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In honour of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s 50th anniversary, Canadian Artists for Civil Liberties will throw a concert on May 3.

The CCLA promises it will be a night of music, dance, and spoken word performance celebrating the organization and the “freedoms it has worked so tirelessly to promote and defend.”

“We’re very excited about this concert,” said Sukanya Pillay, general counsel of the CCLA.

“You can’t separate the arts from civil liberties advocacy. Musicians, writers, artists have always been at the forefront of civil liberties campaigns across the world and in Canada — in fact, CCLA has always had strong representatives of the arts on our board — we are grateful to Nathan Lawr and the artists he has brought together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of CCLA.”

The concert will take place at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church at 427 Bloor St. W. in Toronto at 7 p.m.

Former McMillan LLP financial services lawyer Chris Bennett has joined Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

Bennett, whose expertise is complex project financing, joined the firm as a partner.

“Chris’ experience reflects the exponential growth and importance of infrastructure requirements by all levels of government as they seek out new models of procuring and financing large-scale projects that address needs in social infrastructure, transportation, and energy,” said Stephen Clark, chairman of financial services at Oslers.

He added: “Canada has become a leading jurisdiction in terms of both deal flow and successful implementation of these models, and we are very pleased he is contributing his expertise to clients of our top-ranked teams in infrastructure, energy, and financial services.”

Courts are resorting to cy-près awards without scrutinizing lawyers’ attempts to locate class members, a major study of Canadian class action settlements has found.

This can result in access to justice being “turned on its head,” according to author Jasminka Kalajdzic, an associate professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

Cy-près awards allow for the transfer of class action settlement money to charities when there’s no practical way of distributing all of the funds to individual plaintiffs.

“Courts have adopted cy-près as a second best alternative to direct compensation of class members, and have done so with only occasional academic scrutiny and virtually no legislative guidance,” said a draft paper by Kalajdzic published last week.

Kalajdzic calls her study “the most comprehensive collection of information regarding the nature and extent of cy-près use in Canada.”

The study found no evidence in the 65 class actions that featured cy-près awards from 2001-12 that courts had seriously questioned parties’ claims the money couldn’t go directly to class members.

The Law Commission of Ontario says it has collaborated with the  Association des jurists d’expression française de l’Ontario to make all of its publications available in French for users. is a virtual legal library for justice professionals who work with French-language communities.

“All LCO publications are currently available in this virtual library equipped with a powerful search engine, allowing access to thousands of resources such as legislation, judgments, studies, research papers, precedents and glossaries,” the law commission announced.   

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

According to the poll, 90 per cent of respondents feel the federal government should go back to the drawing board on the fair elections act.

The poll follows a slew of commentary and debate suggesting the proposed law goes too far in revamping Canada’s elections system. Of particular concern has been the plan to eliminate vouching, a process in which a voter can confirm the identity of someone else who doesn’t have the proper documentation to vote.
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The federal government has announced several new appointments of judges based in Ontario.

In Ottawa, Justice Kevin Phillips of the Ontario Court of Justice moves to the Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa. A judge since August 2013, Phillips replaces Justice Michael J. Quigley, who became a supernumerary judge last year. The court has now transferred his position to Ottawa. Prior to becoming a judge, Phillips worked as a Crown attorney in Ottawa.

At the Tax Court of Canada, John Owen, a lawyer with Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto, replaces former justice François Angers following his resignation in October.

Other appointments at the federal courts include Justice Richard Boivin to the Federal Court of Appeal. A Federal Court judge since 2009, he replaces Justice Johanne Trudel, who became a supernumerary judge in November.
In addition, Department of Justice lawyer René Leblanc, McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Martine St-Louis, and George Locke of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP have joined the Federal Court. Leblanc fills a new position on the court while Locke replaces Boivin and St-Louis replaces Justice André Scott following his move to the appeal court.

The daily court list has gone online.

Instead of attending the courthouse or making a call, members of the public can now access basic information about court appearances by visiting

The web site lists the case numbers, names of parties, and appearance times for proceedings at the Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Justice for a given day.

“Modernizing court processes is a priority for our government, and making daily court lists available online is truly a step in the right direction,” said Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur.

“I would like to thank Chief Justice [Heather] Smith and Chief Justice [Annemarie] Bonkalo for their leadership on this initiative. By working together with the courts and our justice sector participants, we can and will achieve our vision of a modern, responsive, and sustainable justice system.”

The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a new policy last week around the rights of transgender individuals and people of diverse genders.

The policy on preventing discrimination due to gender identity and gender expression explores how to remove barriers for transgender individuals.

Transgender individuals are among the most disadvantaged groups in society and routinely experience discrimination, prejudice, harassment, and even violence, said the commission. The new policy seeks to clarify the protections under Ontario’s Human Rights Code and help organizations create practices to prevent bias, discrimination, and harassment.

“It has been a long struggle to have these rights clearly protected in the code,” said chief commissioner Barbara Hall.

“Adding these grounds makes it clear that trans people are entitled to the same legal protections as other groups under the code. The challenge now is to send a message across Ontario that discriminating against or harassing people because of their gender identity or gender expression is against the law. This policy provides the tools to do this.”

The new policy addresses issues around gender identity, changing gender on official documents, dress codes, transitioning, and accessing facilities. It also provides clarification on terminology, information on key issues, a review of case law, and guidelines and best practices on how to meet the needs of transgender individuals and people of unique genders.

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

According to the poll, 83 per cent of participants disagree with the new victims bill of rights.

The majority of respondents feel the bill, introduced recently by the federal government as an effort to increase the information available to victims about matters affecting them, does little for them and will complicate court proceedings.

Criminal lawyers have told Law Times Ontario already has a functioning system in place to give victims information about criminal proceedings. They also said the bill doesn’t address what victims need most: quick resolution of cases and adequate compensation.
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Ten new judges will join the Ontario Court of Justice bench on April 16.

The appointees include Farquharson Adamson & Affleck LLP senior partner John Adamson, Barr & O’Brien partner Larry Bernard O’Brien, and assistant Crown attorneys Pamela Borghesan, Robert Wadden, and John Condon.

Howard Ryan Kelford Knott & Dixon partner Richard Knott, McAuley & Partners lawyer Sarah Trach, Webber Schroeder Goldstein Abergel senior partner Matthew Webber, Crown attorney Marquis Felix, and Catherine McDonald, who has had her own private practice for the past nine years, round out the list of new judges.

Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has come out on top of the 2014 Canadian law firm brand index.

The index, compiled by Acritas US Inc., ranks law firms based on favourability among general counsel at Canadian organizations with revenues over $50 million.

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP came in second place, followed by Stikeman Elliott LLP and Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Also in the top five was Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.

“As Canada’s most favoured law firm, Blakes’ popularity is testament to its success in creating a clear, differentiated offering built on practice areas directly relevant to the largest sectors of the Canadian economy,” said Blakes in a press release.

According to Elizabeth Duffy, vice president of Acritas US, the results are a sign of clients favouring some firms over others due to the budgetary restrictions they face.

“The 2014 index points to the wider trends affecting the market. The budgetary restrictions that in-house counsel have been facing are becoming more evident in the choices they are making about the firms they use.”

Former Heenan Blaikie LLP senior commercial litigator Angus McKinnon has joined Lerners LLP’s Toronto office, the law firm announced.

McKinnon has worked on high profile cases like the Bre-X Minerals Ltd. matter and the Krever commission on Canada’s blood system.

“Angus has been trial and appellate counsel on an impressive number of cases throughout his career and has appeared before all levels of the court in Ontario and before the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Brian Grant, managing partner of Lerners’ Toronto office.

“We are thrilled to have him on board at Lerners.”

 Lerners is “an ideal fit,” said McKinnon.

“Lerners LLP is comprised of well-respected and experienced lawyers, a number of whom I know and have practised with in the past,” he said.

“The firm is an ideal fit for what I was looking for; a regional law firm concentrating on Ontario whose focus is high-quality litigation at an affordable cost platform.”

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

The majority of respondents believe the Law Society of Upper Canada should accredit Trinity Western University’s proposed law school despite its community covenant that includes a provision on abstaining from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

While critics argue accrediting the law school would promote systemic discrimination, 55 per cent of poll participants felt not doing so would impinge on religious beliefs and freedoms. Convocation will decide on accreditation on April 24.     

There’s a new intellectual property law firm in town. IP lawyers Lorraine Fleck and Yuri Chumak announced they’ve launched Fleck & Chumak LLP on Bay Street in Toronto.

Until recently, Fleck was a lawyer and trademark agent at Perry + Currier Inc./Currier + Kao LLP. Chumak also worked at the same firm and had previously been at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

“The brand promise of our new firm is high quality, proactive, and approachable legal service,” said Fleck.

“We chose the tagline ‘Inspiration Partners’ for our firm, which evokes our vision of partnering with our clients to help them achieve their goals in their creative works and innovative projects. I see great synergy working with Yuri, as he has a solid reputation as being a practical lawyer with big firm experience. And, my clients see great value in having a litigator of his calibre in-house.”
The Centre for International Governance Innovation’s has named a University of Ottawa law professor as director of the international law research program.

Oonagh Fitzgerald, who teaches a course on international corporate governance and social responsibility, also served as national security co-ordinator for the Department of Justice.

“I am pleased to welcome Oonagh as the director of CIGI’s internationallaw research program. Her experience, expertise, and leadership of legal professionals and policy at the highest level make her an exceptional choice to shape CIGI’s newest research pillar,” said CIGI president Rohinton Medhora.

“She will drive this important initiative to the highest standards of achievement.”
In 2010, lawyer Yaroslav Mikitchook convinced a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel to terminate an indefinite suspension issued against him. Butafter slew of new complaints, a panel has ordered him to surrender his licence to practise law.

In 2010, a hearing panel terminated an indefinite suspension issued against Mikitchook after accepting evidence that his psychological disorders led him to ignore clients and defy the law society.

But with complaints that he continued to practise law during another suspension in 2012, the panel decided to order Mikitchook to surrender his licence.

“The panel finds that there is medical evidence that the lawyer suffers from ongoing psychiatric disorders, but no evidence was presented that there is a nexus between these disorders and the lawyer’s work-related activities,” the hearing panel said in an April 4 decision. “Given that there was a joint submission on penalty with which the panel concurs, the panel does not find it necessary to consider possible mitigation for medical reasons.”
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Given the partial success of lawyer Joe Groia’s appeal of his misconduct finding, the Law Society Tribunal’s appeal division has ordered no costs on the appeal and decided to reduce the costs a hearing panel had originally ordered him to pay.

An appeal panel reduced Groia’s suspension to one month from two months last year after finding faults with a hearing panel decision that found him guilty of misconduct related to incivility in 2012.

“In its submission, the law society concedes that, since success on the appeal was divided, it is reasonable that no costs should be ordered,” wrote appeal panel chairwoman Linda Rothstein.

“Mr. Groia does not seek costs of the appeal and agrees that the appropriate disposition is that no costs of the appeal be ordered.”

Groia also challenged the $245,000 cost award made by the hearing panel. He argued the law society’s claim of abuse of process had unnecessarily lengthened the hearing. In the alternative, he asked for a 40-per-cent cost reduction.

In the end, the appeal panel decided to reduce the cost award against Groia to $200,000.

Bereskin & Parr LLP co-founding partner Daniel Bereskin has been inducted into Intellectual Asset Management magazine’s intellectual property hall of fame, the law firm announced.

Bereskin is the first inductee from a Canadian law firm or organization, according to Bereskin & Parr.

“Isaac Newton, one of the most influential scientists in history, humbly observed: ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ Likewise, we IP practitioners benefit immensely from the knowledge, wisdom, and experience of others, such as the distinguished members of the IP Hall of Fame, of whom I feel deeply honoured now to be a small part,” said Bereskin.

Five paralegals will join Convocation following elections that wrapped up last week.

The five new benchers are Robert Burd, Cathy Corsetti, Brian Lawrie, Michelle Haigh, and Marian Lippa.
“Convocation is pleased to welcome the five elected paralegal benchers,” said Law Society of Upper Canada Treasurer Thomas Conway.

“Their participation at Convocation will enhance the governance of the profession.”

This was the second paralegal election in Ontario since the law society started regulating paralegals in 2007.

A Call to Action Canada is hosting a conference on diversity in the legal profession in May.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Clint Davis, vice president of aboriginal banking at TD Bank Group.

Other speakers include Anita Anand, a professor of law at the University of Toronto, and Cognition LLP director of client services Jacqueline Dinsmore.

The conference will take place on May 13 at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto.

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

According to the poll, 86 per cent of respondents feel the federal government shouldn’t attempt to reappoint Federal Court of Appeal Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court found Nadon didn’t meet the eligibility criteria to fill one of the three seats on the bench reserved for judges from Quebec. At one point, the government hedged on what it would do in response. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper later said the government would respect the spirit of the court’s ruling.

The culmination of a number of issues currently affecting Ontario law students has led to a new coalition of law school student governments from across the province.

Student leaders met on March 15 at Queen’s University to ratify the new organization, the Law Students’ Society of Ontario.

“There are a number of issues coming to a head right now that touch on student issues within the profession and within legal education that require us to concert our efforts with a little bit more organization and develop a more unified position,” says Douglas Judson, president of the new organization and a third-year Osgoode Hall Law School student. “Speaking in our different silos, we aren’t being heard with the same consistency and with the same impact that we could be if we work together on some of these common-interest issues.”

The organization identified the following priorities at its recent inaugural meeting:
• Raise awareness about the consequences of rising tuition costs.
• Lobby for changes to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s recent licensing fee increase for new law school graduates.
• Monitor the LSUC’s new law practice program.
• Advocate for inclusive, representative law schools.
Four lawyers have joined the partnership at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP’s Toronto office.

They four are among 14 new partners at the firm’s offices in Canada and Latin America.

Michael Bunn, Madeleine Loewenberg, Louisa Pontrelli, and Kristin Wall are the new partners in Toronto.

“Congratulations to our new partners and our new counsel. We are very proud of them and the tremendous job they do for our clients,” said John Coleman, Norton Rose Fulbright’s managing partner for Canada.

“They are outstanding lawyers who demonstrate once again our ability to hire and retain the best and brightest legal talent. Welcome to the partnership.”
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Two Ontario lawyers have lost their licences to practise law after the Law Society of Canada found them guilty of misconduct.

A hearing panel found Ottawa lawyer Kenneth Johnson to have knowingly assisted in dishonesty or fraud in transactions involving 11 properties. On March 19, the hearing division disbarred him with costs determined at a later date.

Meanwhile, North Grenville, Ont., lawyer Kym McGahey also lost her licence for not providing the law society with a report on the disposition of her practice within 30 days of her two separate disciplinary suspensions.   

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

According to the poll, 86 per cent of respondents say the Ontario Superior Court is right to crack down on placeholder motions in its efforts to reduce delays in civil matters.

Superior Court Chief Justice Heather Smith told Law Times recently the court is eliminating motions booked by lawyers on the off chance they’ll need them later. Placeholder motions are part of the cause of long wait times for hearings, said Smith.

Some lawyers have said the use of placeholder motions is a sign parties can’t get hearing dates when they need them and that cracking down on them won’t fix the delay issue.

The west region of the Ontario Court of Justice will soon have a new senior regional judge as Justice Stephen Fuerth is set to replace Justice Kathleen McGowan in May.

Fuerth first became a judge of the Ontario Court in 2006. In his new role, he “exercises the powers and performs the duties of the chief justice” in his region, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General. The duties will include scheduling court hearings and assigning cases to individual judges.

Before becoming a judge, Fuerth was a partner at a firm in Chatham, Ont., and mainly practised family law. He also served as a member of the Consent and Capacity Board.
Still in its inaugural year, Canada’s newest law school at Lakehead University launched its student newspaper last week.

The first edition of the Northern Law Compass is available online only and predominantly features coverage of recent law faculty activities.

“We just really wanted to have an outlet for students, whether it be to voice opinions or discuss events that are going on in the law school,” says Elizabeth McLeod, coeditor of the Northern Law Compass.

“We want people to know what’s going on and see that we’re developing a community and a student culture here.”

Recurring features will include a section on environmental law, an aboriginal law column, and lifestyle content.

The publication will also review important recent Supreme Court decisions that set a binding precedent for Canadians.

“We’re hoping that this column will be a way for the general public to be [introduced to] recent decisions,” says Scott Mainprize, also a coeditor of the paper.

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Natalie Gerry, the paper’s third coeditor.

“So we’re just looking forward to showing everyone what we’ve designed and I think everyone is looking forward to seeing other student columns and what they’ve been writing about.”

The Northern Law Compass received funding from the Lakehead law faculty, the university’s student union, and the Lakehead University Law Students’ Society. The editorial team plans to produce a print version of the paper in the future. They’ll continue to run stories on the site throughout the summer with an official second edition published in the fall.

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The construction of the Elgin County courthouse in St. Thomas, Ont., is complete.

The new courthouse will be home to the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice, which were previously at separate locations.

The court will be “fully operational” on March 24, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced. The building had been in construction since June 2011.

On March 18, dignitaries including Attorney General John Gerretsen, St. Thomas Mayor Heather Jackson, and Elgin County warden David Marr held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project.

“For over a century and a half, the Elgin County courthouse has stood as a St. Thomas landmark. Its restoration and renovation as part of the new consolidated courthouse will preserve its stature in the community for many years to come,” Gerretsen said.

Private bar lawyers who do legal aid work will get a five-per-cent tariff increase starting April 1, Legal Aid Ontario announced.

The changes are in accordance with a January 2010 memorandum of understanding signed by the Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

All Tier 1 private bar lawyers except those in northern Ontario will see their rate increase to $104 from $99 per hour. For Tier 2 lawyers, the new rate is $117 an hour with the tariff for Tier 3 lawyers increasing to $130 from $124 an hour. Lawyers doing complex criminal cases will see their rate jump to $149 an hour.

Northern Ontario lawyers will also see an increase in their rates. Tier 1 lawyers in northern Ontario will now get $114 per hour, an increase from $109. For Tier 2 lawyers, the new rate is $128 an hour with Tier 3 lawyers getting $143. Those who do complex criminal cases in northern Ontario will earn $164 an hour, an increase from $156.

Toronto litigator James Morton has joined the board of directors of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Morton joins the board along with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman. Morton, who heads the litigation group at Steinberg Morton Hope & Israel LLP, has been a long-standing adjunct professor at the U.S. law school.

“I could not be more proud to welcome Justice Markman and Professor Morton to the Cooley board,” said Cooley president and dean Don LeDuc.

“These distinguished gentlemen bring intellect, character, academic excellence, professional expertise, and decades of public service to Cooley. They understand how providing high quality, practical legal education is important to both the legal profession and to society as a whole. They will set a fine example for Cooley’s students, who will benefit greatly from the perspectives they will bring to our school.”

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

According to the poll, 68 per cent of participants don’t believe the Law Society of Upper Canada should allow other law schools to follow Lakehead University’s approach of having graduates qualify for entry to the profession based on three years of study.

Lakehead’s new law school will produce graduates who can enter practice without articling or doing the law practice program. Recent commentary in Law Times has featured a debate on whether the law society should allow other law schools to follow Lakehead’s lead. Some critics suggest that would be a detriment to legal education while others say the profession should embrace Lakehead’s innovative approach.
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Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Victoria will offer a new course on legal information technology next year.

The course is the first of its kind, according to James Williams, a Google Inc. software engineer who’s part of the faculty that will teach it. The course, which centres on technology, legal services, and justice, is timely, said Williams.

“We think it is important for a number of reasons, the most pressing of which is that we believe the legal marketplace is about to undergo a number of major changes. I work in the U.S., where there are already significant disruptions to the market, including reduced opportunities for junior lawyers and the elimination of many lower level positions,” he said.

Williams added: “There are a few drivers, of which technology is an increasingly important one. I believe we are about to see a wave of new business models and software tools that are going to have a lasting impact on legal service delivery. Here at Google, we are working on a project or two, and there are many startups in the valley with new products.”

Monica Goyal, a Toronto lawyer and digital entrepreneur, and online dispute resolution expert Darin Thompson are also faculty members. The course will likely begin in January of next year.

The federal government has appointed two lawyers to the Ontario Superior Court bench.

Paul Nicholson will sit in Newmarket, Ont., while Gregory Verbeem will join the bench in Windsor, Ont. Nicholson replaces Justice Clifford Nelson, who elected to become a supernumerary judge as of Feb. 25. Nicholson, who most recently was a sole practitioner, largely practised family law.

Verbeem replaces Justice Richard Gates, who became a supernumerary judge last year. Verbeem served as a judicial law clerk for the regional senior justice in the southwest region and has been an associate and partner with Bartlet & Richardes LLP since 1996. His main practice areas were personal injury and commercial litigation.

Ontario and Prince Edward Island’s legal aid systems spent less money on criminal matters as a percentage of total resources than other jurisdictions last year, according to a newly published 2012-13 Statistics Canada report on legal aid.

Ontario and Prince Edward Island allocated 47 per cent of their resources for criminal matters, whereas the 10 other jurisdictions that provided data reported spending between 55 and 75 per cent of their funds on criminal matters.

The report notes provincial and territorial governments across Canada reported contributing $658 million to legal aid plans while the federal government provided $112 million.

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

According to the poll, there’s significant division on alternative business structures with about 52 per cent of respondents suggesting the liberalization of law firm ownership is a risky idea. On the other side, about 48 per cent of respondents agreed with a Law Society of Upper Canada report that raised the prospect of significant liberalization.

LSUC benchers voted on Feb. 27 to launch a consultation on four options for non-lawyer ownership of law firms following a report from a working group looking at the issue. The options followed an analysis of what working group chairman Malcolm Mercer said had worked for Britain and Australia.

The Law Society of Upper Canada has allowed a Kingston, Ont., lawyer to surrender his licence to practise law.

The hearing panel’s decision included findings that Jehuda Kaminer acted in a conflict of interest while representing a client in a Small Claims Court matter by initiating and maintaining a sexual relationship; receivedcash in trust from the client and failed to deposit the funds into his trust account; and failed to fulfil his personal undertaking to a fellow legal practitioner in relation to a real estate transaction.

A hearing panel had previously suspended Kaminer after finding him to have been in a conflict of interest in a separate matter. That case included findings he had a relationship with a client whose husband he had also represented. Theclients, identified only as Mr. and Mrs. M, had retained the lawyer to complete their divorce.

A team of nuclear energy lawyers from Heenan Blaikie LLP has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

Four of the five lawyers—Ahab Abdel-Aziz, Matthew Benson, Magdalena Hanebach, and William Jackman—will be at the firm’s Toronto office, while Bruce Johnson will work as a consultant based in Qatar.

Gowlings touts Abdel-Aziz, who joins the firms as a partner and global director of nuclear power generation, as “a leader in the international nuclear sector for over 20 years.”

“Ahab is one of Canada’s outstanding legal practitioners in the global nuclear space,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings chair and chief executive officer.

“He brings an extraordinary reputation for innovation in his field, both in Canada and internationally. We are thrilled to welcome him, along with Matthew, Magdalena, William, and Bruce. Their experience will allow us to deliver an even greater depth of services to our clients in the energy sector.”
Bernd Christmas has joined Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

Christmas, who formerly practised at Bernd Christmas Law Group, “will serve as a critical resource to the Cassels Brock client base, which includes many of the country’s leading mining and natural resource companies, financial institutions, and corporate entities, as well as international clients doing business in Canada,” the firm said in a news release.

At Cassels Brock, Christmas will advise on commercial, financial, environmental, social, and political issues surrounding business negotiations with First Nations bands, tribal counsel, and other organizations.

Christmas became the first Mi’kmaw to become a lawyer in Canada in 1993, according to Cassels Brock.

“The ability to work effectively with First Nations for the mutual benefit of their communities and our clients is vital and becoming increasingly more important every day. In that regard, Bernd’s unique background and experience will be a tremendous asset,” said David Peterson, chairman of Cassels Brock.
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Ontario has appointed 21 new justices of the peace to the Ontario Court of Justice.

The 21 appointees include people with a wide range of experiences, including former CBC journalist Karen Baum and former City of Toronto solicitor and Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services counsel Rosanne Giulietti.

Among the appointees is Anna Blauveldt, Canada’s former ambassador to Iceland. Others include former sole practitioner Karen Valentine; court manager Helena Cassano; provincial prosecutors Ralph Cotter and Lloyd Phillipps; Mississauga, Ont., lawyer Veruschka Fisher-Grant; broadcaster Jane Hawtin; criminal lawyer Rizwan Khan; Brunet McMahon LLP partner John McMahon; Law Society of Upper Canada discipline paralegal Jane Moffatt; Legal Aid Ontario Newmarket, Ont., criminal duty counsel office manager Renée Rerup; LAO duty counsel Raffaella Scarpato; and psychotherapist Audrey Summers.

A handful of appointees, such as Thomas Glassford, Paula Konstantinidis, Paul Langlois, and Michele Thompson, worked for the Ministry of the Attorney General in various capacities. In addition, the province named Temagami First Nation at Bear Island executive director Holly Charyna and principal Ginette Forgues as new justices of the peace.

Many of the 21 will be working in Toronto, but a handful will be taking up their new roles in Ottawa, Brampton, Owen Sound, Barrie, Walkerton, Brantford, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, and Cornwall, Ont.

Besides the new justices of the peace, the province named a new judge on Feb. 28. On March 12, Romuald Kwolek will join the Ontario Court bench in Sault Ste. Marie. A former deputy judge of the Small Claims Court, Kwolek is a lawyer with a general practice that included family law.

McMillan LLP lawyer Jeffrey Beedell has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

Previously, Beedell worked as a Supreme Court agent advising on leave applications and appeals, according to Gowlings. Beedell was also part of a team that worked on amending the top court’s rules of practice, electronic filing efforts, and the introduction of electronic materials, the firm noted.

“Jeff is one of Canada’s most highly regarded Supreme Court agents. His ability to navigate the complexities of the court and deliver the best possible results is second to none,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings’ chairman and chief executive officer.

“As trusted counsel to a long list of national clients, Jeff is an invaluable addition to Gowlings, where he will further enhance a team that already includes some of the country’s pre-eminent Supreme Court professionals.”

Lawyers from Toronto and New York will meet in both cities this month to talk about cross-border legal issues and how to serve their clients better.

The legal summit will include discussions on issues such as cross-border taxation, financing transactions, multijurisdictional class action litigation, alternative dispute resolution, and mining and energy, according to the Ontario Bar Association.

The Toronto event will take place on March 28, and lawyers will meet again on March 31 in New York.

The summit is a joint effort by the OBA and the New York State Bar Association with help from the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the New York City Bar Association, and the international law section of the American Bar Association.

An Ontario Superior Court judge has rejected a settlement agreement in a copyright class action between Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. and immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman.

In the fall, the parties reached an agreement that would see Thomson Reuters pay $350,000 towards a cy-près fund. The arrangement would settle a class action over copyright issues related to Thomson Reuters’ Litigator legal research service. Waldman, represented by class counsel Jordan Goldblatt and Marlys Edwardh, was the representative plaintiff in a case that alleged copyright infringement in the service’s use of documents such as pleadings and affidavits. As part of the settlement reached last fall, Thomson Reuters, which owns Law Times, denied the claims and asserted several defences, including fair dealing and the open-court principle.

The cy-près money would create a fund for legal scholarship across Canada as part of a joint venture between law schools, students, and lawyers. The goal was to provide a vehicle for funding public interest litigation.

But in a ruling last week, Justice Paul Perell found the settlement agreement not to “be fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the class members.” The decision followed objections by seven class members. Among the objectors’ concerns was the payment of $825,000 to class counsel. “The optics of class counsel receiving a counsel fee of $825,000 — which it must be noted is a term of the settlement agreement and not detached from it — and the class members’ receiving only a notional benefit of a $350,000 from a cy-près trust fund, are bad,” wrote Perell.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP says its restructuring and insolvency practice area has received a major boost as almost half a dozen former Dentons Canada LLP lawyers join the firm’s Toronto office.

Former Dentons lawyers Shayne Kukulowicz, Michael Wunder, Ryan Jacobs, Jane Dietrich, and Natalie Levine are joining Cassels Brock’s restructuring and insolvency practice while the Vancouver mining team has found new talent in former McMillan LLP partner Darrell Podowski.

“The addition of these nationally recognized lawyers accelerates the execution on our long-term plans,” said Mark Young, managing partner at Cassels Brock.

“With Darrell, Shayne, Michael, Ryan, Jane, and Natalie, we have increased our capabilities in two cornerstone areas of our practice and, even more importantly, further enhanced the exceptional level of expertise and service we can provide to our clients.”
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

Although many people agree on the need for increased access to justice, not everyone is sure about flipping a wig to show their passion for the cause.

About 55 per cent of poll respondents said they’d participate in a campaign that asked lawyers and members of the public to don outlandish wigs on March 6 in a playful show of frustration about the lack of access to justice in Canada. But 45 per cent of Law Times respondents felt they’d look ridiculous in a judicial wig.

The campaign sought to raise awareness about the crisis of access of justice. It also raised funds for seven non-profit law organizations.
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Kent Davidson is the national chairman of Miller Thomson LLP.

Davidson, a partner with the firm, practises labour and employment law as well as litigation. In a news release, he touted Miller Thomson as a leading national law firm.

“Miller Thomson has the most complete geographic coverage of any national firm in the country,” said Davidson.

“This unique footprint gives us a tremendous service advantage at a time when being service-minded and responsive has never been a higher priority for clients. Our lawyers are deeply committed to their communities.”

Davidson replaces Gerald Courage following his three-year term in the role. Among Courage’s accomplishments are building an alliance with French business law firm FIDAL and expanding Miller Thomson’s services in Saskatchewan, according to Miller Thomson.

“We are grateful for Gerald Courage’s contribution to the growth of the firm,” said Pierre Paquet, a partner at Miller Thomson’s Montreal office.

“At the same time, we welcome Kent Davidson’s service-minded, entrepreneurial approach. His pragmatic approach reflects the firm’s culture and he will do very well in his new national leadership role.”
University of Toronto Faculty of Law Prof. Jim Phillips has received the Ministry of the Attorney General’s 2013 David Walter Mundell Medal for legal writing.

The Mundell medal honours those “who have made a distinguished contribution to law and letters,” according to a ministry news release.

“It celebrates great legal writing and recognizes that the artful use of language in the right style has the power to give life to ideas.”

Phillips, who’s also part of U of T’s department of history, has written extensively about legal history, particularly on criminal law in Canada, the ministry said.

Former attorney general Ian Scott created the Mundell medal in 1986 to honour members of the legal profession who have made exceptional contributions to legal writing.

Three former Siskinds LLP class action lawyers have joined McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP.

Lawyers Michael Peerless, Matt Baer, and Sabrina Lombardi “bring with them an unmatched track record of success,” McKenzie Lake said in a news release.

Peerless said he and his colleagues are “thrilled” to have joined the firm. “We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to join this dynamic, growing, and progressive law firm. The platform here at McKenzie Lake is an ideal place for us to continue to serve our class action clients, and to work with many skilled lawyers in a variety of fields,” he said.

McKenzie Lake managing partner Michael Lake described the trio as “best-in-class lawyers.”

“Consistent with our resolve to attract the very best legal talent in support of niche practice areas, we are extremely gratified to have the Peerless class action group join us,” said Lake.

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

About 64 per cent of participants say the federal government is right to look at eliminating the immigrant investor program.

The poll follows the 2014 federal budget that called the immigrant investor program “an exception” to the progress Canada has made in aligning its immigration system with its economic needs.
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Lawyer Sukanya Pillay is the new general counsel and executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Pillay, who was interim general counsel and acting executive director of the CCLA since August 2013, “brings to the position a tremendous skill set and a breadth of experience in the not-for-profit, academic, and private sectors,” the organization said in a press release.

Pillay has served as program director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York and director of the law and human rights program of the International Television Trust for the Environment. She also taught law at the University of Windsor for five years.

“Sukanya has a proven track record of leadership at CCLA and in similar organizations, a thorough understanding of the civil liberties challenges facing Canada today, knowledge of the civil liberties community in Canada and internationally, and a deep commitment to the values, ideals, and objectives of CCLA,” the CCLA said.

Former Heydary Green PC co-director Michael Cochrane has joined litigation and corporate boutique Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP.

Cochrane practised family law at Heydary Green prior to the firm’s trusteeship by the Law Society of Upper Canada after lawyer Javad Heydary disappeared amid questions over missing client funds amounting to $3.6 million. The law society later confirmed Heydary had died.

The missing funds related to Heydary Hamilton PC and not the other Heydary firms.

Brauti Thorning Zibarras said Cochrane’s practice at the firm would focus on family law, estates, mediation, civil litigation, and public policy matters.

For more, see "Lawyer 'surprised' after LSUC takes control of Heydary firms."

Legal Aid Ontario has launched a pilot project that will make legal assistance available for family law mediation clients.

The project will assist unrepresented parties, who make up about 70 per cent of all family law litigants.

Services include advice about the process, assistance in preparing for mediation, and guidance to better understand their options. Lawyers will also be able to assist clients in obtaining a court order or a binding agreement to enforce the terms of a mediation agreement.

Clients could get up to six hours with a lawyer, LAO noted. The program is available at several Greater Toronto Area courthouses as well as in Kingston, Sudbury, Simcoe, Owen Sound, Milton, Muskoka, London, Kitchener, and Hamilton, Ont.

Osgoode Hall Law School’s faculty council has unanimously passed a motion calling on Trinity Western University to remove a clause in its policy dealing with lesbian and gay students, faculty, and staff.

“The Osgoode motion reaffirms the school’s commitment to promoting diversity and equality in the learning environment and its ongoing efforts to achieve improvements on these goals in the professional community,” said Mary Jane Mossman, the professor who moved the motion, in a press release.

“In the past, the legal profession has excluded individuals based on gender, race, religion or ableness. In 2014, it would be profoundly regressive to institutionalize such exclusion in a law school’s policy.”

The Osgoode council is one of many organizations that have expressed concern about the language used in the mandate of the Christian university that plans to open a law school in 2016.
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Former Ontario premier and Liberal leader Bob Rae has joined aboriginal law firm Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP as senior counsel.

The Toronto law firm represents aboriginal communities across Canada on matters of land rights, treaty negotiations, and other issues. Rae’s daughter, Judith, is an associate with the firm.

“We are excited to have Mr. Rae join our team,” said the firm’s managing partner Renée Pelletier in a press release. “He brings decades of experience at the highest levels of government as well as a strong background in negotiations, strategy, community and economic development. He’s also demonstrated a strong commitment to Aboriginal rights, and to the critically important task of reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians.”

Rae is currently serving as chief negotiator in talks between First Nations and the Ontario government on the development of Ring of Fire, a planned multi-billion dollar chromium mining project in Northern Ontario.

“I am delighted to be joining OKT— I have admired their work for many years, and am now honoured to be joining as a partner.” said Rae. ”I am looking forward to continue to work with First Nations and aboriginal people to advance their rights and prosperity.

“I am also very pleased to have the opportunity to work with my daughter Judith, and to practise with the many talented aboriginal lawyers at this firm.”

Some of Ontario’s largest law firms were named in this year’s list of Best Diversity Employers in Canada.

The list, produced annually by Mediacorp Canada Inc., includes Stikeman Elliott LLP, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, and Dentons Canada LLP.

According to Mediacorp Canada, the law firms were chosen for their workplace diversity initiatives that included women, minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBT individuals. Stikeman and Dentons earned the title for the fourth consecutive year, while McCarthys made the list for the second time.

“Being named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the fourth year in a row is a great honour for all of us at Dentons,” said Dentons Canada CEO Chris Pinnington in a press release.

Stikeman Elliott’s chair William Braithwaite also said the firm is “incredibly proud” to be recognized for its diversity.

“This acknowledgment represents the collective achievements of all of our firm members in advancing our diversity objectives and creating an inclusive environment in which we can all thrive,” said Braithwaite. “It is this exceptional work environment that allows us to consistently deliver top tier service that meets the increasingly diverse needs of our global clients.”

For Marc-André Blanchard, chairman and CEO of McCarthys , the recognition is a result of hard work.

“We have worked hard as a firm to foster a truly inclusive environment and we are grateful to receive this honour once again,” he said. “Our focus remains on sustaining diversity through the reinvention of our programs. We believe our successes — and our clients’ successes — are due in large part to having a supportive environment that attracts a wide range of the best and the brightest professionals.”

A Toronto lawyer has lost his licence to practise law after he was found to have misappropriated client trust funds.

Lawyer John Line also lied to his clients about the steps he had taken in a Small Claims Court matter in addition to failing to file a statement of defense on their behalf, a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel said.

In what was likely the last straw, Line continued to practise law after his licence was suspended in June 2012, the law society said.

In addition to nearly $18,000 in costs to the law society, Line was also ordered to pay $4,500 to LSUC’s compensation fund.


The results for the latest Law Times online poll are in. Seventy-one per cent of respondents believe Heenan Blaikie LLP’s troubles are a sign of bigger problems to come in the legal industry.

Partners at Heenan Blaikie, a 500-lawyer law firm, decided two weeks ago to wind down the firm amid falling revenues and lawyer departures. It is the largest failure of a Canadian law firm.
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Justice Minister Peter MacKay has appointed four judges to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Among the new appointees is Justice Kelly Wright, previously an Ontario Court of Justice judge in Toronto. She replaces Justice Michael Brown in Newmarket, Ont. Brown moves to Toronto to replace Justice Katherine Swinton, who became a supernumerary judge in November.

Another new judge is Frederick Myers of Goodmans LLP. Myers had been a partner at Goodmans since 2003 and before that practised insolvency law and litigation at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. He replaces Justice Mary Lou Benotto, who joined the Ontario Court of Appeal in November.

In addition, Miller Thomson LLP insolvency and litigation lawyer Alissa Mitchell will sit in London, Ont. She replaces Justice Alan Bryant, who became a supernumerary judge in November.

Finally, Vice Hunter Labrosse LLP’s Marc Labrosse will sit in Ottawa. He replaces Justice Peter Annis, who joined the Federal Court last year.

Vaughan, Ont., lawyer Kenneth James, who faces money-laundering charges, was partly successful in his appeal of a $180,000 cost order against him following a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing.

James’ disciplinary hearing came to a halt in 2012 after an “extraordinarily long and costly 23 days” of proceedings. Alan Gold, chairman of the panel hearing the case, recused himself because it turned out he and James shared a client, a situation that led him to receive “privileged information” regarding James.

On appeal, James said argued it wasn’t his fault the hearing panel had failed to ensure none of the panel members were in conflict. The appeal panel allowed his appeal in part and ordered the law society to pay $12,270 in costs to James.

Meanwhile, former teacher James Melnick, who got the green light to practise law in Ontario after the law society considered his past conviction on two charges involving sexual offences with a minor, won’t get costs in his successful appeal to the law society’s appeal panel.

At first, a hearing panel rejected Melnick’s bid to practise law following a good character hearing. But in a decision dated July 29, a law society appeal panel granted Melnick a licence to practise law after finding he was now of good character.

Although his appeal was successful, the appeal panel dismissed Melnick’s request for costs on Jan. 23.

For more, see "Lawyer facing criminal charges consents to suspension" and "Ex-teacher convicted of sexual offence with minor gets OK to practise law."

The Divisional Court has rejected former  lawyer Leslie Vandor’s appeal of his disbarment.

Vandor, an Ottawa lawyer disbarred for misconduct that included misappropriations of significant funds from his family’s company and from clients, sought to set aside a Law Society of Upper Canada appeal panel order upholding his disbarment. He argued the appeal panel erred in failing to apply a Superior Court order related to his discharge from bankruptcy and in upholding the hearing panel’s ruling that there was a failure to account for proper disbursements and expenditures.

Among other things, he argued the court absolved him of any wrongdoing at his bankruptcy discharge hearing. But in its decision on Jan. 27, the Divisional Court noted there was no hearing on the merits of the claim of misappropriation of funds and that the purpose of the bankruptcy proceedings wasn’t to assign blame.

Vandor also argued there was evidence before the hearing panel that some of the misappropriated funds in fact went towards buying a condo for his mother and paying other family expenses. The Divisional Court, however, found the hearing panel “rendered a comprehensive, well-reasoned decision.”

For more, see "Lawyer took $1M from dad's estate."

Among the many announcements of departures from Heenan Blaikie LLP last week was competition and antitrust lawyer Subrata Bhattacharjee’s move to Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

“We are delighted to have Subrata join our growing competition law practice,” said Sean Weir, national managing partner and chief executive officer at BLG. “His unique background and international experience is an asset to our current client base and will prove to be a strong addition to our group as they continue to build the practice on a national and international basis.”

BLG described Bhattacharjee, who practises antitrust, foreign investment, and regulatory matters, as one of the “leading” lawyers in his area of practice. Bhattacharjee is one of many lawyers who left Heenan Blaikie as the firm considered its future.

Last week, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP announced the arrival of four former Heenan Blaikie lawyers to its Ottawa office. Labour and employment lawyers Claire Vachon and Sébastien Lorquet have joined Faskens as partners along with associates Judith Parisien and Marie-Andrée Richard.

Among the more high-profile departures was veteran business lawyer Ralph Lean, who moved to Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. He had joined Heenan Blaikie just last April after moving from Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

“I came back from Florida on Jan. 14 and went to a meeting, where they indicated they were doing some financial restructuring or downsizing and I was taken aback,” he said.

Two firms approached him with offers, he says, but he wasn’t interested until Heenan Blaikie’s problems became more apparent after a meeting on Jan. 20. As Lean was counsel on contract with Heenan Blaikie, he had no equity in the firm.

Intellectual property lawyer Eric Lavers has left Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP to join Dickinson Wright LLP’s Toronto office as of counsel.

A member of both the Ontario and New York bars, Lavers practises intellectual property law with an emphasis on the acquisition, protection, and enforcement of patent rights in Canada and around the world.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, about 71 per cent of respondents don’t think Ontario should adopt a right-to-work approach by making union dues optional.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has been proposing to make Ontario a right-to-work jurisdiction, something he argues would make the province more competitive and help attract jobs and investment. Critics, however, argue the proposal is an attack on workers’ rights.
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Intellectual property lawyer Ronald Dimock has joined the JAMS Toronto dispute resolution centre.

Dimock, with almost 40 years of patent, trademark, and copyright experience under his belt, will serve as an arbitrator and mediator dealing with intellectual property matters at JAMS. He’ll maintain his practice at Dimock Stratton LLP as well.

“An accomplished mediator, arbitrator, and litigator, Ronald Dimock is a highly esteemed member of the intellectual property law field,” said Chris Poole, president and chief executive officer of JAMS.

“His expertise in a range of areas including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret disputes will make a tremendous addition to our panel.”

Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has welcomed four new partners in Toronto along with other additions at its offices across Canada.

The new partners include Andrew Gordon, whose practice focuses on the energy and financial services sectors; commercial real estate lawyer Daniel Kofman; Alexis Levine, a lawyer focused primarily on debt and structured financings; and Jeffrey Shafer, who practices in all areas of Canadian domestic and cross-border income tax law.

“On behalf of the firm, I welcome them to the partnership,” said Rob Granatstein, managing partner at Blakes.

“This is a milestone in a lawyer’s career and every one of these individuals has worked extremely hard for our clients.”

Besides the Toronto additions, Blakes announced one new partner in Montreal (Tricia Kuhl), three new partners in Calgary (Michael Dixon, Sean Maxwell, and Michael O’Brien), two new partners in Vancouver (Troy Lehman and Robin Reinertson), and one new partner in Bahrain (Tim Sunar).

Several members of the legal community were among the new appointees to the Order of Ontario last month.

The new appointees invested at a ceremony at Queen’s Park included lawyers such as Avvy Yao Yao Go. In announcing her appointment, the government touted her as someone “who uses her law degree to advance the rights of Toronto’s marginalized communities.” Go, the clinic director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, also serves as a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Also appointed to the order was George Carter, one of Canada’s first black lawyers and the first Canadian-born black judge. The government praised him for his work to change discriminatory practices in Ontario’s justice system and his role in the development of legal aid in Ontario.

A third member of the legal community named to the order was Penny Collenette, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law honoured as “a leader and innovator whose influential reach spans the worlds of public policy, business, law, and academia.”

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

The poll addressed many people’s dream scenario about what Legal Aid Ontario should do if it suddenly had more money, and the results were clear that increasing the eligibility threshold for assistance is the way to go. According to the poll, 52 per cent of respondents would prioritize boosting the income threshold while 12 per cent felt any new money should go towards increasing the tariff paid to lawyers. About 10 per cent would like to expand the range of matters covered and just four per cent would emphasize more funding for legal clinics.

Not surprisingly, a significant number of respondents — almost 22 per cent — think LAO should do all of those things were it to have more money.   
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A Toronto lawyer has lost his licence to practise law due to professional misconduct related to mortgage transactions.

A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel found lawyer Mitchell Lewis Wolfe had engaged in professional misconduct for“participating in or knowingly assisting in dishonest or fraudulent conduct by his borrower client to obtain mortgage or investment funds under false pretenses in connection with the . . . mortgage transactions.”

Wolfe also acted for multiple parties in the mortgage transactions without adequate disclosure to or consent from his lending clients, the hearing panel found. In addition to revoking his licence, the panel ordered Wolfe to pay $55,000 in costs.

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

According to the poll, almost 60 per cent of participants don’t think Ontario should adopt a no-cost rule for class actions. The poll follows a new discussion document released by the Law Commission of Ontario as part of its review of the Class Proceedings Act that raises the potential of having a no-costs rule in Ontario. But for themajority of poll participants, having costs follow the event should remain a bedrock principle for all matters.

Securities litigator Laura Paglia has left Torys LLP to join Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Paglia joins David Di Paolo as regional co-leader of the securities litigation group at BLG’s Toronto office.

“Laura contributes to our team’s in-depth expertise in the Canadian securities market. She has been a leader in Canadian securities litigation and regulatory matters and has been involved in representing numerous market participants including investment dealers, mutual fund, and futures dealers,” said Jim Douglas, national leader of BLG’s securities litigation and regulatory group. “She is a tremendous asset to our clients as they respond to the many reforms taking place in the regulation of the Canadian financial market.”

The province has appointed family lawyer Lynda Ross as a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Ross began presiding in Windsor, Ont., as of Jan. 20.

Ross worked in all areas of family law. She practised collaborative family law and has been a child protection mediator providing services to children’s aid societies and courts in various regions.

The Ontario Securities Commission has issued proposed amendments and is asking for comment on changes that would demand greater transparency regarding the representation of women on corporate boards and in senior management.

If adopted, the proposed amendments would require issuers reporting in Ontario to include the following disclosure annually in their proxy circulars:
Director term limits or an explanation for their absence.

The number and proportion of women on the board and in executive positions.

An issuer’s policies on the representation of women on the board (including for identifying and nominating female directors) or an explanation for their absence.

If they’ve adopted a policy, disclosure of its objectives and key provisions, the measures taken to ensure its implementation, the progress made on achieving the goals, and whether and how they measure the effectiveness of the policy.

The board’s consideration of the representation of women in the director identification and selection process, including whether it considers the level of female representation on boards in identifying and nominating candidates, and, if not, why not.

The consideration given to the representation of women in executive positions when making appointments.

Targets voluntarily adopted regarding female representation on the board or in executive positions and, if none, an explanation for their absence.

Legal Aid Ontario will start sending a staff lawyer to the Superior Court in Toronto and Brampton, Ont., on a regular basis to assist litigants and the courts.

A staff lawyer will attend the Toronto court every Wednesday and visit Brampton every second Friday, according to LAO.

“The LAO lawyer’s participation in these superior courts is part of a pilot project to enhance access to justice for LAO’s clients and to assist the administration of justice,” said LAO.

During the visits, the LAO lawyer will provide updates on the status of legal aid applications and let the court know the exact days of future attendance in order to schedule issues requiring an LAO lawyer on those dates.

The pilot project will start on Jan. 29 in Toronto and Feb. 7 in Brampton.    
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Former bank executive John Jason has joined Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP’s Toronto office as counsel.

Jason, former senior vice president at BMO Financial Group, also served as deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer at the bank.

“John has tremendous understanding of our clients’ needs through his experience with financial institutions, as a lawyer, and in business,” said Andrew Fleming, managing partner of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Toronto office.

“He’s recognized as a Canadian leader in regulatory financial services law, one of the top concerns for our clients in the sector. He’s an outstanding addition to our team.”

Jason said the firm has a lot to offer to financial service companies.

“The only thing certain about financial services regulation today is that it will continue to grow and become more complex. Canada is no longer an island and much of our regulation is being driven by developments internationally,” he said.

“New Canadian and international competitors are also driving a need for new regulations. Financial services companies need to stay ahead of new and evolving regulatory expectations. With our depth and global platform, Norton Rose Fulbright is ideally positioned to advise clients about these expectations.”

Jason isn’t the only financial sector lawyer to join Norton Rose Fulbright recently. John Teolis, formerly of Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, has left that firm to join Norton Rose Fulbright. Although recent news reports suggested he left because of a mandatory retirement requirement at Blakes, Norton Rose Fulbright says that’s not the case. He made the move despite an offer by Blakes to extend his retirement to age 68 with the possibility of a further extension, according to Norton Rose Fulbright.

“Joining Norton Rose Fulbright is a superb fit with the work I’ve been privileged to have done for financial institutions,” said Teolis.

“There’s a lot of activity in the Canadian financial sector with domestic and international companies. Norton Rose Fulbright’s truly global reach makes its financial institutions practice one of a kind and I’m looking forward to making the most of this with clients.” 


Former judge and Law Society of Upper Canada treasurer Sydney Robins has died at the age of 90.

Robins was the youngest bencher — and the first Jewish person on the law society’s governing council — when he won election to the position in 1961, according to LSUC Treasurer Thomas Conway. Robins later became treasurer of the law society. He joined the bench of the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1981.

“The loss fills me with a great sadness — he was a well-respected bencher and treasurer, as well as an incredible human being,” wrote Conway last week in a post on his blog.

He added: “For me, Syd Robins is the model of what a treasurer should be and he has been an inspiration for me since I took office in June 2012. His many friends and colleagues at the law society will miss him greatly.”


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

According to the poll, 89 per cent of participants feel the federal government’s looming victims rights bill will disrupt the criminal justice process.

The federal government is about to introduce a victims bill of rights that will ensure victims of crime are more “informed and involved” at every stage of the criminal justice system.

According to a Law Times report earlier this month, some defence lawyers fear such a move will complicate an already complex criminal justice system and pressure prosecutors to “serve two masters.” 


Micheline Gravelle is the new managing partner at Bereskin & Parr LLP.

Gravelle, head of the firm’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical practice group, replaces Philip Mendes Da Costa in the role.

“I am very excited to be taking on this new role, and a new strategic plan,” said Gravelle.

“It’s our firm’s culture, teamwork, and core values that set us apart, and over the coming months, I’ll be working to build on those strengths.”

Gravelle joined Bereskin & Parr in 1996. The firm says she has been a successful leader in the chemistry, microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology fields and has held senior positions at multinational companies and government agencies and in the health services industry.


If you know an accomplished lawyer who deserves recognition, it’s time to let the Law Society of Upper Canada know.

The law society is now accepting nominations for its upcoming awards, including the law society medal, the Lincoln Alexander award, and the Laura Legge award. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 31.

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The government has appointed Toronto lawyer Vivian Bercovici as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel.
Bercovici, who had earlier practised with Heenan Blaikie LLP’s Toronto business law group and more recently joined Dickinson Wright LLP, has an “excellent understanding” of Israeli issues, said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
“Canada and Israel share a strong and multi-faceted relationship based on shared values, common interests, and strong political, economic, cultural, and social ties,” he added. “Having lived in Israel and written extensively on the region, Ms. Bercovici has an excellent understanding of the challenges facing the country and deep insight into the opportunities provided by the strong links between our two countries.
“The government of Canada congratulates Ms. Bercovici on this appointment, and wishes her well in building upon this special relationship.”
Bercovici has in the past served as senior policy adviser to the Ontario minister of finance and chief negotiator on various claims made by First Nations against Canada. In March 2013, she joined the board of directors of CBC/Radio-Canada for a five-year term.


Are you angry over the lack of access to justice in Canada? If so, you should flip your wig for justice, says a new campaign launched by several legal organizations.
The awareness campaign and pledge-based fundraising effort launched last week is asking the public and the legal community to show their support for equal justice by donning a traditional judicial or “wacky” wig on March 6.
The campaign is urging organizations to match pledges raised by employees. The organizations behind the campaign include the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Community Legal Education Ontario, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children, the Ontario Justice Education Network, Pro Bono Law Ontario, and Pro Bono Students Canada. To participate, register at


A Gladue court designed to handle the cases of aboriginal people charged in criminal matters will open in Brantford, Ont., on Jan. 17.
“Among other special features, Gladue courts take the findings of Gladue reports into consideration. These are reports on offenders’ backgrounds, including circumstances unique to this community such as residential school experiences,” according to Legal Aid Ontario, which says it played “an instrumental role” in the court’s establishment.
“In addition, Gladue courts propose sentences using a restorative justice approach that aligns with aboriginal culture and traditions.”
There are five other Gladue courts in Ontario. LAO says it will provide clients with services once the Brantford court begins hearing cases this month.


Stikeman Elliott LLP is welcoming new partners at three of its offices.
Michael Kilby, who was an associate with the firm, is now a partner at the Toronto office. Kilby, who also did his articles at Stikeman Elliott, practises in the area of Canadian competition and foreign investment law.
In Montreal, lawyer Vanessa Coiteux is the newest partner while securities and corporate finance lawyer Brad Squibb also joined the partnership in Calgary.  


The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, 45 per cent of participants say 2014 is the year the legal profession should make a move on alternative business structures. Another 35 per cent of participants disagreed while the rest said it might be time to act on the issue but would prefer to see more study on it first.
The poll follows a recent Canadian Bar Association report that suggested the jury is still out on whether alternative business structures would improve access to justice.
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A bail verification and supervision program will soon be available in 17 communities across Ontario after the government selected the John Howard Society of Kingston & District to offer it in the Kingston, Ont., area.

The program helps people accused of criminal offences who aren’t a threat to society but don’t have the social or financial means to meet bail requirements.
The John Howard Society will supervise these clients and ensure they attend all court appearances and meet all conditions of their bail.

According to the Ministry of the Attorney General, the program will be available in 17 communities across Ontario once the Kingston program begins operating early this year.

“Our government is committed to improving access to justice for all Ontarians and ensuring our criminal justice system is as effective and efficient as it can be,” said Attorney General John Gerretsen.

“Expanding the bail verification and supervision program to Kingston will help to address a service gap in the southeast region and keep area courts running smoothly.”

Tyler Fainstat, executive director of the John Howard Society of Kingston & District, called the program “an alternative to detention.”

“The John Howard Society of Kingston & District is pleased to offer this service and promote supervision as an alternative to detention,” said Fainstat.


Three members of the legal community were among 90 new appointments to the Order of Canada.

Gov.-Gen. David Johnston announced the appointment of University of Saskatchewan emeritus law professor and former dean Daniel Ish as an officer of the Order of Canada for his “commitment to social justice, notably as the former chief adjudicator of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat.”

Also named an officer was retired chief justice of Québec, J.J. Michel Robert of Montreal, for his “achievements in the field of law as a lawyer and jurist, and for his commitment to advancing his profession.” He’s now a consulting partner with the law firm BCF in Montreal.

Retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Marie Deschamps, also of Montreal,  becomes a companion of the Order or Canada for her “numerous contributions as a jurist and for her dedication to youth development.” Deschamps became a judge of the Quebec Superior Court in March 1990. She joined the Quebec Court of Appeal on May 6, 1992, and then the Supreme Court of Canada on Aug. 7, 2002. She retired from the top court in August 2012. She has also been an adjunct professor at the law faculty of the Université de Sherbrooke since 2006 and at McGill University since 2012.

The new appointees to the Order of Canada include four companions, 25 officers, and 61 members.


Changes to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s parental leave assistance program take effect this month.

According to amendments approved by Convocation in November 2012, the program will now be available only to lawyers who make a net annual practice income of less than $50,000.

The program provides modest financial help to lawyers at small law firms or who work as sole practitioners who don’t have access to maternity or paternal benefits.

Eligible lawyers receive $750 a week for up to 12 weeks.

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Judge facing complaint for mock trial participation

Ontario Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme is facing a judicial complaint for participating in a public mock trial of environmental activist David Suzuki that concluded in a not guilty verdict. The mock trial, organized by Cape Farewell Foundation, an organization that seeks to bring attention to climate change, took place at the Royal Ontario Museum Nov. 6.

Now, oil sands advocacy group says Ducharme’s participation in the mock trial took place in the context of a “controversial political agenda” and compromises his judicial impartiality.

The mock trial “was a deliberate hijacking of the trappings of a trial, the deliberate appropriation of the dignity and impartiality of the courts for a partisan campaign,” said in its complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council.
says Ducharme was selected for the role after his colleague Justice Harriet Sachs withdrew her involvement after questions were raised about “the propriety of her participation.”
says it is “non-partisan and supported by persons who believe that the Canadian values reflected in ethical oil appeal to people from all walks of life and across the political spectrum.”

Law firms raise $243,000 for food bank

The results of the law firm challenge for the Daily Bread Food Bank are in with Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP coming out on top.

Blakes was among 29 Toronto law firms that raised $243,000 in cash and food donations for the food bank during the three-week competition.

Blakes raised $39,500, followed closely by Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP at $38,062, and McCarthy Tétrault LLP at $36,702. On a per-capita basis, the top firms were Paliare Roland at $536.08, Solmon Rothbart Goodman LLP at $347.83, and Owens Wright LLP at $294.02.

As part of its efforts, Blakes had an event every week of the food drive: a pie duel the first week; a bake sale the second week; and raffles and karaoke at the firm’s holiday party during the third week.

Blakes raised $9,000 from the karaoke event alone. The event included a pledge drive in which firm chairman Brock Gibson and managing partner Rob Granatstein sang three karaoke songs in front of everyone at the party. Blakes also took in $20,000 from the pie duel in which Granatstein took one in the face from chief financial officer Richard Prupas.

Blakes has been organizing the law firm challenge for 11 years. The first year, the participating firms raised more than $60,000. Throughout the years, the event has brought in almost $2 million for the food bank.

New judges appointed to Superior Court

A slew of new judges have been appointed to the Ontario Superior Court. The appointees include former Ontario Bar Association President Jamie Trimble, Clyde & Co. Canada LLP lawyer Graeme Mew, Burlington lawyer Michael G. Emery, and Cobourg sole practitioner Stephen T. Bale.

Mew’s main areas of practice were civil litigation, insurance law, sports law, arbitration and mediation. Trimble, a certified specialist in civil litigation, practised insurance defence law at Hughes Amys LPP in Hamilton. He was the OBA’s president from 2008-2009.

Emery, who practised at Simpson Wigle LAW LLP, focused on commercial litigation, estate litigation, and insurance litigation. Bale’s main area of practice was general litigation.

A number of other judicial annoucements were also made Dec. 18. Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz was appointed regional senior judge of the Toronto Region to replace Justice E.F. Then, who resigned from the position in November. Sudbury Justice Robbie D. Gordon, will become regional senior judge of the Northeast Region on Jan. 22, 2014, taking over from Justice Louise L. Gauthier, who will be giving up the position. Both Then and Gauthier will return to their regular judicial duties.

Superior Court Justice George Czutrin has been appointed senior family judge of the Family Court to replace Justice R. John Harper, who resigned the position in November. Harper will move to Brantford to replace Justice H. Arrell, who has been transferred to Hamilton to replace Justice A. Whitten, who elected to become a supernumerary judge.

Law Times poll

The results for the latest Law Times online poll are in. About 76 per cent of respondents are not optimistic about the business environment for lawyers and law firms in 2014.

In a recent article, Law Times reported there is “cautious optimism” through the corporate corridors of Bay St. as law firms are predicted to raise salaries for experienced counsel and some lawyers in the mining industry expect there will be new opportunities.

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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.