Legal Feeds Blog
The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the appeal of a Québec student who had brought a contempt charge against a spokesperson over student protests in that province in 2012; but the most interesting aspect of the case was the split in the court over the decision, says a lawyer who represented one of the interveners in the case.
|Ranjan K. Agarwal, a partner at Bennett Jones in Toronto represented an intervener in the case, the Alberta Public Interest Research Group.|
“What I can say to you is that I find it very, very interesting that the court broke on a 5/3/1, and that is really, really rare,” says Ranjan K. Agarwal, a partner at Bennett Jones in Toronto who represented an intervener in the case, the Alberta Public Interest Research Group.
In the spring of 2012 during student protests in Quebec over proposed increases to university tuition fees, Jean-François Morasse, a student at the Université Laval, obtained a provisional interlocutory injunction that mandated free access to the facilities in which Morasse’s classes were held. In a later television interview, student organizer Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said that attempts to force students back to class (as the Superior Court had recently done at one Quebec college) never work, and that a minority of students were using the courts to circumvent the majority’s decision to “strike” and picket.
Morasse filed a motion for contempt against Nadeau-Dubois for his comments in the interview, and the latter was found guilty of contempt of court under article 50, para. 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The conviction was later overturned by Quebec’s appellate court.
In the majority decision, penned by Justices Rosalie Abella and Clément Gascon, the court dismissed the appeal by Morasse.
“A conviction for contempt should only be entered where it is genuinely necessary to safeguard the administration of justice,” the court wrote. “Clear, precise and unambiguous notice of the specific contempt offence must be given to the accused … The only allegations raised by M against N-D related to an alleged violation of one paragraph in an injunction order in the form of comments N-D made in an interview. N-D was not given notice as to which specific branch of art. 50 para. 1, if any, he was being charged under.”
In dissenting reasons, Justice Richard Wagner, writing also for Justices Suzanne Côté and Russell Brown, found that specific knowledge of an order is not essential for the purposes of this section of the Code; “In this case, N-D knew full well that the contempt charge he had to answer had been laid” under two applicable articles of the Code.
In concurring reasons, Justice Michael J. Moldaver found himself “unable to agree with either set of reasons.” Nadeau-Dubois’s television interview comments “intended to incite students at large to breach any and all court orders,” he noted. Yet at trial, the matter hinged on whether Nadeau-Dubois had specific knowledge of a Superior Court judge’s “safeguard order” to allow students to continue attending classes.
Justice Moldaver “said he couldn’t agree with either side,” says Agarwal, “not because of the outcome, but because he thinks the case was … set up in the wrong manner right from the trial.
“For the judges to break five-three-one suggests to me that there are some interesting divisions happening around the conference table,” he adds, “and that the desire to have a consensus approach seems to have dissipated in favour of the judges staking out their unique ideological territory.”
Another intervener in the case was the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, represented by Grey, Casgrain s.e.n.c in Montréal. “The majority reiterates the basic principles of contempt of court,” said partner Julius Grey of the decision.
Like Agarwal, Grey doesn’t see this as “a revolutionary decision. … I think this case is more important for contempt of court than freedom of expression. It doesn’t touch on the right to advocate civil disobedience. It leaves that for another day."
Giuseppe Sciortino, whose firm Melançon Marceau Grenier et Sciortino in Montréal represented the respondent, noted that nine judges — five on the Supreme Court, three on the Court of Appeal for Quebec, and one at trial — had found in favour of his client.
“In future, it may be more difficult to find someone guilty of contempt of court” based on interpretation of words, such as Nadeau-Dubois’s comments in his television interview, he says. “It’s a big victory.”
After a year and a half of internal consultation, Ryerson University has taken the first steps towards opening its own JD program.
On Oct. 20, the law school originating committee released a letter of intent following initial consultations with the community. The committee, comprised of faculty members from across disciplines, used community feedback to write the letter of intent, which is the first step in the process of developing the JD program. On its website, the university states “the proposed program focuses on innovation in legal education for the benefit of graduates, their communities, and the broader society.”
Chris Bentley, executive director of the Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program at Ryerson, says the law school being proposed is fundamentally different than what’s on offer currently. He says when people talk about challenges law students have securing articling and full-time positions, they forget the multiple studies talking about unmet legal need.
“If you’re in another business, you get innovative,” he says. “You say that’s a market — in Canada, and North America, it’s a market for millions and millions of dollars. There’s work out there we’re not going after as lawyers because we can’t change fast enough to get that market. If we don’t change others are going to get it.”
Bentley says the challenges law students face after graduating have to do with out-of-date legal training, not lack of need.
Ryerson also released a whitepaper entitled Training Tomorrow’s Legal Professionals that says the legal practitioners of the future need different skills than lawyers from 20 years ago. New lawyers will “need to be creative and skilled problem solvers, strategic planners, and process managers with the financial literacy, technological competency, and entrepreneurial spirit needed to serve consumers.” To achieve this, they need a “dramatically different” law school experience, which is what Ryerson says its proposed program will offer — a law school designed to specifically address issues in the legal industry.
