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Commentary

Big-time legal

The Gomery commission was a big-time inquiry that cost big-time money. It ended being the most expensive in Canadian history. The commission itself came in under budget at $32 million for two years of work. But that's just the start.
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Editorial - Slightly off message

A number of professional organizations have in recent years run advertising to enhance the public's perception of their members. These include the certified management accountants and professional engineers.
Some professions such as doctors, nurses, and firefighters don't need such PR. Others do. An Australian survey released last year about the most and least trusted professions wasn't the first and won't be the last to find legal beagles near the bottom of the pack. In this study, lawyers ranked 23rd out of 26, ahead of car salesmen, real estate agents, and politicians.
It's always been an uphill battle for lawyers. Within the last few months, the Toronto Star wrote a serious of highly unflattering articles about the Law Society of Upper Canada, which I'm sure did nothing to improve the public's attitude toward the legal profession. And daily you'll hear lawyer jokes or people whining about how lawyers are ripping them off and charging exorbitant amounts for hardly any work.
Working to address this perception disaster, the Canadian Bar Association developed a campaign in the spring of 2004 in response to a survey in which the CBA's members said they felt the association should endeavour to improve the public's opinion about lawyers. According to CBA spokeswoman Hannah Bernstein, the most recent Ipsos Reid tracking study conducted in October 2005 indicated that 74 per cent of members still saw it as "highly relevant."
The CBA created a series of print ads and a television spot, which ran last fall. Taking advantage of the huge numbers of Canadians tuning into Olympic Games' coverage, the CBA has decided to run the TV ads again. The current campaign is running during the Olympics: off-prime on CBC, off-prime and prime on Newsworld, and off-prime and prime on TSN. French ads are running on RDS and Radio Canada.
So in between the amusing ads of beavers Gordon and Frank shilling for Bell and the tear-jerker Tim Hortons commercial showing the hard-ass grandfather bringing his son a double-double at the rink, you'll occasionally catch a glimpse of Ritu Banerjee, lawyer.
Lots of people will see the ads. I have, quite a few times. However, while the accountants' and engineers' advertising campaigns were slick, professional and left an impression of quality and competence, the CBA's efforts can only be described as "cheeseball," looking as if someone put it together with an old handycam.
One viewer likened the spot, which has Banerjee coming across more as a teacher than a lawyer, to the short in-flight safety flicks you watch before take off. "It's a disgrace. We look like a charity," said another young lawyer.
If you haven't caught the ad during your Olympic viewing, it's on the CBA's web site at www.cba.org/CBA/about/discover.
It seems lots of people are seeing the ads, the airtime for which is costing the CBA $85,000, but it may not be making the impression the association had in mind. Perhaps the CBA should try again and give its message a bit more professional polish. These ones aren't going to do
anything to improve lawyers' reputations.
— Gail J. Cohen
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Wireless hotspots and the law

Not long ago wireless Internet access was mostly of use to laptop users. Now an increasing number of electronic devices are "Internet-enabled" and capable of utilizing publicly accessible hotspots. For example, many PDAs have web browsers that can be used to access the Internet or built-in e-mail clients that can synchronize over a wireless connection.
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The lighter side of politics

It's election time in Canada and once again a great occasion to watch politicians putting their feet into their mouths — saying the wrong thing and doing the wrong thing.
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Editorial - Free press issues at the fore

Last week freedom of the press issues were in the forefront of the news ? the most obvious situation being the confrontation between extremists on both sides over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed. All I'll say about that is everyone knows most newspapers and magazines in Europe and western countries have the right to print whatever they want. However, respect and good judgment should also play a part. Fanning the flames of this us-versus-them scenario is no more right or justified than gangs of Muslims setting fire to Danish embassies and flags.
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Bencher's Diary: A day of discipline

{mosinfo by=(Gary Lloyd Gottlieb) divider=(default) date=(Friday, 13 February 2009) class=(default)}Once upon a time he worked for a large firm, but eventually he became a sole practitioner.
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Editorial: Trash talking at the Supreme Court

When you put out your garbage, do you believe it to be private? For most of us, in a criminal sense, it doesn’t really matter if the local constabulary decides to snap on the Latex gloves for a rummage around in our trash because all they’re going to find is . . . garbage, right?

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Inside Queen's Park

The constitutional division of powers in Canada is real. But you’d never know it from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s incredible eagerness to trespass on federal turf, where it costs him nothing financially.

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Law Times poll

Law Times reports that lawyers are expressing concerns over the timing of the rollout of extensive draft regulations by the provincial government to amend the Condominium Act. Do you feel this will leave little time to bring clients up to speed?
Yes, the government expects the first phase of legislation to be implemented later this year, and this leaves little lead time for lawyers.
No, the changes leave appropriate time for lawyers to digest all the regulations and help clients understand them.