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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.

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.

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

LAO is accepting nominations until Nov. 4 at 5 pm.

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.

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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 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.
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 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.
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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.

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.

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 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.
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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.


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,, 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.


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.


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.
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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.

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.

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

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.
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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.

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 or 416-595-7170. Tickets can be purchased online at

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

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.
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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 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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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 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 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.
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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.

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.

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 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.”

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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.

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.

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 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.
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It seems Canadian lawyers are spending fewer hours on pro bono work than they were last year.

According to the Canadian firms that sent their data to the 2016 TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, their lawyers spent an average of 13 hours on pro bono work over the last year, a decrease of 1.8 hours from the previous index.

The percentage of lawyers completing 10 hours or more of pro bono also dropped by more than 25 per cent, to 26.9 per cent from 36.3 in 2015.

The survey average was 39.2 pro bono hours per lawyer in the last year.

However, Nicholas Glicher, director, legal, and head of African Programmes at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Johannesburg, says only four Canadian firms — Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, McCarthy Tetrault LLP, Shearman & Sterling LLP, and Skadden, Arps Slate Meagher and Flom LLP — responded to TrustLaw’s request for data, which makes it difficult to “judge the whole of the Canadian pro bono community.”

In 2014, Canadian Lawyer conducted a pro bono survey offering more of an in-depth look at the Canadian pro bono market.

Gordon Baird, partner at McCarthy’s and chair of its National Pro Bono Committee, says he was surprised by the drop compared to last year’s index and is hoping to increase the firm’s hours up significantly.

“Our goal — although whether it’s ultimately achievable I don’t know — is to try to get to 50 hours per lawyer per year,” Baird says.

A leading banking and finance lawyer has joined the ranks of Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP.

The international law firm recently announced the addition of Jean-François Vadeboncoeur to its Montreal office.

“Jean-François has a dynamic practice that complements the strengths of our firm-wide corporate commercial team,” said Peter Lukasiewicz, CEO of Gowling WLG Canada.

“With his unique banking, finance, and real estate experience, he'll help advance the scope of our corporate commercial platform to better serve the needs of our clients in Quebec.”

Called to the Quebec bar in 2001, Vadeboncoeur’s areas of experience include corporate law, banking, real estate, and financial services.

Called the bar in 2016? Have a drink on the Toronto Lawyers Association this fall.

The TLA is set to hold its Call to the Bar celebration on Sept. 14 for all lawyers who were called to the bar this year.

Wine and appetizers will be served at the event, which will take place at the Courthouse Library at 361 University Ave.

Registration for the event is free for members and those called to the bar in 2016 can sign up for a free membership on the TLA’s web site.

For more information, e-mail or call 416-327-5700.

Law Times reported recently that Legal Aid Ontario lawyers have filed a pay equity complaint on the basis that legal aid lawyers are predominantly female.

Readers were asked if they thought the complaint has merit.

Around 42 per cent said yes, Legal Aid Ontario lawyers are not paid sufficiently for their work, and any steps that can be taken to correct the pay gap are strategically valuable.

The remaining 58 per cent said no, this approach to addressing displeasure with wages does not make sense and a similar complaint already failed.
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Adam Dodek wants to debunk the myth that the Canadian Constitution is boring.

The University of Ottawa law professor is releasing an expanded version of his book, The Canadian Constitution, which provides a primer on the cornerstone of Canada’s legal framework.

“It’s going to make the Constitution accessible and understandable to lawyers, experts and ordinary Canadians for the very first time,” Dodek says.

He says he felt the need to update the original book, which was released in 2013, in order to reflect legal changes and to expand on its explanations of the Constitution.

In addition to including the complete text of the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982 with an index, the expanded book also looks at each section and explains what it means, Dodek says.

“If you read our Constitution, you would think that the prime minister is a marginal figure and is essentially an event planner,” he says.

“So much of the way our Constitution works is sort of hidden beneath the text.”

The book also uses stories that highlight Constitutional rulings, such as that of the groundbreaking 1929 Persons Case, to help understand how the Constitution is applicable to Canadians’ lives.

“It makes it understandable and translates it into ways that everyone can understand,” Dodek says.

Six Ontario legal startups are through to the second stage of the Legal Innovation Zone’s Access To Justice Challenge.

Ryerson University’s legal incubator announced the winners from a pool of 10 nominees that pitched their solutions to enhance access to justice.

The startups that will get the chance to compete for $50,000 in seed money, including a $25,000 first-place prize, will be Codify Legal Publishing, JusticeTrans, Law Scout Inc., Legally Inc., Lex Cortex Ltd and ParDONE. The final winner will be announced Nov. 25.

Police-reported crime increased for the first time in 12 years in 2015, according to new information released by Statistics Canada.

The federal agency uses the traditional crime rate and the Crime Severity Index to measure police-reported crime. The CSI, which measures the volume and severity of crime, saw an uptick of five per cent in 2015 from the previous year, but it was still at a level that was 31-per-cent lower than in 2005.

Statistics Canada says the increase in the CSI was because of more incidents of fraud, breaking and entering, robbery, and homicide. The traditional crime rate, which uses the volume of reported crime relative to an area’s population, rose three per cent in 2015 from 2014.

There were 22-per-cent more attempted murders reported and a 15-per-cent increase in homicide. The CSI for Ontario alone saw an increase of two per cent, which Statistics Canada says is due to an increase in reported fraud. Toronto has one of the lowest CSIs of 33 consensus metropolitan areas with a rate of just 45.7.

Law Times reported recently that lawyers are criticizing the Provincial Offences Act, when it comes to the legal process following careless-driving incidents.

Readers were asked if they think the POA needs overhauling. One hundred per cent of respondents indicated yes, the POA lacks consistency and is confusing when it comes to sentencing. It definitely needs updating. There were no respondents that said no, the way the POA currently works is just fine.                 
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In a dramatic reversal, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned what had been called a “game-changing” decision by the Federal Court of Appeal, and ruled that non-unionized employees of federally regulated business are entitled to similar protections against dismissal as those afforded to unionized workers.

The SCC ruled six to three in the case of Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. In February 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal had held that federally regulated employers may dismiss employees without cause.

The general consensus previously was that employees governed by the Canada Labour Code could only be terminated for just cause.

The decision affects half a million non-unionized employees working in banks, telecommunications, airlines, and other federal enterprises.

“It sets the law to what we thought it was prior to the Federal Court of Appeal decision,” says Stacey Ball, of Ball Professional Corp., who was counsel for the intervener Canadian Association for Non-Organized Employees.

“Basically, you can’t dismiss someone on a without cause basis. The adjudicator has a standard right to challenge your dismissal now — that’s been reconfirmed,” he added.

The decision was disappointing to Ronald Snyder, partner at Fogler Rubinoff LLP in Ottawa, who represented Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in the case. He calls it “unsettling” with “very significant consequences.”

The Law Society of Upper Canada has launched an Indigenous Advisory Group to help guide the legal community’s implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report’s calls to action.

The group, which will be made up of legal professionals and elders from aboriginal communities, will provide advice to the law society on unique issues faced by Ontario’s aboriginal peoples.

“The IAG looks forward to working with the law society to advance and encourage reconciliation of indigenous peoples and legal systems with the Canadian legal system – its constitution, laws, legal framework, and jurisprudence,” said the group’s interim chairwoman Kathleen Lickers.

A junior mining exploration company has appealed the dismissal of its $110-million claim against the provincial government for breach of duty to consult.

Sudbury-based Northern Superior Resources Inc. filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal in June, after an Ontario Superior Court justice threw out its claim concerning a loss of access to mining in an area new Thunder Bay, Ont.

The company lost its access in 2012 because of disputes with the Sachigo Lake First Nation. In its claim, the company said the government had failed in its duty to consult the First Nation and that the disputes were the result of a breach of duty on the part of the province. The trial judge dismissed the claim, saying the company could not reasonably expect to be compensated by the province, as it was never directly involved in the company’s relationship with the community.

Law Times reported recently that the Law Society of Upper Canada voiced concerns over a proposed policy at the Ontario Securities Commission that would make lawyers eligible for up to $5 million in whistleblower awards.

Readers were asked if they thought this policy is dangerous for lawyers.

Around 40 per cent of respondents said yes, this proposed policy is harmful and puts lawyers in breach of law society rules and it should be nixed.

