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Open a File for Pro Bono Matters Too

This post is by Nora Rock, corporate writer and policy analyst at LAWPRO

Pro bono work is something nearly every lawyer does occasionally. Here’s one practical tip for avoiding some pro bono pitfalls: open a file for every matter you handle.

By “open a file”, we mean treat the work like you would any other work. Run a conflicts check; diarize deadlines; document the client’s instructions, your advice and the steps you take; and docket your time (even if you won’t bill it).

Treating an “off-books” matter like any other case makes it less likely that you will skip steps, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Why Do Lawyers Resist Ethical Rules Requiring Competence With Technology?

Recently, the Virginia State Bar Council voted to adopt changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The changes were based on the American Bar Association’s modifications to the Comments of Rule 1.1 respecting Competence (“…a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with technology…”) and Rule 1.6 respecting Confidentiality (“(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the unintended disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”)

What’s reasonable? The Comments go on to list relevant factors:

  1. the sensitivity of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Monday’s Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from seventy recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog  2. FamilyLLB 3. SOQUIJ  4. Canadian Class Actions Monitor  5. Law of Work

University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog
Obama JAMA

Nope that is not the title of a new hit single jingle, but rather an allusion to the fact that . . . [more]

Posted in: Monday’s Mix

Prioritizing Racial Diversity in Judicial Appointments

Diversity matters. Not just for the optics of it, or because it’s the right thing to do.

Having diversity at the heads of our social institutions, especially our judiciary, actually helps them do a better job. Diverse experiences, as a Canadian and as a lawyer, provide unique insights that other judges simply do not have. If you dispute that notion, it’s better saved for another day.

Today we’re dealing with a government that has made a commitment to diversity in the judiciary. The problem is that those commitments already appear contradictory.

Although the lack of racial diversity in Canada . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

FAMILLE : Le père ne peut, dans son propre dossier de divorce avec la mère, exiger l’intervention de l’intimé, qui a été marié à cette dernière et qui aurait agi in loco parentis auprès de l’enfant adopté par les parties, pour diminuer ou annuler sa propre obligation alimentaire envers son . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

The Influence of Quebec Case Law in the ROC: The Situation and Stakes of the Translation of Judgments

Last fall, Leader of the Bar and former Chief Justice of Quebec, Mtre Michel Robert, gave a lecture on the language of judgments. His remarks were reported in the February 2016 edition of the Journal du Barreau. Upset about the lack of visibility of Quebec case law outside this province, Mtre Robert claimed that the reputations of the Quebec Court of Appeal and Superior Court suffer disastrously because their judgments are not translated.

I think these remarks deserve a closer look, one that takes into account the joint effort of the Quebec judiciary and SOQUIJ to promote Quebec case . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing

Law Library of Congress Report on Miranda Warning Equivalents Around the World

The Law Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. published a report a little while ago about Miranda Warning Equivalents in more than 100 countries around the world, including Canada.

In the United States, so-called Miranda rights are named after the US Supreme Court decision of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966) that determined that a person detained by law enforcement and interrogated must be made aware of the right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney and have the attorney present during questioning, and the right to have an attorney appointed if they can’t afford one. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Access to Justice? Yes in My Back Yard.

The past few months have seen some inspiring firsts for access to justice in Ontario. Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) launched the Ontario Access to Justice Challenge with support from the Ministry of the Attorney General. The challenge brings an entrepreneurial approach to access to justice improvements by offering seed funding to six start-up companies that “are building products and solutions that challenge the status quo of legal services” in Ontario. It’s exciting to think about this new terrain of “start-up justice” and encouraging to see government take such a proactive role in its advancement.

Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Rio Olympics Social Media Guidelines

It seems that dubbing major sporting events the “largest social media event ever” is even trendier than the social networking platforms themselves, and Rio 2016 is no exception. All hype aside, the Rio Olympics haven’t reinvented the wheel, and seem to impose similar restrictions as their predecessors.

The IOC describes appropriate uses and prohibitions in their Social and Digital Media Guidelines. All accredited individuals (athletes, coaches, and officials) who are not accredited as media are allowed to “share their experience at the Games through internet or any other type of social and digital media, provided that it . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Wagg Motions: Is There a Better Way?

In 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal released the decision D.P. v Wagg, 2004 CanLII 39048 (Wagg). And with it birthed an entirely new bureaucracy devoted to Wagg motions.

In Wagg, the defendant was charged criminally for sexually assaulting his gynecological patient, referred to as D.P. D.P. then sued her doctor civilly for sexual assault. In the civil proceeding, D.P. wanted the defendant to disclose the contents of the Crown Brief, which was produced to him in the criminal action. The defendant refused to produce the Crown Brief to her. The plaintiff then brought a motion . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., 2016 SCC 29

[1] At common law, a non-unionized employee could be dismissed without reasons if he or she was given reasonable notice or pay in lieu. The issue in this appeal is whether Parliament’s intention behind amendments to the Canada Labour Code[1] in 1978 was to offer an alternative statutory scheme consisting of . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

‘On Progresse’ in Tunesia

Avenue Bourghiba was closed off. A statute of the founding president of Tunisia on horseback was being reinstated in the square. The current President Essebsi was going to inaugurate it in two days. The taxi dropped me off as close as he could get. Hotel Africa is a high seventies hotel with large wooden panels, brown carpets, and huge chandeliers. As I made my way, urban Tunisia walked by and ordered drinks on the terraces: hip youngsters, women with blond hair, women with headscarves, families, groups of boys, and groups of older men.

Kalthoum picked me up later and we . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law