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The masters of the Ontario Superior Court are mourning the death of one of their colleagues this month.

Master Richard Peterson, who had served in the role since 1984, died at his summer home on Georgian Bay on July 18, according to an obituary in The Globe and Mail. The 67-year-old master had been working part-time until the time of his death.

Crime rates in Canada have gone down along with the severity of the offences committed, according to new data released by Statistics Canada.

The volume and severity of crimes declined by nine per cent last year from 2012. The index has been going down steadily over the last decade, according to Statistics Canada, which reported the severity of the crime reported has decreased by 36 per cent in the last 10 years.

Crime rates also declined in that time period. Recent data shows the crime rate in Canada fell by eight per cent in 2013 compared to 2012. Canadian police services reported just over 1.8 million criminal incidents in 2013, a decrease of 132,000 from the previous year.

Last year, all Canadian jurisdictions other than the Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador reported a decrease in the volume and severity of criminal incidents. Yukon saw a six-per-cent increase, whereas Newfoundland reported a one-per-cent rise.

A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel has recused itself from a disciplinary proceeding after a witness overheard the panel members badmouthing her in the hallway.

In a matter dealing with an alleged failure to respond to law society communications, an LSUC investigator was to appear as a witness. During her testimony, some documents had to be sorted from various boxes, according to a July 15 ruling on the recusal matter. To allow for this to happen, the investigator and the panel left the room.

While outside, the investigator overheard the panel, chaired by Susan Richer, call her “sloppy” and say she didn’t understand things because “she’s never been a real lawyer.”

The witness discussed what she had heard with the law society counsel, who brought a motion for recusal of the panel based on a claim that it had formed an opinion too early in the disciplinary process.

“Had the witness overheard this panel discussing her evidence after she had finished testifying, or had someone else overheard our deliberations while the witness was still testifying, we would not have recused ourselves.
However, at the heart of this motion is trial fairness,” the panel wrote.

“The investigator, having inadvertently heard her evidence discussed in terms that could be seen as negative, had to go right back into the hearing room and continue testifying. No one, including herself, can know what effect that had on her focus and her ability to recall.  It must also be remembered that she had not expected to testify at all at this hearing.”

The panel added: “This is not fair to the witness or to the hearing process.”

Following a number of decisions dealing with adverse costs orders against lawyers, a judge has found a law firm and two of its lawyers should pay for what he called “egregious” misconduct in a family law case.

Nanda & Associate Lawyers PC and two of its lawyers are collectively facing a $13,000 bill after the court found they tried to bring a motion on nine minutes notice, made false representations to a judge, and started an action in the wrong forum to get a “home-court advantage.”

One of the firm’s lawyers filed an action in Brampton, Ont., when he should have done so in Kitchener, Ont., wrote Superior Court Justice Grant Campbell in Sangha v. Sangha on July 11.

“By using the ‘rush-in and get-there-first’ (in the court closest to the law firm’s offices) tactic, Mr. Cook and Nanda and Associates (he represents the firm and his decisions, or perhaps his following the firm’s policy to only litigate in Brampton, binds his firm as well) can be faulted for committing a gross error in judgment and for intentional conduct that willfully disregarded the impact of his decision to litigate in the wrong forum,” wrote Campbell.

The firm, which represented the wife in a family law case, also made a false claim that the father had planned to abduct the couple’s child, according to Campbell. He ordered the firm to pay $5,000 with another $5,000 payable by one lawyer and a further $3,000 by another counsel who appeared on the matter.

The decision follows other rulings ordering lawyers to personally pay costs in cases such as 1250294 Ontario Ltd. v. 2141065 Ontario Inc. on July 8 and Bailey v. Barbour on June 18.

Former Fogler Rubinoff LLP partner Cathryn Sawicki has joined Baker & McKenzie LLP.

The immigration lawyer is joining the firm as a partner in its global immigration and mobility practice department.

“Our clients know that Canada's immigration regime is facing additional scrutiny and adjustment, and companies want to stay ahead of the curve as they continually enhance and expand their global mobility programs,” said Betsy Morgan, head of Baker & McKenzie’s global immigration and mobility practice.

“Cathryn’s 15 years of experience handling Canadian immigration matters is an excellent addition to our global practice, and we’re delighted she is joining the team.”

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

According to the poll, 86 per cent of respondents doubt the federal government’s new prostitution law will survive a constitutional challenge.

Critics have assailed the federal government’s legislation that would mainly target pimps and johns in the sex industry. Introduced as a response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on the existing prostitution laws last year, opponents say the legislation will drive prostitutes further underground and put their safety at risk. The government argues it’s seeking to protect prostitutes from exploitation.
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Ministry of the Attorney General counsel Orlando Da Silva is the new president of the Ontario Bar Association.

Da Silva replaces past president Pascale Daigneault in the role. Da Silva was previously the first vice president of the OBA, a role now filled by Edwin Upenieks. Elected to the position of second vice president is David Sterns of Sotos LLP.

In addition, Scotiabank senior legal counsel Lynne Vicars becomes the OBA’s treasurer.

A Superior Court judge has ordered a lawyer to personally pay costs for furbishing “unfounded allegations” against the plaintiff in a case.

In 1250294 Ontario Ltd. v. 2141065 Ontario Inc., the plaintiff, lawyer Ben Martin, had brought a summary judgment motion for foreclosure of a Sikh temple on his property in Brampton, Ont. The judge granted the summary judgment motion and dismissed the defendants’ counterclaim.

During the summary judgment motion, the defendants’ counsel, Doug LaFramboise, caused unnecessary waste of resources, the court found, and ordered the lawyer to jointly or severally pay the $79,000 in costs awarded against his clients.

“The record for the motion establishes that it was Mr. LaFramboise who was the mastermind of the congregation’s corporation’s factual and legally untenable defence strategy that included serious and ultimately unfounded allegations of fraud and impropriety by Mr. Martin, including an allegation that Mr. Martin, who is an officer of this court, had misled and deceived the court,” wrote Justice Paul Perell in his July 8 reasons for his decision on costs.

He added: “In the case at bar, Mr. LaFramboise fashioned a defence for his client that was untenable and that falsely maligned the professional reputation of Mr. Martin. Absent an explanation from Mr. LaFramboise, this is an appropriate case to make him personally responsible for the costs of the proceedings in the amount of $79,021.50, all inclusive.”

In an unusual decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has awarded damages to a man in a malicious prosecution case where the defendant was a witness instead of police or the Crown.

Drainville v. Vilchez is an uncommon example of a successful malicious prosecution suit against a private individual.

“Normally, the person or entity against whom a malicious prosecution suit is brought is the police or the Crown,” wrote Justice Peter Howden on July 4.

“There are rare cases like this one where the complainant has been the defendant, without creating even a ripple on the surface of the lake of analytic discipline.”

Plaintiff Denis Drainville had been criminally charged and subsequently acquitted of mischief and dangerous driving. The person who had reported him to the police, Mario Vilchez, was the target of the malicious prosecution suit.

Vilchez lied to police about Drainville hitting him with his vehicle at a gas station in 2011 when, in fact, he had put his legs in contact with Drainville’s front bumper, the judge found.

The court ordered Vilchez to pay Drainville $23,866.37 for legal fees and the additional rent payment the plaintiff incurred because of the original criminal charges.

“He lied to the police knowing that a criminal prosecution against Mr. Drainville would follow,” wrote Howden.

Changes to Legal Aid Ontario’s certificate eligibility requirements will allow for assistance to an additional one million low-income Ontarians as the Liberals reintroduced their 2014 budget on July 14.

The fate of the changes hinged on the outcome of the recent provincial election as the campaign began after the Liberals announced expanded legal aid coverage in their original budget in May.

“Thanks to higher financial eligibility thresholds for legal aid, more low-income people will have access to justice,” said LAO chairman John McCamus.

“This new investment will make the courts work more efficiently by reducing the number of self-represented litigants in the judicial system — this is good news for all Ontarians.”

The change represents the first update to LAO’s eligibility threshold since the mid-1990s.

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The province has appointed Toronto family lawyer Victoria Starr as a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Starr, who ran her own law firm, practised family and child protection law. She has been a panel member for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer as well as chairwoman of the Family Lawyers Association. Starr also taught at Centennial College.

Starr will preside in Milton, Ont., in her new role.

The province also named two new regional senior justices of the peace last week.

Justice of the peace Theodore Hodgins is the new regional senior justice of the peace for the northeast region. Hodgins, who became a justice of the peace in 1990, replaces regional senior justice of the peace Kathleen Bryant.

Meanwhile, justice of the peace Raymond Zuliani becomes regional senior justice of the peace in the northwest region. He replaces regional senior justice of the peace Bruce Leaman.

Legal Aid Ontario says it will fund 15 new clinic projects through a three-year, $9-million commitment.

The funded projects focus on “delivering integrated services through existing community access points and clinic modernization,” LAO said in a news release last week.

“We are pleased to fund these projects, which will make an important difference in clients’ ability to access justice” said LAO board chairman John McCamus.

“We were impressed with the thinking that went into the proposals we received — so much so, that LAO will support some of the projects that didn’t meet the funding criteria through other LAO funds.”

The funded organizations included:
—    The ARCH Disability Law Centre for $205,000
—    The Chatham-Kent Legal Clinic for $95,000
—    The Community Legal Clinic of Simcoe - Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes for $275,000
—    Eastern region community legal clinics for $265,000
—    Flemingdon Community Legal Services for $400,000
—    Halton Community Legal Services for $380,000
—    HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario for $55,000
—    Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County for $150,000
—    Northern Ontario Community Legal Clinic for $239,160
—    Northumberland, Durham, and community legal clinics (Orillia) for $115,840
—    Northwest Community Legal Clinic, Huron Perth Legal Clinic, Community Advocacy and Legal Centre, and Northumberland Community Legal Clinic for $380,000
—    Rural Legal Services and Lanark, Leeds and, Grenville Legal Clinic for $75,000
—    Specialty clinics transformation project for $125,000
—    Waterloo Region Community Legal Services for $150,000
—    Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic for $90,000

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

According to the poll, about 64 per cent of respondents said they were ready when the anti-spam legislation took effect. The majority said they had sent their consents and were up on the rules so they could advise their clients.

