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ELGIN COUNTY COURTHOUSE TO OPEN
The construction of the Elgin County courthouse in St. Thomas, Ont., is complete.

The new courthouse will be home to the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice, which were previously at separate locations.

The court will be “fully operational” on March 24, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced. The building had been in construction since June 2011.

On March 18, dignitaries including Attorney General John Gerretsen, St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson, and Elgin County warden David Marr held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project.

“For over a century and a half, the Elgin County courthouse has stood as a St. Thomas landmark. Its restoration and renovation as part of the new consolidated courthouse will preserve its stature in the community for many years to come,” Gerretsen said.

LAO TARIFF TO RISE
Private bar lawyers who do legal aid work will get a five-per-cent tariff increase starting April 1, Legal Aid Ontario announced.

The changes are in accordance with a January 2010 memorandum of understanding signed by the Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

All Tier 1 private bar lawyers except those in northern Ontario will see their rate increase to $104 from $99 per hour. For Tier 2 lawyers, the new rate is $117 an hour with the tariff for Tier 3 lawyers increasing to $130 from $124 an hour. Lawyers doing complex criminal cases will see their rate jump to $149 an hour.

Northern Ontario lawyers will also see an increase in their rates. Tier 1 lawyers in northern Ontario will now get $114 per hour, an increase from $109. For Tier 2 lawyers, the new rate is $128 an hour with Tier 3 lawyers getting $143. Those who do complex criminal cases in northern Ontario will earn $164 an hour, an increase from $156.

JAMES MORTON JOINS COOLEY BOARD
Toronto litigator James Morton has joined the board of directors of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Morton joins the board along with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman. Morton, who heads the litigation group at Steinberg Morton Hope & Israel LLP, has been a long-standing adjunct professor at the U.S. law school.

“I could not be more proud to welcome Justice Markman and Professor Morton to the Cooley board,” said Cooley president and dean Don LeDuc.

“These distinguished gentlemen bring intellect, character, academic excellence, professional expertise, and decades of public service to Cooley. They understand how providing high quality, practical legal education is important to both the legal profession and to society as a whole. They will set a fine example for Cooley’s students, who will benefit greatly from the perspectives they will bring to our school.”

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 68 per cent of participants don’t believe the Law Society of Upper Canada should allow other law schools to follow Lakehead University’s approach of having graduates qualify for entry to the profession based on three years of study.

Lakehead’s new law school will produce graduates who can enter practice without articling or doing the law practice program. Recent commentary in Law Times has featured a debate on whether the law society should allow other law schools to follow Lakehead’s lead. Some critics suggest that would be a detriment to legal education while others say the profession should embrace Lakehead’s innovative approach.
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LEGAL TECH COURSE LAUNCHED
Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Victoria will offer a new course on legal information technology next year.

The course is the first of its kind, according to James Williams, a Google Inc. software engineer who’s part of the faculty that will teach it. The course, which centres on technology, legal services, and justice, is timely, said Williams.

“We think it is important for a number of reasons, the most pressing of which is that we believe the legal marketplace is about to undergo a number of major changes. I work in the U.S., where there are already significant disruptions to the market, including reduced opportunities for junior lawyers and the elimination of many lower level positions,” he said.

Williams added: “There are a few drivers, of which technology is an increasingly important one. I believe we are about to see a wave of new business models and software tools that are going to have a lasting impact on legal service delivery. Here at Google, we are working on a project or two, and there are many startups in the valley with new products.”

Monica Goyal, a Toronto lawyer and digital entrepreneur, and online dispute resolution expert Darin Thompson are also faculty members. The course will likely begin in January of next year.

TWO LAWYERS NAMED TO SUPERIOR COURT
The federal government has appointed two lawyers to the Ontario Superior Court bench.

Paul Nicholson will sit in Newmarket, Ont., while Gregory Verbeem will join the bench in Windsor, Ont. Nicholson replaces Justice Clifford Nelson, who elected to become a supernumerary judge as of Feb. 25. Nicholson, who most recently was a sole practitioner, largely practised family law.

Verbeem replaces Justice Richard Gates, who became a supernumerary judge last year. Verbeem served as a judicial law clerk for the regional senior justice in the southwest region and has been an associate and partner with Bartlet & Richardes LLP since 1996. His main practice areas were personal injury and commercial litigation.

NEW LEGAL AID STATS
Ontario and Prince Edward Island’s legal aid systems spent less money on criminal matters as a percentage of total resources than other jurisdictions last year, according to a newly published 2012-13 Statistics Canada report on legal aid.

Ontario and Prince Edward Island allocated 47 per cent of their resources for criminal matters, whereas the 10 other jurisdictions that provided data reported spending between 55 and 75 per cent of their funds on criminal matters.

The report notes provincial and territorial governments across Canada reported contributing $658 million to legal aid plans while the federal government provided $112 million.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, there’s significant division on alternative business structures with about 52 per cent of respondents suggesting the liberalization of law firm ownership is a risky idea. On the other side, about 48 per cent of respondents agreed with a Law Society of Upper Canada report that raised the prospect of significant liberalization.

LSUC benchers voted on Feb. 27 to launch a consultation on four options for non-lawyer ownership of law firms following a report from a working group looking at the issue. The options followed an analysis of what working group chairman Malcolm Mercer said had worked for Britain and Australia.

LAWYER ORDERED TO SURRENDER LICENCE
The Law Society of Upper Canada has allowed a Kingston, Ont., lawyer to surrender his licence to practise law.

The hearing panel’s decision included findings that Jehuda Kaminer acted in a conflict of interest while representing a client in a Small Claims Court matter by initiating and maintaining a sexual relationship; receivedcash in trust from the client and failed to deposit the funds into his trust account; and failed to fulfil his personal undertaking to a fellow legal practitioner in relation to a real estate transaction.

A hearing panel had previously suspended Kaminer after finding him to have been in a conflict of interest in a separate matter. That case included findings he had a relationship with a client whose husband he had also represented. Theclients, identified only as Mr. and Mrs. M, had retained the lawyer to complete their divorce.

HEENAN BLAIKIE ENERGY LAWYERS JOIN GOWLINGS
A team of nuclear energy lawyers from Heenan Blaikie LLP has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

Four of the five lawyers—Ahab Abdel-Aziz, Matthew Benson, Magdalena Hanebach, and William Jackman—will be at the firm’s Toronto office, while Bruce Johnson will work as a consultant based in Qatar.

Gowlings touts Abdel-Aziz, who joins the firms as a partner and global director of nuclear power generation, as “a leader in the international nuclear sector for over 20 years.”

“Ahab is one of Canada’s outstanding legal practitioners in the global nuclear space,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings chair and chief executive officer.

“He brings an extraordinary reputation for innovation in his field, both in Canada and internationally. We are thrilled to welcome him, along with Matthew, Magdalena, William, and Bruce. Their experience will allow us to deliver an even greater depth of services to our clients in the energy sector.”
 
NEW LAWYER AT CASSELS BROCK
Bernd Christmas has joined Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

Christmas, who formerly practised at Bernd Christmas Law Group, “will serve as a critical resource to the Cassels Brock client base, which includes many of the country’s leading mining and natural resource companies, financial institutions, and corporate entities, as well as international clients doing business in Canada,” the firm said in a news release.

At Cassels Brock, Christmas will advise on commercial, financial, environmental, social, and political issues surrounding business negotiations with First Nations bands, tribal counsel, and other organizations.

Christmas became the first Mi’kmaw to become a lawyer in Canada in 1993, according to Cassels Brock.

“The ability to work effectively with First Nations for the mutual benefit of their communities and our clients is vital and becoming increasingly more important every day. In that regard, Bernd’s unique background and experience will be a tremendous asset,” said David Peterson, chairman of Cassels Brock.
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ONTARIO NAMES 21 JPS, NEW JUDGE
Ontario has appointed 21 new justices of the peace to the Ontario Court of Justice.

The 21 appointees include people with a wide range of experiences, including former CBC journalist Karen Baum and former City of Toronto solicitor and Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services counsel Rosanne Giulietti.

Among the appointees is Anna Blauveldt, Canada’s former ambassador to Iceland. Others include former sole practitioner Karen Valentine; court manager Helena Cassano; provincial prosecutors Ralph Cotter and Lloyd Phillipps; Mississauga, Ont., lawyer Veruschka Fisher-Grant; broadcaster Jane Hawtin; criminal lawyer Rizwan Khan; Brunet McMahon LLP partner John McMahon; Law Society of Upper Canada discipline paralegal Jane Moffatt; Legal Aid Ontario Newmarket, Ont., criminal duty counsel office manager Renée Rerup; LAO duty counsel Raffaella Scarpato; and psychotherapist Audrey Summers.

A handful of appointees, such as Thomas Glassford, Paula Konstantinidis, Paul Langlois, and Michele Thompson, worked for the Ministry of the Attorney General in various capacities. In addition, the province named Temagami First Nation at Bear Island executive director Holly Charyna and principal Ginette Forgues as new justices of the peace.

Many of the 21 will be working in Toronto, but a handful will be taking up their new roles in Ottawa, Brampton, Owen Sound, Barrie, Walkerton, Brantford, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, and Cornwall, Ont.

Besides the new justices of the peace, the province named a new judge on Feb. 28. On March 12, Romuald Kwolek will join the Ontario Court bench in Sault Ste. Marie. A former deputy judge of the Small Claims Court, Kwolek is a lawyer with a general practice that included family law.

MCMILLAN SCC LAWYER MOVES TO GOWLINGS
McMillan LLP lawyer Jeffrey Beedell has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

Previously, Beedell worked as a Supreme Court agent advising on leave applications and appeals, according to Gowlings. Beedell was also part of a team that worked on amending the top court’s rules of practice, electronic filing efforts, and the introduction of electronic materials, the firm noted.

“Jeff is one of Canada’s most highly regarded Supreme Court agents. His ability to navigate the complexities of the court and deliver the best possible results is second to none,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings’ chairman and chief executive officer.

“As trusted counsel to a long list of national clients, Jeff is an invaluable addition to Gowlings, where he will further enhance a team that already includes some of the country’s pre-eminent Supreme Court professionals.”

SUMMIT JOINS ONTARIO, N.Y. LAWYERS
Lawyers from Toronto and New York will meet in both cities this month to talk about cross-border legal issues and how to serve their clients better.

The legal summit will include discussions on issues such as cross-border taxation, financing transactions, multijurisdictional class action litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and mining and energy, according to the Ontario Bar Association.

The Toronto event will take place on March 28, and lawyers will meet again on March 31 in New York.

The summit is a joint effort by the OBA and the New York State Bar Association with help from the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the New York City Bar Association, and the international law section of the American Bar Association.

CLASS SETTLEMENT REJECTED
An Ontario Superior Court judge has rejected a settlement agreement in a copyright class action between Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. and immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman.

In the fall, the parties reached an agreement that would see Thomson Reuters pay $350,000 towards a cy-près fund. The arrangement would settle a class action over copyright issues related to Thomson Reuters’ Litigator legal research service. Waldman, represented by class counsel Jordan Goldblatt and Marlys Edwardh, was the representative plaintiff in a case that alleged copyright infringement in the service’s use of documents such as pleadings and affidavits. As part of the settlement reached last fall, Thomson Reuters, which owns Law Times, denied the claims and asserted several defences, including fair dealing and the open-court principle.

The cy-près money would create a fund for legal scholarship across Canada as part of a joint venture between law schools, students, and lawyers. The goal was to provide a vehicle for funding public interest litigation.

But in a ruling last week, Justice Paul Perell found the settlement agreement not to “be fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the class members.” The decision followed objections by seven class members. Among the objectors’ concerns was the payment of $825,000 to class counsel. “The optics of class counsel receiving a counsel fee of $825,000 — which it must be noted is a term of the settlement agreement and not detached from it — and the class members’ receiving only a notional benefit of a $350,000 from a cy-près trust fund, are bad,” wrote Perell.