“We don’t have a law school that’s graduating this kind of student — not yet, not until we set it up and launch it,” Bentley says.
“We all know the struggles society is facing when it comes to the law — it’s unaffordable, too complex, too slow, we haven’t involved technology as we should. If you train people in the traditional way you’re going to get more of the traditional approach.”
He adds that the entrepreneurial and innovative energy Ryerson bases its programs on is something the law desperately needs. He says Ryerson’s proposed law school offers a great opportunity to prepare lawyers to “grab a piece of the unmet legal need out there.”
One of the mandates of the new program is to incorporate the relevant elements of the Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program, the latter of which is under review by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The law society recommended the LPP be cancelled after the committee’s report — which was based on surveys and focus groups with employers and candidates — said despite positive reviews, it fell short of providing a sustainable alternative to articling that was accepted by candidates and the legal profession. Bentley says the fate of the LPP is still up in the air as only a sub-committee of the law society has spoken on the issue. Full convocation still has to weigh in so nothing will be finalized until Nov. 9, Bentley says, adding that he’s still hopeful.
Ryerson has long been after its own law school, publically announcing its intention to start the internal process to develop one a year after the launch of the English LPP.
“The practical, hands-on experience Ryerson has gained in administering the Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program will be utilized in developing and delivering the program’s curriculum,” states the whitepaper.
“This includes the incorporation of the entrepreneurial aspects of legal education, the use of simulated online legal files and in-class role-playing, the formalization of mentorship relationships, and employment of the most recent electronic tools. All represent key pillars of the new program and will form the basis of Ryerson’s distinctive approach to legal education.”
In an email, Law Society of Upper Canada spokeswoman Susan Tonkin said the law society is “interested in and following Ryerson’s proposal, but it’s still very early days in the process.”
Ryerson, which hosted the first of two town halls for students, faculty and staff on Oct. 25, is offering the second town hall on Oct. 27 and asking for input from the community before Nov. 17.
The letter of intent is the formal step needed for getting internal Senate approval at Ryerson, Bentley says, and after all consultations are held a final proposal will be sent to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the LSUC for approval, as well as to the Ontario government for funding.
Man killed in multi-vehicle accident in Pickering, Ont., Canadian Press
Scott Morgan is one of a few “legal ops” professionals working in-house in Canada these days, but expect to see more like him as larger corporate legal teams realize the value someone with a financial background can bring to managing a legal team.
|Scott Morgan, director, legal operations, law branch with Air Canada in Montreal, says his role is to improve processes and efficiency with the legal team.|
About 18 months ago, Morgan, who is director, legal operations, law branch with Air Canada in Montreal, joined the airline’s legal department after 25 years working in large law firms such as Stikeman Elliott LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP where he was chief operating officer for six years. A chartered professional accountant by training, Morgan was focused on the finance and operations aspects at those firms.
“There aren’t many people in my position in the U.S who have the law firm background, but they very often have a financial background,” he says.
Morgan says leaders of in-house departments are finding themselves where big law firms were 30 years ago — they see themselves handling a lot of important administrative work such as information technology matters and negotiating financial contracts — taking them away from their day jobs. They’re starting to see that it could be managed better if someone was focused full time on those tasks.
In a report released last week — “Thomson Reuters 2016 Legal Department In-Sourcing and Efficiency Report: The Keys to a More Effective Legal Department” — more than 40 per cent of legal departments indicated the top benefit of increasing efficiency is being able to focus on more strategic work, and many are turning to legal department operations professionals like Morgan to enable them to be more strategic in how they advise the business.
The report, conducted for a second year, surveyed 429 lawyers and operational professionals working in corporate legal departments and examines how in-house teams are managing internal and external resources to achieve greater efficiency and productivity.
“As expected, we continued to hear that corporate legal departments are doing more with less,” said Mark Haddad, vice president of the corporate segment for Thomson Reuters.
The report reveals a rise in employing legal department operations professionals. Many departments reported being besieged by the operational activities that come with being part of a corporation. Among the ways general counsel are addressing this is by employing legal department operations to foster change.
“LDOs are managing outside counsel and employing legal managed services providers, as well as identifying and deploying new technologies across the legal department,” said Haddad. “It’s an encouraging development in the legal profession. General counsel indicated a strong need to work more strategically, and bringing in LDO professionals to concentrate on business operations allows corporate counsel to focus on legal work and be more proactive and strategic in how they advise the business.”
In Morgan’s case, he deals with external counsel at the beginning of an RFP and in helping negotiate alternative fee arrangements.
“That comes from my vendor side experience and my financial administration and purchasing experience,” he says.
