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Former Crown attorney Julie Bourgeois will take her place as a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice this week.

Bourgeois, who worked as a Crown attorney and assistant Crown attorney for 16 years, will join the bench on May 20. Ontario Court Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve has assigned Bourgeois to preside in Ottawa.

Before starting her law career in 1999, Bourgeois worked with clients suffering from severe mental disorders and provided intervention and support to young offenders.

The bilingual judge is also an active member of her community as a volunteer on several francophone associations, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General. She has served as a board member and trustee of the Canadian Mental Health Association for the counties of Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, and Prescott-Russell as well as the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, the ministry said.

Also joining the Ontario Court bench is Allan Maclure, a Crown prosecutor in Alberta. Called to the bar in 1988, Maclure spent the last five years as an Alberta Crown prosecutor and before that worked for 10 years at the federal Department Justice in Vancouver and Toronto. Maclure will preside in London, Ont., starting May 27.

Legal Aid Ontario says it’s raising its legal aid eligibility threshold to allow victims of domestic violence to receive family law help.

Whereas ordinarily a single person must have an income below $12,135 to qualify for legal aid, those who are experiencing domestic violence will likely qualify if they earn less than $20,225.

“LAO recognizes that at the time of separation, there’s a greater risk of abuse, and that people experiencing domestic violence are particularly vulnerable when they have to face their partners in court,” said Michelle Squires, who’s leading the development of LAO’s domestic violence strategy.

“The increased financial eligibility will allow more individuals who have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse to access the legal advice and assistance they need to navigate the complex legal process they must face.”

The new rules will apply to people experiencing domestic violence regardless of their immigration status in Canada, according to LAO.

Pamela Cross, legal director of Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre, said women who have left abusive partners and represent themselves in their family law matters are at a significant disadvantage.

“Their safety is severely compromised at a time that, as the domestic violence death review committee’s annual reports tell us, risk of lethality is extremely high,” she says.

“Too often, they either walk away from family court proceedings with outcomes that are not in the best interests of their children or even return to their abuser because of the emotional stress and fear of having to manage their court case without a lawyer.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the broader legal community are mourning the death of civil rights pioneer Alan Borovoy.

“He definitely had a presence. I am proud to say he was a friend of mine and I was a friend of his. We will miss him. He did so much for Canada and for civil liberties in this country,” says Sukanya Pillay, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Borovoy, who was the CCLA’s general counsel from 1968 to 2009, was a leader in the civil rights arena for four decades. He died in hospital on May 11 at the age of 83.

“He was larger than life; he was irreverent, courageous. I really think he changed the landscape of civil liberties protection in this country,” says Pillay.

“He forced the rubber to hit the road in terms of making sure people really enjoyed equality and had full freedoms.”

Jasmine Akbarali, a partner at Lerners LLP, recalls working with Borovoy in 2008 on the Afghan detainee case. At the time, Borovoy was in the process of winding down his formal work with the CCLA. “His intelligence and his dedication to the fight for civil liberties were matched by his charm, his charisma, and his sense of humour. He had such presence; he was a giant yet he did not make others feel small. It was my privilege and incredible good fortune to have had the opportunity to work with him,” she says.

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

The majority of respondents say the results of the Law Society of Upper Canada bencher elections have effectively put an end to any move towards alternative business structures.

According to the poll, 75 per cent of participants said too many candidates against alternative business structures won seats at Convocation with very few proponents elected.

The issue quickly became a key concern during the recent bencher elections with groups like the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association identifying a list of candidates against alternative business structures and encouraging members to vote for them.
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The federal government has appointed Superior Court Justice Lois Roberts to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Roberts replaces Justice George Strathy, who became chief justice of Ontario last year.

Roberts joined the Superior Court bench in 2008. Prior to her appointment, she was a lawyer with Genest Murray LLP and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP practising commercial litigation as well as employment and human rights law.

Replacing Roberts on the Superior Court bench is lawyer Kenneth Hood, who was counsel at mortgage and real estate law firm Schneider Ruggiero LLP prior to his appointment. As a certified specialist in civil litigation, Hood’s practice focused on mortgage and debt enforcement, contractual disputes, shareholder and partnership matters, professional negligence, and real estate.

Hood is also a former director of The Advocates’ Society and a past executive member of the Ontario Bar Association’s civil litigation section.

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP says it’s creating a new custom legal services program aimed at helping accelerate innovative ventures.

“Many emerging technology businesses have special legal needs, especially when scaling and dealing with the changing demands that come with expansion,” said Anthony de Fazekas, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright in Toronto.

“Our new program removes the associated challenges and risk by connecting companies to a concierge-type service that ensures the right strategic advice is accessed at the right time, at affordable rates. Each member of our team has a strong passion and commitment to helping our technology clients succeed,” said de Fazekas.

In the past, Norton Rose Fulbright has partnered with the MaRS Discovery District to launch a legal clinic dedicated to serving technology startups. The new program will offer not only basic services but also strategic legal support “on key topics for high-growth Canadian technology businesses,” the firm said.

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

According to the poll, the majority of respondents don’t agree with a motion put forward at this week’s Law Society of Upper Canada annual general meeting that seeks to force law firms of a certain size to take articling students chosen at random.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents said the proposed scheme is both unfair and unfeasible.

The 15 lawyers behind the motion say attempts to address the shortcomings of the articling system have created new problems and interfere with the law school experience. The motion proposes requiring firms of eight or more lawyers to accept articling students assigned to them at random.

Dentons Canada LLP has promoted four Ontario lawyers to the partnership as the firm welcomes 48 lawyers as partners globally.

In Ontario, the firm welcomed Rob Davis, Scott Martyn, Andy Pushalik, and Kori Williams to the partnership.
Davis practises corporate law in Ottawa while the rest of the newly minted partners are at the firm’s Toronto office. Pushalik practises labour and employment law, Martyn is a real estate lawyer, and Williams works in the financial services area.

“I congratulate our new partners on this significant and well-deserved promotion — these highly talented lawyers further strengthen a partnership that is dedicated to meeting, and exceeding, our clients’ expectations,” said Elliott Portnoy, Dentons’ global chief executive officer.   
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High-profile lawyer Joe Groia is among the benchers elected in the Law Society of Upper Canada bencher election last week.

Others elected in Toronto include current Treasurer Janet Minor, Janet Leiper, Raj Anand, Paul Schabas, Julian Falconer, Christopher Bredt, Sandra Nishikawa, Jeffrey Lem, Howard Goldblatt, Gina Papageorgiou, Sidney Troister, Rocco Galati, William McDowell, Barbara Murchie, Malcolm Mercer, John Callaghan, Peter Wardle, Avvy Yao-Yao Go, and Jonathan Rosenthal.

Outside Toronto, the elected benchers are Robert Evans, Andrew Spurgeon, Raj Sharda, Peter Beach, Jack Braithwaite, Fred Bickford, Teresa Donnelly, Susan McGrath, Jacqueline Horvat, Dianne Corbiere, Carol Hartman, Joanne St. Lewis, Susan Armitage Richer, Virginia MacLean, Michael Lerner, Ross Earnshaw, Paul Cooper, Janis Criger, Jerry Udell, and Anne Vespry.

Turnout in the vote was 34 per cent with 16,040 lawyers having cast a ballot for the 40 elected benchers.

Former Law Society of Upper Canada chief executive officer Malcolm Heins will chair an expert panel to look at the financial services industry in Ontario.

The expert panel will review the regulation of financial advisers and planners who help investors make financial choices.

Also on the panel is Anita Anand, a professor of law at the University of Toronto. Anand was previously the inaugural chair of the investor advisory panel for the Ontario Securities Commission.

“Unlike many financial service sectors in Ontario, financial advisers and planners are not subject to general regulatory oversight, which could leave consumers and investors vulnerable. This review will focus on addressing this gap by examining more tailored regulations,” the Ministry of Finance said in announcing the review.

The province has appointed justice of the peace Thomas Stinson as the new regional senior justice of the peace for the west region of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Stinson’s appointment became effective on April 22. He has served as a justice of the peace since 2009. Stinson replaces regional senior justice of the peace Bridget Forster in the role.

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

In the continuing battle between personal injury lawyers and the insurance industry over who’s responsible for high auto insurance costs, a large number of responders say they’re both to blame.

According to the poll, 46 per cent of poll participants feel both groups “are in it for themselves.”

Another 37 per cent of responders sided with personal injury lawyers, saying the insurance industry makes plenty of money.

The remaining 17 per cent of participants took the side of the insurers and said personal injury lawyers are driving up costs through generous contingency fees.

The poll follows a report released by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association that suggested drivers are paying far too much in premiums due to the excessive profits earned by insurance companies. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has responded that lawyers are to blame for high costs through high legal fees.   
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The attorney general has awarded the David Walter Mundell medal to University of Ottawa Faculty of Law Prof. Elizabeth Sheehy for excellence in legal writing.

Sheehy’s “extensive body of work” includes a recent book titled Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons from the Transcripts, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General.

“The book addresses issues of gender equality and the challenges of the criminal justice response to violence against women,” the ministry said in an announcement last week.

“Exceptional legal writing has the power to move and inspire us to take action,” said Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur.

“Professor Sheehy’s work has made an outstanding contribution to our knowledge of the broader social and legal implications of violence against women.”

Lawyers can battle it out on a different kind of court this summer as two law firms announce this year’s Law Slam tennis challenge this June.

Howie Sacks & Henry LLP and Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP say the event will take place at the Timberlane Athletic Club in Aurora, Ont., on June 7. The firms say the event has raised more than $30,000 for various organizations over the past three years, including Pro Bono Law Ontario, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, and Tennis Canada’s Tennis Matters program.

All of this year’s proceeds will go to PBLO. The event is limited to 40 participants of 20 doubles teams and participants don’t have to be lawyers. This year, each team will compete in doubles and singles matches.

Those interested in participating can register by e-mailing

Immigration and refugee lawyers have until July 17 to show they meet new panel standards to represent legal aid clients, Legal Aid Ontario has announced.

“LAO is strengthening the panel standards to ensure clients are able to access high quality legal aid providers. Lawyers will need to meet a new general standard for refugee protection division and other tribunal matters and an appellate standard for practice before the courts and the refugee appeal division,” LAO said in an announcement last week.

“To demonstrate that they meet the new panel standards, all existing panel members must submit a panel standards form and associated documentation,” LAO noted.

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

According to the poll, more than half of respondents say the latest improvements to the legal tariff in Ontario are enough to make it viable and attractive for criminal lawyers to take on legal aid cases.

Legal Aid Ontario implemented the last of a series of tariff hikes for certificate work on April 1. The increases were a result of a 2010 memorandum of understanding signed by LAO, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Sixty per cent of poll respondents said taking legal aid work is more viable as a result of the tariff hikes. The Criminal Lawyers’ Association recently told Law Times the next push for the private bar will be to convince LAO to invest more in certificate services as opposed to expanding staff lawyer duties.
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The Ontario Court of Appeal has stayed an order to pay the former clients of the late lawyer Javad Heydary from his LawPRO insurance pending an appeal by his former colleagues.

The former clients, Samira and Hasan Abuzour, lost $3.6 million after Heydary, who was to hold the funds in trust for them, disappeared amid an investigation into the missing money before being declared dead.

Last year, Superior Court Justice Michael Penny awarded the Abuzours the amount remaining in Heydary’s $1-million coverage under LawPRO’s innocent party insurance.

But Heydary’s former colleagues — Jeff Landmann, Yan Wang, and Darren Smith — brought a motion to vary that order on the basis that they hadn’t received enough notice on an issue that interests them as non-parties. The lawyers claimed the LawPRO policy applied to them as well as Heydary and the garnishment of the insurance, with a limit of $1 million, would leave them without coverage should they face a lawsuit.

While the court heard and denied that motion, the lawyers are appealing the decision. Recently, LawPRO brought a motion to stay the garnishment order pending the appeal. Last week, appeal court Justice Grant Huscroft granted the stay.

“The strongest argument in favour of granting a stay is one of basic fairness,” wrote Huscroft.

“The problem at the heart of these proceedings results from the failure of the Abuzours to provide proper notice to Landmann, Wang, and Smith of the first motion before Penny J. Had notice been provided, they would have been able to appeal the October 28 order and that order would have been stayed automatically pursuant to rule 63.01(1).”

For more, see "LawPRO ordered to indemnify Heydary's victims."

McCarthy Tétrault LLP partner Chia-yi Chua has been appointed an honorary consul general of Singapore.

The appointment comes as Philip Eng, Singapore’s high commissioner to Canada, formally opened the Singapore consulate general at McCarthys’ Toronto office.

“We are extremely proud of Chia-yi and we welcome the opening of the consulate general in our offices,” said Marc-André Blanchard, chairman and chief executive officer of McCarthys.

“This appointment celebrates Chia-yi’s ability to cultivate significant relationships and his capacity to provide strategic advice as it relates to the Asian marketplace. In my view, this new responsibility speaks to his birth country’s confidence in his sharp judgment and professional expertise.”

Chua acts as counsel for sectors including the financial services, telecommunications, resource, and retail industries.

“Canada and Singapore are gateway economies, both major players in their respective parts of the world,” said Jean Charest, a partner at McCarthys and a former premier of Quebec.

“Chia-yi is a superb choice and will continue to nurture this significant relationship between our nations. My hearty congratulations to him on this esteemed appointment.”

Former Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP lawyer Ted Citrome has joined Dickinson Wright LLP as of counsel in the firm’s taxation practice.

Citrome will focus on all aspects of Canadian tax law with an emphasis on the taxation of acquisitions, reorganizations, and corporate finance, the firm said.

“I look forward to leveraging my wide industry and legal experience, to provide Dickinson Wright’s clients with the tax advice they need to develop, strengthen, and grow their businesses in Canada,” said Citrome.   

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

An overwhelming majority of respondents say the Ontario government should bring Tarion Warranty Corp. under the ambit of the provincial ombudsman, the auditor general, and the sunshine list.

About 92 per cent of respondents agree with proposed changes affecting the private non-profit corporation that administers and enforces the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.

NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh has tabled a private member’s bill to address the issue. If passed, bill 60 would bring Tarion under the jurisdiction of both the Ontario ombudsman and the auditor general as well the public sector salary disclosure legislation. More recently, Law Times columnist Alan Shanoff wrote a column advocating for changes he said would bring more accountability and transparency at Tarion.
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Former Federal Court justice Judith Snider has joined mediation and arbitration service provider JAMS.

Snider will join JAMS’ Toronto resolution centre as an arbitrator and mediator in matters including administrative, environmental, intellectual property, business and commercial, and energy and utility matters.

Before joining the bench, Snider was general counsel and vice chairwoman of the National Energy Board based in Calgary. She was also a partner at Code Hunter, a boutique litigation firm in Alberta. “Justice Snider is passionate about resolving cases and committed to understanding the parties’ issues,” said Chris Poole, president and chief executive officer of JAMS.

“Her experience on the bench and working with parties to reach resolution makes her a terrific addition to our panel in Canada.”

Snider said that as both a judge and a lawyer, she has learned how “essential” alternative dispute resolution is.
“I look forward to continue doing this important work and joining the talented team in Toronto,” she said.

Lawyer Duncan Fraser has joined Susan Wortzman PC as vice president and senior legal counsel.

Fraser hails from the Department of Justice, where he was director and general counsel of electronic litigation and litigation support services with the litigation branch. “Under his direction, the federal Department of Justice became one of the public sector leaders in e-discovery,” Wotzmans said in an announcement last week. “Duncan was responsible for developing and providing comprehensive e-discovery strategy and litigation technology and services to over 2,000 Justice lawyers and paralegals,” the firm added, calling Fraser’s arrival a “key piece” of its strategy.

“Duncan’s legal experience and expertise in the public sector fit seamlessly into the legal services that Wortzmans provides.”

An appeal panel has stayed a Law Society Tribunal decision to disbar a Nepean, Ont., lawyer pending his appeal.

The tribunal had revoked Luigi Savone’s licence to practise law after finding he had assisted in fraudulent real estate transactions in which purchasers obtained mortgage proceeds under false pretenses over a period spanning from February 2000 until October 2003. Savone is seeking to appeal that decision on the basis that there was an inordinate delay causing significant prejudice to him. Recently, the appeal division found he had “demonstrated that he would suffer irreparable harm if a stay pending appeal were not granted.” “The law society did not cross-examine Mr. Savone on his evidence in this regard. Revocation would shut down his practice and, in the particular circumstances, poses considerable challenges to a later resumption of practice,” wrote Mark Sandler on the panel’s behalf.

He added: “After all, Mr. Savone contends, inter alia, that the entire proceedings should have been stayed and that the findings should all be set aside, based on lack of access to relevant documents. These are two of the grounds of appeal that I cannot dismiss as frivolous.”

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

According to the poll, 88 per cent of participants agree that class actions have gotten out of control in Canada.

Recently, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce made a joint statement with the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform saying “a tide” of class action lawsuits is a cause for concern in the world of Canadian business and lamented what it called “a laxity” in getting class actions certified. The majority of poll participants agreed class actions are costing businesses too much as judges are too willing to certify matters.   
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The province has named Justice Lise Maisonneuve as Ontario Court of Justice Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo’s replacement next month.

Maisonneuve will take over the role on May 4 after Bonkalo’s eight-year terms ends the day before. Maisonneuve has presided over criminal matters in the Ottawa area for 12 years, rising to the role of regional senior justice for the east region in 2011 and then associate chief justice of the court in 2013. Before joining the court, she practised criminal law at Ottawa law firm Carroll Wallace and Maisonneuve.

A Superior Court judge has ordered a $30,000 cost award against a self-represented litigant who claimed she had given birth to her daughter after an immaculate conception — “only the second one in history” — and tried to file a letter from the Queen as an exhibit.

Angela De Cruz Lee had gone to court with allegations of fraud and conspiracy against banks and lawyers. Later, she accused her ex-husband of human trafficking.
“I had prosecuted human trafficking before my call to the bench. Ms. De Cruz Lee had Googled me and discovered this,” wrote Superior Court Justice Antonio Skarica in De Cruz Lee v. Lee.

Skarica described De Cruz Lee as an abusive spouse to her ex-husband, who had sponsored her to Canada, put her in school, bought her a house, and paid all of their bills.
“Mr. Lee’s reward for his part in this so-called marriage was to be abused and used. He took it; he was submissive and weak,” wrote Skarica.

In a ruling that showed his frustration following a nine-day trial, Skarica said his cost award against De Cruz Lee was “essentially meaningless.”

“Ms. De Cruz Lee is on a disability pension. Despite having a university education from twenty years ago, she has never held a job and has never earned an income. She has no assets and no prospects. She is judgment proof and there is no real possibility of that changing unless she wins the lottery,” he wrote, calling her submissions in the case “scandalous and outrageous” and ordering her to pay full-indemnity costs.

The Canadian Bar Association says bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act, needs to include recognition of victims as key witnesses and not “as added parties to the criminal justice system.”

In a second appearance before a parliamentary committee, the CBA called the bill an important step for victims of crime but urged the government to revise it further.

The CBA said it would like to see a framework for victims’ rights during the criminal justice process as well as a national guideline on the treatment of them.

The association also says the act should include an outline of governments’ responsibility to victims, “including measures of practical importance to victims.”

Kathryn Pentz of the CBA’s criminal justice section presented the association’s submission to a Senate committee on April 1.

The federal government appointed three new judges to the bench in Ontario last week.

The government named Ottawa lawyer Mark Shelston to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s family court branch to replace Justice Kenneth Pedlar of Brockville, Ont., after he became a supernumerary judge last November. The government transferred Pedlar’s vacancy to Ottawa.

Paul Howard of Windsor, Ont., also joins the Superior Court of Justice, replacing Justice Terrence Patterson, who elected to become a supernumerary judge in May 2014.

In addition, former Ontario Bar Association president Paul Sweeny will be sitting in Welland, Ont., replacing justice Anne Tucker, who resigned effective Jan. 16.

Sweeny practised with Evans Sweeny Bordin LLP in Hamilton, Ont., with a focus on corporate, commercial, and personal injury law as well as civil litigation.

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

According to the poll, the majority of respondents disagree with the federal government’s ban on the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said the ban is unfair and the government has more important issues to deal with. The remaining participants, however, agreed with the government and said it should press ahead with its appeal of a Federal Court ruling that found the ban illegal.
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There’s now a boardroom at the Ontario Court of Appeal dedicated to the current and former associate chief justices.

The court invited retired associate chief justices John Morden, Coulter Osborne, and Dennis O’Connor to the opening of the newly dedicated boardroom on March 20.

The dedication honours “the substantial contribution these individuals have made and continue to make to the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the administration of justice in Ontario,” said Jacob Bakan, special counsel for the office of the chief justice.

There have been five associate chief justices in Ontario, according to Bakan. “In establishing this position, the governments of Canada and Ontario recognized the need for an associate chief justice to assist with the considerable administrative responsibilities associated with operating Canada’s busiest appellate court. Ontario remains the only province in Canada to have an associate chief justice at the appellate level.”

The clock has run out for the Law Society of Upper Canada to appeal a second ruling that exonerated two Torys LLP lawyers in a conflict of interest case that went on for several years.

The law society prosecuted Darren Sukonick and Beth DeMerchant for conflict of interest related to the sale of the Hollinger group of companies between 2000 and 2003.

