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Archive for ‘Columns’

Podcasting as Commentary

Up to a few months ago, I didn’t know much about WWI. I did certainly know more than the characters in Friends, but, like most, I knew considerably less on this conflict than on the other world war. To be fair to me, I had a reasonable idea of the convoluted causes of the conflict from reading Margaret MacMillan’s “The War That Ended Peace” (still, that was only a couple of years ago), but not much about the actual fighting. Then I listened, over the summer, to a 20+ hour series of podcasts by Dan Carlin entitled “Blueprint . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

“Thank You”: The Two Most Important Keywords in Business Development

The friendly folks at SLAW remind us regularly when columns are due. On receiving one such reminder when I was at a family gathering, I asked everyone what I should write about next (my family happens to include five young lawyers). The youngest of them responded instantly: “Courtesy—and how little of it young lawyers have.”

This, from a first-year associate? It’s the kind of comment I expect from a grizzled veteran, accompanied by the inevitable “I dunno, kids today….” rant. When I asked her to elaborate, she noted that communications quickly become personal, as in: “If you had read my . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

In Praise of the Queen’s Counsel

For many lawyers, December is a month filled with anticipation as most of the provinces announce coveted Queen’s Counsel (QC) appointments prior to Christmas. For federal government lawyers, they waited for an announcement that never came.

In 2013, the Harper government revived the federal QC after a two-decade hiatus. In 2015, the new Trudeau government appears to have quietly abandoned this practice. Or it may simply not have been a priority for a busy new government. Whatever the explanation, if the Trudeau government wants to recognize the value of public service, it should continue the practice of awarding QCs to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Med-Arb: The Debate Continues

A couple years ago Slaw columnists Kari D. Boyle and Ian Mackenzie collaborated on a pair of excellent articles on Med-Arb – Kerri from the mediator perspective and Ian from the adjudication perspective.

These articles insightfully highlight many of the legal, ethical and practical issues surrounding the idea of having a single person act as both mediator and arbitrator – issues that continue to be hotly debated among mediators and arbitrators.

Med-arb has become widely accepted in labour, family and other areas. The main reason is efficiency.

There are many different models of med-arb. All of them rest on . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Climate Change 2016

Canada entered 2015 internationally condemned as a climate laggard, and enters 2016 with a new government that received praise for its role in the Paris Climate negotiations. But the country’s work on climate change is far from done. The government has promised, within 90 days after the Paris talks, to sit down with the Premiers to develop a national framework on climate change.

In this post we review the Paris Agreement, its strengths and shortcomings, and what it means for Canada.

Evaluating the Paris Climate Agreement

In December the nations of the world gathered in Paris to negotiate a new . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Summary Resolution of Intellectual Property Cases

If you have decided to go to court to assert your rights, or someone has taken you to court, there are several summary options, short of a conventional trial, that may save time and money yet still get the result you are interested in.

In 2009 the Federal Courts Rules were amended to expand the availability of summary judgment and summary trial options. The number of proceedings that have used or are using these provisions has expanded in recent years, perhaps in part as a response to greater discussion of summary options in the superior courts and by the Supreme . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

The Year-End Roundup: Trends in Legal Technology

The end of one year and the beginning of another is the usual time for commentators to review what happened during the year and discern the trends. What follows is my synthesis of the recent year-end roundups and what they seem to me to say.

Here are the most pertinent articles:

Among the trends identified are the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Revisiting the Legal Publishing Market

The shrinking of options in the legal publishing world has been a pretty constant theme in my years in law librarianship. Just when you think it has settled down a little, along comes another consolidation/merger/takeover.

In December it was announced that Bloomsbury Press had bought RELX law assets. These include 6 Family Law titles held by LexisNexis and Jordan Family Law publishing. This came about because Lexis (ie, RELX) has purchased Jordan’s Family Law, and part of the deal with the CMA was that some titles be sold elsewhere to ensure competition. J

It’s a bit like ping pong match . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The SCC and Lawyers Need Better Researchers Than “Clerking” and Law Students

“Clerking” is courts using law students to perform legal research duties. Obsolete, because: (1) it uses the least experienced of legally-trained people as the basis of the most important legal service—legal advice and opinions—and, (2) because it is too cost-inefficient. A webpage of the Supreme Court of Canada states, inter alia: “Law Clerk Program: “Qualifications – Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor from a recognized Canadian university or its equivalent.” But that is not adequate for what’s coming.

An equally important reason for creating a much more sophisticated and competent legal research facility for the legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Technological Procurement as a Component of Judicial Independence

On January 6th, 2016, different media outlets reported that a certain number of federal courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, were contesting the issue of a decree (2015-1071) stating that procurement for government IT services now needs to go through Shared Services Canada. As specified in the decree: “a department listed in Schedule I, I.1 or II of the Financial Administration Act must obtain the services specified in paragraph (b) exclusively from the Minister designated for the purposes of the Shared Services Canada Act through Shared Services Canada and is not permitted to . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Sometimes Laws Are Too Important to Be Left to Lawyers — Lawyers Without Technical Support

This article explains how to prevent the very damaging ignorance and avoidance of the technology that underlies widely used important laws. For example, the probability of wrongful decisions, in both civil and criminal cases, has been raised to what should be considered to be an unacceptably high level by the very false and unanalyzed (blind) assumption that electronic records technology is just a speeded-up and more convenient version of paper records technology. In fact the wordings of the electronic records provisions of the Evidence Acts declare the law to be that they are very different technologies.

As examples of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Access to Justice: After the Machines Take Over

“The traditional professions will be dismantled, leaving most (but not all) professionals to be replaced by less expert people and high-performing systems.” This is the central message of The Future of Professions, a new book from Richard and Daniel Susskind. Machines, they argue, will take over much professional work. Even when the machines cannot do so alone, the Susskinds expect that they will allow laypeople, paraprofessionals, and the clients themselves do the necessary work.

One way or the other, highly-trained and expensive human professionals will be mostly cut out of the value chain. The future of the professions, in . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues