Canada’s online legal magazine.
CPAC Beyond Politics
Osgoode Professional LLM

Archive for March, 2012

Memos vs Papers

In honour of law student week I am sharing some advice for students on the differences between writing in law school and writing at a law firm. First let me remind you that I am not a lawyer. My experience in this area comes from being surrounded by legal writing – in the sources that I am responsible for evaluating and collecting in my library, in work product I assist with, read, and have responsibility for retaining for future use, in my email, on the web. I also have responsibility for training articling students in legal research and writing.

There . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Pimps, Brothels and Hookers, Oh My!

The Ontario Court of Appeal released its much anticipated judgment on the legality of Canada’s prostitution laws yesterday in the decision of R. v. Bedford.

Predicated on the rights of sex workers to ply their trade in an environment that does not jeopardize their constitutional right to security of the person, the case succeeded in overturning two of the three central pillars of the Criminal Code’s anti-prostitution sections.

Provisions prohibiting “common bawdy houses” (what non-lawyers might more commonly refer to politely as brothels) have been declared unconstitutional with the government being granted a one-year reprieve to try its hand . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Is This the Job You Want?

by Wendy L. Werner / Excerpted from LAWPRO Magazine, Student Issue #1, 2012

On the face of it, interviewing should not be all that difficult – particularly for lawyers. As members of a profession who primarily make their living either writing or speaking, the idea that having a conversation about your interests and abilities in your own profession sounds both logical and easy.

But throw the words “job interview” into the mix and a whole new paradigm emerges. With seemingly so much at stake, job interviews take on a new meaning for people who ordinarily would not shy away from . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Court: Times Are Tough, but Don’t Sue Your Law School

Back in January, I wrote about a class action that had been filed in New York by former law students claiming they had, in a sense, been duped with regard to post-graduation job prospects (see here). These law students sought over $200 million in damages. Last week, the New York Supreme Court dismissed the action (see here).

Justice Schweitzer wrote that students considering going to law school are “a sophisticated subset of education consumers, capable of sifting through data and weighing alternatives before making a decision regarding their postcollege options.” Moreover, Justice Schweitzer recognized that times were tough; . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

In Search of Ethics in to Kill a Mockingbird: Understanding Race and Justice in Maycomb

by Marlon Simmons

On the night of August 21st 1931, the town of Maycomb stood still. In the segregated court of the small Alabama town, an all white male jury tried an African-American man by the name of Tom Robinson. Represented by a white lawyer Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson was found guilty of raping a white woman and was later shot to death after he allegedly attempted to flee. The trial unfolded in a gripping way in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.

The film gives us an epoch entrenched in bigotry and institutionalized racism. At the surface level . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Hide and Seek – a New Paradigm for Finding Official Documents?

The web makes so much information available that we sometimes forget that there are still many hidden archives and collections that are not immediately accessible by way of a simple Google search.

One example is the pages created by government departments that house reports, policy papers and the gamut of related materials that are collected by the departments to keep the public informed, and which are often commissioned to inform the government of issues and concerns that may form part of policy. One of our academics was concerned recently when she went to the Department of Justice website to locate . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Hope for the Future: Roots & Shoots

I’m working on the road most of this week, and am currently in Sudbury . I had the good fortune last night of seeing Dr. Jane Goodall at Laurentian University. She presented her 2010 documentary Jane’s Journey and then answered questions from the audience (you can see the trailer here). I have always thought of Dr. Goodall in terms of her work studying chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. However, there is so much more to her work.

As the documentary explains, at a certain point she realized the chimpanzees she was studying were declining in . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

W(h)ither Articling ?

Given that it is Law Student Week at SLAW, I thought it appropriate to dedicate this post to the OBA’s recent recommendations to the LSUC Task Force on the future of articling.

Scrutiny of all professional entry-to-practice criteria by the Competition Bureau and Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner requires the legal profession, and all other self-regulating professions, to carefully analyze their criteria and eliminate any elements that do not play a legitimate role in protecting the public.

In response to this scrutiny Convocation approved the establishment of the Articling Task Force to address concerns about the articling program, relating in particular to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Twitter and the Rule of Law

The rule of law requires that laws be widely known.

Few would dispute that Twitter can be quite useful at making things widely known.

I have been preoccupied with this idea for a little while now. Last month I wrote a piece on it for publication on Slaw (watch for it on 16 April 2012). The explosion of Twitter activity surrounding the Ontario Court of Appeal release today in Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186 confirms my belief that Twitter provides an excellent outlet for lawyers, other legal professionals and the public itself to augment the work of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

Online Resources for Students and New Lawyers


There is a lot to think about beyond substantive law when you are starting a law practice. With that in mind, under the practicePRO banner LAWPRO has created the New Lawyer Resource page containing what we feel are the best resources we have to offer to new and soon-to-be-lawyers.

The page has two aims: 1) to help newly minted lawyers understand more about things like managing a practice, client relations, practice finances, marketing, and legal technology; and 2) its an introduction to the risk and practice management articles, precedents, checklists and other materials practicePRO offers to lawyers.

From a claims . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Student to Lawyer – 20 Tips for a Successful Transition

Excerpted from LAWPRO Magazine, Student Issue #1, 2012

There isn’t a simple magic formula for mapping out a career in law. You will make some decisions on where you would like to go, but there are many things outside your control which will impact on where you will end up. Factors such as economic conditions, personal circumstances, where you articled and even a bit of luck will affect the career path you will follow.

This article outlines some tips and self-assessment questions that will help you find your way to a satisfying and successful legal career.

1. Ask yourself what . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Putting the Rah-Rah-Rah Into Lawyering: Spirit and Enthusiasm

by Vanessa Mui

According to the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism, the building blocks of professionalism include scholarship, integrity, honour, leadership, independence, pride, spirit and enthusiasm, collegiality, service, and balanced commercialism. “Spirit and enthusiasm” (S&E) is undervalued in ethical rules that regulate and inspire lawyers.

What constitutes “spirit and enthusiasm”? The term “spirit” is mentioned in the Federation of Law Societies Model Code of Conduct but the rules are of no help in explaining how lawyers should exemplify spirit in their daily work. A word search in the Rules for “enthusiasm” turned up nothing. Additionally, “spirit” . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week