But 60 per cent said no, awards like this help root out wrongdoing and provide incentives to people to report unethical practices.

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Lawyer Linda Rothstein is set to become the first chairwoman of the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Board of Trustees.

Rothstein is a partner at Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP, who does civil and administrative litigation and has expertise in public law.The board had never elected a woman as chairperson before.

“It’s a real honour to take on this role,” Rothstein said.

“I’m regularly moved and impressed by the projects we fund; from teaching youth about their human rights to training front-line workers to assist women who have experienced domestic violence. We have a real opportunity and responsibility at the foundation to fund work that is actually making a difference and addressing people’s legal needs.”

Rothstein is also a past president of the Advocates’ Society and formerly served as a bencher in the Law Society of Upper Canada from 2007 to 2015. She will replace Paul Schabas, who stepped away from the position of chairman after he was elected to be the next treasurer of the law society in June.

Lawyer Jonathan Fidler is set to receive an award from the Ontario Bar Association for excellence in alternative dispute resolution.

Called to the bar with honours in 1975, Fidler is a certified specialist in civil litigation, who works as a mediator and arbitrator with Malach Fidler Sugar & Luxenberg LLP.

In addition to personal injury, he has practised negligence and insurance litigation.

The OBA award recognizes excellence in the practice of alternative dispute resolution as well as writing, teaching, and mentoring in the field.

“Jonathan’s nominator gave him the highest praise,” said Kevin Johnson, the OBA alternative dispute resolution section chairman.

“He is an exceptional advocate of the ADR process, while serving to educate and promote the skills and techniques needed to advance ADR.”

Fidler will be given the award at a dinner Oct. 27.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation is set to hold a one-day symposium that will explore new ways to translate international environmental law into practice.

Participants will hear from lawyers and judges that deal with environmental compliance issues. The symposium, which is free but requires registration, will take place July 20 at the CIGI Campus in Waterloo, Ont. For more information or to register, e-mail

Law Times reported recently that a Senate committee is investigating how to help prisoners with mental health issues, including the use of solitary confinement.

Readers were asked if they thought solitary confinement should be banned.

About 48 per cent said yes, solitary confinement should be banned and that it is a travesty that such an inhumane practice is still being used to “treat” mental health problems in a developed nation such as Canada.

The remaining 52 per cent said no, while solitary confinement may not always be appropriately used, it still has a valid use in certain situations in order to amend prisoners’ behaviour.
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No stranger to controversial jobs in government, Mark Johnson is taking on the role of general counsel at the embattled Toronto Community Housing Corp.

A report issued in January by the TCHC task force appointed by Toronto Mayor John Tory listed 29 recommendations to address the crisis facing the organization, which has a $2.6-billion repair backlog and ongoing turmoil at its headquarters.

Johnson says he has a certain appetite for taking on tough jobs in the public sector — he served as interim general counsel at eHealth Ontario in 2009, and led its legal team during a difficult time of restructuring.

“I like the action,” he says. “People have commented on that and I just say from a lawyer’s perspective and being part of the turnaround operation it’s interesting.”

The legal team at TCHC consists of about nine lawyers as well as procurement and insurance/risk management personnel who report up to him.

Johnson has a range of expertise in corporate law and has provided services to startups as well as large corporations such as Deutsche Bank, IBM, Nike, and Visa.
For the last five years, he has been general counsel at the global software consulting company Infusion.

Johnson says he was looking for a new challenge when he saw the position and was drawn back to the public sector by the idea of working at TCHC.

“I have a strong community service bent to me and the challenges in the organization appealed to me,” he says.

“I liked the public service component to it. Once you are bitten by working in the public sector, you do want to go back.”

A network, set up by Osgoode Hall Law School to help first-generation law students, is looking for legal professionals to join its ranks.

The Osgoode First Generation Network wants to hear from legal professionals who were the first in their families to attend a post-secondary education institution.

The network aims to help reduce social and financial hurdles faced by such students by connecting them with established legal professionals in a mentorship program.

Those interested in getting involved can contact the network by emailing or by calling 416-432-9706.

Need a mentor? The Toronto Lawyers Association has you covered.

The TLA is set to hold a speed-mentoring event Sept. 22 at the TLA Lawyers Lounge that will connect young and new members with experienced legal professionals.

Participants will have 10 minutes with different mentors in an array of different areas to talk about where they want to be in the next five to 10 years.

Anyone seeking more information after the speedy sessions will get the opportunity to find out more at a question-and-answer panel afterwards.

Members can register for $10 online at

For more information, call 416-327-5700 or e-mail

Law Times reported recently that Paul Schabas has been elected as the new treasurer for the Law Society, and says one of his top priorities is access to justice.

Readers were asked if they thought access to justice is one of the most pressing issues facing lawyers.

More than 51 per cent said yes, enhancing access to justice is a crucial priority for Ontario Lawyers and that these problems have an impact on their practice as well as the law profession in general.

The remaining 48 per cent said no, enhancing access to justice should not be treated as a top priority and that, while it’s a noble cause, it does not impact their practice.

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When Shara Roy was first transferred to St. Michael’s Hospital with her twin daughters last June, she was scared.

The Toronto lawyer gave birth to her babies six weeks early and what was supposed to be an otherwise joyous event had become traumatic. But any worries she had quickly disappeared as the doctors and nurses at the hospital’s Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit doctors worked to reassure her.

Roy, who is a partner at Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP, is now joining a group of lawyers who are putting on a fundraising dinner — called Malachy’s Soiree — to raise $500,000 for the St. Michael’s NICU.

“This will really go towards modernizing the equipment that is available at the St. Mike’s NICU,” Roy says.

Last year, the dinner raised $200,000, which went towards buying a ventilator resuscitator machine.
The event’s second year hopes to fund infant resuscitator beds for the delivery room, incubators, ventilators, as well as breastfeeding equipment.

Others in the group of lawyers organizing the event include Marie Henein of Henein Hutchison LLP, Kerry O’Reilly of Vale, Carol Hansell of Hansell LLP, and Anne Ristic of Stikeman Elliott LLP, among others. Malachy’s Soiree will be hosted at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto on the evening of Sept. 29.
For more information, visit

The International Association of Defense Counsel has unveiled a reference guide that offers guidelines of civil justice systems for defendants and lawyers around the world.

The Survey of International Litigation Procedures provides details of justice systems in 49 different countries and seeks to help lawyers who practise in multiple jurisdictions. The guide can be found at the IADC Foundation’s web site.
A former Supreme Court justice has been honoured as a laureate in the 2016 Tang Prize’s rule of law category.

Louise Arbour served on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1999 to 2004 and now works as counsel to Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

“Louise Arbour is one of the most influential legal minds of our times, and we are very proud to have her on our team, sharing her knowledge and experience with our lawyers and clients,” said Sean Weir, the national managing partner and CEO at BLG.

Law Times reported recently that Joseph Groia is turning to the Supreme Court of Canada in his fight against the Law Society of Upper Canada over discipline for “unprofessional” behaviour. Readers were asked if they support his move.

Almost 64 per cent of respondents said yes, Groia should take the case to the SCC, as the case has wider implications for the profession and what’s considered to be “unprofessional” behaviour.

More than 36 per cent of voters said no, Groia is grandstanding and this fight has already dragged on for years. They agreed he should take his lumps and let it die peacefully.
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Harry McMurtry never listened to the doubters.

The retired lawyer, who has Parkinson’s disease, was set to walk 500 miles (804.6 kilometres) with others to spread awareness and raise money for Parkinson’s research. Two of the other people who round out the core of his group — Ross Sugar and Sue Thompson — also suffer from the affliction.

“A lot of people doubted we could pull this off, but I think we have,” he says. “There are a lot of doubters out there, but I had a dream and it’s come to fruition.”

McMurtry and his group left his adopted home of New York City on May 6 and have since made their way up to Canada, as various guest walkers have joined them along their way. They planned to finish the walk in Toronto.

McMurtry retired in 2010 as a partner of Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP, after living in Toronto for many years.

McMurtry says the trip is “marrying two countries and two major cities in each country.”

The 500 Mile Walk has raised $300,000 so far, according to McMurtry, and hopes to reach $500,000 by the end of the initiative.

McMurtry says all the money raised will go to charity as expenses are covered by sponsorships.

Next year’s Canadian College of Construction conference is set to take place in Quebec City in May.
Incoming president Olivier Kott, of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, will host the event May 25-28 at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.

The details of next year’s event were released at this year’s CCCL conference, which took place in St. John’s, N.L. The three-day conference included talks on a variety of issues that affect construction law.

Corporate lawyer Melinda Park is set to become the first female chairperson of national council for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. 

Park is a partner in the law firm’s securities and capital markets group in Calgary and has practised securities and corporate law for more than 20 years.

Park takes over from Bob Shouldice, a commercial lawyer who specializes in infrastructure, M&A, and corporate governance. The national council has also appointed David Whelan to become the national group head. Whelan, who is a partner in the firm’s financial services group, has been the regional partner in the Calgary office since 2007. The firm also announced that Alan Ross, a partner of the firm’s commercial litigation group, was elected to become its regional managing partner in Calgary.

Law Times reported recently that an Ontario man was prosecuted for possessing $10 worth of marijuana.
Readers were asked if this was a ridiculous use of public resources.

More than 88 per cent of respondents said yes, this is a total waste of court and judicial resources, and the fact that the man had to forfeit most of the $25,000 in his vehicle is also questionable.

Almost 12 per cent of respondents said simple possession is still a criminal offence under the law and should be treated as such.
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The idea to start his own firm came to Gavin MacKenzie when he was out for his Sunday morning run a few months ago.

At the beginning of June, the litigant left his job working for DLA Piper (Canada) LLP and decided to start a boutique firm, called MacKenzie Barristers with his daughter, Brooke MacKenzie.

Gavin MacKenzie was first called to the bar in 1977 and has since worked for a number of big firms, but he says the timing was right to start a firm with his daughter as she had come to the end of a one-year leave of absence with McCarthy Tétrault LLP, after practising with the firm for three years, which included the one-year leave of absence.

“I’ve been very lucky that she and I are very close,” he says. “We are both interested in the same type of work and thought it would be fun and challenging to practice law together.”

This version of the article clarified Brooke MacKenzie’s professional experience prior to starting the new firm.

Legal Aid is set to get a boost from the federal government.

Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould announced last week that the federal government would spend an additional $30 million per year on top of the $88 million it already committed to spend over the next five years in the 2016 budget.

But that extra $30 million will not kick in until 2021-2022.

“All Canadians — no matter their means — should have the right to a fair trial and access to a modern, efficient justice system,” Wilson-Raybould said in a statement.

The Department of Justice currently distributes $128 million among the provinces and territories for legal aid programs.

Of the $88 million promised in the 2016 budget, $9 million will be forked out in 2016-2017. The federal government said that in addition to making legal aid more available to those who need it, the new funding would be used to develop new ways to deliver monies.

The provincial government has honoured Cohen Highley LLP with a David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility. The award is given to “Ontarians who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to improving accessibility for people with disabilities.”

Cohen Highley LLP, which has people on staff with disabilities, was awarded the honour for its work to lift barriers for employees with disabilities and for fostering greater inclusion in the legal profession.

The firm, which advises clients on the province’s accessibility standards and laws, has offices across southwest Ontario in London, Kitchener, Sarnia, and Chatham.

Law Times reported recently that the past president of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, Steve Rastin, says he hopes the Law Society of Upper Canada will adopt an aggressive approach to regulating advertising.

Readers were asked if this regulatory move is way overdue.

About 70 per cent of respondents indicated yes, the law society should be tackling these regulations in the near future, and it’s a crucial area that needs oversight.

The remaining 30 per cent said this should not be a priority for the law society, as there are other pressing matters.

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  • Access to Justice
    Access to Justice The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) strives to inform the public on the importance of the people having access to legal resources and…
  • Legal Aid lawyers rally for collective bargaining rights
    Legal Aid lawyers rally for collective bargaining rights Legal Aid Ontario lawyers held three protests in July to push the provincial government to support their attempts to unionize. The lawyers have been in…
  • Jane-Finch community gets employment law help
    Jane-Finch community gets employment law help Osgoode Hall Law School's Community Legal Aid Services Programme recently opened an employment law division for Toronto's Jane-Finch community.Phanath Im, review counsel for the division,…
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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.