Professionals Practice Group
The professionals practice group has been created by Siskinds to offer a unique full-service approach for professionals, to address all of their legal needs over the course of their professional careers through to retirement. Physicians, dentists, optometrists, health care professionals, accountants, lawyers, veterinarians, architects, and other professions—each share the fact they are governed by a college, society or institute to ensure the highest professionals standards are delivered to patients and clients. Our mission is to not only assist professionals in the business aspects of their professional practice (including incorporation, leasing, contractual arrangements, employee issues) but to also meet the various legal needs they encounter in their personal lives—from buying a house to estate planning through wills and powers of attorney.
A substantial percentage of professionals practice their profession through a professional corporation. Assistance with the formation, ongoing maintenance and corporate changes to the professional corporation is the core of the legal services that Siskinds provides to professionals. There are many advantages for professionals to practice through a professional corporation. For a more detailed analysis of the advantages, click this link.
Each profession has its own governing legislation that provides the special provisions applicable to a professional corporation. The overriding corporate law provisions are found in the Ontario Business Corporations Act, which authorizes the unique corporate structure for a professional corporation. While the corporation is a separate legal entity from the individual professional, as between the professional and his or her patient or client there is transparency so the duties and professional responsibilities are directly between the professional and the patient or client.
To ensure the most effective legal structure, it is important to engage a lawyer who is fully familiar with all of the special requirements for each profession and who is able to work with the professionals’ accountant and tax advisor to ensure the structure meets the long term goals of the professional and his/her family. The Siskinds team is able to offer that specialized assistance.
Other Legal Needs
As professionals start and continue their practices, there will be many other legal needs they encounter, such as leasing space, buying an existing practice, bank financing, purchase of a building, hiring employees, entering into agreements such as associate agreements, partnership agreements, shareholder agreements, agreements with hospitals, practice groups and others. In each of these situations, one or more of the members of the Siskinds firm will have the specific expertise to assist. The particular issue or need will be clearly identified to ensure the professional is connected with the appropriate lawyer within the firm.
For many, estate planning—and preparation of wills and powers of attorney—is a planning step to avoid or defer. It is a subject difficult to think about, discuss and plan for. Statistics routinely show that a significant percentage of individuals and couples have failed to initiate this important measure. Whether still single, in a relationship, with or without children, it is very important to have proper wills and powers of attorney in place. And thereafter, wills and powers of attorney should be reviewed and updated as circumstances change. As a general rule of thumb a review should occur every 5 years. For professionals, change can happen rapidly as careers and personal circumstances advance. For professionals with professional corporations, it may be advisable to have dual will strategy. Our professionals in the estate planning department will work with you and your financial advisors to ensure careful implementation of a strategy specifically designed for your needs.
Statistics show that a significant percentage of relationships will end in separation and divorce. That reality also pertains to professionals. And, for many professionals, it may be advisable to have a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement prior to entering into a significant relationship or marriage. If faced with any of these circumstances, our family law group will be there to assist.
Often professionals will be faced with negotiating an employment agreement, whether with a hospital, corporation, university, professional firm or partnership. As well, many professionals will themselves become employers, requiring employment agreements, workplace policies and other employment issues. The labour and employment group at Siskinds has an experienced team of professionals well versed in all employment related issues that may face the professional during the course of their career.
Unfortunately, there are times when a professional (or his or her firm) will be faced with the need to commence litigation or to defend against litigation that is brought against them. The commercial litigation team at Siskinds has a deep roster of lawyers to assist with bringing or defending litigation claims.
Residential Real Estate
During their careers, almost all professionals will purchase and sell a home. And, many may also purchase recreational properties. The ERS group (expedited realty services) at Siskinds, focusing on residential and recreational properties, has a strong team of lawyers and clerks to respond in a timely and cost-effective manner to ensure the purchase and sale of a home or recreational property is a relatively stress-free experience.
Commercial Real Estate and Leasing
Many professionals and professional firms will be faced with commercial real estate needs. This may be a lease of premises or the purchase of a building from which to carry on a professional practice. A commercial lease is generally a lengthy and complicated agreement. And the financial implications will be significant. It is not, as commonly thought, a standard form document. And, purchasing commercial real estate is much different than buying a home. Many issues need to be addressed in the purchase agreement. After an agreement is signed, significant due diligence must be completed. The time to engage a commercial real estate lawyer is before any agreement is signed, including a term sheet or letter of intent. The lawyers in the commercial real estate group at Siskinds have extensive experience dealing with myriad issues that need to be covered in the agreement and in moving forward to closing the purchase of a commercial property.
Cyber Security and Privacy
Professionals are called to a high standard of confidentiality. As practice records are increasingly managed digitally, cyber security and privacy risks are enhanced. Siskinds has been proactive in each of these fields and will help professionals to act proactively and to manage the increasing risks facing professionals and their practices, in this digital era.