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Archive for ‘Columns’

Adjudicators in the Community: New Frontiers in Apprehension of Bias

Justice Sopinka famously said (in 1989) that judges are not monks (although he should also have said nuns) and can have a role to play in their communities. He was writing in the (mostly) pre-internet era, where social interaction within communities was largely hidden from public view. With the prevalence of the internet, community involvement of judges and adjudicators has become more transparent. Two recent court decisions help to illustrate different views on how adjudicators can engage in their community — both in-person and virtually — and may help to focus a public discussion on reasonable limits to social media . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Privilege for Patent and Trademark Agents

More changes are coming to intellectual property legislation as part of the latest federal budget announcements. Changes have been announced for the Patent Act, the Trade-marks Act, the Copyright Act and the Industrial Design Act.

These changes follow an overhaul of the intellectual property legislation last year (see previous article) to make Canada’s legislation more consistent with international treaties. The implementing regulations from last year’s changes are still being developed with implementation not expected until late 2016.

The latest changes were announced in the Budget in April 2015 and the specific proposed amendments included in . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Integrating the Profession in Experiential Legal Education

Experiential legal education has been the subject of numerous papers, conferences, and innovative curriculum changes in the United States in the past decade. In October 2012 the first National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law was held at Northeastern University in Boston. I attended that symposium, and came away inspired by the topics and discussions.

In June 2014 the Second National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law took place at Elon University in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law and Elon University School of Law hosted the symposium. To my regret, I was unable to attend . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Two Factor Belt and Suspenders

Weak passwords are out. Strong passwords are in but may not be enough to protect you. When you use dual or two factor authentication, you add a hurdle to those attempting to get unauthorized access to your law practice information. It doesn’t involve your finger or your face, which are password replacements and not necessarily better. Instead, you supplement your username and password with a one-time code.

You already use two factor authentication in other parts of your life. Probably the most common is the PIN and cash card. You have to have both the card, inserted in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Prosecutors as Ministers of Justice?

Three recent cases have brought to light bad behaviour by criminal prosecutors.

In R. v. Suarez-Noa, 2015 ONSC 3823 Justice Reid ordered a mistrial after the prosecutor suggested “to the jury that the accused had behaved like an animal rather than a human being,” calling the characterization “highly improper” and incapable of being “erased from the minds of the jurors” (para. 10-11)

According to the CBC, in the Nuttall/Korody bombing trial British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce said the prosecutors “took my breath away” with the “impropriety” of their decision to show a video to the jury . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Practical Tips for the Brain in Conflict

As part of the BCAMI Symposium held June 8 and 9 2015 in Vancouver, Jean Greatbatch conducted a workshop entitled the “Neuroscience of Conflict”. Jean is an experienced mediator and arbitrator with a special focus on workplace conflict, a member of the board of Mediate BC Society and a busy conflict consultant. She completed her LLM in Conflict Resolution at Osgoode and wrote her thesis on the topic of how the brain deals with conflict. In this post I will provide some highlights of her fascinating and insightful presentation. In 90 minutes she managed to provide a great overview of . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

How Will We Find What’s Outside Our Walled Gardens?

I have been thinking about discoverability of legal information materials for some time and worrying that in many cases it isn’t as good as it could be. At the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Moncton last month the exhibitor hall was full of people with the goal of selling attendees information products in various forms. There were fewer people there with the goal of helping make those purchased materials accessible once they are acquired.

Legal information materials’ primary users have generally been subject experts (of various degrees), and this has meant that there has been less pressure to improve . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Authenticating Electronic Petitions

Petitions are an ancient method for people to tell their government (king or Parliament) what they want, and what they don’t want. ‘The relief of grievances’ is a big part of their appeal over the years. Petitions are a way of being heard, if not quite a day in court.

The traditional petition was a list of names and addresses subscribed to the text of the demand or complaint, generally with each person’s signature. The signature gave some assurance that the names represented real people, so the number of names might indicate real support for the message.

It takes work . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Back to the Future of Legal Publishing

The benefit that I gained, while participating with Jason Wilson and Gary Rodrigues in a session on the future of legal publishing at the Canadian Association of Law Libraries annual conference, was in learning more about the broad range of issues that both concerned and excited law librarians in their relationships with the major law publishers.

We had set out to explore questions of challenges and publisher responses to them, changing market structures and competitive factors, digital challenges impact on business models and how they need to be altered and who will be the winners and losers. These were . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Copyright and Clarity

I recently took a course on copyright law. A number of the questions that came up during the course could not be answered with a simple yes or no; often the answer was “in this circumstance, you should talk to a lawyer.” The course made it clear that there are many misconceptions about copyright. For example, several people taking the course believed that you could freely use copyrighted materials if you were not profiting from your use of these materials.

The copyright questions that librarians have to wrestle with often fall into the grey areas of copyright law. As a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Are Managing Partners Anti-Social? the Survey Says …

Some of you may have seen the Canadian Legal Digital Survey report (or the infographic that gives you the highlights) that was released by my firm, fSquared Marketing, last week. If so, you may have realized that something was missing. But before I get into that, for those of you unfamiliar with the report, here’s some background.

In recent years, we’ve seen various reports and analyses that seek to understand the needs of in-house counsel. However, the majority of these surveys are initiated by, and focused on, the US market. This implies, perhaps incorrectly, that Canadians both find and consume . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Cloud Computing Advantage Under Canada’s Anti-Spam Law

The communications prohibitions in Canada’s sweeping Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) prohibit, unless exempt, a person from sending a “commercial electronic message” without the consent of the recipient. On January 15, 2015, further prohibitions relating to the installation of computer programs came into force.

CASL imposes significant compliance hurdles for traditional software providers due to its regulation of programs “installed” on a computer system. However CASL does not appear to regulate software-as-a-service to the same extent, and so CASL appears to favour the cloud-computing service business model and supports the expanded adoption of cloud computing in Canada.

Broadly, the software prohibitions in . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property