The provincial government is set to introduce a number of changes to the way Ontario chooses its judges in an attempt to boost diversity on the bench.
Attorney General Yasir Naqvi recently announced changes to the way Ontario’s Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee functions, which will include giving judicial applicants the opportunity to self-identify as indigenous or a member of a minority group.
The committee will be required to keep track of this data for applicants and appointees and will release it to the public.
“This is important because without this information the committee won’t know who’s applying,” Naqvi said in remarks at a Roundtable of Diversity Associations event.
“We also know that people want more information about who their judges are and where they come from.”
The province is also planning to have the committee reach out to diverse lawyers through information sessions that will be held through associations and law schools. The sessions will “provide crucial nuts and bolts information” such as resumé and application building, what an interview would be like and what the committee looks for in candidates. Naqvi said he plans to make the same changes to the way justices of the peace are selected next year.
OSC APPOINTS SECURITIES LAWYER COMMISSIONER
The Ontario Securities Commission has appointed Philip Anisman to serve as a commissioner on the regulator’s board of directors.
Anisman, who is a former Osgoode Hall Law School professor, has decades of experience practising securities and corporate law. He has written extensively about securities law and has appeared before all levels of court in Ontario, including the Supreme Court of Canada.
TLA RESPONDS TO LSUC REPORT ON RACIALIZED LICENSEES
The Toronto Lawyers Association has voiced its support for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s report on the challenges faced by racialized licensees.
The report — “Working Together for Change: Strategies to Address Issues of Systemic Racism in the Legal Professions” — identified widespread barriers faced by racialized licensees and introduced some new requirements for licensees and firms to promote inclusion.
In a letter to the law society, TLA president Stephen Mullings endorsed the report saying it is important that the regulator ensure law firms work toward eliminating systemic racism and penalize the ones that fail to take the necessary steps.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that an Ontario court ordered the province’s Ministry of the Attorney General to release a set of draft guidelines for prosecuting HIV non-disclosure cases. Readers were asked if they agree with the decision.
More than 86 per cent said yes, it is important for the Crown to be open and transparent about the way it prosecutes these cases, so people understand the application of the law.
The remaining 14 per cent said no, the Crown does not have to release this information, and the ministry has a right to keep this information internal, for use among employees.
The Toronto Lawyers Association will give Dale Ponder its 2017 Award of Distinction.
Ponder, who is the chief executive and managing partner of Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, first joined the firm in the 1980s as an associate.
She says that while the lack of women in the profession back then presented challenges, she was used to the environment, having grown up playing a lot of sports with male friends.
She started her career as a tax lawyer, but she soon moved into securities law, ascending to become a leading corporate and M&A lawyer. She became chief executive and managing partner of Osler in 2009, but she had already served as a co-managing partner of the firm for years before that.
Ponder says she was very lucky to have mentors in her early years at Osler such as Brian Levitt, Jack Petch and Peter Dey. Under their guidance, she was given the opportunity to work on some of Canada’s largest corporate and M&A mandates.
“I owe a great debt of gratitude to each of them for taking such an interest in me personally and for giving me the development opportunities they did,” she says.
The TLA’s other award winner is Stephen Thiele, of Gardiner Roberts LLP, who will be honoured with the Honsberger Award.Thiele is credited with shaping legal arguments in many significant cases that have had far-reaching effects. The awards will be given out at the TLA’s awards reception on March 2, 2017.
OBA OPENS REGISTRATION
The Ontario Bar Association has opened up registration for Institute 2017.
Last year’s event won a Continuing Professional Development award from the Association For Continuing Legal Education for its use of technology in bringing around 2,000 lawyers from across the province together. Institute runs Feb. 7-11, 2017 in Toronto and Ottawa and will be broadcast live online.
For more information, or to register, visit oba.org.
GOWLING WLG PROMOTES DIVERSITY
Gowling WLG has launched a new podcast to talk about diversity in the global legal industry.
Diversonomics will be hosted by associates Roberto Aburto and Sarah Willis, and will discuss how the legal profession can become more inclusive.
The podcast can be found on iTunes and the first six episodes will be released every Wednesday until Dec. 14. The firm plans to launch a second season of the podcast in 2017.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that alleged communications and funding failures might undermine indigenous engagement in a federal review of the environmental assessment process.
Readers were asked if this will lead to serious flaws in the overhaul of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in 2012.
Half of respondents said yes, this will harm the overhaul of the Act, and lead to less public confidence in environmental assessment processes.
The other half said no, while alleged communications and funding failures are not ideal, every review process has wrinkles and the overall goal of overhauling the act is sound.
The South Asian Bar Association of Toronto honoured the Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law with its 2016 Diversity Award.
CAMWL received the award at the SABA awards dinner on Nov. 15.
The association looks to advance the legal rights of Muslim women and other marginalized groups.
“A lot of times there are gaps and people don’t realize these gaps exist, but we do because they exist to us,” says co-founder Sharifa Khan.
Khan says the group advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession and looks to provide mentorship and camaraderie to Muslim women who are lawyers or law students. The association, which has 86 members, was founded in 2013.
Khan says there is an increasing number of Muslim women becoming lawyers.
“We wanted to create a space where we could express our own opinions on legal issues and also just provide a space for other members, particularly providing support for each other in the legal profession,” says Khan.
BOOSTING DIVERSITY ON BOARDS
Stikeman Elliott LLP is looking to increase the number of women on boards.
The law firm has launched a new Board Diversity Initiative, which is looking to reach out to clients to discuss gender diversity on boards.
“We thought this would be a great way to add an external facet to our Women’s Initiative, by bringing our clients into some of the things we’re doing from a thought leadership perspective,” says Ramandeep Grewal, counsel with Stikeman Elliott, who has helped lead the initiative.
The firm plans to host a number of events and roundtables on the topic, starting in January, and to engage businesses on practical options to advance the issue in the future.
LSUC RETAINS BLANEY MCMURTRY
Blaney McMurtry LLP is set to defend the Law Society of Upper Canada against a complaint at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters filed the complaint alleging that a security guard discriminated against him when he was entering the law society building. Pieters, who is black, said he was stopped by the security guard while giving an intern a tour of the building in July.
LSUC chief executive officer Robert Lapper met with Pieters and his intern and assured them the incident would be investigated. But Pieters was not satisfied with the law society’s reaction and filed the complaint.
LAW TIMES POLL
A recent Law Times story explored how businesses are creating workplace investigation strategies in response to new sexual harassment legislation.
Readers were asked if their law firms have a strategy. Roughly 75 per cent said yes, their workplace has a strategy in place and they recommend clients create one.
The remaining 25 per cent said no, their workplace does not have a strategy in place, and while it’s an important idea, it is simply too resource-intensive at this point.
The fight to bring more equity and inclusion to the legal profession has been a personal one for Sandra Nishikawa.
The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers honoured the LSUC bencher and counsel in the Crown Law Office Civil with its 2016 Lawyer of Distinction Award at FACL’s 10th annual conference in late October.
Called to the bar in 1999, Nishikawa has been actively involved throughout her career in working to make the path smoother for racialized lawyers who follow in her path.
“If racialized lawyers aren’t on an equal footing, then our ability to work and represent our communities and to advocate is also negatively impacted,” says Nishikawa, who is a past chairwoman of the law society’s Equity Advisory Group.
She says being a lawyer might not be an obvious choice for many young, racialized people.
As there have been low numbers of racialized people in the profession in the past, few young, racialized people had parents who were lawyers or judges, she says.
“There are still barriers and some proactive measures need to be taken to overcome them,” she says.
She has experienced first-hand the barriers racialized lawyers can face when she was first entering the profession.
As a law student and later as a young lawyer, Nishikawa says she was passed over for opportunities because of her race and gender.
“I just thought that if I was the qualified candidate, I would get the job, and we kind of know that’s not how it works,” she says.
STRATTON CO-CHAIR OF IPT SERVICE GROUP
A founding partner of Dimock Stratton LLP has been named co-chair of DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s IPT Service Group.
Bruce Stratton and lawyers from his firm joined DLA Piper (Canada) LLP at the beginning of November.
Dimock Stratton specialized in intellectual property litigation, as well as the acquisition, licensing and portfolio management of patents, trademarks and copyrights. Chris Bennett will serve as the group’s other co-chair.
LAO OFFERING $200,000 IN GRANTS TO HELP BLACK YOUTH
Legal Aid Ontario is looking to give a one-time grant of $200,000 to two organizations that help black students facing suspension or expulsion.
LAO is asking for organizations that help black youth deal with problems they are experiencing with the education system to apply for the grant by Nov. 14.
Each chosen organization will receive $100,000.
For more information and application forms, visit legalaid.on.ca.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported that lawyers want to learn more about an online child support calculation service the province launched earlier this year.
Readers were asked if they had heard of this service.
More than 11 per cent said yes, they had heard about this service and think it’s a great tool for clients. Almost 89 per cent said no, they had not heard about the service and think the province should communicate more about this tool.
While he is known by colleagues as a “lawyer’s lawyer,” Chris Paliare says he would never describe himself that way.
The Toronto lawyer and partner at Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP was given the Ontario Bar Association’s 2016 Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation at a dinner in his honour in early November.
Paliare, who represents lawyers in disciplinary matters, says he is flattered by the “lawyer’s lawyer” label, but he honestly does not really know what it means.
“I guess I’m someone who people trust and whose judgment they appreciate,” he says. Paliare was called to the bar in 1973 and completed his articling at Cameron Brewin and Scott.
He credits his success to the luck of having been surrounded by lawyers at the firm such as former attorney general Ian Scott and former Court of Appeal justice Stephen Goudge while at the firm.
“I was really lucky as an articling student and a young lawyer to have attached my caboose to that train,” he says.
He later became a founding partner of litigation boutique Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein in 2001.
Paliare, who is considered a pioneer in boutique litigation, has appeared before every level of trial and appellate court in Ontario, right up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
TRUDEAU CHOOSES LAWYERS FOR SENATE
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed two Ontario lawyers to serve in the Senate.
Kim Pate and Howard Wetston will join the ranks of the red chamber as “independent senators.”
Pate is a human rights expert and a part-time law professor at the University of Ottawa, who has served as the executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies since 1992.
She has worked to help incarcerated women reintegrate into society when they are released.
Wetston is counsel with Goodmans LLP, an adjunct law professor at the University of Toronto and a former trial judge at the Federal Court of Canada.
LAO LAWYERS VOTE TO UNIONIZE
After three years of pushing for unionization, Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyers have voted to join the Society of Energy Professionals.
In a 246-76 vote, lawyers approved the move to have the union represent them in bargaining with LAO.
The lawyers first requested to unionize in 2013, but they were rejected by their employer.
LAO resisted the request until August, when they agreed to negotiate with the Society.
LAO’s articling students have also started their own push to be represented by the union.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that a Law Society of Upper Canada committee has reversed its position to end the Law Practice Program.
Readers were asked if they agree with this decision.
More than 69 per cent said yes, the decision to endorse extending the pilot program for an additional two years is a wise move.
Almost 31 per cent said no, the decision does not reflect the committee’s original report.
An Aboriginal Legal Services lawyer spoke to a United Nations committee fighting discrimination against women for the first time in the group’s history.
Emily Hill, an ALS senior staff lawyer, attended a meeting of the Committee for the Elimination of the Discrimination Against Women in Geneva, Switzerland on Oct. 25 to share the barriers to equality faced by aboriginal women in Canada.
“The questions raised by CEDAW are front and centre in the work we do with victims,” Hill said.
“We assist women who have experienced violence and face discrimination when they seek help from the police and the courts.”
CEDAW is composed of 23 independent experts who monitor the implementation of the committee’s convention, which requires states to take “all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Christa Big Canoe, ALS’ legal director, says the organization also wanted to voice concerns it had with a report submitted by the federal government to CEDAW. Big Canoe says the tone of the report concerning the launch of the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women was not appropriate.
SURVEY SAYS UPTICK IN CLASS ACTIONS
Canadian companies have not been as proactive as their global counterparts when it comes to adopting measures to mitigate the risk of litigation, according to a new survey by Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP.
The survey also found that Canadian companies faced more than double the amount of class action lawsuits in the last 12 months than the previous year. Contract and labour disputes also remain some of the more numerous types of litigation Canadian companies face, the survey said.
LSUC SUSPENDS LAWYER
The Law Society of Upper Canada has suspended a Toronto lawyer after a tribunal found he had a sexual relationship with a client.
The tribunal suspended Antonio Macri for two and a half months after finding he had failed to tell his firm about the relationship, which was with a client he was representing in a family law matter. The tribunal also found Macri sent “a series of uncivil text messages and e-mails” to the client, implying he would use confidential information against her if she failed to reimburse him funds he lent her. Macri’s licence was suspended starting Oct. 28. He was also fined $2,500.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported that the federal government has introduced a bill to modernize the Canada Business Corporations Act, but lawyers say it could sow confusion for companies that are listed under the TSX and were incorporated under the act.
Readers were asked if they agreed with the steps to modernize the act.
More than 33 per cent said yes, modernizing the act is a good idea that will have positive outcomes for companies.
Almost 67 per cent said no, the changes the bill proposes will create confusion for companies and not achieve their intended results.
Despite the dismissal of an injunction to stop the Cleveland Indians baseball team from using its name and logo during playoff games at the Rogers Centre, lawyers say the fight is far from over.
Canadian indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal has filed human rights complaints with both the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, in addition to his application for an interlocutory injunction with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Cardinal, who is of Blackfoot descent, wants a ban on the use of the team’s logo, as well as the word Indian in association with that logo, which the case argues is racist and discriminatory under Canadian law.
“What we’re saying is when you deliver a service in Ontario, whether it be Rogers through the Rogers Centre or its broadcast, or the Cleveland team by coming and participating in that service, when you’re in this province you have to deliver that service without discrimination,” says Rebecca Jones, partner at Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP and counsel for Cardinal. Justice Thomas McEwen has yet to give reasons for his ruling.
Another of the lawyers representing Cardinal, Paul-Erik Veel also of Lenczner, says he was disappointed with the decision, but he adds that the rejection of the injunction does not necessarily touch upon whether the name and logo are discriminatory.
“The question of whether an injunction is appropriate involves a lot of considerations beyond the merits of the case and one of the things our opponents argued quite strenuously was all of the practical problems that could emerge if an injunction was granted,” he says.
LSUC TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS LAWYER
The Law Society of Upper Canada has temporarily suspended the licence of a Toronto lawyer accused of sexual assault. Toronto police arrested Francois Lesieur in late September for allegedly sexually assaulting girls under the age of 18. In submissions to a tribunal, law society counsel argued there were reasonable grounds to believe there would be a significant risk of harm to members of the public “if an order is not made suspending the Responding Party’s license.”
SEGREGATION OVERUSED: OHRC
More than 38 per cent of prisoners placed in solitary confinement in Ontario’s prisons in late 2015 had been flagged for mental health problems, according to data released by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The OHRC released the data to step up the pressure on the provincial government to end solitary confinement in Ontario’s correctional facilities.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported that labour lawyers say Legal Aid Ontario is dragging its feet when it comes to allowing its articling students to unionize.
Readers were asked if they think LAO is right to push for seven bargaining units to represent the articling students.
Roughly 20 per cent said yes, LAO is right to participate in this dispute at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, even if this delays the process overall.
The remaining 80 per cent said no, LAO should stop stalling and the union is right to push for one province-wide arrangement in terms of representing the articling students.
SMALL TORONTO FIRM WINS PRO BONO HONOUR
The Bellissimo Law Group will be receiving the Law Firm Pro Bono Award from Pro Bono Ontario.
Since 2012, the firm of seven lawyers — the Bellissimo Law Group — has provided pro bono help to more than 100 families who have children at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and are also dealing with immigration issues.
Alain Roussy wants to know if more can be done to protect language rights in the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The University of Ottawa law professor was one of two people recently awarded academic fellowships through the OBA Foundation this year. He plans to use the $15,000 he was granted to review the history and adequacy of language rights provisions in the rules.
Rules 3.2-2A and 3.2-2B say a lawyer shall, when appropriate, advise a client of their language rights, and that a lawyer cannot handle the matter of a client who wishes to retain a lawyer in their own language if they are unable to provide the service in the chosen language.
“My question is whether that is sufficient,” says Roussy.
“Are they specific enough and are they broad enough?”
The OBA Foundation annually awards two fellowships that concern legal ethics and professionalism studies.
Paul Michell, of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, was awarded the other $5,000 fellowship to look at what he calls the “ethical consequences of disaggregation in the legal practice.”
“A lot of the ethical rules that govern lawyers assume a sort of traditional law firm model, where a client hires a law firm and all of the legal work for that particular mandate is done by that firm internally,” he says.
“That’s not really the way at least some kinds of legal work are increasingly being done.”
As in-house departments get bigger, an increasing number of commercial clients want to do some of the work and farm out only certain portions to specialist external lawyers, Michell says. Others will ask a firm to manage a transaction, but they will insist that certain parts be farmed out to contract lawyers who are considered specialists, he says.
“The conflict rules and ethical rules that have traditionally applied don’t necessarily map very well on to the new practice structures and business realities,” he says.
TORONTO LAWYER ELECTED SECRETARY GENERAL OF INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION
The International Bar Association has elected a Miller Thomson LLP partner to serve as its next secretary general.
James Klotz, who is an international business lawyer, is only the third Canadian to be elected to the position at the IBA over the last 50 years.
“The IBA is the global thought leader of the profession of law, seeking to preserve and enhance the rule of law worldwide, and I am honoured to have been entrusted with the responsibility that comes with this position,” Klotz said in a press release.
Klotz, who specializes in anti-corruption and governance, has served on the IBA’s management board for five years.
LAO CALLS FOR LINDEN AWARD NOMINATIONS
Legal Aid Ontario is calling for nominations for the Sidney B. Linden Award.
The annual award is named after Justice Linden, who was the first chairman of LAO, and seeks to honour legal professionals who have shown a long commitment to helping low-income people.
Lawyers in the private sector, paralegals, academics, LAO employees, community legal clinic staff and people who work at a student legal aid services society are all eligible for the award.
For more information or nomination forms, visit www.legalaid.on.ca.
LAO is accepting nominations until Nov. 4 at 5 pm.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled an illegal immigrant will not get provincial compensation after a vehicle accident.
Readers were asked if they agree with this decision.
Almost 62 per cent said yes, illegal immigrants to Canada should not receive compensation for injuries sustained in a vehicle accident in Ontario because it’s the law.
More than 38 per cent said no, illegal immigrants to Canada should receive provincial compensation for injuries sustained in vehicle accidents that happen within Ontario.
The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund is intervening in a case that will challenge provisions in the Indian Act.
In Gehl v Attorney General of Canada, Lynn Gehl is challenging a policy that says an applicant for status under the act can be rejected if he or she does not have their father listed on their birth certificate, as he is assumed to be non-Indian.
Critics say this policy discriminates on the basis of sex and marital status.
“Indigenous women are disproportionately targeted for sexual violence and they are disproportionately single parents living in poverty,” said LEAF’s legal director, Kim Stanton.
“An Indigenous mother should not be forced to choose between ensuring her child’s status (and the ensuing benefits) and a heightened risk of physical harm or social conflicts.”
The federal government denied the request by Gehl, who is an Algonquin-Anishinaabe woman, to register for “Indian status” under the act in 1994 because her grandfather was not registered on her mother’s birth certificate. Status provides access to benefits such as tax exemptions.
LEGAL AID ONTARIO EXPANDS PILOT
Legal Aid Ontario is expanding a pilot project to fund proceedings at the Ontario Court of Justice where a second judicial pre-trial has been scheduled.
The pilot will run until March 31, 2018 at 15 locations across Ontario. Lawyers can submit requests to obtain coverage on the Legal Aid Ontario website.
For more information, contact LAO’s lawyer service centre at 1-866-979-9934.
LSUC RESPONDS TO CONSULTATIONS
The Law Society of Upper Canada wants laypersons to be involved in all stages of the judicial discipline process.
The idea was one of a number of recommendations the law society has made in response to consultations the federal government is holding about the justice system.
The law society’s recommendations also included that the federal government base its new judicial appointments process on Ontario’s, which is led by an independent committee. The LSUC also asked the government to commit to specific timelines in which judicial vacancies will be filled.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that a new LSUC report on the barriers faced by racialized licensees recommends measures such as the LSUC doing an internal diversity assessment and providing equality and inclusion education to Convocation.
Readers were asked if they plan to read the report and support its recommendations.
About 67 per cent said yes, this report is a critical piece of insight on how to address the widespread barriers that racialized licensees face, and the recommendations can lead to important social change.
Another 33 per cent said no, they do not have plans to read the report and that this issue is very complex and needs more than the Law Society’s recommendations implemented to lead to meaningful social change.
DLA Piper (Canada) LLP and Dimock Stratton LLP have combined forces.
Starting Nov. 1, lawyers from the intellectual property firm will join DLA Piper’s Toronto office.
“It’s exciting, an exciting opportunity,” says Bruce Stratton, a partner at Dimock Stratton LLP, who will also be a partner in the new merger.
“The legal market is changing and becoming more of a global market, and for intellectual property, the global aspect is key and we see this as a way of connecting into an incredible global network,” Stratton added.
The Canadian arm of DLA Piper — which has six offices across the country — joined with DLA Piper, which spans more than 30 countries, in April last year.
Roger Meltzer, global co-chairman and co-chairman (Americas) of DLA Piper, hailed the merger with Stratton.
“This key market continues to generate a wealth of new opportunities, and with intellectual property and technology law standing at the core of so many major business transactions across sectors, this is an important step to boost our competitive edge and execute our growth strategy,” he said in a press release.
Dimock Stratton was founded in 1994 by Ron Dimock and Bruce Stratton.
The firm specializes in intellectual property litigation, as well as the acquisition, licensing and portfolio management of patents, trademarks and copyrights.
Dimock Stratton has 19 lawyers, 16 of which will be joining DLA Piper (Canada) LLP. Two partners and one associate are forming their own firm on Nov. 1, Stratton said.
OSGOODE HALL LAW PROFESSOR HONOURED AS 2016 TRUDEAU FELLOW
Poonam Puri has been named one of five Canadian academics who will receive research fellowships from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation this year.
The Osgoode Hall law professor will receive $225,000 over three years for a project called Piercing the Corporate Veil.
Through the project, Puri, who is an expert in corporate governance, is set to develop policy and legal solutions to deal with multinational corporations that have caused harm such as human rights or environmental abuses on communities.
ARI KAPLAN TO START NEW MEDIATION FIRM
Toronto lawyer Ari Kaplan is leaving Koskie Minsky LLP at the end of September to launch his own solo practice.
Kaplan, who became Canada’s first Qualified Mediator with recognized expertise in pension law in 2015, will focus his new firm — Mediation Benefits at Kaplan Law — on mediation in the pension and benefits sector.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that a Law Society of Upper Canada committee has recommended ending the Law Practice Program after it finishes its pilot.
Readers were asked if they agree with this move.
More than 55 per cent said yes, the LPP should be scrapped because it has created a two-tier system. It’s time for it to go.
Almost 44 per cent said no, the LPP program should not be ended and is a much-needed alternative to articling.
As the daughter of Tanzanian immigrants who were not able to practise their chosen profession in Canada, Isfahan Merali always knew she wanted to practise in an area that would let her help communities that face barriers.
The human rights lawyer was recently appointed to serve on the Law Foundation of Ontario Board of Trustees, a post where Merali says she hopes to help the organization reach out to vulnerable communities.
Merali, who is tribunal counsel to the Consent and Capacity Board, says she also hopes to help share knowledge about access to justice and human rights.
Merali was elected as a bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2015.
$80,000 DONATION BY THOMSON ROGERS
Thomson Rogers is set to donate $80,000 to five different organizations that have helped its clients get back on their feet.
“You see these groups that do this work somewhat anonymously for the most part,” says Alan Farrer, the firm’s managing partner.
“Some of this work is unnoticed by a lot of people except those who are injured and need the help. So we thought we’d shine a bit of a light on it and give back a little, too.”
The firm is inviting the public to go on its web site, www.thomsonrogers.com, to watch videos of the stories from the five different nominees and vote. The amount of money each organization will receive will depend on where it places in the voting.
TORONTO LAWYER LOOKS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Bonnie Fish wants to put the issue of affordable housing on more people’s radar.
Over the last six years, the Toronto lawyer has been involved in the Kehilla Residential Programme — a rental assistance fund that helps those in need meet their housing costs.
“You get up in the morning, you go to work and then you go back home at night and feel secure in your dwelling.
If you’re not aware of those around that don’t have that same ability, you’re closing your eyes to the world around you,” says Fish, who is a partner at Fogler Rubinoff LLP.
Fish organizes an annual Kehilla event called Sukkahville, which is a design competition that challenges participants to build a sukkah — a temporary hut structure built during the Jewish festival of Sukkot.
There will also be a panel discussion about affordable housing at the event, which takes place Sept. 22 at the Design Exchange in downtown Toronto.
LAW TIMES POLL
The Law Times recently reported that a bill to stop genetic discrimination will be debated in the House of Commons.
Readers were asked if they think legislation to prevent genetic discrimination is needed.
Around 69 per cent said yes, legislation to prevent genetic discrimination is needed, as this is a serious and emerging problem.
