Legal Feeds Blog
Vancouver man faces murder charge in fatal stabbing of mother, Vancouver Sun
Charkaoui and supporters call for inquiry into bomb plot docs, The Globe and Mail
Ontario man pleads guilty to accessing child porn with government computer, The Globe and Mail
U.S. agency sues Goldman Sachs Group over failed credit unions, Reuters
Federal appeals court says police officers eligible for overtime pay, Reuters
Primary school assistant pleads guilty to England looting, The Guardian
Court says honeymoon suspect can be extradited, Reuters
|Designate one spokesperson, early in a crisis, advises Michelle Wong. Photo: Jennifer Brown|
Wong was part of the team that handled the aftermath of the six-alarm fire that took place at 200 Wellesley St. in Toronto last September in which 17 people were injured. The apartment complex had 712 units occupied by 1,200 people — considered the largest rental building in Canada.
The role of in-house counsel in a crisis, says Wong, involves co-ordinating efforts with internal stakeholders as well as dealing with parties such as the property management company at 200 Wellesley, and providing legal counsel to the crisis response team.
“A crisis can generate legal and operational problems and you have to try and move the company forward through it all,” said Wong. “In our case, we worked with the fire marshal, fire department, public health, and police. It was important to establish a degree of trust with all involved and we did.”
Throw in other aspects such as the media, tenants and local politicians who also happened to be campaigning for office at the time and the Wellesley fire created many hot spots for Wong and her team to manage.
A big part of dealing with the Wellesley fire, said Wong, was assisting in the communication both internally with stakeholders and externally with the media. “It’s important to have a single individual designated as a spokesperson to deliver quick, consistent communications,” she said.
Robin Sears, senior partner with Toronto-based communications and public relations firm Navigator Ltd., stressed that in-house counsel must ready themselves that at some point, it is likely their organization will have a crisis. And with today’s world of instant news there is no room for debate on a response.
“I operate in the ultimate fighting court of public opinion where there are no rules,” he told lawyers gathered for the panel discussion. “You operate in an environment of what is said can hurt us in court. But I operate in a world where what is not said can hurt you.”
One of the fundamental differences between a public relations professional and a lawyer, said Sears, is that to a lawyer, silence is preferable to an uttered mistake. “I understand why there is the preference, but silence in itself is always a mistake,” he said. “If all the information comes from the other side you will lose. Your response time is measured in minutes.”
Brian Leck, general counsel for the Toronto Transit Commission, said tackling an issue head-on with the media is the best approach. “I’ve been on the losing end of discussions with senior managers about pushing to speaking to the media. We were smeared in the media because it ended up being one-sided. You risk getting hammered if you don’t address the media,” said Leck.
Following a subway crash Leck said a law firm advised the TTC to downplay what happened. “We took the opposite approach. We thought about the victim. You need to validate their suffering, show honesty from the organization, and give information about the action taken,” said Leck.
Leck also advised addressing potential litigation early, conducting speedy investigations, and taking statements to determine early admission of liability. “The cheques you write early will be the smallest cheques you write.”
Professor Poonam Puri, associate dean of research, graduate studies, and institutional relations at Osgoode Hall Law School, said it’s important to think well in advance of what risks are ahead of any crisis and the involvement of the company’s board of directors is also critical in any crisis plan.
“You need to be proactive in developing a plan and think well in advance of what the risks are in advance of any crisis and consider what your organization can do to mitigate those risks,” she said.
Toronto woman growing tired of waiting for judge's ruling, Toronto Star
HIV-positive teen to appear in court today, Winnipeg Free Press
Regina woman gets additional jail time for role in sex-trade robberies, Regina Leader-Post
U.S. appeals court reverses stance on rights warning, Reuters
Judicial pay commissioner confirms judges will get raises, Reuters
Zambia court clears Banda to contest presidency, Reuters
Kazakh lawyer jailed after oil company's complaint, Reuters
- ABA session highlights origination credit system as ‘archaic’
The comments follow a new U.S. report from the National Association of Women Lawyers, the national survey on the retention and promotion of women in law firms, that showed the compensation gap between men and women is widening. Among the reasons for the gap was the issue of origination credit — a key factor in determining compensation — for bringing in new business to the firm. In fact, the study found more than half of the women surveyed reported being denied their fair share of origination credit.
Jim Goh, a Denver lawyer appointed to the commission, criticized the so-called first-touch system whereby the lawyer who first brought a client to the firm gets the origination credit in perpetuity. Because clients are less loyal to their lawyers than they were in the past, it may, in fact, now be someone else at the firm who does most of the work for them and is likely responsible for keeping them, he noted during the ABA session. As a result, he called the practice of awarding credit based on first touch an “archaic system.”
Other challenging issues for women lawyers include client succession when a lawyer retires from the firm. According to the survey, 30 per cent of respondents said lawyers in charge of a matter select their successors. “It’s basically white male lawyers giving their clients to their male proteges,” said Liebenberg, who chalks up much of the disparity to implicit biases within law firm cultures.
Despite the problems highlighted, the study and ABA session offered a number of solutions for countering them. They include greater transparency in compensation decisions; gathering data on revenues generated by and credit granted to women lawyers; restructuring origination and succession; and re-evaluating what law firms reward. General counsel also need to be more proactive about monitoring who’s on the teams doing the work for them, Liebenberg said.
She added that having more women involved in the decisions about compensation is important as well. “You need a critical mass on the compensation committee.”
Alexandra Darraby of Los Angeles, Calif., and Irma Russell, dean of the University of Montana School of Law at the American Bar Association reception held by Fasken Martineau LLP in Toronto. Photo: Robert Todd
Bill Choyke from Washington, D.C. and Tuscon, Ariz. Judge Leslie Miller at the reception hosted by Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP. Photo: Robert Todd
(l to r) Bo Landrum, executive director of the Birmingham Bar Association, Nancy Lloyd of Birmingham Al., Jim Lloyd, president of the Birmingham Bar Association, Peter Villani of Fasken Martineau LLP's Montreal office at the reception held by his firm. Photo: Robert Todd
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP lawyers Charetina Lougheed, left, and Christine Fotopoulos at the firm's reception for the American Bar Association conference. Photo: Robert Todd
David Riley of Seattle, Wash., Jonathan Levin of Faskens in Toronto, Pandora Strasler of New York, N.Y. at Faskens' reception. Photo: Robert Todd
Enjoying the Weir Foulds LLP reception are: Back row (l to r): Helene Daniel of Tampa, Fla., Mary Sharp of Beaufort, S.C., Jeanne Collins of El Paso, Tex., Andrea Kramer of Boston, Mass, and Diane Rynerson, executive director of the U.S. National Conference of Women's Bar Associations. Front row (l to r): Heather Segal of Guberman Garson in Toronto, Marjorie O'Connell of Washington, D.C., Rebecca Pontikes of Boston, Mass, and Andrea Carlisle, of Oakland, Calif. Photo: Gail J. Cohen
(l to r) Law Society of Upper Canada Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza, Ontario Superior Court Justice Andrea Pollak, Ruth Woodling from Atlanta, Ga., and Weir Foulds LLP managing partner Lisa Borsook at the recpetion hosted by her firm. Photo: Gail J. Cohen
(l to r) Law Society of Upper Canada Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza, Toronto-based adjudicator Patricia de Guire, Rear Admiral Nan De Renzi of the Department of the Judge Advocate General, United States Navy, and Patricia Lane, managing partner of Taylor McCaffrey in Winnipeg at the reception hosted by Weir Foulds LLP for the Association of Women Bar Association's meeting. Photo: Gail J. Cohen
(l to r) Geraldine Roszkowski of Woonsocket, R.I., Alpha Blue of South San Francisco, Calif., Bernice Donald of Memphis, Tenn., Joseph Roszkowski of Woonsocket, get acquainted at the reception hosted by Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP. Photo: Robert Todd
(l to r) Gerry Stobo and Vince DeRose of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP's Ottawa office, Aaron Silberman from San Francisco, Calif., and Matthew Alter of BLG in Toronto at the firm's ABA reception. Photo: Robert Todd
James Skorich of the U.S. Air Force and Regina Benike of Deloitte enjoy the hospitality at the Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP reception. Photo: Robert Todd
(l to r) Kate Broer of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP's Toronto office and Osgoode Hall Law School's Sonia Lawrence enjoy the FMC reception. Photo: Robert Todd
(l to r) Borden Ladner Gervais LLP lawyers Mukundan Chakrapani from Ottawa and Norman Letalik Manoj Pundit of Toronto at the firm's ABA reception. Photo: Robert Todd
Munish Sharma or New Delhi, India, and Sunny Sodhi of Fasken Martineau in Toronto at his firm's ABA reception. Photo: Robert Todd
(l to r) Sajai Singh from Bangalore, India, and Vivek Bakshi of Fraser MIlner Casgrain LLP at his firm's reception to welcome American Bar Assocation members to Toronto. Photo: Robert Todd
Sanjeev Dhawan of Hydro One Networks Inc., Karen Lorimer, Canadian Lawyer's group publisher, and Paula Rietta of Ford Credit Canada Ltd. at the Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP's reception. Photo: Robert Todd
(l to r) Sean Weir, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP's national managing partner, host American Bar Association president Stephen Zack, Laurel Bellows of Chicago, Il, and Ivo Greiter from Innsbruck, Austria at his firm's party. Photo: Robert Todd
William Sellay of New York, N.Y., left, and Robert Bell of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Toronto meet at his firm's ABA reception. Photo: Robert Todd
HIV-positive teen charged with aggravated sexual assault, Edmonton Journal
Class action suit OK'd against drugmaker, Vancouver Province
Justice minister says euthanasia issue won't be revisited, The Globe and Mail
AIG sues Bank of America for $10B for alleged fraud, Reuters
Olson, Boies request court aid, Reuters
Ukraine judge denies ex-PM freedom from police detention, Reuters
Australian court delays new border security policy, Reuters
Irvin Waller, a professor at the University of Ottawa and the president of the International Organization for Victim Assistance, was a speaker at Justice for All: A Comparison of the Crime Victims’ Rights in the U.S. and Canada, put on by the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice section this morning.
