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Legal Aid Ontario announces new CEO
Legal Aid Ontario will ring in the New Year with a new president and chief executive officer. David Field, a long-time senior executive at the organization, will take on both roles, effective Jan. 1.

Replacing Robert Ward, who announced his retirement earlier this year, Field comes with a 33-year financial and strategic planning career in the public sector that includes his work as the director and chief financial officer with the business and fiscal planning branch at the Ministry of the Attorney General and as director, financial planning and business management branch at both the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

“David is well equipped to provide value for our clients, and continued support for our staff, service providers, and the many other professionals who serve those clients,” said John McCamus, chairman of LAO in a press release. “He will play a key role in supporting and furthering LAO’s mandate to assist the poor and marginalized with their legal needs, and he looks forward to actively engaging with LAO’s many dedicated stakeholders in the social justice community to achieve this objective.”

LAO stated that in his most recent role as vice president of strategic planning and compliance at LAO, Field has been instrumental in LAO’s development of modern management methods to benefit client service and organizational effectiveness.

He has worked in various capacities for the Government of Ontario since 1982 and holds an MBA in public administration from York University as well as a BA in political science from the University of Waterloo.

Thomson Reuters and MaRS Discovery District collaboration
Thomson Reuters has announced a collaborative agreement with MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, one of the world’s largest innovation hubs. The new alliance aims to create bridges between the start-up community, legal practitioners, and the business world to foster innovations that advance the legal industry.

Thomson Reuters, Law Times’ parent company, will sponsor MaRS’ LegalX Cluster, which connects technology, high-growth ventures, and the legal industry. The Legal Executive Institute and other Thomson Reuters businesses will facilitate events and other initiatives connecting LegalX communities with law firm leaders to build relationships, as well as encourage partnerships and innovative solutions.

“We want to accelerate the dialogue between lawyers, technologists, designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs to drive change,” said Neil Sternthal, managing director for Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, for the Legal business of Thomson Reuters. “The LegalX Cluster uniquely connects these groups.
We envision that this collaboration will help industry, startups, lawyers, government and academia exchange knowledge, ideas and resources to jointly develop the future of the legal industry.

Can’t shed the CRA shackles, ever
Federal Court of Canada Justice James Russell chided a self-represented plaintiff in Edmonton who was taking his shot at freeing himself from the Canada Revenue Agency. Seeking $750 million in tax-exempt relief and an order preventing the CRA from having any interaction with him in any way again, stemming from his frustration in dealing with the agency during an assessment and audit, John Beima was essentially told by the justice “‘good luck’.”

“The plaintiff wishes to be paid a large sum of money from the public purse on a tax-free basis and to never again have to deal with CRA. I am not being critical of the plaintiff. He is a self-represented litigant and he has every right to seek relief where it is due and justiciable in the Federal Court,” Russell wrote in his ruling of last week, adding there was no “scintilla of a cause of action” in the matter.

“However, the nature and scope of the extraordinary relief he seeks suggest he may be acting in a somewhat unrealistic fashion.”

Beima took aim at a long list of government employees, judges, and even the former prime minister, leading the judge to rule his claims equated to “a rant against government employees, certain members of the judiciary, and the Government of Canada by someone who believes that CRA should be ordered to stop ‘having any interaction in any way shape or form with the [applicant] ever again.’.”

Law Times Poll
No cherry picking by the Law Society of Upper Canada, says the bulk of respondents to last week’s Law Times online poll. Almost 78 per cent of respondents say Western University law school students who used a vulgar name for their co-ed intermural hockey team should not be investigated by the LSUC for their team moniker. About 22 per cent said the LSUC should get involved because the team was bringing the profession into disrepute.

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Make sure you bow or curtsy next time you walk by the offices of Aird & Berlis LLP. The firm has been named official “Office of the Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Belgium for Ontario,” according to a press release. That’s a mouthful!

The appointment follows on the heels of A&B partner Donald B. Johnston, co-leader of the firm’s technology group, being named honorary consul by Royal Decree of the King of Belgium last September.

The firm threw a shindig to honour the occasion, which included high-ranking dignitaries from various European governments, including Germany, Luxembourg, Hungary, France, and Belgium, as well as representatives from the Toronto business and legal communities. And, we hope, Belgian chocolates, because they are so good!

Belgian Ambassador Raoul Delcorde took time to note the long-standing relationship his country has had with Canada. Can you believe it? About 1,200, registered Belgians currently work and reside in Ontario, not bad for a country with a population around 11 million.

Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Marshall Rothstein has a new home in Vancouver at Hunter Litigation Chambers. Rothstein, a former Federal Court judge whom the SCC often called on to deliver rulings in intellectual property cases and federal issues, sat on the top court from 2006 to 2015.

The former Manitoba lawyer joins Hunter as associate counsel, and says “I look forward to applying my particular interests in intellectual property, tax law, and regulatory issues to the work of the practice.”

Nortel continues to be the litigation gift that keeps on giving.

According to recent figures compiled by independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart, fees paid to professionals in Nortel’s cross-border insolvency have surpassed a staggering $2.1 billion, about 15 per cent of the assets, with more litigation to come in both Canada and the U.S.

According to Urquhart, who studied U.S. insolvency filings to get a picture of who earned what, the big Canadian winners (converted to Canadian dollars) include Torys LLP, which has collected more than $24 million, while Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP and Lax O’Sullivan Lisus LLP have received another $133 million. Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP received $6 million as Canadian legal counsel for the U.S. Unsecured Creditor Committee.

However, that’s chump change compared with what some U.S. law firms have been paid. Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP and Herbert Smith LLP have earned more than a half a billion dollars to date. Nice gig if you can get it.

Meanwhile, Urquhart points out, some former Nortel employees on disability are getting by on as little as $11,148 annually, or about an hour or two of billings among these legal giants.

Apparently Ontario’s class action judges have stirred up a hornet’s nest with their recent rulings involving Merchant Law Group. The Law Times poll asked readers if those cases will lead to more Ontario carriage fights in class actions?

Overwhelmingly, 75 per cent said brace for the storm because “the court has opened a can of worms,” while 25 per cent think Merchant will fold its tent and go back home to Saskatchewan.

Hang onto your hats this could get interesting.
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The dean of Western Law School says he was “disappointed” to learn a group of law students were playing intramural hockey under an offensive name and has called an end to the existence of “Dixon Cider” and issued disciplinary measures to those involved.

Western Law dean Iain Scott said the hockey team’s name was brought to his attention Nov. 19 when a law student contacted him with concerns about it and the sweaters worn by male and female players of “Dixon Cider.”

“I was dismayed,” says Scott. “Once I had the name explained — you have to say it to get it and obviously it’s totally unacceptable and doesn’t reflect our values and what we’re trying to instill in what we expect in our students.”

As reported in the London Free Press, the team had been using the name for at least two years. The sweaters featured a picture of a man carrying a box.

“This was out of the blue — these intramural games are played late at night in empty arenas somewhere and I’ve never been to one,” says Scott.

He adds the team was contacted the same day he was notified by the student and informed their hockey sweaters with the Dixon Cider name on them should not be worn. The team name has since been changed to the Crash Test Domi’s.

Scott says he’s dealt with the issue as a code of conduct matter and it is being addressed in terms of “how we should treat and regard one another.”

Citing privacy reasons, the dean would not speak to the specifics of the discipline being handed out to the 12 players on the team.

“This is something the university has a process to deal with and it’s within that context I’ve dealt with it,” he says. Law Society of Upper Canada spokesperson Susan Tonkin told Law Times that under the Law Society Act and By-law 4, recipients of lawyer or paralegal licences are required to be of good character. Licensing applicants are therefore required to disclose matters in their past or present circumstances that may place their character in issue.

However, that doesn’t mean only the students can report the activity to the law society. “Like in all matters, the Law Society receives and can act on information from a number of sources,” said Tonkin.

Maybe the Law Society of Upper Canada is right to go slow when it comes to approving alternative business structures. The darling of ABS, Australian-based plaintiff litigation firm Slater & Gordon, took it on the chin in the latter part of November, with its share price dropping a whopping 69 per cent after the U.K. shocked the legal market with an announcement that it would seek to limit lawsuits from car accidents.

Lawyer Miguna Miguna has been stuck with a $120,000 legal bid over his failed attempt to sue Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, LLC, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for copyright breach.

That’s less than the $155,000 in costs they sought after they successfully obtained a summary judgment order in his copyright case against them. Miguna, who is qualified in Kenya and Canada, is author of Peeling Back The Mask – A Quest for Justice in Kenya. It’s an autobiography of Miguna, who once served as a senior adviser on legal and constitutional affairs to the prime minister of Kenya.
Miguna claimed the defendants breached his copyright, but the Ontario Supreme Court disagreed.

There’s a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to the country’s efforts on battling climate change, according to our last poll.

More than 44 per cent of readers said governments are merely “engaging in platitudes” when it comes to taking effective action on climate change. The poll found 55 per cent felt that there was a consensus building in Canada that it is time to act.   
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From the discipline files
Lawyers Brian Radnoff and Chris Moore have successfully defended Nepean, Ont., lawyer Luigi Savone in front of a Law Society of Upper Canada Appeals Tribunal.
The Law Society revoked Savone’s licence last March, after a hearing panel concluded that Savone knowingly participated in a mortgage fraud between 2000 and 2003, and ordered him to pay $10,000 in costs.  

However, on appeal, the hearing panel ruling was set aside on the issues of disclosure, professional misconduct, and penalty, and a new hearing was ordered.

Toronto lawyer Remy G. Boghossian has had his licence suspended on an interim basis in advance of a Law Society hearing into his case. Boghossian made the news earlier this year after being found guilty of a nearly $2-million fraud involving the Royal Bank of Canada and a scheme to purchase unique gold bars.

In that case, Judge A.J. O’Marra disagreed that the corporate lawyer was duped. “I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Remy Boghossian was a knowing participant in the presentation of the fraudulent bank draft to the Royal Bank of Canada on February 10, 2011 and subsequently possessed gold knowing it had been obtained by a criminal offence.”

Also having their licences revoked were Woodstock lawyer Peter David Snyder and Toronto lawyer Golnaz Vakili.

Snyder was found to have engaged in conduct unbecoming after being convicted of defrauding four individuals. He was also ordered to pay $5,380 in costs.

Vakili was kicked out for misconduct and knowingly assisting in dishonesty or fraud in connection with 13 property transactions and   failing to be honest and candid with her lender clients. She was ordered to pay $50,000 in costs.
Big gets bigger
In a three-way hookup, fast-growing Dentons, Singapore’s Rodyk, and Australian law firm Gadens are joining forces to create a dominant global law firm in the Pacific Rim. Rodyk, a 200-lawyer firm, dates back to 1861. It is Singapore’s first law firm and one of the largest full-service law firms with a strong regional practice.
Its focus is corporate, finance, intellectual property and technology, litigation and arbitration, and real estate. Gadens is a leading Australian law firm with more than 500 lawyers and 550 professional staff across its seven Australian locations.

The new firm, which is expected to launch in 2016, will be big, with 130 offices in 50 countries. It will include more than 7,300 lawyers, 9,000 timekeepers, and nearly 13,000 people. Good thing The Inside Story doesn’t have to do the payroll!

Poll results
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in and the findings? Lawyers like it! Readers overwhelmingly voted in the affirmative when asked whether they supported the Public Participation Act, the Wynne government’s effort to eliminate SLAPP in Ontario. SLAPP involves strategic lawsuits designed to curtail public participation.

More than 83 per cent voted that the legislation was long overdue, versus 16 per cent of those who felt it would curtail legitimate actions from moving forward.

According to the Ministry of the Attorney General, the new law amends the Courts of Justice Act, the Libel and Slander Act, and the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act to allow “the public to participate more freely in public discussions without fear of retribution.”

It creates a fast-track review process to identify and deal with strategic lawsuits, and includes new protections from defamation when someone airs his or her views on public matters through third parties, such as the media.
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The County & District Law Presidents’ Association is rebranding itself as the Federation of Ontario Law Associations.

Earlier this month, the presidents of the 46 local law associations voted to change the name. The change reflects a feeling by the association’s executive that the CDLPA name was “cumbersome and did not reflect the full scope of what the organization meant to its membership,” according to a news release.

“It is our intent that this mandate will remain, but with the new name and ‘rebranding,’ we think it will become more clear to members and to key stakeholders that we represent frontline, practising lawyers across Ontario who are members of their local law associations,” said Eldon Horner, the incoming chairman of the organization.

“While we respect the history and tradition of the association and all those who served it as volunteers in the past, it was clear to the presidents and leadership of the association that the name needed to change.”

As lawyers eagerly await the federal government’s response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on assisted suicide, new Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has modified the mandate and extended the deadline for a panel appointed to look at the issue.

On Nov. 14, Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the panel, led by chairman Harvey Max Chochinov, would have a one-month extension until Dec. 15 to complete its report. The government has also modified the panel’s mandate to focus on the results of its consultations rather than on the development of legislative options to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General).

The clock, of course, has been ticking as the government faces a one-year timeline to fill the legislative void created by the Feb. 6 ruling. Since the Liberals took power this month, there has been speculation that the government will seek an extension of the deadline.

Earlier this fall, the Legal Feeds blog reported on Toronto lawyer Miguna Miguna’s copyright dispute with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Miguna lost his claim, and now the Ontario Superior Court has ordered him to pay a combined $120,000 in costs to two defendants.

In September, Justice Graeme Mew granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment after considering Miguna’s claim of a copyright breach in relation to his book, Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya. Miguna claimed he didn’t consent to any publication, production or release of the book by the defendants, Mew noted.

Miguna has appealed the decision, suggesting Mew had failed to fully appreciate all of the evidence before him. In the meantime, Mew has rejected Miguna’s arguments that he shouldn’t have to pay costs to Wal-Mart and Consortium Book Sales and Distribution LLC, a company identified on as the publisher of the book. Mew found that “as an experienced lawyer, the plaintiff knew full well that by bringing this action he was exposing himself to the possibility of a significant award of costs.”

As a result, Mew ordered Miguna to pay $50,000 to Wal-Mart and $70,000 to Consortium.

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

According to the poll, respondents have significant doubts about the feasibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year. More than 66 per cent of participants felt the plan isn’t realistic and suggested the government should take its time to ramp up its response.   
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After 20 years as chairman and chief executive officer of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, Scott Jolliffe is stepping down and Peter Lukasiewicz is taking over the helm.

Lukasiewicz, who’s currently the firm’s external managing partner, will take over as chief executive officer effective Jan. 1. He’ll also serve as a representative on the global board of Gowling WLG, the new international legal practice created by the merger of Gowlings and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co. announced in July.

Lukasiewicz was the managing partner of the Toronto office of Gowlings for 15 years. He took on the external managing partner role two years ago.

Jolliffe told the firm’s partners more than a year ago he wouldn’t be seeking a renewed term.

“I felt it was time to build for the future with a new CEO,” says Jolliffe.

The firm launched an internal nomination process and the nominating committee recommended Lukasiewicz. The firm’s partners voted on that recommendation in July.

Lukasiewicz, a commercial litigator, has been at Gowlings for his entire legal career.

Jolliffe isn’t leaving the firm. He’ll take on a new role as one of Gowlings’ three representatives on the global board of Gowling WLG.

“That board is being launched Jan. 18 and it’s important to me it gets off to a really good start and that we continue to grow our firm in a global, international sense. I will take a very active role in that aspect of the combined firm,” he says.

With 2015 marking the 150th anniversary of the execution of Louis Riel, the Law Society of Upper Canada is hosting an event to commemorate the Métis leader today.

The event will take place at Osgoode Hall with a roundtable set for 4 p.m. followed by a reception at 6 p.m. The roundtable will include experts and leaders from the Métis community, academia, and government speaking about what reconciliation looks like in the future.

Moderating the panel will be Jean Teillet of Pape Salter Teillet LLP. The speakers include Métis Nation of Ontario president Gary Lipinski, political scientist Peter Russell, Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs counsel Candice Telfer, and Pape Salter Teillet’s Jason Madden.

The Ontario government is seeking input on proposed changes to the province’s death investigation system.

The regulatory changes include expanding the role of the Death Investigation Oversight Council to enable it to provide advice and make recommendations to the chief coroner on whether to call a discretionary inquest. The proposal wouldn’t change the chief coroner’s decision-making authority. According to the government, the authority to direct a chief coroner to hold an inquest remains with the chief coroner.

The government is seeking comment on the changes over the next five weeks.

Just a few weeks after the federal election, former Conservative cabinet ministers are already making the jump to big law firms.

On Nov. 6, Dentons Canada LLP announced former industry minister James Moore would be joining the firm. Based in Dentons’ Vancouver office, he’ll serve as a senior business adviser.

“We are delighted to welcome James to Dentons. Our clients in Vancouver, across the country, and around the world will greatly benefit from his strategic advice and insights,” said Lori Mathison, managing partner of Dentons’ Vancouver office.    

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

According to the poll, about 58 per cent of respondents don’t have a will.

The poll comes amid the Ontario Bar Association’s Make a Will month aimed at building awareness of end-of-life planning. While surveys have suggested 56 per cent of Canadians don’t have a will, a recent Law Times story suggested many lawyers lack one as well.
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The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced that Julie Mathews will receive the 2015 Guthrie award.
The award, named in honour of former foundation trustee and chairman Donald Guthrie, acknowledges individuals and organizations for their contributions to access to justice and excellence in the legal profession.

“Julie exemplifies what the Guthrie Award is all about,” said Paul Schabas, chairman of the law foundation.

“She’s definitely made a far‐reaching impact on access to justice personally, and has led a strong team to deliver high-quality legal information throughout Ontario.”

Mathews has been executive director of Community Legal Education of Ontario since 2000 and previously worked as a lawyer in private practice and a policy analyst for the Ontario government.

“Julie plays a unique role in our justice sector and has been a significant influence on the quality of public legal education, innovative research, relationships, and access to justice in Ontario and beyond,” said Carol Lee Smith, counsel at the Social Justice Tribunals Ontario and former chairwoman of CLEO.

Among Mathews’ accomplishments at CLEO is Connecting Communities, a project that aims to boost the capacity of community organizations to provide legal information to linguistic minorities or people in remote or rural communities. “They took the project from an idea to the thriving reality it is today, supporting over 20 community‐based projects across Ontario,” the law foundation said in announcing the award.

The foundation will present Mathews with the award at a reception ceremony in February.

Two Ontario legal organizations are putting an emphasis on legal literacy for Ontario high school students with the launch of a new educational program.

The program, a joint effort by LawPRO and the Ontario Justice Education Network, involves a six-module resource that includes lessons on negotiation, rental housing, buying and selling a home, mortgages, and human rights in the housing context. The goal is to boost students’ financial literacy and legal capability.

“These lesson plans, which link to the Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum expectations, will build students’ capacity to understand their rights and obligations in both a rental housing and real estate market context,” said Andrea Sobko, director of educator support at the OJEN.

