December, 2015 Archives – Slaw
Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for December, 2015

Candid but Unsure

The principal duties owed to clients are well known: commitment, confidentiality, candour and competence.[i] Much has been written and debated about commitment and confidentiality. Their nature and scope are reasonably well understood. Competence and its legal twin negligence are conceptually simple enough, albeit fact-specific.

Candour is another matter. Candour seems straight-forward. Simply be honest with your clients, tell them what you know and all will be well. But this naïve approach is problematic. As is often the case in legal ethics, difficult issues arise because duties can collide. Candour and confidentiality can be irreconcilable duties and confidentiality is pervasive . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Tilt Into 2016: Gaining a Competitive Advantage

Competition is fierce.

As cost pressures from clients intensify, as new service providers emerge, and as new technologies are deployed, it is unwise for any firm to avoid thinking about how it should work differently. (Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers)

In The Globe and Mail article “McCarthy Tetrault’s Tracie Cook leading firm’s radical transformation”, Jeff Gray discusses McCarthy Tetrault’s attempt to modernize. The firm has instituted:

  • new billing practices;
  • open-concept floor plans;
  • reduction in 200 support staff; and
  • has established a client service innovation team.

“The moves have come as the sector grapples with new competition from global players . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

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 and writing, practice, and technology.

Research & Writing

Apostrophe Catastrophes
Neil Guthrie

In many ways we’d be better off without the apostrophe, judging by the frequency with which it’s incorrectly used, its functions misunderstood. Here’s a handy guide. …

Practice

Keep a “Happy Client Folder”
Garry Wise

I’m sorry if this sounds like a cheesy idea, but it’s a good one nonetheless. There will be inevitable slings and arrows in the life of . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Greater – but Not Perfect – Clarity Coming, at End of Year, to Question of Personal Property Security Jurisdiction

By Nora Rock, corporate writer at LAWPRO.

A personal property security interest can’t be perfected if it’s registered in the wrong jurisdiction. Pinning down the appropriate jurisdiction for registration of a non-possessory interest in an intangible (like intellectual property), a good used in more than one jurisdiction (like a transport truck), or an instrument (like a lease) has proven to be surprisingly hard, due to ambiguous language in PPS statutes across the country.

The version currently in force of s. 7(1) of the Ontario Personal Property Security Act provides that the validity and perfection of a registration of an interest . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Star Wars, Like All Things, Is Legal

I was one of the many thousands of people who recently watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens, despite being on vacation. I was not even born when the original films were released, but was surrounded by the Star Wars culture as a padawan child.

The has been a significant cultural impact of the film series on our society, so there’s no surprise that there are tons of legal issues around it. Despite being a fictional universe, there is an entire wiki of Star Wars laws and legal systems. The site uses “source documents” such as disparate as a 1987 . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Judicial Lineups and “Festivus” Presents

I’ve been sitting on this one to see what Santa might have in store for M.M (M.M. v. United States of America, 2015 SCC 62.) As I expected, and I assume others did, too, the Liberal gov’t has decided to review the prior Conservative regime’s decision to surrender M.M. for extradition to the United States: see here. You’d think that somebody in the editorial department of the newspaper involved would know the difference between statements in dissenting reasons and the majority reasons but, in the spirit of the season, I’ll let that pass.

Can I get a mental . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

All Aboard

In December 2015, Sydney hosted Blockchain Workshops (#BlockchainSYD). I understand that it was a great event. If you didn’t get to it, and fear you have missed the Blockchain wave, I would not panic. Like other tech, there might still be some waiting time before it takes over.

Consider the “flavour of the month“ Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s finally getting some traction 30+ years after its success was touted as imminent. Yet around this time each year people are called upon to bravely predict next year’s tech. It is not a new phenomena.

“… while only 35% of (US) law

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Thursday Thinkpiece: Davis on Using Business School Cases to Create Strategic Corporate Lawyers

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.

Think Like a Businessperson: Using Business School Cases to Create Strategic Corporate Lawyers

Alicia J. Davis, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Originally published in 59 ST. LOUIS U.L.J. 823 (2015) | Reprinted with permission of the Saint Louis University Law Journal © 2015 St. Louis University School of Law, . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Mistakes in Website Prices – Consumer Items

A Quebec court has recently held that Costco was not bound to sell a computer to a consumer for $2.00, as advertised on its web site. Although the Consumer Protection Act says that an ad to a consumer is an offer, the court (Cour du Québec) held that online sales are different.

Here’s an article about the decision.

I presume the decision would be similar in common-law Canada. Is it not general law that an ad on a website is considered an invitation to treat, rather than an offer that can be accepted by anyone in the world? Certainly the . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, ulc_ecomm_list

A Supercomputer on Your Wrist

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the specs and quirks of our current technology that we forget how far we have come.

To put it in perspective, consider a smartwatch. There are many ways to measure computer performance – CPU speed, amount of ram, amount of storage memory, network speed, etc. A common way to compare basic performance, though, is by FLOPS, or floating operations per second.

A smartwatch can do somewhere in the range of 3 to 9 gigaflops. To put that in perspective, the Cray-2 supercomputer in 1985 could do about 1.9 gigaflops. You could buy . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

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. Hodge v Neinstein, 2015 ONSC 7345

[78] The appellants seek a declaration that any contingency agreement entered into by Neinstein & Associates with a client in which the firm has an entitlement to take any portion of costs in addition to a fee is unenforceable. Making such a determination is a question of law. Since there is evidence that this was . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Getting Buy-In

In November, I was invited to speak as part of a panel discussion on “Legal Marketing 101” before an audience of new legal marketers. Near the end of the discussion, a member of the audience asked for some tips on how to get buy-in from lawyers on more meaningful business development and marketing activities – moving “beyond the USB keys,” as she put it. There was obvious frustration embedded in her question, and panel discussions being what they are, there was little opportunity to provide her with a thoughtful answer to what is a big question with a multi-faceted answer. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing