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Archive for the ‘Legal Ethics’ Columns

Beyond the Quid Pro Quo Premise: The Legal Profession and the Public Interest

The Canadian legal profession has never been shy to rationalize and justify its role in society. The public relations campaign launched by the Ontario Bar Association in February is just the latest in a long history of institutional advertising efforts tracing as far back as the 1930s when the Saskatchewan Law Society placed a series of advertisements in a farm weekly.

A new urgency, however, now colours our collective efforts. What it means (and will mean) to be a lawyer has perhaps never been more uncertain. In other jurisdictions, new and disruptive business structures are radically changing once taken-for-granted “rules . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Ronald Dworkin and Canadian Legal Ethics

Legal philosopher and Oxford and NYU Law Professor Ronald Dworkin died last month. Dworkin was arguably the most influential legal mind of his generation. Throughout his many writings, Dworkin argued that there was a moral content to law and to many of the phrases contained in the American Constitution. He strongly influenced legal scholarship and teaching in the United States and around the world, including Canada. Dworkin’s fingerprints can be seen in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, its interpretation by the Supreme Court of Canada and in much academic writing in this country. 

Dworkin has also cast a giant . . . [more]

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The Successor Counsel Problem

The story of Griffiths Energy’s unlawful payments to the Chad ambassador’s wife led last month’s news. Attention focused on the company’s self-disclosure and investigation, and also on the involvement by high profile Canadian lawyers in the original unlawful transaction. Based on the media reports so far, it seems that Griffiths was originally represented by the Heenan Blaikie firm. That firm advised Griffiths that the company “could not make or offer or give an advantage or do anything directly or indirectly with [Chad] Ambassador Bechir”. Griffiths then retained the MacLeod Dixon firm, and had MacLeod Dixon paper the transaction in which . . . [more]

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Lost in Translation? Differing Perspectives on Legal Ethics

As a first post on legal ethics, it seems appropriate to ask “what exactly are we talking about”. The answer isn’t as simple as one might think given the number of different perspectives involved.

Courts set (or reflect) legal ethics in cases involving lawyers. Law Societies set legal ethics in codes of conduct and in discipline cases. Legal scholars posit appropriate legal ethics, either as a matter of formal legal reasoning or from varying philosophical perspectives. Practising lawyers develop their own sense of legal ethics in part from these other sources and in part from their participation in the legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics