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Archive for November, 2011

Legislators Have Too Many Control Issues

The trend to more invasive surveillance and control by North American governments (indeed, by many countries that we consider civilized democracies), or their granting of too much control to others is disturbing. Too many things are making creeping (and sometimes creepy) inroads into privacy rights, along with the usual specious “if you’ve got nothing to hide… ” argument. Too many things are tending towards shoot first, ask questions later. And governments are too eager to look to ISP’s and others who run the internet pipes to control what flows through.

Some examples:

The proposed US SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

In Praise of Bibliographies

In the not too distant past law librarians were valued for their knowledge of “legal bibliography”. Great librarians who built the collections of law schools libraries across Canada were experts in knowing what had been published across jurisdictions and legal topics. With the explosion of print and online legal publishing a knowledge of bibliography gave way to the need to know and understanding how to find relevant information when needed.

Still, the art of knowing the literature on a topic and organising and making that literature available to users both expert and novice is still an important (if perhaps somewhat . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

New Ethics Opinion on Cloud Computing From the Pennsylvania Bar

The Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Committee On Legal Ethics And Professional Responsibility has just released Formal Opinion 2011-200, Ethical Obligations For Attorneys Using Cloud Computing/Software As A Service While Fulfilling The Duties Of Confidentiality And Preservation Of Client Property

As the PA Bar keeps its Ethics Opinions behind a member wall, I’ve attached a copy of it to this post. One of the Committee members has told me I am free to distribute it.

This Opinion indicates that lawyers may ethically allow client confidential material to be stored in “the cloud” provided the lawyer takes reasonable care to assure that (1) . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Reading: Recommended

Bill C-12 and “Lawful Authority” Under PIPEDA

by Philippa Lawson*

Those following the development of Canadian privacy law have long awaited amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”), some of which are proposed in Bill C-12. This rather long post addresses just one of these amendments: the proposed new definition of “lawful authority”.

Under PIPEDA, telecom service providers (“TSPs”) are permitted to disclose “personal information” (which includes name, address, and any other information about an identifiable individual) without the knowledge or consent of the individual only in certain specified circumstances. One of those circumstances is if the disclosure is “made to a . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology

The Initial Prospect Meeting

Lawyers know best. It must be true otherwise they wouldn’t always be asking for marketing material to give to a prospect prior to the first meeting.

Marketing people are regularly requested to put together a “package” for a lawyer who is meeting with a potential client for the first time. They want to include information on the firm, practice area(s), other team members, and of course their bio. The problem is that all that information is readily available on the firms’ website and the prospect likely would not have even taken the meeting if they had not already looked up . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Caesar Declines Jurisdiction

Hart v. Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of the Diocese of Kingston, in Canada, 2011 ONCA 728

[1] The appellant, Father Hart, is an ordained Roman Catholic priest. In 2004, the respondent … appointed Father Hart pastor to a church … for a renewable six-year term.

[2] In 2006, the Archdiocese became concerned about Father Hart’s business relationship with …. and about irregularities in parish finances. The Archdiocese proceeded to issue three decrees to Father Hart. In July 2006, it placed him on administrative leave. In May 2007, it suspended his faculties to exercise sacramental ministry. Then in June 2008, . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

What Is on the Agenda

I like to know what is going on, especially in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

If you like to know what is going on in an assembly or in parliament, look to the Order Paper. The Order Paper is the complete and authoritative agenda for the legislature.

See this for a summary of the Order Paper and Notice Paper documents in the federal parliament. It gives a good overview of what type of information you can expect to find on an Order Paper.

In Alberta, order papers are stored as Assembly Documents and Records. Ontario organizes them . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

What’s Hot on CanLII This Week

Here are the three most-consulted English-language cases on CanLII for the week of November 14 – 21.

1. Association of Justice Counsel v. Canada (Attorney General) 2011 ONSC 6435

[1] Much has been and will continue to be written about the constitutionality of the Expenditure Relief Act (the “ERA”).[1] This application involves a challenge by the Association of Justice Counsel (the “AJC”). It was initiated because the ERA impedes efforts by lawyers in the federal public service to address long existing concerns about salary.

2. Bedford v. Canada 2010 ONSC 4264

[538] I find that the danger faced

. . . [more]
Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

When Children Work

Last week, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrinch made a comment during an appearance at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Business that was picked up by the media: “child laws […] are truly stupid”. Speaking about poverty and inequality in American society, Mr. Gingrich explained that he favoured easing labour laws that prevented teens from working.

Requiring children to go to school until a certain age, limiting the number of hours they can work each day and the age at which they can start working are generally believed to be valuable from a social and moral standpoint. It may be easy . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

What GI Joe Taught Me About Access to Justice

Back in the 80’s – well before the availability of such innovative distractions and time wasters as the internet, Netflix, DisneyXD or PVRs – the late afternoon viewing options for pre-teen couch-potatoes were pretty sparse. Worse still, most of what was available often tried to impart important life lessons to impressionable young minds. Anyone remember the ABC After School Specials?

Some of those lessons must have stuck, because I can no longer hear someone say “now I know” (or some such) without reflexively adding the GI Joe inspired response: “and knowing is half the battle!”

So it . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Surviving a Disaster: A Lawyer’s Guide to Disaster Planning

We all like to avoid thinking about bad things like earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. We also tend to avoid thinking about other things that might impact on our personal and professional lives. However, major and minor disasters abound, are a fact of life, and will occur whether we like it or not, due to natural causes or by human error or malicious actions.

And while major natural disasters are typically the ones that get the most attention and headlines, even minor disasters – a burst pipe in the server room or the sudden and unexpected departure of a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

North Carolina Revisits Cloud Computing Ethics Opinion

The North Carolina State Bar has revisited its proposed Formal Ethics Opinion (FEO) on cloud computing and addressed many of the concerns the legal cloud computing community had previously expressed.

The main point of concern with the previous opinion was a list of minimum mandatory requirements that an attorney had to ensure was met by their cloud computing provider. In an open letter to the NC State Bar, the Legal Cloud Computing Association outlined its concerns with the proposed FEO; prominent bloggers such as Carolyn Elefant, Stephanie Kimbro, Erik Mazzone and Niki Black also outlined their concerns about . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology