Legal Feeds Blog
- LSUC rules registered sex offender is of 'good character'
A former lawyer from Florida, who spent two years in prison for a child pornography charge, is one step closer to acquiring a licence to practise law in Ontario.
|The Law Society of Upper Canada’s hearing tribunal has determined that Ronald Davidovic has proven he took the necessary steps to rehabilitate himself.|
Davidovic was imprisoned in a federal penitentiary and registered as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty to a count of “receiving material containing the visual depiction of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” according to the decision.
In 2004, police executed a search warrant at Davidovic’s home and seized his computers. He subsequently admitted to police and to his wife at the time that he had viewed child pornography since 1998. He was originally sentenced to five years in prison, but his sentence was later reduced.
He was also originally charged with a count of possessing child porn, but that was dropped when he pleaded guilty to the other charge.
Benchers Raj Anand and Jan Richardson, who served on the panel, decided to grant Davidovic’s application.
“The applicant's conduct in the years preceding 2004 was reprehensible, but it is not an automatic or permanent bar to his admission, given the evidence and positions of the parties, and in light of the applicant’s determination to be an ethical and productive lawyer,” said Anand and Richardson. Bencher Paul Cooper held the lone dissenting opinion on the split three-member panel.
The tribunal used what is called the five “Armstrong factors” in determining whether Davidovic was in present good character. These factors include the nature and duration of the misconduct, whether the applicant is remorseful, the rehabilitative efforts that have been taken and their success, as well as the applicant’s conduct since the misconduct and the amount of time that has passed since.
Anand and Richardson determined that Davidovic had made repeated statements of remorse and that the risk he would reoffend was very low.
They also noted that there is no evidence of recurrence or subsequent bad behaviour on Davidovic’s part in the 13 years since he was charged.
“The applicant’s attempts to rehabilitate himself have gone beyond steps that might be regarded as inward-looking: treatment, counselling and self-assessment,” Anand and Richardson said.
Davidovic says he was very excited and pleased with the decision.
“I’m very fortunate to have an opportunity to be able to practise my chosen profession again,” he said in a phone interview from Florida.
“I’m pleased that the country of Canada, or at least the law society, recognizes that an individual can rehabilitate themselves and I hope that this decision gives hopes to others that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and if they do what they’re supposed to do, there is a possibility to return to a meaningful life after having been convicted of an offence.”
Davidovic provided the tribunal with a number of reports to support his application, which were written by a reverend who served as his therapist, a social worker who conducted a court-ordered treatment program and a doctor who conducted a psychological evaluation and risk assessment of Davidovic in 2013. The tribunal also received transcripts of recent interviews an LSUC investigator conducted with those who wrote the reports.
The law society’s counsel in the matter, Amanda Worley, did not oppose Davidovic’s application after he provided testimony.
In his dissenting opinion, Cooper found that Davidovic had failed to prove he was rehabilitated.
He found the reports from the social worker and the reverend were dated, anecdotal and not scientific and that testimony given by Davidovic lacked reliability.
“The lack of proper diagnosis together with the risk of re-offending in this case illustrates the applicants’ failure to satisfy his burden,” Cooper said in his dissent.
“He chose to provide dated reports, none of which addressed the simple and present context needed to explain whether paraphilia remains a concern.”
Cooper said he also remained unconvinced that Davidovic “fully comprehends victim empathy or remorse.”
“The seriousness of Mr. Davidovic’s misconduct cannot be bootstrapped by conditions when residual concerns linger about his present good character,” Cooper said.
“The Law Society, as the regulator, has an obligation to maintain high ethical standards in the public interest and to maintain the public’s confidence in the legal profession and its ability to self-govern and regulate. The practice of Law in Ontario is a privilege, not a right.”
Davidovic says Cooper’s opinion reflects the bencher’s own personal bias toward the offence.
“I think it’s inconsistent with the empirical evidence that’s out there on these types of offences,” he says.
Toronto lawyer Lee Akazaki, who was not involved in the proceedings, says the decision was born out of the ambiguity the bar has in its definition of good character. He says the standard for lawyers is much higher than that applied to a non-lawyer who has come out of incarceration rehabilitated.
“Character is something that is intrinsic within us. It’s not like a psychological condition and it’s not like a management of impulses such as anger. Character very much has to do with one’s ethical centre in the deliberation in one’s thinking,” he says.
Akazaki adds that it is difficult to come to the conclusion that Davidovic has sufficiently met the good character requirement, given the facts of the case and the nature of the crime committed.
“Just on the basis of the facts, he established on the evidence that he’s probably a reformed citizen, a rehabilitated citizen, but whether he has the good character requirement to be a member of the bar altogether, I don’t think the facts show he has the good character requirement,” he says.
“It’s difficult in this type of case to see how somebody with this particular background and the type of crime he committed can ever satisfy that requirement.”
In 2004, Davidovic petitioned the Florida Supreme Court for a disciplinary resignation and was granted permission to resign from the Florida bar with leave to appeal in five years. He did not reapply in Florida, but in 2015, he applied to the LSUC for a licence to practise in Ontario, as he plans to move to Toronto where he has family.
Davidovic says he chose to apply in Ontario because there are all sorts of impediments in Florida that make it difficult to live day to day for someone convicted of such an offence.
Before his conviction, Davidovic had practised in estate and financial planning in his early career before going on to act as general counsel for a large telecommunications company.
He says he plans to pursue criminal law in Ontario, as he has a unique perspective that will give him more empathy for those who have made mistakes in their lives.
Davidovic is still an applicant in the licensing process.
A spokeswoman for the law society said it is policy not to interpret or comment on decisions made by the tribunal hearing panel.
Updated March 24, 2017: A previous version of this story stated that the Law Society of Upper Canada’s hearing tribunal granted a licence to Ronald Davidovic. The tribunal decided that Davidovic was of good character, a requirement of the licensing process. He is still an applicant in the licensing process and has not yet been granted a licence to practise law in Ontario. Legal Feeds regrets any confusion caused.
|Tracey Clements has been appointed to be a judge of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island.|
Clements received her law degree from the University of New Brunswick and has been with Stewart McKelvey since she started articling there in 1993.
Called to the bar in 1995, she has since developed a general litigation practice, focusing on insurance, labour, employment and human rights law. She became a partner at the firm in 2009.
“I believe that for all of its shortcomings and deficiencies, Canada truly has one of the best, if not the best, judicial systems in the world,” Clements said in her judicial application.
“My “role” or “contribution” to that system has simply been to act as a practicing lawyer — to uphold the values that our system demands.”
Clements has served in a number of leadership roles inside of her firm as well as in a number of organizations. She has sat on a number of different committees at the Law Society of PEI and is the chairwoman of the insurance section of the Canadian Bar Association’s PEI branch.
“I am incredibly proud of our province and our country. I am also incredibly proud of our judicial system — in this province and likewise in this country,” she said in her application.
“But I also think that if we are honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that increased diversity and increased perspective make for a stronger judicial system and, in turn, a stronger province and country.”
Clements’ appointment is the first of what is hoped will be many coming down the pipeline now that the federal government has reconvened some of the 17 Judicial Advisory Committees that process applications.
The federal government has come under fire to fill judicial appointments as the R. v. Jordan Supreme Court of Canada decision has led to an increasing number of serious charges being stayed because of court delays.
This prompted Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to appoint 39 judges in October before her ministry rolled out changes to the application process to promote a more diverse bench.
The federal government still has more than 60 judicial vacancies to fill nationwide, but more appointments are expected soon now that some of the JACs were reconvened in January.
Wilson-Raybould announced Clements appointment at a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs convened to discuss court delays.
She heralded changes to the appointments process as more transparent and said it will lead to a move diverse bench.
“The newly reconstituted Judicial Advisory Committees are unprecedented for their diversity while women make up 70 per cent of all committee members,” she said in her remarks.
“Judicial appointments are clearly being reviewed and appointments will follow imminently.”
Clements will replace Justice Wayne Cheverie, who elected supernumerary status effective last September.
|Justice Annemarie Bonkalo has recommended broadening the scope of family law to let paralegals provide legal services in the area.|
“I recognize that the issue of paralegals representing clients in court is one of considerable controversy,” Justice Annemarie Bonkalo said in the report.
Bonkalo is a part-time judge and former chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, who was tasked with conducting a review of family law services to assess what can be done to boost access to justice. Among what are expected to be some of the more controversial recommendations is a call for the law society to create a specialized licence for paralegals to provide certain services in family law.
In 2014-15, more than 57 per cent of Ontarians who went through family court, did not have legal representation.