But in October 2013, a law society hearing panel found there was no evidence to find the pair guilty of professional misconduct. In February, the Law Society Tribunal dismissed the regulator’s appeal of that decision.

March 20, the deadline to appeal the second ruling, came and went without a notice of appeal from the law society.

Former Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP lawyer Mitchell Finkelstein violated securities laws when he tipped his friend about impending corporate deals, the Ontario Securities Commission has found.

An OSC panel found against Finkelstein for insider tipping in three of the six transactions put before it. Paul Azeff, an investment adviser with CIBC and a good friend of Finkelstein’s, was on the receiving end of those tips.

In a ruling last week, the OSC relied partly on dozens of unexplained phone calls between Azeff and Finkelstein each year as well as 190 calls placed between them in 2007.

“We conclude that Finkelstein informed Azeff, between November 16 and 19 [2004], at least, that [Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.] had agreed to proceed quickly with a takeover transaction to which [Masonite International Corp.] acquiesced. Although it is not necessary to establish tipping, we also find that Finkelstein told Azeff of the pricing and structure of the transaction,” the OSC panel said in reference to one transaction in its ruling last week.

The panel also questioned Finkelstein’s manner of giving evidence, saying it “lacked spontaneity and was well-rehearsed.”

“He left the impression that his evidence was tightly controlled. The substance of his testimony ignored or touched lightly upon important elements that needed explanation.
He spoke very little of his relationship and communications with Azeff in the relevant period from 2004-2007,” the panel said.

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

According to the poll, 63 per cent of respondents say they’re not happy with the civil court facilities in their area.
A recent Law Times story noted some lawyers’ concerns about the court facilities for civil cases at 393 University Ave. in Toronto with one of them calling them a “disgusting hole.”

The Ministry of the Attorney General says the province has spent more than $3.6 million at the building, including “projects to improve accessibility, security, and program and public counter space.”

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The Law Society of Upper Canada is seeking costs of $400,000 from Harry Kopyto in relation to his unsuccessful bid for a paralegal licence.

Calling it “the longest licensing hearing ever held,” the law society wants Kopyto to shoulder the costs of the 51-day proceeding.

“The 51 days of hearing on the merits were almost all consumed by the candidate’s daily and meritless complaints and attacks on the law society, his disrespectful refusal to comply with the panel’s rulings, and his general lack of respect for the law society’s process,” the law society argued in its cost submission.

“Particularly during the 18 days when he gave direct evidence, the candidate came to the hearing without any notes or any plan for the day. His evidence was rambling, unfocused, and repetitive,” according to the law society.

Following his disbarment in 1989, Kopyto continued to provide paralegal services and, when the Law Society of Upper Canada began regulating paralegals in 2007, he applied to continue practising under the grandparented provisions included in the new rules. The law society then brought good-character proceedings to determine whether he could practise as a paralegal. In a ruling last month, the Law Society Tribunal denied his application for a paralegal licence, a decision Kopyto has vowed to appeal.

A B.C. Ministry of Justice litigator will serve as the ombudsman for Team Canada during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games and the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Peter Lawless, currently a litigator in the health and social services group of the Ministry of Justice, will provide guidance and counsel to Canadian Parapan and Paralympic team members in order “to quickly and effectively resolve disputes and issues,” according to the Canadian Paralympic committee.

Lawless, a chartered professional coach, teaches sports and law courses at Camosun College and the University of Victoria Faculty of Law.

“I’m incredibly proud to have been selected as part of the leadership team for the Canadian paralympic team as we look to deliver more amazing athletic performances in our home games in Toronto this summer and beyond,” said Lawless.

The Toronto Lawyers Association presented its 2015 awards to lawyers Earl Cherniak and Jeffrey Lem last month.

Cherniak, a prominent litigator and senior partner at Lerners LLP, received the association’s award of distinction in recognition of “his contributions to the legal profession and to the Toronto legal community over the course of his long and distinguished career.”

Lem, a real estate lawyer and director of titles for the Ontario government, received the Honsberger award in recognition, according to the association, “of his selfless support of his colleagues through decades of mentoring countless young lawyers, his dedication to the legal profession, and leadership as a diverse lawyer.”

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

According to the poll, 58 per cent of respondents agree with Ontario’s plan to address sexual violence and harassment through an enhanced prosecution model, independent legal advice for victims, and changes to limitation periods.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s three-year action plan, dubbed It’s Never Okay, includes a proposal that would see Crown counsel and police receive mentorship and training on how to deal with cases of sexual violence. In addition, the scheme would see an amendment to rental-housing legislation to allow victims of sexual assault to break their lease if they’re fleeing violence.

The Law Society Tribunal has disbarred a Nepean, Ont., lawyer for knowingly participating in mortgage fraud.

The tribunal revoked Luigi Savone’s licence to practise law after finding he had assisted in fraudulent real estate transactions in which purchasers obtained mortgage proceeds under false pretenses over a period spanning from February 2000 until October 2003.

“We conclude that revocation is the appropriate penalty, given the gravity of the misconduct that we have found,” wrote hearing panel member Ross Earnshaw in the March 11 decision penalty.

“The evidence heard in the penalty phase of this application fell far short of the standard of compelling evidence that would credibly indicate not only that the professional misconduct was out of character for Mr. Savone and was unlikely to recur, but also to explain why it occurred in the firstplace,” wrote Earnshaw.

The tribunal also awarded $100,000 in costs against Savone.
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The Law Society of Upper Canada announced the recipients of its annual awards last week.

The 2015 law society medal recipients include Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP partner Craig Carter as well as University of Ottawa Faculty of Law Prof. Adam Dodek, a leading scholar on professionalism and ethics in the legal profession.

Susan Eng, vice president of CARP Canada, will also receive the medal for her advocacy work on a range of issues.

The LSUC is also honouring Lerners LLP partner Faisal Joseph, a lawyer who, according to the law society, “has demonstrated leadership, integrity and the highest skills in advocacy in his representation of clients whose cases do not garner the support of public opinion. He has often been the face and voice of the city’s Muslim community and worked diligently to promote interfaith relationships.”

Other recipients include Torys LLP senior litigation partner John Laskin, Stewart Lavigueur, a sole practitioner in Eganville, Ont., and Patrick Shea, a partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP who was a driving force behind the law society’s recent honorary call to the bar that recognized law students who died in the First World War.

Chantal Tie, who teaches immigration and refugee law at the University of Ottawa, will receive the medal for her commitment to social justice at home and internationally. She has worked for the Canadian Bar Association on justice projects in Bangladesh and China and has volunteered on projects like The Equality Effect.

The law society will also award the 2015 Lincoln Alexander award to Paul Le Vay, a partner and a certified specialist in civil litigation at Stockwoods LLP.

Kimberly Murray, a member of the Kanesatake Mohawk Nation and executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, will receive this year’s Laura Legge award while paralegal Paul Dray will take home the William J. Simpson distinguished paralegal award.  

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP competition and foreign investment lawyer Kevin Ackhurst is the firm’s new national practice head of antitrust and competition.

“It’s an exciting time to be leading our practice in Canada. With more than 100 antitrust lawyers around the world within Norton Rose Fulbright, it means we can leverage the experience and knowledge of our colleagues for the benefit of our clients,” said Ackhurst.

