Legal Feeds Blog
Thomson Reuters to expand in Canada with new technology hub, Globe and Mail
Beer-tossing suspect at Blue Jays game charged with mischief, Globe and Mail
UK bans foreign academics from advising on Brexit, The Guardian
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP said on Wednesday it has launched a technology-based platform to support coverage of corporate deals and hired five people to help with the process.
The team will be based in Ottawa and led by Natalie Munroe, who returned to Osler this year after spending a few years at Canadian lender Bank of Nova Scotia as senior legal counsel. She has previously worked with U.S. law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York and London, as well as Osler in Toronto.
Faced with increasing competition and digital disruption, law firms have been responding with strategies that leverage technology.
Under the platform, the team will support mergers-and-acquisitions and corporate finance transactions, but it will branch into other areas as well, Munroe said in an interview.
The team, which is called Osler Works — Transactional, is expected to grow, she said. The five-member team includes four lawyers.
"Clients are putting a lot of pressure on law firms to make changes to the way they practice. This model is put out there by Osler to respond to those needs", Munroe said.
Ottawa was chosen because Osler has a presence there and the city is a relatively lower-cost location, she said, adding that the team will use a number of technology-driven applications for its functions.
In response to Justice Canada’s request for input on how federally appointed judges should be disciplined — and how their legal fees should be paid — the Canadian Judicial Council released a position paper on Wednesday outlining its recommendations for reform under the Judges Act.
|Torys LLP lawyer Molly Reynolds says in the Lori Douglas proceeding that particular inquiry committee felt this [process] was entirely inquisitorial, not adversarial. Now, to see the CJC presenting the process as adversarial is surprising.|
The CJC’s three key recommendations are:
• to formalize Council’s authority to impose sanctions and remedial measures against a judge;
• that the lawyer appointed under the authority of the designated member of the Judicial Conduct Committee to lead the process be tasked with presenting all the evidence against the judge rather than deciding how to proceed in the “public interest”;
• to minimize expensive and cumbersome requests for judicial review, that the decision of a Judicial Discipline Committee be final, subject only to a right of appeal to an Appeal Tribunal of Council, after the process is concluded.
“There were a number of important points we wanted to make for the Justice minister,” says Johanna Laporte, director of communications and registry services for the CJC. “The key one is in the area of sanctions, and penalties . . . Some conduct matters might not be so serious as to require outright removal, but might warrant a letter of concern, remedial training or maybe even a suspension.”
The second recommendation is the move toward an adversarial rather than inquisitorial disciplinary process, Laporte says. A judge who is undergoing a disciplinary process has a lawyer who is defending her or him, and “to balance it out, Council would have a lawyer to present the case against the judge. Previously the Council had a lawyer presenting the public interest. Now, it’s clear: you’ve got a lawyer for the judge, and a lawyer against the judge who are [now] on an even playing field.”
The third key recommendation is “one we feel will appeal to most Canadians because of the money and time spent arguing” a disciplinary case, Laporte notes, which is that the decision of the Judicial Discipline Committee be final, subject only to a right of appeal. Judges would have an opportunity to make an appeal to the CJC Appeal Tribunal, and “after that process is exhausted, there would also be the opportunity for the judge to go to the Supreme Court, with leave.”
Alison Gray, of Bennett Jones LLP in Calgary, was a co-counsel for the Women’s Legal, Education and Action Fund when it intervened before the CJC in the disciplinary procedure against Federal Court Justice Robin Camp, who made insensitive comments about a sexual assault victim in 2014 when he was a provincial court judge in Alberta (he has since apologized for his remarks). The CJC’s proposal for reform “really addresses the concern regarding the remedies available to [the Council],” says Gray, in expanding the options from recommending removal only.
“They’re hamstrung [currently] in making other [remedial] recommendations,” such as for education, she notes; and the public is left with the impression that judges are “untouchable” in that they can only be removed but not disciplined or educated otherwise.
“So, to increase the CJC’s ability to provide sanctions is positive. . . . I think we need more consideration of the processes set out in the three levels [of judicial disciplinary process], to protect judges but also to let the public have some insight into judicial complaints, so that it continues to be open and transparent. But I think at least we’re going in the right direction.”
Molly Reynolds, of Torys LLP in Toronto, was a counsel for former Manitoba associate chief justice Lori Douglas in her disciplinary process before the CJC between 2010 and 2014.
It can be easy to forget that it is a “human process” that judges go through before the Judicial Inquiry Committee, Reynolds says; in the Douglas proceeding, “that particular inquiry committee felt this [process] was entirely inquisitorial, not adversarial. Now, to see the CJC presenting the process as adversarial,” in which the CJC’s independent counsel is tasked with presenting evidence against the judge rather than proceeding simply in the public interest, “is surprising. Clarity one way or another would be useful.”
Reynolds also expressed concern over the lack of specificity in grounds for removal in the Judges Act, which provides that a judge may be deemed unfit to remain in office “by his or her conduct or otherwise.”
“Those grounds for removal were at issue in the Douglas case,” says Reynolds. The imprecise wording of “or otherwise” takes away from the sound, correct purpose of the Act, she suggests; “we should be looking at whether a judge has displayed good behaviour. . . . It’s important to examine what the scope of possible grounds for removal means, and what they can include.”
