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$30K PUNITIVE DAMAGES AWARD AGAINST LAWYER
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.

HARPER NOMINATES NEXT PRIVACY COMMISSIONER
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.

LEGAL AID TRENDS
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.

POLL RESULTS
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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KENORA LAWYER TO LEAD CDLPA
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.

NEW TAMIL LEGAL GLOSSARY PUBLISHED
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.

LSUC AWARDS HANDED OUT
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.

POLL RESULTS
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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EX-LAWYER DENIED RE-ENTRY TO PROFESSION
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.

HACKLAND RESIGNS AS REGIONAL SENIOR JUDGE
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.

COMMUNITY CENTRE TO OFFER LEGAL SERVICES
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.

POLL RESULTS
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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LAWYERS INDUCTED TO ORDER
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.

MORE MEN JOINING ONTARIO BAR
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.

POLL RESULTS
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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LAWYER DISBARRED FOR HIDING ASSETS
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.”

GROIA APPEAL, CROSS-APPEAL FILED
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.

LAO SEEKING FEEDBACK
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 bennetr@lao.on.ca.

POLL RESULTS
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.”

NEW THUNDER BAY COURTHOUSE OPENS
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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CONCERT FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
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.

MCMILLAN LAWYER JOINS OSLERS
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.”

STUDY QUESTIONS CY-PRÈS AWARDS
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.

LCO REPORTS AVAILABLE IN FRENCH
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.

Jurisource.ca 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.   

POLL RESULTS
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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FEDERAL JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED
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.

DAILY COURT INFO PUBLISHED ONLINE
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 ontariocourtdates.ca.

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.”


OHRC RELEASES NEW POLICY ON TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
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.

POLL RESULTS
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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10 JUDGES NAMED TO ONTARIO COURT
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.

BLAKES TOPS BRAND INDEX
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.”

HEENAN LITIGATOR JOINS LERNERS
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.”

POLL RESULTS
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.     

NEW IP FIRM OPENS
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.”
 
OTTAWA PROF JOINS CIGI
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.”
 
LAWYER ORDERED TO SURRENDER LICENCE
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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GROIA COST AWARD REDUCED
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 INDUCTED TO IP HALL OF FAME
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 ELECTED TO CONVOCATION
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.

DIVERSITY EVENT SET FOR MAY
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.

POLL RESULTS
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.

NEW STUDENT COALITION FORMED
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.
 
NEW PARTNERS AT NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT
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 LAWYERS DISBARRED
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.   

POLL RESULTS
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.

NEW REGIONAL SENIOR JUDGE
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.
 
LAKEHEAD LAW NEWSPAPER LAUNCHED
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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ELGIN COUNTY COURTHOUSE TO OPEN
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.

LAO TARIFF TO RISE
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.

JAMES MORTON JOINS COOLEY BOARD
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.”

POLL RESULTS
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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LEGAL TECH COURSE LAUNCHED
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.

TWO LAWYERS NAMED TO SUPERIOR COURT
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.

NEW LEGAL AID STATS
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.

POLL RESULTS
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.

LAWYER ORDERED TO SURRENDER LICENCE
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.

HEENAN BLAIKIE ENERGY LAWYERS JOIN GOWLINGS
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.”
 
NEW LAWYER AT CASSELS BROCK
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 NAMES 21 JPS, NEW JUDGE
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 SCC LAWYER MOVES TO GOWLINGS
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.”

SUMMIT JOINS ONTARIO, N.Y. LAWYERS
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.

CLASS SETTLEMENT REJECTED
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.

SIX DENTONS LAWYERS JOIN CASSELS BROCK
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.”
 
POLL RESULTS
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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NEW CHAIRMAN AT MILLER THOMSON
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.”
 
PROF HONOURED FOR LEGAL WRITING
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.

CLASS ACTION TRIO JOINS MCKENZIE LAKE
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.

POLL RESULTS
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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CCLA GETS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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.

EX-HEYDARY LAWYER JOINS NEW FIRM
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."



LAO LAUNCHES FAMILY MEDIATION PILOT
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 FACULTY SPEAK OUT ON TWU
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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BOB RAE JOINS ABORIGINAL LAW FIRM
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.”

LAW FIRMS MAKE 2014 BEST DIVERSITY EMPLOYER LIST
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.”

LSUC DISBARS LINE
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.

LAW TIMES POLL

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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NEW SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES APPOINTED
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.

LAWYER’S COST APPEAL ALLOWED IN PART
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."



COURT UPHOLDS LAWYER’S DISBARMENT
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."

FIRMS TAKING ON HEENAN BLAIKIE PARTNERS
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.

NEW COUNSEL AT DICKINSON WRIGHT
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.
 
POLL RESULTS
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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RONALD DIMOCK JOINS JAMS
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.”

BLAKES ANNOUNCES 11 NEW PARTNERS
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).

LAWYERS APPOINTED TO ORDER OF ONTARIO
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.”

POLL RESULTS
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 Law Times columnist says criminal law is out of step and argues there should be an immediate moratorium on HIV non-disclosure prosecutions, unless there is alleged intentional transmission. Do you agree?
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