SIX DENTONS LAWYERS JOIN CASSELS BROCK
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP says its restructuring and insolvency practice area has received a major boost as almost half a dozen former Dentons Canada LLP lawyers join the firm’s Toronto office.

Former Dentons lawyers Shayne Kukulowicz, Michael Wunder, Ryan Jacobs, Jane Dietrich, and Natalie Levine are joining Cassels Brock’s restructuring and insolvency practice while the Vancouver mining team has found new talent in former McMillan LLP partner Darrell Podowski.

“The addition of these nationally recognized lawyers accelerates the execution on our long-term plans,” said Mark Young, managing partner at Cassels Brock.

“With Darrell, Shayne, Michael, Ryan, Jane, and Natalie, we have increased our capabilities in two cornerstone areas of our practice and, even more importantly, further enhanced the exceptional level of expertise and service we can provide to our clients.”
 
POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

Although many people agree on the need for increased access to justice, not everyone is sure about flipping a wig to show their passion for the cause.

About 55 per cent of poll respondents said they’d participate in a campaign that asked lawyers and members of the public to don outlandish wigs on March 6 in a playful show of frustration about the lack of access to justice in Canada. But 45 per cent of Law Times respondents felt they’d look ridiculous in a judicial wig.

The campaign sought to raise awareness about the crisis of access of justice. It also raised funds for seven non-profit law organizations.
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NEW CHAIRMAN AT MILLER THOMSON
Kent Davidson is the national chairman of Miller Thomson LLP.

Davidson, a partner with the firm, practises labour and employment law as well as litigation. In a news release, he touted Miller Thomson as a leading national law firm.

“Miller Thomson has the most complete geographic coverage of any national firm in the country,” said Davidson.

“This unique footprint gives us a tremendous service advantage at a time when being service-minded and responsive has never been a higher priority for clients. Our lawyers are deeply committed to their communities.”

Davidson replaces Gerald Courage following his three-year term in the role. Among Courage’s accomplishments are building an alliance with French business law firm FIDAL and expanding Miller Thomson’s services in Saskatchewan, according to Miller Thomson.

“We are grateful for Gerald Courage’s contribution to the growth of the firm,” said Pierre Paquet, a partner at Miller Thomson’s Montreal office.

“At the same time, we welcome Kent Davidson’s service-minded, entrepreneurial approach. His pragmatic approach reflects the firm’s culture and he will do very well in his new national leadership role.”
 
PROF HONOURED FOR LEGAL WRITING
University of Toronto Faculty of Law Prof. Jim Phillips has received the Ministry of the Attorney General’s 2013 David Walter Mundell Medal for legal writing.

The Mundell medal honours those “who have made a distinguished contribution to law and letters,” according to a ministry news release.

“It celebrates great legal writing and recognizes that the artful use of language in the right style has the power to give life to ideas.”

Phillips, who’s also part of U of T’s department of history, has written extensively about legal history, particularly on criminal law in Canada, the ministry said.

Former attorney general Ian Scott created the Mundell medal in 1986 to honour members of the legal profession who have made exceptional contributions to legal writing.

CLASS ACTION TRIO JOINS MCKENZIE LAKE
Three former Siskinds LLP class action lawyers have joined McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP.

Lawyers Michael Peerless, Matt Baer, and Sabrina Lombardi “bring with them an unmatched track record of success,” McKenzie Lake said in a news release.

Peerless said he and his colleagues are “thrilled” to have joined the firm. “We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to join this dynamic, growing, and progressive law firm. The platform here at McKenzie Lake is an ideal place for us to continue to serve our class action clients, and to work with many skilled lawyers in a variety of fields,” he said.

McKenzie Lake managing partner Michael Lake described the trio as “best-in-class lawyers.”

“Consistent with our resolve to attract the very best legal talent in support of niche practice areas, we are extremely gratified to have the Peerless class action group join us,” said Lake.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

About 64 per cent of participants say the federal government is right to look at eliminating the immigrant investor program.

The poll follows the 2014 federal budget that called the immigrant investor program “an exception” to the progress Canada has made in aligning its immigration system with its economic needs.
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CCLA GETS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Lawyer Sukanya Pillay is the new general counsel and executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Pillay, who was interim general counsel and acting executive director of the CCLA since August 2013, “brings to the position a tremendous skill set and a breadth of experience in the not-for-profit, academic, and private sectors,” the organization said in a press release.

Pillay has served as program director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York and director of the law and human rights program of the International Television Trust for the Environment. She also taught law at the University of Windsor for five years.

“Sukanya has a proven track record of leadership at CCLA and in similar organizations, a thorough understanding of the civil liberties challenges facing Canada today, knowledge of the civil liberties community in Canada and internationally, and a deep commitment to the values, ideals, and objectives of CCLA,” the CCLA said.

EX-HEYDARY LAWYER JOINS NEW FIRM
Former Heydary Green PC co-director Michael Cochrane has joined litigation and corporate boutique Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP.

Cochrane practised family law at Heydary Green prior to the firm’s trusteeship by the Law Society of Upper Canada after lawyer Javad Heydary disappeared amid questions over missing client funds amounting to $3.6 million. The law society later confirmed Heydary had died.

The missing funds related to Heydary Hamilton PC and not the other Heydary firms.

Brauti Thorning Zibarras said Cochrane’s practice at the firm would focus on family law, estates, mediation, civil litigation, and public policy matters.

For more, see "Lawyer 'surprised' after LSUC takes control of Heydary firms."



LAO LAUNCHES FAMILY MEDIATION PILOT
Legal Aid Ontario has launched a pilot project that will make legal assistance available for family law mediation clients.

The project will assist unrepresented parties, who make up about 70 per cent of all family law litigants.

Services include advice about the process, assistance in preparing for mediation, and guidance to better understand their options. Lawyers will also be able to assist clients in obtaining a court order or a binding agreement to enforce the terms of a mediation agreement.

Clients could get up to six hours with a lawyer, LAO noted. The program is available at several Greater Toronto Area courthouses as well as in Kingston, Sudbury, Simcoe, Owen Sound, Milton, Muskoka, London, Kitchener, and Hamilton, Ont.

OSGOODE FACULTY SPEAK OUT ON TWU
Osgoode Hall Law School’s faculty council has unanimously passed a motion calling on Trinity Western University to remove a clause in its policy dealing with lesbian and gay students, faculty, and staff.

“The Osgoode motion reaffirms the school’s commitment to promoting diversity and equality in the learning environment and its ongoing efforts to achieve improvements on these goals in the professional community,” said Mary Jane Mossman, the professor who moved the motion, in a press release.

“In the past, the legal profession has excluded individuals based on gender, race, religion or ableness. In 2014, it would be profoundly regressive to institutionalize such exclusion in a law school’s policy.”

The Osgoode council is one of many organizations that have expressed concern about the language used in the mandate of the Christian university that plans to open a law school in 2016.
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BOB RAE JOINS ABORIGINAL LAW FIRM
Former Ontario premier and Liberal leader Bob Rae has joined aboriginal law firm Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP as senior counsel.

The Toronto law firm represents aboriginal communities across Canada on matters of land rights, treaty negotiations, and other issues. Rae’s daughter, Judith, is an associate with the firm.

“We are excited to have Mr. Rae join our team,” said the firm’s managing partner Renée Pelletier in a press release. “He brings decades of experience at the highest levels of government as well as a strong background in negotiations, strategy, community and economic development. He’s also demonstrated a strong commitment to Aboriginal rights, and to the critically important task of reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians.”

Rae is currently serving as chief negotiator in talks between First Nations and the Ontario government on the development of Ring of Fire, a planned multi-billion dollar chromium mining project in Northern Ontario.

