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Archive for October, 2013

More on the Future of Law School

I wrote last month on a recent conference, The Future of Law School. The backchannel and later discussion was considerable, as I’ve noted, and several others wrote about the rich panel presentations and their own ideas about the future of law school. Weeks later, I still find myself pondering ideas from it often. I’m thinking lately about the place of the law school and its connection—in Canada—to the university and its library.

The focus of the conference was where law school curricula are, should be, or could be headed. Participants and presenters discussed various factors that do or might drive . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: Law Schools, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

Does Government Spying Threaten Privilege?

A recent report shows that US government spying has gone even farther beyond what Edward Snowden disclosed. The National Security Agency has apparently broken the security of two major in-the-cloud email systems, Gmail and Yahoo! mail. The story reports that the spy agency intercepted metadata and content of over 180,000,000 emails in the space of a month.

Does knowledge of this activity mean that a lawyer who uses one of these services for business email waives privilege in the content? Is it like speaking to your client in a criminal matter with a police officer clearly within earshot?

Or does . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law

Amazon’s Top Reviewers Are Rarely Anonymous

Stepping outside legal subject matter for a moment, did you know that top reviewers on Amazon are publicly listed? Amazon values this group’s contributions enough to maintain a Hall of Fame, and cultivates further engagement through its Vine program, where members are given a box of free samples (once or twice a month) in exchange for delivering a couple online reviews.

NPR has an interesting post about the amount of free samples that simply show up “out of the blue” for Amazon’s top reviewers. This despite the fact that “Vine reviews have fewer stars, on average” within . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

Another Innovative Juxtaposition Emerges From a US Legal Market in Distress

The announcement yesterday of the newly minted LeClairRyan Legal Solutions Center should provide another shockwave to an American legal profession that is already in distress.

National law firm of LeClairRyan (22 offices and 350 attorneys) and LPO UnitedLex (1,100 attorneys engineers and consultants), will now collaborate to provide “a wide range of support services and incorporate best-in-class technology and quality control processes which will be uniquely integrated into the law firm’s litigation and transactional practice areas….[allowing clients to obtain]….more comprehensive, value-based services at a lower and more predictable cost.

“The LeClairRyan Legal Solutions Center is an important part of . . . [more]

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

What Do We Really Mean, When We Talk About Diversity?

The business case for diversity is a strong one, says Omar Ha-Redeye, but paradoxically it rarely encourages change.

The issue of diversity – or the lack of it – extends across most spheres but studies have shown the legal profession to be a particularly noted offender; Dr. Arin Reeves, speaking at the 2013 CBA Legal Conference in Saskatoon this summer said this is the case no matter the country.

Diversity was the topic of the fifth weekly CBA Futures Initiative Twitterchat Tuesday night. Moderator Ha-Redeye encouraged participants to discuss the reasons for the lack of diversity in the profession, and . . . [more]

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

Mission to Develop Secure Email

One to watch — but not spy on, perhaps: the Dark Mail Alliance is aiming to develop the software to enable email that has end-to-end encryption in order to frustrate government efforts to read your post. At the moment the alliance with the name that only Darth Vader could love comprises Silent Circle and Lavabit, though the invitation to join them is extended to any others who share their mission to develop and:

 . . . to open source the protocol and architecture and help others implement this new technology to address privacy concerns against surveillance and back door threats

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology: Internet

Defending Quebec Against the Federal Government on Rules for Secession (Bill 99)

Instead of calling a fall election, the Parti Québécois government has decided, among other things, to devote resources to fighting the federal government over a court challenge to An Act respecting the exercise of the fundamental rights and prerogatives of the Quebec people and the Quebec State (commonly called Bill 99), the provincial law that outlines Quebec's rules for secession from Canada.
Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

A Prosecutor’s Continuing Duty to Evaluate Evidence

I preface this comment by saying that I know nothing about the evidence in the Law Society of Upper Canada’s prosecution of Torys LLP lawyers Darren Sukonick and Elizabeth DeMerchant, other than what is disclosed in the reasons for judgment of the Hearing Panel dated October 17, 2013 [Ed. note: http://canlii.ca/t/g10k2 & http://canlii.ca/t/g10k5]. I have not seen the documents relied on by the Law Society, nor did I attend any part of the hearing.

As has been widely reported, the Hearing Panel dismissed all six of the charges against Mr. Sukonick and Ms. DeMerchant for conflict of interest stemming . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Enhancing Access to Justice by Combining Unbundled Legal Services and Mediation

In my last Slaw post I explored how lawyers can assist their clients through effective mediation advocacy and by providing mediation coaching. In this post, I would like to explore another combination of legal services and mediation that has enormous potential to create affordable and accessible dispute resolution opportunities for clients.

Unbundling (or limited scope representation as it is commonly referred to in the U.S.) is becoming more recognized and highlighted as a key tool to increase access to justice, particularly for those who do not qualify for legal aid services but cannot afford full representation (the CBA, NAC . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Thursday Thinkpiece: Kalajdzic, Cashman & Longmoore on Ethical Concerns About Third Party Funding of Class Actions

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.

Justice for Profit: A Comparative Analysis of Australian, Canadian and U.S. Third Party Litigation Funding
Jasminka Kalajdzic, Peter Kenneth Cashman and Alana M. Longmoore
American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 61, No. 2, 2013

III. Canada . . .
C. Ethical Concerns

As a result of Strathy J.’s decision in Dugal [2011 . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Paying Proper Attention to Basic Principles

I recently heard a respected lawyer comment that if the legal profession allows disputes to be resolved outside of traditional legal systems, then we cannot ensure that proper attention will be paid to basic legal principles of fairness, justice and the rule of law.

That got me wondering, do lawyers have a monopoly not only on legal practice, but also on fairness, justice and rule of law? Are we the sole keepers of these ideals, delivered to us by governments who wisely recognized that only those called to the profession of law could meet the responsibility of ensuring adherence? (And . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Sound Marks

David Canton in his post today praised the IT.CAN conference. I, too, attended, and I agree: it’s the one to catch for IT/IP folks. Among the many things that caught my ear was a small reference to sound marks — that is, trade marks for the ear rather than the eye.

These are new to me, and relatively new to Canadian jurisprudence, though when I thought about it for a moment I realized that they were a perfectly sensible addition to the IP roster. (For some support for that conclusion, see a 2010 post on IP Osgoode — and . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology