Legal Feeds Blog
|Francois Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.|
“We’ve been on strike for a really long time. People are not getting paid at all, because we don’t have any money in the union funds,” he told Legal Feeds on Monday, but noted members are still committed to the strike.
“It’s not really about the money, it’s about our profession, so I’d say that people are really determined still, even though they are really angry the negotiations could not progress as much as we wanted, and of course, now that there is the legislation that is coming on, people are really, really angry,” he says.
Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.
“But, they completely changed their position about that last Thursday when the minister responsible for negotiations for the government announced in the media that they were making us a final offer on Thursday night, and we had 24 hours to respond to that offer,” he says.
Desroches Lapointe said after the offer was received, the union’s executive board responded with a counter-offer.
This past weekend, a negotiation meeting was scheduled, but Desroches Lapointe said the minister announced that special legislation would come before the National Assembly of Quebec to force strikers back to work. Debate over the issue was anticipated to occur at the assembly on Monday night, says Desroches Lapointe.
“. . .What is obvious that they are going to force us back to work because that’s what they announced,” says Desroches Lapointe.
“The main issue in the strike is that we want the recognition that our profession is particular , and if we need a different mode of negotiation than the traditional mode of negotiation, we want something that is non-conflictual, because every time we have to negotiate our work conditions, it’s really , really hard with Quebec’s government, and. . .the past experience is really negative,” he says.
A spokeswoman for Quebec’s Treasury Board President Pierre Moreau did not respond to a request for comment.
|Michael Thorburn holds the first published issue of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal (1958).|
“I thought I wasn’t deserving of any kind of recognition. My race has never crossed my mind when I execute my duties as managing editor,” says Thorburn, who was elected into his role last year by a senior board of students on the law journal. “But this is something that’s bigger and more important than how I might feel internally.”
The publication’s executive editor, Joe McDonald, recently stumbled upon information that Thorburn is the first black managing editor of the law journal.
“When he was elected, I figured that it’s 2016 so surely there’s been a black managing editor before,” says McDonald. “I mean, Barack Obama was the first black managing editor at Harvard [International Law Journal] in 1990, which was decades ago. I guess I just assumed it wasn’t an issue.”
The Osgoode Hall Law Journal has had other people of colour in leadership roles prior to Thorburn, such as editors of South Asian and Middle Eastern descents. According to Thorburn, he’s the only one who’s received recognition for his race in his role.
When asked why he thinks this may be the case, he said that perhaps it’s a reflection of expectations for black students. “Maybe black students have faced a rougher road in the history of Osgoode. I don’t know. But I look forward to the day when you don’t even have to write a piece in a magazine to commemorate a black managing editor because I want it to be normalized,” he says.
"It's through shining the light on the firsts that allows us to inspire the seconds, thirds, and fourths of tomorrow," he says. He concluded by saying that "by documenting these moments we can make our contribution to the history of Osgoode Hall Law School — hopefully students can look back on this a few decades from now, when progress has inched a little bit further, and point to it as significant."
Thorburn and McDonald agree that although it’s a step in the right direction for diversity, there’s more work that needs to be done.
“It’s not about diversity for diversity’s sake. It’s the idea that as a group or lawyers or as a bar, we can serve clients better if we have diversity amongst lawyers because you could understand things from different perspectives,” says McDonald. “I’m a very big proponent of diversity for the sake of better client service rather than because we can check the box that we have a black managing editor.”
Currently, the law journal doesn’t explicitly have a policy in effect for diversity when it comes to electing individuals for executive roles. But it does look for diverse candidates who bring fresh perspectives and different views on journal topics.
Thorburn says he couldn’t have done it without the support of the team, his friends and mentors.
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|Lorne Sossin says reconciliation with Indigenous People and accessibility are top goals that have been identified for Osgoode Hall Law School.|
“On accessibility, we really saw it as something that is part of this outward focus of the law school, to really ensure we’re getting our financial barriers reduced to the extent we can, for ensuring our communities are inclusive, [that] no one’s pressed up against the window looking in on a great legal education if they want one and are eligible for one,” says Sossin.
The law school at York University has about 900 full-time students, 300 part-time graduate students and 100 to 150 full-time graduate students.
