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Archive for ‘Columns’

Why Do Lawyers Resist Ethical Rules Requiring Competence With Technology?

Recently, the Virginia State Bar Council voted to adopt changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The changes were based on the American Bar Association’s modifications to the Comments of Rule 1.1 respecting Competence (“…a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with technology…”) and Rule 1.6 respecting Confidentiality (“(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the unintended disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”)

What’s reasonable? The Comments go on to list relevant factors:

  1. the sensitivity of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

So I Spend a Lot of Time Thinking About Clothes . . .

When I taught a course on legal information last summer appropriate dress in a legal environment was a topic of some interest to those starting their careers. And as I find recent conversations about feminism and clothes to be quite interesting, I thought I would write out my thoughts in more detail.

There is reasonable concern about the different ways women and men are discussed and judged in relation to what they wear, and there are certainly biases observed in the ways they are treated. While I have observed that men do get a certain amount of the benefit of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Ontario Joins Wider Move Toward Online Dispute Resolution to Ease Court Burdens

As John Gregory reported in a recent SLAW post, the Ontario government is looking at online dispute resolution (ODR) for a variety of provincial offences. The system could start with minor traffic offences, and be expanded to other provincial and municipal offences, such as parking and by-law violations.

The proposal reflects a growing trend toward ODR for both civil and administrative matters.

The Ontario consultation document notes the high cost of dealing with provincial offences, with about 1.6 million charges laid annually. In Toronto alone, for example, provincial offences courts cost about $50 million a year, plus $5.5 million . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

We Have Other Practice Areas?

It happens all the time in organizations, people get so busy doing their own work they stop hearing what other people in the company are working on. Although understandable to some extent, there are two really big issues that can arise because of it – both of which affect your clients.

We are all trying to get more revenue out of the clients we already have. Unfortunately we know that too many people only focus on the work they do for a client and we fail to learn as much as we can about the client. This has been discussed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

State Trials, Honorary Protestants, and the Red River, Highlight the 2015 Osgoode Society List

The Osgoode Society has announced the fall line up of new titles in its series of original writings on Canadian Legal History. This year the Society will publish two titles with the University of Toronto Press and one with the McGill Queens University Press.

Security and the Limits of Toleration in War and Peace: Canadian State Trials, Volume IV, 1914-1939, edited by Barry WrightEric Tucker and Susan Binnie, published by the University of Toronto Press.

This latest in the collection of State Trials series looks at the legal issues raised by the repression of dissent from the outset of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Start of the Electronic Age?

In late January, the Federal Courts Rules were amended to permit the maintenance of court files in electronic form. The changes to the Rules, for the first time, removed the requirement that the official court docket for a proceeding be kept in “paper”. These changes open the door to improved electronic service and filing of court documents in the Federal Court.

Justice Brown’s comments regarding the Ontario Court, seem applicable, “Consign our paper-based document management system to the scrap heap of history and equip this Court with a modern, electronic document system.”

The changes to the Federal Court Rules . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

What Makes a Law School Great?

What makes a law school great? What should a law school curriculum seek to accomplish in light of the school’s obligations to its students, its university, the pursuit of knowledge, the profession, and society as a whole? What should a law school strive to be?

Every law school has to answer these questions one way or another, and events of the last few years – the crises of American legal education and Canadian articling, and global and technological shifts in the legal services market – have given them greater urgency.

In this column I want to share my own law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Ethics

The Open Book

Rumors of the book’s death have clearly been exaggerated, and another lament is not needed. Still, I’m finding the books on my desk and shelves noticeably altered by the digital age of Kindles and iPads. My books have assumed a weight, for example, when I’m packing for trip, that I can’t recall them having had before. And sometimes when I turn the page, I have to pause over the extravagance of having had that page printed, assembled, bound, and shipped for me to read but once, perhaps adding a note to its luxuriant margin. Can it be that what remains . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Link Rot: the Problem Is Getting Bigger, but Solutions Are Being Developed

Wikipedia defines link rot as “the process by which hyperlinks on individual websites or the Internet in general point to web pages, servers or other resources that have become permanently unavailable.” Link rot is common throughout the online world. It is particularly troubling, however, when it occurs in legal materials where researchers seek to find important items that are no longer at the cited URL.

One early project to combat this problem began in 2007. The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group “features government, policy, and legal information archived from the Web through a partnership between state and academic law libraries.” This . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

What Does a “user-centred” Approach Really Mean??

It is common now for those promoting justice reform to urge a “client-centred” or “user-centred” approach. But what does it really mean to take a “user-centred” approach? Is it enough for justice insiders to take their own understanding of the client experience into account or to invite one or more ‘users’ of the system to participate in reform discussions? Just how do we truly obtain the perspective of those using (or wanting to use) the justice system?

Once again, we can look outside our own sector for clues.

Example #1 – Business

The business world has been focusing for hundreds . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Government Innovation

The other Arab world. Not the masked, Kalashnikov wielding crazies the media treats us to each day. But highly educated, global citizens that are passionate about innovation in government. There are times you see very pointedly that you are being brainwashed.

The impressive three-day Government Summit that the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) annually organises in Dubai is a Davos style combination of large plenaries, cosy workshops, and ‘experience-it’ expositions. I was there last week. The crowd is decidedly international, but it’s refreshing to walk around in a definition of ‘international’ in which ‘Western’ is a very small . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Uniform Electronic Evidence Act Revisited (By Archivists)

When the Uniform Law Conference of Canada decided, back in 1993, to address the legal effect of electronic communications, it started with the law of evidence. See 1993 Proceedings of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, Appendix G, pages 34-35, 198 – 206. It was clear even then that more and more information intended to have legal consequences was generated, communicated and stored by electronic means. If the legal consequences were to be properly adjudicated, the information had to be capable of being put before the adjudicators.

The question was thought to be of interest both to barristers, who . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology