Miller Thomson LLP has announced it plans to open a new office in the Greater Toronto Area.
The Canadian business law firm’s new office is expected to open in Vaughan, Ont. this spring and will initially accommodate 30 lawyers.
The new office will allow the firm’s lawyers who already have clients in the area to be more accessible to them, said Peter Auvinen, the firm’s managing partner in Toronto.
“Being close to our clients and the communities which we serve is an important part of our overall firm strategy,” said Auvinen.
Auvinen added that Vaughan’s business community was a good fit for the firm, as it requires sophisticated legal services.
“We are committed to the Canadian market and we were drawn to Vaughan because of the strength of its business community,” said Kent Davidson, the firm’s chairman. “As champions of independent business across the country, we provide counsel that is central to our clients’ business and financial success. By definition these are close relationships and proximity matters.”
Miller Thomson, which employs more than 525 lawyers, currently has offices in downtown Toronto, as well as across the country.
FEDERAL COURT OF APPEAL SIDES WITH EMILIE TAMAN
The Federal Court of Appeal has found the Public Service Commission was unreasonable in its decision to reject a request by Emilie Taman for a leave to run for public office.The former federal prosecutor was fired from her job after she took time off to run for the New Democratic Party in the riding of Ottawa-Vanier in 2015.
In the decision, Justice Denis Pelletier ruled that the commission had not “justified its refusal to grant Ms Taman permission to seek elected office.”
Pelletier said that the commission failed to distinguish between the actual impairment of Taman’s ability to do her job after being involved in a political campaign and the perception of that impairment.
DICKINSON WRIGHT LLP ELECTS NEW PARTNERS
Dickinson Wright LLP has elected two new partners to its Toronto Office.
The business law firm named Ted Citrome and Ted Kalnins as new partners effective Jan. 1, 2017. Both Citrome and Kalnins were “Of Counsel” at the firm before becoming partners.
Called to the bar in 2002, Citrome’s practice is focused on Canadian tax law, with an emphasis on the taxation of acquisitions and divestures.
Kalnins, who was called to the bar in 2005, practices commercial litigation, as well as employment law.
LAW TIMES POLL
A recent Law Times column states that some taxpayers are afraid of being shamed for tax planning, so they are, therefore, paying additional taxes voluntarily. Readers were asked if lawyers should be advocating more for their clients’ right to tax plan.
Roughly 75 per cent of respondents said yes, under the law, taxpayers have a right to organize their affairs to reduce taxation. The remaining 25 per cent said no, while there is no basis in Canadian law for voluntary payments of additional taxes, this is not a good use of lawyers’ time.
After 44 years at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, John Campion is moving on.
The senior litigator joined Gardiner Roberts LLP effective Jan. 3 to start the next stage of his career.
Campion says he is looking to lead a new process at Gardiner Roberts to make a change in how dispute resolution is managed.
“The litigation, arbitration, mediation piece is indeed coming together, and I want to have a hand in reshaping that and this is a wonderful platform to give that a go,” he says. Campion says he came up with the idea, which is still being developed, at a program at Harvard on advanced mediation.
He says he is “not your normal candidate for mediation” because people think of him as a tough litigator that never settles unless offered a perfect settlement, but he wanted to be part of something new.
Campion, who is an emeritus bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada, says he couldn’t be more proud of the work his former firm does but that his new employer has given him free rein to tackle his project.
“It’s actually remarkably healthy to make a change,” he says.
The firm also welcomed lawyer Kevin Fisher, who joined Gardiner Roberts in September, after his former firm Basman Smith LLP dissolved. Fisher says one of the Basman Smith’s practice groups splintered quickly and the remaining members decided it would be best to dissolve the firm.
“Rather than try to hold things together, we determined as a group that we were going to fold,” he says.
He built his practice over 20 years at Basman Smith, practising predominantly in litigation with a subset in intellectual property, acting for broadcasters looking to protect their IP.
HARRY FREEDMAN JOINS SHERRARD KUZZ LLP
The former vice chairman of the Ontario Labour Relations Board has joined Sherrard Kuzz LLP.
Harry Freedman, who has been described as an esteemed labour lawyer, started working as counsel to the firm effective Jan. 3.
He is a certified specialist in labour law and a former partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP.
LAW SOCIETY PUTS OUT CALL FOR AWARD NOMINEES
The Law Society of Upper Canada has put a call out for nominees for its awards that honour excellence in the profession.
The law society is looking for nominations for the Law Society Medal, the Lincoln Alexander Award and the Laura Legge Award by Jan. 27.
Nominations can be sent to email@example.com
LAW TIMES POLL
A recent Law Times story detailed a case where a man argued an officer posing as an underage girl entrapped him in an Internet luring case. Readers were asked if current laws allow for digital entrapment.
Roughly half of respondents said yes, while it is important to ensure criminal behaviour does not occur, the current laws allow police to extend their investigative powers in a way that needs examination. The other half said no, the current laws are appropriate and police should be able to investigate allegations as needed, using different online techniques.
Former Ontario Associate Chief Justice Dennis O’Connor has been appointed to the Order of Ontario.
O’Connor, who is now counsel at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, served as commissioner on the Walkerton inquiry and the Maher Arar inquiry while he was sitting on the Ontario Court of Appeal.
“It was a privilege to be asked to do them and it’s a great opportunity from a commissioner’s standpoint like I was to be able to devote your time and energy to a very important project,” he says.
The Walkerton inquiry looked into an E. coli contamination of the water supply of Walkerton, Ont., and it led to new regulations enacted by the provincial government to make drinking water safer in the province.
The Arar inquiry found that Maher Arar was the victim of inaccurate RCMP intelligence, and it provided a slew of recommendations to prevent something similar from happening again. Arar, who is a Canadian citizen, was deported from the United States in 2002 to Syria where he was tortured.
The inquiry also said that officials should have known Arar was being tortured and that the government owed him compensation.
The public inquiries O’Connor led have since become models for the process used to conduct inquiries.
O’Connor moved to the Yukon Territory in 1973 as a young lawyer to serve as a magistrate until 1976. He then taught law at the University of Western Ontario until he was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1998.
He became associate chief justice in 2001 and retired from the bench in 2012 to join BLG.
Becoming counsel at BLG was sort of a homecoming for O’Connor as he practised at the firm’s Toronto predecessor, Borden & Elliot, for 18 years as a senior counsel before being named to the bench. He practised in the area of commercial and public law litigation.
Last summer, O’Connor was also named to the Order of Canada. He will be awarded the Order of Ontario at a ceremony in Toronto in June 2017.
“It means a great deal,” he says. “It’s a wonderful honour to be recognized that way.”
FASKEN MARTINEAU PARTNER APPOINTED DURHAM INTEGRITY COMMISIONER
The Regional Municipality of Durham has named Guy Giorno as its new integrity commissioner.
The partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP was set to start his work in the part-time position on Jan. 1. The role includes investigating and reporting on code of conduct complaints concerning the municipality’s council members.
The provincial government has introduced legislation that, if passed, would require every municipality in Ontario to hire an integrity commissioner. This is being done in the hope of boosting transparency and accountability at municipal councils.
REISLER FRANKLIN LLP ACQUIRES WINDSOR-BASED FIRM
Reisler Franklin LLP has acquired Windsor Ont.-based firm Donaldson Donaldson Greenaway LLP.
The move comes after partners Walter Donaldson and Mason Greenaway announced their retirement after more than 40 years of practice.
Three associates from Donaldson’s will join Reisler Franklin’s Windsor office, which the firm expects will broaden its presence in the city. This will bring the total number of lawyers the Resiler Franklin employs to 24.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that an Ontario Superior Court judge allowed police to cross-claim Crown attorneys for negligent legal advice.
Readers were asked if they thought this is a problematic ruling.
Roughly 57 per cent said yes, having a judge rule that police can cross-claim Crowns for negligent legal advice is not beneficial for the criminal justice system.
The remaining 43 per cent said no, this ruling is fair and will increase the accountability of Crown prosecutors.
The Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice has announced lawyer Christine O’Doherty will serve as its next executive director.
The Montreal lawyer started her career with O’Reilly & Associates in 1995.
She later joined the pharmaceutical industry, where she worked for 13 years and became interested in commercial, intellectual property and labour law.
O’Doherty will join CIAJ on Jan. 4.
“This is an organization that can play a strategic role to raise awareness and develop sustainability thinking about the administration of justice in Canada,” she says.
“I hope I will be able to create the strategic and relevant forums to achieve that reflection.”
She has worked for major pharmaceutical companies such as Merck Frosst Canada, National Pharmacon and Eli Lilly Canada in a number of different capacities.
