Legal Feeds Blog
Case sets precedent for Canadians' right to armed self defence, Toronto Star
Police patrolling Northern Gateway public hearings called undemocratic, alienating, Calgary Herald
Mayor Ford to find out political fate in appeal hearing, The Globe and Mail
Alleged Colorado movie theatre gunman faces preliminary hearing, Reuters
Illinois lawmakers propose pension fix, unions vow lawsuit to protect benefits, Reuters
Five Indian men accused of vicious gang rape appear in court, Reuters
Paris' top anti-terrorism judge warns Mali crisis paving way for militant attack, Reuters
- Superior Court protocol still bars public from using gadgets in the courtrooms
|Restrictions on using devices should apply only when absolutely necessary, says media lawyer Dan Henry.|
But the rule applies in reverse for all others in court: they can’t use their devices unless the judge says otherwise.
“Members of the public have the same freedom of expression enjoyed by members of the media and others listed on the protocol,” says independent media lawyer Daniel J. Henry.
Restrictions on using devices should apply only when absolutely necessary, according to Henry. All of those in court should know the restrictions, he adds.
“Freedom of information is intimately connected to the right of citizenship and shouldn’t be lightly dismissed,” he says.
Henry also predicts it will be practically difficult, if not impossible, to police the use of devices only by those listed in the protocol.
“There is no question that the line between journalists and members of the public is blurring in relaying the information we all share.”
The new protocols come after a team of legal experts proposed more permissive guidelines last year. The team, put together by the Canadian Centre for Court Technology, said it was time to grant every person in court the privilege to transmit information via personal technological devices.
After the proposals came out in the fall, Stephen Bindman, who was part of the centre’s consultation group, told Law Times social media helps advance access to justice.
“More and more Canadians are getting their information and information on the courts from social media,” said Bindman.
While Henry agrees, he says smartphone use isn’t all he wants to see in Canadian courtrooms. He’s a strong advocate for audio-visual access.
If cameras record proceedings accurately and in real-time, journalists and others won’t have to bear the pressure of firing off 140-character tweets as events unfold, he says, and the recordings can be linked to tweets.
Under the new protocols, taking photographs continues to be banned in courtrooms while audio can be recorded for the purpose of taking notes but not for broadcast or sending electronically from the recording device.
Case of Que. mother accused of killing children returns to court, CBC News
Windsor dodges $20M liability after SCC refuses to hear case, The Windsor Star
Fines for garbage pickup delays should be disclosed: privacy lawyer, Winnipeg Free Press
U.S. regulators end Google investigation, Reuters
Pa. antitrust lawsuit against NCAA a long shot: experts, Reuters
Ex-Haiti president's court hearing delayed, Reuters
Voter registration reforms unconstitutional: Hungary court, Reuters
- New firm launched and others join Cox & Palmer after New Brunswick firm’s dissolution
The majority of former Barry Spalding’s lawyers — partners John P. Barry, Hélène L. Beaulieu, Bruce M. Logan, Duane M. McAfee, Brenda G. Noble, David G. O’Brien, Howard A. Spalding, Deirdre L. Wade, and Peter T. Zed; associates Jack M. Blackier, Talia C. Profit, Colin A. Fraser, and Patrick Dunn; and counsel Richard E. DeBow — moved over to Cox & Palmer’s Moncton, N.B., and Saint John, N.B., offices.
Most are commercial and insurance litigators while others joined the firm’s corporate transaction group. These new additions bring Cox & Palmer’s total number of lawyers to just under 200.
However, not everyone made the move to Cox & Palmer. Former Barry Spalding partners Michael D. Brenton, William C. Kean, Maria G. Henheffer, and Donald V. Keenan, along with three associates, launched a new law firm called BrentonKean.
Brenton says it was early last year that several partners at Barry Spalding expressed an interest in moving to a regional firm and Cox & Palmer was a good fit. Although the offer to join the firm was extended to everyone, Brenton says some lawyers were concerned about conflicts issues.
“In this small province, as you can imagine there are only a limited number of larger firms and if everybody gets together then we have real conflict problems,” says Brenton. “So we thanked [Cox & Palmer] . . . declined their offer, and went our own way, primarily to serve our long-standing clients who would’ve been conflicted in a significant way had we joined Cox & Palmer.”
Brenton adds that the firm did not break up over money.
“We were a thriving firm, a very successful firm, and that continued right up until it was dissolved,” he tells Legal Feeds.
George Cooper, Cox & Palmer’s New Brunswick managing partner, says the move adds strength, depth, and expertise to the firm.
“[A]s the consolidation in the legal market in Canada and Atlantic Canada has continued, this is a really good fit for both the lawyers joining and for Cox & Palmer,” he tells Legal Feeds.
Cooper says this change wasn’t a result of the economic climate.
“We’re both financially very strong organizations and we were pleased to marry strength to strength,” he says.
Cooper argues that there have been waves of consolidation. “This is part of a trend that I think is driven by client needs for greater specialization and enhanced levels of service, which larger platforms are generally able to provide,” he says.
