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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

The Rights and Responsibilities of Self-Represented Litigants

A few years ago I was doing some work for a professional association on guidelines for dealing with litigants without counsel and I was struck by the extent to which some legal professionals regard litigants without counsel as interlopers who gum up the finely tuned, well-oiled machine that is their justice system. Some of the same attitudes are evident in the research on lawyers’ and judges’ perceptions done by Nicholas Bala and Rachel Birnbaum in 2012 and by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family in 2013. By way of illustration, respondents to a follow-up national survey of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Practice of Law

Humanizing the Cry for Access to Justice

The Chief Justice’s speech in Calgary, which I mentioned here last week, illustrated that despite all of our efforts to address access to justice the problem is getting worse, not better:

The cry for access to justice is rising from what was once a dull murmer to a crescendo.

She noted that the courts and government share some of the responsibility for the solution, but lawyers play an important role too, especially in pressuring these other actors to take action.

The Canadian Bar Association launched a campaign in Calgary, #whataboutalex, to humanize the struggle for access to justice. Kim Covert . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Ashley Madison Hack: A Golden Age for Divorce Lawyers or a Golden Opportunity to Reconsider Monogamy?

One of my favourite Valentine’s Day cartoons shows a lawyer dumping a box of randomly-addressed cards into a mailbox hoping to drum up some business for himself. The Ashley Madison hack is that in real life, and what a surprise it is!

Heads have already begun to roll; the ever-reliable BuzzFeed reports that Josh Duggar (yes, that Duggar) has confessed to a membership and has published staff rapporteur Ellen Cushing’s blow by blow confrontation, via text, with her cheating ex. The revelations, of course, don’t stop there. The Canadian Press, in an article posted on CBC’s website, says . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Directive for Change, Straight From the Chief

This past weekend Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin addressed CBA members at the legal conference in Calgary, Alberta. A complete copy of the speech is available here via National Magazine, and my live broadcast via Periscope is available here.

She addressed her continuing concerns about access to justice, but focused on the change already underway in the profession. She told a lawyer joke, which she admittedly refrains from doing,

“How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?”, it goes. The answer, “What’s change?”

I prefer the response to the question, “How many psychiatrists does it take

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

When Bloggers Get Appointed to the Bench

In 2015, practitioners in all types of firms blog. It’s a necessity of modern practice these days, and most have come around to understanding the importance of some social media presence.

If you don’t create your online footprint, someone else will for you – usually a disgruntled client.

One of the prerequisites to being appointed to the bench though is that you have to be a lawyer, usually for a good number of years. Although we’ve seen blogging lawyers appointed to the bench in recent years, and Slaw is one of the few sites where we’ve had guest judge bloggers, . . . [more]

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

Drama at the Quebec Bar Escalates Into Legal Action

The suspended Bâtonnière of the Quebec Bar Association, Lu Chan Khuong, has filed a lawsuit against the association and its administrators to overturn the suspension and reinstate her until the court determines whether the association’s board of directors had the right to relieve her of her duty. (Find the background here on Slaw.) Khuong is also seeking $95,000 in damages. . . . [more]

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

Legal Health Checks for Employment Law

The CBA’s Legal Health Checks, which has been previously mentioned by  here, just released two new checklists in employment law.

One is for hiring for small businesses, and covers contentious issues such as employee/contractor distinctions and employment standards. The other is geared towards workers, and covers the law for non-unionized employees, and covers employment contracts, discrimination and harassment and wrongful dismissal.

Obtaining accurate legal information remains a challenge for the public, and efforts by our legal organizations to make this information more readily accessible is part of our professional mandate.

These checklists are also . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

Options for Implementing Carter: One Lawyer’s Unique Perspective on the Landmark SCC Decision

I recently read a national post article by Dr. Will Johnston. In addition to being a family physician, Dr. Johnston is an anti-euthanasia activist. His article suggests that members of the judiciary would be better positioned to judge whether or not a person is competent to make a life-ending decision than members of the medical profession. I believe there is merit to Dr. Johnston’s point but I do not know if the model Dr. Johnston is proposing would be an appropriate one. Members of the judiciary may have similar issues in making competency. This is because, for the most part, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Cultural Shift Observed Post-Hryniak

The SCC’s decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin last year was expected to foster a cultural shift on the effective use of judicial resources, in particular in areas like Toronto where courts are cluttered with arguably needless motions. Justice Karakatsanis stated,

[2] Increasingly, there is recognition that a culture shift is required in order to create an environment promoting timely and affordable access to the civil justice system… [3] Summary judgment motions provide one such opportunity…

[5] To that end, I conclude that summary judgment rules must be interpreted broadly, favouring proportionality and fair access to the affordable, timely and just

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Therapeutic Interventions and the Alienated Child: Whose Interests Are We Serving, and How Are We Serving Them?

I’ve just finished writing a paper on alienated and estranged children for an recent seminar provided by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, their tenth Biennial Family Law Conference. The paper’s subject matter has lingered with me, in particular certain concerns about the therapeutic options available to the court once alienation has been established.

I will assume that readers have at least a passing familiarity with the concept of parental alienation. Very briefly, a child’s relationship with a parent can be damaged, sometimes severed, as a result of the behaviour of the rejected parent, the behaviour of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Bad Idea: Don’t Google How to Rob a Bank

Why Googling about how to rob a bank is not recommended is just one item in the June 2015 issue of the U.S. bulletin Connected.

The bulletin, which covers news about the impact of new social media on courts, is published by the Virginia-based National Center for State Courts and the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.

It is a great place to find out about how courts are trying to adapt to the world of Facebooking judges, tweeting witnesses, Instagramming lawyers, and jury members doing their own research on the Internet. Most items are American but they have . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology: Internet

Drama at the Quebec Bar Association: Bencher Suspended After Shoplifting Allegations

On July 3, 2015, Quebec lawyers found out that the recently elected (63% of votes) bencher of the Quebec Bar Association, Me Lu Chan Khuong, was suspended with pay from her duties by the board of directors of said association. . . . [more]

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