|Illustration: Dushan Milic|
Never before has a single law firm done so much to crystalize global debate around offshore banking. Not only has Mossack Fonseca — the Panamanian law firm that will be forever linked to the Panama Papers — managed to focus world attention on tax havens but, at the same time, it has become the poster child for cybersecurity breaches in the legal business, not something you want to achieve.
A little over a year ago, I read an article in The Globe and Mail by Jim Balsillie, the co-founder of Research in Motion, called “Canadians can innovate, but we’re not equipped to win.” The gist of it was that Canadians can’t succeed on the global stage in the new knowledge economy, in part, if not in whole, because this country does not have sufficient policies and infrastructure to help entrepreneurs make money from their ideas. “Canada’s current infrastructure and our public and private leadership do not foster the needed capacity to contend effectively in the complex, predatory and state-sponsored ideas ownership game,” wrote Balsillie.
Peter Lukasiewicz has seen the inside of many law firm mergers during his long career at what is now Gowling WLG. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gowling joined forces with five law firms, including Lafleur Brown in Montreal, Montpellier McKeen in Vancouver, Code Hunter and Ballem MacInnes, both in Calgary, and Ontario’s Smith Lyons to form a national juggernaut with more than 700 lawyers, making it one of the biggest law firms in Canada.
Anti-feminist. Unethical. Traitor to her gender. These are just a few of the epithets slung at criminal lawyer Marie Henein during and in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi sex assault trial. Her choice of shoes, not to mention their cost, also came under fire. As did her hair and clothes. Let’s not even get started on what the twitterati had to say about her cross-examinations. What a tremendous amount of energy was spent by so many professional and armchair critics in trying to tear down Henein. What an absolute blood sport the trial turned into, and not just for the accused and the witnesses.
Much has been written recently about “platforms” and their impact on the legal industry. And by platforms I’m referring to the digital business model rather than the shoes (sadly). Avvo, Rocket Lawyer, and LegalZoom are touted as the next platforms for legal, and I want to delve into this proposition a little.
In the July 2011 issue of Canadian Lawyer, we wrote about “hot tubbing” — the term was coined in Australia to describe the procedure of organizing all experts in a case into a panel and hearing their evidence concurrently. As the story reported, judges and many experts liked the idea of it but the jury was still out with the lawyers.
Monday, 07 March 2016 09:00 Written by Aron Solomon and Jason Moyse
Unbelievably, we’re now months rather than weeks into 2016. While it’s late to make new predictions, we’re new here, so please allow us to begin what will be a regular column with a landscape scan of where we are with legal innovation and technology and where we’re heading. Think of this less as a prediction and more of a state of the union.
I was out of the country when the Liberals won the federal election last October. I was keeping up with the news but trying to take a mental break from too much news — instead filling my head with intensive study of Spanish — so I almost missed it when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named his new cabinet — cabinet that included Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s first aboriginal justice minister. At the time, I was in Oaxaca, Mexico — a city whose main square is filled daily with indigenous people marching and protesting against a variety of political, social, and human rights issues. It seemed somehow perfectly appropriate being in that milieu to be looking back at my own country and the possibilities for dramatic change that a new government and this new minister could bring about.
|Illustration: Scott Page|