John Ohnjec, division director at Robert Half Legal, told Law Times last month that firms have been re-evaluating since the economic downturn to see which practice areas are in demand and then try to reshape their businesses accordingly.
“While I don’t think that necessarily downsizing is the trend, I think the definite trend is to look inward as to what their model is and what’s working and what isn’t working and in some cases that will entail the need to downsize, to become leaner while still being able to service their clients,” he said.
1. The Law Society of Upper Canada’s modification of articling to allow lawyer licensing through alternative forms of training
Will the public in Ontario be well served by this change? Will the profession be improved in the long run? There was clearly a gap between the number of qualified people seeking articling positions and the number of positions available in Ontario, a gap that also exists elsewhere in Canada. Articling had become a barrier to entry to the profession that was hard to justify as a matter of principle or of sound public policy. But whether this solution to that gap represents regulation of the profession in the public interest remains to be seen.
2. Regulation of civility
A conduct committee of the LSUC issued its decision holding that Joe Groia was guilty of professional misconduct for incivility. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the decision of the Barreau du Quebec sanctioning Gilles Doré for his incivility in writing a critical and intemperate letter to a judge. I was an expert witness in the Groia case (for Groia) and continue to be critical of the law societies’ regulation of civility, and most especially of its decision on Groia. My most recent thoughts are in a paper forthcoming in the Dalhousie Law Journal, (sneek peek here. Law Times article on a recent panel held on this issue is here.
3. The conduct of the Canadian Judicial Council Inquiry Committee regarding Justice Lori Douglas
The inquiry committee hearing was brought about in response to the existence of pornographic photographs on the internet of Justice Douglas and to the disclosure (or not) of the existence of those photographs at the time she was appointed to the bench. In 2012, the proceedings were disrupted by a number of judicial review applications, and the resignation of independent counsel Guy Pratte. Hearings are still not complete.
4. Ongoing adoption of the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code of Professional Conduct by provincial law societies
As I have discussed previously, the adoption of the FLS code has its downsides, at least in Alberta, where the prior Code of Conduct was a superior document. However, the willingness of the law societies to work towards creating a common set of ethical standards for Canadian lawyers is a remarkable development in Canadian lawyer regulation, which has not generally featured a high level of national coordination.
5. Expansion of legal education
2012 saw the first class of Thompson Rivers University finish its first year of law school and “overwhelming interest” in attending the law school at Lakehead University. In addition, law schools outside of Canada seek to serve the market for legal education in Canada, with Arizona State University seeking to grant a “North American law degree” to qualify graduates to practise law in both Canada and the United States. All of these facts appear to be true: there is enormous demand for law school; individual litigants cannot afford counsel in litigated cases; there is a shortage of articling positions; many sole practitioners operate in economically marginal circumstances; it is not clear that all Canadian lawyers are competent and providing a high quality of legal services. This demonstrates the point that regulation of the legal services market is complex, and structuring regulation to foster the accomplishment of optimal economic outcomes very difficult.
6. The proposal for a private, religious law school
Trinity Western University has proposed the first private and religious law school in Canada. TWU’s application is seen by many in the legal academy as undesirable given its official policy that students must agree to refrain from “homosexual behaviour.”
7. Conflicts of interest
The question of regulating conflicts of interest was less at the forefront of Canadian legal ethics than in past years, and less than it is likely to be in 2013. This year, the Supreme Court of Canada will likely decide Canadian National Railway v McKercher LLP. The LSUC is also likely to release its decision in the disciplinary hearing of Beth DeMerchant and Darren Sukonick in their representation of Hollinger Inc. It should also be noted as evidence of the ongoing controversy around conflicts that in Alberta, the law society only adopted the FLS code’s approach to conflicts of interest after modifying it significantly.
8. Self-represented and “organized pseudolegal commercial argument” litigants
Self-represented litigants continue to be a significant part of judicial dispute resolution, and the problems with ensuring fairness to those litigants continue. The issue of OPCA litigants was addressed by Associate Chief Justice Rooke in his decision in Meads v. Meads. Although OPCA litigants may be represented, and so do not raise issues identical to those created by self-represented litigants, OPCA litigants similarly raise challenges for ensuring the fair administration of justice — for those they litigate against and for themselves.
9. Internationalization and regulation of law firms
In 2011 Macleod Dixon merged with the international law firm Norton Rose LLP. In November 2012 Fraser Milner Casgrain announced its intentions to merge with SNR Denton and Salans in 2013. This is a significant development in Canada, where previously the pre-eminent firms have been Canadian based, with only limited international operations Does the internationalization of Canada’s law firms foreshadow other changes here reflecting those elsewhere, or will Canada remain the conservative outlier that it has been since other jurisdictions moved away from self-regulation and it did not? It should be acknowledged that British Columbia has taken steps toward the direct regulation of law firms in 2012 through amendment of the legislation empowering its law society.. This follows from Nova Scotia’s prior amendment of its legislation permitting findings of professional misconduct against law firms. Both are welcome developments.
10. International Legal Ethics Conference and Canadian Association of Legal Ethics
In 2012, Canada hosted to the 5th bi-ennial International Legal Ethics Conference. Last year also saw the formation of the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics. These developments show the growing sophistication of legal ethics in Canada, which as recently as 2000 Adam Dodek described as a “subject in search of scholarship” [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1267228 ].
