Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘Columns’

Wishing You Happy Holidays … if Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Permits

The holiday season is an important season to focus on good will and the profound messages that the holidays celebrate. Many organizations use the holiday season to communicate with clients and associates to share that sentiment. For example, an organization may wish to invite individuals to a holiday-themed party, or simply send a seasonal greeting. What many organizations may not have considered is whether these benign-seeming messages will attract seven-figure liability.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, more commonly known as CASL, generally provides that a sender must obtain the consent of a recipient before sending a “commercial electronic message,” or “CEM,” to . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Is LinkedIn All It Was Cracked Up to Be?

Our friend and colleague Bob Ambrogi thinks LinkedIn is losing its luster – and we agree. He wrote a blog post recently on this subject. So we tip our hat to Bob before we begin.

Author Simek isn’t active on any social media other than LinkedIn, largely because he is a professional testifying expert on IT and digital forensics topics – and he didn’t want to risk being hung by his own petard because of something he had posted on other kinds of social media. But LinkedIn, in its original incarnation in 2002, was pretty much a resume site and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Crikey! Warnings About Lawyer Independence From Across the Pond

The issue of lawyer independence has been a hot topic over the last year. It’s been frequently mentioned in the debate about whether to introduce alternative business structures in Ontario. Additionally, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to find that the independence of the bar, broadly defined, was a principle of fundamental justice in a decision earlier this year. These two high profile examples reflect the clear continuing relevance of lawyer independence when new regulatory reforms are proposed or instituted.

What are not always so apparent, however, are challenges to lawyer independence that emerge in the absence of any regulatory . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Make Legal Careers Great Again

In case you hadn’t heard, Donald J. Trump wants to make America great again. How? Well, according the man himself, by doing smart things, having a great plan and getting the best and most capable people to do smart things, all while working with, around or straight through those who would stand in the way. It will be fantastic. It will be amazing. Very classy and really, really great.

I’m going to offer some thoughts on legal careers. Taking a page from Trump’s playbook, what I won’t offer are links, references or any verifiable support or justification for what I . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Holiday Season, Reinvented

As I write this, the holiday season is almost upon us and I’m just returning from a lunchtime trip to the local shops. It’s not necessary to be terribly observant to see that customers and store clerks are beginning to lose their patience, drivers are behaving more aggressively (especially in parking lots!), and a general feeling of anxiety is descending upon the populace.

Sometimes I think the expression “holiday season” is a misnomer. For many of us it’s a time when we’re pulled in multiple directions simultaneously. Social obligations, family obligations and end-of-year deadlines coupled with long days, late nights, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Please Don’t Try to Disrupt Anything, Just Build Useful Stuff That Helps People Work Better

Once in one of my law and technology LL.M. classes at UdeM, we had a dare: how many times can one possibly include the word “mayonnaise” in a class presentation. I feel that there is something similar going on with the word “disruption” in law-related talks.

The following are random thoughts about building and positioning products for the legal market which are drawn mostly from lessons learned (read: things that didn’t work out), but also from some stuff that turned out not so badly.

In order to not sound skeptical, I will deliberately not go into my memories of how . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Clinical Legal Education on the Move in Canada

The Place of Clinical Legal Education was the theme of the 6th annual conference of the Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE), held at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law from October 22-24.

The conference keynote was by author and playwright Maria Campbell on the place of clinics in reconciliation. Some of the topics covered at the conference were:

  • Beyond Cultural Competence: the Place of Decolonialization in Clinics
  • Leveraging Law School: Breaking Down Silos to Enhance Access to Justice
  • Community Lawyering and Teaching Clinics
  • The Internet as a Site for Clinical Legal Education: Using Online Dispute Resolution
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Education

Innovating Tribunals & Being Open

Two recent situations have led to calls for international accountability mechanisms. The responses to these calls differ widely. Why is this interesting? They show the potential of a more open justice innovation approach. And the costs of not doing so.

The first situation is the tragic downing of flight Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine on 17 July 2014, which led to 298 deaths. Politicians from the counties that suffered most losses – The Netherlands, Australia, and Malaysia – where quick to capture the public sentiment and announced: those responsible will be held to account. This was given international force . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Public Interests Versus Private Interests

In August of 2015 Gerard Comeau of Tracadie, New Brunswick, was the defendant in a trial following an agreed statement of facts. In October of 2012 Comeau bought 14 cases of beer in Quebec which he brought into New Brunswick where he was stopped by the police. Comeau was charged under the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act with illegally importing beer into New Brunswick. The beer was cheaper in Quebec than in New Brunswick. Comeau was fined $292.

At trial Comeau argued that the limitations in the New Brunswick Liquor Control Act were unconstitutional because s. 121 of the Constitution . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Principle, Not Politics

The Law Society of Upper Canada ABS Working Group delivered an interim report to Convocation in September. In reading some of the subsequent comments, I was reminded of Nick Robinson’s thoughtful paper When Lawyers Don’t Get All the Profits. As he said in an interview with Cristin Schmitz:

I’ve been amazed in this debate how much each side kind of talks past each other, dismisses the concerns of the other side, or the point of the other side.

In its interim report, the Working Group reported that it would not further consider non-licensee ownership or control of traditional practices . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Does Double Patenting Need New Rules?

Patents have been described as a quid pro quo – in return for disclosure of the invention, the inventor gets a time limited exclusive period to practice the invention. There are a number of rules and restrictions that restrict the ability to extend patent rights – i.e. get more than the patent owner bargained for, including ‘double patenting’ but some of the earlier concerns about extending patent protection through double patenting no longer apply under our current Patent Act which requires that patents and any divisional patents expire on the same day.

Double patenting is a restriction on getting multiple . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

We Learn More From Our Failures

Do you celebrate your successes? (Or are you too busy?)

Celebrating success – and doing simple things such as saying “thank you” to the team – is one of the best ways to strengthen teamwork, and to build your reputation as someone good to work with.

Okay. What about failures? Do you celebrate them as well?

You should – albeit not in quite the same way.

The thank-you/end-of-project party remains worthwhile, maybe even more important than after a successful project. The people on a project with a less-than-desirable outcome – e.g., a lost case, or a judgment against your client . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law