Legal Feeds Blog
One person dead, five in hospital after fire at Toronto Community Housing building, Canadian Press
Toronto police won't march in Pride parade: Chief Mark Saunders, Canadian Press
Ghomeshi's lawyer to speak to universities despite some opposition, Canadian Press
Trump border 'wall' to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: report, Reuters
Trump travel ban challenges abound in courts across U.S., Reuters
Hundreds of thousands rally in Iran against Trump, chant 'Death to America': TV, Reuters
Families of victims of Philippines drug crackdown win legal challenge, Reuters
|Roy Heenan, co-founder of Heenan Blaikie LLP, passed away Feb. 3. (Photo credit: Toronto Star)|
Norm Bacal, who was national co-managing partner for 16 years at Heenan Blaikie, was first a student in Heenan’s labour law class at McGill Law.
“That’s how far back we go,” says Bacal. “But I only got a ‘C’. The running joke in the firm for years after I was hired into the tax department was that I would never have to do any labour work and Roy would never have me.”
While he had only spoken with Heenan once in the last couple of years, Bacal says when he heard the news about his death he felt a “great sense of loss” for the person who had been a major influence on his life.
“Roy and Peter changed my life and sent it in a particular direction,” he says.
Montreal lawyer Karen Rogers also started her career with Heenan, working with him from 1990 to 2014.
“In one word, he was a passionate person and his passion was in the law, in advocacy, for his clients, the firm — and you could feel it,” says Rogers, now a partner at Langlois LLP and chairwoman of that firm’s litigation group. “As a young lawyer and even growing up with him, there was this enthusiasm and need to do the best of your ability. What he built at Heenan, he believed a lot in people and working as a team with respect and not only the lawyers but the support staff and to appreciate the value of the whole team.”
Rogers recalls Heenan giving speeches at the firm emphasizing that it was the “kindler, gentler firm.”
“That was very important to him,” she says.
Bacal, who also “grew up” at Heenan Blaikie, recalls Roy Heenan as another kind of teacher, saying he learned a lot from him about how to approach people.
“He cast a giant shadow because he was a big personality, but on top of everything else, he was a real gentleman, always. There are so many aspects to him as an individual and so many lessons that he taught that I think he did without meaning to teach.
“Part of what Roy taught I’m not sure he was even aware he teaching,” Bacal says. “He was charming and it didn’t matter who you were — whether it was the receptionists, the hostesses, Fidel Castro, he treated you the same way,” he says.
Heenan Blaikie became known as a firm that offered a different climate for lawyers to practise law and be treated differently. It rose to fame as having one of the top labour and employment practices in the country.
“He was a brilliant jurist and will always be remembered as such in the labour community,” says Bacal.
Rogers also worked with co-founding partners Peter Blaikie and Don Johnston. She recalls the firm having a mandate to not just work for big clients but do smaller files and help less fortunate clients — something that mattered to Heenan.
“I think he could have worked anywhere and he didn’t want to do law for money, he did it because he enjoyed it,” she says. “When you’d go to court, you’d see him running down the hallway in his gown — he was a passionate person who didn’t necessarily do things the way lawyers generally do things. He felt if you did well and excelled at what you did, the rest would fall into place.”
When the firm collapsed in 2014, it was “extremely hard” for Heenan, Rogers says, adding that for her even today it’s “difficult to understand.”
“The firm folding was not about the majority but the minority who did not necessarily get along, which caused the whole thing to happen. It wasn’t a financial issue. I was a partner at Heenan and I didn’t anticipate it, to be quite frank, and I’m pretty sure Roy didn’t anticipate it either,” she says. “It was probably one of the biggest deceptions of his life.”
Heenan will also be remembered for his role in the Canadian arts world. Rogers remembers the art in the Montreal office and how Heenan decided where each painting would go.
“He built, possibly single-handedly, the reputation of a number of Canadian artists, simply by the volume of Canadian art he bought over the years,” says Bacal. “He found many unknown artists and held on to their works until they became known.”
Bacal has written a book about the fall of Heenan Blaikie called Breakdown: The Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of Heenan Blaikie, which will be released Feb. 28.
As a leader, he was described as unique. “Even his detractors loved him,” says Bacal.
Visitation for Heenan is today at the Kane & Fetterly Funeral Home in Montreal. A funeral service will be held tomorrow, Friday Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. at St. George Anglican, 1101 Stanley Street in Church in Montreal.
Dunphy family lawyer quizzes RCMP investigator on response to shooting, Canadian Press
Dutch prosecutors seek maximum sentence for cyberbully suspect, wanted in Canada, Canadian Press
Assault case involving N.S. immigration minister's husband due in Halifax court, Canadian Press
Supreme Court nominee says president's tweets 'demoralizing', Reuters
First trial set to begin over 2014 armed standoff at Nevada ranch, Reuters
Trump adviser pitches Ivanka's goods from White House, Reuters
British PM May says Trump's immigration order was wrong, Reuters
Pope says he's 'at peace' confronting Vatican corruption, sex abuse, Reuters
Are law firms really innovating or is it all talk? That is a common debate in the profession these days and Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has just launched a new challenge to move beyond the noise to what they hope will be real measurable innovation.
|Carla Swansburg’s team at Blakes is working with Law Made to develop a new product that they hope can be used by Blakes, clients and possibly other law firms.|
“There is a lot of … talk about how law firms aren’t really doing anything,” says Carla Swansburg, who is the director of practice innovation, pricing & knowledge at Blakes. “I think this is a really good example [of how] some law firms are actually … taking the steps to do stuff that is a little bit different, and a little innovative, but haven’t necessarily historically talked about it a lot.”
Swansburg’s team at Blakes is working with Law Made, a legal incubator in Toronto, to develop a new product that they hope can be used by Blakes, clients, and possibly licensed to other law firms.
Blakes went through an extensive internal discussion about what kind of end product they wanted to see with the challenge, to avoid the endless brainstorming with no tangible results that can occur in “hackathons” and other initiatives meant to spur innovation.
“We are kind of bypassing that route and saying we are going to go out there, we are going to frame the problem, invite solutions and then actually, hands on, roll up our sleeves, and work with the people who are building the tool, to create something that is not necessarily marketable but really gives us a tangible solution that we have helped design,” says Swansburg.
Blakes provides applicants with business requirements to ensure they know what is expected. Swansburg says the solution needs to be “…taking a pre-defined set of legislative provisions, so on a topic for example like consumer credit, and finding a way to automate the creation of reports around changes.”
The reports would need to track relationships between regulations and keep up to date by using a technology solution like machine learning, artificial intelligence or natural language processing to collect this information and provide clear, structured and actionable reporting on regulatory changes.
Blakes and Law Made will provide the winning entry with free legal advice from Blakes, mentoring from Law Made and a paid internship that includes work space and a stipend for up to six months.
Swansburg says she expects entries to come from the startup community, and that some initial applications have already come from Canada and the U.K., with some expressions of interest from the U.S., including a law school centre for law and technology.
There will be a two-step process, with the first round of applicants whittled down to around two to five finalists by a jury from Blakes, Law Made and client and industry participants.
Once the finalists are selected, they will make their pitch to a different jury and this will likely involve a beta test of the interface and an evaluation of the user experience.
They expect the winner to be notified in the late fall of 2017.
While Blakes will not necessarily have equity in the final product, Swansburg says that will depend on “what others come up with.”
Brazil challenges Canada at WTO over Bombardier aid, Globe and Mail
Police investigate after two men found dead in Barrie, Ont., Canadian Press
Newfoundland home where girl's remains found being torn down, Canadian Press
Federal appeals court expected to rule on Trump's travel ban, Reuters
Silenced in Senate, Democrat Warren speaks louder against Sessions, Reuters
There should not be a second Scottish independence vote: May spokesman, Reuters
Islamic State suspected of killing six Afghan Red Cross workers: officials, Reuters
B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal, which handles strata disputes online, is poised to launch a second online system for settling disputes between small claims litigants.
|Civil Resolution Tribunal chair Shannon Salter sees a growing trend towards providing Internet-based delivery of dispute resolution systems and legal advice.|
“We will likely start with a smaller amount and gradually increase in time,” she says, which will also permit the tribunal to ramp up staff as the case volumes increase. Small claims courts in B.C. handle up to 11,000 cases annually.
Salter said the ability to resolve small claims disputes online extends the mediation efforts B.C. initiated for small claims and family disputes as an alternative to costly and time-consuming court litigation. “We have the opportunity to build upon the Court Mediation Program,” she says, as an online initiative will reach throughout B.C. Currently, the small claims mediation program only has five registries (Vancouver, North Vancouver, Surrey, Nanaimo and Victoria) and handles only claims of up to $10,000 except for Vancouver.
Salter said that only two mediation program registries are outside the Lower Mainland, making it difficult for rural residents to access the program’s mediation. The online tool can be accessed from any B.C. point that has Internet and is especially useful for individuals living in remote or rural areas, as individuals do not have to commute long distances, miss work, and arrange child care.
The online tool provides other benefits such as providing self-represented litigants, who cannot afford a lawyer, with legal information lessening confusion over the issues and process. Also, in many outlying areas of B.C. a lawyer shortage exists and finding legal advice can be challenging.
The small claims dispute tool is riding on the success of the CRT’s strata dispute system launched in July 2016 on its website becoming Canada’s first such online site. The strata tool has had 4,000 hits since its launch with users running the gambit from the curious to individuals seeking legal information to solve their own disputes to the 230 cases that have moved forward to mediation or adjudication.
“The model is about bringing the justice system to where people are and to make it simple to understand,” says Salter, who used three language experts to design a style guide that ensures all legal information is rendered to a grade six reading level. As well, the government forms have also been stylized to be easy to understand and fill out.
Salter said the strata software tool has been designed as a “a guided pathway” that takes individuals with a complaint through bite-sized pieces of legal information that can help determine whether their issue is a legal complaint, what are their rights and provides some help in how to settle the dispute (pamphlets and letters are available online). The process is geared towards self-resolution of disputes. If the individual is not able to resolve the issue, CRT can provide the mediation and adjudication.
The payback of a tool that is user-friendly and informative, says Slater, has been office staff spend less time answering questions or searching for more information and can spend more time dealing with individuals who may be illiterate or have language issues.
She said the Internet delivery model is geared to be user-friendly for both strata and small claims users. “We know that 92 per cent of people are on-line every day in B.C.,” she said. “People email, text and Google and so we are not asking them to do anything that is more difficult.”
The CRT’s first six months of operation has shown only two requests for non-email communications, fewrequests for hard-copy forms and individuals using the strata tool after work. “We found that 45 per cent were filling out their applications outside of work, typically on weekends or in the evenings,” she says, adding it is reflective of how the on-line tool is adaptable to user needs.
Salter said the small claims tool will be more complex than that which serves strata users as only a few statutes pertain to strata disputes. Small claims can affect a breadth of statutes and as case volumes increase, more information will be detailed on the website as legal expert opinions and information is added.
The CRT staff form an interdisciplinary team, with several lawyers. The CRT’s executive director and registrar is lawyer Richard Rogers. There are seven resolution support clerks who assist individuals attempting to resolve their own disputes. Five facilitators or case managers mediate disputes and are led by lawyer Kandis McCall, director of case management.
“In addition, there are 16 part-time tribunal members who are also lawyers from throughout the province,” she says, adding that these members, writing adjudication decision have gone through sessions to ensure decisions are written in “plain language — which can be a challenge for lawyers.” As well, facilitators have been briefed on how to collect information in disputes that have to go forward to adjudication. “Administrative law principals kick in,” she says as parties have the opportunity to exchange information and cross examine via conference calls.
Salter believes that the model of online tribunals and the Internet to provide access to justice and legal information will be a deepening trend. “MyLawBC offers solutions for separation agreements (using a Dialogue Tool) and help with a will,” she says. While not a tribunal, the Legal Services Society website does offer legal help for those unable to afford or access a lawyer. The B.C. Residential Tenancies Branch, she said, is also using the Solution Explorer software to field and resolve landlord and tenant disputes.
“We have to find creative new ways to connect people to the services they need and one way is to provide access justice on line,” she says.
One man dead after two people shot in Toronto, Canadian Press
Two people killed in Burlington, Ont. crash, Canadian Press
|Alastair Clarke says ‘refugees are an economic positive’ for Canada.|
A U.S. federal judge suspended the order last week, and now, the government has a chance to submit legal briefs in support of Trump’s intended policy changes. The battle may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Manitoba has garnered attention since CBC reported that more than 400 people were intercepted near the U.S.-Canada border at Emerson between April to December 2016.
“I think there’s just a general impression that Canada is a safer country than the United States, and they will have more support here, and that [they] will have a better life,” says Alastair Clarke, founder of Clarke Immigration Law in Winnipeg.
Due to Trump’s changes, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers last week was “calling on Canada to immediately suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement.”
"Under the STCA, those who try to enter Canada through the U.S. to make a refugee claim at the border are returned to the U.S. regardless of whether they will or already have had access to asylum in the U.S. The U.S. and Canada have considered one another “safe” for asylum-seekers,” said a CARL news release.
“The STCA creates a North American approach to refugee approvals. With President Trump’s Executive Orders, the U.S. is unilaterally changing the terms of that approach, with potentially disastrous consequences for vulnerable asylum-seekers.”
In Winnipeg, Clarke works with groups that have housing set up and are working “as hard as they can to bring as many people” as they can support.
“The government can’t keep up with the demand,” says Clarke, adding that the biggest legal hurdle he’s grappling with is the STCA.
“Unless the refugee claimant is able to fall under one of the exemptions listed in the agreement, then they are denied at the border,” says Clarke, who says most people who are successful are able to do it due to exemptions related to having family in Canada.
Clarke has handled about 30 to 35 files involving refugee claimants since January 2015, from countries such as Haiti, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Nigeria.
“I think more people are coming based on the rhetoric coming from the United States. It’s partially Trump, but I mean Trump was elected, because in general, there is an anti-refugee sentiment in the United States,” he says. “It’s not just him, but I think — generally speaking — there is less of an appetite for refugees in many parts of the United States.”
Ghezae Hagos of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council said that since October 2016, the non-profit organization has come into contact with 117 people who have asked for protection. That includes 39 people in January 2017. Hagos said that number was “certainly much bigger than what we had in the last few years.”
Paul Hesse, immigration lawyer and partner at Pitblado LLP in Winnipeg, helps clients with immigration matters such as work permits and study permits, and obtaining permanent residency. He estimated he’s had double the amount of inquiries he normally receives since Trump was elected.
“It’s a mix in terms of why they’re doing it, in terms of their profiles,” he says.
“Some would be people who, I believe, are vulnerable to removal from the United States who are looking for alternatives, others are IT workers who are looking for a more friendly long-term solution, concerned about permit rules changing in the United States, and looking at other options.”
Man who beheaded bus passenger expected to ask for his freedom today, Canadian Press
Winnipeg woman accused of hiding dead babies in locker to get verdict today, Canadian Press
Teenagers face serious charge for alleged assault at Alberta youth centre, Canadian Press
Several legal hurdles to test Trump and his immigration ban, Reuters
Final hearing begins in U.S. probe of deadly sinking of cargo ship, Reuters
Kremlin wants apology from Fox News over Putin 'killer' comments, Reuters
China protests U.S. sanction list on Iran that hits Chinese firms, Reuters
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.
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