Canada’s online legal magazine.

Criticizing Judges in a Trump Era

What does ethical criticism of a judge or judgment require? Or, to put it slightly differently, on what basis might we say that a criticism of a judge or judgment is improper?

Recent comments by Donald Trump make this question seem straightforward. The President’s tweets were clearly inappropriate. It is not acceptable for the President to refer to a Federal Court trial judge as a “so-called judge”, to describe the judge’s decision as terrible (Feb 4), to call a Federal Appeals Court judgment a “disgraceful decision” (February 10) and, most chillingly, to say “Just cannot believe a judge would put . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Partisan Political Arguments in the Workplace

The U.S. 2016 presidential election and post-election is causing much debate, criticism, and protest outside of America. Canadians have actively participated in public marches and protests in response to Trump’s comments and proposed policies, as well as the recent U.S. ban on entry to that country from certain Muslim nations. According to a recent CNN/ORC poll, more than eight-in-10 Americans have said that the U.S. was more deeply divided on major issues in 2016 than in the past several years.

With this in mind, we need to ask where does political talk fit in the workplace? Or more importantly, . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

#HackJustice

In his February 3rd, 2017, Slaw article entitled “Build, Baby Build”, Colin Lachance describes his experience of having individuals share with and seek his advice on building some “app/service/tool that could very well make a valuable contribution to public or professional engagement with legal information or the legal system.” Having come from a law and technology background, I have had the same experience. Often times the questions from aspiring legal tech entrepreneurs center on struggling to understand how or where to begin. I have found that this leads some to overthink things and to not get going. I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Thursday Thinkpiece: Crawford on Fake News in Canada

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

Fake News Now Legal in Canada! (Not so fast…)

© 2017 by Michael G. Crawford. Reprinted with permission

Michael G. Crawford, LL.B. is a recognized expert in media law, with more than 25 years’ experience as a broadcast and print journalist. He is the author of The Journalist’s Legal Guide, now . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Five More Questions About Digital Copyright Law

In my first post on Slaw last summer, I highlighted 5 questions that face digital copyright law. There are of course many unanswered questions in this remarkably dynamic area of the law. Below I discuss 5 more issues that are elaborated upon in my Digital Copyright Law book:

1. What is a copy in the digital age?

The copy concept in copyright law was simple before the internet. An author received compensation for copies purchased by consumers. Digital technologies, which are copy dependent for the production and transmission of content has created new kinds of copies. These are “technical copies” . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

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. Adam v. Canada (Environment), 2011 FC 962

[35] Considering all of the foregoing, and keeping in mind that “[i]nterpretations of treaties and statutory provisions which have an impact upon treaty or aboriginal rights must be approached in a manner which maintains the integrity of the Crown” (Badger, above), the Minister clearly erred in reaching his decision by failing to take into . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Tweaking Mediation

Civil justice resources should be deployed so that there is a gravity-assisted, downhill run to the courtroom where disputes will promptly be judicially determined, if mediation fails. Unless the parties decide otherwise, failed mediation and the judicial determination step should be linked.

There can be no doubt that promotion of the settlement of civil disputes through mediation, is a wise policy. But it must not effectively be the final step in the civil justice process.

If parties are at the point of emotional and financial exhaustion by the time they reach mediation, it will not be practical for them to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Dismantling the Roadblocks to Judicial Diversity

Over a century ago, without his knowing it, legendary jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes spawned the case for judicial diversity in ten words: “the life of the law is not logic, but experience.” Bursting from these words is a truth we have known all along. Legal issues often pose uneasy choices. In choosing whose stories to believe and which principles to prioritize, a judge draws on not only legal precedents, but also personal experiences, values and beliefs.

However they might try, judges cannot shed their experiences and values at the courtroom door. Justice Bernd Zabel brought the point home when he . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Tips Tuesday

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on research, writing, and practice.

Research & Writing

And/or, And, Or
Neil Guthrie

And/or: The construction and/or is criticised by grammarians, prose stylists and many legal drafters (both contractual and statutory). There are good reasons for this. H.W. Fowler called and/or an ‘ugly device’….

Practice

7 Social Media Tips for 2017
Andrea Cannavina

Today’s tip is simply to share some basic reminders for making the most of your social media this coming year. 1. There . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Machines Regulating Humans: The Q&A

This is a follow up to my previous post on Benjamin Alarie’s talk about the potential of using machine learning to regulate human activity. The presentation was followed by a great question and answer period and I thought I’d share my notes with you.

Q. When you say you are achieving 90% accuracy in evaluating tests like whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor, what are you using determine that the outcome is correct?

Alarie: use what the courts say to check whether the algorithm is right; train the algorithm using 70% of the data then use . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Reduce Communication-Related Claims by Understanding Cognitive Bias

This article is by Ian Hu, claims prevention and practicePRO counsel at LAWPRO.

Understanding cognitive biases can help reduce communication-related claims, which are the biggest source of malpractice claims. While many cognitive biases are dealt with by following some common sense principles, others are not as obvious. From anchoring effect to decision fatigue, knowing how your client makes decisions can help you build rapport with your clients, effectively give recommendations, and help ensure you and your client are on the same page.

1. Let your clients make a good decision –decision fatigue

Decision fatigue has perhaps the highest profile of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Reading: Recommended

The Future of Law and “Intelligent” Technologies: Prophecies, Technologies and Opportunities – Part 2

In the first part of this blog post, we looked at the current benefits we are enjoying from technologies resulting from AI research. We also examined some risks accruing when AI approaches are deployed in legal activities where transparency and justifications are required. In the following lines, we will borrow from a recent study made of the impacts of AI on lawyers employment. We will also try to enumerate potential benefits of AI technologies in our own line of business, legal publishing.

In “Can Robots be Lawyers?” (forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, (Spring 2017), currently . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Legal Technology