Canada’s online legal magazine.
CBA Skilled Lawyer Series
LexisNexis Legal Products

Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

New Blog for Legal Education Micro-Charity CLEW

You may remember a guest column posted a few months ago here on Slaw written by John Claydon, titled Canadian lawyers making a difference in Cambodia.

In it, John describes how a five-lawyer Toronto firm, Bennett Gastle, established Cambodian Legal Education for Women (CLEW), a charity that gives full four-year scholarships to young women from rural areas who would otherwise be unable to obtain a university education.

These young women graduate with LLBs from Cambodia’s leading law school, and though most of them will not be able to join the exclusive and expensive Bar, the grads (several dozen . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Legislative Intelligibility and the Rule of Law

At some point in our education, we learn that we live in a nomocracy, a society governed by the rule of law. Although the phrase trips lightly off the tongue of judges and deans at call ceremonies, it is in fact a complex and enormously important concept that underpins our system of government and separates Canada from not only North Korea but from more junior democracies, like Thailand and Egypt, prone to coups d’état.

Apart from meaty ideas about fundamental justice, arbitrary decision-making and the independence and interrelationship of the branches of government, the rule of law also describes certain . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Website Relaunch for Provincial Court of BC

The Provincial Court of BC recently announced the relaunch of its website, which had been undergoing incremental change for the past year. In keeping with the scope and reach of the Court and access to justice principles, the new features appear designed to offer accessible public and professional understanding of the Court, its operations, and its initiatives. The redesign features information about alternative dispute resolution, links for self-represented litigants, and updates about Court initiatives, among other things.

It should go without saying that the new site also continues to offer current case law, and I want to highlight the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

The Root of All Growth

Do you ever get that feeling that the universe is trying to communicate some idea or message to you? I do. There are times I find myself besieged with a persistent theme through a range of sources, from my personal reading to blog posts to conversations I’m part of. While I don’t always notice until much later, every so often I snap to attention right away.

This week has been like that. Lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about the process of experimenting as a means to uncover a solution to a problem. This is, of course, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

We Versus Me: Normative Legislation, Individual Exceptionalism and Access to Family Justice

In many of Canada’s family law courts, especially our provincial courts, the majority of litigants now appear without counsel. This state of affairs should have been a foreseeable consequence of the diminution of legal aid representation in family law cases coupled with the relative absence of market forces impelling private family law lawyers to reduce their rates or embrace new service models, but it is nonetheless where we find ourselves today.

It is easy enough to point to the observable consequences of this superabundance of litigants without counsel – chief among them the increased number of ill-conceived chambers applications, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Some Ground Rules for a Constructive ABS Discussion

As is apparent from the OTLA, and the many comments on my previous post, the upcoming Bencher elections in Ontario finally have an issue that has grabbed the attention of lawyers across the province: Alternative Business Structures.

While this issue may drive better voter participation in the April election, it has also greatly divided the profession in this province.

One can already see the huge generational rift among lawyers; those at the twilight of their careers fighting to retain a 19th Century business model, while younger lawyers want to move the profession into the 21st Century so as . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Is It Time to Legalize Pot? (And if So, How Do We Do It Right?)

National magazine will host a debate on the first question at the Mid-Winter meeting of CBA Council in February. A panel of experts will outline the pros and cons to set the stage for a lively discussion about an issue that is far more complex than it seems. Is criminalizing marijuana only serving to clog the court system? What about the health risks of “normalizing” marijuana use? And would legalization really push the drug trade to the fringes by handing regulation of sales, quality and advertising to the government?

But beyond these core questions – and aside from the fact . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

What If…

In 1998, after five years in private practice, I took a job in public legal education and was soon thereafter introduced to the problems many people have in accessing justice, whether in terms of working effectively with their lawyers, finding a lawyer, paying for a lawyer, or trying to address legal issues without the assistance of a lawyer.

Since that time, I’ve continued to work and volunteer in the non-profit legal sector, frequently with a focus on providing increased access to justice, at least for the lucky few. Next month I’m moving into an interim position directing a pro bono . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Feeding Our Research Needs

I’d like to use my last entry of 2014 to highlight a few worthy potential recipients of your charitable spirit. Depending where you live, and to whom you contribute, you may also still have a few hours left to earn a 2014 charitable tax credit or to see your donation doubled for the recipient.

If, like me and other old and not-so-old people, you continue to rely on good old email, you likely are still seeing a steady stream of last-minute 2014 donation appeals from one charity, non-profit, or political group or another.

A recent lesson in giving reminds . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Anti-ABS Arguments Continue to Be Based on Emotion – Not Fact

I’m tired.

Tired of ABS fear-mongering.

Tired of disingenuous and protectionist arguments made by those who know very little about ABS – yet are fiercely opposed to it.

And tired of the misinformation being floated by ABS opponents.

Now I know what it was like in the McCarthy-era.

Lawyers (particularly trial lawyers) are trained to argue a position based on logic and evidence – not hyperbole and emotion.

OTLA’s recent pronouncements in the Law Times on December 29, 2014, are particularly troubling:

“We have studied ABS from the time it was first raised by the law society in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Should the ICC Do Anything About CIA Torture?

It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that, before December 2014, the United States tortured its detainees. However, when the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a 525-page excerpt of its findings on the US detainee program last week, there was still a genuine sense of shock about the extent of that torture.

There were some pretty damning details in the 525-page excerpt report, many of which were horrific and somewhat draconian methods used by the CIA in interrogating detainees. Among the most horrific details are:

  • The use of “rectal rehydration”, where detainees are forcibly rehydrated by inserting
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Senate Vacancies and Canada’s Constitutional Galahads

On Parliament Hill there stands a statue depicting one of King Arthur’s knights, Sir Galahad. It was erected in honour of a heroic young civil servant who perished in the Ottawa River while trying to save a cabinet minister’s daughter who had fallen through weak ice. The tragic hero was Henry Albert Harper, and the statue of Sir Galahad, King Arthur’s most virtuous knight, was meant as a testament to Harper’s selfless heroism.

Speaking of Harper and paladins of another kind, 2014 might well go down as a banner year. The recent batch of Galahads on Parliament Hill kind of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law: Legislation