers, email addresses, fax numbers and other related business contact information that is not considered personal information.
1.3 Collection of Personal Information
We collect personal information for the purpose of serving our clients’ legal needs and advancing their interests. We do so using lawful and fair means. We sometimes will obtain information from third parties about our clients in order to provide the best legal services possible. When we make directed requests for a client’s sensitive personal information from a particular organization or business, we will obtain your consent. Whenever possible we will collect personal information directly from our clients. Depending on the legal services provided, with client consent, we may obtain personal information from the following non-exhaustive list of individuals and organizations:
- Medical professionals;
- Insurance Companies;
- Public Registries such as the Corporate Registry, Land Titles Office or Probate Registry;
- Financial institutions;
- All Courts of Law or Administrative Tribunals;
- The Department of Justice, Canada;
- Alberta Justice;
- Alberta Tax and Revenue Administration;
- The Canada Revenue Agency;
We may ask for client consent at the start of our retainer with the client or during the solicitor and client relationship. Client consent may be in writing, verbal or implied as necessary to further a client’s needs. Our practice is to request a client’s written or express verbal consent, provided the client’s identity is authenticated.
2.1 Volunteering Personal Information
If a client volunteers to provide relevant personal information either verbally or in writing, we assume that the client is consenting to the collection, use and disclosure of the client’s personal information in a reasonable manner.
2.2 Disclosure of a Client’s Personal Information Without Consent
Under certain circumstances, we will disclose a client’s personal information without consent if:
- We are required or authorized by law to do so, for example, if a court issues a subpoena;
- When the use of the information is necessary to respond to an emergency that threatens the life, health or security of an individual or the public;
- When it is necessary to establish or collect our legal fees; or
- If the information is already publicly known.
3.0 Use of Clients’ Personal Information
When we release personal information about a client, it is done to serve specific needs in the course of providing legal services. We do not disclose or sell clients’ personal information or business contact information to third parties wishing to market their products or services. With a client’s consent, we may provide information to:
- Our partners, staff, or agents who use the information to provide the client with legal services;
- Third parties that we contract with to provide administrative services to the law firm, such as computer technologists;
- Professionals working with us, such as associates, consultants, students-at-law and paralegals;
- Financial institutions;
- The Canada Revenue Agency;
- Alberta Tax and Revenue Administration; or
- Any Court in Canada including the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
3.1 Information Provided on our Website
3.2 Accuracy of Clients’ Personal Information
We take steps to ensure that client information is accurate and up to date. Clients have the right to request a correction of their personal information held by the firm. We rely on the client to provide us with accurate and up-to-date personal and business information for the purposes of providing the client with legal services and to maintain contact with the client.
3.3 Access to Clients’ Personal Information
Clients may request access to the personal information we have about them. The request must be in writing and be directed to our firm’s privacy officer (identified below). We will charge a reasonable fee for retrieval and copying of a client personal information. If the retrieval, copying or client request is extensive, we will notify the client of the fee prior to retrieval and copying.
3.4 Denial of Access to Clients’ Personal Information
There are exceptions to a client’s right to access his or her information. By law, our firm must deny a client access to his or her personal information when:
- The client’s file contains personal information of a third party and this information cannot be severed from the client’s personal information to maintain the privacy of the third party information;
- We are required or authorized by law not to grant access to personal information (for example, when a record containing personal information of a client is subject to a claim of solicitor and client privilege by one of our firm’s other clients); or
- A client’s information relates to an existing or anticipated legal proceeding against the client, including a proceeding to recover unpaid statements of account for legal services provided by our firm.
If our firm denies a client’s request for access to personal information, then we shall explain the reasons for denying the request.
3.5 Steps We Take to Protect Clients’ Personal Information
In order to protect each client’s personal information, we take the following steps:
- Not collect, use or disclose a client’s personal information for any purpose other than those we identify to the client, or where such purpose is reasonably evident from the legal services we provide to the client;
- Keep a client’s personal information only for as long as needed to fulfill the client’s purpose, or for so long as required by law;
- Maintain a client’s personal information in as accurate, complete and up to date manner as possible;
- Keep a client’s personal information physically secure, for example, by keeping such information in locked or secure offices, rooms and/or filing cabinets;
- Use technological safeguards to protect a client’s personal information, including having a computer firewall to secure client information on our office computers; and
- Although we consider the use of e-mail to be an adequate means of communication, equivalent to regular mail, where a client has provided us with prior written notice, we will not use email to transmit and receive a client’s personal information.
4.0 Amendments to Our Client Privacy Statement
We may review and change our Client Privacy Statement from time to time in order to update our privacy commitment to our clients and to keep current with respect to privacy laws.
4.1 Contacting Our Privacy Officer
Clients should contact our firm’s Privacy Officer if:
- The client wishes to access to his or her personal information;
- The client has any concerns about the firm’s privacy policies or concerns regarding the manner in which our firm has handled the client’s personal information; or
- The client does not wish to have personal information transmitted by e-mail communication.
For further information, please contact:
Our firm’s Privacy Officer
James H. Brown & Associates LLP
2400 Sun Life Place
10123 – 99 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3H1
Phone: 780-428-0088 (toll-free at 1-800-616-0088)