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4 Out of 5 Lawyers Will Face a Malpractice Claim: Improve Your Odds

We’ve been happy to take part in Slaw’s Law Student Week. As a final post, here is a sobering fact: LAWPRO stats show that 4 out of 5 lawyers will face a malpractice claim during their careers. Fortunately, there are resources to help the new lawyer mitigate the risks and help LAWPRO (or other E&O insurer outside Ontario) effectively defend you should a claim arise.

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Posted in: Law Student Week

Does Solicitor-Client Privilege Truly Enhance Public Trust in Lawyers?

The first rule of the privilege is: you do not talk about the privilege. In this way, the legal profession seems quite reminiscent of ‘Fight Club.’ Rather than guarding a recreational fighting ring however, the legal profession chooses to concern itself with protecting the communications of clients and their lawyers. The purpose of this obligation placed on legal professionals is to ensure that clients feel they can actively trust their lawyer, and thus be as candid as possible – which subsequently allows their lawyer to best advise them. Does this obligation truly accomplish the goal, or does it in actuality . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Targeting Lawyer-Mothers: Rethinking the Unavoidable

At a recent talk at the University of Ottawa by Cynthia Petersen, the Law Society of Upper Canada Discrimination and Harassment Counsel, raised the idea that women who go on maternity leave are severely disadvantaged upon their return, unlike their male counterparts who take similarly long leaves for other personal or professional reasons. Are mothers or women who choose to go on maternity leave (“lawyer-mothers”) in consequence, viewed as less valuable lawyers? Like Ms. Petersen, I can readily acknowledge the immense progress in the legal profession towards gender equality. However, without sounding too severe on my own sex, I . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Is This the Job You Want? How to Find the Right Fit – and Then Sell Yourself in the Interview

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 talking about the field they have chosen and the background that they bring. . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

The Double Glass Ceiling

Law schools are starting to look more like a mosaic of people from different backgrounds. Private law firms? Not so much. This is especially true when we look at the senior positions at these firms.[1] Whatever diversity we see in the entry points of these companies decreases dramatically when we look at the older cohorts.[2] The residual effects of a time when the legal profession was only governed by white males explains merely part of these concerning statistics. There exists a double glass ceiling – one for women and one for racialized minorities. The intersectionality of race and . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

The Duty of Confidentiality: Are Rules Made to Be Broken?

“If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend” is an often cited quote from Benjamin Franklin. But what does it mean? It could mean that our friends will eventually become our enemies and, thus, should not be trusted with our secrets. In contrast, it could mean that humankind has an inherent inability to keep secrets, or it could be interpreted simply as a commentary on our hardwired propensity for gossip. In any case, these interpretations have strong implications for the legal profession and, in particular, the duty of confidentiality legal professionals owe to . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Stress Management for Law Students (From a Recent Grad)

Alexandra Kozlov graduated from the Queen’s Faculty of Law in 2012 and articled with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeal Tribunal

We all know what law school stress looks like. Come exam time, we see its physical manifestations: the law student, hibernating in the law library, subsisting on a diet of coffee and candy, sits surrounded by mountains of books, empty cans of energy drinks and an arsenal of highlighters. We recognize the bloodshot eyes and the anxiety-ridden knuckle cracking. Stress is synonymous with law school, but it’s important to remember that stress is merely the interaction between a situation . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Defence Lawyers, Our Unrecognized Superheroes?

The most admired superheroes are usually courageous and persevere despite the odds. Interestingly, these characteristics are also readily apparent in defence lawyers. For example, when balancing their ethical duty to the client against not misleading the court, defence lawyers need to be courageous and have strength of character.[1] Thus, defence lawyers are arguably our modern day superheroes. However, defence lawyers are not recognized as superheroes because of misunderstandings that surround their ethical duties such as, “how can you defend a guilty client”?![2] Society has failed to realize that defence lawyers are like superheroes as they engage in ethical . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

The Dangers of Social Networking and How to Avoid Them

Although social networking tools offer lawyers many interesting new ways to interact with people in both personal and work spheres, there are some risks associated with using them. Before you venture into social networking, consider Section 5.5 of the Law Society’s Practice Management Guideline on Technology (“Technology Guideline”). It states, “Lawyers should have a reasonable understanding of the technologies used in their practice or should have access to someone who has such understanding.”

Don’t talk to or about clients or their matters

Social networking tools have complex and confusing privacy settings and most people are not entirely sure who can . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Common Practice Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO) was created to insure lawyers against legal malpractice claims. Most (though not all) claims are brought by a lawyer’s own client and include an allegation that the lawyer made a mistake or did not meet the standard of care expected of him or her when delivering legal services.

No lawyer is immune to a claim; in fact, our records suggest that four out of every five lawyers will be the subject of a claim at one point in their career. Malpractice claims can be stressful, can hurt your reputation, and can be costly (even if . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

There’s No Place for the Law Society in the Bedrooms of Its Members

The Law Society of Upper Canada’s Rules of Professional Conduct are necessarily ambiguous on the subject of sex with clients to allow for some flexibility, given the highly subjective nature of these conflicts. Such acts are not specifically prohibited, but are referenced in the commentary at rule 2.04 governing conflict of interest. The rule states that a lawyer shall not continue to represent a client where there is a conflict of interest, unless there is full disclosure and informed consent.

However, the wording of the commentary merely suggests that when a relationship with a client becomes intimate, a member should . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

The Perpetuation of Problems in the Public Perception of Legal Professionals: an Analysis of the Erroneous ‘Mitigating Factors’ in Law Society of Upper Canada v. Hunter

For Ontario’s self-governing legal profession, strong rules are a positive step towards public legitimacy, but that legitimacy evaporates if those rules go unenforced. Amidst the debate over whether the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) should continue to govern itself, the LSUC’s duty to protect the public interest requires attention. Law Society of Upper Canada v Hunter, 2007 ONLSHP 27 [Hunter] is pivotal in this conversation because it shows the governing body neglecting its duty to protect the public interest. In Hunter, the panel fails to sufficiently respond to the conflict of interest stemming from Hunter’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week