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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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Lawyers, staff, and litigants at the busy courthouse in Brampton, Ont., are getting some relief.

Last week, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced plans to add space at the courthouse. The goal is to meet projected demand for the next 25 years, according to the ministry. The first two floors of the six-floor addition will contain new courtrooms and support spaces such as judicial chambers with the remaining areas to accommodate future courthouse developments. The aim is to complete the addition by December 2017.

“This courthouse expansion showcases our government’s commitment to enhancing access to justice for Ontario communities,” said Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur.

During construction, additional courtroom space will be available in Milton, Orangeville, and Kitchener, Ont.

A Law Society Tribunal hearing panel has disbarred Toronto lawyer Tim Leahy.

Last month, the panel disbarred Leahy and ordered him to pay almost $21,000 in costs after finding, among other things, that he practised law and held himself out as someone entitled to do so despite his suspension in December 2012. It also found he practised law through a business entity, Forefront Migration Ltd., that didn’t have a certificate of authorization from the Law Society of Upper Canada.

In the case of Toronto lawyer George Allan Marron, the hearing panel allowed him to surrender his licence by Jan. 9, failing which the LSUC would revoke it on Jan. 10.
Among several acts of misconduct, the panel found he had failed to serve five clients and acted dishonourably by not complying with two court orders.

Regulatory lawyer Bonni Ellis has joined Lerners LLP as a partner.

A lawyer with more than a decade of experience in professional regulation, Ellis brings a “unique and specialized skill set,” according to the firm. “Her expertise and regulatory professions practice adds a new level of expertise to our litigation practice in Toronto,” said Brian Grant, managing partner of the firm’s Toronto office.

There’s new leadership at Pallett Valo LLP as Bobby Sachdeva takes over as managing partner from Anne Kennedy.

Sachdeva, who took over the role on Jan. 1, has been with the firm since 1995 when he filled in for a maternity leave. Since then, he founded the firm’s insolvency group and has also served as deputy managing partner.

Kennedy will continue as deputy managing partner.

“Pallett Valo has established itself as a top regional firm, is poised to build on that reputation and with Bobby’s leadership I know great things are ahead,” she said.
Other changes at Pallett Valo include the appointment of Craig Ross as a partner.

Stikeman Elliott LLP has started the year with the appointment of four new partners.

The changes include three new partners at the firm’s Toronto office: Maria Konyukhova, Jonah Mann, and Tim McCormick.

Konyukhova is a member of the firm’s litigation group who practises insolvency law. Mann, a member of the corporate group in Toronto, focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and governance, and securities law compliance. McCormick is also a member of the corporate group who practises business law with an emphasis on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.

Besides the Toronto appointments, the firm also named a new partner in Calgary: tax lawyer Julie D’Avignon.
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Following a string of Ontario judicial appointments in mid-December, the federal government made one more announcement on Dec. 19: the elevation of Justice Eugene Rossiter as chief justice of the Tax Court of Canada.

Rossiter, who had been associate chief justice of the Tax Court since 2008, replaces Justice Gerald Rip, who’s now a supernumerary judge.

A lawyer since 1978, Rossiter became a judge in 2006 after a career in private practice that included a stint as chairman of the partnership board at Stewart McKelvey.

In a bid to ease the stress of representing yourself in court, the national self-represented litigants project has a unique solution: massage therapy at the courthouse.

On Jan. 9, 23, and 30, the project, which aims to raise awareness about the phenomenon of self-represented litigants, is helping bringing free massage therapy in co-ordination with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian College of Health Science and Technology’s massage therapy program. Students from the program will offer short massage sessions on the fifth floor of the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor, Ont.
“This is a wonderful gift for people undergoing the immense stress of court,” said Marilyn Weller, manager of specialized services for the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Windsor-Essex County branch.

The Ministry of the Attorney General’s new aboriginal justice division is moving forward with the appointment of Kimberly Murray as its lead.

“I welcome Kimberly to our senior management team and I look forward to working together,” said Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur in announcing the appointment last month.

Murray, who starts in the new role on April 1, is the first assistant deputy attorney general of the aboriginal justice division. She’s currently executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and was previously head of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto.

The creation of the new division was among the recommendations by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci in his report on First Nations representation on Ontario juries.

Seven lawyers were among a group of 95 Canadians appointed to the Order of Canada last month.

Gov.-Gen. David Johnston named the appointees on Dec. 26.

He named Donald Malcolm McRae of Ottawa and Dick Pound of Montreal companions of the Order of Canada, a promotion within the order.

Officers of the Order of Canada included Jean-Louis Baudouin, an internationally renowned legal scholar and senior partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Montreal recognized for his contributions to the advancement of civil law in Canada as a professor and judge for the Quebec Court of Appeal.

As well, Peter Milliken becomes an officer of the Order of Canada for his public service and commitment to parliamentary democracy as Canada’s longest-serving Speaker of the House of Commons. Milliken was a member of the House of Commons from 1988 until his retirement in 2011. He served as Speaker for 10 years.

Former Liberal minister of foreign affairs and defence Bill Graham becomes a member of the order. The announcement recognized the former lawyer and law professor’s many years of political service.

Also named a member of the order was retired senator and Vancouver lawyer Jacob “Jack” Austin. Another former senator, Michael Meighen, becomes an officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to public life as a lawyer, politician, and philanthropist. He’s now counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP in Toronto.

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

According to the poll, respondents aren’t losing sleep over artificial intelligence usurping lawyers’ roles in legal work. Just 39 per cent of respondents felt it could have a significant impact on lawyers’ prospects. A further 61 per cent felt artificial intelligence is too far off and lawyers have to embrace innovation anyway.

The report follows recent Law Times stories about the emergence of artificial intelligence and the possibility it could perform many of the tasks of lawyers.
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The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association is urging the Law Society of Upper Canada to reject the adoption of alternative business structures.

In a submission to the law society, the OTLA cites lack of empirical evidence to support a move toward ABS.

“We have studied ABS from the time it was first raised by the law society in the summer of 2013, through the release of the CBA Futures report, to the LSUC paper released just this past fall,” said Charles Gluckstein, immediate past-president of the OTLA. “As an association, we do not accept that there are any compelling reasons to move ahead on ABS.”

“The proof is just not there,” added Gluckstein. “No matter where it’s been implemented —– whether it’s Australia or the United Kingdom — ABS has not resulted in greater access to justice, lower costs for consumers, nor has it facilitated technological advancements and innovation in the profession.

“Despite what the main proponents suggest, ABS is no panacea for any real or perceived ills within the legal profession,” he said.

The OTLA is calling on all candidates in the upcoming bencher election to take a stand against what they call an “ill-advised proposal” until there is further evidence on the efficacy of ABS.

“We are encouraging all Ontario lawyers to demand that bencher candidates declare their position on ABS today,” Gluckstein said.

If you were planning on rewarding that hardworking Legal Aid Ontario lawyer with something special this holiday season, there’s some disappointing news for you.

Legal aid is reminding staff they cannot accept presents from clients or lawyers in accordance with its ethics policy.

“To avoid a conflict of interest, please remember that under Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) internal policies and the Public Service of Ontario Act, we cannot accept gifts of appreciation from lawyers, clients or contractors,” LAO said.

“While LAO values its business relationships, accepting gifts or amenities that could influence or give the appearance of influencing those relationships is prohibited.”

Sixteen Norton Rose Fulbright Canada lawyers and patent agents will join the firm’s partnership or become of counsel in the new year. Of the 16 new admissions, nine will become partners.

“Congratulations to our new partners and our new counsel. We are very proud of them, the outstanding job they do for our clients and the way they exemplify our values and our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity,” said John Coleman, managing partner for Norton Rose Fulbright Canada.

A bulk of the newly admitted partners and of counsel are in Ontario.

In Toronto, the new partners are litigation lawyer Rahool Agarwal, employment and labour lawyer Daniel McDonald, intellectual property lawyer Jill Daley, and mergers and acquisition lawyers Evelyn Li and Heidi Reinhart. Patent and intellectual property expert André Thériault has been promoted to of counsel.

In Ottawa, the new of counsel are employment and labour lawyer Daphne Fedoruk and Alison FitzGerald, who works in international arbitration, international trade, business ethics, and anti-corruption.

Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP has brought on board two new aboriginal lawyers at its Ottawa office.

The new lawyers, Robert Winogron and Jeremy Bouchard, both hail from the Department of Justice, where they served as legal counsel in the aboriginal affairs portfolio and worked in the area of claims.

“Robert and Jeremy bring impressive skill sets, and considerable experience, knowledge and insights in regard to Aboriginal claims, economic development and the inner workings of government,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings chair and CEO.

“These strengths will further enhance our work on behalf of our First Nations, Métis and Inuit clients, as well as private- and public-sector organizations seeking to do business with indigenous communities across Canada.”

Winogron, who served as Canada’s legal representative on the Assembly of First Nations/Canada Joint Task Force, joins the firm as a partner while Bouchard, who is of aboriginal ancestry, is an associate.

“Coming to Gowlings and working with a top national aboriginal law team provides a wonderful opportunity to continue providing outstanding services to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities,” Winogron said.

After months of cries for judicial appointments to fill up 32 vacancies in Ontario, the federal government made a whooping 22 appointments on Dec. 16, 17 of them new judges.

Ontario Superior Court Justice David M. Brown, has been elevated to the Court of Appeal for Ontario to replace Justice Stephen Goudge, who went supernumerary on Jan. 31, 2014.

Brown, who is the president of the Ontario Superior Court Judges’ Association, was appointed to the Superior Court in 2006. At the time, he was a partner with Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto, where he practised civil and commercial litigation. He was called to the bar in 1983.

Grant Huscroft, is one of two Western University law professors appointed to the bench. He goes directly to the Court of Appeal, replacing Justice Marc Rosenberg, who became a supernumerary judge on March 5, 2014.

Huscroft has been a member of the Ontario bar since 1987 and is a past member of the High Court of New Zealand. He has been a professor at Western since 2002 and was the associate dean, academic, from 2006 to 2008. He taught at the Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, from 1992 to 2001and was a visiting professor at McGill University’s law school as well as a counsel for the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

In Thunder Bay, Superior Court Justice Douglas C. Shaw becomes the new Regional Senior Judge for the Northwest Region. He replaces Justice Helen M. Pierce, who resigned as RSJ July 31.

Shaw was appointed to the Superior Court in 2005. He was called to the bar in 1975 and practised with Atwood Shaw Labine until he became a judge.

In the usual musical chairs of the RSJ role, Pierce goes back to the regular judicial complement in Thunder Bay filling in Shaw’s spot. She has been a Superior Court judge since 2001 and RSJ since 2009. She was called to the bar in 1982 and previously was a a sole practitioner in Sault Ste. Marie.

Superior Court Justice C. Frederick Graham has been appointed to the Family Court Branch in Barrie, where he replaces Justice Lydia Olah, who went supernumerary on Oct. 21.

Graham was first appointed to the bench in 2004. Prior to that he was a senior assistant Crown Attorney for Simcoe County.

Justice Wendy L. MacPherson is also appointed to the Family Court Branch. She has been transferred to replace Justice J. Wilma Scott in St. Catharines, who became a supernumerary judge Nov. 10.

MacPherson was appointed in Kitchener in 2009 and before that was a partner with Martin Sheppard Fraser LLP in Niagara Falls and practised family law. She was called to the bar in 1985.

Ivan S. Bloom, a lawyer with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Toronto, has been appointed to the Superior Court to replace Madam Justice Silja S. Seppi in Brampton. Seppi went supernumerary Jan. 8, 2014.

Bloom was called to the bar in 1976 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1991. He was Crown counsel since 1980, practising criminal and constitutional law. Prior to that he was in private practice in Hamilton.

Well-known Windsor labour lawyer George W. King, has been appointed to the Superior Court to replace Justice Steven Rogin, who went supernumerary April 11.

King joined the McTague Law Firm after being called to the bar in 1982 and has been there doing management-side work ever since.

Grant R. Dow, of Flaherty Dow Elliott & McCarthy LLP in Toronto, joins the Superior Court to replace Justice Ruth E. Mesbur, who elected to become a supernumerary judge as of June 30.

Dow is a certified specialist in civil litigation and has been a member of the Ontario bar since 1981.

W. Danial Newton, a lawyer with Thunder Bay’s CARREL+Partners LLP, replaces Oshawa’s Justice Bruce A. Glass, who went supernumerary at the end of July and his position was transferred to Thunder Bay.

After being admitted to the Ontario bar in 1984, Newton joined CARREL+Partners, where he practised civil litigation. He was elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2012.

London-based McKenzie Lake LLP lawyer Russell M. Raikes joins the Superior Court bench replacing Justice Joseph Donohue of Sarnia, who became a supernumerary judge in May.

Raikes has been a lawyer with McKenzie Lake since 2012 and had previously been with Cohen Highley LLP. He practised civil and commercial litigation, real estate, Aboriginal, and employment law. He was called to the bar in 1984.

Ministry of the Attorney General lawyer Suhail A.Q. Akhtar is appointed a judge of the Superior Court to replace Justice George Czutrin, who became the Senior Family Judge on Dec. 31, 2013.

Akhtar practised law in England before being admitted to the Ontario bar in 1998. He has been with the Crown Law Office (Criminal) since 2013. Prior to that, he was with the Scarborough Crown Attorney’s Office as well as working with MAG’s guns and gangs initiative.

Sean F. Dunphy, a lawyer with Russell Hill Advisory Services Inc. in Toronto, replaces Brown who has moved up to the appeal court bench.

Dunphy was called to the Ontario bar in 1985 and in British Columbia in 1992. He has been the principal at Russell Hill Advisory Services Inc. since 2012, where he was co-head of the firm’s national insolvency and restructuring practice. Before that he was with Stikeman Elliott LLP.

Toronto’s Mario D. Faieta, a lawyer with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, joins the Superior Court bench. He replaces Justice Gertrude F. Speigel who went supernumerary July 22.

Faieta practised environmental law since his call in 1986, first with the firm Piscelli & Faieta then became a government lawyer with a variety of ministries and boards.

Master Benjamin T. Glustein now becomes a judge of the Superior Court, replacing Justice Nola Garton in Toronto. She went supernumerary in April.

Glustein was called to the Quebec bar in 1990 and in Ontario in 1993. In 1990, he clerked with Supreme Court justice Claire l’Heureux-Dubé. He has been a master since 2006, and had been previously with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Toronto and an associate with Ogilvy Renault (now Norton Rose LLP) in Montréal.

J. Michal Fairburn, a lawyer with Stockwoods LLP in Toronto, is appointed to the Superior Court in Brampton to fill the spot left in October 2013 by Justice Katherine van Rensburg, who was appointed to the Court of Appeal.

Fairburn joined MAG’s Crown Law Office when she was called in 1992 and was a Crown from 1992 to 2007 then general counsel until 2013, when she left to become a partner with Stockwoods.

The second Western law prof appointed in this round is Bradley W. Miller. He replaces Superior Court Justice Andrew Goodman in London. Goodman was transferred to Kitchener to replace Justice Patrick J. Flynn, who becomes supernumerary on Jan. 16. Miller’s appointment is effective that same day.

Miller is a member of the B.C. and Ontario bars. His academic focus was in the areas of constitutional theory, constitutional law, and philosophy of law. Prior to 2005, he was in private practice focusing on the ares of commercial litigation, class actions, administrative, constitutional, and human rights law.

Another Crown, Alexander D. Kurke of Sudbury, has been appointed to the Superior Court in Sault Ste. Marie. He replaces Justice Edward Koke, who was transferred to Parry Sound to replace Justice J. Stephen O’Neill, who elected to go supernumerary judge April 14, 2014.

Kurke was called to Ontario bar in 1994 and has been an assistant Crown in Sudbury since 1994 and held various team leader positions. His main area of practice was criminal and quasi-criminal law.

Crown attorney Robin Y. Tremblay of Kapuskasing has been appointed to the Superior Court bench to replace Justice Cindy MacDonald in Cochrane. She was transferred to Timmins to replace Justice Robert Riopelle, who went supernumerary Jan. 8, 2014.

Tremblay is bilingual and was called in Ontario in 1996. He has been a Crown for the District of Cochrane North since 2001 and had been an assistant Crown attorney from 1999 to 2001. Prior to that, he was a partner with Perras Gauthier Mongenais Tremblay in Kapuskasing.

Toronto Crown Laura A. Bird replaces Justice Edwin Minden on the Superior Court bench in Newmarket, as he elected to become a supernumerary in June 2014.

Called to the bar in 1996, Bird had been general counsel at the Metro West Crown Attorney’s Office in Toronto since 2012 and held various positions with the Crown’s office since 1996.

Federal Crown Catrina D. Braid of Kitchener is appointed to the Superior Court bench to replace Justice Wendy MacPherson in Hamilton.

Braid had been senior counsel and team leader for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Kitchener since 2005, and was previously legal counsel on the Major Case Team, Superior Court Team, and appellate counsel at the Ontario Court of Appeal with the Department of Justice, Federal Prosecution Service, in Toronto.

Hicks Morley LLP lawyer William M. Le May of Toronto replaces Justice Lorna-Lee Snowie in Brampton, as she elected to become a supernumerary judge in May.

Le May joined Hicks Morley after his 1998 call and became a partner there in 2004. He practised labour, employment, and insurance law.
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Two lawyers will join the bench of the Ontario Court of Justice this week.

Ferhan Javed, the former managing partner of Javed Frost Trehearne, will preside in Oshawa, Ont. Prior to his appointment, Javed prosecuted federal matters as a standing agent of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Durham Region. Previously, he managed his own criminal defence practice at Simcoe Chambers in Toronto.

The other new appointee, Kimberly Moore, was a Crown attorney for the Ministry of the Attorney General prior to her appointment. Before that, she was an assistant Crown attorney for 13 years doing prosecutions in both the Ontario Court and the Superior Court of Justice. She’ll preside in Brockville, Ont.

The Federal Court of Canada has awarded lawyer Rocco Galati just $5,000 in costs after calling his $51,000 request “excessive” in relation to his constitutional challenge of Justice Marc Nadon’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

Galati provided the court an account showing 56.4 hours of services at the hourly rate of $800.

“The respondents submit that these bills of costs are excessive and unwarranted given that the application was stayed at such an early stage,” wrote Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn in Galati v. Canada (Prime Minister) last month. “I agree. As one example, Mr. Galati’s claim for 7.6 hours to ‘review, research, Attorney General’s motion for stay’ in light of the reference is excessive and unwarranted.”

Galati’s application was stayed as the federal government referred two questions to the Supreme Court in relation to Nadon’s appointment.

The Law Society of Upper Canada has made the list of the Greater Toronto Area’s top employers for the ninth time.

“Garnering this recognition for the past nine years is a remarkable achievement that I am proud to share with the employees who continue to make the law society a great place to work," says the law society chief executive officer Robert Lapper.

The list, compiled by Mediacorp Canada Inc., recognizes leading employers in the Toronto, York, Halton, Peel, and Durham regions. It ranks employers on criteria such as physical workplace, work atmosphere, benefits, communications, and skills and training development.

“We value the diversity of our workforce and our employees’ range of skills, knowledge and life experiences. Our diversity helps us connect with and serve our stakeholders and it fuels our commitment to promote equality in our workplace and more broadly in the profession,” said Lapper.

After the cancellation of the Crown Management Information System, the Ministry of the Attorney General is getting ready to launch another court information management system called SCOPE, according to the recently published auditor general’s report.

SCOPE, which stands for Scheduling Crown Operations Prepared Electronically, is to launch across the province by 2016, according to the report. The system has been in use at one of the 54 Crown offices for years and has been “re-engineered” for use across the board, the report noted.

The system will capture data on the number of matters that are diverted, number of bail release applications, specificity on bail release conditions, information on bail release violations, disposition types, and reasons for stays, withdraws, and adjournments among other intelligence,” according to the auditor general’s report last week.

“SCOPE will also make a number of business processes more efficient. For example, it allows more than one person to work on a case file at a time. As well, electronic case supporting materials can now be stored as part of the case file and will not go missing as did paper files.”

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

According to the poll, the majority of respondents don’t agree with unpaid articling positions. Sixty-four per cent of respondents said it’s wrong to have people do unpaid legal work for so long.

Meanwhile, another 25 per cent of participants didn’t agree with the practice but felt law graduates need that option in order to meet their requirements. For the remaining 11 per cent, unpaid articling is fine since it’s legal.

Recently, a Greater Toronto Area legal clinic created controversy when it advertised a pro bono articling job that would require the suitable candidate to work for 10 months without pay and own a car.
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Family lawyer Bill Sullivan has received Legal Aid Ontario’s Sidney B. Linden award for his service to clients living in poverty.

Sullivan received the award on Dec. 4.

LAO board chairman John McCamus said Sullivan has devoted much of his career to representing society’s poorest.

“He is widely respected for his skillful advocacy, his compassion and humanity, and his generosity in mentoring many junior members of the family law bar,” said McCamus.

Sullivan’s commitment to legal aid started during his time at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Law, where he worked at the school’s legal clinic. After graduating, he articled at Toronto’s Parkdale Community Legal Services.

He then started a sole practice focusing on immigration, family law, and representing women who have experienced domestic violence.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has cleared a bank of liability in relation to a bad-cheque scam that duped two lawyers.

Lawyers Junaid Kayani and Jack Zwicker separately deposited counterfeit certified cheques into their respective trust accounts and followed a fake client’s instruction to issue trust cheques payable to Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers, a sham company appropriating the name and address of a corporation that had previously carried on business under the name of Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers Ltd.

After finding out about the fraud, the lawyers sued the Toronto-Dominion Bank for negligence and conversion.
While the trial judge had ruled in favour of the lawyers, the Court of Appeal disagreed in its Dec. 3 ruling.

Whether the bank was liable hinged on whether the payee had been a fictitious or non-existent party all along.

“The focus of the trial judge’s analysis was whether the bank could avail itself of the defence in s. 20(5) of the Bills of Exchange Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. B-4, (the ‘act’) which provides that ‘where the payee is a fictitious or non-existing person, the bill may be treated as payable to the bearer,’” wrote Justice William Hourigan in Kayani LLP v. The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“The trial judge found that the payee was not fictitious as both Mr. Zwicker and Kayani made their instruments payable to Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers, which they believed was an existing entity, and which was an existing entity at the time the instruments were negotiated,” Hourigan continued.

But the Court of Appeal found that conclusion didn’t make sense since the lawyers weren’t aware of Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers Ltd.’s existence until they found out Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers was a fake company. The appeal court concluded the payee was non-existent and the bank wasn’t liable. “The payee is not the name of any real person known to the respondents at the time they drew the instruments,” wrote Hourigan. “The payee is, therefore, non-existing.”

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

According to the poll, the majority of respondents say they don’t believe the Ontario attorney general’s new Better Justice Together effort will make a difference.

The attorney general introduced the new program last month to promote court efficiency, support individuals with mental illness when they come into contact with the criminal justice system, make it easier for family law litigants to use mediation, and create an integrated system that “allows justice partners and participants to better share and access the information they need.”

But 58 per cent of poll respondents felt the program was “just more rhetoric” while the rest said the program was a sign that the current minister is ready to deliver on improvements to the justice system.
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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.