In the newest strategic plan unveiled last month, the school identified three goals it will continue to work on — community engagement, experiential education and research intensification. Now, the other two goals have been added, says Sossin.
“We saw accessibility and reconciliation through a really holistic lens as we added them to the list of those pillars on which we all stand,” says Sossin.
One of the ways the school is promoting accessibility is the Income Contingent Loan Program, which Sossin says is “far and away our most significant measure to counter” high debts and high tuitions.
The program is for students in the 10-year period following their graduation, and is designed so that a graduate pays back the debt in a way that reflects their income.
“[It] features students who get a loan from the law school to cover the entirety of their tuition — that’s a mixture of bursary and loan — and then the loan portion is repayable after they graduate, if their income is over $80,000 a year, and there’s some [income-measured payback] between $60,000 to $80,000, and if they make less than $60,000, the loan is forgiven in its entirety,” says Sossin.
Sossin says the program helps with addressing “career choice anxiety.”
“If [during] this debt, you can’t go and join an international human rights practise or do clinical work because you need a higher salary, this is a way in which the law school can have your back,” he says.
The program is available to five students in the graduating class of 2018 and another five in the graduating class of 2019, and was initially designed to cover 25 students in its five-year pilot. Sossin says the new strategic plan reflects hopes the program will grow.
“It’s an example of something that we felt we could do, and needed to do, to counter this status quo where tuition keeps going up, students keep going into more debt with credit lines, leads to more anxiety, more limits of career choice and limits, ultimately, who is going to come into the pool to apply for law school,” he says.
The school also has a flex-time initiative, which it describes as a way “to make the Law School more accessible to students who face barriers that make participation in the full- time Juris Doctor program difficult or impossible, such as work or care responsibilities, financial restrictions or health concerns.”
Tuition for domestic students doing their Juris Doctor was $24,995.98 in 2016-2017, and $25,820.98 for international students. Students must pay $977.42 in ancillary fees, as well.
The dean noted Osgoode is “not the most expensive law school in town.”
“[U of T] often gets a lot more of the press, negative and sometimes positive, around tuition, just because it’s at the forefront, and we’re not certainly far behind, second most expensive in the country, but it’s certainly a top of mind issue that helped drive our focus on accessibility. . .,” he says.
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|Daniel Bach says it is rare for judge’s to adjourn certification proceedings to allow plaintiffs to submit further evidence and even rarer for those actions to subsequently be certified on return.|
Class members say they experienced adverse side effects after having one of the devices — which are all made of the same polypropylene — surgically inserted in order to treat incontinence. The lead plaintiff, Susan Vester, claimed she suffered complications and a great deal of pain after undergoing surgery to have one of the products implanted in her.
The class action is the latest of a number of transvaginal mesh cases that have been proposed in recent years against different manufacturers.
This, however, was the first that was successfully certified on a contested motion, says Daniel Bach, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.
“We’re really pleased with this decision,” says Bach, who is a partner at Siskinds LLP.
“We think it’s a big victory for our clients who are trying to get into court to have a judge adjudicate whether or not the products that were put in their body were safe and fit for their use and whether or not they were properly warned of any dangers in the products.”
The certification motion in the Boston Scientific case was originally heard in November 2015, but Perell adjourned the matter to give the plaintiffs another chance to submit more evidence. Perell determined the plaintiffs would have to provide more evidence in order to establish there was some basis in fact for common issues for their negligent design claim, as well as their claim that the manufacturer had failed to warn.
Bach says it is rare for judges to adjourn certification proceedings to allow plaintiffs to submit further evidence and even rarer for an action to be certified subsequently on return.
Perell used a little used subsection of the Class Proceedings Act, which gives judges the power to adjourn motions for certification to permit parties to amend their materials or pleadings, and to provide further evidence.
Boston Scientific argued that while the plaintiffs identified a common feature of all nine of its transvaginal mesh products, they had failed to establish that it was connected to their claims.
Both sides made further submissions, but on return, Perell found the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs established some basis in fact for common issues for the claim.
“This is evidence there is a common issue for all the women implanted with these devices about the safety and efficacy of the medical device in question, being these various Boston Scientific transvaginal mesh devices, all of which are made of the same polypropylene,” says Bach.
David Morritt, one of the lawyers representing Boston Scientific, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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|Meerai Cho pleaded guilty in Ontario provincial court Wednesday to one count of criminal breach of trust.|
The matter was heard before Justice Jamie Chaffe at the 1000 Finch Avenue West court.
As Law Times reported in September 2014, Cho was arrested and faced 75 charges related to fraud over $5,000, possession of property obtained by fraud and breach of trust. At that time, she said she transferred the condo purchasers’ deposit funds, which she was holding in trust, to her client who was the developer of a North York building. The transfer of the funds to the developer was contrary to the rules of the Condominium Act.
“What it came down to was a breach of trust — all the facts went into the one count as opposed to 75 counts,” Trudell says. “She didn’t set off to defraud anyone. She didn’t put any of the money in her own pocket.”
Cho claimed she transferred the money to the developer, Joseph Lee, through an “honest mistake” due to her inexperience.
Trudell says $13.5 million went through her trust account to the developer. The money came from purchasers of condo units in the Centrium condo project at 5220 Yonge Street in Toronto. The project had about 140 investors — at least 50 of them were in court on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, she trusted him completely, unquestionably and he took off with all the money and is hiding somewhere,” Trudell told Legal Feeds.
As late as 2014, the developer would send Cho emails indicating he was sending her the money back.
“She kept feeding his demands to save the project and continued to do that because she thought he was going to send the money back and the project would work,” says Trudell.
At one point, Cho mortgaged her own home and gave $400,000 of her money to try and save the condo project.
Trudell says Cho received none of the money and that was a significant factor in the court not ordering restitution.
“If you get the fruits of the crime, then obviously restitution is appropriate, but in this case, because she got nothing, she has nothing and chances of repaying it are negligible and she was receiving a penitentiary sentence on the scale of large-scale fraud,” he says.
Cho stopped practising law and agreed to temporary suspension of her licence in 2014 and will now lose her right to practise.
Trudell described it as an “emotional day in court” as seven people read victim impact statements.
“The victim impact statements were raw and emotional,” says Trudell. “They are people who are still angry, of course, but when they realize she got not one penny, people might look at her a little differently.”
Trudell said some victims have made applications to the Law Society of Upper Canada compensation fund and it is "anticipated the victims will be compensated."
In a statement, the LSUC said its Compensation Fund "will move as quickly as possible to provide claimants with any grants for which they may be eligible, on the basis of the lawyer’s dishonesty. The process is already underway and, if grants are approved by the Compensation Fund Committee, eligible claimants should begin receiving fund grants in the spring."
Cho’s guilty plea and the evidence provided will be used to complement the LSUC's own evidence during the law society hearing, which is currently scheduled for March 8, 2017.
There is no limit on the total number of grants paid in respect of an individual lawyer. The Compensation Fund has per claimant limit of $150,000 for losses resulting in the period between September 2010 and July 2013, when Cho transferred monies held in trust for the purchasers to the developer of the condominium project. Each claim is assessed on its own merits to ensure it conforms with the Law Society Act and the Compensation Fund Guidelines.
Cho, originally a journalist in Korea, came to Canada and became a lawyer. Trudell says many of the victim impact statements came from people who also came to Canada to invest and lost everything.
“A lot of the victims said they had no faith in Canada and the justice system and legal system because lawyers are supposed to protect them,” says Trudell. “She [Cho] stood up, apologized to them and told them not to lose faith in the legal system . . . She said there are a lot of wonderful lawyers; don’t use me as an example.”
Cho will serve the sentence in a federal institution, likely Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont.
Lawyers for the victims are also pursuing civil actions.
Trinity Western University et al. v. Law Society of Upper Canada will be heard with Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University, et al.
The university won in British Columbia, where an appeal court overturned a law society refusal to accredit its graduates, but it lost in Ontario, where the law society refused accreditation. The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society lost twice in court against Trinity Western and has said it doesn’t plan to appeal.
Read more about the Trinity Western law school proposal and the debate that has taken place in the profession around the issue in the Canadian Lawyer magazine February cover story "Dividing the bar."
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