She says one of her proudest accomplishments was helping to guide Merck through a crisis when the company had to recall and remove a prescription pain relief drug called Vioxx from the Canadian market.
“As a team, we were able to manage the crisis successfully without getting too many class action suits — in Canada at least,” she says.
“My legal expertise coupled with my public affairs background allowed me to better explain the issues at stake to the press and the public and the consequences of such a withdrawal for the patients and the health-care professionals.”
She started her own firm in 2008, and represented clients in corporate and labour law matters until recently. She has also taught at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the Université de Montréal since 2004.
NEXTLAW LABS INVESTS IN BEAGLE
Dentons LLP’s legal tech development company Nextlaw Labs has announced it will be investing in Canadian startup Beagle.
Beagle, which is based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., uses machine learning to streamline the analysis of contracts.
The startup won the Canadian Bar Association’s Pitch contest this summer.
Beagle’s founder, Cian O’Sullivan, said the system gives lawyers the chance to focus on their expertise and strategy rather than on sifting through contract documents.
He said that Beagle will give lawyers access to a market of many businesses that don’t use lawyers on contracts, cutting down the amount of time and cost it takes to analyze a contract.
“Beagle is committed to making a global impact for law firms and their clients, as well as non-lawyers and small business owners who may not have had access to contract review capabilities before,” said O’Sullivan.
CANADIAN TAX FOUNDATION HONOURS RETIRED DLA PIPER LAWYER
The Canadian Tax Foundation has honoured a retired DLA Piper (Canada) LLP partner with its Lifetime Contribution Award.
Howard Kellough is credited with making significant contributions to the CFT during his time serving on its executive committee.
Kellough retired in March 2016 after working with the DLA Piper (Canada) national tax group since 2008.
The Canadian Tax Foundation also honoured Tim Duholke, a senior tax advisor with the firm.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that some Law Society of Upper Canada benchers took issue with a recommendation proposed to Convocation that means every licensee must adopt “a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equity.”
Readers were asked if this requirement amounts to creating a thought crime.
More than 74 per cent of respondents said yes, while they support racialized lawyers in the profession, this recommendation oversteps reasonable expectations.
The remaining 26 per cent said no, this is a reasonable expectation, as achieving positive changes means each member must make a commitment to equity.
The Law Society of Upper Canada has announced that Cindy Blackstock will receive one of its 2016 human rights awards.
Blackstock, who is the executive director of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada, has been heralded for her work taking on the federal government to advocate for First Nations children.
“I simply cannot sit still and allow the federal government to give less life opportunities to a generation of children simply because they are First Nations children, and I am not alone,” says Blackstock.
She led a successful human rights complaint against the federal government at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which found the government guilty of systemic discrimination by underfunding child welfare on reserves. Blackstock, a member of the Gitxsan First Nation of British Columbia, says the Human Rights Award recognizes all of the indigenous and non-indigenous people who have stood up for First Nations children.
The other winner of the 2016 award is Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who founded the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.
In 2014, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for what human rights groups have said are unfounded terrorism charges.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in 2017.
TORONTO LAWYER APPOINTED TO CCPPP BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships has named a partner with Dentons Canada LLP to serve on its board of directors.
Michael Ledgett will join a group of representatives from private and public institutions from across Canada on the board. The CCPPP is a non-profit that promotes public private partnerships.
Ledgett is co-chairman of Dentons’ National P3/Infrastructure Group and advises on private-public partnership projects across the world.
LAO STUDENTS VOTE TO JOIN UNION
Legal Aid Ontario articling students have voted to join the Society of Energy Professionals. LAO counted the ballots on Dec. 1, almost seven months after the students voted. They voted in favour by 29-4.
Lawyers representing the students said LAO used stall tactics to delay the vote count, but the agency said the dispute that was holding up the count was a normal part of the bargaining process.
The counting of the vote will mean the same union that represents LAO’s staff lawyers will do the same for its articling students.
LAW TIMES POLL
A recent Law Times column argues that the Anti-terrorism Act creates a chill on free speech by adding unclear sections to the Criminal Code.
Readers were asked if they feel the new laws will hurt counter-terrorism efforts. More than 77 per cent said yes, the Anti-terrorism Act is vague and does not provide lawyers with a clear sense of how courts will apply the new provisions.
The remaining 23 per cent said no, the Anti-terrorism Act is meant to be applied to a variety of terrorism-related offences, and it gives Canadians a stronger legal framework to prosecute such offences.
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.