Legal Feeds Blog
CALGARY — Nine months ago, Jeremy Millard was a Bay Street commercial and civil litigator at Dentons Canada but today he is the legal director for Uber Canada just as the disruptive ride booking company is encountering its biggest challenges in this country.
|Jeremy Millard calls his workload with new employer Uber a situation of ‘controlled chaos.’ (Photo: Jennifer Brown)|
“I went from being an Ontario litigator to cross-country everything,” says Millard.
He is the lone wolf in the Canadian Uber legal department but part of the 200 lawyers working in-house for Uber worldwide. “We have a nucleus of lawyers in San Francisco who are specialists in privacy and regulatory law.”
Speaking in the very city Uber has said it won’t operate in based on a bylaw passed in February, Millard spoke about how became a fan of the car service after getting an Uber ride with a friend following a baseball game.
When he heard about the job at Uber it sparked an interest at a time when he was looking for a significant job change. He had represented some vehicle manufacturers and worked in the United States for several years so felt comfortable taking on the job with California-based Uber.
Millard says Uber Canada is dealing with regulatory and other issues that the U.S. parent has been managing for 18 months now.
“I had reached that stage in my career at the firm where you find yourself thinking, it’s great to get a client to the end of a matter but you feel you’re on the pier waving goodbye to the ship. I wanted to be part of the creative force,” he says.
Despite having logged big firm hours for many years, Millard admitted he is working more hours now but at “a job I really love.”
Before joining Dentons seven years ago, Millard worked for two years at Goodwin Proctor LLP in Boston and clerked for justices of the Ontario Superior Court. The University of Toronto law grad also has political science degrees from Yale and master’s from Oxford.
He says regulatory matters dominate his day-to-day work. He calls his workload a situation of “controlled chaos” but says it’s all part of the evolution of the car service in Canada.
He pointed out that the company has had success getting structures in place with some Canadian cities, although the service is on hold in Edmonton until the province can provide the necessary insurance to drivers, likely by the summer. He said that while regulations arrived at in Edmonton are “favourable” the situation is “less so in Calgary.”
The Edmonton Vehicle for Hire Bylaw 17400 makes Edmonton the first Canadian city to legalize ride share services. It requires Uber to pay the city $50,000 a year plus six cents per trip, whereas Calgary charges drivers $220 a year for an operating licence.
The bylaw in Calgary would require Uber drivers to undergo police background checks, be properly insured, hold Class 4 licences and have their cars undergo safety checks. Uber has said the additional cost is prohibitive to drivers who only drive about 10 hours a week.
“Most are driving less than 10 hours a week so having a high entry point for drivers is not useful. What works is a model that involves licensing us and putting the duty on us to make sure the drivers are properly screened,” he said.
In Toronto it is expected a new regulatory framework will be developed for taxis and Uber will be worked on this month.
He said Uber doesn’t see the taxi industry as its main competition, but rather private car owners.
“I’m aware that a number of taxi companies are developing app-based services and we welcome that,” he said.
When asked how he balances being proactive with reactive in such a fast-moving environment, Millard says the challenges Uber has had in other cities help him see what might be coming next.
“We can always start to think about what the next issue might be,” he says. “But I think we’re at a turning point in terms of dealing with regulations in Canada and we will face the legal challenges as they come.”
Uber also manages a large amount of personal data from its client base and Millard says it is a challenge “jockeying a number of privacy regimes at once.”
“We have the largest data set on transportation in history. In New York and Boston we have a data-sharing agreement to help the cities deal with congestion,” he notes.
When it comes to the future of Uber, Millard says down the road autonomous or self-driving cars are the next frontier. The company has partnered with a think tank in Pittsburgh and has already begun road tests.
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Following news of the impending retirement of Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell, former Liberal minister of justice and attorney general Irwin Cotler is calling for change in the way SCC justices are appointed.
|Irwin Cotler suggests a four-phase SCC justice appoinment process based on his experience as attorney general. (Photo: GMax Photography)|
“Regretfully, the judicial appointments process for the Supreme Court of Canada has been effectively dismantled,” says Cotler, the former MP for Mount Royal and attorney general from 2003 to 2006. Cotler was in Toronto for an event for the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy last week.
“What we need to do . . . is to return to what I once enunciated as the four stages for a comprehensive, and representative and inclusive judicial appointments process for the Supreme Court of Canada, that will be anchored in merit, that will reflect our diversity, and will end up in having not only the best people appointed but achieving the best process for that purpose,” said Cotler.
