U of T launches legal ethics think tank

The University of Toronto Faculty of Law has launched a new think tank to address ethical issues faced by Bay Street lawyers.

The program on ethics in law and business will be run by the law school’s Centre for the Legal Profession, which works to advance professionalism, ethics, and public service in the legal community.

“Falling from the global financial crisis and the fall of Enron at the turn of the century, the number of issues that affect lawyers are innumerable. And so, the types of issues that we’ll be looking at really stem from issues that arise in the capital markets,” says Anita Anand, U of T law professor and academic director of the Centre for the Legal Profession.

Anand says the need for this kind of initiative has existed for some time.

“As markets unfold, it’s always the case that there are issues affecting lawyers and the communities they serve. What we want to do is begin a public discussion of these issues so that there’s heightened public awareness and awareness in the legal community of what these issues are and how to think about them,” she says.

According to Anand, those issues include ethical obligations lawyers and business people face in corporate transactions; issues relating to market stability and systemic risk; international issues including foreign corrupt practices and legislation; the efficacy of regulatory models; and the barriers and drivers of change.

The program’s advisory board will consist of legal leaders in the field of ethics, and is chaired by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci, who is now senior counsel at Torys LLP.

“We really want to make sure that we have all of our stakeholders around the table when we’re thinking about not just the Rules of Professional Conduct, but also what lawyers’ responsibilities are in any one circumstance,” says Anand.

The law faculty hosted a panel discussion on March 5 with Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Code; Lawrence Ritchie, executive vice president and senior policy adviser at the Canadian Securities Transition Office; Torys LLP counsel Julia Holland; Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP partner Jeremy Fraiberg; and Alexander Dyck, a professor at the Rotman School of Management.

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