“I am delighted to be joining OKT— I have admired their work for many years, and am now honoured to be joining as a partner.” said Rae. ”I am looking forward to continue to work with First Nations and aboriginal people to advance their rights and prosperity.

“I am also very pleased to have the opportunity to work with my daughter Judith, and to practise with the many talented aboriginal lawyers at this firm.”

LAW FIRMS MAKE 2014 BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYER LIST
Some of Ontario’s largest law firms were named in this year’s list of Best Diversity Employers in Canada.

The list, produced annually by Mediacorp Canada Inc., includes Stikeman Elliott LLP, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, and Dentons Canada LLP.

According to Mediacorp Canada, the law firms were chosen for their workplace diversity initiatives that included women, minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBT individuals. Stikeman and Dentons earned the title for the fourth consecutive year, while McCarthys made the list for the second time.

“Being named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the fourth year in a row is a great honour for all of us at Dentons,” said Dentons Canada CEO Chris Pinnington in a press release.

Stikeman Elliott’s chair William Braithwaite also said the firm is “incredibly proud” to be recognized for its diversity.

“This acknowledgment represents the collective achievements of all of our firm members in advancing our diversity objectives and creating an inclusive environment in which we can all thrive,” said Braithwaite. “It is this exceptional work environment that allows us to consistently deliver top tier service that meets the increasingly diverse needs of our global clients.”

For Marc-André Blanchard, chairman and CEO of McCarthys , the recognition is a result of hard work.

“We have worked hard as a firm to foster a truly inclusive environment and we are grateful to receive this honour once again,” he said. “Our focus remains on sustaining diversity through the reinvention of our programs. We believe our successes — and our clients’ successes — are due in large part to having a supportive environment that attracts a wide range of the best and the brightest professionals.”

LSUC DISBARS LINE
A Toronto lawyer has lost his licence to practise law after he was found to have misappropriated client trust funds.

Lawyer John Line also lied to his clients about the steps he had taken in a Small Claims Court matter in addition to failing to file a statement of defense on their behalf, a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel said.

In what was likely the last straw, Line continued to practise law after his licence was suspended in June 2012, the law society said.

In addition to nearly $18,000 in costs to the law society, Line was also ordered to pay $4,500 to LSUC’s compensation fund.

LAW TIMES POLL

The results for the latest Law Times online poll are in. Seventy-one per cent of respondents believe Heenan Blaikie LLP’s troubles are a sign of bigger problems to come in the legal industry.

Partners at Heenan Blaikie, a 500-lawyer law firm, decided two weeks ago to wind down the firm amid falling revenues and lawyer departures. It is the largest failure of a Canadian law firm.
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NEW SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES APPOINTED
Justice Minister Peter MacKay has appointed four judges to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Among the new appointees is Justice Kelly Wright, previously an Ontario Court of Justice judge in Toronto. She replaces Justice Michael Brown in Newmarket, Ont. Brown moves to Toronto to replace Justice Katherine Swinton, who became a supernumerary judge in November.

Another new judge is Frederick Myers of Goodmans LLP. Myers had been a partner at Goodmans since 2003 and before that practised insolvency law and litigation at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. He replaces Justice Mary Lou Benotto, who joined the Ontario Court of Appeal in November.

In addition, Miller Thomson LLP insolvency and litigation lawyer Alissa Mitchell will sit in London, Ont. She replaces Justice Alan Bryant, who became a supernumerary judge in November.

Finally, Vice Hunter Labrosse LLP’s Marc Labrosse will sit in Ottawa. He replaces Justice Peter Annis, who joined the Federal Court last year.

LAWYER’S COST APPEAL ALLOWED IN PART
Vaughan, Ont., lawyer Kenneth James, who faces money-laundering charges, was partly successful in his appeal of a $180,000 cost order against him following a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing.

James’ disciplinary hearing came to a halt in 2012 after an “extraordinarily long and costly 23 days” of proceedings. Alan Gold, chairman of the panel hearing the case, recused himself because it turned out he and James shared a client, a situation that led him to receive “privileged information” regarding James.

On appeal, James said argued it wasn’t his fault the hearing panel had failed to ensure none of the panel members were in conflict. The appeal panel allowed his appeal in part and ordered the law society to pay $12,270 in costs to James.

Meanwhile, former teacher James Melnick, who got the green light to practise law in Ontario after the law society considered his past conviction on two charges involving sexual offences with a minor, won’t get costs in his successful appeal to the law society’s appeal panel.

At first, a hearing panel rejected Melnick’s bid to practise law following a good character hearing. But in a decision dated July 29, a law society appeal panel granted Melnick a licence to practise law after finding he was now of good character.

Although his appeal was successful, the appeal panel dismissed Melnick’s request for costs on Jan. 23.

For more, see "Lawyer facing criminal charges consents to suspension" and "Ex-teacher convicted of sexual offence with minor gets OK to practise law."



COURT UPHOLDS LAWYER’S DISBARMENT
The Divisional Court has rejected former  lawyer Leslie Vandor’s appeal of his disbarment.

Vandor, an Ottawa lawyer disbarred for misconduct that included misappropriations of significant funds from his family’s company and from clients, sought to set aside a Law Society of Upper Canada appeal panel order upholding his disbarment. He argued the appeal panel erred in failing to apply a Superior Court order related to his discharge from bankruptcy and in upholding the hearing panel’s ruling that there was a failure to account for proper disbursements and expenditures.

Among other things, he argued the court absolved him of any wrongdoing at his bankruptcy discharge hearing. But in its decision on Jan. 27, the Divisional Court noted there was no hearing on the merits of the claim of misappropriation of funds and that the purpose of the bankruptcy proceedings wasn’t to assign blame.

Vandor also argued there was evidence before the hearing panel that some of the misappropriated funds in fact went towards buying a condo for his mother and paying other family expenses. The Divisional Court, however, found the hearing panel “rendered a comprehensive, well-reasoned decision.”

For more, see "Lawyer took $1M from dad's estate."

FIRMS TAKING ON HEENAN BLAIKIE PARTNERS
Among the many announcements of departures from Heenan Blaikie LLP last week was competition and antitrust lawyer Subrata Bhattacharjee’s move to Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

“We are delighted to have Subrata join our growing competition law practice,” said Sean Weir, national managing partner and chief executive officer at BLG. “His unique background and international experience is an asset to our current client base and will prove to be a strong addition to our group as they continue to build the practice on a national and international basis.”

BLG described Bhattacharjee, who practises antitrust, foreign investment, and regulatory matters, as one of the “leading” lawyers in his area of practice. Bhattacharjee is one of many lawyers who left Heenan Blaikie as the firm considered its future.

Last week, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP announced the arrival of four former Heenan Blaikie lawyers to its Ottawa office. Labour and employment lawyers Claire Vachon and Sébastien Lorquet have joined Faskens as partners along with associates Judith Parisien and Marie-Andrée Richard.

Among the more high-profile departures was veteran business lawyer Ralph Lean, who moved to Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. He had joined Heenan Blaikie just last April after moving from Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

“I came back from Florida on Jan. 14 and went to a meeting, where they indicated they were doing some financial restructuring or downsizing and I was taken aback,” he said.

Two firms approached him with offers, he says, but he wasn’t interested until Heenan Blaikie’s problems became more apparent after a meeting on Jan. 20. As Lean was counsel on contract with Heenan Blaikie, he had no equity in the firm.

NEW COUNSEL AT DICKINSON WRIGHT
Intellectual property lawyer Eric Lavers has left Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP to join Dickinson Wright LLP’s Toronto office as of counsel.

A member of both the Ontario and New York bars, Lavers practises intellectual property law with an emphasis on the acquisition, protection, and enforcement of patent rights in Canada and around the world.
 
POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, about 71 per cent of respondents don’t think Ontario should adopt a right-to-work approach by making union dues optional.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has been proposing to make Ontario a right-to-work jurisdiction, something he argues would make the province more competitive and help attract jobs and investment. Critics, however, argue the proposal is an attack on workers’ rights.
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RONALD DIMOCK JOINS JAMS
Intellectual property lawyer Ronald Dimock has joined the JAMS Toronto dispute resolution centre.

Dimock, with almost 40 years of patent, trademark, and copyright experience under his belt, will serve as an arbitrator and mediator dealing with intellectual property matters at JAMS. He’ll maintain his practice at Dimock Stratton LLP as well.

“An accomplished mediator, arbitrator, and litigator, Ronald Dimock is a highly esteemed member of the intellectual property law field,” said Chris Poole, president and chief executive officer of JAMS.

“His expertise in a range of areas including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret disputes will make a tremendous addition to our panel.”

BLAKES ANNOUNCES 11 NEW PARTNERS
Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has welcomed four new partners in Toronto along with other additions at its offices across Canada.

The new partners include Andrew Gordon, whose practice focuses on the energy and financial services sectors; commercial real estate lawyer Daniel Kofman; Alexis Levine, a lawyer focused primarily on debt and structured financings; and Jeffrey Shafer, who practices in all areas of Canadian domestic and cross-border income tax law.

“On behalf of the firm, I welcome them to the partnership,” said Rob Granatstein, managing partner at Blakes.

“This is a milestone in a lawyer’s career and every one of these individuals has worked extremely hard for our clients.”

Besides the Toronto additions, Blakes announced one new partner in Montreal (Tricia Kuhl), three new partners in Calgary (Michael Dixon, Sean Maxwell, and Michael O’Brien), two new partners in Vancouver (Troy Lehman and Robin Reinertson), and one new partner in Bahrain (Tim Sunar).

LAWYERS APPOINTED TO ORDER OF ONTARIO
Several members of the legal community were among the new appointees to the Order of Ontario last month.

The new appointees invested at a ceremony at Queen’s Park included lawyers such as Avvy Yao Yao Go. In announcing her appointment, the government touted her as someone “who uses her law degree to advance the rights of Toronto’s marginalized communities.” Go, the clinic director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, also serves as a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Also appointed to the order was George Carter, one of Canada’s first black lawyers and the first Canadian-born black judge. The government praised him for his work to change discriminatory practices in Ontario’s justice system and his role in the development of legal aid in Ontario.

A third member of the legal community named to the order was Penny Collenette, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law honoured as “a leader and innovator whose influential reach spans the worlds of public policy, business, law, and academia.”

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

The poll addressed many people’s dream scenario about what Legal Aid Ontario should do if it suddenly had more money, and the results were clear that increasing the eligibility threshold for assistance is the way to go. According to the poll, 52 per cent of respondents would prioritize boosting the income threshold while 12 per cent felt any new money should go towards increasing the tariff paid to lawyers. About 10 per cent would like to expand the range of matters covered and just four per cent would emphasize more funding for legal clinics.

Not surprisingly, a significant number of respondents — almost 22 per cent — think LAO should do all of those things were it to have more money.   
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LAWYER DISBARRED OVER MORTGAGE TRANSACTIONS
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.

POLL RESULTS
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.    
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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.”

POLL RESULTS

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.

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LAWYER APPOINTED AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL

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.  

POLL RESULTS

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.
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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.

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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.

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LAW SOCIETY ACT CHANGES PASSED

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.”

POLL RESULTS

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.
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NEW PARTNERS AT DENTONS

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.

POLL RESULTS

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.
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TORYS PARTNERS NAMED MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN

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.

POLL RESULTS

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.
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PRO BONO HELP FOR PHILIPPINES VICTIMS

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.
 
POLL RESULTS

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.
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NEW ONTARIO JUDGES APPOINTED

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.

POLL RESULTS

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.


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Law Times poll

A recent Court of Appeal decision acknowledged a ‘new reality’ of civil litigation in which courts are seeing a significant number of self-represented litigants. Are courts are doing a good job of addressing the needs of self-represented litigants?
Yes, judges are doing a good job of ensuring trial fairness.
No, courts have only just begun to consider the many issues surrounding self-represented litigants.