RCMP will announce settlement of major harassment claims today, Canadian Press
Truck carrying pigs to slaughter overturned in Burlington, Ont., Canadian Press
Canadian cleared of all attack charges by Bangladesh court, Canadian Press
Families in Ontario are getting a more inclusive legal definition.
|Nicholas Bala, a law professor at Queen’s University, says the act recognizes ‘a more complex social reality than generations ago.’|
The provincial government introduced the All Parents Are Equal Act on Sept. 29, a bill aimed at updating parentage law so all parents’ legal status is more clearly recognized. The proposed act would amend the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Vital Statistics Act, in the hopes the updates will address current legal uncertainty for parents and children.
Currently, if LGBTQ couples have a child using a surrogate or a sperm donor, whichever parent is not biologically related to the baby has to go through the court process of adopting the child.
“We have a more complex social reality than generations ago and it’s a good thing we’re getting into the 21st century on this,” says Nicholas Bala, a professor at Queen’s University Faculty of Law and an expert on issues in the justice system when it comes to families.
Bala says the act reflects a commitment by the Ontario government to have a “more progressive, more realistic vision of what constitutes parentage,” particularly when it comes to the use of increasingly sophisticated reproductive technology. The various ways people can bring a child into their lives necessitated a change to legislation, which was seen as outdated and discriminatory to LGBTQ families.
The existing laws will be updated to use gender-neutral terminology where possible, says a news release by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The act was created in part with the influence of a private member’s bill tabled by NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo last year, and it comes after nine families launched a constitutional challenge to the existing legislation — some of which hasn’t been updated since 1978 — that was settled in June following the government’s commitment to provide all families with equal rights.
Ontario joins other provinces, such as British Columbia and Quebec, that have made updates to their parentage laws in recent years.
“All parents and their kids need to be treated equally under the law,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said in a statement. “The best thing for a child is to have parents who can make important decisions about their care from the minute they are born, without any legal uncertainty. There is no one way to have a family. The changes we are proposing reflect this reality.”
Bala notes this legislation recognizes the “range of possibilities” for becoming a parent, but he notes it also highlights that there’s still a lot to be done — specifically by the federal government — on regulations surrounding surrogacy.
“This is progress, but there’s a lot more to be done,” he says.
Proposed amendments to the Vital Statistics Act include rules for determining a child’s surname if there is a conflict between parents. The Children’s Law Reform Act would be updated in areas dealing with surrogacy, posthumous conception, rules of legal parentage and outline a simplified process for up to four people to be recognized as parents of a child.
The bill is currently in its second reading debate.
Suspect in death of Canadian woman arrested: Mexican officials, Canadian Press
The former executive director of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association has joined Exigent, a global company focused on outsourcing legal solutions, and will be the sole Toronto-based employee.
|Christine Staley says in-house counsel are becoming increasingly more comfortable with technology, and that's changing how legal services are approached.|
Staley had been the executive director of the CCCA from 2014 to 2016, and was director of professional development for the organization before that.
The company says Staley's hire will help "in responding to a rapid shift in the Canadian legal market towards alternative legal service delivery models."
"There has been a lot of chatter ... for a quite a while within the in-house counsel community about doing things differently, doing more with less, finding new ways of delivering services," says Staley.
Staley says while the "industry has been a bit hesitant here in Canada" she had noted a shift recently where "people were starting to take notice of different models of different service delivery methods."
Exigent has about 400 employees worldwide, located in Australia, England, India, South Africa, and the United States.
The company has gained attention in Canada for its partnership with McCarthy Tétrault LLP, for example, on the development of a contract management solution the law firm describes as "an alternative service delivery model designed to capture commercial contract data."
Staley says a shift has happened in the last 18 months to two years.
"It started slow, it started, I think, with in-house counsel saying, 'We want our external firms to do things cheaper,' and it started that way, but it's growing and it's growing into not only do they want services to be done at a reduced cost, but they want increased value," says Staley. "And so I really think in the last year and a half, you've heard that quite strongly."
A recent survey by Corbin Partners and Taran Virtual Associates of more than 200 Canadian lawyers indicated that 40 per cent were using legal process outsourcing in their firms.
David Holme, Exigent's chief executive officer, says "the opportunities lie really in the application of different solutions."
"From my perspective, what we are seeing is in-house counsel looking for answers to problems," says Holme.
He said some big changes in the Canadian landscape include the large accounting firms "encroaching on various areas like litigation," Deloitte's acquisition of ATD Legal Services Professional Corporation and the creation of Deloitte Conduit Law LLP, and Axiom's purchase of the general counsel business of Cognition LLP, and the creation of Axiom Cognition.
"There's a confluence of different factors that [have] perhaps stimulated the opportunity to change, and allows general counsel to do things differently.
And I think that's the big deal really, it's doing things differently, not doing things cheaper," says Holme. He adds that Exigent is is working with large Toronto clients by sharing expertise around contract management and analytics.
Staley says Canada is "just primed for growth," and the role of in-house counsel includes new facets.
"First and foremost...the legal departments are being asked to do more with less, and I think that's the overarching cloud that everyone is living under, but at the same time, the role of in-house counsel is evolving quite rapidly, and no longer is in-house just supposed to be the legal adviser, but they are supposed to be a strategic business partner," she says.
"When you look at that role, they have to be able to come to the table and come to the executive with business solutions that make sense and add value to their client, to their corporation, division, whatever it might be."
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