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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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NO COMPENSATION FOR JP WHO MISLED POLICE

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.

POLL RESULTS

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.


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OSGOODE LAW PROF REMEMBERED

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.

POLL RESULTS

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.
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ADR INSTITUTE HONOURING WINKLER SET TO OPEN

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.”

POLL RESULTS

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.
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PLAINTIFF SUING CASSELS BROCK AWARDED $300K IN COSTS
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.

POLL RESULTS
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.
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LAW PROF AWARDED $50K IN LIBEL CASE CHAMPERTY MOTION
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.”
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SIX ONTARIO JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED
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.

POLL RESULTS
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.
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NEW JUDGES APPOINTED
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.
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MIKE HARRIS JOINS FASKENS
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.
 
POLL RESULTS
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.


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LERNERS LAUNCHES FAMILY PRACTICE
Lerners LLP has launched a family law practice group at its Toronto office.

Joanne Stewart and Bryan Smith, who joined the firm as partners, will lead the firm’s family law practice in Toronto.

The pair “bring stellar reputations and a proven track-record” in their area of expertise, Lerners said in a statement. Besides Stewart and Smith, lawyers Sarah Conlin and Lindsey Love-Forester have also joined Lerners as associates. Another lawyer, Upasana Sharma, will soon join the team along with Jennifer Howard, a family lawyer at Lerners’ office in London, Ont.

“Lerners has been a leader in providing top-level family law services in southwestern Ontario through our London office for many years, so it was a natural evolution for the firm to provide the same services in Toronto,” said Brian Grant, managing partner of the Toronto office.

“Bryan, Joanne, and their team represent an opportunity to add unmatched excellence in the field and we are pleased to welcome them as well as Jennifer, who joins us from London.”

Stewart and Smith were both partners at Bastedo Stewart Smith. They both have decades of experience in their fields, Lerners said.
 
DELOITTE ALIGNS WITH SHOULI & PARTNERS
Deloitte LLP has aligned with immigration law firm Shouli & Partners LLP to offer business immigration services, the two firms announced.

Shouli & Partners partner Rima Shouli said business immigration services are in high demand as companies move people across borders.

“We’re experiencing conditions unique to a global market,” said Shouli. “Competition is pushing companies and their employees beyond traditional geographic boundaries to reach new markets and drive growth. At the same time, employers are looking beyond their own borders to recruit the best people. Prioritizing global employee deployment programs is critical.”

Heather Evans, Deloitte’s tax managing partner, said multinational companies are looking for one law firm to assist them with their business immigration needs.
“We’re excited by this alliance and what it means for our clients,” said Evans. “S&P’s legal services complement our existing tax practice, which means we can now offer a one-stop shop to address the complex business immigration requirements associated with a global operation.

“What’s more, Deloitte’s global network means we can offer local support in each country where our clients do business.”

DAVID PETERSON GETS PAN AM GIG
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP chairman David Peterson is taking a lead role on the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games organizing committee.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne nominated Peterson to chair the committee, the law firm said. Wynne said Peterson’s “deep knowledge, vision, and infectious enthusiasm will help make these the most successful Pan Am Games ever.”

Peterson was behind Ontario’s successful bid to host the Games.

“Cassels Brock is proud of Mr. Peterson’s involvement with the Pan Am Games as they serve to highlight Ontario’s rich talent, culture, and diversity,” the firm said in a press release.

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

The majority of respondents don’t think foreign-service officers should compare themselves to government lawyers in demanding higher pay as part of their job action.

About 60 per cent of respondents felt the comparison was wrong, while the rest agreed that diplomats have a case for seeking pay similar to government lawyers. Foreign-service officers have been engaging in a job action in recent months that has affected visa and immigration processing times at Canadian outposts.

NEW HEAD OF CANADIAN LAWYERS ABROAD
Toronto lawyer Brittany Twiss is the new executive director of Canadian Lawyers Abroad.

Twiss, who has worked with the organization for the last five years, replaces outgoing executive director Catherine McKenna.

“I am excited to pass the torch to Ms. Twiss,” said McKenna. “She is the ideal person to take the organization to the next stage of its development.”

Twiss will be an effective leader as the organization approaches its 10th anniversary in 2014, said co-founder Yasmin Shaker.

“We couldn’t be happier with Ms. Twiss’ new role in the organization. She will be an effective leader and we all look forward to working with her.”
 
GARDINER MILLER ARNOLD WELCOMES NEW PARTNER
Chris Jaglowitz has become a partner after 10 years of practising condo law and litigation at Gardiner Miller Arnold LLP.

Jaglowitz, who has been with the firm since 2003, is also the man behind its Ontario Condo Law blog.

“Bob Gardiner, Gerry Miller, and Mark Arnold are pleased to announced that Chris Jaglowitz has joined GMA partnership,” the firm said in a press release.

Jaglowitz chaired the Ontario Bar Association’s civil litigation section in 2012-13 and is the chairman of the Condominium Management Standards Council.


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NEW LITIGATION BOUTIQUE LAUNCHES
Toronto has a new litigation boutique law firm after a group of lawyers left Black Sutherland LLP to found their own firm.

Patrick Monaghan, Christopher Reain, Clarence Lui, and Heather Taylor are the partners of the new Monaghan Reain Lui Taylor LLP located at 18 King St. E.

“I am delighted that we have been able to assemble a talented group of advocates all of whom share the same mind set,” said Monaghan.

The firm is a result of the partners seeking “an environment suitable for the dedicated pursuit of clients’ interests within a culture of like-minded professionals.”

The law firm will uphold a client-first principle, Monaghan added.

“The professional requirements of the practice of law will be best met by putting the clients’ interests first, the firm’s interests second, and one’s own interests third,” he said.

“This may not sound like a revelation but you would be surprised to see how often the priorities are reversed.”

Reain said the firm’s strategy will include collaboration among partners on clients’ matters.

“The litigation marketplace has changed. Practice silos just aren’t efficient or in the clients’ best interests. While each matter will enjoy the leadership of one of the partners, all partners are available to any client at any time,” he said.

Black Sutherland lawyer Christine Matthews is also joining the new firm as an associate.

NEW PARTNERS AT LENCZNER SLAGHT
Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP has welcomed two new partners.

Intellectual property lawyer Andrew Skodyn was formerly at Heenan Blaikie LLP and research partner Scott Rollwagen moved from Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP where he had worked for more than six years.

“We are pleased to welcome these two exceptional lawyers to our firm,” said Peter Griffin, managing partner of Lenczner Slaght.

“Both Andrew and Scott play key parts in high-profile, often precedent-setting cases. Our clients will benefit enormously from their breadth and depth of experience, and their insightful, pragmatic advice.”

Skodyn’s addition is a huge boost to Lenczner Slaght’s intellectual property practice, said Marguerite Ethier, who deals with life sciences and biotechnology matters at the law firm.

“Andrew has deep experience in patent actions in the pharmaceutical industry and in other sectors as well. With his strategic advice and proven courtroom skills, he offers clients the kind of specialized, highly effective advocacy that is our firm’s trademark,” she said.

OBA TO HONOUR JOHN EVANS
The Ontario Bar Association will honour lawyer John Evans for excellence in civil litigation.

Lawyers say Evans, who has served as president of The Advocates’ Society, the Hamilton Law Association, and the Medical-Legal Society, is a deserving recipient of the award.

“No one is more deserving of this award than John Evans, who is one of the most respected and renowned civil litigation lawyers in Ontario’s history,” said Colin Stevenson, a partner at Stevensons LLP.

Fellow lawyer Guillermo Schible said Evans is “a lawyer’s lawyer and represents the very best of the civil litigation bar.”

The OBA says the award honours lawyers who have shown outstanding advocacy skills, professionalism, and integrity and have contributed to the enhancement of the practice.

Evans will receive the award at a gala dinner on Sept. 17.

CAROL HANSELL LEAVES DAVIES
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP senior partner Carol Hansell has left the firm to pursue her career independently.

Hansell advises boards and their committees in transactions, conflict of interest issues, and investigations. According to The Globe and Mail, Hansell’s move follows a trend by board advisers who seek to work “independent of management and free of any possible conflicts of interest.”

“This may be the first, but it’s certainly not going to be the only one,” Hansell told the Globe.

“I think once we get going, people are going to say, ‘That does make sense.’”

Hansell’s clients have included many large public companies, but she has also worked with private and family-owned businesses.

REFUGEE CHANGES AT LAO
Legal Aid Ontario has started issuing certificates for refugee claimants who are at risk of losing their status as convention refugees or people in need of protection.

“LAO isprotecting these vulnerable clients through access to legal services in light of recent changes to federal government legislation and policies,” the organization said in a press release last week.

The certificates will cover 16 hours in addition to attendance time, LAO said.

It will assess applicants for financial eligibility through a telephone interview. It willalso judge the merit of applications on the question of whether the risk oflosing status falls under the Immigration and Refugee Board’s cessation or vacation orders.
 
POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, readers are split on the federal government’s position on the wireless spectrum auction. In response to concerns about rules tilted in favour of a U.S. conglomerate, 50 per cent of respondents said the rules are unfair and would cost Canadian jobs.

The other half said the incumbent providers are merely seeking to maintain their advantage. Thepoll follows this summer’s controversy about a possible Canadian expansion by Verizon Communications Inc. Last week, however, the company confirmed it wouldn’t be entering Canada’s wireless market.

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LSUC BENCHER REMEMBERED
Longtime Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher Marshall Crowe has died. The 92-year-old passed away on Aug. 16, law society Treasurer Tom Conway announced last week.

“Mr. Crowe was widely respected within the legal profession. In mourning his passing, those who had the good fortune to work with such a bright and dedicated man are grateful for his contributions to the law society and the principles of justice for which it stands,” wrote Conway.

Crowe’s contribution to his country began well before the start of his legal career, according to Conway. Crowe served in the army during the Second World War and as a foreign-service officer with the Department of External Affairs, an economic adviser for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and deputy secretary to the federal cabinet serving prime ministers Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau.

Crowe won election as a bencher in 1994. He also served as a director of LawPRO.

“When I reflect on his significant career achievements before becoming a lawyer, it is no wonder that he had a treasure trove of fascinating behind-the-scenes accounts of encounters with many significant political and economic figures of his time,” wrote Conway.

“I would tease him about this, referring to him as our own ‘Forrest Gump,’ as he was often literally ‘in the room’ during many of the important encounters between Canadian and world leaders during and after the Second World War.”

NEW PARTNER AT DICKINSON WRIGHT
Dickinson Wright LLP has yet another new partner.

The firm announced last week that Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP partner Cherie Brant has joined its team.

“A member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and with family from Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Ms. Brant is a trusted adviser to both First Nations and industry in the areas of commercial development, real estate, and aboriginal law,” the law firm said in a press release.

As part of her work, Brant provides strategic advice to clients in the natural resources and energy sectors seeking to develop projects with First Nations communities.

LAWYERS SUPPORTING PARKINSON’S EVENT
Members of Toronto’s legal community are coming together this week to help advance research into Parkinson’s disease.

“I understand a cure for Parkinson’s is not far off relative to other diseases. With additional funding for medical research, I think a cure is within our reach,” says Toronto employment lawyer Doug MacLeod, whose firm is a sponsor of the Shake it up for Parkinson’s event taking place on Sept. 6 in Toronto.

MacLeod is a longtime friend of Harry McMurtry, a fellow lawyer who recovered from brain surgery to treat Parkinson’s disease two years ago. Following his recovery, he came up with the idea for a fundraiser with friend Ian Hull of Hull & Hull LLP. “At that time, he said he needed to give back for what was clearly a miraculous operation,” says Hull.

McMurtry put on a more intimate event last year attended by about 100 friends and family, according to MacLeod. The event has a goal to raise more than $100,000 for the Morton & Gloria Shulman movement disorders centre at the Toronto Western Hospital.

Hull, whose firm is also sponsoring the event, says McMurtry is now putting much of the energy he used to put into his legal practice into a new cause. “Harry worked at his busy civil litigation practice as long as he physically could and it wasn’t until the disease truly wore him out that he hung up the robes,” he says.

“He is now advocating for a cure for Parkinson’s as strongly as he did for his clients.”

The event takes place at the Capitol Event Theatre at 2492 Yonge St. in Toronto from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sept. 6. For more information, see shakeitupforparkinsons.com.

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

According to the poll, almost 79 per cent of respondents think the government should significantly raise lawsuit award caps that apply to recipients of the Ontario Disability Support program and Ontario Works.

The poll follows a Law Times story featuring lawyers calling on the government to increase the caps that limit the amounts recipients, unless they qualify for an exemption, can keep when they win a lawsuit without risking their eligibility for continued support. For ODSP, the cap is $100,000; for welfare, it’s $25,000.

Lawyers say the government hasn’t increased the caps in years and say it’s time to do so. In a response to the issue last week, Community and Social Services Minister Ted McMeekin highlighted the exemptions and suggested that, as a result, many recipients don’t necessarily have to pay back awards exceeding the limits.

Law Times poll respondents, however, believe it’s time to increase the caps anyway. Only seven per cent said they should remain as is while the remaining respondents said they should increase in line with inflation.
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AUSTIN COOPER RECEIVES HONORARY DEGREE
The Law Society of Upper Canada has presented prominent criminal defence lawyer Austin Cooper with an honorary doctor of laws.

Cooper, a partner at Cooper Sandler Shime & Bergman LLP, received the honour for an exemplary career that began with his call to the bar in 1953.

“The law society is extremely pleased to recognize Mr. Cooper for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the legal profession and the rule of law,” said LSUC Treasurer Thomas Conway.

“Throughout his career, he has garnered the greatest respect of the legal profession and public.”

A major advocate for legal aid, Cooper has also defended high-profile cases on a pro bono basis. Cooper, a founding member of The Advocates’ Society, has lectured and written on criminal law, evidence, procedure, advocacy, and ethics. In addition, he’s a former law society bencher who has also served as chair of the civil liberties subsection of the Canadian Bar Association for several years.

After presenting Cooper with an honorary degree, Conway touted him as “the dean of criminal law” on his blog.

“Austin has defended a number of the leading cases in criminal law, both at trial and at the appellate level,” he wrote. “Throughout, he has exhibited impeccable judgment, the highest level of forensic skill, integrity, and civility.”
 
SECOND MILLER THOMSON LAWYER MOVES TO DICKINSON WRIGHT
Former Miller Thomson LLP corporate lawyer Jack Tannerya has joined Dickinson Wright LLP.

Tannerya is the second Miller Thomson lawyer to leave the firm and join Dickinson Wright in recent weeks. Alan Litwack, also a corporate lawyer, recently migrated to Dickinson Wright as well.

Tannerya’s practice areas include mergers and acquisition, divestitures, and reorganizations. He’ll be joining the Toronto office as a partner.

“In business succession planning matters, Mr. Tannerya often acts as a trusted adviser to the owners who rely upon him to assist them throughout the entire exit process starting with organizing an appropriate team of consultants including valuators, investment bankers, and accountants and concluding with introductions to appropriate wealth management teams,” the firm said.

Tannerya also helps a number of high net-worth families from China establish their businesses in Canada, according to Dickinson Wright.
 
LAO PILOT FOR REFUGEE APPEAL TRANSCRIPTS
Legal Aid Ontario says it has started funding refugee appeal transcripts as part of a pilot project.

Lawyers could get up to $500 to cover costs related to refugee appeal division transcripts, LAO announced last week.

LAO’s refugee appeal committee grants coverage after it reviews an application and “assesses legal merit and the likelihood of success,” according to a press release.

“If the committee approves the request, LAO will add the disbursement to the certificate and fund the transcription cost up to $3.20 per page or $2.13 per minute to a maximum of $500,” LAO announced.

In unique cases, the organization may approve transcription costs exceeding $500. But LAO is already asking lawyers to use this option sparingly.
 
REMEMBERING JAMES M. TORY
Torys LLP counsel and chairman emeritus James M. Tory died last week.

The firm’s managing partner, Les Viner, told The Globe and Mail last week that the 83-year-old lawyer had died suddenly while vacationing in Nova Scotia.

“Jim was remarkably smart but modest; he was remarkably generous but humble; and he was remarkably successful but down to earth and warm,” wrote Viner in an announcement on the firm’s web site.

“He loved people; and he loved the practice of law, which for him meant helping people find fair and mutually beneficial solutions to legal and business problems.”

Tory especially valued the notion of professionalism and encouraged “an atmosphere of tolerance, friendship, trust, and goodwill,” added Viner.

Despite his deep commitment to the firm and his career, Tory always put his family first, said Viner.

“Jim was special and unique, and he will be greatly missed.”

CBA AWARDS HANDED OUT
University of Ottawa professor Elizabeth Sheehy was among the recipients of the Canadian Bar Association awards in Saskatoon last week.

The CBA honoured Sheehy with the Ramon John Hnatyshyn award for law. “When one thinks about criminal law and feminism in Canada, one of the first names that come to mind is professor Elizabeth Sheehy,” said University of Windsor law professor David Tanovich.

Sheehy, a professor at the university since 1984, designed the first course on woman and the legal profession taught in Canadian law schools. She’s an advocate for women’s rights in Canada and abroad, according to a press release from the university.

Other CBA award recipients include Eric Rice (President’s award); Gaylene Schellenberg (Jack Innes achievement award); Louise Mailhot (Cecilia I. Johnstone award); Paul Webster, Joe Schlesinger, and Bonnie Brown (Stephen Hanson awards); Teresa Scassa and Michael Deturbide (Walter Owen book prize); Katherine Fraser (Edward K. Rowan-Legg award); Emma Halpern (SOGIC ally award); Milé Komlen (SOGIC hero award); Malcolm Mercer (Louis St-Laurent award for law); Douglas Moen (John Tait award of excellence); Alberta Chief Justice Catherine Fraser (Touchstone award); Stephanie Yang (young lawyers pro bono award); and Benjamin Perryman (Viscount Bennett fellowship).
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MILLER THOMSON PARTNER MOVES TO DICKINSON WRIGHT
Corporate lawyer Alan Litwack has joined Dickinson Wright LLP. Litwack, who was previously of Miller Thomson LLP, joins the Toronto office as a partner.

“Mr. Litwack has experience in a wide range of industries including high-tech, telecommunications, retail, clean tech, environmental, manufacturing, real estate, business services, and professional service firms,” Dickson Wright said in a release.

The firm also touted Litwack’s experience in corporate and commercial matters, especially his knowledge in mergers and acquisitions, securities, and capital markets.

TWO JUDGES APPOINTED
Two new judges will join the Ontario Court of Justice this week.

Ronald Marion, who will preside in Windsor, Ont., practised criminal and civil litigation at Sloniowski & Marion before he moved to Blackadder Leon Marion and Fazari LLP where he did work in family law in addition to criminal and civil cases.

Marion brings to the provincial court several years of experience as chairman of various councils and associations, including the Ontario School Trustees Council.
He was also previously a school trustee with the Niagara South Board of Education.

Kevin Phillips has been an assistant Crown attorney in various regions ever since his call to the bar in 1999. He has prosecuted a range of criminal cases with a recent focus on Internet child luring and exploitation matters.

Phillips was a founding member of the Ottawa mental health court committee and volunteered with several other hospitals and mental health groups. He will preside at the court in Brockville, Ont.

AN APP FOR CAR ACCIDENTS
Personal injury lawyers at Windsor, Ont., law firm Goldstein DeBiase Manzocco have released a smartphone application for people involved in car accidents.

The firm came up with an app that gives drivers traffic information and points them to the nearest gas station. But in case their travel goes awry and they end up in an accident, drivers with the app can press a button on their phones and find out what to do next.

It’s one way the firm is making sure its clients have the right type of information.

“There are many mistakes people can make in the frantic moments after an accident which may ruin their case or cost them money down the road,” the law firm says.

“The smartDRIVER app helps you gather the information you will need for police, insurance companies, and your lawyer.”

A step-by-step instruction at the scene of the accident allows drivers to complete a checklist of information. The app also comes with a camera feature to photograph and store images in addition to recording software for interviewing witnesses at the scene.

“With a click of a button, you can send photos and recordings to our office,” the firm says. The application is free for anyone in the Windsor-Essex area.

FUNDING BOOST FOR FAMILY VIOLENCE PROJECT
The Government of Canada says it’s investing nearly $250,000 in a pilot project aimed at helping victims of family violence.

 The Scarborough Family Justice Centre is a “more victim-focused and victim-friendly approach to criminal justice and social services intervention,” the government said in a press release.

“Home and family should be safe havens, but unfortunately that is not always the case,” said Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

“In 2011, police reported almost 95,000 victims of family violence in Canada. Our government is committed to addressing the trauma experienced by victims of violence.”

Victim Services Toronto, police, and other community organizations jointly run the pilot project.    
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Law Times poll

After the Supreme Court set out a framework to assess the independence of expert witnesses, litigators have different opinions about whether it’s too difficult to exclude expert evidence on the basis of bias. What do you think?
Yes, it remains very hard to get this evidence excluded, but this may change as trial court judges pay more attention to the backgrounds of expert witnesses.
No, it is not hard to get this evidence excluded, as the courts continually refine the role of experts in both criminal and civil litigation.