Legal Feeds Blog
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
|Louise Charron (Photo: Colin Rowe)|
Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Charron was elevated to the highest level of companion of the Order of Canada for her contributions as a noted jurist and for her commitment to French common-law education. Charron was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in August 2004 and retired on Aug. 30, 2011. Originally from Sturgeon Falls, Ont., Charron was a Crown attorney and went on to teach in the French common law section of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law for 10 years before her first appointment to the bench in Ontario in 1988.
|Phil Fontaine (Photo: Max Rossi/Reuters)|
Ken Dryden, who holds a law degree but is substantially more well known for his stellar career as an NHL goaltender, was elevated to the level of officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canadian life in hockey, law, writing and politics, notably as a champion of literacy and the prevention of sports-related brain injuries. Before becoming a hockey legend, Dryden attended law school at the University of Manitoba and, later, at McGill University, where he obtained his LLB. In the middle of his career with the Montreal Canadiens, Dryden shocked everyone by quitting and heading off to Osler Hoskin and Harcourt in Toronto to do his articling. But he was back to hockey glory the next year. He later went on to be elected as an MP in Ottawa.
Former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine has been honoured for his contributions on behalf of First Nations, notably his role in the resolution of claims arising from the Indian residential schools issue. Fontaine is now a special adviser with Norton Rose Canada LLP on First Nations matters, including aboriginal law, energy, environmental and mining and resources. He advises clients in all the firm’s offices, including Calgary.
McGill University law professor Roderick Alexander Macdonald has been named an officer for his accomplishments as a legal scholar, notably his contributions to the advancement of law and policy in Canada and abroad. He is the F.R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law at McGill and was the law dean from 1984 to 1989. He chaired a Task Force on Access to Justice of the Ministère de la justice du Québec (1989-91), and has been a consultant to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission (2007-2008), the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1991-1992), to the Ontario Civil Justice Review and to the Federal Department of Justice on the interaction of federal law and the Civil Code of Québec. He is currently the co-commissioner of Quebec’s the Charbonneau Commission, which is examining allegations of corruption in the construction industry.
Rebecca J. Cook of Toronto has been named a member of the Order of Canada for her achievements as a legal scholar on issues of women’s rights, sexual health and reproductive law. She is a professor in the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto; and Co-Director, International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme and University of Toronto.
Fred V. Martin, a lawyer who splits his time between Salt Spring Island, B.C. and Edmonton, Alta., has been honoured for his long engagement in support of equal rights, notably his work helping the Métis Settlements General Council achieve self-governance. He told the Edmonton Journal that he will take the order to the Métis Settlements General Council office after he receives it, so it can be displayed there.
“That’s where it belongs,” he told the newspaper. “I think of it more as a recognition of a team than as an individual.”
Toronto family lawyer Linda Silver Dranoff has been recognized for her work as a lawyer, writer, and activist helping to advance the discipline of family law. Dranoff has represented clients in precedent-setting cases, including the first Supreme Court of Canada case to give Ontario wives a share of family investments, and the first to expand spousal support rights to take account of benefits, bonuses and changes in the cost-of-living. She was the founding chairwoman of the Ontario Bar Association’s Feminist Legal Analysis Section.
The full list of appointments is here.
Legal Feeds brings legal news from across Canada to our readers daily. Seems lawyers like to read about what's going on with their collegues, lawyers in trouble, and what the courts have to say. Here are the 10 most read stories of 2012 from the blog.
2. U of A takes crown in second Twitter moot
3. LSUC sends ‘unhappy message’ with Groia ruling: Cherniak
4. SCC spells out Canadian jurisdiction on foreign lawsuits
5. B.C. court awards largest punitive damages ever in employment case
6. Project Conjugal clamping down on fake marriages
7. Top traits for succeeding in-house
8. Judge wants system to hear his side of the story
9. Former Vision TV GC disbarred
10. Windsor law grad declared vexatious litigant
Mayor Ford sees $6M libel case dismissed, says judgment is 'welcome', Calgary Herald
88-year-old war criminal has citizenship stripped in latest bid to deport him, The Globe and Mail
Court gives bail to Montreal deacon charged with child pornography, Vancouver Sun
NRA will fight U.N. arms trade treaty, argues it would force U.S. to enact strict legislation, Reuters
Lawsuit claims Chicago's 3rd largest school district is discriminatory against black teachers, Reuters
Putin signs off on law banning American adoption of Russian children, Reuters
China amends labour law to tighten loophole on hiring temporary workers, Reuters
1. Largest law firms in Canada
2. Articling crisis gets worse
3. Cassels Brock’s counterclaim raises eyebrows
4. Disbarred lawyer’s ‘amazing story of redemption’ earns reinstatement to profession
5. Calling senior lawyer dishonest, negligent can get you fired
6. Lawyer who had sex with family law client in joint retainer in hot water for disclosure
7. Are judges appointed for political ties?
8. Lawyer facing contempt charge just doing his ‘duty’
9. Are lawyers ready to give up BlackBerrys?
10. Law school star makes third attempt at becoming a lawyer
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Gail J. Cohen