When he was hired, Morgan says, David Shapiro, senior vice president and chief legal officer for Air Canada, had a vision of someone who would step in on the financial side as well as handling operations such as the renovation of the legal team’s premises to create a more efficient space for a legal practice.
“We’re also in the middle of a big enterprise legal management software project,” he says. “Those are the kinds of things that were part of his vision to improve processes and efficiency with our group.”
While Canada’s big banks are also employing legal operations personnel, it is still more prevalent south of the border to see such legal opps positions in corporate legal departments.
The report found that by allowing corporate counsel to dedicate more time to the practice of law, less work has to go to outside counsel.
The report analyzes how legal departments are keeping work in-house, particularly with certain tasks related to contracts, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions and litigation. The report also explores which matters and tasks in-house counsel still turn to outside counsel for, and the reasons driving the work to law firms, including legal complexity and jurisdictional reasons.
“By changing how legal departments partner with outside counsel, hiring LDOs and implementing new technologies, legal departments are finding more ways to adapt to cost pressures and see a greater return on total legal spend,” added Haddad.
This year, hundreds of people attended the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund annual Persons Day Breakfast Gala, at the Sheraton Centre Hotel, on Oct. 19. Keynote speaker Margaret Atwood spoke about her thoughts on the upcoming United States election — including her analysis of Donald Trump.
This year, hundreds of people attended the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund annual Persons Day Breakfast Gala, at the Sheraton Centre Hotel, on October 19. Keynote speaker Margaret Atwood spoke about her thoughts on the upcoming United States election — including her analysis of Donald Trump.
Man found shot dead in crashed SUV in west-end Toronto, Canadian Press
New Brunswick Court of Appeal to decide Dennis Oland's fate, Canadian Press
- Move comes after increasing calls to fill vacancies
The federal government announced the appointment of a slew of judges across the country Thursday.
|Jasmine Akbarali has been appointed to the Superior Court of Justice.|
The appointments came after the government faced increasing calls to quickly fill judicial vacancies amidst worsening court delays and new caps put in place by R. v. Jordan.
Justice Canada also announced some changes to the judicial appointment process.
The government announced three representatives of the general public, who could be lawyers or non-lawyers, will sit on Judicial Advisory Committees in an effort to making the process more transparent.
Other reforms the government is planning for JACs include publishing data on judicial applicants and appointees as well as putting an emphasis on making sure JACs represent the diversity of Canada.
Provincial court judge Timothy Gabriel was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Halifax.
Pamela MacKeigan, a senior solicitor with the Department of Justice on Nova Scotia, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia’s family division in Halifax.
Ann Smith, a partner with Burchells LLP, has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Halifax.
Patrick Healy, a judge of the Court of Quebec, has been appointed to serve on the province’s Court of Appeal.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Michelle Crighton has been appointed to the Alberta Court of Appeal in Edmonton.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf has been appointed to serve on the Alberta Court of Appeal Edmonton. She will also serve as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Kevin Feehan, a partner with Dentons Canada LLP, has been appointed to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton.
James Eamon, a partner with Gowling Canada, has been appointed to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary.
Jolaine Antonio, an appellate counsel with Alberta Justice, has been appointed a judge of the Alberta Court of Queens’ Bench in Calgary.
Prosecutor George Fraser has been appointed to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmontons.
Bonnie Bokenfohr, the interim executive director of the Edmonton Police Commission, has been appointed to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Gary Trotter has been appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Justice James Turnbull, the regional senior judge for the Central South Region of the Superior Court of Justice, has been transferred back to the regular complement in Hamilton to replace Justice Harrison Arrell, who has been appointed regional senior judge for the Central South Region.
Peter Cavanagh, a senior partner with Dentons Canada LLP in Toronto, has been appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.
Tracy Engelking, a senior counsel with the Children’s Aid Society in Ottawa, has been appointed to the Superior Court of Justice and a member of the Family Court in Ottawa.
Jasmine Akbarali, a partner with Lerners LLP in Toronto, has been appointed to the Superior Court of Justice.
Joseph Di Luca, a partner with Di Luca Dann LLP in Toronto, has been appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in Newmarket.
Lene Madsen, a principal mediator with Bluewater Mediation in London, has been appointed to the Superior Court of Justice and a member of the Family court in Hamilton.
Lore Mirwaldt, a partner with Mirwaldt & Gray in Winnipeg, has been appointed to Her Majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench for Manitoba in Winnipeg.
David Kroft, a lawyer with Filmore Riley LLP in Winnipeg, has been appointed to Her Majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench for Manitoba in Winnipeg.
Candace Grammond, a partner with Pitblado LLP in Winnipeg, has been appointed to Her Majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench for Manitoba in Winnipeg.
Heather MacNaughton, a master of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver, has been appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Catherine Murray, a Crown counsel, has been appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, an assistant deputy attorney general with the Ministry of Justic in Victoria, has been appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver.
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