A Toronto lawyer has lost his licence to practise law due to professional misconduct related to mortgage transactions.
A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel found lawyer Mitchell Lewis Wolfe had engaged in professional misconduct for“participating in or knowingly assisting in dishonest or fraudulent conduct by his borrower client to obtain mortgage or investment funds under false pretenses in connection with the . . . mortgage transactions.”
Wolfe also acted for multiple parties in the mortgage transactions without adequate disclosure to or consent from his lending clients, the hearing panel found. In addition to revoking his licence, the panel ordered Wolfe to pay $55,000 in costs.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, almost 60 per cent of participants don’t think Ontario should adopt a no-cost rule for class actions. The poll follows a new discussion document released by the Law Commission of Ontario as part of its review of the Class Proceedings Act that raises the potential of having a no-costs rule in Ontario. But for themajority of poll participants, having costs follow the event should remain a bedrock principle for all matters.
SECURITIES LAWYER LEAVES TORYS FOR BLG
Securities litigator Laura Paglia has left Torys LLP to join Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.
Paglia joins David Di Paolo as regional co-leader of the securities litigation group at BLG’s Toronto office.
“Laura contributes to our team’s in-depth expertise in the Canadian securities market. She has been a leader in Canadian securities litigation and regulatory matters and has been involved in representing numerous market participants including investment dealers, mutual fund, and futures dealers,” said Jim Douglas, national leader of BLG’s securities litigation and regulatory group. “She is a tremendous asset to our clients as they respond to the many reforms taking place in the regulation of the Canadian financial market.”
FAMILY LAWYER JOINS THE BENCH
The province has appointed family lawyer Lynda Ross as a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice.
Ross began presiding in Windsor, Ont., as of Jan. 20.
Ross worked in all areas of family law. She practised collaborative family law and has been a child protection mediator providing services to children’s aid societies and courts in various regions.
OSC SEEKS MORE WOMEN ON BOARDS
The Ontario Securities Commission has issued proposed amendments and is asking for comment on changes that would demand greater transparency regarding the representation of women on corporate boards and in senior management.
If adopted, the proposed amendments would require issuers reporting in Ontario to include the following disclosure annually in their proxy circulars:
Director term limits or an explanation for their absence.
The number and proportion of women on the board and in executive positions.
An issuer’s policies on the representation of women on the board (including for identifying and nominating female directors) or an explanation for their absence.
If they’ve adopted a policy, disclosure of its objectives and key provisions, the measures taken to ensure its implementation, the progress made on achieving the goals, and whether and how they measure the effectiveness of the policy.
The board’s consideration of the representation of women in the director identification and selection process, including whether it considers the level of female representation on boards in identifying and nominating candidates, and, if not, why not.
The consideration given to the representation of women in executive positions when making appointments.
Targets voluntarily adopted regarding female representation on the board or in executive positions and, if none, an explanation for their absence.
LAO LAWYER TO ATTEND TORONTO AREA COURTS
Legal Aid Ontario will start sending a staff lawyer to the Superior Court in Toronto and Brampton, Ont., on a regular basis to assist litigants and the courts.
A staff lawyer will attend the Toronto court every Wednesday and visit Brampton every second Friday, according to LAO.
“The LAO lawyer’s participation in these superior courts is part of a pilot project to enhance access to justice for LAO’s clients and to assist the administration of justice,” said LAO.
During the visits, the LAO lawyer will provide updates on the status of legal aid applications and let the court know the exact days of future attendance in order to schedule issues requiring an LAO lawyer on those dates.
The pilot project will start on Jan. 29 in Toronto and Feb. 7 in Brampton.
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT BOOSTS FINANCE TEAM
Former bank executive John Jason has joined Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP’s Toronto office as counsel.
Jason, former senior vice president at BMO Financial Group, also served as deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer at the bank.
“John has tremendous understanding of our clients’ needs through his experience with financial institutions, as a lawyer, and in business,” said Andrew Fleming, managing partner of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Toronto office.
“He’s recognized as a Canadian leader in regulatory financial services law, one of the top concerns for our clients in the sector. He’s an outstanding addition to our team.”
Jason said the firm has a lot to offer to financial service companies.
“The only thing certain about financial services regulation today is that it will continue to grow and become more complex. Canada is no longer an island and much of our regulation is being driven by developments internationally,” he said.
“New Canadian and international competitors are also driving a need for new regulations. Financial services companies need to stay ahead of new and evolving regulatory expectations. With our depth and global platform, Norton Rose Fulbright is ideally positioned to advise clients about these expectations.”
Jason isn’t the only financial sector lawyer to join Norton Rose Fulbright recently. John Teolis, formerly of Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, has left that firm to join Norton Rose Fulbright. Although recent news reports suggested he left because of a mandatory retirement requirement at Blakes, Norton Rose Fulbright says that’s not the case. He made the move despite an offer by Blakes to extend his retirement to age 68 with the possibility of a further extension, according to Norton Rose Fulbright.
“Joining Norton Rose Fulbright is a superb fit with the work I’ve been privileged to have done for financial institutions,” said Teolis.
“There’s a lot of activity in the Canadian financial sector with domestic and international companies. Norton Rose Fulbright’s truly global reach makes its financial institutions practice one of a kind and I’m looking forward to making the most of this with clients.”
SYDNEY ROBINS REMEMBERED
Former judge and Law Society of Upper Canada treasurer Sydney Robins has died at the age of 90.
Robins was the youngest bencher — and the first Jewish person on the law society’s governing council — when he won election to the position in 1961, according to LSUC Treasurer Thomas Conway. Robins later became treasurer of the law society. He joined the bench of the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1981.
“The loss fills me with a great sadness — he was a well-respected bencher and treasurer, as well as an incredible human being,” wrote Conway last week in a post on his blog.
He added: “For me, Syd Robins is the model of what a treasurer should be and he has been an inspiration for me since I took office in June 2012. His many friends and colleagues at the law society will miss him greatly.”
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, 89 per cent of participants feel the federal government’s looming victims rights bill will disrupt the criminal justice process.
The federal government is about to introduce a victims bill of rights that will ensure victims of crime are more “informed and involved” at every stage of the criminal justice system.
According to a Law Times report earlier this month, some defence lawyers fear such a move will complicate an already complex criminal justice system and pressure prosecutors to “serve two masters.”
NEW MANAGING PARTNER AT BERESKIN & PARR
Micheline Gravelle is the new managing partner at Bereskin & Parr LLP.
Gravelle, head of the firm’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical practice group, replaces Philip Mendes Da Costa in the role.
“I am very excited to be taking on this new role, and a new strategic plan,” said Gravelle.
“It’s our firm’s culture, teamwork, and core values that set us apart, and over the coming months, I’ll be working to build on those strengths.”
Gravelle joined Bereskin & Parr in 1996. The firm says she has been a successful leader in the chemistry, microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology fields and has held senior positions at multinational companies and government agencies and in the health services industry.
DEADLINE FOR LSUC AWARD NOMINATIONS
If you know an accomplished lawyer who deserves recognition, it’s time to let the Law Society of Upper Canada know.
The law society is now accepting nominations for its upcoming awards, including the law society medal, the Lincoln Alexander award, and the Laura Legge award. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 31.
The government has appointed Toronto lawyer Vivian Bercovici as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel.
Bercovici, who had earlier practised with Heenan Blaikie LLP’s Toronto business law group and more recently joined Dickinson Wright LLP, has an “excellent understanding” of Israeli issues, said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
“Canada and Israel share a strong and multi-faceted relationship based on shared values, common interests, and strong political, economic, cultural, and social ties,” he added. “Having lived in Israel and written extensively on the region, Ms. Bercovici has an excellent understanding of the challenges facing the country and deep insight into the opportunities provided by the strong links between our two countries.
“The government of Canada congratulates Ms. Bercovici on this appointment, and wishes her well in building upon this special relationship.”
Bercovici has in the past served as senior policy adviser to the Ontario minister of finance and chief negotiator on various claims made by First Nations against Canada. In March 2013, she joined the board of directors of CBC/Radio-Canada for a five-year term.
FLIP YOUR WIG FOR JUSTICE
Are you angry over the lack of access to justice in Canada? If so, you should flip your wig for justice, says a new campaign launched by several legal organizations.
The awareness campaign and pledge-based fundraising effort launched last week is asking the public and the legal community to show their support for equal justice by donning a traditional judicial or “wacky” wig on March 6.
The campaign is urging organizations to match pledges raised by employees. The organizations behind the campaign include the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Community Legal Education Ontario, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, the Ontario Justice Education Network, Pro Bono Law Ontario, and Pro Bono Students Canada. To participate, register at flipyourwigforjustice.ca.
NEW GLADUE COURT IN BRANTFORD
A Gladue court designed to handle the cases of aboriginal people charged in criminal matters will open in Brantford, Ont., on Jan. 17.
“Among other special features, Gladue courts take the findings of Gladue reports into consideration. These are reports on offenders’ backgrounds, including circumstances unique to this community such as residential school experiences,” according to Legal Aid Ontario, which says it played “an instrumental role” in the court’s establishment.
“In addition, Gladue courts propose sentences using a restorative justice approach that aligns with aboriginal culture and traditions.”
There are five other Gladue courts in Ontario. LAO says it will provide clients with services once the Brantford court begins hearing cases this month.
NEW PARTNERS AT STIKEMAN ELLIOTT
Stikeman Elliott LLP is welcoming new partners at three of its offices.
Michael Kilby, who was an associate with the firm, is now a partner at the Toronto office. Kilby, who also did his articles at Stikeman Elliott, practises in the area of Canadian competition and foreign investment law.
In Montreal, lawyer Vanessa Coiteux is the newest partner while securities and corporate finance lawyer Brad Squibb also joined the partnership in Calgary.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, 45 per cent of participants say 2014 is the year the legal profession should make a move on alternative business structures. Another 35 per cent of participants disagreed while the rest said it might be time to act on the issue but would prefer to see more study on it first.
The poll follows a recent Canadian Bar Association report that suggested the jury is still out on whether alternative business structures would improve access to justice.
BAIL PROGRAM SET TO EXPAND
A bail verification and supervision program will soon be available in 17 communities across Ontario after the government selected the John Howard Society of Kingston & District to offer it in the Kingston, Ont., area.
The program helps people accused of criminal offences who aren’t a threat to society but don’t have the social or financial means to meet bail requirements.
The John Howard Society will supervise these clients and ensure they attend all court appearances and meet all conditions of their bail.
According to the Ministry of the Attorney General, the program will be available in 17 communities across Ontario once the Kingston program begins operating early this year.
“Our government is committed to improving access to justice for all Ontarians and ensuring our criminal justice system is as effective and efficient as it can be,” said Attorney General John Gerretsen.
“Expanding the bail verification and supervision program to Kingston will help to address a service gap in the southeast region and keep area courts running smoothly.”
Tyler Fainstat, executive director of the John Howard Society of Kingston & District, called the program “an alternative to detention.”
“The John Howard Society of Kingston & District is pleased to offer this service and promote supervision as an alternative to detention,” said Fainstat.
LEGAL APPOINTEES TO ORDER OF CANADA
Three members of the legal community were among 90 new appointments to the Order of Canada.
Gov.-Gen. David Johnston announced the appointment of University of Saskatchewan emeritus law professor and former dean Daniel Ish as an officer of the Order of Canada for his “commitment to social justice, notably as the former chief adjudicator of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat.”
Also named an officer was retired chief justice of Québec, J.J. Michel Robert of Montreal, for his “achievements in the field of law as a lawyer and jurist, and for his commitment to advancing his profession.” He’s now a consulting partner with the law firm BCF in Montreal.
Retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Marie Deschamps, also of Montreal, becomes a companion of the Order or Canada for her “numerous contributions as a jurist and for her dedication to youth development.” Deschamps became a judge of the Quebec Superior Court in March 1990. She joined the Quebec Court of Appeal on May 6, 1992, and then the Supreme Court of Canada on Aug. 7, 2002. She retired from the top court in August 2012. She has also been an adjunct professor at the law faculty of the Université de Sherbrooke since 2006 and at McGill University since 2012.
The new appointees to the Order of Canada include four companions, 25 officers, and 61 members.
CHANGES TO PARENTAL LEAVE PROGRAM
Changes to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s parental leave assistance program take effect this month.
According to amendments approved by Convocation in November 2012, the program will now be available only to lawyers who make a net annual practice income of less than $50,000.
The program provides modest financial help to lawyers at small law firms or who work as sole practitioners who don’t have access to maternity or paternal benefits.
Eligible lawyers receive $750 a week for up to 12 weeks.
Judge facing complaint for mock trial participation
Ontario Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme is facing a judicial complaint for participating in a public mock trial of environmental activist David Suzuki that concluded in a not guilty verdict. The mock trial, organized by Cape Farewell Foundation, an organization that seeks to bring attention to climate change, took place at the Royal Ontario Museum Nov. 6.
Now, oil sands advocacy group EthicalOil.org says Ducharme’s participation in the mock trial took place in the context of a “controversial political agenda” and compromises his judicial impartiality.
The mock trial “was a deliberate hijacking of the trappings of a trial, the deliberate appropriation of the dignity and impartiality of the courts for a partisan campaign,” EthicalOil.org said in its complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council.
EthicalOil.org says Ducharme was selected for the role after his colleague Justice Harriet Sachs withdrew her involvement after questions were raised about “the propriety of her participation.”
EthicalOil.org says it is “non-partisan and supported by persons who believe that the Canadian values reflected in ethical oil appeal to people from all walks of life and across the political spectrum.”
Law firms raise $243,000 for food bank
The results of the law firm challenge for the Daily Bread Food Bank are in with Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP coming out on top.
Blakes was among 29 Toronto law firms that raised $243,000 in cash and food donations for the food bank during the three-week competition.
Blakes raised $39,500, followed closely by Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP at $38,062, and McCarthy Tétrault LLP at $36,702. On a per-capita basis, the top firms were Paliare Roland at $536.08, Solmon Rothbart Goodman LLP at $347.83, and Owens Wright LLP at $294.02.
As part of its efforts, Blakes had an event every week of the food drive: a pie duel the first week; a bake sale the second week; and raffles and karaoke at the firm’s holiday party during the third week.
Blakes raised $9,000 from the karaoke event alone. The event included a pledge drive in which firm chairman Brock Gibson and managing partner Rob Granatstein sang three karaoke songs in front of everyone at the party. Blakes also took in $20,000 from the pie duel in which Granatstein took one in the face from chief financial officer Richard Prupas.
Blakes has been organizing the law firm challenge for 11 years. The first year, the participating firms raised more than $60,000. Throughout the years, the event has brought in almost $2 million for the food bank.
New judges appointed to Superior Court
A slew of new judges have been appointed to the Ontario Superior Court. The appointees include former Ontario Bar Association President Jamie Trimble, Clyde & Co. Canada LLP lawyer Graeme Mew, Burlington lawyer Michael G. Emery, and Cobourg sole practitioner Stephen T. Bale.
Mew’s main areas of practice were civil litigation, insurance law, sports law, arbitration and mediation. Trimble, a certified specialist in civil litigation, practised insurance defence law at Hughes Amys LPP in Hamilton. He was the OBA’s president from 2008-2009.
Emery, who practised at Simpson Wigle LAW LLP, focused on commercial litigation, estate litigation, and insurance litigation. Bale’s main area of practice was general litigation.
A number of other judicial annoucements were also made Dec. 18. Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz was appointed regional senior judge of the Toronto Region to replace Justice E.F. Then, who resigned from the position in November. Sudbury Justice Robbie D. Gordon, will become regional senior judge of the Northeast Region on Jan. 22, 2014, taking over from Justice Louise L. Gauthier, who will be giving up the position. Both Then and Gauthier will return to their regular judicial duties.
Superior Court Justice George Czutrin has been appointed senior family judge of the Family Court to replace Justice R. John Harper, who resigned the position in November. Harper will move to Brantford to replace Justice H. Arrell, who has been transferred to Hamilton to replace Justice A. Whitten, who elected to become a supernumerary judge.
Law Times poll
The results for the latest Law Times online poll are in. About 76 per cent of respondents are not optimistic about the business environment for lawyers and law firms in 2014.
In a recent article, Law Times reported there is “cautious optimism” through the corporate corridors of Bay St. as law firms are predicted to raise salaries for experienced counsel and some lawyers in the mining industry expect there will be new opportunities.
A bill amending the Law Society Act passed third reading last week.
Among other things, the bill aims to streamline professional discipline proceedings and make them more transparent. As well, paralegal representation at the Law Society of Upper Canada will get a boost under the changes.
The legislation will:
• Create a new body called the law society tribunal — chaired by a full-time, non-bencher lawyer — that incorporates the appeal and hearing panels.
• Increase the number of paralegal benchers to five from two.
• Align the legislation with current practice by providing that paralegals may charge for legal services.
• Allow the law society to suspend a lawyer or paralegal’s licence for failure to pay legal costs related to a discipline hearing.
• Clarify that the law society can receive information protected by solicitor-client privilege from any person, such as a client, and introduce it in proceedings.
$150K FOR PRO BONO GROUP
Epstein Cole LLP has donated $150,000 to Pro Bono Students Canada’s campaign for family Justice.
As part of its family law efforts, the organization trains students to assist low-income families who don’t qualify for legal aid.
Epstein Cole says the campaign “will save and expand Pro Bono Students Canada’s family law project, a vital court service that is at risk of closure.”
The campaign’s fundraising goal is $650,000. The money will help expand the program to additional Ontario courts, according to Epstein Cole. So far, the organization has $320,000.
“As a family lawyer, I know too well a relationship breakdown can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life, particularly when there are children involved,” said Philip Epstein of Epstein Cole.
“For poor and low-income Ontarians who can’t afford a lawyer, the stress is often unbearable.”
M&A LAWYER JOINS DENTONS
A former Baker & McKenzie LLP transactional lawyer has joined Dentons Canada LLP’s Toronto office.
Dentons says Jim Rossiter’s 25-year cross-border practice portfolio includes acquisition and financing of NHL hockey teams, hotels, and office towers.
“Jim’s established cross-border practice and broad experience will be of tremendous benefit to our clients, and is an excellent fit with the strengths of our Toronto office and our global platform,” said Mike Kaplan, managing partner of Dentons’ Toronto office.
Rossiter says Dentons stands out from other international firms.
“Markedly different from other international law firms, Dentons is polycentric, with substantial local depth and breadth in all key markets, including in the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Canada,” said Rossiter, adding that the sheer size of Dentons’ offices in the United States and Canada creates “an unbeatable combination.”
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, 55 per cent of respondents agree that lawyers should have an obligation to mentor their peers.
In the wake of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s announcement that it was creating a task force to look into mentorship, lawyer Lee Akazaki suggested it would be helpful for the regulator to amend its rules to include an obligation on lawyers to mentor their peers.
Dentons Canada LLP’s Toronto office welcomed two new partners last week.
David Carbonaro and Andrew Elbaz have joined the firm as partners in the corporate finance and securities group. Both lawyers have backgrounds in mining and corporate finance and have advised clients both locally and internationally.
“David and Andrew are important additions to the firm and they will help us to strengthen and grow our corporate finance and securities practice in Toronto and across the country,” said Mike Kaplan, managing partner of the firm’s Toronto office.
CONVICTED EX-COP CAN PRACTISE LAW
A former police officer previously convicted of assault while on duty has received the green light to practise law from the Law Society of Upper Canada.
A hearing panel recently found that Ryan Venables was “of good character” following counselling for anger management and racism.
The incident in question dates back to 2006. According to the hearing panel’s decision last month, the then-York Regional Police officer stopped to assist a colleague who had arrested a person, identified as V.B., for drinking and driving.
According to the hearing panel decision, Venables was heard saying, “You drunk fucking Russian,” before punching V.B. on the side of the face. “I hate Russians,” he said as he returned to his cruiser.
But considering Venables’ shame and remorse, the lapse of time since the incident, and several reference letters attesting to his good character, the hearing panel found the former police officer was fit to practise law.
LAWYERS AMONG MOST POWERFUL WOMEN
At least 10 lawyers are on last week’s list of Canada’s 100 most powerful women.
The Women’s Executive Network produces the list each year to highlight the professional achievements of women across the country. The legal names on the top 100 list include:
• Janice Odegaard, senior vice president and general counsel, Suncor Energy Inc.
• Kathleen Ryan, partner, Davis LLP
• Leslie O’Donoghue, executive vice president, corporate development and strategy, and chief risk officer at Agrium Inc.
• Lisa Borsook, executive partner, WeirFoulds LLP
• Lisa Vogt, partner and chief diversity and engagement officer, McCarthy Tétrault LLP
• Lori Wanamaker, B.C. deputy minister, Ministry of Justice, and deputy solicitor general
• Lynn McGrade, partner and Toronto regional investment management group leader, business development committee, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
• Monique Mercier, senior vice president, chief legal officer and corporate secretary, Telus Communications Co.
• Nancy Hopkins, partner, McDougall Gauley LLP, and director, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
• Shannon Rogers, president and general counsel, Global Relay Communications Inc.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
The majority of respondents say the Law Society of Upper Canada’s creation of a four-month placement option under the law practice program won’t necessarily make them more likely to take on students as opposed to the traditional articling route.
About 73 per cent of respondents said the alternative of a fourth-month placement isn’t more appealing than the traditional articling term.
The law society recently announced details on the law practice program, including the four-month placement, once it starts in September 2014.
Two Torys LLP lawyers are among this year’s top 25 women of influence in Canada.
The rankings by Women of Influence selected partners Sharon Geraghty and Cheryl Reicin for their professional leadership roles over the last year, according to Torys.
The ranking “counts both partners as among the most influential professional women in Canada today,” the law firm said in a press release. “The firm could not be more proud of Ms. Geraghty and Ms. Reicin for this well-deserved recognition.”
Geraghty practises mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and securities law. She also regularly advises companies on governance and securities issues. Reicin is head of the technology and life sciences practice groups at the firm.
Women of Influence says the honourees “have not only made a significant difference in their chosen fields but they are exceptionally influential. This is an important criterion because such women also serve as important role models for Canadian women and girls.”
MACKENZIE TO SPEAK ON CIVILITY
Former Law Society of Upper Canada treasurer Gavin MacKenzie will speak about lawyers’ ethics and civility at an event in December.
The event, organized by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, will cover the “most intractable ethical issues lawyers, judges, and tribunal members must deal with in practice.”
MacKenzie, partner at Davis LLP and author of Lawyers and Ethics: Professional Responsibility and Discipline, will chair the discussion taking place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the law society.
MCCARTHYS HONOURED AS TOP EMPLOYER
McCarthy Tétrault LLP is among the Greater Toronto Area’s top employers for 2014.
The firm, which made the Mediacorp Canada Inc. list for the ninth year, says the designation speaks to its dedication to its employees and clients.
“This recognition is another testament to our dedication to investing in our people and providing our clients with a better experience,” said Paul Boniferro, the firm’s national leader for practices and people.
“Through our collective efforts, we remain focused on improving our culture, growing our people, and always striving to offer exceptional client service, a task we never consider complete.”
GOOD CHARACTER STANDARD DEBATED
Benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada are calling for more concrete guidance on good character assessments of lawyers and paralegals.
Before joining the Ontario bar, lawyers and paralegals must demonstrate they’re of good character.
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada asked the LSUC for its take on changing the way law societies across Canada approach good character inquiries in order to create consistent and well-defined rules across the country. In response, law society benchers approved a motion calling for new rules to replace the current “open-ended” ones at Convocation on Nov. 21.
“While some flexibility is important . . . the current open-ended approach to the good character inquiry could lead to subjective analyses that provide little concrete guidance to applicants and adjudicators on the standard to be met,” the LSUC said in a written response to a consultation paper.
“It can also lead to [an] inconsistent and potentially non-transparent licensing decision, which is particularly problematic with national mobility.”
The federation suggested changing the name of the inquiry from “good character” to “suitable to practise,” which it said is a more concrete definition for the process. But the law society disagreed, preferring to stick with the existing term instead.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the survey, 45 per cent of participants think Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a slim chance of stopping city council’s bid to strip him of his budget and powers through legal action.
Another 30 per cent of respondents said Ford has a good chance in court and agreed with criticism that city council is overstepping its authority. Another 29 per cent said they were unsure aboutFord’s chances as it’s hard to predict anything in the saga plaguing Toronto politics right now.
Ford has threatened legal action after council transferred many of Ford’s non-statutory powers and part of his budget to deputy mayor Norm Kelly in the wake of the scandal over his use of crack cocaine.
Miller Thomson LLP is promising to offer pro bono immigration legal services to people affected by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
As Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced plans to expedite applications coming from the Philippines in the wake of the typhoon, the law firm said it would help ensure affected members of the Filipino community can take advantage of the federal government’s measures.
“Miller Thomson will be providing general immigration legal advice to members of the Filipino community whose lives have been devastated by the impact of the typhoon,” the firm said, adding it’s “proceeding on a pro bono basis as part of the firm’s commitment to provide free legal services in matters of great importance and public interest.”
At the same time, Stikeman Elliott LLP announced a pledge to match donations made by its employees.
INQUIRY COMMITTEE RESIGNS
The Canadian Judicial Council committee conducting the inquiry into the matters related to Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas has resigned after concluding it’s no longer “in a position to complete this inquiry.”
“In the normal course, by now the committee would have concluded its hearings, prepared its report, and forwarded it to the Canadian Judicial Council (Council) for consideration. As matters have transpired, more than two years have now gone by and the hearings have not been completed,” the committee said in its reasons last week.
“In light of recent events, it has become apparent that this committee as presently constituted will not be in a position to complete its inquiry and submit its report to the council for a very extended period of time. Even further delays and costs are unavoidable. In these circumstances, the committee has determined that it must consider whether the public interest would be better served by resigning to permit a new inquiry committee to be appointed.”
In a 10-page explanation signed by Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Justice Derek Green, P.E.I. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jacqueline Matheson, Barry Adams, and Marie-Claude Landry, the committee lamented the various judicial reviews Douglas has pursued and how those proceedings have interrupted their inquiry.
“If this process is to work as Parliament intended, it is imperative that there be no ability to interrupt an inquiry with litigation in another court that spawns its own further litigation and takes the process ever further away from the object of the inquiry,” they wrote. “This is not in the public interest.”
SEVERANCE CALCULATOR APP LAUNCHED
A Toronto law firm is aiming to give dismissed employees a quick peak at their potential severance entitlement through a new iPhone application it’s billing as the first of its kind in Canada.
The Severance Calculator, from Toronto law firm Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, aims to help both employers and employees. Companies will be able to get a quick idea of how much they might have to pay a laid-off worker. Employees can use it to find out how much they might get as severance payment after answering a few questions such as age, position, and years worked.
The firm says the Severance Calculator is suitable for use across Canada.
“There’s no service like this,” said Lior Samfiru, a co-founding member of Samfiru Tumarkin.
Samfiru noted that in his practice, about 80 per cent of the employees he sees come to him with offers of insufficient severance packages.
“People end up accepting completely inadequate severance packages,” he said, adding the calculator should help clear up some of the misunderstandings about severance entitlements.
MCCARTHYS LAWYER NABS OBA FRANCHISE AWARD
McCarthy Tétrault LLP associate Adam Ship is the recipient of this year’s Ontario Bar Association Markus Cohen memorial award for excellence in franchise law.
The award is “in recognition of his outstanding written contribution to the development of franchise law in 2013,” the firm said, adding Ship won the award for the second consecutive year.
Ship, vice chairman of McCarthys’ national franchise and distribution group, practises complex commercial litigation and franchise distribution law.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
The majority of respondents said they don’t support a recent federal government move to double the victim fine surcharge and make it mandatory for all offenders. In total, 81 per cent of participants disagreed with the new law.
The poll follows a recent Law Times story that looked into how some Ontario judges are resisting the mandatory surcharge by, for example, giving offenders very long periods to pay.
The provincial government has appointed a criminal lawyer as an Ontario Court of Justice judge.
Patrice Band will preside at the courthouse in Brampton, Ont., as of Nov. 20. Called to the bar in 1999, Band most recently worked as a sole practitioner focusing on criminal defence, regulatory, and professional discipline work. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant Crown attorney as well as counsel for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
In addition, justices Gladys Pardu and Mary Lou Benotto are the newest judges of the Ontario Court of Appeal as the federal government recently made several appointments across Canada this month.
Pardu replaces Justice Robert Sharpe, who moved to supernumerary status in June. She has been a judge since 1991. Benotto replaces Justice Robert Blair, who also became a supernumerary judge earlier this year. She has been on the bench since 1996.
OBA CAMPAIGN LAUDED
The ad agency behind the Ontario Bar Association’s “Why I Went to Law School” campaign has won an award for best campaign work.
The campaign featured personal stories of lawyers about why they decided to join the profession in an effort to improve its image among the public.
The ad agency, Agency59, won a gold MarCom Award from the Association of Marketing & Communication Professionals, the OBA said.
The award had more than 6,500 entries this year from corporate marketing and communications departments, ad agencies, public relations firms, design shops, and production companies.
CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO LIMIT JUDGES’ TENURE
Supreme Court of Canada judges should have their terms fixed at 12 years, a campaign launched last week is urging.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation’s campaign comes as the Supreme Court is debating whether to impose fixed terms on senators.
“We thought it would be a good time to launch the campaign because the question of term limits is being decided by the Supreme Court of Canada itself,” said Chris Schafer, the foundation’s executive director.
Schafer practised constitutional and regulatory law at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP before joining the foundation in 2010.
The campaign stems largely from the concern that Supreme Court of Canada judges can remain in their posts long after the prime minister who chose them has left office.
“This is just another extension of the [prime minister’s office’s] power. That’s a concern for democracy,” said Schafer.
MCMURTRY HONOURED FOR ADR
The Ontario Bar Association honoured former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry for his contributions to alternative dispute resolution last week.
McMurtry, counsel at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, helped establish and promote alternative dispute resolution in Ontario, according to the OBA.
The award recognizes exceptional practice, writing, and teaching on dispute resolution issues as well as participation in continuing legal education related to the topic.
McMurtry received his award at a dinner gala at St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto last week.
LAO SEEKING FUNDING APPLICATIONS
Legal Aid Ontario is inviting legal aid clinics to apply for two new funding programs.
A new $1-million fund will support clinic transformation and another $2-million fund will help strengthen the capacity of legal clinics.
The deadline for submitting an application to the funds is Jan. 15, 2014, according to LAO.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
The vast majority of respondents say Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is wrong to say he can’t talk about the allegations against him because the matter is before the courts.
According to the poll, 81 per cent of participants said Ford was wrong to point to the courts as the reason for his silence on the controversies surrounding him.
A Justices of the Peace Review Council hearing panel has rejected former justice of the peace Donna Phillips’ request for compensation for her legal costs associated with her misconduct proceedings.
The panel found Phillips had committed misconduct when she misled a London, Ont., police officer who was investigating her daughter, Mary Anne Kechego, for running a red light. At the time of the investigation, Phillips told the officer she didn’t know the driver well, that she was her niece, and that her name was Titchner, according to the hearing panel’s earlier decision.
“We are of the firm view that the average reasonable Canadian fully apprised of all the facts would be shocked if any compensation were awarded,” the hearing panel chaired by Paul Taylor said in its Nov. 4 decision.
The panel had recommended Phillips’ removal from office, but she quickly tendered a letter of retirement. According to the decision this month, she made the compensation request because of the “extraordinary circumstances” in the case.
“The extraordinary circumstance is that an extra hearing day was necessary due to the sudden and unexpected illness of one of the members of the panel,” the panel stated in its ruling. But it found there was going to be an adjournment in any event.
MODEST RAISES PREDICTED
Most legal positions in Canada will see a slight rise in average starting salaries, according to Robert Half Legal’s 2014 salary guide.
Starting salaries will increase by 2.2 per cent next year, the guide says.
“With a continued uptick in business activity and corresponding need for legal services, the market is tightening for lawyers and legal support professionals with expertise in litigation, corporate law, and other high-demand practice areas,” said Robert Half Legal’s Billie Watkins.
“To attract and retain top talent, more employers in the legal field are adjusting compensation ranges and offering attractive bonus plans.”
For lawyers, Robert Half Legal predicts average starting salaries will increase by 3.3 per cent.
Lawyers with more than 10 years of experience at small and mid-size firms will see the biggest gain, according to the guide. It predicts their pay raise will come in at 4.3 per cent.
JUSTICE JOAN LAX DIES
Superior Court justice Joan Lax died last week.
Lax died suddenly on Nov. 4 at the Toronto General Hospital, according to an obituary published last week.
Lax had become a supernumerary judge in January 2011. Prior to joining the bench, Lax was a former assistant dean and director of admissions at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She was also a former bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada. After her call to the bar in 1978, she worked at Toronto law firm Weir & Foulds.
“Justice Lax was a great friend of the law school,” U of T’s law school said in a press release following her death.
MIDDLE STEP TOUTED FOR NON-CO-OPERATION
When it comes to dealing with lawyers who don’t co-operate with Law Society of Upper Canada investigations, the regulator should consider another step before launching a formal prosecution, according to a Toronto defence lawyer.
Bill Trudell, who often represents lawyers before law society hearing panels, says duty counsel should first intervene and reach out to the lawyer who’s the subject of an investigation.
“There needs to be a middle step. I think there should be an intervening step,” he says.
Trudell suggests creating a group of lawyers who offer to contact the person who’s not responding to see whether they can help.
“I think it would save a lot of prosecutions, probably save money, and certainly save people from getting into a situation like this,” he says.
Many lawyers, Trudell adds, don’t fully appreciate the damage they’re doing — including the possibility of getting a permanent discipline record — by not co-operating with law society investigations. They may not respond because they’re afraid, he says.
“You have to understand that as a self-regulator, one of the things we give up is the right to remain silent. We must respond, and I don’t think lawyers understand that,” he adds.
Trudell recently represented lawyer Matthew Igbinosun, who received a one-month suspension for not co-operating with a law society investigation. Trudell argued that Igbinosun should get a reprimand, but the hearing panel felt differently.
“A significant part of my finding — and Mr. Trudell has said how Mr. Igbinosun engaged — is, yes, he engaged, but the finding is he did not co-operate,” said hearing panel chairwoman Susan Elliott.
The panel sought to send a strong message to the bar that not co-operating with a law society investigation is unacceptable, Trudell says, adding it’s a message that has yet to sink in with some lawyers.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
The majority of respondents agree with the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision to reinstate articling evaluations. About 66 per cent of participants said the evaluations are essential to ensuring the quality of articling experiences.
LSUC benchers approved a motion in October that would reintroduce articling evaluations, something the regulator had phased out in 2009.
The law society is currently unsure what the new evaluation will look like, but the aim is to ensure that students who go through articling and those who do the alternative law practice program have equivalent skills.
Osgoode Hall Law School professor Michael Mandel has died.
Mandel died on Oct. 27, the law school announced. He was 65.
Mandel taught law at Osgoode for 39 years. He lectured in areas including international criminal law, the law of war, and legal politics.
Mandel, a graduate of Osgoode himself, also taught at the University of Saskatchewan, McMaster University, the University of Toronto, and several Italian institutions.
“Michael was a passionate individual; a dedicated teacher and a valued member of the faculty,” the law school said in a press release. “He will truly be missed.”
One student described him as “witty and knowledgeable” on an online tribute.
“Prof Mandel was undoubtedly the best instructor I had at law school,” the student wrote. “His enthusiasm was contagious.”
The Toronto Star reported that Mandel died of a rare heart disease.
LSUC FEES TO INCREASE BY $15
The Law Society of Upper Canada’s 2014 budget outline shows lawyers will see their annual fees go up by $15 in the coming year.
The increase will bring their annual fee to a total of $1,866. The law society will keep paralegals’ annual fee unchanged at $996. Convocation approved the fees along with other budget changes for 2014.
As part of its budget, the law society plans to spend about $8 million to revitalize its information systems over the next three years. Another significant item in the budget was a $500,000 allocation to build the new law practice program, a three-year pilot project that will serve as an alternative to articling.
CHANGES TO CONDUCT RULES
Convocation has adopted some tweaks to the Rules of Professional Conduct proposed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
The proposals are an attempt to create more consistent rules across the country as the recently signed mobility agreement, once implemented, will allow lawyers to practise anywhere in Canada. The changes will come into effect in October 2014.
The following are the more significant changes noted in a report prepared for Convocation:
• There will be a new sentence added to the definition of conflict of interest. The addition, which is in line with the Supreme Court’s decision in Canadian
National Railway Co. v. McKercher LLP, says the risk of conflict “must be more than a mere possibility; there must be a genuine, serious risk to the duty of loyalty or to client representation arising from the retainer.”
• Lawyers can no longer accept testamentary gifts from clients whose will they’re drafting unless they’re also a family member.
• If lawyers know or are ought to know that someone sent a piece of information regarding their work to them by mistake, the new rules require them to notify the sender.
• Retired appellate judges who want to go back to law practice will have to wait three years before they can represent a client at the court on which they served. The current rules restrict retired judges from appearing before the very bench they sat on without prior approval but didn’t include a set cooling-off period.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
The majority of respondents think the Supreme Court of Canada got it right in its recent Cuthbertson v. Rasouli ruling.
The court decided in that case that consent from family members is necessary in order to withdraw life-support treatment even when doctors believe continuing it is ultimately futile.
About 76 per cent of respondents to the poll agreed.
As Ontario Court of Appeal Chief Justice Warren Winkler prepares for retirement, Osgoode Hall Law School is getting set to establish a dispute resolution institute in his honour.
The opening of the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, a centre focused on developing new approaches to dispute resolution, will coincide with Winkler’s retirement this year.
“The Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution is intended both to be a lasting tribute to Chief Justice Winkler’s outstanding service to the justice system and to be a leader in developing and implementing new approaches to dispute resolution in the service of improving access to justice,” said Osgoode dean Lorne Sossin.
“As a law school with a long tradition of leadership in the dispute resolution field, we are tremendously excited about this initiative and honoured that the chief justice has agreed to lend his name to it. There are numerous Osgoode faculty and students whose work will fit within and be enhanced by the creation of this institute.”
Fundraising for the institute will continue throughout the fall. Funds collected for the centre currently stand at more than $2 million through a combination of donations from more than 40 law firms and individuals as well as York University.
JP CHALLENGES MISCONDUCT FINDING
Ontario justice of the peace Errol Massiah has filed a judicial review application challenging a Justices of the Peace Review Council decision that found him guilty of professional misconduct after six court staff accused him of sexual harassment.
Massiah’s notice of application claims that in its April 2012 decision, the hearing panel “erred in law and deprived the applicant of natural justice and fairness in the manner of the disposition of the allegations against him.”
The panel found Massiah guilty of misconduct after court staff accused him of making sexually suggestive comments, eying female court staff up and down, and, in one case, slapping someone’s buttocks.
Since then, five other female court staff members, including a prosecutor, have made further complaints about alleged inappropriate behaviour by Massiah.
For more, see "JP facing fresh sexual harassment allegations" and "JP accused of sexually harassing six court clerks."
CHAMPIONS OF WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP HONOURED
Three of Catalyst Inc.’s champions of women’s leadership in Canada are members of the legal profession.
McCarthy Tétrault LLP chairman and chief executive officer Marc-André Blanchard, Dentons Canada LLP partner Kate Broer, and Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP counsel Purdy Crawford made the list this year.
Catalyst honours leaders who have made efforts for the advancement of women in business.
“You can’t make change without champions leading the charge,” says Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst Canada. “It takes real courage to stand up, speak out, and shatter barriers and biases that can block women from leadership roles. These extraordinary champions have taken bold steps to transform the workplace for women, and inspired others to follow their lead. That’s how you create the ripple effect needed to make change stick, for today and future generations.”
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
The majority of respondents agree with former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie that Canada should follow Australia’s lead in requiring other corroborative evidence beyond DNA in criminal cases.
Eighty-three per cent of respondents agreed that DNA should be conclusive only in the presence of other evidence. Among those who feel otherwise is one of the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson case, Rockne Harmon, who told Law Times there are few cases where DNA evidence has led to a wrongful conviction.
LAW PROF RECEIVES PERSONS CASE AWARD
University of Ottawa law professor Constance Backhouse is one of the five recipients of the governor general’s award in commemoration of the persons case.
The award honours those who have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life for women in Canada.
"We owe a debt of gratitude to the Famous Five, who successfully persevered in an effort to strengthen women's rights in Canada,” said Kellie Leitch, minister for the status of women.
“Today, we honour the generations of women who have followed in their footsteps to bring equality to women and girls.”
Backhouse has written books on women and the law and teaches on the topic as well. She has also helped establish several women’s education and research organizations.
Backhouse’s “unshakable commitment to gender equality and social justice has helped make Canada a better place for women and girls,” the minister said in a press release.
CHIP O’CONNOR TO RECEIVE LINDEN AWARD
Kingston lawyer Chip O’Connor is this year’s recipient of Legal Aid Ontario’s Sidney B. Linden award.
The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to access to justice for low-income Ontarians.
O’Connor is the lawyer who convinced the Supreme Court that prisoners should have a right to vote. He has also argued infavour of applying the R. v. Gladue principles to long-term offenders.
“This award recognizes Chip’s dedication to providing legal services to prisoners at every level of the courts, often pro bono,” said LAO board chairman John McCamus.
“These are individuals who are normally ostracized and have no resources at all. In speaking for the incarcerated, Chip’s contribution to our justice system has been huge — from the students who have taken his courses in our law schools, to the criminal lawyers he has mentored, to the country’s top judges who have heard his arguments all the way to the Supreme Court.”
REVIEW COUNCIL SUGGESTS JP’S REMOVAL
An Ontario Justices of the Peace Review Council hearing panel has recommended justice of peace Donna Phillips’ removal from office.
The case relates to an incident on March 30, 2012, in which Phillips “actively misled” Staff Sgt. William Berg in London, Ont. At the time, he was investigating her daughter, Mary Anne Kechego, on an alleged violation of the Highway Traffic Act.
“Her conduct in misleading Staff Sergeant Berg was so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of the impartiality, integrity, and independence of the judicial role that public confidence would be sufficiently undermined so as to render her incapable of executing the judicial office,” wrote the hearing panel chaired by Paul Taylor in its Oct. 24 decision on disposition followings its findings of judicial misconduct on July 30, 2013.
The panel found that during Berg’s investigation of Kechego after stopping her for running a red light, Phillips claimed she didn’t know the driver well; said she was her niece; and confirmed her name was Titchner, something she knew to be false.
“There is no disagreement on the part of her worship that over the course of approximately one hour that Mary Anne Kechego misled Staff Sergeant Berg about her identity,” the panel noted last week. While Phillips denied she actively assisted her daughter in lying about her identity, the panel found otherwise despite noting she ultimately prevailed on Kechego to tell the truth.
Phillips’ counsel urged a 30-day suspension without pay along with remedial education, but the panel chose to recommend the attorney general remove her from office. “All judicial officers know they may be faced with the dilemma of supporting a family member or a friend at the cost of their judicial integrity,” the panel wrote.
“At the end of the day, all judicial officers know what they have to do: their integrity and their obligation to the administration of justice have to come first,” the decision continues.
The Ontario Superior Court has awarded the plaintiff in a class action against Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP almost $300,000 in costs related to a certification motion.
Representative plaintiff Jeffrey Lipson is among those unhappy with Cassels Brock for providing a favourable tax opinion about charitable donations. He launched the class action after the Canada Revenue Agency disallowed anticipated tax credits.
While the Superior Court initially denied certification, the Ontario Court of Appeal reversed that decision earlier this year. It also sent the matter back to the Superior Court to consider costs for the certification motion. Lipson sought $355,000 (or, alternatively, almost $299,000 on a partial indemnity basis) while Cassels Brock argued the amount was excessive and suggested $100,000. Among other things, Cassels Brock suggested class counsel “was inefficient in involving five lawyers and no students” and that claiming almost 330 hours for legal and factual research was excessive, wrote Justice Paul Perell in his Oct. 16 ruling in Lipson v. Cassels Brock & Blackwell.
Given the two years since the certification motion, Perell said it was difficult to tell whether class counsel “indulged itself in running up costs in expectation of financing the rest of the litigation and thereby reducing the risk of its involvement in precariously risky litigation.”
But he expressed concern about the “ever-upward spiral in costs awards” that mean “there is little incentive to do only what is necessary for certification and little to curb the tendency to use the certification motion as a road test for the merits of the litigation, notwithstanding that the focus on the certification motion is whether the certification criteria are satisfied and notwithstanding that the some-basis-in-fact evidentiary standard in this regard is very low.”
While he found merit to the argument that up to $350,000 in costs was excessive, Perell also disagreed with Cassels Brock’s submission of $100,000.
“I think the appropriate exercise of discretion is [to] award Mr. Lipson the $298,582.71 that he seeks but to make $150,000.00 payable to him by Cassels Brock in the cause and the balance of $148,582.71 payable forthwith,” wrote Perell.
APPEAL DISMISSED IN EVIDENCE RETENTION CASE
The Ontario Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal seeking a constitutional declaration that would hold the government liable for missing pieces of evidence after a criminal conviction.
The court convicted Amina Chaudhary in 1984. When she later sought help from the Innocence Project at Osgoode Hall Law School, she learned that photographs referenced in the trial 30 years ago are now missing.
A lower court rejected her lawyer Alan Young’s bid for a constitutional declaration last year. It concluded that since the loss of the photographs hadn’t harmed Chaudhary, she couldn’t ask for such a declaration based on a violation of her rights under s. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But at the appeal court, Young said Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot didn’t quite understand what he was asking for. Chaudhary wasn’t claiming the loss of the images had already harmed her but that there’s “a reasonable apprehension of harm” in the future, he said.
In a ruling on Oct. 11, the appeal court said Young wasn’t challenging a decision made by Dambrot, a fact that left it without a role in the case.
“Because the appellant does not challenge the findings made by Dambrot J. but now seeks the declaratory remedy on a basis that is not set out in the record and was not the subject of adjudication by Dambrot J., there is no basis for the court to entertain an appeal,” the court said.
For more, see "How long should Crown have to keep evidence?"
NEW PARTNER AT DICKINSON WRIGHT
Dickinson Wright LLP’s Toronto office has another new lawyer. Cross-border restructuring and insolvency lawyer John Leslie has joined Dickinson Wright as a partner, the firm announced.
The firm has been expanding its presence in Canada by hiring new lawyers at its Toronto office in recent months. Leslie, who hails from international law firm Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone LLP, represents various stakeholders in major insolvency and restructuring proceedings.
“Over the past several years, he has been extensively involved in a number of auto industry-related insolvency cases in the United States and Canada,” Dickinson Wright said in a press release.
Dickinson Wright has more than 40 practice areas. Its Toronto office has about 35 lawyers.
LAO TO COVER AUDIO RECORDINGS
Legal aid lawyers will now receive a modest reimbursement for their digital audio recordings of proceedings at the Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Justice.
Legal Aid Ontario says it will pay lawyers $22 for a day’s worth of audio recordings. After the first day of proceedings, a lawyer will get half of that amount for the remaining days’ digital recordings.
Approval in advance isn’t necessary when a lawyer seeks reimbursement for a single day’s recordings, but counsel do need prior approval if the recording is of a proceeding lasting two days or more.
LAW COMMISSION SEEKING PROPOSALS
The Law Commission of Ontario is inviting members of the public and the legal profession to speak up about the areas of law they think should change.
The law commission says proposals are welcome from lawyers, members of the judiciary, academics, ministers, and members of the public. The response will help it in its reviews and recommendations about Ontario’s laws and policies.
“We encourage proposals from individuals and groups from across the province,” said executive director Patricia Hughes. “Making a proposal is as easy as sending us a two- or three-page description of the issue, why it matters, and why the LCO is the right body to review it. Longer proposals are also welcome.”
The law commission has already issued reports and recommendations about the law as it relates to people with disabilities, vulnerable workers, the family law system, the division of pensions on marital breakdown, and the Provincial Offences Act.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
When it comes to Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyers’ bid for collective bargaining rights, respondents appear divided. A slight majority of respondents oppose the LAOstaff lawyers’ campaign with just 46 per cent of poll voters in favour.
Legal aid lawyers recently launched a campaign for collective bargaining. They say that if members of the Ontario Crown Attorneys’ Association and the Association of Law Officers of the Crown can have such rights, so should they.
The Ontario Superior Court has awarded University of Ottawa law professor Joanne St. Lewis $50,000 in costs over a motion in her ongoing libel action against a fellow academic.
On Oct. 4, Justice Robert Smith awarded the costs to St. Lewis in addition to $40,000 to the university over former physics professor Denis Rancourt’s champerty motion seeking a stay of the action as an abuse of process. Smith had earlier dismissed the motion. The case centres on a blog post by Rancourt that St. Lewis had acted as “Alan Rock’s house negro.” None of the allegations have been proven in court.
In awarding costs, Smith rejected arguments to lower them based on Rancourt’s alleged impecuniosity. “Rancourt is a self-represented individual in these proceedings. However, I do not find that this is a reason for denying costs to the successful respondents to his motion. His actions caused the university and St. Lewis to spend substantial amounts of time to respond to multiple factual allegations and numerous steps in the proceeding.”
INNOVATION LAW CLINIC ANNOUNCED
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law are collaborating to get students engaged in a unique innovation legal clinic at MaRS Discovery District.
Upper-year U of T law students with business and science backgrounds will staff the Innovation Law Clinic. The students will provide “high quality business and IP legal services” to startup and early-stage businesses under the supervision of Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers.
“Students’ work will be supervised by Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers, who will provide their Canadian and global expertise in all aspects of innovation law,” Norton Rose said in a press release.
“This is how innovation can happen in Canada. Working together, the academic, professional, and entrepreneurial worlds can create new opportunities for all partners,” said Anthony de Fazekas, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright in Toronto.
“The clinic reflects how we work with innovation clients at our firm and how we collaborate with other leaders in the area.”
Mayo Moran, dean of the law faculty, said the collaboration presents an invaluable experiential learning opportunity for students.
“We are proud to partner with Norton Rose Fulbright and MaRS to bring another experiential learning clinic to our law students. Innovation law is a rapidly growing, exciting new legal area. Our students will be engaged in the vibrancy of the tech world while learning from among the legal leaders in the field.”
PRIVACY GUARDIANS CALL FOR MODERNIZED LAWS
It’s time to overhaul Canada’s information and privacy laws, the country’s privacy commissioners and ombudspersons are saying.
At a time when revelations of government intelligence programs have sparked renewed interest in privacy issues, governments should be updating the laws to protect Canadians’ rights, the officials said at a meeting in Vancouver last week.
“We live in a world where technologies are evolving at lightning speed and organizations are using our personal information in ways previously unimaginable — creating new risks for our privacy,” said Jennifer Stoddart, federal privacy commissioner. “Our laws need to keep up. Canadians expect and deserve modern, effective laws to protect their right to privacy.”
Suzanne Legault, federal information commissioner, is also calling for an update to Canada’s access to information laws.
“Freedom of information is the expression of Canadians’ core values. It is fundamental to the functioning of democracy. Canadian access laws must reflect this important role and become the gold standard in access to information worldwide.”
IN-HOUSE LAWYER RETURNS TO BLG
Michelle Henry has rejoined Borden Ladner Gervais LLP as a partner at the firm.
Michelle was previously a partner at BLG until March 2012 when she left to work as an in-house counsel in the area of federal employment-related legislation.
“Michelle is widely regarded as a strong advocate for her clients with a broad legal background in employment and labour relations litigation,” said Sean Weir, national managing partner and chief executive officer at BLG.
“Having worked in-house as corporate counsel, Michelle well understands the importance of knowing her clients’ business and providing practical solutions that meet both their legal and business needs. We are very pleased to welcome her back to the firm.”
The federal government announced six new judicial appointments last week, including two to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Joining the appeal court is Superior Court Justice Katherine van Rensburg, who replaces justice Edward Ducharme, and her colleague Justice William Hourigan, who takes the place of Justice Alexandra Hoy. Ducharme died earlier this year and Hoy became associate chief justice of the appeal court in June.
The government also shuffled the deck and made new appointments at the Superior Court. Joining the bench is Peter Douglas, a lawyer in Barrie, Ont., who replaces Justice Margaret Eberhard, and Marc Garson, a Crown attorney in London, Ont., who replaces Justice John Desotti. Both Eberhard and Desotti elected to become supernumerary judges earlier this year, the government noted.
Other changes at the Superior Court include Justice Michelle Fuerst’s appointment as regional senior judge of the central east region. She replaces Justice M.F. Brown, who resigned as regional senior judge in April.
IP BOUTIQUE JOINS OSLERS
Ottawa intellectual property boutique law firm McFadden Fincham has joined Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.
Lawyers at McFadden Fincham provide services exclusively in intellectual property. Oslers says the firm’s addition will boost its range of intellectual property services.
“Both of our IP practices are built on a solid commitment to client service. We are very pleased to welcome our new colleagues and are confident that their clients will continue to receive the excellent service to which they are accustomed — with the benefit of access to the full range of Osler’s legal talent,” said Brad White, chairman of Oslers’ national intellectual property department.
“Our solid record of growth and leadership in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, together with strategic advice on portfolio management for clients in Canada and around the world, is enhanced by the addition of McFadden Fincham’s practice,” Osler said in a press release.
HANSELL LLP LAUNCHED
A former Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP senior partner has launched her own boutique law firm.
Carol Hansell, who deals with capital markets, corporate governance, and mergers and acquisitions, announced the opening of Hansell LLP in Toronto last week.
The boutique governance counsel law firm says it will provide expert advice to businesses, boards of directors, and shareholders.
“Boards, shareholders, and management teams operate within a complex environment of evolving governance practices and regulation,” said Hansell.
“Hansell LLP will respond to their need for sophisticated and focused advice.”
Lawyers Michael Brown and Frédéric Duguay will be joining Hansell LLP in the coming weeks, the firm announced.
“Mr. Brown and Mr. Duguay bring to the firm important expertise in M&A, capital markets, and securities law as well as deep regulatory experience.”
Brown is formerly of Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. For more than 10 years, he also practised at the Ontario Securities Commission, where Duguay also worked as a senior legal counsel in the corporate finance group.
NEW LAWYERS AT DENTONS
Dentons Canada LLP has two new lawyers at its Ottawa office.
Peter Burn is now counsel in the public policy and regulatory affairs group and Marc Doucet is a partner in the firm’s construction group.
“Two highly respected lawyers with top tier skills are joining our team in Ottawa,” said Tom Houston, managing partner of Dentons’ Ottawa office.
“Peter’s government and international experience and Marc’s broad construction law expertise are strong assets for Dentons’ clients, and for our firm’s global platform.”
Burn has worked in areas involving technology and regulation, clean energy development, and climate change strategies, Dentons said in a press release. The firm noted he also represented Canada’s minister of finance during the development and negotiation of the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement.
Doucet has been practicing construction law since 1987, according to Dentons.
The results for the latest Law Times online polls are in.
The majority of respondents aren’t happy with Queen’s University’s plan to expand enrolment at its law school in Kingston, Ont. About 80 per cent of respondents said the law school shouldn’t be increasing enrolment.
Queen’s is entertaining the idea of increasing the number of applicants it accepts to its law school in order to increase its revenues. But critics have said it’s not the time to do so given the shortage of articling jobs.
Two new judges are joining the bench of the Ontario Court of Justice this week.
James Stribopoulos will preside in Brampton, Ont. A professor at Osgoode Hall Law School since 2006 and associate dean since last year, Stribopoulos specialized in criminal law while practising at Fleming Breen and Kapoor & Stribopoulos in Toronto.
Also joining the bench in Brampton is Donald McLeod. A lawyer since 1998, he was senior managing partner of the McLeod Group where he focused on criminal trials and appeals as well as administrative law.
The appointments are effective Oct. 2.
ABORIGINAL JURY COMMITTEE LAUNCHED
The Ontario government has announced a committee to address the lack of First Nations representation on juries.
Committee members, led by co-chairmen Alvin Fiddler and Irwin Glasberg, will oversee the implementation of the recommendations in former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci’s report on the issue.
Besides Fiddler, deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and Glasberg, assistant deputy attorney general, committee members include: Ontario Court regional senior justice Marc Bode; Sheila Bristo, a director with the court services division of the Ministry of the Attorney General; lawyer and former Indigenous Bar Association president Margaret Froh; lawyer Diane Kelly; Alison Pilla, an assistant deputy minister with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs; and Jenny Restoule-Mallozzi, counsel with the Union of Ontario Indians.
WEIRFOULDS EXPANDS GTA FOOTPRINT
WeirFoulds LLP is expanding its presence in the Greater Toronto Area as it joins forces with a firm in Oakville, Ont.
On Friday, WeirFoulds announced that Townsend and Associates would join the firm this month. Townsend and Associates will remain in Oakville but operate under the WeirFoulds banner.
Townsend and Associates, a small planning and development firm, certainly has a complementary practice with WeirFoulds given its presence in the municipal law field.
“Municipal is something the firm has done for years and years and years,” says Kim Mullin, co-chairwoman of WeirFoulds’ municipal and planning law practice.
As part of the change, Townsend and Associates’ three lawyers will join WeirFoulds. Lyn Townsend, who founded her own firm in 1991 after practising at Vice and Hunter, Soloway Wright LLP, and Pallett Valo LLP, received the Ontario Bar Association award of excellence in municipal law this year. Denise Baker, a former assistant town solicitor in Oakville who has been practising municipal law since her call to the bar in 2003, is chairwoman of the OBA’s municipal law section. In addition, Jennifer Meader, who has worked as a planner as well, has practised with Townsend and Associates since becoming a lawyer in 2010.
“We’ve been looking for some time to add some bench strength to our municipal group,” says Mullin, noting the move will add to the group’s current compliment of about 10-12 lawyers and two planners. But while the Oakville office is new, she notes the more than 150-year-old firm has had prior experiences with offices outside Toronto, including in Ottawa and Mississauga, Ont.
“Lyn Townsend is somebody that a lot of us know,” she says, calling Townsend a “great lawyer and a great fit” for WeirFoulds. The Oakville firm joins WeirFoulds effective Sept. 30.
Former Ontario premier Mike Harris has switched law firms by joining Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.
Harris will serve as a senior business adviser at Faskens. “Mike Harris is very well respected in the business community and together with his background in politics and government, Mike will offer an unparalleled level of insight and experience to our clients,” said Martin Denyes, regional managing partner for Faskens in Ontario.
Harris had previously been at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, a firm that also included one of his old political adversaries, former Liberal premier David Peterson. At Faskens, Harris will again be colleagues with an old political adversary as former NDP leader Howard Hampton has joined the firm since his retirement from the Ontario legislature.
PARALEGAL REFUGEE PILOT LAUNCHED
Legal Aid Ontario is launching a pilot program to provide refugees with assistance from a full-time, in-house paralegal at a Toronto legal clinic.
The program will operate from the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic. The paralegal, working under the supervision of two refugee lawyers, will provide services such as interviewing claimants, preparing basis-of-claim forms, helping gather evidence, and representing clients at hearings before the refugee protection division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
“LAO recognizes that licensed paralegals can provide a wide range of cost-effective, efficient, quality services to refugee claimants,” said Jawad Kassab, LAO’s executive lead for refugee transformation.
LAO will assess the project after a year.
OBA WEB SITE REVAMPED
The new Find-a-Lawyer application allows people to search for a lawyer who’s an OBA member according to name, firm, location, language spoken, and area of practice. The application will then display the results on a Google map with a listing of the contact details.
The new web site will also provide volunteers and section members with forums for discussions on practice issues and other matters. “The new OBA web site was built for the social age of the Internet,” said OBA president Pascale Daigneault.
“It will change the way we engage with our members, the profession, and the public.”
THINK-TANK NAMES NEW COUNSEL
The Centre for International Governance Innovation has appointed Aaron Shull as its counsel and corporate secretary.
Shull, an expert in international, regulatory, and environmental law, primarily researches issues related to cyber security and Internet governance. Currently, he’s looking at the intersection between global copyright law and reform of Internet governance. He’s also exploring the legality of cyber espionage.
Shull takes on the new role just a few years after his call to the bar in 2009. The centre itself is a non-partisan think-tank on international governance that has existed since 2001.
MCLACHLIN TO LEAD SIR JOHN A. WALK
Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin will lead a Sir John A. Macdonald-themed walk this week in Kingston, Ont.
“We are honoured that Chief Justice McLachlin has graciously agreed to lead our Sir John A. walk later this month,” said Arthur Milnes, commissioner of the Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission.
The tour of downtown Kingston takes place Sept. 27. The event is part of the commission’s efforts to raise awareness of the 2015 bicentennial of Macdonald’s birth.
WAR CHILD EVENT NEXT WEEK
Advocates for War Child is hosting a fundraising event next week.
Money raised from the Sept. 30 event will go to War Child Canada’s access to justice project in northern Uganda. The event will include a concert by Our Lady Peace and a short speech by War Child Canada executive director Dr. Samantha Nutt.
War Child supports legal clinics in northern Uganda providing free legal assistance to victims of sexual and gender-based violence. It has also established programs to promote awareness of women’s and children’s rights.
The event takes place from 6-9 p.m. at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club at 722 College St. in Toronto.
CLINIC FUNDING ANNOUNCED
Legal Aid Ontario is updating its funding for legal clinics this year.
According to LAO, added provincial funding of $3 million in 2013-14 will allow it to create two new funds for clinics: $2 million to strengthen their capacity and $1 million to modernize their services.
The $3 million comes from the $10 million in additional funding LAO received from the province in its recent budget.
TONY LOPARCO TO HEAD SIU
The province has appointed Toronto-area Crown attorney Tony Loparco as director of the Special Investigations Unit.
Loparco takes on the job on Oct. 16 following the departure of current director Ian Scott. Loparco, currently head of the Scarborough Crown attorney’s office, has more than 23 years of experience in the justice system, according to the province.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, almost 73 per cent of respondents believe Justice Minister Peter MacKay is on the wrong track with the victims bill of rights he has been touting. In recent weeks, MacKay has been attending events across the country discussing the idea of giving victims a more effective voice in the justice system andholding offenders accountable. A bill of rights will be a centerpiece of the government’s new crime legislation, but just over 27 per cent of pollrespondents agree with its approach.