The anti-spam legislation took effect on July 1. It creates a whole set of rules around consents for sending commercial electronic messages as well as significant monetary penalties for those who break the rules.
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A B.C. judge has ordered the arrest of a former Ontario lawyer who has been practising law without a licence.

The court had found former lawyer John Gorman, previously disbarred by the Law Society of Upper Canada, in contempt in 2011 after he continued to practise law in British Columbia.

At the time, B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Savage had imposed a two-week incarceration and a $5,000 fine against Gorman, but the former lawyer never served the sentence or paid the money owing, according to a recent ruling in The Law Society of British Columbia v. Gorman.

The B.C. law society learned Gorman had left the province but he returned in 2012 and again practised law without a licence, the same judge has now found.

Savage ordered authorities to “arrest Mr. Gorman and bring him promptly before this court at 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., and unless otherwise ordered, deliver him to the warden of the Surrey Pretrial Centre.”

Miller Thomson LLP partner and Law Times columnist Jeffrey Lem is the newest bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Lem, who works in real estate law, secured lending, and insolvency, replaces Janet Minor, who became LSUC treasurer after a June 26 vote.

Quebec law firms named in Cassel Brock & Blackwell LLP’s lawsuit against 150 firms and practitioners in a conflict of interest case have lost their appeal to dismiss the claim against them.

In 2012, Cassels Brock sued numerous lawyers for improperly advising General Motors of Canada Ltd. dealers in the midst of the company’s move to close several dealerships during its 2009 financial crisis.

Dealerships that had to close up shop sued GM for allegedly forcing them to sign wind-down agreements in breach of provincial franchise law and its fiduciary duty to them. They also accused Cassels Brock of negligence in failing to provide them with the appropriate advice in addition to having an undisclosed conflict of interest. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In a counterclaim, Cassels Brock sued 150 other law firms and lawyers it claimed were responsible for improperly advising the dealers.

The named law firms have since unsuccessfully tried to dismiss the case against them. More recently, the Quebec firms appealed a decision that rejected their bid to dismiss the counterclaim.
They argued the Ontario Superior Court lacks jurisdiction over the third-party actions. But in a ruling on June 27, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal after finding it’s “fair to subject the third party appellants to the power of the courts of Ontario.”

The Law Society of Upper Canada has decided not to change the scheme for electing regional benchers.

The current bencher election system designates the candidate in each region who receives the highest number of votes as the regional bencher to ensure representation across Ontario at Convocation.

Last year, a working group proposed putting greater emphasis on the votes from all regions for all candidates. One suggestion was to have the regional scheme apply to elect the candidate with the most votes in that area only if a region doesn’t have an elected bencher according to the initial results.

But a report to Convocation in June noted there would be no changes to the current scheme for electing regional benchers. 

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

According to the poll, 65 per cent of respondents say the federal government should step up its efforts to increase diversity in judicial appointments.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay has been under fire over remarks he made about women not applying for federal judicial appointments. During a meeting with members of the Ontario Bar Association, he reportedly referred to motherhood and its role in keeping women from seeking judicial posts.     
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The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ordered a company owned by a Law Society of Upper Canada paralegal bencher to pay almost $13,000 in a discrimination case.

HRTO adjudicator Douglas Sanderson found POINTTS Advisory Ltd., a company owned by LSUC paralegal bencher Brian Lawrie, had terminated an employee partly due to her disability and had failed to accommodate her.

“The respondent refused to allow the applicant to return to work because of her disability, repeatedly breached its obligation to accommodate her and terminated her employment, in part, because of her disability,” wrote Sanderson in Schildt v. POINTTS Advisory Ltd. on June 25.

“I find that the respondent’s actions caused the [applicant] humiliation and were an affront to her dignity and self-respect. In my view, damages of $10,000 are appropriate compensation in the circumstances of this case.”

The tribunal accepted Lawrie’s evidence that he had planned on terminating the applicant even before she suffered an injury at work but still decided her disability was part of the decision to let her go.

While it removed Lawrie as an individual respondent, the tribunal found the circumstances indicated senior management — “Mr. Lawrie in particular” — lacked an appreciation of their obligations under the Human Rights Code. Sanderson also said the respondent would benefit from human rights training and a workplace human rights policy. As for a monetary remedy, it ordered the company to pay $10,000 for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect and almost $2,885 for lost employment income.

Sanderson, however, dismissed aspects of the employee’s human rights complaint, including an allegation that the company fired her due to the financial implications of the costs of her fertility drugs on its benefits program. The tribunal found she had no basis to make those allegations.

Superior Court Justice Barry Matheson has died at the age of 74.

Matheson, who joined the Superior Court in 1998, died on June 16.

Born in Winnipeg, Matheson moved to St. Catharines, Ont., at a young age. He attended Osgoode Hall Law School before practising at Sullivan Mahoney in St. Catharines.

According to the St. Catharines Standard, Matheson died as a result of heart surgery complications.

Zijad Saskin, president of the Welland County Law Association, told the Standard about a planned retirement party for Matheson, who died just before his 75th birthday.

“He was a wonderful judge and a great person,” Saskin told the Standard.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay has announced the appointment of immigration and administrative lawyer David Thomas as chairman of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

An Osgoode Hall Law School graduate, Thomas already served as a part-time member of the tribunal. In its announcement, the Department of Justice said he “brings an understanding of employment law, human rights law, aboriginal issues, and experience in managing human and financial resources.”

Thomas’ appointment is effective in September.

MacKay also announced the appointment of Judy Mintz as a part-time member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Prior to her appointment, Mintz was executive director of Dundas Community Services. Her appointment is effective immediately.

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

The majority of respondents — 76 per cent— said they’re not willing to offer a placement to a law school graduate under the Law Society of Upper Canada’s fledgling law practice program.

The poll comes amid a push by those involved in the program to encourage lawyers to sign onto the placement portion of it. In an article in Law Times last week, Chris Bentley, executive director of the law practice program at Ryerson University, emphasized that the training “is not a course.”

Ryerson and the University of Ottawa are currently looking for lawyers who can offer a paid work placement for 2014-15 law practice program candidates. In the poll, 24 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to offer a placement.
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McCarthy Tétrault LLP says 29 of its lawyers ran to Toronto from Montreal as part of a team-building and fundraising exercise over Father’s Day weekend.

The lawyers, along with eight coaches and 15 volunteers, kicked off their 650-kilometre journey at the law firm’s Montreal office on June 13 and ran over the course of the next 75 hours before arriving in Toronto on June 16.

The run raised $58,000 in support of Pour 3 Points, a Montreal-based organization that assists students in underprivileged neighbourhoods.

“We are incredibly proud of our colleagues for undertaking such a colossal challenge in teamwork,” said Marc-André Blanchard, chairman and chief executive officer of McCarthys.

“Our runners — who were mostly inexperienced prior to their training — took up the challenge fired by a desire to accomplish a collective goal together and to support an important community initiative. They are an inspiration to our colleagues, our clients, and our communities.”

Each lawyer underwent “intensive” training in preparation for the run that included a 260-kilometre test relay.

Besides appointing Justice George Strathy as chief justice of Ontario on June 13, the federal government has filled a number of other judicial positions across the country.

Baker & McKenzie LLP’s Alan Diner joins the Federal Court bench. He replaces justice J.A. Snider following her resignation last year.

Lawyer Henry Brown, who recently retired from Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, also joins the Federal Court.
Brown replaces Justice S.J. Harrington after he became a supernumerary judge in April.

Also headed to the Federal Court bench is Keith Boswell of Stewart McKelvey. On June 30, he’ll replace Justice J.A. O’Keefe after he became a supernumerary judge.

Other appointments included:
• Federal Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mainville to the Quebec Court of Appeal to replace Justice A.R. Hilton on July 1.

• Public Prosecution Service of Canada lawyer Larry Ackerl to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton, replacing Justice R.S. Brown following his appointment to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

• Felesky Flynn’s Blair Dixon to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary. He replaces justice R.G. Stevens following his death in May.

• Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Cindy Bourgeois to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, replacing Justice L.L. Oland on June 22 when she became a supernumerary judge.

• Nova Scotia Provincial Court Justice Jamie Campbell to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, replacing Bourgeois.

• Quebec Superior Court Justice Mark Schrager to the Quebec Court of Appeal, replacing new Supreme Court of Canada Justice Clément Gascon.

• Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Francois Emond to the Quebec Court of Appeal, replacing Justice J.J. Lévesque following his move to supernumerary status in February.

• Quebec Crown prosecutor Michel Fortin to the Quebec Superior Court, replacing Emond.

• Lawyer Donald Layh to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, replacing Justice J.L.G. Pritchard after she moved to supernumerary status.

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

Ahead of the June 12 provincial election, more respondents said they’d be voting for the Liberals than any other party.

About 37 per cent of respondents said they’d vote Liberal while 32 supported the Progressive Conservatives and 14 per cent selected the NDP.
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Bennett Jones LLP says it has opened a new office in Vancouver as part of its “ongoing commitment to clients.”

“We are excited to add a Vancouver office to our platform,” says Bennett Jones chairman and chief executive officer Hugh MacKinnon.

“British Columbia is a strategic growth market and the Vancouver office will build on our commitment to serve our clients where they do business.”

In Canada, Bennett Jones has offices in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton. It also has lawyers in the Middle East and Washington.

“This latest expansion reflects the growing importance of Vancouver as a major Canadian business and energy centre,” the firm said in a release last week.

The Ontario Bar Association is honouring a slew of lawyers this month who have excelled in their practice areas.

Dentons Canada LLP partner Archie Rabinowitz received the OBA’s award for excellence in trusts and estates law, Barriston LLP lawyer Thomas Dart took the award for excellence in family law, and Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s John Goodwin got the nod for excellence in pensions and benefits law.

Meanwhile, lawyer Duncan Glaholt got the award of excellence in construction and infrastructure law and François Larocque of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law received the OBA honour for international law.

The OBA is also honouring William White of the City of Waterloo for excellence in municipal law and WeirFoulds LLP’s Lisa Borsook for her achievements in real estate law. Others, like Peter Israel of Israel Foulon LLP, got the nod for mentorship while Laura Russell of Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP is receiving the Ron Ellis award for her achievements in workers compensation law.

The various OBA sections are handing out the awards at events throughout June.

University of Ottawa Faculty of Law Prof. Joanne St. Lewis has won her three-year libel case against former colleague Denis Rancourt after he labelled her a “house negro.”

An Ottawa civil jury awarded her $350,000 in damages based on the harm to her reputation stemming from Rancourt’s use of the pejorative term in a 2011 blog.

The post on Rancourt’s blog carried the title: “Did Professor Joanne St. Lewis act as Allan Rock’s house negro?” In it, Rancourt took exception to St. Lewis’ criticism of a 2008 student-commissioned report that found the University of Ottawa guilty of systemic racism. At the time, Rock was serving as school president.

“The thing that was so stunningly problematic for me is that I was thinking this man is a stranger to me,” says Lewis, a law professor at the same university where Rancourt taught physics until it fired him in 2009. “He’s got an axe to grind with the university and he attacks me in a scatter gun.”

Rancourt says he intends to appeal the decision and sticks by his use of the term “house negro” that landed him in court.

“Everything I did, I did consciously and was a choice of language and content and context,” says Rancourt, who defended himself at the trial before eventually boycotting the proceedings after failing to have Justice Michel Charbonneau recuse himself.

“The political correctness sensitivity component of this is not relevant to defamation law as it applies in jurisprudence. Defamation law is about whether or not there is a defence for the expression that you made.”

Rancourt maintains he used the term in the same way that prominent black intellectuals such as Malcolm X have used it in the past.   

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

When it comes to the recent provincial election campaign, poll participants wanted to see legal aid funding at theforefront of justice issues considered by the parties.

In an election that had little to say about justice, about 30 per cent of poll respondents said they’d like to see legal aid on the agenda while 23 per cent said they wanted to see discussions around technological improvements at courthouses and 13 per cent said the leaders should have been talking about low-cost alternative justice programs.

Another eight per cent of participants said they wanted to hear about enhanced judicial resources and six per cent emphasized court infrastructure.

But at a time of austerity and in an election focused on budgets and cutbacks, another 13 per cent of poll participants said there’s no money to address any of these needs.
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The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association has chosen Steven Rastin as its new president for the 2014-15 year.

Rastin, who practises at Rastin & Associates PC in Barrie and Midland, Ont., replaces Charles Gluckstein in the role. “I am keenly looking forward to serving all OTLA members in the coming year as president, and working with my colleagues to promote better access to justice for all Ontarians,” said Rastin.

Rastin also noted the challenges facing personal injury lawyers. “There are many significant challenges that lie ahead, particularly with respect to auto insurance in Ontario. OTLA will be working with the newly elected government and all MPPs to ensure fair treatment for injured accident victims.”

Some 100 members of the justice sector met on June 3 to discuss collaboration among different groups to address access to justice concerns.

The meeting was the first of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s action group on access to justice, a forum meant to foster teamwork across the legal sector to make justice more accessible.

Representatives from the courts, government, academia, the bar, paralegal associations, and access to justice organizations attended the inaugural meeting and shared examples of potential actions.

“Ontarians need to be able to access their justice system in a timely fashion in ways that they can understand and at a price they can afford,” said Thomas Conway, treasurer of the law society.

“Expanding the law society’s role in improving access to justice has been my primary focus for the last two years. To launch [the action group], and see not only the law society’s commitment but the commitment of so many others to making [it] a success, is a tremendous end to my term as treasurer,” he added.

“Collaboration is the only way we will be able to make substantial and lasting change.”

Nine months after the retirement of justice Morris Fish, Canada’s highest court will finally have a full bench.

The federal government announced last week it would appoint Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Clément Gascon to the Supreme Court of Canada. At 54, he’ll be the youngest judge on the Supreme Court when he assumes the position on June 9.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin welcomed the appointment in a statement.

“Justice Gascon is a distinguished jurist,” wrote McLachlin. “He brings extensive expertise in the commercial and civil law of Quebec, as well as many years of experience as a judge. I look forward to his contributions to the court.”

After receiving a civil law degree from McGill University, Gascon worked as a civil and commercial litigator with the now-defunct Heenan Blaikie LLP.

He joined the Quebec Superior Court in 2002 and then became a judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2012.

McCarthy Tétrault LLP pension and benefits lawyer Randy Bauslaugh has been inducted into the Canadian Pension & Benefits Institute Hall of Fame, the law firm announced.

The hall of fame recognizes members who have made “a lasting impact” on the institute.

“Mr. Bauslaugh has been involved in many of the leading pension and benefit cases during his 30-year career,” McCarthys said in a statement announcing the honour.

“He routinely leads negotiations relating to pension and benefit issues, and acts as a mediator and arbitrator in pension-related labour disputes.” 

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

In a rather lopsided result, 95 per cent of participants feel Canada needs new laws restricting police disclosure of non-conviction records. The poll follows arecent report by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association that found “a patchwork” of laws across Canada on what should and shouldn’t turn up in records checks. The situation has resulted in disclosure of dropped charges, acquittals, mental-health apprehensions, and even casual contacts by police to employers and schools that require a background check, according to the report.
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A Superior Court judge has found a Toronto lawyer orchestrated a mortgage fraud that bilked a senior citizen out of $75,000 and has ordered him to pay damages including a $30,000 punitive award.

David Molson acted for both the lender and borrower in a mortgage transaction. The borrower, Dr. Leslie Toth, has admitted to being a party to the fraud but has since died, according to the ruling in Himel v. Molson on May 23.

“Mr. Molson was the architect and prime beneficiary of the fraud,” wrote Justice David Corbett.

Molson, who has a practice restriction listed on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s web site, has pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud and settled a mortgage fraud case with the Royal Bank of Canada for several million dollars, Corbett noted. He ordered Molson to pay $75,000 for the amount the lender lost along with the punitive damages and costs of $50,000.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has nominated assistant deputy attorney general Daniel Therrien as the next federal privacy commissioner.

A member of the Quebec bar since 1981, Therrien has held several senior federal legal roles throughout his career with his current position including the public safety, defence, and immigration portfolio. He’ll replace interim privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier, who has been in the role since December 2013. The nomination still requires approval of the House of Commons and the Senate.

“He is a well-qualified candidate who would bring significant expertise in law and privacy issues to the position,” said Harper.

Therrien’s nomination is a controversial one with critics pointing to his direct role in the government’s security policies as an impairment to his job as privacy commissioner.

Criminal charges that are eligible for legal aid certificates have gone down along with all criminal charges in Canada, according to Legal Aid Ontario.

“Criminal charges received in Ontario’s courts have decreased by 5.7 per cent over the past three years, and charges which were covered by LAO have decreased by 8.5 per cent,” LAO said in a recent analysis.

“Charges covered by certificates and duty counsel assists very closely follow the trends of the charges received in the Ontario Court of Justice. Total applications received have decreased by eight per cent compared to the same period last year.”

New refugee legislation has also decreased certificate applications by 50 to 60 per cent, according to LAO, but calls to its telephone service have increased as a result.

Since 2010, the number of assistance calls answered through LAO’s toll-free line has increased by 101 per cent, it noted in its update.

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

According to the poll, 75 per cent of respondents believe the Law Society of Upper Canada should find a way to report lawyers suspected of crimes to police.

The remaining participants felt there are too many legal barriers preventing the law society from reporting cases to police who have other ways of getting the information.

While critics feel the current system allows people to get away with crime, others say the law society can’t pass along the information it has gathered because while lawyers have the right to remain silent before the police, the same privilege doesn’t apply with law society investigations.   
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The County & District Law Presidents’ Association has announced Kenora, Ont., lawyer Cheryl Siran will be its next chairwoman.

Siran, called to the bar in 2006, is a litigator practising primarily in civil matters, construction liens, and family law. After joining Hook Seller & Lundin LLP in 2006, she became a partner in 2010.

“As a lawyer practising in a small, northern community, I will be particularly focused on the challenges facing lawyers in sole and small practice and particularly those in rural and remote communities,” said Siran.

“But I will also be seeking in my term to increase CDLPA’s presence and voice on a wide range of issues such as the future of legal aid, adequate judicial resources, and the future of legal education — all issues that cut across the entire province and impact lawyers everywhere. I’m excited to be taking over leadership of this great organization at this time.”

Siran succeeds outgoing chairwoman Janet Whitehead in the role. “She will make a great leader of our organization and continue to provide a strong voice in matters impacting the practising bar,” said Whitehead of Siran.

With few fully accredited Tamil interpreters in Ontario, Ryerson University has released a new English-Tamil legal glossary.

The glossary includes 700 concepts in English and Tamil and is available online for free through the web site of the department of languages, literatures, and cultures at Ryerson. “This online resource is the first step in ensuring that the Tamil community, as well as organizations and interpreters who work with the community, use standardized, commonly accepted terminology,” said Marco Fiola, chairman of the department.

In announcing the glossary, Ryerson noted the gaps in legal services for the fast-growing Tamil community. It pointed to a 2010 provincial government report that found there were only a few fully accredited court interpreters in certain languages, including Tamil. The glossary, then, will help interpreters better prepare themselves for their courtroom duties, according to Ryerson.

The Law Society of Upper Canada handed out its annual awards at a ceremony last week.

The recipients of the law society medal were Frank Bowman, Clare Lewis, Derry Millar, Sandra Stephenson, and William Trudell. The law society also awarded the Lincoln Alexander award to Nigel Gilby, the Laura Legge award to Susan Opler, and the law society distinguished paralegal award to Paula Stamp.

The ceremony took place last Wednesday at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.

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

According to the poll, 69 per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t take on Rob Ford as a client with the remaining participants saying they’d willingly represent the embattled Toronto mayor.

The poll follows a recent Law Times profile of Ford’s counsel, Dennis Morris. In the profile, colleagues noted Morris’ low-key approach despite having high-profile clients like Ford. In the criminal law bar, Morris has a reputation as an “exceptional negotiator” also known for his subtleties and his ability to keep things under the radar, according to Greg Lafontaine, who worked in an office next to Morris’ for several years.

“Dennis is a lawyer who is never really worried about capturing the limelight. It’s not as though he’s somebody who is involved with Mayor Ford because of a desire to get attention,” said Lafontaine.

Morris, of course, has had his hands full representing Ford, who took a temporary leave of absence recently following more video revelations of homophobic and sexist comments and alleged use of crack cocaine.   
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A Law Society of Upper Canada panel has denied a lawyer who surrendered his licence to practise law in 2006 the green light to re-enter the profession after finding he has yet to prove he’s now of good character.

Roy Anthony Dullege had a long disciplinary history that included repeatedly failing to keep books and records in addition to failing to attend court on behalf of his clients.

More recently, Dullege sought permission to practise once again after resigning in 2006. Although he said he had “a lot to give” as a lawyer, the law society panel found him ill-prepared to return to the legal profession.

In its May 7 decision, the panel said it was “struck by the fact that until a few months before this hearing, more than two years after the application was filed, the applicant took relatively few steps, from a medical and legal perspective, to prepare himself for a return to the profession and to support his assertion that he is a person of good character.”

The panel also noted Dullege had practised as a paralegal after his resignation as a lawyer. At the time, the law society had yet to begin regulating paralegals. Despite making money as a paralegal, he “did not consider paying back any of his clients to whom he owed money for services not performed prior to his resignation,” according to the panel.

Meanwhile, another panel has revoked the licence of former Department of Justice lawyer Simon Paul Barker. He admitted to using clients’ trust funds to pay down his own debt. Although Barker cited mental-health issues, the panel found there wasn’t a “confirmed” case of illness. A maritime lawyer and sole practitioner more recently, Barker had worked for the Justice Department from 1993-99.

The federal government has appointed Superior Court Justice James McNamara as regional senior judge of the east region.

McNamara replaces Justice Charles Hackland, who resigned his post effective May 8. McNamara had been serving as the local administrative judge in Ottawa.

Hackland has returned to the regular judicial roster in Ottawa to fill McNamara’s spot on the bench, according to the Department of Justice.

The Davenport Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre now offers legal services to low-income Ontarians by appointment.

New legal aid services offered at the centre include family law and immigration consultations, according to Legal Aid Ontario. LAO lawyers will also provide two-hour emergency domestic violence consultations and arrange no-fee mediation for eligible separating couples.

“The innovative partnership between [the centre] and LAO provides a unique opportunity for LAO to explore the delivery of legal services in a community health centre and to work holistically with the centre’s services, community programs, and the community at large to serve low-income clients,” LAO said in a news release.

Studies on access to justice have recommended making legal services available in community centres where low-income residents can seek other assistance, such as health care, for a more holistic approach to solving problems.

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

When it comes to the issues between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, the majority of respondents are decidedly on McLachlin’s side.

Almost 87 per cent said they support McLachlin after Harper suggested she inappropriately contacted him about Justice Marc Nadon’s appointment to the Supreme Court. McLachlin has maintained she didn’t advise against any appointments but only sought to flag a potential legal issue well before the government announced Nadon’s nomination last fall.
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Several members of the legal community were among those inducted into the Order of Canada in Ottawa last week.

The citation for new Order of Canada member Linda Silver Dranoff honours her as being “instrumental in advancing equality in Canadian family law. As a lawyer, she has argued many precedent-setting cases that have directly benefited women by recognizing marriage as a social and financial partnership. Notably, her lobbying efforts resulted in essential reforms to family law legislation, including equal sharing of all matrimonial property between spouses following a separation or death, and automatic cost-of-living adjustments in support payments.”

The ceremony took place last Wednesday at Rideau Hall. Gov. Gen. David Johnston bestowed the honour on 35 members and 10 officers.

Also honoured was Wesley Nicol, an Ottawa man named a member of the Order of Canada and described as a “self-made man, lawyer, and community developer” who has shared his wealth through his family foundation.

The honourees also included Shelagh Day, founding president of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and co-founder of the court challenges program, who becomes a member of the order.

For the first time in 10 years, the number of men who joined the Ontario bar exceeded the number of women in 2013, according to statistics released by the Law Society of Upper Canada as part of its annual report.

According to the report, 1,005 men were called to the bar last year compared to 989 women. Every year since 2003, the number of women who joined the Ontario bar had exceeded the number of men. A total of 1,994 new lawyers were called to the bar in 2013, the highest number in the last decade.

Meanwhile, women are still outnumbering men in becoming paralegals. They made up 67 per cent of the 1,344 paralegal applicants who got their licences last year. That’s also the highest number of admissions to the paralegal profession since the LSUC started regulating paralegals in 2009.

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

About 45 per cent of respondents believe the decisions by the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society not to accredit Trinity Western University’s law school will survive a legal challenge.

Another 42 per cent of participants suggested the law societies’ refusals to grant accreditation are wrong in law while the remaining 13 per cent were unsure as they felt the issues are very complex.

Last week, the university said it would be going to court in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia in regards to the law school.

“We feel the provincial law societies in Ontario and Nova Scotia have made decisions that are legally incorrect and, unfortunately, TWU is now being forced to re-litigate an issue that was decided in its favour by an 8 to 1 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001,” said Trinity Western president Bob Kuhn.

The school went on to suggest the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and Law Society of Upper Canada decisions against accrediting Trinity Western’s planned law faculty had set a “dangerous precedent.”

While Trinity Western has received approval from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and several other law societies, Trinity Western is also going to court to apply as a respondent in a B.C. action launched by Clayton Ruby against the B.C. minister of advanced education’s decision in favour of the law faculty.

The controversy, of course, relates to gay and lesbian rights at the law school set to open in 2016. The school’s community covenant includes a statement about abstaining from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
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A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel has disbarred a Toronto lawyer after finding he had concealed $1.4 million in assets from his creditors before his bankruptcy discharge.

According to the findings, Paul Robson failed to disclose his shares in one company and his “future interest” in another company while he was an undischarged bankrupt.

While Robson argued his conduct hadn’t affected his clients, the panel found he couldn’t remain a member of the legal profession.

“Although the lawyer is correct in his submission that his conduct did not affect any of his clients, it is important to note the serious impact of the conduct on the lawyer’s creditors,” wrote the panel chaired by Bencher ChristopherBredt.

“The effect of the lawyer’s conduct was that in excess of $1.4 million in assets was intentionally concealed from the creditors. Although the lawyer was ultimately ordered to repay the trustee the amounts concealed, there is no evidence before us that this was ever done.”

Joe Groia and the Law Society of Upper Canada remain at loggerheads as both sides are challenging an appeal panel ruling that was partly favourable to the Toronto lawyer in the long-running civility case.

The law society recently filed a cross-appeal at the Divisional Court seeking to reinstate the LSUC hearing panel’s earlier decisions that imposed a two-month suspension and a $250,000 costs order on Groia. It was in response to Groia’s appeal filed with the Divisional Court last month.

In its cross-appeal, the LSUC argues the hearing panel’s assessment in the case “was reasonable and entitled to deference before the hearing panel. The appeal panel erred in law by concluding that the reasons of the reviewing courts should be given only limited weight.”

It adds the hearing panel made no legal error in levying the two-month suspension and that the appeal panel erred in reducing the costs order.

For his part, Groia is seeking to dismiss the misconduct case against him related to incivility during his defence of Bre-X Minerals Ltd. geologist John Felderhof or, in the alternative, send the matter to a hearing before a different hearing panel. He’s also looking to quash the costs order, since reduced to $200,000 by the appeal panel, as well as the one-month suspension it ordered.

“The appeal panel’s decision endorses the LSUC’s unprecedented and dangerous disciplinary proceedings against the lawyer,” states the Divisional Court notice of appeal filed by Groia’s counsel, Earl Cherniak and Jasmine Akbarali of Lerners LLP.

Legal Aid Ontario is asking for lawyers’ feedback on a pilot project designed to manage conflict of interest issues in family law cases.

After consultations with the Law Society of Upper Canada, LAO launched a program that would inform LAO clients that staff who represent them may be assisting their opponents as well. Under the pilot project, staff would seek clients’ consent to provide services when such circumstances arose.

LAO says it met with LSUC representatives to discuss modifying the conflict management project and is now seeking feedback on the program.

Lawyers can send comments or questions about the program to Roderick Bennett at

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

According to the poll, 58 per cent of respondents disagree with the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold a ruling that found Métis people to be Indians under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act.

In Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development) v. Daniels, the appeal court restated the Federal Court’s earlier decision to declare: “Métis are included as ‘Indians’ within the meaning of section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867.”

Construction on a new courthouse in Thunder Bay, Ont., is now complete.

The courthouse, which brings together all court services in the region under one roof between Brodie and Archibald streets, is fully operational.

The design of the building reflects Thunder Bay’s natural environment and aboriginal elements, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General.

“The Thunder Bay courthouse is another example of our commitment to building courthouses that meet the highest standards for accessibility, sustainability, security, and technology, including an aboriginal conference settlement suite, the first of its kind in Ontario,” said Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur.       
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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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    Access to Justice The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) strives to inform the public on the importance of the people having access to legal resources and…
  • Legal Aid lawyers rally for collective bargaining rights
    Legal Aid lawyers rally for collective bargaining rights Legal Aid Ontario lawyers held three protests in July to push the provincial government to support their attempts to unionize. The lawyers have been in…
  • Jane-Finch community gets employment law help
    Jane-Finch community gets employment law help Osgoode Hall Law School's Community Legal Aid Services Programme recently opened an employment law division for Toronto's Jane-Finch community.Phanath Im, review counsel for the division,…
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Law Times poll

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