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SOCIAL IMPACT GROUP ANNOUNCED
Miller Thomson LLP has announced its Charities and Not-For-Profit group will now be known as the Social Impact Group.

The group will “continue to provide unique value-added services that help organizations succeed through changing economic, political and technological realities,” according to a firm news release.

“Clients are looking for sustainable new ways to deliver social change,” said Susan Manwaring, national chairwoman of Miller Thomson’s Social Impact Group.

“Increasingly, our legal team is being called upon to help organizations design innovative structures, identify and unlock creative sources of revenue, lay the groundwork for social investments, and navigate a changing landscape of regulatory and financial risk.”

For more information, visit www.millerthomson.com/socialimpact.   

BLAKES RECOGNIZED
BTI Consulting has named the best law firms at creating and using alternative fee arrangements, and Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has made the cut. There were 22 law firms selected.

“These are the firms — out of the 650 core law firms serving large and Fortune 1000 clients — corporate counsel find are best at making AFAs the successful cost control tool they were intended to be — bringing improved client focus, predictability in budgets, a more streamlined approach to the work, and double-digit savings,” said the “BTI State of Alternative Fee Arrangements” report.

The rankings are based on “in-depth telephone interviews with leading legal decision-makers,” with 322 interviews conducted.

The survey can be accessed at http://www.bticonsulting.com/themadclientist/2016/4/27/the-22-law-firms-best-at-afas.

BLG EXPANDS PRESENCE IN CHINA
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has announced that its Beijing office has moved to the business incubation centre of the Canada China Business Council and the hire of Elaine Chen as business development manager.

“Chinese clients have sought BLG’s expertise in merger and acquisition transactions as they relate to mining and energy projects, public company takeovers, acquisitions of private companies, minority investments in public companies, and joint ventures. Included in these activities is advice on all related due diligence, environmental, aboriginal, tax, foreign investment approval, employment, intellectual property, as well as other legal matters required when doing business in Canada,” according to a firm news release.

LAW TIMES POLL
This week, readers were asked for their opinions about police vehicle stops.

In the recent decision R. v. Harflett, a judge overturned a drug trafficking conviction, saying a vehicle search breached the Charter. Readers were asked if they believed most vehicle searches respected the Charter.

About 29 per cent indicated they feel that, for the most part, vehicle searches are conducted with care and caution, and with a strong legal basis.

However, 71 per cent indicated they do not think for the most part vehicle searches are conducted with care and caution and the results of this negatively impact the Canadian courts system.
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CHANGES AT MCCARTHY TéTRAULT
McCarthy Tétrault LLP has announced shifts to its senior leadership team. The changes come after Dave Leonard was appointed the firm’s new chief executive officer.

Kim Thomassin is the firm’s national client leader, Barb Boake is the national practice leader, Shea Small is the international and business strategy leader, Matthew Peters is the national innovation leader, and Tracie Cook will continue as the firm’s chief operating officer, said a news release.

“I am confident this talented and business-focused group of professionals will meet our vision to grow as an innovative, market-leading firm,” said Leonard, in the release.

“Each of these individuals has the passion and proven track record to help lead the firm.”

NEW REPORT FROM COMMUNITY LEGAL EDUCATION ONTARIO
A research report has been released on the availability of legal information for people in Ontario. A Community Legal Education Ontario news release said the report “identifies almost 1,700 legal information resources on a range of topics produced by over 180 organizations.”

“This abundance means that people looking for legal information may have difficulty finding and identifying what is relevant and reliable — particularly when looking for information online,” said the release. The report, called “Public Legal Education and Information in Ontario: Learning from a Snapshot,” contains recommendations to address these issues.  

It can be accessed at www.plelearningexchange.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/PLE-in-Ontario-Learning-from-a-snapshot_Final-report.pdf.

SELF-REPRESENTED STATISTICS
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project announced its first Canadian self-represented litigants outcomes data. The data is from Loom Analytics, a legal analytics company in Toronto, and is based on decisions in CanLII.

“Thus far, Loom Analytics has provided NSRLP with outcome details for cases where one side was represented by counsel and the other side was self-represented, decided in the Ontario Superior Court between January 1, 2012 and April 7, 2016 — a snapshot of the last 52 months,” said the web site.

Data presented on the NSRLP web site indicates 73 per cent of self-represented litigants who took part in hearings lost, and 14 per cent won, while the rest resulted in split decisions or no order.

More of the findings can be accessed at representingyourselfcanada.com/2016/04/18/finally-canadian-data-on-case-outcomes-srl-vs-represented-parties/.

LAW TIMES POLL
This week, Law Times reported that lawyers for convicted officer James Forcillo are challenging the Charter regarding mandatory minimum sentencing.

Readers were asked if they agreed with this course of action.

About 26 per cent said yes, mandatory minimum sentences are designed to penalize those involved in criminal activity, not police officers on the job.

The other 74 per cent indicated they did not agree, and that Forcillo should face the same sentencing provisions as other offenders.
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VETERAN LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT LAWYER MOVES FIRMS
Jason Beeho has joined Levitt & Grosman LLP as a partner, as of early April. Beeho has practiced at Rubin Thomlinson LLP, as well at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP.

“I built my reputation on being a problem solver, and on finding ways to negotiate a resolution to a dispute between an organization and its workers,” said Beeho, in a news release from the firm.

“Litigating should be a last resort; and that philosophy is shared by my new colleagues at Levitt & Grosman.” Beeho, a University of Toronto graduate, was called to the bar in 2001. “Jason’s extensive expertise in labour and employment law is both a terrific addition to our team as well as a good fit with our clients,” said Howard Levitt, senior partner of Levitt & Grosman, in the news release. “He works with senior executives on the employer side, as well as with middle managers on the employee side,” Levitt adds. “So, Jason will blend in well with the mix of work we do with a wide range of clients, both employers and employees dealing with a dispute.”

NEW DEAN IN WINDSOR
Dr. Christopher Waters has been appointed the new dean of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.
Waters took on the role April 1. An announcement on the University of Windsor web site says Waters has been part of the university’s faculty of law since 2007 and the associate dean of law from 2009 to 2012. 
“He has earned a reputation as an outstanding teacher and an effective administrator, with a leadership style that inspires and motivates students, staff, and faculty,” said the announcement. “Chris brings to the role an astute understanding of what legal education in the 21st century needs to be, and he will be a champion for the Faculty’s strategic themes of Access to Justice and Transnational Law. His promotion of diversity and innovation in the Faculty will enable him to support faculty and staff and develop outstanding law graduates.”

SUBMISSIONS OPEN FOR TRUSTLAW INDEX OF PRO BONO
Submissions are invited for the third edition of the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, the world’s leading global pro bono survey. With the rapid spread of pro bono beyond traditional strongholds such as the United States, Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, there is growing demand for an international platform that maps trends in pro bono and tracks the level of pro bono engagement across the globe.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation launched the TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono in 2014 to provide analysis on the key national, regional, and global trends shaping the pro bono marketplace, and to assess the pro bono participation of law firms on a country-by-country basis. In Canada, Canadian Lawyer constructed the first survey of pro bono activity in this country in 2014. Law firms are invited to submit their pro bono data through an online survey before May 23.

LAW TIMES POLL
This week, Law Times asked readers if medical assessments conducted by assessors in personal injury litigation should be recorded. Readers approved of the idea, with more than 61 per cent saying it was a great idea that could help provide the best evidence to the court.

Slightly less than 39 per cent said they do not like the idea and would proceed with caution, because it could lead to considerable issues around privacy and the law.
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SAMWORTH RECEIVES AWARD
The Medico-Legal Society of Toronto announced the winner of its annual Medico-Legal Society Award is Philippa G. Samworth. She is a partner at Dutton Brock LLP. 

“This award is the highest expression of esteem which the Society can convey and is intended to honour those members of the medical, legal, or scientific community who have made a significant contribution to their profession as well as either to the society or the community at large, and whose contributions are consistent with the values of the society,” said a society news release.

The release indicates Samworth is in insurance defence with a specialty in accident benefits. She also offers mediation and arbitration services.

“Ms. Samworth has a number of achievements and was retained by the Ministry of Finance of Ontario as a consultant to provide analysis and technical advice to the Ministry on its preparation and drafting of Bill 59 and its regulations,” says the release.

“In 2000, she was asked by the Government of Ontario to chair an advisory committee regarding the definition of catastrophic impairment.”

The release also notes that, in 2004, Samworth “was again retained by the Minister of Finance to conduct stakeholder consultations and provide advice and recommendations on proposals to replace the DAC [Designated Assessment Centre] system.”

Samworth was the first recipient of the Canadian Defence Lawyers Lee Samis Award of Excellence in 2002, and the recipient of the Ontario Bar Association’s Award of Excellence in Insurance Law in 2006. She has also served as the former president of the Advocates Society and former president of the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto.

Samworth will receive the award at the society’s annual dinner May 18. Tickets to the dinner can be purchased by calling 416-523-4469.

NEW ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE JUDGE APPOINTED
Justice Stephen Edwin James Paull has been appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice.

A news release from the Ministry of the Attorney General said Paull has practised family and civil law as a sole practitioner in Kitchener. He also worked at Dueck Sauer Jutzi and Noll LLP, and was a member of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer Legal Panel.

“Justice Paull is an advice counsel at Carizon Family and Community Services in Kitchener, where he provides legal advice to clients involved with the Family Violence Project of Waterloo Region. Justice Paull also volunteers his time with the Elder Abuse Response Team at Carizon Family and Community Services,” said the release.

Paull will preside in Woodstock, Ont.

WINE AND CHEESE WITH THE BENCH
The Advocates’ Society is having a Wine and Cheese with the Bench on April 21.

The event will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Campbell House, at 160 Queen Street West, in Toronto. 

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Rachel Stewart at rachel@advocates.ca.

LAW TIMES POLL
In this week’s poll question, all eyes turned to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Readers were asked what they considered to be the most important consideration when choosing the next Supreme Court justice, in addition to the person being super qualified.

Readers could indicate if they preferred a justice who was bilingual, a woman, aboriginal, or from Newfoundland.

Almost 24 per cent indicated they prefer a justice who is bilingual, almost 12 per cent indicated they prefer a justice who is a woman, 26 per cent preferred an aboriginal justice, and 38 per cent preferred a justice from Newfoundland.
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LSUC AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED
Fourteen members of Ontario’s legal profession will be recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada for outstanding career achievements and contributions to their communities at the annual awards ceremony in May.

The 2016 Lincoln Alexander Award recipient is Mary Lou Dingle. Recognized for her lifetime of service to the Hamilton community, Dingle is called a trailblazer, mentor, and role model to numerous lawyers. She has a high level of expertise as a solicitor and a great knowledge of estates and trusts. Among those nominated for the Law Society Medal are Jennifer E. Babe and Ronda Bessner.

Babe, a solicitor at Miller Thomson LLP, “exemplifies leadership” in the profession through her work with clients, her teaching and writing, and community service. Babe is chairwoman of the firm’s pro bono committee and donates many hours to the development of projects in conjunction with Pro Bono Law Ontario and Ryerson University. 

Visiting professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and adjudicator on the Consent and Capacity Board are but two of the many hats Bessner wears in the legal profession. She has made significant contributions to Ontario and its legal community through her involvement in the Women’s Law Association, serving the people in five public inquiries, and recently co-designing and co-chairing a pre-inquiry roundtable on Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women.

Ronald Caza, Orlando Da Silva, David Estrin, Linda Gehrke, Kathy Laird, Professor Errol Mendes, Peter Rosenthal, and Prof. Frederick Zemans round out the remaining eight recipients of the Law Society Medal.

The recipient of the William J. Simpson Distinguished Paralegal Award is John Tzanis. The recipient of the Laura Legge Award is Lisa Borsook. Jenny Vuay Quan will take home the J. Shirley Denison Award. The ceremony will take place on May 25.

LSUC CALL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD NOMINATIONS
The Law Society is seeking nominations for the 2016 Human Rights Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement of human rights and/or the promotion of the rule of law.
Members from all communities, practice areas, firm sizes, and regions across the province are eligible.

Nominations can be submitted to the Law Society by May 31.

2015 Mundell Medal Recipients
Julie Macfarlane and Justice Todd Archibald are this year’s recipients of the David Walter Mundell Medal for excellence in legal writing. Macfarlane, a professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, is the author of many legal academic articles and books as well as a weekly blog. With a bestselling book, The New Lawyer, and thousands of regular readers of her blog, Macfarlane writes “extensively and influentially” on the need to modernize the justice system and legal profession.

Archibald is a judge in the Superior Court of Justice whose “outstanding” legal writing has made a “huge contribution” to the practice of law.

LAW TIMES POLL RESULTS
Law Times reported the president of the Chartered Shorthand Reporters’ Association of Ontario has been fielding complaints since the province outsourced production of court transcripts. The poll question last week asked our readers if they noticed a difference in quality since the outsourcing began. The vast majority — 90.5 per cent of respondents — say yes, they have noticed the quality has deteriorated and have concerns about the outsourcing.

The remaining 9.5 per cent indicated they noticed no quality change and are content with the current system. 
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LIBERAL BUDGET INCLUDES NEW JUSTICE INVESTMENTS
The budget unveiled by the federal Liberal government included support for the Court Challenges Program of Canada.

The government also announced $88 million will be provided over five years “to increase funding in support of the provision of criminal legal aid in Canada.”

“Access to criminal legal aid promotes justice for economically disadvantaged persons and helps ensure the Canadian justice system remains fair and efficient,” said the budget document.

The budget also proposed the Court Challenges Program receive new funding of $12 million over the next five years, so “when combined with existing federal investments, total funding will be $5 million annually.” 

The budget also said there is $7.9 million proposed to go to the Courts Administration Service over the next five years to invest in “information technology infrastructure upgrades to safeguard the efficiency of the federal court system,” as well as a plan to have the minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to work with other levesl of government to develop a strategy on how to reduce gun and gang violence.

A statement from Canadian Bar Association president Janet Fuhrer said the association “supports the federal government’s financial commitment to access to justice and improvements to the justice system contained in the 2016 federal budget.”

“As long-time supporters of the Court Challenges Program, the CBA welcomes the government’s commitment to reinstate the program and the $12 million in new funding. The program serves as an important safeguard against unequal and unfair treatment of vulnerable individuals and communities,” said the statement.

The statement also commended more funding for the Aboriginal Courtwork Program, as well as for legal aid and federal court improvements.

“The CBA supports the program as an important measure to address the unacceptable overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system,” said the statement.
 
THE ARLEEN GOSS YOUNG ADVOCATES’ AWARD
The Advocates’ Society Arleen Goss Young Advocates’ Award is accepting nominations for this year’s winner. The award, which recognizes “distinguished advocacy,” is given to the winner this June.

The award is for someone who demonstrates “a record of innovative and passionate advocacy; a demonstrated concern for and contribution to the advancement of social justice; a well-rounded person actively involved in and committed to his or her community; engaged in the practice of law for 10 years or less with a principal focus on advocacy, and a member in good standing of The Law Society of Upper Canada,” said a news release from the Advocates Society. 

The award honours Arleen A. Goss, who passed away in 2002 from cancer. Goss had practiced as a defence lawyer and as an assistant Crown Aatorney before her death.

“She was an enthusiastic member of The Advocates' Society, active in educational and social events for young advocates. Arleen is remembered for her passion for the law and for the energy with which she lived her life,” said the release. More information about the award can be accessed on the Advocates’ Society web site, and nominations can be sent electronically to rachel@advocates.ca.

LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported last week that Canadian senators make a minimum of $142,400 annually, for 82 to 89 days of work. Readers were asked in this week’s poll if they felt this was fair compensation for Ssnators.

More than 26 per cent of voters said they felt  this was a fair level of compensation, because senators are selected for their high level of expertise and accomplishment. These readers said compensation was acceptable for the time senators work.

More than 73 per cent of voters said they did not support this level of compensation, saying it was ridiculous, given senators can have other paid work while they serve. These readers say the Senate needs serious overhaul.



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ARBOUR RECEIVES 2016 PEARSON PEACE MEDAL
The United Nations Association in Canada has announced that Louise Arbour is the recipient of the 2016 Pearson Peace Medal.

The medal was presented by Governor General David Johnston March 17 at a ceremony at Rideau Hall.
A news release from the association says the medal is for “a Canadian who has made an outstanding contribution, in a professional capacity or through volunteer work, to those causes for which Lester B. Pearson is remembered; aid to the developing world; mediation where conflicts arise; assistance to refugees and those in need; equal rights and justice for all; peaceful change through international law and multilateralism.”

Arbour was the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She was also a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1999 to 2004, before her appointment as the UN’s high commissioner for human rights. She also served as president and CEO of the International Crisis Group until 2014.

“The jury especially commended her actions of personal courage beyond her professional remit: that through her professional life she has shown leadership and resolve when confronted with despicable perpetrators and their protectors. Her leadership is a model — professional and personal — for young men and women aspiring to making peaceful change in the world through the enforcement of law and justice for all,” said Kathryn White, president and CEO of UNA-Canada, in the news release.

BUSINESS LAW ADVISORY COUNCIL APPOINTED
Ontario has created a new Business Law Advisory Council. It will be chaired by Carol Hansell of Hansell LLP and the vice chairman is E. Patrick Shea of Gowling WLG.

The council will “make recommendations to reform laws that are responsive to changing business priorities and supportive of a prosperous economy,” according to a government news release.

FOURTH ANNUAL BENCH AND BAR YOUNG LAWYERS SOIREE
The Toronto Lawyers Association has announced it will be holding the annual event on April 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Courthouse Library, located on the third floor of 361 University Avenue.

The event is for those who were called to the bar less than 10 years ago, and for articling and law school students.

Judges from the Court of Appeal, judges and masters from the Superior Court of Justice, and judges from the Ontario Court of Justice will be invited. Retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie will be making the opening remarks. Registration is free for TLA members, and it costs $20 for non-members or friends of the TLA. Those interested in attending can contact 416-327-5702 or events@tlaonline.ca for more information. 

LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported last week that the federal government is studying the possibility of bringing back, and expanding, the Court Challenges Program. Readers were asked if they supported the return of the program.

Slightly more than 65 per cent of readers indicated they do indeed support the return of the Court Challenges Program, because the program funds important court challenges that have enhanced equality jurisprudence.

Less than 35 per cent of readers indicated they do not support government funding for court challenges, saying it’s a form of advocacy that is important but should not be financed by the public purse.
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TORONTO LAWYERS ASSOCIATION AWARDS PRESENTED
Ontario Chief Justice George R. Strathy has received the Toronto Lawyers Association’s 2016 Award of Distinction for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession and the Toronto legal community.

“By conferring its Award of Distinction on Chief Justice Strathy, the TLA recognizes Chief Justice Strathy’s outstanding contributions to the legal profession and to the Toronto legal community over the course of his distinguished career,” said a TLA news release.

“Chief Justice Strathy, in his time on the judiciary and at the bar, has contributed immensely to the legal profession. He has earned a distinguished reputation amongst his peers.”

Strathy was appointed in 2014 after serving on the Court of Appeal, and in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, said the release.

Mark Lichty, a partner at Blaney McMurtry LLP, received the Honsberger Award.

“Mark is a speaker, teacher, writer, and advocate in the area of insurance coverage law and practice,” said the TLA.

“Integrity and commitment to the community are very important to Mark, who deeply values his Mennonite heritage and believes that senior lawyers should use their expertise to act as mentors for younger practitioners.”

LAWYER TO FACE SECOND TRIAL
Toronto lawyer Deryk Gravesande will head to trial again regarding allegations he smuggled marijuana to a client in the now-shuttered Don Jail in 2012.

A Public Prosecution Service of Canada spokeswoman says his trial is scheduled for Oct. 31, 2016 and is set for seven days. She said Gravesande is charged with one count of trafficking and the trial will take place at Old City Hall in Toronto. The Ontario Court of Appeal had overturned the drug-smuggling conviction of Gravesande last year.

KOREAN CANADIAN LAWYERS ASSOCIATION LAUNCH EVENT
The Korean Canadian Lawyers Association is holding its 2016 launch event later on March 24 at Goodmans LLP’s offices at 333 Bay St.

The event is an open and an opportunity for interested parties to connect with the KCLA members, members of other legal organizations and representatives of Korean professional organizations. KCLA will also be announcing its upcoming initiatives and events for 2016-2017. There is no cost. Those interested in attending can RSVP to kclaw.ca@gmail.com.

GOWLING WLG STRENGTHENS NUCLEAR PRACTICE
Gowling WLG has recruited Paul Murphy to be managing director of its nuclear team. A firm news release said Murphy’s practice focuses on different areas related to nuclear energy, including project development and financing, international regulatory and treaty frameworks, and nuclear liability issues.

LAW TIMES POLL
When it comes to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s new rules on how criminal lawyers handle incriminating evidence, readers are split. In light of a story Law Times covered on these new rules, we asked our readers if they felt these rules will help provide clarity for lawyers in sensitive situations.
Eighty per cent of respondents said these rules are long overdue and will provide important guidance on how lawyers handle sensitive matters. Twenty per cent of respondents said these rules need additional clarity and more specifics so lawyers do not inadvertently end up in trouble.
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Simmons to receive Advocates’ Society Medal
The Advocates’ Society highest honour will be bestowed upon James Simmons of Northern Ontario’s Weaver Simmons LLP. The presentation of The Advocates’ Society Medal will take place at a special ceremony and dinner at Vale Cavern in Science North, Sudbury on April 14. 

In a release announcing the award, The Advocates’ Society said Simmons has long been dedicated to serving his clients, colleagues, and community, and he “is the consummate advocate.” Simmons’ practice has been principally devoted to civil litigation involving personal injury, negligence, insurance issues of all types, commercial litigation, professional negligence, inquests, and Occupational Health and Safety matters.

“Jim and his associates like nothing better than a new challenge requiring a float plane visit wherever needed to best serve the client,” the Society stated.

Simmons was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1982 and became a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1999. He served on The Advocates’ Society board of directors from 1982 until 1985 and again from 1996 until 1998. During his time on the Society’s board, Simmons was the strong voice of the north and sat on numerous committees, including the regional court management advisory committee, the north east region committee and the long trials and case management committee.

The Society said the medal is intended to honour those who have demonstrated their pre-eminence as counsel and who are acknowledged unequivocally as leaders of the bar, who have been dedicated and active members of the Society, and who have made a significant contribution to the profession of law and to the well-being of the community at large.

Le Vay appointed to LFO board of trustees
The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced the appointment of Paul Le Vay to its board of trustees. Le Vay was appointed to the board by the Attorney General of Ontario to replace outgoing trustee Chris Clifford of Bergeron Clifford LLP.

Le Vay is a partner and a certified specialist in civil litigation with Stockwoods LLP, where he has practised for 25 years. His areas of expertise include corporate‐commercial and securities litigation and professional liability and regulation.

Osgoode Hall Law School honours Yolande Edwards
The Black Law Students’ Association at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School ended Black History Month by honouring Legal Aid Ontario manager Yolande Edwards of the Scarborough Criminal Duty Counsel Office with the Honourable Lincoln Alexander ’53 Award. The award is named in honour of the pioneering efforts of the late Lincoln Alexander, a graduate of Osgoode Hall in 1953, who became the first black member of Parliament and the first black lieutenant governor of Ontario.

Law Times Poll
When it comes to modern personal devices at work, the bulk of our readers say it’s best to just leave them behind. In light of a story Law Times covered last week regarding the importance of Bring Your Own Device policies for the workplace, we asked our readers if they felt it is appropriate to use your own personal device for work-related duties. Only 42.9 per cent of the respondents said yes, it’s 2016, and using your own personal phone or laptop for work-related communication is acceptable, with clear policies in place. That left 57.1 per cent who said no, it’s not acceptable, and using a personal device for work-related matters leads to issues that can hurt both the employer and employee.
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SETTING THE BAR
The Canadian Bar Association has announced its roster of 2016 award winners. Awards recognize members who advance the cause of equality in the LGBQT communities, demonstrate strong participation and exceptional service to the objectives and goals of the CBA, are young lawyers involved in pro bono legal services, and those who make outstanding contributions to the law or legal scholarship in Canada. \
Awards are also for outstanding contributions by a student member, for those who demonstrate outstanding dedication to the CBA and team spirit, and for those whose career exemplifies preeminent public service.