The change in leadership comes after the former practice head, Denis Gascon, joined the Federal Court of Canada bench.

While some lawyers are running for bencher these days, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP’s Julie Paquette has literally been running — and winning — in the athletic sphere.

Paquette, a commercial real estate and franchising partner, was the winner of last month’s Women’s Ultraman Florida Race in Orlando, Fla. She won the race in 29 hours and 33 minutes with a margin of victory of two hours over the second-place runner.

“Julie had an excellent first day of swimming and biking, took the lead early, and never looked back. She trained extremely hard during the winter for the race while also pursuing a busy law practice,” said Pierre-Paul Henrie, Norton Rose Fulbright’s managing partner in Ottawa.

The Ultraman race, a weekend-long endurance test, consisted of a 10-kilometre swim and a 145-kilometre bike leg on the first day; a 275-kilometre bike leg on the second day; and a double marathon the next day.  

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

In light of the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling allowing physician-assisted suicide, 44 per cent of participants say the federal government should move quickly to come up with and pass legislation before the one-year grace period provided by the court expires.

Another 22 per cent of respondents say the government should let the current law lapse at the end of the grace period while 24 per cent think it should seek an extension.

A further 10 per cent of poll participants felt the federal government should use the notwithstanding clause to keep the current law in place.
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An iconic portrait of the first judge in Simcoe County at the Barrie, Ont., courthouse will return to its place in better shape thanks to a community that rallied to restore the old oil painting.

The painting of justice James Gowan had been showing its age with dust and grime accumulating on it, says Ted Chadderton, president of the Simcoe County Law Association.

A project began three years ago to have the portrait restored and refurbished. The Simcoe County Law Association used one of its annual general meeting dinners as a fundraiser for the project that raised $2,300 to start the campaign, says Chadderton.

Eventually the County of Simcoe, the City of Barrie, and a number of private donors came on board with funding. The restored painting was unveiled on March 5 at the Simcoe County Law Association annual general meeting that hosted Ontario Chief Justice George Strathy.

“The Simcoe County Law Association is proud to have been a contributor and sponsor for the restoration of the portrait of Sir James Gowan, bringing a piece of Simcoe County legal history to back to life,” says Chadderton.

“Justice Gowan wasn’t just the first Judge in Simcoe County; he helped shape the legal system here and across the province for decades to come.”

Dentons Canada LLP says it’s bringing its articling program for internationally trained lawyers to its Toronto office.

The program, which allows foreign-trained lawyers to complete their articling term at the firm, will continue for the second year in Calgary in partnership with Imperial Oil Ltd.

“Fundamental to Dentons’ culture is our dedication to diversity and inclusion, and to professional development, making the launch of our ITL articling program in Toronto a perfect complement to our firm’s practice,” said Natasha Prasaud, acting assistant director of professional development.

“With an increasing number of new Canadians arriving in our city, we are delighted to offer the opportunity to enhance professional growth and access to resources to internationally trained lawyers who want to practise law in Canada,” Prasaud added.

Dentons’ Toronto and Calgary offices will each accept a candidate who has completed their national committee on accreditation process.

Mediation provider JAMS says it has partnered up with court reporting service company Neesons Court Reporting Inc.

“This partnership enables us to work alongside one of the best court-reporting services in the country and allows us to add an additional value to our clients,” said Chris Poole, president and chief executive officer of JAMS.

JAMS will now serve as a second location for Neesons’ discoveries and arbitrations.

“This now establishes JAMS and Neeson as the preeminent centre for court reporting and ADR needs in Toronto,” said Kim Neeson, president of Neesons.

“While we’ll operate separately, we’ll also work together to make sure we continue to provide excellent client service.”

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

Following the arrest of criminal lawyer Laura Liscio on drug charges after she delivered a change of clothing to a client in custody, 43 per cent of poll respondents say defence counsel should refrain from delivering clothes due to the risks.

A further 19 per cent of poll participants said counsel shouldn’t stop delivering court-appropriate clothing to clients in custody because there’s no other option. The remaining participants said they’re unsure because the full details of what happened in the Liscio case have yet to emerge.
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The Canadian Bar Association has recognized a number of lawyers through its 2015 awards.

The awards recognize CBA members who, among other contributions, work to advance equality for gays and lesbians, demonstrate exceptional service to the association’s goals, offer pro bono legal services as a young lawyer or show outstanding efforts as a student member.

Geoffrey Creighton, who recently retired as general counsel at IGM Financial Inc., took home the Douglas Miller award while Stewart McKelvey partner William Ryan received the Louis St-Laurent award. The CBA is also honouring Christian Whalen, senior legal counsel with the New Brunswick office of the child and youth advocate, with the John Tait award.

The awards also recognized several academics. University of Toronto law professor Stephen Waddams receives the Ramon John Hnatyshyn award while the Touchstone award goes to another professor, Martha Jackman of the University of Ottawa.

Other professors honoured include University of Ottawa law Prof. Nicole LaViolette, who received the SOGIC Hero award. The CBA also awarded the SOGIC Ally award to Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan. In addition, the CBA recognized Deborah Templer, a partner at

Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, with the Young Lawyers Pro Bono award and University of Montreal student Olivier Girardeau with the 2014 Rowan-Legg award.

The Law Society Tribunal has disbarred Toronto real estate and corporate commercial lawyer Norma Jean Walton.

An appeal panel ordered revocation of her licence on Feb. 18 after the Law Society of Upper Canada appealed a previous ruling that had suspended her for 18 months for misconduct that included comingling her corporate or personal funds with client trust funds and misleading a client on the nature of an investment.

“Taken cumulatively, and discounting the few mitigating factors that were relied upon erroneously by the hearing panel, this was a case with the following features: many serious findings of misconduct over a lengthy duration, featuring an absence of integrity, honesty and candidness on the part of the licensee, with minimal mitigating circumstances, and multiple aggravating considerations,” wrote appeal panel chairman Raj Anand.

The original hearing panel had declined to disbar Walton on the basis that the evidence before it didn’t support a finding of “a complete loss of integrity” as the law society had argued.

Walton has also faced separate allegations in litigation involving Dr. Stanley Bernstein, a well-known diet doctor. According to court documents in civil proceedings related to the Bernstein case, mortgages worth $6 million were allegedly discharged from joint investment projects Walton and her husband owned with Bernstein without his approval. A court-ordered investigation also found that $2.1 million in mortgage proceeds had been diverted from the joint investments.

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

According to the poll, the majority of respondents are happy with the newly rebranded civil practice court at the Superior Court of Justice.

Sixty-one per cent of poll participants said the court, which is allowing judges to manage cases and resolve some disputes without requiring a formal motion, would make a big difference.

The culture of endless motions in Toronto had created a massive backlog that meant wait times of up to seven months to bring even the simplest of motions. At the instruction of Chief Justice Heather Smith, a civil justice review committee has been working to reduce the wait time for complex motions to four months.
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The Law Society Tribunal has suspended a lawyer on an interlocutory basis for misappropriating funds belonging to orphaned children.

Lawyer Peter Borkovich misappropriated $150,000 in estate funds that belonged to children who had lost their parents, according to a hearing panel that considered the matter.