“We know from the social science evidence that well-organized restorative justice, which includes restitution payments, not only increases victim satisfaction compared to the normal process, but secondly actually reduces recidivism,” Waller said. “There is a real opening here. It’s win-win all around for justice at times of austerity.”
Susan Chapman of Toronto’s Green & Chercover, said judges in Canada are reticent about granting restitution orders, in part because of the historical division between criminal and civil justice.
“There’s also the practical realty. If someone is getting four years in prison, they’re going to be hard-pressed to pay restitution,” Chapman said.
Waller cited changes to the French justice system, which give victims standing in criminal cases to seek restitution from the accused.
In Ontario, the victim surcharge applied to most criminal and provincial offences raises about $44 million a year in Ontario, but most of it comes from traffic violations, and tends to be spent on support services for victims, rather than
Russell Butler, who runs the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Centre, says he has faced similar problems south of the border, where legislation enshrining restitution payments has been circumvented by plea bargains or ignored altogether in sentencing. He said at least partial restitution should be sought by siphoning money from offenders’ earnings when they’re released on parole.
“I’m all for all offenders paying for victim services, but if you have an individual that’s harmed, I think they need to be the first priority in terms of payments from offenders. Otherwise, the government is then revictimizing them by taking the money for itself rather than helping the person along,” Butler said.
“The [SCC] is the pinnacle of our justice system, and our government is committed to continuing the tradition of legal excellence and undisputable merit that Canadians deserve and expect from our country’s highest court,” Nicholson said.
The mandate of the selection panel is to review and assess a list of qualified candidates created by Nicholson, in consultation with prominent Canadian legal figures and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Following an extensive consultation process, the selection panel will provide Harper and Nicholson with a list of six candidates.
Harper and Nicholson will then select two nominees from that list; each candidate will appear at a public hearing of an ad hoc parliamentary committee.
The following individuals will comprise the selection panel:
• Conservative MP Bob Dechert
• Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner
• Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber
• New Democratic Party MP Joe Comartin
• Liberal Party MP Irwin Cotler
As Justices Binnie and Charron are both from Ontario, the incoming justices to the court will be from Ontario as well. By convention, the court has three judges from Ontario, one from British Columbia, one from the Prairies, and one from the Maritimes. Furthermore, three judges must be from Quebec, as dictated by the Supreme Court Act.
Son of former N.L. premier to be sentenced in drunk-driving death, The Globe and Mail
Lawyer accuses Ontario government of delaying class actions, The Globe and Mail
Charges dropped in Mexico hotel blast that killed five Canadians, Toronto Star
Drug company, hospital named in lawsuit over suspected murder case, Reuters
New York appeals court upholds manslaughter conviction, Reuters
Court orders former Ukraine PM to detention, Reuters
Tommy Sheridan appeal against perjury conviction thrown out, The Guardian
|‘The possibilities are exciting,’ says CBA president Rod Snow of the agreement.|
American Bar Association president Stephen Zack noted the two organizations have long maintained a cordial relationship. “The signing of the agreement, on the occasion of the ABA’s annual meeting in Toronto, will formalize our mutually beneficial co-operation that has been in place for the past 80 years,” he said.
The agreement includes provisions for expanded ties both domestically and internationally.
Closer to home, the deal will see the two groups work together to promote legal ethics, pro bono legal work, and legal aid. Issues such as diversity, attorney-client privilege, conflicts of interest, and access to justice will also be examined, as will joint professional development offerings.
On the international level, the deal urges the groups to work together on efforts to promote human rights and the rule of law. The associations’ international law sections, the CBA international development committee, the ABA Centre for Human Rights, the ABA section of individual rights and responsibilities, and ABA rule of law initiative are each expected to play a pivotal role on those efforts.
As noted by the ABA’s president Zack, the pact comes as the U.S. association flocks to Toronto for it’s annual meeting from Aug. 4 to 9, with more than 1,400 programs, events, and presentations scheduled. More than 5,000 lawyers are expected to attend the conference.
The co-operation agreement is expected to survive the formality of an official ABA board of governors vote, before being signed into force at an Aug. 6 ceremony at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory. The ABA’s annual meeting opening assembly will take place immediately following the ceremony, with remarks from Canada’s Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
The ABA is considered the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization, claiming almost 400,000 members. The CBA has about 37,000 members.
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Gail J. Cohen