The award winners are: University of Saskatchewan professor Beth Bilson, who won the Louis St. Laurent Award; University of Ottawa professor Jane Bailey, who won the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award; Public Service Alliance Canada senior legal counsel Lisa Addario, who won the Touchstone Award; Mark Aitken of the Northwest Territories/Yellowknife Department of Justice, who won the John Tait Award; O’Dea Earle Law Offices associate Kyle Reese, who won the Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award; University of Manitoba professor Roland Penner, who won the SOGIC Ally Award; Marie Laure Leclercq, counsel with De Grandpre Chait of Montreal, who won the SOGIC Hero Award; and University of Ottawa associate professor Adam Dodek, who won the 2015 Walter Owen Book Prize.

LEGAL PODCAST TO LAUNCH MARCH 1
Lamenting that the legal podcast landscape is lacking, the folks at Counter Tax Lawyers are launching a monthly program to change that. The Building New Law podcast will be launched March 1, featuring interviews with lawyers, legal technologists, and like-minded people who are changing how the profession practises law. Pippi Scott-Meuser, producer of the podcast, said the goal is to better connect the legal community and speed up the evolution of legal services.

“Simply put, the podcast is a forum to talk about what is going on in the legal community to help push the discourse — and progress — a little further,” she said.  

March 1 will see four podcasts launched on iTunes, as well as Stitcher and Overcast. Firm lawyers Peter Aprile and Natalie Worsfold will be the co-hosts. A new podcast will then be released on the first Monday of each month thereafter.

NEW NORTHERN DIGS FOR LAO
Legal Aid Ontario is opening new offices to better cover Toronto’s north district, including Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough. The official opening will take place March 15 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 45 Sheppard Ave. East, located next to the North York Family Court House. LAO chair John McCamus, together with Vicki Moretti, vice president of the GTA region, and Tom Kelsey, director general of Toronto North, will lead the grand opening ceremonies.

Lawyers, legal professionals, and members of the community are invited to attend, but they are asked to register on the LAO web site to confirm attendance.
 
LAW TIMES POLL
The majority of our readers are unsympathetic to the plight of disbarred lawyer Harold Spring and disagree with the Federal Court’s decision to allow another chance at a pardon. Last week, we asked our readers if they agree with Federal Court Justice Patrick Gleeson’s decision to allow him another shot at a pardon for his criminal fraud convictions.

Only 30 per cent of the respondents said yes, Spring deserves a second look for a pardon and that Justice Gleeson’s determination that the decision against him lacked “transparency and intelligibility” is important.
On the other hand, 70 per cent said no, pardons should only be granted in extremely rare and exceptional circumstances and that the Parole Board of Canada’s argument that the pardon might bring the administration of justice into disrepute is fair and reasonable.    

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MANITOBA JUSTICE BREAKS NEW GROUND
On Feb. 12, the Manitoba Provincial Court in Winnipeg officially swore in the country’s first self-identifying transgender judge. Kael McKenzie was sworn in after serving as a private lawyer and a crown attorney.
He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2006 and was called to the bar a year later. An active member of the province’s legal and LGBTQ communities, he is also of Metis decent.

Manitoba’s Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh said during the ceremony that the appointment sends a strong message across the country, especially to youth, “that the world is for everyone.”

“It’s historic. Any time the court can be more diverse, I think it strengthens the court, it makes it more legitimate, it gives greater authority,” he added.

In a press release announcing the appointment, McKenzie said: “Most moving was the outreach I received from parents of transgender children across the country. They acknowledged their fears for their children’s futures and somehow my appointment elated their fears.”

HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS, IT’S FLIP YOUR WIG 2016
Later this week, The Action Group on Access to Justice of the Law Society of Upper Canada will be hosting its second annual Flip Your Wig for Justice fundraising and awareness event. ITAG calls on all legal professionals to don a colourful or wacky wig all day Feb. 25 and collect pledges to support the efforts. Funds raised that day will go to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Community Legal Education Ontario, METRAC – Action on Violence, Ontario Justice Education Network, and Pro Bono Students Canada.

A Flip Your Wig celebration will be held at the LSUC’s upper and lower barristers’ lounge at 130 Queen St. West from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

OBA announces new accolades
The Ontario Bar Association has announced two new awards in tax and health law. The OBA Susan Hilary Davidson Memorial Award for Excellence in Health Law has been established to recognize outstanding achievements by OBA members practising in health law for Ontario. According to a release announcing the new awards, it is named for the late Ms. Davidson in recognition of her excellence and dedication to the health law field. The OBA Award for Excellence in Taxation  Law was created to recognize the exceptional contributions or achievements of OBA members in this area of law. Both new awards will be presented in June. More criteria and nomination forms can be found on the OBA web site.

ESSAY CONTESTS DEADLINE THIS WEEK
The annual essay contests of the Canadian Bar Association are open. The deadline for submissions in administrative law, construction and infrastructure law, environmental, energy and resources law, intellectual property, and real property is Feb. 29. The CBA essay contests are for all Canadian law students. The best submissions will receive awards between $250 and $2,500 in cash.

LAW TIMES POLL
When it comes to grading the expense of a new mentoring program created by the LSUC, our readers are fairly evenly split. We asked our readers if they thought the program — being launched later this year at a cost of $250,000 to start, and forecasted to increase to just less than $500,000 in 2017 and up to $600,000 in 2018 — is a good investment.

Only 54.5 per cent of the respondents said yes, this is a good investment, as mentoring and career coaching will yield large dividends for developing lawyers and the profession as a whole. That left 45.5 per cent who said no, the funding should be invested elsewhere and career coaching can be developed in other ways.
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LAO TO HONOUR BOB RICHARDSON
Legal Aid Ontario will be honouring the newest Sidney B. Lindon award winner later this month.

On Feb. 25 at the Law Society of Upper Canada offices, LAO chair John McCamus will present the distinguished accolade to certified criminal law specialist Bob Richardson, recognizing his commitment to helping low-income people in the pursuit of access to justice.

The event will run in Convocation Hall from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

“I am deeply honoured to receive this award from an organization that advocates so strongly on behalf of those who might otherwise be denied access to justice,” said Richardson in a LAO press release announcing the award.

“I have always believed that people who cannot afford a lawyer deserve proper representation in our courts regardless of their station in life, and this reward recognizes the importance of this belief.”

Richardson, who was called to the bar in 1981 and has worked as a criminal lawyer since 1984, has served as a board member and director for the Criminal Lawyers Association and received their Distinguished Service award in 2004.

He us an instructor with the LSUC’s bar admission course for criminal procedure and has been a member of the Ontario Review Board since 2014.

“We are very pleased to honour Bob’s decades of invaluable work, his dedication and skill as a criminal lawyer, and his deep commitment to public service,” said McCamus. “Bob has demonstrated, time and time again, that an ability to relate to people from all walks of life, combined with knowledge, preparation, generosity of spirit and quiet persistence, make for a formidable advocate. He is truly a role model for anyone working to improve access to justice for marginalized people.”

OFFICIAL CALL FOR CBA STANDING COMMITTEES
The Canadian Bar Association has officially launched its call for candidates to fill its national standing committees for 2016-17. All CBA members are eligible to apply for the following committees: access to justice; awards; communications; equality; ethics and professional responsibility; international initiatives; judicial compensation and benefits; legal aid liaison; legislation and law reform; pro bono; professional development; resolutions, constitution and bylaws, and; Supreme Court of Canada liaison. The deadline for applications is April 15.

LAWRENCE HILL SPEAKS AT LSUC
Newmarket’s famed and multi-award winning author Lawrence Hill graced the Law Society of Upper Canada offices as the LSUC hosted a Black History Month celebration in conjunction with the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers Feb. 9. Lawyer Audrea Golding moderated a Q & A session with Hill, who also played the role of guest speaker for the event. Hill read excerpts from his newest fiction book, The Illegal. The book chronicles the struggles of a talented marathon runner and undocumented refugee.

LAW TIMES POLL
A little added discretion goes along way in improving public confidence in the eyes of our readers. Last week, we asked our readers if they agree with the new policy changes that Superior Court of Justice judges will have to apply to a Law Society of Upper Canada tribunal to appear as counsel in court. Just more than 71 per cent of the respondents said they agree with the new policy, because the rules enhance fairness and impartiality as well as public confidence in the court system. However, about 29 per cent disagreed with the new policy, indicating the move is unnecessary and will create needless barriers for former judges who wish to appear before the court as counsel.

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OHRC INTERVENES IN CASE
The Ontario Human Rights Commission will be intervening in Roberts v. Toronto Police Services Board, an application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that raises the issues of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force.

In December of 2014, Rohan Roberts was walking to a friend’s Christmas party in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area of Toronto when he was approached by two Toronto Police Service officers. Roberts alleges that the officers demanded his identification and ran his information through several police databases. He alleges that following this, he was arrested, handcuffed, and dragged to a nearby grassy area and beaten. He sustained injuries that required treatment in hospital and charges of assaulting and threatening the police officers against him were subsequently dropped. Roberts asserts that he was the victim of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force based on race.

In a press release announcing the intervention, the OHRC said it will argue the case must be viewed in the context of the overrepresentation of African-Canadians in carding activities of the TPS and disproportionate use of force by police on African-Canadians.

OHRC chief commissioner Renu Mandhane stated in the release: “This case exemplifies how little progress has been made. We are now turning to legal action so that officers and administrators are held accountable. Racialized communities can’t wait any longer.”

BLAKES WELCOMES 12 NEW PARTNERS
Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has announced the addition of 12 new partners across four of its Canadian offices, including three in Toronto.

Rahat Godil, who specializes in complex commercial litigation and international arbitrations and also has experience in class actions and constitutional litigation, joins the Toronto team along with David Rosner, whose expertise focuses on Canadian competition law and foreign investment law, and Elizabeth Sale, an expert on financial regulatory matters, including consumer protection and fintech.

LAW FOUNDATION JUSTICE FELLOWSHIP CALL OPENS
The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced it is now accepting applications for its Ontario’s Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship program for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic terms. Fellows are senior employees of public interest organizations and are funded up to a $50,000 maximum to attend an Ontario university, law school, or community college. The focus is on improving access to justice and provides an opportunity for professional development by undertaking research, teaching, or co-teaching new course material and mentoring. Candidates do not need to have a law degree, but they must be in a pubic interest organization dedicated to law reform, legal advocacy, or the justice system. The deadline for applications is April 29. Full details of the program and application process can be found on the foundation’s web site.

LAW TIMES POLL
In the eyes of our readers, the James Forcillo verdict will look good to the general public, but only in glancing. Last week, we asked if people felt the verdict against Forcillo for attempted murder in the death of Sammy Yatim will improve the public’s perception of the justice system. Only 56.5 per cent of the respondents felt that yes, they believe the verdict will help restore public confidence and the conviction of attempted murder was fair in the circumstances. That left 43.5 per cent who said no, the verdict was not justified and will not enhance the way Canadians view the justice system nor those who work within it.
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MacKay OK at Baker & McKenzie
Peter MacKay, the former federal attorney general and minister of Defence, will be joining global law firm Baker & McKenzie LLP’s Toronto office, ending media speculation around potential leadership by MacKay of the Conservative party.

Peter MacKay will be a partner at the firm, working in litigation, government enforcement, and compliance.

There had been media speculation about MacKay returning to politics in light of the leadership race for the Conservative party, but MacKay says he wants to focus on practicing law.

“What I can tell you is that I have made a very clear decision to resume the practice of law, and so that’s where my focus is,” says MacKay.

“I made that decision some time ago, when I exited politics to spend more time with my family, to be more available to them, but also just to return to the private sector was always my intention, as a career, to practice law.”

MacKay says it will be the first time he’s made his home in Toronto, where he will be settling with his family, including two young children.

He says he is hopeful about having a healthy work-life balance.

“That was part of the calculus. I think it’s a good fit here. It’s a very family-friendly environment, among other qualities attributable to Baker & McKenzie,” says MacKay. Baker & McKenzie has about 80 lawyers in Toronto and about 4,400 worldwide.

“All law firms react to what’s happening with their clients and what their clients’ needs are,” says Kevin Coon, managing partner of the Toronto office.

George Adams receives honourary LLD
The Law Society of Upper Canada has awarded a degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa  to the Honourable George W. Adams.

Considered a Canadian pioneer of alternative dispute resolution, the former law professor, award-winning author, and former judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has acted as a mediator and facilitator in almost every type of conflict and conducted many public policy facilitations.

Anand becomes first research chair for investor rights
The University of Toronto announced Jan. 27 that professor Anita Anand, a corporate law and governance expert, is the new J. R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance at the university’s Faculty of Law. She becomes the first research chair for investor rights in North America thanks to a generous gift from well-known philanthropist the Hon. Hal Jackman, a law school alumnus, former U of T chancellor, and former lieutenant governor of Ontario.

The chair is named after J.R. Kimber, author of the foundational “Report of the Attorney General’s Committee on Securities Legislation in Ontario” (March 1965), which laid the foundation for Canada’s modern securities regulatory regime.

Law Times poll results
Last week, we asked our readers if they agree with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to give governments an additional four months to figure out how physician-assisted death will occur. The bulk of our readers say time is not necessarily of the essence, but getting it right is.

Slightly less than 65 per cent of the respondents said yes, they agree with the decision to grant the extension, as it will allow governments to determine their approach and benefit Canadians. That left slightly more than 35 per cent of the respondents who said they do not agree with the extension because it is such a time-sensitive issue.
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Blanchard appointed UN ambassador
McCarthy Tetrault LLP’s loss will be the United Nations’ gain as the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer, Marc-André Blanchard, has been appointed ambassador to the UN by Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion.

“The United Nations is where the world comes together. Being asked to lead Canada’s mission to the United Nations is an immense honour, particularly at a time when Canada has re-committed itself to multilateral diplomacy and to engage more widely on the international scene,” said Blanchard in a press release from the firm announcing the appointment. “It’s been my privilege to work at McCarthy Tétrault since 1997 and lead the firm for the last six years.

“I now look forward to directing my energies towards my new role at the United Nations, an institution our government recognizes as having a vitally important role to play on the global stage,” he said.

Hélène Sansoucy, specialist, clients and marketing for McCarthy Tétrault, says Blanchard will remain in his CEO post until April 1 and that the firm’s board of partners has initiated the process for selecting the next CEO.

“As CEO, Marc-André has been the leading champion of our firm’s innovative approach to the market in terms of client service delivery and other initiatives. For the foreseeable future, we will continue with our current strategic direction and our commitment to innovation, diversity, efficiency, and excellence,” Sansoucy says.

New firm in the Canadian fold
International law firm Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Stewart PC has made its first foray into Canada.
One of the U.S.’s largest labour and employment law firms with offices already in Europe and Mexico, it has expanded to Toronto with its 49th office.

“Canada is an important market for our firm, as many of our clients have operations there and need representation and counsel on Canadian and cross-border labour and employment law matters,” said Kim Ebert, managing shareholder of Ogletree Deakins, in a press release announcing the expansion. “We know that we’ve chosen the right team of lawyers who share the firm’s culture and values to establish our presence in the country.”

Access to Justice Fund application call opens
The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced its 2016 call for applications has opened for the Access to Justice Fund. Created in 2009 after receiving almost $15 million in cy-près awards, the fund is now a permanent fixture in the organization to improve access to justice. The LFO will be accepting letters of intent until April 1. To be considered, applications must be from Canadian non-profit organizations and must be for projects that address the legal needs of: children and youth; consumers; public legal education intake and referral; racialized groups, or refugees. Full details are at the LFO web site at www.lawfoundation.on.ca.

Law Times Poll
Leave pension planning to the feds, the bulk of our readers have said. Last week’s poll asked if people think the Ontario government should continue with its plan to go it alone in a provincial pension plan.
About 33 per cent of our readers said, sure, we need a separate plan apart from the CPP to ensure seniors can retire in comfort, or at least more comfortably. The naysayers represented just less than 68 per cent, saying no way to a provincial pension plan as Ontario is broke and businesses can’t afford another tax at this point in the economic cycle.
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Osgoode lands legal giant
Heavy-hitting retired Supreme Court of Canada judge Marshall Rothstein has joined Osgoode Hall Law School at York University as a distinguished visiting professor. Lorne Sossin, dean of the law school, announced Jan. 7 that Rothstein has accepted the appointment on a one-year term. Although retired from the Supreme Court bench in August 2015, a position he held since 2006, Winnipeg-born Rothstein has been serving as associate counsel at Hunter Litigation Chambers in Vancouver, where his primary focus has been as an arbitrator in commercial and public law matters.

“It is exciting for me to be returning to Osgoode, which I have had the pleasure of visiting many times over the years,” Rothstein said in a statement announcing his appointment. I look forward to visiting Osgoode, engaging with the students and imparting what insight I can. I’m sure that the experience will enrich my understanding of law and legal education.”

Rothstein, called to the Manitoba bar in 1966, has had a long and distinguished career that began with the former Thorvaldson Eggertson Saunders Mauro and the later merged Aikins MacAulay & Thorvaldson LLP firm, where he served as partner from 1972 to 1992. As visiting professor, he will be involved in a broad range of academic activities centred around the school’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology program and in the areas of tax and administrative law.

LFO grant bolsters free legal help to resettle refugees
With the Government of Canada reaching its goal to resettle the first wave of 10,000 Syrian refugees last week, there’s significant financial help from the Law Foundation of Ontario to ensure the process goes smoother for those who have arrived and those still making their way. The LFO announced last week that it has granted $90,000 to the partnership of Lifeline Syria and the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program to provide free legal work for those refugees settling in the Toronto area. Nationally, more than 1,000 lawyers and supervised law students have volunteered with the sponsorship support program to provide the pro bono services.

Gowlings grows and Santini merges
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP has announced the admission of 17 new partners to its Canadian offices. Four partners are in the Toronto-based offices in the areas of financial services, marketing and regulatory affairs, intellectual property, and tax law. The firm announced the appointments come in advance of its impending combination with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, a leading UK-based firm, to create Gowling WLG later this year. Meanwhile, the Ottawa-based firms of Hamilton Appotive LLP and Kelly Santini LLP announced that, as of Jan. 1, the two firms have merged. Both formed about 40 years ago; the integrated firm continues under the moniker of Kelly Santini LLP.

Law Times Poll
When it comes to the question of equal pay for seemingly equal work, there’s an equal point of view from our readers. Last week’s poll asked participants if they agree with the Case Management Masters Remuneration Commission findings that masters are underpaid and should receive the same pay and benefits as their provincial court peers. It was a dead heat with 50 per cent saying yes, the masters’ pay is inadequate for their level of authority and responsibility. The other half say nay, their duties and responsibilities do not compare and neither should their compensation.
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RCMP sex suit certified
Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell has certified a $600-million sex discrimination class action against the Attorney General of Canada brought by former RCMP officer Linda Gillis Davidson.