“In this case, the evidence of misappropriation is clear,” wrote hearing panel chairman Peter Wardle, who added that over a period of two years, Borkovich took funds belonging to the clients and used them for his own benefit.
“This was not an isolated event,” wrote Wardle.

“There were 36 separate withdrawals of funds on account of legal fees that were not earned.”

The lawyer paid his personal taxes through funds from the estate and used the money to make up for losses arising from “improper loan activity” that arose in another estate, according to Wardle.

“The victims of this misappropriation were orphaned minor children. The amounts are significant.”

The hearing panel decided to suspend Borkovich despite his co-operation with an ongoing investigation by the Law Society of Upper Canada and repayment of the funds he had misappropriated.

“This result may seem harsh,” wrote Wardle.

“The respondent has taken a number of positive steps to deal with his misconduct. Most importantly, he has acknowledged his wrongdoing and repaid the funds misappropriated. At a future discipline hearing these facts may be mitigating features for a hearing panel to consider. At this stage, however, they simply do not address the disturbing concerns about the respondent’s integrity raised by the misconduct in question.”

Former Wildeboer Dellelce LLP securities lawyer Peter Simeon has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

Simeon joins Gowlings’ Toronto office as a partner and a member of the firm’s corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions group.

“Peter is an exceptional securities lawyer with an impressive track record of success for his clients,” said Scott Jolliffe, chairman and chief executive officer of Gowlings.

“His expertise in corporate finance, coupled with his dedication to providing companies with practical, effective solutions, make him a great fit for Gowlings. We’re delighted to welcome him to the firm.”

Simeon advises clients on matters related to corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and structured products. He said he’s excited to join “an innovative” team of lawyers at Gowlings.

“Gowlings’ corporate finance and M&A capabilities are second to none, but what’s just as important is the personalized, responsive service it offers to companies at all stages of development,” said Simeon.

“I’m excited to be a part of an innovative firm that Canadian and international businesses depend on to move their transactions forward.”

The Law Society Tribunal has disciplined a Toronto paralegal for advertising that declared “We win or it’s free” on his web site.

Paralegal Benito Zappia’s web site made the promise “without clarifying that he charged a small non-refundable administrative fee and that the offer of a contingency fee did not include criminal clients’ matters,” a hearing panel found.

“Mr. Zappia also admitted he did not use a trust account to hold money from clients on account of fees and disbursements not yet rendered,” wrote panel chairwoman Barbara Murchie.

“The panel agreed that he had engaged in professional misconduct, as alleged.”

The hearing panel reprimanded Zappia and ordered him to pay $2,500 in costs.
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Bob Ward announces plan to retire
Legal Aid Ontario president and CEO Bob Ward has announced he will retire by the end of this year.

“I have concluded that now is the right time for me to begin to transition to retirement after a career in public service of nearly 42 years,” Ward wrote in a memo to staff. “This would enable LAO to pass the torch to a new generation of leadership to chart the course and commit to the long term effort required to continue to further the interests of our clients.”

Ward said he has advised the LAO board he intends to step down 11 months from now. The exact date of his retirement is yet to be determined.

In his memo, Ward thanked staff for working to improve legal aid in Ontario by “reflecting the highest principles of both public service and social justice.” He also said LAO has benefited from strong political support over the years.

“Successive attorneys general have all well-understood the needs of the legal aid system and each one of them was successful in securing significant additional funding for legal aid,” he said. “To these Ministers and to their able deputies and officials, who worked diligently and effectively behind the scenes on these initiatives and many others, much gratitude is owed.”

Ward also said there is still a lot to be achieved in legal aid.

“The many stubborn barriers to access to justice that persist need our constant attention to overcome; the evolving nature of the justice system requires continual re-thinking to ensure our clients are well-served,” he wrote.

“The changing dynamics of poverty requires us to be updating our programming all the time; and the welfare of our dedicated colleagues in the private bar and clinic system, who all do so much to further our clients’ interests, merits particularly innovative, ongoing support.”

New regional JP appointed
Justice of the Peace Linda Leblanc has been appointed the regional senior justice of the peace for the east region of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Leblanc was originally appointed as justice of the peace in 2005. In her new role, she replaces regional senior JP Bernard Swords, who was appointed as senior advisory JP in December 2014.

As regional senior JP, Leblanc will assist the chief justice, the co-ordinator of justices of the peace, and the regional senior judge in all matters related to justices of the peace.

Shapiro to lead Canadian practice at Dickinson Wright
Dickinson Wright LLP has appointed lawyer Mark Shapiro to lead its Toronto-based Canadian practice.

Dickinson Wright, a business law firm with offices on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, says Shapiro will be responsible for providing “overall strategic direction of the practice” and managing the firm’s internal committees.

“Mark brings over 19 years of legal and management experience and is a recognized leader within the firm. As we continue to grow our presence in Canada, I am confident that Mark possesses the leadership and management skills to lead our Canadian practice,” said William Burgess, CEO of Dickinson Wright, in a press release.

Shapiro, for his part, said he is looking forward to his new role.

“I’m honoured and excited to lead Dickinson Wright’s Canadian practice,” Shapiro said. “Our practice has grown significantly over the last seven years and now includes so many well-respected and recognized lawyers. I look forward to leading the firm as we continue to serve both our Canadian and U.S. clients in a wide variety of transactional and litigation matters across a range of industries and legal practice areas.”

Construction Lien Act goes under review
The Ministry of the Attorney General has launched a review of the Construction Lien Act to look into payment issues within the construction sector.

The government selected Borden Ladner Gervais LLP senior partner Bruce Reynolds to conduct the review, which comes in response to “stakeholder concerns related to prompt payment and effective dispute resolution in Ontario’s construction industry, such as encouraging timely payment for services and materials, and making sure payment risk is distributed fairly,” the MAG said in an announcement.

Another BLG lawyer, Sharon Vogel, will assist Reynolds with the review, which is expected to conclude by the end of this year. It will involve “extensive consultation” with the construction industry and a report to the province.

Liberals call for diversity on the bench
Two Liberal MPs are calling for greater diversity of the judiciary. MPs Irwin Cotler and Sean Casey say “there is no shortage of meritorious candidates” for the bench who come from minority backgrounds.

“Canada’s judiciary should be made up of highly qualified people who reflect our country in all its diversity. It is therefore unacceptable that, according to the government, statistics about the diversity of judicial appointments are ‘not readily available,’” the MPs said in a statement released last week.

“While merit and judicial excellence must clearly be prerequisites when making appointments to the bench, there is no shortage of meritorious candidates from minority communities. In fact, as a whole, the judiciary can only be truly excellent if it reflects the society it is entrusted to judge.”

Canadians are more likely to have confidence in the legal system “if judges share our variety of experiences and backgrounds,” the MPs said.

“Moreover, in the words of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, judges ‘arrive at the bench shaped by their experiences and by the perspectives of the communities from which they come.’ A broader range of judicial perspectives can only enhance the quality of court decisions.”

The MPs cited a 2012 investigation by The Globe and Mail found that just two of 100 new judges named by the federal government were visible minorities.

Law Times poll
The results for the latest Law Times online poll are in. Respondents are divided about what the Law Society of Upper Canada should do about the Law Practice Program in light of law students’ concerns about it.