“When I began this review, my own feeling, based on the written submissions I received, was that in-court assistance would not be appropriate and that a line could be reasonably drawn at the courtroom door,” she added.
“As I continued to explore the issues and hear from different communities, it became clear to me that precluding paralegals from appearing in court would be a disservice to clients.”
The report contends that paralegals should also be allowed to represent clients in matters concerning restraining orders, enforcement and simple and joint divorces without property, but draws the line at more complex proceedings.
The report recommends that paralegals should not be allowed to provide services that involve child protection, property, spousal support or relocation. They also would not be able to do anything that involves the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or complex child support in which discretionary determinations are needed to arrive at an income amount.
Paralegals can currently appear in the Small Claims Court, and the Ontario Court of Justice for Provincial Offences Act infractions.
Bonkalo has also recommended paralegals should not have to seek a judge’s permission before entering court, as it would create uncertainty and would be a disincentive to hiring a paralegal.
“From a practical stand, it may discourage individuals from pursuing the specialized paralegal licence in family law, as it would be frustrating to not be able to provide continuous service to one’s client,” Bonkalo said.
“It would be difficult to explain to a client that one could assist the client with filling out forms and preparing for court but that, where the client perhaps most needed assistance, the paralegal could not enter the courtroom. Such a limitation could very well play into a person’s decision on whether to hire a paralegal.”
Family lawyers have voiced concerns that they could be pushed out of the market if paralegals are given the right to provide legal services in any part of family law. Opponents have also said that family law is a very complex area, in which even tasks that seem simple can have serious consequences and can lead to more complicated matters. Family lawyers have also said paralegals simply do not have the same training and called for the government to let other reforms play out before considering widening the scope of the area.
The report, which was commissioned by the provincial government and the law society, also recommends that the regulator take steps to facilitate collaboration between lawyers and paralegals to create referral networks and interdisciplinary teams.
“After reading all the written submissions and hearing the diverse views expressed, it is clear to me that unrepresented litigants in family law need more options in obtaining legal assistance to resolve their family disputes,” she said in the report.
Bonkalo has submitted the report to MAG and the law society, who will now determine the next steps needed to implement its recommendations.
In statement responding to the report, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said the provincial government will be working over the coming months with the law society and the federal government to create an action plan for the recommendations.
"Over half of Ontarians who use the family law system do not have legal representation, and the problem is growing,” he said in the statement.
"It is more important than ever that we work to improve access to justice for families. Our government is ready to act. We are committed to working with our partners and the federal government to consider changes that will have a real, positive impact of people’s lives, like allowing paralegals to be trained to provide family law services."
|Daniel Bach says it is rare for judge’s to adjourn certification proceedings to allow plaintiffs to submit further evidence and even rarer for those actions to subsequently be certified on return.|
Class members say they experienced adverse side effects after having one of the devices — which are all made of the same polypropylene — surgically inserted in order to treat incontinence. The lead plaintiff, Susan Vester, claimed she suffered complications and a great deal of pain after undergoing surgery to have one of the products implanted in her.
The class action is the latest of a number of transvaginal mesh cases that have been proposed in recent years against different manufacturers.
This, however, was the first that was successfully certified on a contested motion, says Daniel Bach, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.
“We’re really pleased with this decision,” says Bach, who is a partner at Siskinds LLP.
“We think it’s a big victory for our clients who are trying to get into court to have a judge adjudicate whether or not the products that were put in their body were safe and fit for their use and whether or not they were properly warned of any dangers in the products.”
The certification motion in the Boston Scientific case was originally heard in November 2015, but Perell adjourned the matter to give the plaintiffs another chance to submit more evidence. Perell determined the plaintiffs would have to provide more evidence in order to establish there was some basis in fact for common issues for their negligent design claim, as well as their claim that the manufacturer had failed to warn.
Bach says it is rare for judges to adjourn certification proceedings to allow plaintiffs to submit further evidence and even rarer for an action to be certified subsequently on return.
Perell used a little used subsection of the Class Proceedings Act, which gives judges the power to adjourn motions for certification to permit parties to amend their materials or pleadings, and to provide further evidence.
Boston Scientific argued that while the plaintiffs identified a common feature of all nine of its transvaginal mesh products, they had failed to establish that it was connected to their claims.
Both sides made further submissions, but on return, Perell found the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs established some basis in fact for common issues for the claim.