Perell dismissed a Crown motion to have the claim struck for failing to disclose a reasonable cause of action.

Davidson, represented by Toronto’s Kim Orr Barristers, alleged she and fellow female RCMP officers and female civilian members were subject to sexual discrimination, bullying, and harassment by the male officers and civilian members between 1986 and 2009. She sued the AG for negligence and breach of contract.

In his ruling released just before the new year, Perell struck Davidson’s claim in contract and against the public service members, but he granted leave to deliver an amended statement of claim.

“With respect to the negligence claim, I accept the Crown’s argument that the RCMP is not itself a legal entity capable of being sued as an institution and that under the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, the Crown can only be liable vicariously (i.e., not directly) for the misconduct of individual Crown servants, but I conclude that Ms. Davidson has adequately pleaded a claim against the collective of all male police officers and all male civilian members of the RCMP during the class period, and, therefore, her systemic negligence claim is a sound claim for which the Crown is vicariously liable,” Perell wrote.

Stikemans beefs up
One of the country’s leading business law firms has added eight new lawyers to the partnership, effective Jan. 1. Five will join the offices in Toronto including Mike Devereux, who comes most recently from the firm’s offices in Sydney, Australia, and Meaghan Obee Tower, who was recognized by the International Financial Law Review’s IFLR1000: The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms 2016 as a rising star in the area of banking.

Wise wins FEES claim
Chalk one up for lawyer Roy Wise, who successfully sued a client over fees. He represented the client in a dispute over the sale of taxi licences only to face a $400,000 counterclaim from the client for negligence.

In the end, Wise and his lawyer Benjamin Salsberg prevailed. In a cost endorsement, Ontario Superior Court of Justice Stephen Firestone awarded Wise $86,000 for his time spent representing the client and another $80,000 defending the counterclaim.

He found Wise “exercised his judgment appropriately and that he acted in accordance with his retainer and in his client’s best interests.”

Firestone noted that as a “direct result of the counterclaim, both the complexity and trial time were increased.

“In the counterclaim, the defendant called into question Wise’s integrity and competence as a solicitor.”
He said the client “could reasonably have expected that those allegations would be vigorously defended given both the amount sought and the nature of the allegations made against Wise.”

Law Times Poll
It was almost a political dead heat. We asked readers whether the Liberal government’s plan to engage in electoral reform was necessary. A slim majority (53.5%) agreed that the current electoral system is outdated and needs an overhaul, while 46.5% say our first-past-the-post system works well and politicians should butt out. That could make for some tricky times ahead steering electoral reform through the seas of change.
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Class action approved against Neinstein and Associates LLP
Toronto-based personal injury lawyer Gary Neinstein of Neinstein & Associates LLP had a difficult end to 2015 when in mid-December the divisional court certified a class action against the firm.

The action is based on allegations unproven in court that it entered into improper fee arrangements, took unauthorized fees, failed to obtain required court approval, and improperly charged interest rates on disbursements in Hodge v. Neinstein.

Days after that ruling, the Divisional Court released its judgment on an appeal Neinstein had launched in response to a finding of professional misconduct against him by the Law Society of Upper Canada’s disciplinary tribunal after a separate personal injury matter dating back to the mid-2000s. The divisional court dismissed the appeal and ordered that if the lawyer and LSUC cannot agree on costs, they are to provide written submissions to the society by the end of January. The disciplinary tribunal had originally found he acted in a conflict of interest, that he breached two court orders, and knowingly commissioned and relied upon a false affidavit to mislead the court and levelled a six-month licence suspension.

He appealed to divisional court that the reasons for judgment were insufficient, that it failed to take into account certain vital defence evidence, that it erred in finding a conflict of interest he argued was waived in 2005, and that the penalty was too harsh in reflecting the scope of the misconduct. He also argued that any potential missteps he may have made were “isolated incidents in an otherwise exceptional career.”

The Divisional Court ruled that the penalty against Neinstein was reasonable and could have been higher, with Justice D.L. Corbett writing in the decision: “Mr. Neinstein’s overall pattern of professional misconduct in this case was a serious departure from the standards of professionalism expected of a lawyer and warranted the penalty imposed.”

Legal Aid Ontario launches new app
It’s another new year and another step forward into the evolving technological landscape for Legal Aid Ontario.

LAO has just launched a mobile phone application to help people determine whether they are financially eligible for a legal aid certificate.

The mobile app will also give applicants real-time access to call centre wait times. John McCamus, LAO chairman, said in a press release that this is the first version of the app, and it follows the organization’s recent expansion of financial and legal eligibility criteria for legal aid services in Ontario.

“We’re proud to enhance access to legal aid services through technology in this manner,” he said.

The app is available free of charge through app stores for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices and does not collect or store any user data.

McCamus said the LAO app is an example of how the organization is not only expanding existing services but also innovating the way these services are provided to low-income individuals.

“By offering a new way for clients to self-assess, we can connect with them and determine their legal needs more quickly,” said McCamus. “We’ll also be providing a near-instantaneous response to applicants who are ineligible for certificate services, and we’ll be able to refer them to other services more quickly. We’re proud to enhance access to legal aid services through technology in this manner.”

Gattrell appointed to Ontario Court of Justice
The Ministry of the Attorney General has announced that effective Dec. 30, 2015, Robert Edward Gattrell has taken on the role of judge for the Ontario Court of Justice and has been assigned to preside in Barrie.

Called to the bar in 1989, the fully bilingual lawyer worked as an assistant Crown attorney for 15 years in Simcoe County before taking on the role of Crown Counsel in the Crown Law Office — Criminal with the MAG. He most recently held the position of deputy director and acting chief counsel in charge of the Justice Prosecutions unit for the MAG.

Poll results
The cold, harsh reality of the Paris climate conference agreement may be that the majority doesn’t seem to think it will have much impact. In last week’s poll, we asked our readers if they thought the agreement to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures would be achieved. Only 27 per cent said world governments would rally around climate change to meet the objective. Almost three quarters of respondents say no, the global leaders will not be able to deliver on their promises.


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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

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