Based on his experiences, Cotler recommends a first stage where a protocol would be established, spelling out the people the minister of justice would consult in her search for a new justice, and the personal and professional qualities the new justice would hold.
In stage two, a nine-person advisory group would look at the list, and report back on their top three picks. Depending on the region the retired justice hailed from, this group would include a representative of the corresponding law society, a representative from the Canadian Judicial Council, a representative of the Canadian Bar Association, and parliamentarians, as well as two “eminent” public citizens.
“They would engage in their own independent consultation process, and take that group of five to eight that they got, and winnow it down to three,” said Cotler. “They were also able to suggest somebody that might not have been part of the initial five to eight, if there were compelling reasons that a person was overlooked or should be considered.”
In the third stage, Cotler says the minister would “re-enter the consultative process” after receiving the short list and discuss the results.
In the fourth stage, a parliamentary hearing would take place to discuss the choice.
Cotler didn’t mince words, stating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should take a look at making what’s old new again.
“I’m saying that [Trudeau] bring back the four-staged process, as I outlined it. I think each stage can be refined and improved, and that we have a process that is open, transparent, comprehensive, inclusive and accountable,” said Cotler. “The public is part of that transparency and accountability process.”
Cotler’s calls for change aren’t new. In 2014, he suggested the Conservative government then in power “adopt a more representative and inclusive approach similar to that which I employed as minister of justice, in consultation with Parliament
“That approach could include a more broadly representative and inclusive judicial advisory selection panel, where no political party has a majority (as the government now gives itself), parliamentarians as a whole are in the minority, and the provincial attorney general and provincial bar are represented, along with the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Judicial Conference; a protocol of consultation published by the minister of justice, setting out whom the minister intends to consult and with whom the advisory panel will meet; a public announcement by the minister of the criteria by which each candidate will be evaluated; and a final hearing at which the minister of justice – and not only the nominee – answers questions from parliamentarians, notably regarding how the nominee meets the established criteria,” he wrote then.
But with a new government, perhaps Cotler’s calls for change have newly empowered listeners. Last week’s event to honour Cotler was attended by Liberal supporters like Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna. Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur was also in attendance.
Royal Bank of Canada said on Monday it had controls in place to prevent illegal activities after documents allegedly showed it had regularly used the services of a Panama-based law firm at the center of a massive data leak exposing possible tax evasion.
|(Photo: Mark Blinch/Reuters)|
RBC and its subsidiaries were associated with 378 shell companies registered in the Mossack Fonseca data, the Toronto Star newspaper reported.
In an emailed statement on Monday, RBC said that it worked within the legal and regulatory framework of every country in which it operates and had an extensive due diligence process to understand what its clients intentions are.
"Tax evasion is illegal, and we have established controls, policies and procedures in place to detect it and prevent it occurring through RBC," the bank said.
RBC said there were a number of legitimate reasons for clients to set up a holding company.
"If we have reason to believe a client is seeking to commit a criminal offence by evading taxes, we would report the offence and not do business with the client," it added.
Carolyn Grogan is making history — as far as she knows — as the first articling student at a virtual law firm.
|Carloyn Grogan is breaking new ground with her articles at virtual law firm Round Table Law.|
“If she’s not the first, she would have to be in the first few.”
Round Table is doubling its ranks with Grogan coming aboard, going from a one-man show to “almost two” lawyers with the Alberta firm’s first articling student.
“Carolyn got in touch with me out of the blue and said she was looking for articles and was particularly interested in learning how to operate as a lawyer in a virtual environment and with the technology focus that I use,” says Morris, who has been operating Round Table full-time for almost four years.
“I’ve gotten e-mails from people seeking articling positions before and generally speaking I just delete them because I’m not in the position to take on an articling student in a way you traditionally think about articling students. But Carolyn didn’t sound traditional. Not only was she interested in what I have to offer but I didn’t know where else she could possibly get it.”
Morris says the pair sat down and found solutions to the issues they could see popping up — and that conversation left him with “no reason to say no anymore.”
“Carolyn is familiar and comfortable with the technology and we were able to imagine doing it in a way that would work.”
They both have fully functioning offices in their homes, which let them communicate easily through voice, data, and video.
To hold up his supervisory and counselling responsibilities as principal, Morris says they plan to video conferences every morning to discuss the layout of the day.
Morris also credits the Law Society of Alberta’s June 2015 changes that made taking on an articling student possible for him.
In the past, when a principal and an articling student created the required education plan, they were given a list of subject areas and a minimum number had to be covered, for example wills and estates, real estate, and legislative drafting, to name a few.
“What the law society found — and was hoping to fix — is that this prohibited most lawyers from being able to take articling students because most lawyers don’t work in large, general practice firms dealing with multiple areas. Most work in smaller or solo firms that focus on one area,” Morris says.
“They changed the rules and now the categories you ensure are covered in the course of the articling plan are things like ethics, professionalism, dispute resolution — more generic things that you experience in every law firm over the course of the year.”
The law society’s move makes it possible for smaller and boutique firms to offer articling opportunities to students, he says.
Grogan’s background makes her uniquely suited to her role as virtual articling student. She came to the law as a mature student who had worked at an educational technology company for nine years, with a focus on helping people communicate over distance. Coupled with a masters degree in communications and technology, it seemed natural to her to be interested in a virtual firm.
Morris had a similar experience. He came into the legal profession as a mature student after working in information technology, and believes Grogan can take advantage of his knowledge of that path as well as what she will learn articling.
“The goal I had in mind was to eventually be able to operate as a lawyer with a full understanding of what it takes to run a law firm and work independently and manage one’s own caseload,” says Grogan.
“Morris offered that and I think he believes in helping students get to that point of independence where they can take care of themselves with confidence.”
The duo had to “get creative” about Grogan’s compensation structure because Morris “couldn’t afford to hire an articling student the way a traditional big law firm would hire one, two, or three and maybe keep one,” he explains.
They decided Grogan will receive a percentage of her own billables, a structure that works well for the two of them.
Grogan says there were a few influences on her decision to seek out articles with Round Table. As a law student she says you hear a lot of “horror stories” about the articling process, she explains, and as a mature student she wanted to work a little more independently. But overall, Grogan calls her position “a really exciting opportunity.”
“Jason is at the leading edge of this in many respects,” she says.
Morris says he believes when new and junior lawyers see what the technology is capable of, and that it is possible to operate in an ethical and professional way using it, and also how “incredibly inexpensive” it is compared to running a more traditional law firm, “we’ll see a lot more people doing it this way.”
“There is a category of lawyers for whom this is a really, really good option,” Morris says.
“That includes those who want greater control over their own practice, or who want to start their own firm but can’t sign for three-year office space. It lowers the threshold for entry to practice.”
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David Leonard is the new chief executive officer of McCarthy Tétrault LLP, replacing Marc-André Blanchard, who was appointed ambassador of Canada to the United Nations in January.
|Longtime McCarthys partner David Leonard takes over as the firm’s new CEO.|
“It’s that skillset that I’m going to bring to other practice areas in our firm. I think I’m uniquely positioned because I understand our client service, our business and I’m going to help our great people continue to do that for our clients,” he says.
Leonard will oversee more than 550 lawyers and the operations of all six McCarthy Tétrault offices in Canada and the United Kingdom. A statement from the firm said Leonard will “play an integral role leading the firm, driving growth in current Canadian markets, while expanding a footprint internationally and into new markets.”
But that doesn’t mean opening new offices. Leonard says in looking at how to grow revenues and profitability the focus is on the United States and in London (where the firm has an office) to leverage existing relationships with clients and other law firms to see if there is work to be driven to Canada such as cross border class action litigation.
“Some of our people are also able to follow our clients, expanding beyond Canadian borders, and do deals with them in other jurisdictions so we will continue to push in that regard,” he says. “We’re not going to start running around opening offices in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. It’s really about our people here who have relationships with the U.S. firms and building on that.”
Leonard acknowledges it is a difficult time for the legal market but says “what comes out of challenges are opportunities and there are a lot of opportunities ahead with our clients in how we are delivering our services and structuring our firm and people to deliver services.”
The announcement follows a partners’ ratification vote that gave Leonard overwhelming support.
Leonard joined McCarthys as an associate in the litigation group in 1994, having completed his articles at the firm. He became an income partner in 2001 and an equity partner in 2003. In 2011, he was appointed litigation practice lead for the Toronto office, and in 2012, he was appointed litigation national practice group leader.
Richard Susskind, one of the legal industry’s leading prognosticators, was in Toronto yesterday promoting his new book, The Future of the Professions. It prophesies a massive technological disruption in how expertise, legal and otherwise, is delivered.
|Daniel and Richard Susskind were in Toronto yesterday promoting his new book, The Future of the Professions. (Photo: David Dias)|
This time, he and his son Daniel — himself: a senior adviser to the British government and an economist of some renown — are taking a broader look at the professions. The co-authors sat down with Legal Feeds before the book launch to talk about what the future holds for lawyers as advanced computer systems and artificial intelligence become a reality.