“Students are exposed to real-life scenarios through which they learn practical legal information, practise their negotiation skills, and demonstrate how to make important financial decisions.”

Teachers and others interested in the lessons can download the materials from the OJEN’s web site at

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

According to the poll, there’s a lot of support from the legal community for new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to legalize marijuana possession. More than 66 per cent of respondents said they agreed with the idea.

Trudeau, of course, made legalization a key part of his campaign platform ahead of the Oct. 19 election.
He’ll be seeking to make good on the promise amid questions about the details of such a change and a busy agenda for the federal government that includes bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada this year and responding to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling this year on physician-assisted suicide.

The job of handling the legalization promise will fall in large part on Jody Wilson-Raybould, the new MP for Vancouver Granville named by Trudeau to serve as justice minister last week.   
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A Superior Court judge had strong words for a justice of the peace who quashed a traffic ticket on her own motion.

“It is abundantly clear, pursuant to section 36, that it is up to the defendant and not the court to bring a motion to quash,” wrote Justice Mark Edwards, referring to s. 36 of the Provincial Offences Act.

In Regional Municipality of York v. Lorman, Edwards took justice of the peace Rhonda Shousterman to task for not following recent decisions on that issue: Regional Municipality of Niagara v. Kosyatchkov and York (Regional Municipality) v. Datoo.

“Justice of the Peace Shousterman did not follow the decisions in Kosyatchkov and Datoo. . . . She also did not follow two other decisions of this court where it was made very clear that she did not have jurisdiction to quash a certificate of offence on her own motion where the defendant was before the court,” wrote Edwards.

Apparently, it’s not the first time the issue has arisen. “This court has spoken, on more than one occasion, with respect to the proclivity of Justice of the Peace Shousterman to bring her own motion to quash certificates of offence,” Edwards continued.

“Her decision to quash the certificate of offence where there was no motion by the respondent to do so was a clear error of law. It is clear from her earlier decisions that she knew she did not have the jurisdiction to quash the certificate of offence yet she proceeded to do what she knew she had no jurisdiction to do and thus challenged the prosecution to appeal.”

In the end, Edwards quashed Shousterman’s decision on the ticket. But he made it clear he wanted to emphasize the importance of stare decisis.  “Ultimately, we all have to abide by the decisions of an appellate court. Justices of the peace, like judges of this court, are human and may not always like the decision of an appellate court. Fundamentally, however, we must all abide by the decisions of the higher court whether we like it or not.”

The Ontario Securities Commission is seeking comment on its proposed whistleblower program.

The OSC says the program, which is an effort to encourage the reporting of serious securities-related misconduct, would be the first of its kind for securities regulators in Canada. Most notably, it would provide eligible whistleblowers up to $5 million if the OSC recovers funds.

“The OSC recognizes that whistleblowers are an incredibly valuable source of information. We are providing strong incentives for them to come forward. Our whistleblower program is well considered, and we believe it will result in real-time tips on complex securities law matters that may otherwise be difficult for us to detect,” said chairman and chief executive officer Howard Wetston. “This is a game changer for the OSC and our ability to achieve stronger outcomes for investors and the capital markets.”

Besides the $5-million cap, the policy would also allow for payments of up to $1.5 million regardless of whether the regulator recovers any money or not. Eligible whistleblowers include directors and officers, chief compliance officers, in-house legal counsel, and culpable whistleblowers. The regulator is seeking comment by Jan. 12, 2016 and aims to have the program in place by the spring.

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

Canadians already had some input on the niqab issue during the Oct. 19 election, but Law Times also sought its readers’ thoughts as the vote got underway last month. According to the poll, 60 per cent of respondents felt the federal government shouldn’t try to continue to ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

The outgoing Conservative government, of course, has vigorously fought the issue in the courts, but the matter is now likely moot given the position taken by the Liberal party to oppose the ban.
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The Ontario Bar Association bestowed its annual award for excellence in civil litigation on Torys LLP’s Patricia Jackson last week.

A litigator for more than 35 years, Jackson “has earned a reputation as a trailblazer, educator, and devoted lawyer,” the OBA said in announcing the award.

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One of the key players at Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP is retiring this month.

The firm reports that Harvey Haber will be retiring on Oct. 31. “We wish Harvey every happiness in the future,” the firm said in a newsletter item announcing Haber’s retirement.

While he has more than 40 years of experience with a specialization in commercial leasing, Haber remains in the legal field as a panel member at COE ADR Management, a dispute resolution company based in Toronto.


Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has named a litigator to serve as its first national director of diversity and inclusion.

Laleh Moshiri, who started at the firm as a litigator in the health law group and more recently served as the senior director of professional services at its Toronto office, will fill the new role. “I am thrilled about this new opportunity because BLG already has a culture that embraces diversity,” said Moshiri.

“I look forward to building on this strength as we work on new initiatives and continue to build a diverse and inclusive workplace.”

The firm says the new role reflects its commitment to diversity. “This new position underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion at BLG,” said Phil Donnelly, chief talent officer at BLG.

“Diversity and inclusion is a core pillar in our overall talent strategy, which encompasses the entire organization — both our legal and business services professionals.”


The Ontario government has announced a couple of measures on auto insurance and pensions as well as the province’s business laws.

On Oct. 8, the government announced it had appointed David Marshall as an adviser on auto insurance and pensions as of Feb. 1, 2016. Marshall, president and chief executive officer of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, will advise the government on ways to further cut auto insurance costs and implement the new Ontario retirement pension plan.

In other news, the province is creating a new advisory council on reforming Ontario’s business laws. It follows recommendations from the business law agenda stakeholder panel earlier this year that called for continuous review and modernization of Ontario’s corporate and commercial laws, a task the new advisory council will take on.

The new advisory council will include up to 12 members. It comes as the province says it’s making changes to three laws: the Business Corporations Act, the Business Names Act, and the Personal Property Security Act. According to the province, the changes will make it easier to do business; simply processes by, for example, allowing one signature instead of two when approving financial statements; and provide clarity in business transactions by ensuring only independent auditors can conduct business audits.


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

According to the poll, respondents narrowly favour the new Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement. About 41 per cent of participants said the agreement is good for Canada and agreed the country must be a part of such deals and expand free trade.

Following closely behind were the 40 per cent of respondents who felt the deal isn’t good for Canada and will imperil important sectors while delivering few benefits.

A further 19 per cent of respondents felt it was too early to tell whether the deal would be good for Canada or not.

The poll follows the announcement this month of the deal involving 12 countries covering a $28.5-trillion market. The deal has attracted particular scrutiny for the potential impact on the supply-management and auto sectors in Canada.


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The provincial government has appointed two lawyers as judges of the Ontario Court of Justice.
Both of the new judges will preside in Newmarket, Ont. The first is Nyron Dwyer, a lawyer called to the Ontario bar in 1988 who has practised criminal defence in Toronto over the past two decades.

Also joining the Ontario Court bench is Amit Ghosh, a lawyer called to the bar in 2002 who has spent the majority of his legal career as a Crown attorney at both the federal and provincial levels. Last year, he became counsel to the director of Crown operations for the central east region.

Both appointments are effective Oct. 14.

It has, in fact, been a busy time for appointments by the Ontario government. This month, the province nominated Bruce Krushelnicki to serve as the new executive chairman of the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario. The appointment is subject to review by the standing committee on government agencies. Also in the environmental sphere, the province tapped well-known environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe to serve as Ontario’s environmental commissioner. Her appointment takes effect on Dec. 1.

In other Ontario government news, the province has announced a few details about the transfer of the auto insurance dispute resolution system to the Licence Appeal Tribunal.

According to a recent update, recruitment for new appointees to the tribunal is underway with the first appointments expected early next year. The government has also set up an advisory committee to advise on the design of the new system. The committee includes several members of the legal community: Osgoode Hall Law School dean Lorne Sossin, Eric Grossman of Zarek Taylor Grossman LLP, Julie Matthews of Community Legal Education Ontario, and Lee Samis of Samis & Co. Also on the committee is Ronald Hikel of Hampshire Consulting.

The province has set up an e-mail list for people to receive updates on the changes as the new system prepares to accept applications on April 1. Those interested can send their information to

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

According to the poll, many respondents are welcoming a recent Law Society of Upper Canada working group report that recommended abandoning the idea of a majority ownership stake for non-lawyers in law firms. In fact, 56 per cent of participants said the law society should abandon the idea of alternative business structures altogether.

Another 23 per cent of respondents felt the law society should continue to consider the option of a minority stake for non-lawyers while almost 21 per cent felt it should keep full ownership on the table.

The poll follows a working group report on alternative business structures presented to Convocation last month that recommended against the majority-share option. “Such non-licensee ownership levels do not appear to be warranted based on current information when the potential benefits to such external ownership levels are weighted against the regulatory risks and regulatory proportionality,” the working group said in its report.
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Legal Aid Ontario’s Nye Thomas is the next executive director of the Law Commission of Ontario.

Thomas, whose most recent role at LAO was as director general of policy and strategic research, will join the commission on Oct. 19 as current executive director Patricia Hughes prepares to leave the role on Dec. 14. “I am confident that under Nye’s leadership, the commission will continue to maintain the highest standards in legal research and law reform initiatives,” said commission chairman Bruce Elman in announcing Thomas’ new role.

Allen & Overy LLP is closing its Canadian representative office in Toronto.

The move comes as François Duquette, the firm’s partner in Canada, is leaving for a position at the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec.

“I can also confirm that we will be closing our representative office in Canada as a result and will revert to how we used to manage our Canadian client relationships on a fly-in-fly-out basis,” said Campbell McIlroy, the firm’s head of public relations.

Lawyers’ base insurance premium will remain at $3,350 for the sixth consecutive year, LawPRO has announced.

Last month, Convocation approved LawPRO’s 2016 insurance program for the Ontario bar. Besides the premium freeze, other changes include reducing the real estate practice coverage option by $150. As a result, the premium will fall to $100 from $250.

The Ontario government has appointed Nathalie Champagne to serve as a Superior Court case-management master in Ottawa.

A lawyer called to the bar in 1992, Champagne most recently worked as Legal Aid Ontario’s director general for the eastern district. Her work included managing criminal and family law cases and conducting mediations and settlement conferences in family and child protection matters.

Champagne’s appointment is effective Oct. 7.

The results of the latest Law Times poll are in.
The federal election campaign is in full swing, but it seems lawyers don’t think the federal parties are offering much when it comes to addressing important legal issues. According to the poll, 98 per cent of respondents believe the parties aren’t talking about justice issues or are engaging in platitudes. In fact, just one participant felt there had been a lot of discussion so far.
The poll comes as Canadians prepare to vote in the Oct. 19 election. For more on what the parties have and haven’t been saying about legal issues, see “Justice policy flying under the radar in election campaign” on page 7 of this week’s Law Times.

Statistics Canada has released new figures on cases completed in Canadian adult and youth courts in 2013-14.

According to the figures, the roughly 360,000 cases completed in adult criminal courts represented a seven-per-cent decline from the previous year. “This was the lowest number of completed cases in adult criminal court in a decade,” Statistics Canada said in releasing the numbers.

The story was similar in youth court. The roughly 40,000 completed cases represented a 12-per-cent decrease. “This was the lowest number of completed cases in youth courts since these data were first collected more than two decades ago,” the federal agency said.
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Police in Hamilton, Ont., have laid two charges over allegations of $15,000 in overbilling to Legal Aid Ontario.

Charged with fraud over $5,000 and using a forged document is Omar Shabbir Khan, a 44-year-old resident of Stoney Creek, Ont. Police began investigating following a review of invoices by LAO’s audit and compliance unit. The alleged overbillings occurred between 2009 and 2013, police said in a media release on Sept. 17. Police released Khan on a promise to appear with a scheduled court appearance on Oct. 13. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP’s Ottawa office has a new partner with lawyer Martin Masse joining the firm.

Masse’s areas of practice include competition, international trade, and procurement matters. He also serves clients in federal regulatory matters such as aboriginal and telecommunications law.

“Martin is an outstanding addition to our international trade group and our antitrust and competition team,” said Pierre-Paul Henrie, managing partner of the firm’s Ottawa office.

“Our clients will benefit from his ability to provide timely and practical advice on complex regulatory issues.”

Despite the pessimism about the economy in general, Robert Half Legal expects positive trends when it comes to the market and salaries for lawyers next year.

“Hiring in the legal field is gaining momentum as law firms and companies respond to rising demand for legal services,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, as it released its annual salary guide last week.

Among other things, it predicts average starting salaries for lawyers at law firms to increase by 3.5 per cent in 2016. Robert Half also expects a three-per-cent increase for first-year associates over 2015 projections. “Law firms are expanding practice groups to support growth in real estate, corporate law, and litigation while legal departments are building teams to manage more legal matters in-house,” said Volkert.