“This is evidence there is a common issue for all the women implanted with these devices about the safety and efficacy of the medical device in question, being these various Boston Scientific transvaginal mesh devices, all of which are made of the same polypropylene,” says Bach.
David Morritt, one of the lawyers representing Boston Scientific, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
|Malcolm Mercer says the working group looking at the issue has not determined what the potential cap on referral fees could be.|
The working group examining the issue has found that clients of some personal injury firms do not always know about the existence of referral fees, or that they are being referred to another lawyer, even though the law society’s current rules require lawyers to disclose such information.
Convocation will decide on Thursday whether to adopt either an outright ban of referral fees or a cap limiting how much lawyers could pay each other for referrals.
“The working group thought that there were two plausible choices that Convocation should make,” says Bencher Malcolm Mercer, who is chairman of the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group Report.
“And when there was not consensus within the working group as to which of the two answers was the right one, the better course was to put it to convocation.”
The working group found that some referral fees have crept up to more than 20 per cent. Some who gave feedback to the working group have advocated for a 10-per-cent cap on all referral fees, while others have asked for a 30-per-cent level.
If Convocation decides to approve the cap, the working group will come up with an appropriate amount, as well as additional measures to ensure greater transparency.
Mercer says these measures could include a requirement of a formal written agreement between the referrer and the client. Another transparency measure could be a requirement that lawyers make it clear in their advertisements when some of the work will be referred out to other lawyers or firms, he says.
Mercer says the working group has not made a decision on what the cap would be, but he expects it would be “in the lower range.”
The law society is also looking to add to its rules on advertising, which currently include requirements that lawyers advertise in a way that is not misleading, is accurate, and is in the best interest of the public.
The new rules would require licensees to identify whether they are a paralegal or a lawyer in their advertisements. The law society would also look to amend the Rules of Professional Conduct to “guide licensees as to the appropriate use of awards and honours, and to protect the public from misleading use of awards and honours when necessary.”
Licensees would also be banned from advertising work that they are not permitted to do, or do not intend to do.
The working group flagged the issue in its interim report that said some firms have advertised legal services that were referred out without any intention of doing that work.
The proposed changes also include a ban on second opinion advertising, which entices a potential client that already has a lawyer to retain the advertiser instead.
The rules would also ban lawyers from referring to third party awards and rankings in their ads that are “not bona fide or are likely to be misleading, confusing or deceptive.”
The working group’s interim report from the summer also tackled issues concerning advertising in the real estate bar as well as contingency fees, but the committee has not finished its work on those issues.
|Colin Ingram says the decision follows a recent trend of the Federal Court granting lump sum costs in patent infringement cases.|
In Nova Chemicals Corporation v. the Dow Chemical Company, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from Nova, finding Federal Court Justice John O’Keefe had not erred in his determination to grant costs in a lump sum, rather than use a full assessment process in accordance to a tariff.
“Lump sum awards have found increasing favour with courts, and for good reason,” Justice Donald Rennie said the decision, on behalf of a three-judge panel. “They save the parties time and money… When a court can award costs on a lump sum basis, granular analyses are avoided and the costs hearing does not become an exercise in accounting.”
Colin Ingram, one of the lawyers representing Dow, says the decision demonstrates a continuing acknowledgement by the courts of the usefulness in appropriate circumstances of lump sum awards in patent infringement matters.
“Part of what I think the court has been acknowledging in this case and others is that there is usefulness — in appropriate cases where it can be done — for a lump sum to be awarded at the outset by the trial judge to avoid this further proceeding,” says Ingram, who is a partner with Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh.
The Federal Court proceedings included a 32-day trial, in which the judge found Nova had infringed a patent owned by Dow in one of its products. Both companies manufacture polyethylene film-grade copolymers used in packaging applications.
O’Keefe granted Dow the lump sum of $6.5 million, which was $2.9 million in legal fees and $3.6 million in disbursements.
O’Keefe noted that the proceedings were “extremely complex”, with written submissions exceeding 700 pages, and that both parties undertook extensive testing that were at the heart of the dispute. He found that given this the 11 per cent that was allowable under the tariff would be inadequate, and that Dow should get an amount that was 30 per cent of its legal costs.
Nova opposed the granting of a lump sum, arguing that the issue of costs should go to an assessments officer.
Nova claimed the record and evidence provided were not sufficient to substantiate a lump sum. Nova objected to “the lack of a supporting affidavit and its inability to cross-examine and test Dow’s claim for disbursement of $1.6 million,” but the judge dismissed this argument, saying he was satisfied with Dow’s submissions.
O’Keefe determined that the costs should be a fixed lump sum, saying an assessment would “serve no purpose”.
In their appeal, Nova submitted that any departures from the tariff should only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Nova also argued that O’Keefe had erred in awarding costs based on a percentage of Dow’s actual fees, alleging the judge did not analyze whether the time billed by Dow’s lawyers was reasonable.
Nova also argued the judge was not entitled to come to the conclusion he did, saying the evidence provided before the judge was insufficient, with respect to Dow’s fees and disbursements.
The Federal Court of Appeal found that the evidentiary record before a trial judge that awards a lump sum does not need to provide the same level of detail as would be required by an assessment officer, who would be unfamiliar with the case.
The court also determined that the judge had a sufficient basis on which to conclude that the disbursements claimed by Dow were reasonable.
Ingram says the Federal Court of Appeal decision is an acknowledgement for the need for a practical approach in certain circumstances to certain cost issues.
“Here it’s an acknowledgement that the trial judge is in a position to assess various issues relevant to costs including the complexity of the proceedings, the nature of the trial, including the number of experts and the testing that was involved,” he says.
Donald Affleck, a founding partner of Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP, has died.
|Donald Affleck has died at the age of 77.|
After growing up in the Ottawa Valley, Affleck graduated from the University of Toronto’s Law School in 1964 and started his law career at Fasken Calvin MacKenzie Williston & Swackhamer.
He later went on to co-found Kelly Affleck Greene with other partners that left Fasken together in 1992, and later formed Affleck Greene McMurtry in 2003.
Peter Greene, a fellow founding partner and friend of Affleck, described him as a deliberate and thorough lawyer who would dive into the details of a case even in his later years as a senior partner. He would sift through boxes of documents and make notes when others might have left such tasks to paralegals or more junior lawyers.
Greene says this made Affleck a great mentor for younger lawyers.
“Don would dig into the documents, get the facts and he’d know them. He was a teacher from that perspective for our younger people,” he says.
Greene says he would warn younger lawyers who worked with Affleck on cases to know their facts.
Greene met Affleck at Fasken in the late 1970s and says the firm taught them to make sure to know the facts of a case above all else.
“It was ingrained in us that facts win cases. Law doesn’t,” he says.
While clients might demand an opinion on their case immediately, Greene says Affleck was extremely analytical and would often take a few days to give his opinion on a case if it was going to lead to litigation.
Affleck appeared before trial and appellate courts and was an arbitrator on the softwood lumber anti-dumping case under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He also was counsel to the standing committee of the House of Commons on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs when the federal government was considering amendments to competition and banking legislation in the 1970s, and later served as chief counsel to the Royal Commission on Newspapers from 1980 to 1982.
He co-wrote Canadian Competition Law — a widely referred to resource in the area — with Wayne McCracken.
Greene says Affleck was a “class act” that would rarely use profanity.
“I don’t think anybody could dislike him. He just got along with people,” he says. “He was just a likeable guy.”
The Church of the Redeemer will hold a memorial service for Affleck at 162 Bloor Street West in Toronto on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
A judge has awarded a Saskatchewan law firm just $21,000 after it asked for $321,000 from the government for work it did representing residential school survivors in the settlement of a class action lawsuit.
In Fontaine v. Canada (Attorney General), Saskatchewan Queen’s Bench Justice Neil Gabrielson found the firm billed the government too much for work related to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, a country-wide class action settlement which was approved about 10 years ago.
MacDermid Lamarsh brought a request for direction in 2016 after accounts submitted to the federal government went unpaid. The firm, which was one of 90 firms that represented class members, claimed $321,644 for work done relating to the IRSSA dating back to 2005.
The federal government disputed all of MacDermid Lamarsh's claim except $22,476 in fees for work done under s. 13.02 of the IRSSA, which held that the government agreed to pay lawyers who attended the negotiations for time spent up to the settlement at their normal hourly rate.
On top of the $22,476 it claimed under s. 13.02, the firm also sought $158,766 for work it conducted as counsel that it said was owed under section 13.03. This section held that the government must pay lawyers for work in respect of finalizing the agreement at their hourly rate.
