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Archive for September, 2012

Organizing the Lawternet: The Intersection of Legacy Publishing & Open Source

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been concerned about, and relatively unforgiving in my dislike of, the idea of law blogs, specifically lawyer-generated blogs, as a bellwether for legal publishing. Some have taken me to task, at least partially, for it. Nevertheless, I’ve remain annoyed by the chorus of social media marketers exalting the virtues of blog content (and social media streams) as a means of differentiating one from the herd. And no one has been more vocal about this than Kevin O’Keefe, the founder of the LexBlog network, which “partners with clients to develop custom social media . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Sex Workers Improve Our Access to Justice

Congratulations to Sheri Kiselbach, members of Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV), and our friends at Pivot Legal Society for your recent Supreme Court Victory!

The SCC was unanimous in ruling that Ms. Keselbach, a former sex worker, and SWUAV, a sex worker-led organization, have public interest standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Criminal Code provisions related to sex work.

The access to justice issue was before the Supremes after the BC Court of Appeal rejected with the Federal Government’s argument that the parties lacked standing. The standing debate stems from the fact that neither Ms. Kiselbach, as a . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Privacy Abuses and Leaks

Two current privacy stories are worth mentioning. First, see this CBC news article entitled Political parties operate outside Canada’s privacy laws. The controversy arises from an email sent by a Cabinet Minister to those who signed a petition.

Also see this article entitled Websites leaking customers’ personal info, says privacy watchdog  and the PrivacyCommissioner’s news release. The issue here is the revelation by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, that 1 in 4 of the 25 websites her office looked at were passing on personal information of users to third party advertising and marketing firms without user consent.  . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Globalisation, Publishers and Some Unanswered Questions

We all agree that the publishing world is at a crossroads, and that it faces multiple challenges. The challenges come not only from the increase in digital formats, the preferences of a majority of Amazon customers for e-books over real books, or the decline in (real) newspaper purchasing. It also comes from people who have so many alternative forms of entertainment and activities that they no longer read much anymore.

For legal publishers there are added difficulties. After growing on the profits of a captive market through the publication of serial resources such as law reports and looseleaf titles, both . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Two-Tiers

The Globe and Mail is reporting that two-tier wage scales are becoming more common as corporations attempt to deal with the current economic context and try to stay competitive on a global level. Two-tier wage scales, whereby newly hired employees are paid at a lower rate than their colleagues performing the exact same work, are said to not only be a form of discrimination, but also bad for morale and ultimately production. From a management perspective, it is a way to cut down on labour costs and to stay afloat. Interestingly, in the cases of Ford and GM cited, cited . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

California Approves Bill to Set Standards for Self-Driving Cars

This ties in nicely — or worrisomely, depending — with John Gregory’s post immediately prior to this one, in which he asked questions about software updates to your car’s computer systems. Now the Governor of California, the jurisdiction that sets the automobile standards for the US and so for the rest of us, has approved a bill that will begin the setting of appropriate standards for self-driving cars. (See the story here.) From the preamble to SB 1298:

. . . This bill would require the department [of the California Highway Patrol] to adopt safety standards and performance

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

Online Updates to Your Car’s Operating System

The maker of electric cars Tesla has announced that it will be upgrading the computer systems in their cars over the air, i.e. by wireless connection built into the car. This will be a mandatory upgrade, no doubt to avoid liability if any defect being cured by the upgrade caused damage to someone who had not yet installed it.

Is this a problem, at least potentially? Are car owners going to run into digital rights management (DRM) and technical protection measure (TPM) problems? As one commentator asked, if Apple complains about Ford’s driver/car interface, will Ford have to remove features . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Redefining the Career Plan, Part 2

In part 1 of this series of articles, I set out my view that the world of career planning for young law school graduates has changed significantly and asserted that a change was thus also needed in how we planned for our careers. The changed advocated for is one from the relatively static career planning process of aptitude identification and planning to a more dynamic approach that borrows from the disciplines of strategic and risk management. Finally, in order to expand on this point I discussed three core principles including that work has changed, that the work participants are . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Your Desert Island Legal Book

I was perusing my library collection this morning while shelving books. This activity made me think of great new titles that are slated for upcoming release, my 2013 library collection budget, and which hard copy title that I wouldn’t, and couldn’t live without.

Would it be a reference work, a general text, a text specific to an area of law, an annotated set of the Rules of Court?

Consider that your desert island has high speed internet service and someone with good negotiating skills to acquire a broad spectrum of reasonably priced electronic subscriptions. The electronic subscriptions include Canadian secondary . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Apple v. Samsung — Who’s the Big Loser Here?

The worldwide patent litigation between Apple Corporation and Samsung Electronics is a perfect illustration of the “lose-lose” nature of high-stakes IP litigation.

While the headlines have focused on the $1 billion U.S. jury award Apple won at the end of August, in the long run Apple may turn out to have been a loser in this struggle as well.

Some brief history.

Apple and Samsung are long-time business partners. Samsung holds many patents on touch screen technology. It supplied screens for the iPod and iPhone. Samsung still makes the touch screen for Apple’s iPad tablet computers. It won the contract . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Ontario Court System at Risk of Losing Litigants to the Private-Sector Justice System

The Ontario civil justice system is struggling to provide timely, cost-effective and fair access to justice to civil litigants. According to Justice D.M. Brown, if the Judges of the Superior Court are unable to respond to the challenges and stresses confronting the civil litigation system, the public system risks losing litigants to the private-sector justice system in which an ever increasing number of private arbitration centres offer parties dispute-resolution services employing modern technological systems and well-trained arbitrators, who are often retired Superior Court Judges.

Justice Brown used the decision of George Weston Ltd. v. Domtar Inc. to once again sound . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Adventuring With Philosophers

More than a century ago, an early torts scholar (Pollock) wrote that, when it came to causation, lawyers and judges shouldn’t go adventuring with philosophers. Many modern Canadian lawyers and judges are likely more familiar with Sopinka J.’s admonition in Snell v. Farrell against “abstract metaphysical theory” – the claim that causation is “essentially a practical question of fact which can best be answered by ordinary common sense rather than abstract metaphysical theory.” . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Miscellaneous, Practice of Law