The remaining 31 per cent said no, legislation is not needed, as the actual threat of genetic discrimination is negligible, and the solutions being proposed won’t be an efficient way to address the issue.
The South Asian Bar Association North American Foundation has tapped a Toronto lawyer to serve as one of its trustees.
Rustam “Rusty” Juma, legal counsel to Deloitte LLP, has been appointed to serve as a trustee for the foundation, which funds legal education and research programs that benefit the South Asian community.
Juma says initiatives he hopes to pursue as a trustee include mentorship programs for SABA members and scholarships for law students in need.
He also is looking to pursue advocacy initiatives carried out by legal clinics on behalf of South Asians.
“Rusty is a leader in our bar and our profession,” said Ranjan Agarwal, the president of SABA Toronto.
“He will be a valuable asset to the SABA North America Foundation in their public interest work across North America.”
Juma is a former vice president of SABA Toronto and also served on the local organization’s board for four years before stepping down in August.
CHARITY CHARTER CHALLENGE
McCarthy Tétrault LLP is representing an Ottawa charity on a Charter challenge to a section of the Income Tax Act.
Canada Without Poverty launched the challenge in the Ontario Superior Court, claiming s. 149.1 (6.2) of the act violates freedom of association. The charity says that under the section of the act, “initiatives taken to encourage interaction between people living in poverty with politicians and other decision-makers about strategies for the relief of poverty must be severely restricted.”
The charity has been under audit since the federal government started a program to scrutinize the supposed political activities of charities in 2012.
“CWP has found that the restrictions imposed by section 149.1 (6.2) are contrary to its charitable purpose and prevent it from pursuing the relief of poverty in a reasonable and effective manner,” the charity said in its notice of application.
The firm is taking on the case pro bono and declined to comment on the challenge.
MEDICO LEGAL SOCIETY DINNER
The Medico Legal Society of Toronto is set to host a dinner with speakers talking about medico-legal issues.
The event, which will take place the evening of Sept. 28, will include a talk on Bill 132, Ontario’s new sexual violence and harassment legislation, given by Lisa Hamilton, of Bell Temple LLP. The dinner costs $180.80 for members and $226 for non-members.
For more information, or to register, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that an Ottawa lawyer is arguing it should be easier to award costs against the Law Society of Upper Canada, in order to force the regulator to think harder about which cases it prosecutes.
Readers were asked if they agree with this position.
More than 79 per cent said yes, the bar should be lowered and the LSUC is overzealous in the cases it chooses to prosecute.
Almost 21 per cent said no, the regulator is doing its job correctly and costs should only be awarded in extreme circumstances.
The former Canadian ambassador to the United States and a past premier of Manitoba, Gary Doer, has joined Dentons in its Toronto office.
In the role of senior business adviser, Doer will be working with all of the firm’s offices across Canada (including Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver), throughout the United States and around the world.
“I think advocacy through an international law firm, particularly with assets in the United States, could be a real advantage for Canadians and for Americans to get stuff done,” says Doer.
Doer served as Canada’s ambassador to the United States from October 2009 to March 2016.
Prior to that, Doer was the 20th premier of Manitoba, from 1999 to 2009, leading the New Democratic Party to win three consecutive majority governments.
“I was involved as a premier in the European trade discussions and one of the big issues for Europe was procurement for subnational governments. I was very involved in that process and very aware of what the benefits are for Canada. I was very involved in the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) negotiations, which gives some certainty and parameters to state-owned enterprises in dealing with free market countries like Canada, the United States and Mexico,” says Doer.
He will work with Dentons’ Canada-U.S. trans-border practice.
Doer will also be deeply involved in the firm’s global public policy initiatives.
“We are honoured to welcome Gary to Dentons — his arrival further strengthens the unmatched talent and scope of our team of business and public policy advisors,” said Chris Pinnington, Dentons’ Canada chief executive officer, in a statement.
ATWOOD TO SPEAK AT LEAF EVENT
Noted Canadian writer Margaret Atwood will be the keynote speaker at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund’s Person’s Day Breakfast. The event will take place Oct. 19, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto.
To learn more about the event, contact email@example.com or 416-595-7170. Tickets can be purchased online at www.leaf.ca/pdbtoronto2016/.
CABL EVENTS ON THE HORIZON
The Canadian Association of Black Lawyers will have its sixth annual conference Oct. 14, in partnership with the Law Society of Upper Canada. The conference will take place at the LSUC’s Donald Lamont Learning Centre, at 130 Queen Street West in Toronto. That evening at 6 p.m., there will be a 20th anniversary opening night reception, at the Fairmont Royal York’s Upper Canada Ballroom. On Oct. 15, CABL will have its 20th anniversary gala at the Fairmont Royal York’s Concert Hall Ballroom. More information and updates on these events are available at www.cabl.ca.
LAW TIMES POLL
A Law Times series has explored how technology is changing how lawyers operate. Readers were asked if they thought they would use a legal app in their practice in the next two years. About 56 per cent said yes, and that embracing new technologies helped them harness information in new ways.
About 44 per cent said no, while new technologies are important, some of the new tools proposed are not relevant to their work and not useful in their day-to-day practice.
For Frank Addario, some of his most memorable cases were the ones in which he was able to change the life of a client in trouble.
The Criminal Lawyers’ Association has given the veteran criminal lawyer a lifetime achievement award for his work as defence counsel over the years.
Called to the bar in 1985, Addario has defended clients at all levels of the courts right up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Addario says some of the more rewarding cases he has worked on have been ones where he has been able to make a small difference in people’s lives.
He recalled the case of Brenda Batisse, an aboriginal woman he represented who had kidnapped a newborn baby from a hospital in 2007 after pretending to be pregnant to her partner.
Batisse suffered from mental health problems and Addario was able to get her sentence reduced on appeal.
“That was rewarding because that was someone whose life had been ruined and I was able to improve it just a tiny bit,” he says.
Addario was president of the CLA from 2006 to 2009, and he is credited with leading a successful effort in 2008 to get the government to inject more funding into Legal Aid Ontario.
“The program still needs support and improvement, but we took a giant step in 2008,” he says.
He will receive the 2016 G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal at a gala luncheon during the CLA annual convention in October.
RETIRING SCC JUSTICE CROMWELL MARKS LAURIER’S 175TH BIRTHDAY
Retiring Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell is set to mark Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s 175th birthday with a special essay about Canada’s seventh prime minister.
Cromwell’s essay concerns Laurier’s 1864 valedictory address at McGill University’s law school.
“Here is the foundation of Laurier’s political beliefs,” Cromwell writes in the essay.
“He hoped that Canadian patriotism, mutual respect, compromise and adherence to the deep principle of justice would overcome linguistic, religious and regional divisions.”
Cromwell’s essay is part of a book, called Canada Always: The Defining Speeches of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, that examines some of Laurier’s more memorable oratory.
The book, which was edited by former journalist Arthur Milnes, is set to come out in October. Laurier’s birthday is Nov. 20.
VETERAN TAX LAWYER JOINS GOWLING WLG
Tax lawyer Steven Baum has joined Gowling WLG as a partner.
Baum has more than 25 years of experience advising banks, insurance companies and securities dealers on complex tax issues and will be working with the firm’s tax group to provide advice to clients across a broad range of sectors.
“Over the course of his career, Steven has built an impressive practice and proven himself a forward-thinking leader in the field of tax law,” said Peter Lukasiewicz, CEO of Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP.
“With his specialized expertise in the financial services sector and ability to foster strong relationships with financial institutions, Steven will be an important addition to our tax team and a significant resource for our clients.”
Baum has also been a taxation instructor at the Ontario Bar Admission Course and an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.
LAW TIMES POLL
A Law Times column last week argued that people should not have to get undergraduate degrees before going to law school.
Readers were asked if they agree with this position.
Almost 23 per cent said yes, going to get an undergraduate education is a waste of time and delays a lawyer’s entry into the workforce.
Roughly 77 per cent said no, getting an undergraduate education teaches students critical thinking skills needed for law schools.
Toronto lawyers Avra Rosen and Susan Sack have joined forces to start a new firm called Rosen Sack LLP.
The two lawyers have been friends since they were put in the same section at Osgoode Hall Law School in the 1980s.
“We are two very strong women, advocates, trial lawyers — very similar in the way we approach things and how we have compassion for our clients and strive for excellence,” Rosen says.
Called to the bar in 1987, Rosen practised family law while Sack initially pursued commercial litigation.
Rosen has had her own family law firm, Law Offices of Avra Rosen, for the last 19 years. She says one of her only sticking points of creating the new firm was that everything in her office remains purple — which has become what she calls her “colour trademark.”
Sack, who recently left Basman Smith LLP, focuses the majority of her practice representing family lawyers in LawPRO proceedings, but she also does some family law and commercial litigation.
The firm, which launched Aug. 15 with six lawyers, is set to move into a new space at the corner of St. Clair Avenue and Yonge Street in Toronto. The two lawyers say their skillsets complement each other well because the new firm will offer a complete package for family law clients who may need the help of a lawyer with estate litigation experience.
SOUTH ASIAN BAR ASSOCIATION WELCOMES NEW DIRECTORS
Five new directors have been elected to the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto’s board of directors.
SABA Toronto elected Aarondeep Bains of Aird & Berlis LLP, Neil Gurmukh of Miller Thomson LLP, Devin Persaud of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, as well as lawyers Aman Patel and Vibhu Sharma.
The directors will join the board after being elected at the association’s 10th annual general meeting in August.
TLA CALLS FOR HONSBERGER AWARD NOMINEES
The Toronto Lawyers Association is calling for nominations for the 2017 Honsberger Award.
The annual award recognizes a TLA member’s accomplishment or ongoing contribution, which exemplifies knowledge, advocacy and community — the association’s three pillars.
The award is named after John Honsberger, a TLA president from 1967 to 1968 and association historian who was the first recipient of the Law Society Medal and the TLA Award of Distinction.
For a nomination form or for more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for nominations is Sept. 30 and the award will be presented at the TLA Awards of Distinction Reception on March 2, 2017.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported recently that Legal Aid Ontario is reconsidering its practices around transparency in light of the province’s recent Open Data Directive.
Readers were asked if they thought Legal Aid billings should be kept secret.