Law firms came out in force for the RBC Run for the Kids this month, raising more than $170,000 to support the family navigation project at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Among the law firms participating was Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Goodmans LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP, Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP, and Torys LLP. They surpassed their goal of raising $150,000 for the third annual run that supports the Sunnybrook program to help parents navigate the mental-health system.

The Law Society Tribunal has allowed a Toronto lawyer to surrender his licence over misconduct related to his statutory accident benefits practice.

Among other things, it found Erwin Weisdorf had failed to supervise the paralegals in his statutory accident benefits practice and abdicated his professional responsibilities in connection to it. On Sept. 15, the tribunal’s hearing division allowed him to surrender his licence to practise law.

The hearing division came to a similar conclusion in the case of George Flumian. It allowed him to surrender his licence after making findings of misconduct that included misappropriating money from funds held in trust on behalf of eight clients and registering mortgages against real property owned by two clients without their knowledge or consent.    

With artificial intelligence a hot topic, the University of Windsor’s faculty of law has posted an interesting job opportunity for a professor of law, robotics, and society.

The tenure-track position is a response to the growing impact of automation on law and society, the university said in its job posting. The position starts July 1, 2016, with applications due by Nov. 13, 2015.

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

According to the poll, 66 per cent of respondents disagree with the idea of restrictions on former judges making the leap into politics. The poll follows Conservative attacks on NDP candidate Carol Baird Ellan, a former B.C. judge now seeking elected office. The Conservatives have used some of her past rulings to suggest she’s soft on crime, a situation a political science professor has said reflects the risks faced by judges who seek elected office after leaving the bench.
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The Law Society Tribunal has reserved its decision on the penalty for a Mississauga, Ont., lawyer found to have engaged in professional misconduct for failing to serve her refugee clients.

Earlier this month, the hearing division made the misconduct findings against Jaszi Erzsebet, a lawyer retained in 2011 to assist G.I., a Roma refugee claimant, and her children. After meeting with the lawyer to sign the required personal information forms for the claim, Erzsebet failed to submit them to the Immigration and Refugee Board on time, according to the decision. While Erzsebet submitted them following an abandonment hearing in May 2011, G.I. received notice that they were incomplete, the ruling written by panel chairwoman Barbara Murchie noted. In considering Erzsebet’s actions, the panel found she didn’t prepare the family’s forms and “prosecute their applications to the standards of a competent lawyer.” There was no reference, for example, to alleged domestic abuse suffered by G.I., Murchie noted.

For her part, Erzsebet disagreed that the forms were incomplete and noted it was possible to amend them later with G.I. able to expand on her story when testifying before the board. The panel, however, found she had engaged in professional misconduct that included overbilling Legal Aid Ontario for time spent on preparing the forms.

The findings follow a July 29 decision from the tribunal that dealt with the Law Society of Upper Canada’s allegations of professional misconduct in relation to her representation of eight Roma refugee families during the 2009-11 period. The panel found she had engaged in professional misconduct in that case as well.

After a hearing last week, the panel reserved its decision on the penalty.

For more, see "Another lawyer in hot water over service to refugee claimants."

Usman Sheikh has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP as a partner in its commercial litigation and class actions groups.

Previously a lawyer at Bennett Jones LLP, Sheikh focuses on securities litigation, professional liability claims, class proceedings, and corporate commercial litigation. He advises in areas including securities enforcement, cross-border litigation, white-collar defence, shareholder activism, mergers and acquisitions disputes, and oppression remedy claims. Prior to his time at Bennett Jones, he worked as a prosecutor in the enforcement branch of the Ontario Securities Commission.

“Usman is a rising litigation star with exceptional advocacy skills and an impressive background in securities law,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings’ chairman and chief executive officer.

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

Amid the growing controversy over Canada’s handling of the Syrian refugee issue, a majority of respondents think the federal government isn’t doing enough to assist people seeking to escape the troubled country. According to the poll, 62 per cent of respondents think Canada needs to significantly increase the number of government-sponsored refugees and remove barriers to private sponsorships. A further 38 per cent of participants think Canada is already doing a lot to help refugees from the Middle East, fight the Islamic State, and provide humanitarian assistance.

The poll comes as the Syrian refugee issue has risen to prominence in the federal election campaign. The Conservatives have touted their plan to bring in thousands of people from both Syria and Iraq in the next couple of years and, more recently, announced the government would match donations from Canadians for humanitarian assistance. Critics and opposition parties, however, have emphasized the need to speed up the process, remove administrative barriers, and accept more refugees.  

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The Law Society Tribunal has dismissed a lawyer’s appeal of her disbarment in a mortgage fraud case.

On Aug. 31, the appeal division considered Thelma Pushparanee Williams’ appeal of the hearing panel’s misconduct findings against her last year. In particular, she challenged the finding of knowing participation in fraud in relation to one property and argued the appropriate penalty was a one-year suspension followed by two years of supervised practice.

But in its ruling last month, the appeal division found there was “ample evidence” for the hearing panel to make a finding that Williams had knowingly participated in fraud through recklessness.

It also upheld the penalty of disbarment. “The presumptive penalty for knowing participation in mortgage fraud is revocation, and the hearing panel’s determination that there were no exceptional circumstances in this case that would justify a departure from revocation is a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence before it,” wrote Christopher Bredt for the appeal panel.

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

According to the poll, 56 per cent of respondents think large legal organizations such as the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Bar Association remain relevant to them.

The poll follows the CBA’s emphasis at its recent conference in Calgary on its Rethink efforts aimed at making the organization more relevant to lawyers.

And in assuming the presidency of the OBA recently, Ed Upenieks told Law Times that ensuring the relevance of his organization is a key priority for him as well.

While the majority of respondents said the organizations remain relevant to them, 44 per cent said they see more value in niche associations.    

A week after winning the NDP nomination for Ottawa-Vanier, former federal prosecutor Emilie Taman was in Federal Court this month asking for a judicial review of the Public Service Commission of Canada’s decision this summer to fire her.

According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, Taman’s lawyer asked the court to strike down the commission’s decision on the grounds that it “failed to balance her obligations to be a loyal and impartial public servant with her constitutional right to seek public office.”

In early July, Taman vacated her office, beginning what she called “an unauthorized leave of absence” to enter the contest for Ottawa-Vanier’s NDP nomination.