This is an edited version of University of Calgary law professor Alice Woolley’s top 10 legal ethics post from Ablawg. Click here to read the full version.
Judge orders two week long native railway blockade in Sarnia dismantled, The Globe and Mail
B.C. woman takes husband's former mistress to court over harassing messages, phone calls, Vancouver Sun
Charges 'can't be ruled out' for owner of pit bulls involved in deadly dog fight, Calgary Herald
Federal judge rejects New York Times' bid to force gov't to release more info on drone strikes, Reuters
State of Kansas seeks to hold sperm donor responsible for child support, Reuters
Indian woman's murderers charged, members of bar association refuse to represent them, Reuters
Supreme Court of Sri Lanka finds impeachment of chief justice illegal, Reuters
|Tracey Jackson’s Halloween tree was part of the Vancouver Festival of Trees charity event.|
And, by the number of lookey-loos, who often stood two deep around the hybrid Halloween-meets-Christmas tree, Jackson’s themed message “End The Nightmare Before Christmas — Get a Divorce” was a howling success.
“It has gotten a lot of attention,” agreed Jackson, as the tree was displayed in the lobby of the Vancouver Four Seasons Hotel during December. Trimmed in bright orange and black feather boas plus creepy crawlers, the tree was accompanied by a ghoulish pair, headstones, and a fog machine spewing out eerie mist.
The majority of viewers enjoyed Jackson’s sense of humour — with one noted exception. Jackson said the hotel was asked to remove the tree by a wedding party hosting a reception in a nearby ballroom but it was later put back.
2012 was the third year that Jackson had participated in the Festival of Trees, a B.C. Children’s Hospital charity event where firms pay $3,000 to place a decorated tree, which may carry simply a Christmas message or the company’s theme. Since the first year, she has used the event to publicize her practice of family law. The trees are usually placed in high-end hotels.
“It’s a very sophisticated clientele,” she said, adding, “if you are target marketing, then the people who attend functions at these hotels are the people you want to reach.”
Planning a tree that will stand out is a year-long event.
“We usually start planning our tree in January,” she said, adding her office staff participates. One of her staff, secretary Shelley Johal suggested the 2012 theme as spin-off on Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, the 1993 film of a Halloween king who kidnaps Santa Claus as he tried to merge Halloween with Christmas.
Trees entered by Jackson in previous years carried spirited themes as well. One was divided between the sexes with an ultra feminine side (feathers, jewelry, and bows) while the other was decorated with the accompaniments of bachelorhood (beer cans, fast cars, and sports gear). The tree’s message — “divorce may be expensive but freedom is priceless.” Two cutouts, a male and female, caught in wild dance, accompanied it.
In 2011, it was the Tiffany tree full of dazzling in huge crystal rings and blue legal scrolls. It carried the message: “give her what she wants — the ring” but also a caution, “get a pre-nup.” Jackson admits that tree got a better reception from men than women.
The 2013 tree is already partly planned out, said Jackson. It will feature garlands of money and trappings of riches plus carry the message that if one gets the right lawyer in a divorce, one can enjoy financial security.
The trees “are generating business,” as a marketing tool, said Jackson. The eye-catching displays are putting her name out there and at least one client has mentioned that she heard of her through the festival of trees event.
Jackson, who also served as co-chair of Vancouver’s 48th Christmas Family Ball, held at the Four Seasons, said: “I get a lot of buzz about it (the tree). It’s a fun marketing tool — even if it is a little bit offbeat.”
Impaired driving case of Toronto councillor rescheduled as lawyer awaits full disclosure from Crown, The Globe and Mail
Calgary couple guilty of poaching charges, social media helped make the case, The National Post
Ex-president of biker gang faces charges over hammer attack, Chronicle Herald
$100M claim against Conneticut in wake of shooting 'misguided': attorney general, Reuters
NCAA taken to court over Penn State sanctions, Reuters
Austrian telcom merger appealed by T-Mobile, Reuters
Portugal's president sends tax rises to Constitutional Court for approval, Reuters
Here are the top 10 most read stories of 2012 from canadianlawyermag.com. Some are reproduced from the magazine, such as our Top 25 Most Influential — always a big draw — and some you’ll only find online, including our 4Students and InHouse web pages. As usual, the stories that rise to the top of the charts tend to be the rankings and surveys. Everyone wants to know how they measure up and where they fit in! As such, I encourage readers to participate in all our 2013 surveys and rankings.
3. Looking to the future: Canadian Lawyer’s top 10 litigation and top 5 tax and business immigration law boutiques
Toronto sees increase in shooting deaths for 2012, Toronto Star
Immigration consultant guilty of 54 charges, Montreal Gazette
Employer wins relief from U.S. contraceptives mandate, Reuters
Court to decide if theme parks are liable for thrill ride injuries, Los Angeles Times
Japan's casino tycoon bet on Philippines fixer, Reuters
Apple loses another copyright lawsuit in China, Reuters
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Gail J. Cohen