Legal Feeds: Why should lawyers care about how different professions — teachers, accountants, and doctors — are using technology?
Richard: What’s happening in law is happening right across the professions, and we can actually look at other professions and learn about what’s likely to happen in law — not least because law is more conservative than other professions, so we’ve got insight that we can gain from all of them . . . because they face the same challenges and because they’re a few years ahead.
LF: Does that mean that these other professions can give lawyer a glimpse into what their future holds?
Richard: By and large, I think it’s fair to say the legal profession is at the back of the professional groups in terms of uptake. But there’s nothing inherent in the nature of legal work that means that what’s happening in other professions shouldn’t also happen in law. . . . The major accounting firms are probably a decade ahead in some of their uses of technology. And while they weren’t competitors, that might not have been an issue, but they’re now direct competitors.
LF: Will analyzing the technological evolution of these other professions give law firms the potential to avoid some of the turmoil?
Richard: I think if you’re wanting to give your readers the hope of a soft landing, I think that would be to mislead them. . . . The looming nightmare, I suppose, for traditional lawyers is that an Amazon in law comes along and does to law what Amazon did to bookselling. My gut tells me it’s unlikely to unfold in as simple a way as that because the market is far more complex . . . but we should expect that large parts of legal practice will be done very differently, and that these new techniques are unlikely to come from the mainstream traditional providers.
LF: So who are likely to lose their jobs? Secretaries? Paralegals? Associates?
Daniel: One of the unhelpful things we do when we talk about the future of work is, we tend to talk about jobs. So we talk about traditional lawyers, legal secretaries, things of that sort. Why is that unhelpful? Because it encourages us to think of the work that professionals do as monolithic indivisible lumps of stuff, whereas in actual fact when you take any professional’s job and look under the bonnet, they perform lots of different tasks, lots of different activities in their job.
LF: But certainly some of those activities can be done by a computer and some can’t, right?
Daniel: Even for the most prestigious professionals, when you break down their work into their component tasks, it transpires that many of those tasks can be done differently — either by other people using technology or by technology alone. And this task-based approach, trying to recognize that professional work isn’t a lump of stuff of a given difficulty, and instead is composed of lots of different activities and tasks is I think quite an important thing to do.
Richard: I think it’s pretty fair to say that a lot of the work of paralegals, a lot of the work of fairly junior lawyers, if you look at things like document review, that machines are now in some of the tasks they undertake outperforming them. But if because you’re a senior associate you think you’re safe, I think that would be a false level of comfort. . . . One’s career prospects we believe depends on one’s adaptability. If you think you’re going to carry on doing the work that an associate has always done, I think you’re going to be disappointed.
LF: What’s timeline for this, 10 years, 20, 30?
Richard: In the book we expressly say we are not pinning ourselves down to dates. . . . But we reckon that the ’20s is going to [be about] redeployment rather than unemployment, by which we mean, there’s a whole lot of new roles one needs to take on, a lot based on technology. Whether it be the knowledge engineer, the systems designer . . . but once one gets into the ’30s and ’40s, one can predict a more fundamental decline of the traditional professions.
Daniel: It’s not the case that people are going to wake up tomorrow and find an algorithm sitting there and your job has been replaced by a robot. What we’ll see is tasks here and tasks there — a gradual change driven by technology. A relentless change but a gradual change.
LF: Do you think the law societies will stand in the way of this change? There has to be some kind of professional regulation, doesn’t there?
Richard: Do I think, though, that the professional bodies are likely to be major obstacles to some of this change? I think, for the general population, the answer is yes. . . . But it’s not professions or free-for-all. We can have other providers in the game, but being regulated in different ways. But, again, we want a task-based approach to this. Some tasks are so crucial that they require deep expertise and they require maximum client protection. Others are fairly routine and repetitive, and we think that, although they still need to be regulated to some extent, you don’t need the same severity of regime.
LF: What do law firms need to be doing right now to prepare for the new reality?
Richard: Often what lawyers want is what I call “off-the-shelf: competitive advantage.” They want to know what’s the answer really. But it’s really about thinking more fundamentally about issues such as market opportunity, differentiation, competitive advantage, all these notions that sound for most lawyers, I’m afraid, like management jargon — but they have very important applications. For the first time ever, law firms need to be able to engage in long- and short-term strategic planning. . . . As a firm, you need to allocate a group who think deeply about the way the market’s changing, the opportunities and threats that that throws up for you. You need to identify the markets you think you can have a sustainable offering in. You need to think about the ways you’re going to compete.
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