Law students recently wrote to LSUC treasurer Janet Minor with concerns that unpaid placements under the LPP could affect paid articling positions. They also said there are significant equity concerns as disadvantaged groups are more likely to turn to the program.

But 37 per cent of poll participants said the law society should do nothing now as the program is a pilot project and should be left to run its course. Another 35 per cent of respondents suggested scrapping the project altogether and coming up with something better.

Still another 20 per cent of respondents said the law society should mandate paid work placements to address the concerns about affordability and equity, while eight per cent said LSUC should provide more financial assistance to students.
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Former lawyers at Heydary Hamilton PC have lost a motion to reverse an order that allowed clients of deceased lawyer Javad Heydary to garnish funds from his LawPRO insurance coverage.

The lawyers claimed the policy applied to them as well as Heydary and that the garnishment of the insurance, with a limit of $1 million, would leave them without coverage should they face a lawsuit.

Last year, Superior Court Justice Michael Penny found Samira and Hasan Abuzour should receive the amount remaining from Heydary’s $1-million coverage under LawPRO’s “innocent party” insurance.

The moving parties asked the court to vary that order, saying the Abuzours must commence a new proceeding specifically alleging negligence or fraud against Heydary before any indemnity obligation arises on LawPRO’s part.

“I am unable to agree,” Penny wrote in his recent decision on the matter.

“There is not the slightest hint in all the material before me that Heydary had any defence or lawful excuse for not paying the money.”

He added: “It would be formalistic in the extreme, to the point of absurdity, to require the applicants at this stage to commence and obtain judgment against Heydary in yet another proceeding before being able to make a claim to the benefit of Heydary’s LawPRO coverage.”

Heydary disappeared in 2013 amid allegations of $3.6 million in missing client funds. He was later declared dead.

For more, see "LawPRO ordered to indemnify Heydary's victims."

Disbarred lawyer Harry Kopyto doesn’t have the good character required to become a paralegal in Ontario, according to the Law Society Tribunal.

The law society disbarred Kopyto in 1989 after finding he had overbilled legal aid by $150,000. In recent years, he has faced the good-character proceedings as he seeks a licence as a paralegal.

According to a ruling issued by the tribunal’s hearing division last week, Kopyto has admitted to practising law after his disbarment.

“Mr. Kopyto acknowledges that he is not rule-observant. As he explains this, he is governed by his conscience and refuses to obey the law when to do so would lead to an unjust result. He counsels his clients to obey the law unless a higher moral duty calls upon them to breach it. He testified that the public interest comes first, not his clients. Mr. Kopyto asks us to stand up against the narrow ideology and sanctioned perceptions of the legal profession, and to disregard his breaches of the rules governing paralegals’ scope of practice. He characterizes his unauthorized practice as political activism promoting access to justice, an area where, he claims, the society has utterly failed to achieve its mandate.”

Kopyto, who likened himself to rule breakers like Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi, pointed to his “empathetic qualities,” the panel noted. “We have no difficulty concluding that Mr. Kopyto is sincerely devoted to pursuing his clients’ causes, and that he has great empathy for them. He is generous, he is appreciated by his clients, and he is dedicated to them.

“And although these qualities denote good character, they do not justify permitting an individual to provide legal services who considers himself to be exempt from applicable laws and rules, including those regulating his profession, whenever his conscience finds it to be convenient.”

For more, see "Kopyto's long battle with LSUC."

Several lawyers and judges were among the recent appointees to the Order of Ontario.

Among those honoured by Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell were former Ontario chief justice Warren Winkler and Sidney Linden, who served as chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, as well as lawyers Gilles LeVasseur and Eva Marszewski. The appointees also include former Ontario Court justice Maryka Omatsu.

Winkler, a former labour lawyer, has joined Arbitration Place since leaving the office of the chief justice of Ontario. Linden, who was Ontario’s first information and privacy commissioner, also served as chairman of Legal Aid Ontario as well as commissioner for the Ipperwash public inquiry.

LeVasseur is a lawyer and a professor at the University of Ottawa’s business department. According to the government of Ontario, he has spent “more than 25 years working to protect, promote, and enhance the constitutional and language rights of Ontario’s francophone community.”

Marszewski, meanwhile, is the founder and executive director of Peacebuilders International. Omatsu, Canada’s first Asian-Canadian female judge, was a member of the negotiation team for the National Association of Japanese Canadians in its quest for Canadian redress for the internment during the Second World War.

Dentons Canada LLP has admitted four new lawyers to the partnership at its Ontario offices.

The four are among 17 lawyers who made partnership across six offices in Canada. In Toronto, the new partners include financial services lawyer Kori Williams, employment lawyer Andy Pushalik, and commercial real estate lawyer Scott Martyn. The sole new partner at the Ottawa office is Rob Davis, a lawyer who advises clients on venture capital, private equity financing, and cross-border transactions.

Former Federal Court of Appeal justice Karen Sharlow has joined Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s tax practice group.

At Osler, Sharlow will be advising on case strategy. Her addition will enhance the firm’s ability to deliver “unparalleled tax litigation services to our clients,” said Monica Biringer, co-chairwoman of Osler’s tax department.

Biringer also said Sharlow would serve as a mentor at the firm. “Now more than ever, clients require a singular level of expertise in tax advocacy. Karen brings a unique perspective to tax litigation — an area of business critical importance to our clients,” said Biringer.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, the majority of respondents aren’t welcoming the recent Ontario rule change allowing parties up to five years to set an action down for trial. In fact, 65 per cent of respondents said the change from two years to five years would lead to files languishing for too long.

As of Jan. 1, Ontario repealed Rule 48.15 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and replaced it with a provision that says the court will dismiss matters not been put down for trial after five years without further notice to lawyers.

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A lawyer’s plan to challenge the Beer Store in court has quickly fizzled out.

“The application has been discontinued in light of an expert opinion on the low chance of success and high cost,” said Toronto lawyer Michael Hassell.

“Fundraising was to occur next, but no one is going to fund the litigation in light of the expert opinion.”

Last month, he put the province on notice that he would be bringing a legal challenge to s. 3(e) of the Liquor Control Act that grants Brewers Retail Inc. monopoly status as the only private company able to sell beer to the public without brewing it. The draft notice called it “an unreasonable restraint of trade, contrary to equitable principles of fairness and contrary to public policy.”

The quick change of heart follows a recent Law Times online poll on the issue. According to the poll, 80 per cent of participants feel it’s time for Ontario to end the Beer Store monopoly.

Keeping up with the trend for the last 20 years, the police-reported crime rate in Canada fell even lower in 2013.
According to Statistics Canada, the rate was at its lowest point since 1969 at 5,191 crimes per 100,000 population, a decline from 5,632 per 100,000 population the previous year.

“Experts have not reached a consensus on why crime has been declining since the 1990s, but several factors have been cited as possible explanations,” according to Statistics Canada’s report on crime trends.

“These factors include an aging population, changing policing practices and strategies, the rise of technology, shifts in unemployment, variations in alcohol consumption, neighbourhood characteristics, or changing attitudes towards illegal and risky behaviour.”

Homicide represented less than one per cent of all violent crimes in 2013. In total, there were 505 homicides that year, which was 38 fewer than 2012.

“The homicide rate, due to its consistent and reliable reporting to police, is often used as an indicator of the level of violence in a society,” according to Statistics Canada.

The Law Society Tribunal has revoked Toronto real estate lawyer John Paul Abbott’s licence as of Feb. 21.

The hearing panel found that in seven instances, the lawyer had participated in “fraudulent or dishonest conduct” to obtain mortgage funds under false pretences.

He also failed to “serve and perform legal services undertaken on behalf of his lender, purchaser, and vendor clients to the standard of a competent lawyer in the transactions,” according to a summary of the tribunal decision.

In other tribunal news, Law Times reported last week on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s move to suspend Windsor, Ont., lawyer Claudio Martini on an interlocutory basis. While the story noted a delay in the proceedings until April, it didn’t point out that the tribunal had already issued an interim interlocutory suspension on Jan. 5.

Ottawa arbitration and litigation lawyer Barry Leon is moving to the Caribbean to become a commercial judge of the High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

The court is a Superior Court for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Leon’s appointment takes effect in March. He’s currently a partner and head of the international arbitration group at Perley-Robertson Hill & McDougall LLP. Aaron Rubinoff will now replace Leon in that role.

“The firm is excited for Barry to have been appointed to this prominent international position with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court,” said Rubinoff in a statement.
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The Law Society of Upper Canada awarded Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Karen Weiler an honorary doctor of laws at its call to the bar ceremony last week.

The LSUC said it was recognizing Weiler for “her initiatives to improve access to justice for litigants in need and for her equity work to combat racism and discrimination.”

Law society Treasurer Janet Minor awarded the honorary degree to Weiler at a ceremony that saw 183 new lawyers called to the bar on Jan. 23.

After her call to bar in Ontario in 1969, Weiler became the first woman to practise law in northwestern Ontario when she moved to Thunder Bay, Ont., for work. Before becoming a judge, Weiler served as policy counsel at the Ministry of the Attorney General, where the law society says her work led to reforms in family law with the enactment of the Family Law Reform Act, the Children’s Law Reform Act, and the Succession Law Reform Act.

Former Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP tax lawyer Paul Carenza has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

Carenza, whose practice focuses on domestic and cross-border corporate acquisitions, reorganizations, and financings, joins the Toronto office of the firm as a partner.

“Paul is a highly skilled tax professional who delivers creative solutions to meet the business needs of his clients,” said Scott Jolliffe, chairman and chief executive officer of Gowlings.

“His particular expertise in executive compensation matters, including plan design and drafting, adds further depth to Gowlings’ award-winning practice. We are thrilled to welcome him to the firm.”

The province has appointed justice of the peace Brett Kelly as the regional senior justice of the peace for the centralwest region of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Kelly first became a justice of the peace in 2009. In his new role, he replaces regional senior justice of the peace John Creelman.
Former Superior Court justice MaryJo Nolan has taken up a new post-retirement gig as a family law mediator in Windsor, Ont.

Nolan, who retired from the court in July 2014, took the job after Legal Aid Ontario’s director general for the Essex, Lambton, and Kent district asked her if she’d like to mediate family law settlements.

“I often say that part of my job as a mediator is to turn the kaleidoscope,” said Nolan.

“I use that analogy because you see a pattern in a kaleidoscope. If you turn it, all the pieces are still the same but it looks different. In mediation, the facts are the same but you look at them differently. Learning settlement skills has been emphasized at judges’ seminars lately. I think being a mediator is an important role for a judge in this day and age.”
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, it’s a fairly even split on the issue of allowing cameras in courtrooms. The poll found 51 per cent of respondents felt the justice system should get with the times and loosen the rules against cameras and other electronic devices in court. The remaining participants felt that allowing them in court would be disruptive and unhelpful.
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The Law Foundation of Ontario has a new chairman with Paul Schabas taking over the role from Mark Sandler.

Schabas took on the role on Jan. 1 after serving as a trustee since 2007. A media lawyer and partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, he has also served as chairman of Pro Bono Law Ontario and a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. He’s currently a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada as well.

“I look forward to building on the significant achievements of my predecessor,” said Schabas of his new role.

Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP has admitted 16 new partners at its offices across Canada and Britain.

Five of the new partners are in Ontario. Commercial litigation lawyer Brent Arnold, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions lawyer Rob Blackstein, and restructuring and insolvency lawyer Frank Lamie have joined the Toronto office. Procurement lawyer Stephanie Pearce is now a partner at the Ottawa office while the Hamilton, Ont., office of Gowlings has welcomed business lawyer Pam Vermeersch to the partnership.

“We pride ourselves on having the top talent at Gowlings,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings chairman and chief executive officer. “Our new partners are exemplars of the outstanding depth of experience and expertise we offer across Canada and internationally. They are also highly attuned to what our clients expect from their external counsel — trusted legal advisers who consistently deliver exceptional service, value, and results.”

Public policy lawyer Richard Mahoney has joined Hansell LLP.

Firm founder Carol Hansell said Mahoney, who was previously an adviser to former prime minister Paul Martin, is an important addition to the firm.

“Richard will add a valuable new dimension to the advice we provide. Government is an important stakeholder for many of our clients. Richard’s deep public policy experience will be an enormous asset,” she said.

Mahoney focuses on public policy, issue management, regulatory affairs, and governance matters.

He has made previous attempts at federal office under the Liberal party banner in the past and, according to the Ottawa Citizen, he’ll be seeking the Liberal nomination in Ottawa West-Nepean for the upcoming federal election.

Former Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP partner Timothy Unwin has joined JAMS in Toronto.

Unwin will serve as an arbitrator and mediator at JAMS. “Tim has a reputation for efficiently grasping and managing complex matters,” said Chris Poole, president and chief executive officer of JAMS.

“His varied experience working with corporations and parties to reach resolution makes him an excellent addition to our panel in Toronto.”

For his part, Unwin said he has been a proponent of mediation and arbitration for many years. “I look forward to continue doing this important work and joining the supremely capable team in Toronto.”

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

According to the poll, more than half of respondents are optimistic about legal business prospects in 2015 with 54 per cent agreeing that the coming year couldn’t get worse for the industry than 2014. But the rest of participants weren’t so sure about that, saying the headwinds remain strong this year as well.
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  • Access to Justice
    Access to Justice The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) strives to inform the public on the importance of the people having access to legal resources and…
  • Legal Aid lawyers rally for collective bargaining rights
    Legal Aid lawyers rally for collective bargaining rights Legal Aid Ontario lawyers held three protests in July to push the provincial government to support their attempts to unionize. The lawyers have been in…
  • Jane-Finch community gets employment law help
    Jane-Finch community gets employment law help Osgoode Hall Law School's Community Legal Aid Services Programme recently opened an employment law division for Toronto's Jane-Finch community.Phanath Im, review counsel for the division,…
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Law Times poll

After the Supreme Court set out a framework to assess the independence of expert witnesses, litigators have different opinions about whether it’s too difficult to exclude expert evidence on the basis of bias. What do you think?
Yes, it remains very hard to get this evidence excluded, but this may change as trial court judges pay more attention to the backgrounds of expert witnesses.
No, it is not hard to get this evidence excluded, as the courts continually refine the role of experts in both criminal and civil litigation.