The government argued that the fees the firm sought were excessive and that some of them pertained to work that was done outside of the time that was covered under s. 13.03.
The government also noted that if s. 13.03 actually covered the work the firm had claimed, the government potentially could be billed $13.5 million, if each of the 90 firms that were signatories in the settlement claimed $150,000.
“An obligation to pay each of the IRSSA’s legal counsel or law firm signatories what ML invoiced cannot be reconciled with the intention to confine finalization costs to a modest level,” the decision said.
Gabrielson found that s. 13.03 of the agreement was intended to compensate lawyers for the negotiations leading up to the settlement of the agreement.
“On the evidence, ML was not actively engaged in the negotiations, but has submitted accounts for work that consisted virtually entirely of receiving and reviewing documents,” he said in the decision.
MacDermid Lamarsh also sought $66,161 for costs incurred as a result of executing a 2006 order. The firm argued that the order obliged it to send notices to potential claimants letting them know about the order and of the settlement application, which the firm said the government is obliged to pay for.
Only two other firms had invoiced Canada for expense incurred in sending the notices, according to the decision. One of those firms was not paid, and the other was only paid $400 by the government for postage.
The government contended that once the firm wrote one letter of advice, it should not have needed to spend more time drafting additional letters.
MacDermid Lamarsh also claimed $74,239 for carrying out another 2006 order from later that year, which involved sending opt-out notices to potential claimants.
The judge determined that the firm should not be compensated for its correspondences with potential claimants, and that it should only receive payment for postage, which amounted to $636 for the letters after the first order and $726 for the second round. Gabrielson said the firm had sent out the second round of notices voluntarily without letting the government know it was being done.
The judge ruled MacDermin Lamarsh was entitled to fees claimed pursuant to s. 13.02, plus interest at a rate of five per cent a year, which brought the cost award to $21,534.
This was not the first time the fees law firms have charged in relation to the settlement have come into question. As Legal Feeds reported in 2014, a Manitoba judge ruled a number of lawyers had been overcharging residential school survivors for work related to collecting settlements from the government.
Nolan Courteau, a lawyer with MacDermid Lamarsh, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The New Year could bring a steady increase in hiring for Canada’s legal landscape, according to a new survey.
|Sara Lutecki, division director of Robert Half Legal, says in-house legal departments are looking to take on more work themselves.|
“In-house legal departments especially are looking to take on more of the work themselves as opposed to outsourcing. Because of that law firms have to be more competitive to offer more,” says Sara Lutecki, division director of Robert Half Legal.
“So they want the top talent with each… it’s a lot harder for them to retain that top talent. So that’s why they have to add a little bit more.”
The survey canvassed 150 lawyers in hiring positions, half of which are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and the other half are in-house lawyers at companies with more than 1,000 employees.
Of those surveyed, 48 per cent said they expect their organizations will maintain and fill vacated positions. Only 12 per cent said they expected a freeze on hiring and three per cent said they expect a reduction in positions.
The survey also found most new job opportunities are expected to come from litigation. When asked which practice area lawyers think the most new jobs will come from, 31 per cent of respondents said litigation and 26 per cent said corporate law.
The survey found respondents expected 14 per cent of the new legal jobs would be in real estate.
Lutecki says a rise in in-house legal departments taking on their own insurance defense likely accounts for some of the increase.
Warren Bongard, president and co-founder of ZSA Legal Recruitment, says the survey is fairly consistent with what he expects to see in the coming year, but he does not think the rise in litigation positions will come at big firms.
“I see more alternative options to getting litigation done,” he says.
Both Lutecki and Bongard say they expect a higher increase of real estate jobs than is reflected in the survey because of the ever-booming real estate industry.
“There’s been a shortage of well trained real estate lawyers in the country,” Bongard says.
The survey also found that 55 per cent of lawyers said finding skilled legal professionals is somewhat or very challenging. A further 33 per cent said they were concerned about losing lawyers to other opportunities in the next six months.
This may sound like welcome news to young lawyers looking for a job, but Lutecki says they have found most firms hiring are looking for highly skilled lawyers with at least five years of experience in areas such as commercial litigation and insurance defense.
“The one trend that we have seen firms do is hire on a project basis and that is to see what needs they have and if they do have an opening for a permanent position. I have had a lot of more junior lawyers start out in roles like that,” she says.
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