Around 45 per cent said yes, releasing the data would violate the privacy of lawyers and the information would lack context.
The remaining 55 per cent said no, transparency and accountability would be enhanced if it was released, showing how public funding is used.
The Advocates’ Society has announced this year’s Catzman award will go to Donald Bayne.
The Ottawa criminal lawyer is known for defending high-profile clients in complicated cases throughout the years at all levels of courts.
Last year, Bayne successfully defended Senator Mike Duffy against charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust in his trial.
Bayne, who is a partner at Bayne Sellar Boxall LLP, has practised criminal law for 36 years and the Law Society of Upper Canada has given him the designation of a specialist in criminal litigation.
The Advocates’ Society created the Catzman award in 2008 along with the Catzman family and recognizes legal professionals who exemplify knowledge of the law, integrity, fairness, civility, as well as a number of other virtues.
It was named after Marvin Catzman, a deceased former justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal, and is presented annually by the Chief Justice of Ontario in the fall. Previous winners include Toronto lawyer Samuel Marr, Superior Court Justice Michal Fairburn and lawyer Connie Reeve.
Bayne is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a past director of the Criminal Lawyers Association and the director of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation.
He will receive the award at the Opening of the Courts Ceremony in Toronto on Sept. 13.
MARCH APPOINTED TO ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE
A veteran criminal lawyer has been appointed to serve as a judge at the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke, Ont.
Called to the bar in 1992, Michael March has practiced mainly in Renfrew County. He has often taken on pro bono work in his career, developing a reputation for sticking up for the vulnerable and those in need.
Recently, March volunteered with Project Welcome, an initiative that sponsored refugees.
TORONTO FIRM HAS A LAUGH WITH BREXIT AD
A Toronto law firm has had a laugh at the expense of its counterparts across the pond.
Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP has circulated a postcard poking fun at the United Kingdom’s recent vote to leave the European Union. The card is in the style of a news story from the Guardian newspaper with the headline “LAXIT!” and informs readers that the law firm has decided to pull out of the U.K. (The firm does not have any offices in Great Britain.)
“The partners of Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb, the self-proclaimed legendary Canadian firm of barristers and solicitors, have voted unanimously to close all their UK offices,” the tongue-in-cheek advertisement reads.
“This was a decision short in the making,” the firm’s managing partner, Matt Gottlieb, was quoted as saying on the postcard.
“Besides, I was personally exhausted from all the commuting and just want my wife back.”
The card also includes a made-up quote from the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying the firm will not be missed.
“I always found LOLG a really difficult acronym to pronounce,” it quotes him as saying.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported recently that the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that sent text messages can be used as evidence against the sender when seized from a recipient’s phone.
Readers were asked if they thought sent text messages should be considered private.
Almost 38 per cent said yes, sent text messages should be excluded as evidence, as they are a private communication between two people.
The remaining 62 per cent said no, they should not be considered private, as “senders are alive to the fact that their communications may no longer be private once sent of made.”
An Osgoode Hall law professor is set to launch a free investors clinic, thanks to a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario.
Poonam Puri is starting the Investor Protection Clinic and Living Lab, which will help individual investors who suffer loss because of wrongdoing.
The clinic is a joint project with FAIR Canada.
“Canadian investors who believe they have been wronged or suffered a loss deserve a single point of contact to help them with their investment complaint,” says Puri.
“Our clinic, the first of its kind in Canada, will fill this gap. I’m really excited to be able to offer this unique hands-on learning opportunity to Osgoode Hall law students.”
Law students will staff the clinic, heralded as the first of its kind in the country.
The clinic will collect information and data on complaints, and will develop a plain-language grievance guide for investors who have fallen prey to fraud.
The Law Foundation provided Puri with a $98,959 grant to launch the clinic through its Access to Justice Fund.
The foundation announced a total of $700,000 for eight different initiatives that all look to help vulnerable investors.
Other winners who received grant money from the Law Foundation included the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, a division of the British Columbia Law Institute, the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights and the Fondation du Barreau du Québec.
OBA WINS INTERNATIONAL AWARD
The Association for Continuing Legal Education has given an award to the Ontario Bar Association for its use of technology in its continuing professional development.
The OBA received the honour for its OBA Institute 2016, which brought together 2,000 lawyers from across the province in February.
The OBA said technology played a big role in the gathering, connecting venues in Ottawa and Toronto through a number of methods, including two-way hubs, which allowed lawyers to participate in events in the other city.
DALTON JOINS DLA PIPER (CANADA) LLP
DLA Piper (Canada) LLP welcomed corporate lawyer Lauren Dalton as the newest addition to its Toronto office. Dalton will join the firm as an associate. Called to the bar in both Ontario and New York State, Dalton has experience in cross-border issues.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported recently that Paul Schabas, the new treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, will be taking a “hard look” at the Law Practice Program, after concerns were raised that the program creates two tiers in the licensing system. Readers were asked if the review is needed.
Almost 87 per cent of respondents said yes, a review of the LPP is needed and there are outstanding concerns that require scrutiny.
Roughly 13 per cent of respondents said no, a review is unnecessary and the program has been introduced already. Any review would simply be window dressing.