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The disciplinary case of Viktor Hohots, a lawyer suspended last week for failure to adequately serve his clients, reveals the need for “massive reform” in the way lawyers represent refugee claimants, says constitutional lawyer Mary Eberts.
Monday, 18 May 2015 08:00

Lessons from the Nortel case

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One of the lawyers involved in the Nortel Networks Corp. proceedings says the biggest lesson to take away from the difficult cross-border trial is the need for an international insolvency adjudication forum.
While lawyers have chosen 40 new or re-elected benchers to govern the profession, an embarrassingly low number of them — just 34 per cent of eligible voters — cast ballots in the recent election.
On May 8, the University of Alberta’s China Institute held its fifth annual national forum in Toronto. The daylong conference focused on the topic of inbound Chinese investments amid the current context of a slowing Chinese economy and lower energy prices.
Monday, 18 May 2015 08:00

Bid to force articling positions shot down

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Members of the legal profession shot down a motion that proposed forcing law firms to take articling students at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s annual general meeting last week.
With attendant-care benefits limited since Feb. 1, 2014, to the amount of a family member’s actual economic loss, families have been struggling to care for their relatives under the new regime as their advocates look for ways to help them find any tool available to provide assistance.
TWO CROWNS APPOINTED TO ONTARIO COURT BENCH
Former Crown attorney Julie Bourgeois will take her place as a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice this week.

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

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

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

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

NEW LAO CRITERIA FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS
Legal Aid Ontario says it’s raising its legal aid eligibility threshold to allow victims of domestic violence to receive family law help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The issue quickly became a key concern during the recent bencher elections with groups like the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association identifying a list of candidates against alternative business structures and encouraging members to vote for them.
A Hamilton, Ont., lawyer says he’s considering suing for defamation after allegations that he has links to extremist groups led to his suspension from a national security roundtable.
As the Ontario Court of Appeal made a strong statement about language rights by awarding costs against the Crown, the provincial government is getting ready to launch a pilot project to address the issue of French-language services in the justice system.
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Law Times poll

Should it be easier for Crown prosecutors to run for political office?
¥es, the government has had inconsistent positions on the issue.
No, there are sensitivies the government must consider.