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With high stakes in the Law Society of Upper Canada’s conversation about alternative business structures, Ontario solicitors are looking to boost their voice in the upcoming bencher elections given that there are just a handful of them on the regulator’s governing body.
Monday, 22 September 2014 08:00

Unrepresented litigants make plea for compassion

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In a frank open letter directed at the judiciary, self-represented litigants say they’re sick of being treated as “annoying obstacles unworthy of compassion and understanding” when they stand before the courts.
Monday, 22 September 2014 08:00

Editorial: B.C.’s labour relations example

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One of the remarkable things about the recent B.C. teachers’ strike was that it happened it all.
“Judicial resources must be husbanded to ensure that the courts function properly and that litigants have access to a justice system that meets the highest possible standards.”
Monday, 22 September 2014 08:00

Bar shocked at ‘unprecedented’ recusal

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In a move some lawyers are calling unprecedented, Tax Court of Canada Justice Patrick Boyle has recused himself from completing further proceedings in a case after finding appeal materials filed in the matter had accused him of “deceitful and untruthful conduct.”
Monday, 22 September 2014 08:00

Focus: 3-D printing an emerging issue for IP lawyers

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For a long time, 3-D printing seemed like the stuff of science fiction. But the technology has progressed so far that anyone in Toronto with a library card can now rent one out.
TUITION-RELIEF PROJECT PLANNED
Osgoode Hall Law School says it will launch a five-year pilot program that will allow law students to defer tuition payments until they’ve graduated and their income allows them to repay the debt.

“If their income never reaches that point, the loan will be completely forgiven,” according to a news release from Osgoode.

The offer, called an income-contingent loan pilot program, will start in 2015. The school has yet to work out key aspects of the program such as eligibility and selection criteria.

“This program will provide an entirely new way to access legal education, and when combined with bursaries, scholarships, and graduation awards, will advance our goal that every admitted student should be able to obtain legal education at Osgoode regardless of financial means,” said Osgoode dean Lorne Sossin.

Sossin said the pilot program would receive $1 million in initial funding. Over the five-year period, Osgoode will assess the program to see if it’s furthering accessibility and inclusion.

But not everyone has been quick to celebrate the news. A blog post on the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s web site, written by Brandon Sloan, says students who earn lower incomes in the future due to wage discrimination could ultimately end up paying more for their education.

“The Equal Pay Coalition places the average wage gap for women in Ontario at 31.5 per cent — a number that will in fact be even higher for aboriginal or racialized women. Sometimes referred to as the feminization of debt, gendered and racialized pay inequities in Ontario’s labour market can result in women and racialized students being saddled with significant debt loads for longer periods than their male counterparts, as they will require lengthier repayment periods to pay off an [income-contingent loan] given their lower wages,” wrote Sloan.

“As a student’s repayment period drags on, so does the interest that student will pay on their loan, meaning that those students earning the lowest wages will in fact pay more for their education than those who are not disadvantaged by wage inequities.”

CLIFFORD HART JOINS BLG
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP says labour and employment lawyer Clifford Hart has joined its Toronto office as a partner.

The former Miller Thomson LLP lawyer brings more than 20 years of experience in his field, said BLG, calling Hart “a heavyweight” with “experience in a myriad of industries.”

“We have made significant strategic moves to build Canada’s best labour and employment team and adding Cliff is another important, timely step, particularly for our unionized clients,” said Matthew Certosimo, partner and national leader of labour and employment law at BLG.

NEW FELLOWS AT CIGI
The Centre for International Governance Innovation has announced the appointment of two new research fellows.

A new senior research fellow with the think-tank’s international law research program, environmental law practitioner David Estrin of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP looks at the effectiveness of international environmental law regimes, including in areas such as the governance and regulation of the extractive and energy sector. He’ll work with the think-tank on a part-time basis before taking a full-time role in Waterloo, Ont., in May.

Also appointed was Bassem Awad as a research fellow.

“Bassem’s expertise in international intellectual property law and international trade law will contribute significantly to CIGI’s focus on innovation, global governance, and international law,” said Oonagh Fitzgerald, director of the think-tank’s international law research program.

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

The right to sue in the personal injury field is always controversial, and in the latest poll the majority of respondents took issue with the Ontario government's plan to remove the right to sue auto insurers for accident benefits under bill 15.

In July, Finance Minister Charles Sousa introduced bill 15, the fighting fraud and reducing automobile insurance rates act. If passed, the bill would eliminate the right to sue an insurer for accident benefits through the Ontario Superior Court. Such disputes would instead go to the Licence Appeal Tribunal, a move the government says will promote efficiency and resolve matters faster.

But for 58 per cent of those who responded to the Law Times poll, forcing people to launch separate accident-benefits and tort proceedings will complicate the system.

Monday, 15 September 2014 09:00

Unfilled vacancies threatening court progress

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Despite progress on reducing wait times for civil motions, a lag in filling judicial vacancies at the Ontario Superior Court is a growing concern for the justice system, Chief Justice Heather Smith said last week.
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Law Times poll

Should solicitors have a dedicated number of benchers at the Law Society of Upper Canada
Yes, it's the only way to ensure adequate representation.
No, the current balance with barristers isn't a problem.