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Archive for February, 2017

The Travelling Supremes

The law may be principled, but it is ultimately pragmatic. Laws seek to address societal problems (the mischief rule), but also make sense (the golden rule). In fact, I’d argue that it has always been this way.

The presence of the principles of equity in the common law, infused with the coming of the Judicature Acts  of the 19th c., sought to reconcile the literalism of rule-based decisions and the goal of fairness that previously existed in two independent court systems.

We can go back even further to find hints of this in the common law. The search for pragmatism . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

PÉNAL (DROIT) : Le juge de première instance s’est bien dirigé en fait et en droit en concluant que la ruse policière utilisée pour obtenir les aveux de l’appelant n’était pas répréhensible et choquante et, par conséquent, que ceux-ci étaient recevables en preuve; la déclaration de culpabilité de meurtre au . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Cultural Competence and the Next Generation of Lawyers and Lawyer Regulation

Every year, I have the pleasure of teaching first year law students at the University of Ottawa in a dispute resolution and professional responsibility course. A big part of the course involves having students gain “hands-on” experience through simulations where they interview clients, write client advice letters, negotiate with opposing counsel and conduct mediations. For someone with a passion for legal ethics like me, the course is extra fun because this practical experience is coupled with extensive instruction on professional responsibility issues. Among other things, at the end of the term, the students write a final paper reflecting on one . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Trump Administration to Roll Back Net Neutrality

In 2015 the US FCC took steps to prevent ISPs from discriminating against internet traffic. This is called Net Neutrality, which Wikipedia describes as “…the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”

The gist of the concept is that the owner of the pipes shouldn’t be able to favour the delivery of its own content over content provided by others.

At the risk of oversimplifying this, net neutrality is . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

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. A.T. v. Globe24h.com, 2017 FC 114

[70] In my view, the respondent’s claimed purpose “to make law accessible for free on the Internet” on Globe24h.com cannot be considered “journalistic”. In this instance, there is no need to republish the decisions to make them accessible as they are already available on Canadian websites for free. The respondent adds no value to the . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Legal Research’s Easy Button Moment

I have been thinking of this blog post by Jean P. O’Grady from last September: “Lex Machina Launches New ‘Easy Button’ Analytics Apps to Compare Judges, Courts and Law Firms”. To my knowledge Lex Machina doesn’t literally call their system improvements an “easy button”, but the site developments and O’Grady’s description are symptomatic of this moment in how we discuss legal research: there is a desire to make legal research easier, and as technology improves this is becoming a reality.

In many cases this will be a great help to people who want to navigate the legal system . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

To Succeed Where Others Fail

Almost 70 percent of organizational change initiatives fail. At that rate, you might wonder why law firms – which are notoriously change resistant – would try at all. But they do. And some succeed by taking a more thoughtful approach right from the start.

Change can evoke pain, loss and uncertainty. All too often, change initiatives are communicated in a way that causes people to feel defensive, rather than inspired.

Perhaps it’s a matter of taxonomy; “transformation” or “evolution” might be better descriptions of the adjustments that many firms need to undertake to improve performance and profit.

Regardless of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

The Bespoke Model Is Broken

The time honoured, hand tailored approach to cases favoured by lawyers over the centuries is restrictive. By forcing lawyers to deal with only one matter a time, legal services can only be immensely profitable if lawyers either bill a high hourly rate and/or deal with a high volume of cases.

Before computers and the internet, the hand tailored approach was the only means of providing services. But now with automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet, we are no longer limited to the bespoke model. In the public’s interest, we need to rethink legal services and get creative. For example:

  1. We 
. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology

No Access to Remote Justice in L’Orignal, Ontario?

Recently we took on two Small Claims Court actions for good clients. In both cases we acted for the plaintiff.

Anyone who has commenced a Small Claims Court proceeding knows that the Small Claims Court Rules provide that the plaintiff is generally required to commence the action in the jurisdiction where the defendant lives or carries on business. In both cases our client operated from Toronto. In both cases, we had to commence the action in L’Orignal, Ontario as a result of that being where the defendant carried on business.

For those of you who don’t know, L’Orignal is about . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Technology

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, writing, and practice.

Research & Writing

4 Questions to Ask About Any Database (Part 3)
Ken Fox – Law Society of Saskatchewan Library

This is part 3 of a series on questions you should ask about any electronic research source. Did you miss parts 1 & 2? Find them here and here. What is the Search SYNTAX? …

Practice

New Government, New Tax Changes. Here’s What You Need to Know About Tax in . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Marketing Strategy: First, Ask the Right Questions

So often, law firm marketing discussions go something like this: “Billings are down, we should be doing more marketing” or “The associates aren’t busy, they should be marketing themselves” or “We need to grow the firm, we have to get out there and market.”

OK, good, fine, now what? The most common response is to leap straight to tactics: “Let’s do a seminar!” “We need a brochure.” (Yes, some lawyers still say that.) “The website sucks, we need a new one.” But without a strategy, these tactics are random, uncoordinated acts that will end up costing a lot of money, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Reduce the Distraction From the ‘Casino in Your Pocket’

This article is by Tim Lemieux, Claims Prevention & Stakeholder Relations Coordinator at LAWPRO.

In the early days of email, one of the common bits of productivity advice was “turn off your inbox notifications.” The “You’ve Got Mail” sound or pop-up was a constant source of distraction while trying to get work done. Even with the advent of smartphones that advice was still mostly good enough. The phone meant you could check email everywhere you went, but the distraction was still limited to emails and texts from friends and clients. Jump forward to 2017, and we’re all carrying around what . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended, Technology: Internet