She had applied for a leave of absence last year, but the commission refused, arguing her ability to return to work after the political race would be “impaired or perceived to be impaired.” After receiving a series of warning letters, the government fired Taman weeks after she left her office. “I received I think it was three warning letters, which basically indicated that I was to return to work immediately or face termination for abandonment of position,” she says.

“I followed up by saying I don’t have an intention to abandon my position, and could you please just wait until my judicial review hearing?”

But the commission, she says, replied that “despite my representations, it had been determined that I had abandoned my position.”

The commission is declining to comment on the case given that it’s currently before the court.

The nomination battle appears to have been a tightly contested one. Although the party doesn’t release the number of votes each person received, the vote, which involved four candidates, went down to the wire with three ballots. “It was a long night,” says Taman.
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Prominent lawyer Dennis Edney will speak at an event held by the Empire Club in Toronto next week.

As part of the event, Edney will speak about his ongoing defence of Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee now out on bail in Alberta. Following his remarks, Toronto Star reporter Michelle Shephard will interview Edney on stage.

The event takes place at noon on Sept. 15 at the Hilton hotel at 145 Richmond St. W. in Toronto. Edney is in Toronto for the premiere of the documentary Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr. More information on tickets is available at

For many Canadian lawyers, business, education or fields involving science are the areas they likely would have ended up in if they hadn’t become lawyers, according to a new Robert Half Legal survey released last week.

Fifteen per cent of lawyers surveyed said they would have chosen business management or marketing careers in lieu of practising law. Careers in academia and science, technology, engineering, and math ranked second to business with each of those categories coming in at 13 per cent.

“Even if you’re content with your job, it’s important to periodically examine your career goals to assess whether your priorities or interests have changed,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal.

“Lawyers considering second careers may find that the skills, knowledge, and experience they possess are a natural fit with a variety of roles outside of the legal field.”

In response to the survey, 10 per cent of lawyers said they would have become doctors or worked in the medical field while eight per cent said they would have chosen finance and five per cent would have gone into journalism. Another five per cent said a career in public service would have been their alternative.

For six per cent of respondents, a career outside of law was entirely unimaginable as they said there was nothing else they would have done.

The biggest group of respondents, 17 per cent, had no clue what they would have done if they hadn’t gone to law school.

Those last two groups likely involve those who had always dreamed of becoming lawyers, says Gene Roberts, division director at Robert Half Legal in Toronto.

“It’s like your dream was to become an astronaut, you became an astronaut, and someone asked you, ‘What would you be if you weren’t an astronaut?’” says Roberts. “They wouldn’t know because all they thought about the entire time was, ‘I’m going to be an astronaut.’”

Ottawa criminal lawyer Michael Spratt wasn’t surprised the top alternative careers lawyers revealed in the survey included the sciences. Spratt himself chose the law over a career in paleontology after completing his undergraduate degree in biology. He says he turned down the option of four years on a submarine studying long-dead deep-sea Atlantic coral reefs to write factums instead.

“There is a lot in common between the scientific method and thinking and law,” he says, noting “submarines are way cooler than factums.”

If he weren’t a busy criminal lawyer these days, Spratt says he would play for the Toronto Blue Jays. “Or if you are talking about realistic alternative careers, I would give it all up to be a journalist or a backroom political operative in a second,” he says.

Gilbertson Davis LLP civil litigator Lee Akazaki says he and a lot of lawyers come to the profession with backgrounds in business and academia. For his part, Akazaki says he would have become an anthropologist if he weren’t a lawyer.

“I like to study people,” he says.    

Facing tuition of $23,806 this year, students at Osgoode Hall Law School are getting a boost from $1 million in new funding  aimed at increasing accessibility.

York University announced the new funding as Osgoode Hall welcomed about 300 new students this year. Half of the money will create 100 new bursaries of $5,000. The university will disburse the money over two years to mark the 50th anniversary of Osgoode Hall’s affiliation with York in 1965. The rest of the money will go toward Osgoode Hall’s new income-contingent loan program. The program covers students’ tuition with recipients agreeing to repay their loan over 10 years once they’re earning more than $80,000.

“Osgoode has made accessibility and inclusion a key and sustaining priority,” said Osgoode dean Lorne Sossin.

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

According to the poll, almost 66 per cent of respondents think liberalization of the legal profession is inevitable. The poll followed a recent speech by Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at the Canadian Bar Association’s legal conference in Calgary in which she urged lawyers to embrace innovation. During her speech, McLachlin emphasized that liberalization of the legal profession is inevitable.
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The provincial government has appointed lawyer Melanie Sager to the bench of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Sager, a lawyer called to the bar in 1995, has been a sole practitioner of family law for the past 20 years.
Her work has included acting as duty counsel and representing children as an agent for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

Outside of court, Sager serves on the board of directors of the Scarborough Women’s Centre and has been on the board of the Family Lawyers Association. Her appointment to preside in Toronto is effective Sept. 8.

The Ontario Superior Court has upheld a decision allowing Crown attorney Roger Shallow to amend his civil claim against his former lawyer.

The case, Shallow v. Adair, relates to Shallow’s 2007 arrest by Toronto police, who charged him with causing a disturbance and obstruction. With the charges withdrawn 15 months later, Shallow contacted lawyer Geoffrey Adair after the Toronto Police Association issued a news release that alleged misconduct in the withdrawal of the charges. Among several causes of action considered by Adair, he said he’d issue a libel action over the news release, Shallow alleges.

Shallow claims Adair failed to follow his instructions to commence proceedings and is suing the lawyer for negligence, according to Justice Thomas Lederer’s Aug. 20 ruling in the case. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Lederer’s endorsement dealt with Adair and his law firm’s appeal of a master’s order allowing Shallow to amend his statement of claim. According to the defendants, the amendments assert new claims barred by the expiration of the two-year limitation period. In particular, the amended claim includes references to Adair’s alleged failure to launch proceedings with respect to defamation, a cause of action the defendants suggested the original claim didn’t identify.

In considering Adair’s appeal, Lederer found that a reference to a defamation action appeared in several paragraphs of the original statement of claim. “The Statement of Claim may be neither ‘perfect’ nor ‘artful’ . . . but I have no difficulty in finding that the material facts necessary to demonstrate the basis for a claim for negligence for the failure to commence an action for whatever wrongs are said to have arisen from the actions of the police on October 6, 2007 or publication of the news release on January 8, 2009 were present and pleaded,” wrote Lederer in dismissing the appeal.

Shallow’s original arrest has sparked a number of developments, including an apology to him earlier this year by the police association over the news release. He has alleged police improperly searched him because of his race.

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

According to the poll, a narrow majority of respondents believe artificial intelligence is good for lawyers. About 52 per cent of them agreed it represents an opportunity given the new types of work created, while the remainder felt it’s a threat as the overall amount of work for lawyers goes down.

The poll followed a session on artificial intelligence at the recent Canadian Bar Association legal conference in Calgary at which a panel discussed the potential role of automation in legal services. One panellist advised lawyers to get an early start on using artificial intelligence in order to get a competitive advantage, while another, Prof. Ian Kerr, emphasized that there are some tasks that are inappropriate for automation.

A panel of the Ontario Securities Commission has ordered former Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg LLP lawyer Mitchell Finkelstein to pay $450,000 in administrative penalties and $125,000 in costs after finding him guilty of insider tipping on three different occasions.

As part of the penalty issued last week, Finkelstein also received a 10-year ban on trading and acquiring securities with the exception of doing so for select registered accounts.

In March, an OSC panel found Finkelstein had tipped his friend, an investment adviser at CIBC, about impending takeover deals. That friend, Paul Azeff, then purchased shares associated with those deals and recommended his friends and family do the same, the commission found.

“As the instigator of the subsequent insider trading by others in disregard of his duties of confidentiality and of the high standard of probity towards the capital markets expected of a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, Finkelstein’s transgressions must be considered to be at the upper end of severity,” wrote commissioners Alan Lenczner and AnneMarie Ryan.

In Finkelstein’s case, OSC enforcement staff had sought a lifetime trading ban, a lifetime exclusion as a director and officer of a reporting issuer, and an administrative penalty in the amount of $1.5 million.
Media reported Finkelstein’s lawyer, Gordon Capern, as saying his client plans to appeal the OSC panel’s findings as well as the sanctions.
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The provincial government has appointed two new judges to the Ontario Court of Justice.

The new judges, whose appointments are effective Aug. 26, will preside in Kitchener, Ont.

The first is Craig Parry, who was called to the bar in 1998 and has been a sole practitioner in Kitchener for 13 years. A director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association for the Waterloo Region since 2008, Parry primarily practised criminal law but also dealt with family and civil matters.

Also appointed to the bench is Melanie Sopinka, who has been an assistant Crown attorney for the last 14 years. Before joining the Ministry of the Attorney General, she served as litigation counsel at the Ontario Securities Commission.

A few lawyers are among those recognized by Out on Bay Street as part of its Leaders to be Proud of Awards.

The awards recognize achievements or service in Canada’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally community. Lawyers honoured by the organization include Brad Berg, a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, and Aird & Berlis LLP counsel Angela Swan. Both received the professional leadership award.

Receiving the emerging leader award is Angela Chaisson of Ruby & Shiller. Out on Bay Street will recognize the recipients at an awards reception on Sept. 17 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The litigation involving former MP Helena Guergis against Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, lawyer Arthur Hamilton, a former Conservative colleague, and a private investigator continues with the Superior Court rejecting the law firm’s attempt to strike parts of the plaintiff’s amended statement of claim.

In an Aug. 4 ruling, the court considered Hamilton and the law firm’s move to strike several paragraphs of the new pleading they alleged weren’t consistent with an earlier ruling or tenable at law. Among other things, Guergis alleges Hamilton breached his duties to her when he acted to undermine her efforts to return to the Conservative caucus. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In deciding the matter, Justice Charles Hackland found certain issues with Guergis’ pleading but he allowed her to amend it.

Jillian Swartz has left Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP to join corporate law boutique Allen McDonald LLP.
The firm, now called Allen McDonald Swartz LLP, focuses on corporate law, capital markets transactions, and securities law. Swartz had practised at Blakes for almost 20 years.

“Jillian’s going to be an outstanding addition to our team, not only because of her years of experience, but also because of her enthusiasm, entrepreneurial spirit, and true dedication to her clients. We are thrilled for this new phase in our partnership and especially for the enhanced scope of expertise this will bring to our clients,” said Jennifer Allen, a partner at the firm.

The Ontario Securities Commission has tapped Norton Rose Fulbright’s Grant Vingoe to serve as a vice chairman of the regulator.

Vingoe, a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, has worked as a partner at international law firms in Toronto and New York, most recently with Norton Rose Fulbright.

“Grant’s extensive experience as a leader on cross-border securities initiatives, along with his strong background in corporate governance and regulatory policy, make him the ideal candidate,” said OSC chairman Howard Wetston.

A Toronto lawyer will get a new hearing after successfully appealing the Law Society Tribunal’s findings of professional misconduct.

Michael Andrew Osborne, a lawyer previously disbarred by a hearing panel, challenged the findings that he had knowingly participated in fraud in relation to 11 real estate transactions in 2003 and 2004. In his appeal, he argued he was neither wilfully blind nor reckless as to their fraudulent nature and that, despite being aware of some unusual features, believed they were bona fide, according to the appeal division’s Aug. 13 ruling.

In granting a new hearing, the appeal division found that while the transactions were fraudulent, Osborne’s state of mind “was far more contentious.” It also found some instances of misapprehension of the testimony and evidence by the hearing panel in the case.

In other tribunal rulings, a hearing panel has disbarred lawyer James William Scott.

According to the Aug. 12 reasons for decision and findings on penalty, Scott had failed to co-operate with and respond to two investigations by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Among other things, the hearing panel found he had failed to serve a client and misappropriated funds held in trust. In disbarring Scott, the hearing panel noted his previous discipline history and found him ungovernable. It also ordered him to pay more than $13,000 in costs. The lawyer had failed to participate in the hearing, the panel noted.

In another case, this one before the Divisional Court, lawyer Roderick John Byrnes has lost his appeal of his disbarment.

The case against Byrnes centred on his actions in a family law case and the fees he charged to his client. He appealed after a hearing panel found he had “‘churned’ the relatively simple matrimonial file” and overcharged his client for the value of the work performed. The appeal panel dismissed his appeal last year, after which Byrnes took the matter to the Divisional Court.

In his latest appeal, Byrnes raised two new issues: that the hearing panel had incorrectly placed the onus on him to disprove the allegations and had failed to fully address the issue of his credibility.

In its ruling last week, the Divisional Court dismissed his appeal. “A review of the reasons confirms that the Hearing Panel did not reverse the onus of proof,” wrote Justice Janet Wilson in considering the hearing panel’s conclusion on overcharging in the case.
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    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.