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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

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

Advancing the Rule of Law

It’s that time of year again – The Law Society of Manitoba is calling for nominations for the Richard J. Scott Award, an honour presented annually to “an individual who advances the rule of law through advocacy, litigation, teaching, research or writing.”

Richard Scott is Manitoba’s longest serving Chief Justice, having been appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench in 1985 and elevated to Associate Chief Justice later that same year, and then promoted to Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal in 1990. He retired from the Bench in 2013 and has since returned to legal practice as counsel . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Other Legal Professionals

Love may be the answer, but it may not be in the form of a lawyer.

As the legal profession struggles to reinvent itself and restructure how services are being provided, other legal professionals are being created in parallel. The State of Washington recently licensed its first batch of “Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLTs),” the first of its type in the country, though several states have already indicated they may follow their lead.

The Washington State Bar Association defines LLLTs as individuals who,

…are trained and licensed to advise and assist people going through divorce, child custody and other family

. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training, Justice Issues

LawNow Special Report: Self Represented-Litigants

In the most recent issue of LawNow, a publication of the Centre For Public Legal Education Alberta, there is a “Special Report” on self-represented litigants.

It includes 3 articles:

What Self–Represented Litigants (Actually) Want by Sarah Burton, a lawyer with the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre in Calgary: “Countless reports, working groups, and studies have asked this question, and reached diverse and creative conclusions. However, these papers often share one critical failing: none of them actually ask SRLs what they think. Enter the Self-Represented Litigants Project (Dr. Julie Macfarlane, “The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

New App Fights Back Against Police Carding

A new smartphone app has been developed to guide and assist members of the public through often difficult and contentious police interactions.

LegalSwipe is a free app, available on both the iTunes and Android markets. It provides step-by-step interactions through a decision tree, prompting the user to ask specific questions such as whether they are under arrest. It then tells the user what they should or should not be doing or saying with these police interactions.

The app is the brainchild of Christien Levien, a law student who completed his articles in criminal law and is currently studying for . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

Getting Smart on Crime Instead of Tough

Mandatory minimums. Mega prisons. “Tough” on crime.

These have been the hallmarks of the Federal government’s reform of the criminal justice system, but the policies have been more politically motivated than good policy or social science evidence. Canada’s crime rate has been the lowest since 1972, and the literature on law enforcement suggests these measures will actually make things worse.

The mandatory minimum provisions and removal of credit for time has already been challenged successfully in court. Courts in B.C., Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Northwest Territories have all found these provisions as unconstitutional, culminating in the Supreme Court’s decision in . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues

Merit in Diversity

Does merit trump diversity? Can’t both coexist and in fact, isn’t it possible that an individual’s merit is enhanced by that individual’s background, skills and experience?

These questions rolled through my brain as I read yesterday’s Financial Post article, Firms adopting diversity policies but few commit to targets for women on boards. The suggestion is that increasing diversity in membership of corporate boards may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of those boards. Some corporations are hesitant to set targets for gender diversity on their boards, the lawyers interviewed explained:

…the most common reason given by companies for

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

Do Whole Life Criminal Sentences Contravene Human Rights?

This year Stephen Harper’s government announced its intention to introduce legislation that will make a life sentence mean a sentence for life.

It remains to be seen how our courts will apply the Charter to the Conservatives’ tough on crime bill.

The boundaries of a similar discussion are being tested in Europe now.

On 1 June 2015 a panel of 5 judges of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights referred to a full hearing before a panel of 17 judges, a complaint by UK prisoner Arthur Hutchinson who has been sentenced to spent the rest of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Reconciling the Truth About Law Schools

Despite all the calls for more practically-focused, experiential and applied legal education, there is more to law school than simply learning a trade.

Legal education is a process of socialization and acclimatization to the profession, including its history, culture and traditions. All of these are arguably necessary to instill the values behind our professional responsibilities and ethics.

There is also a substantive background required of all lawyers in order to practice. Intellectual property lawyers will still have to learn about basic criminal law. And human rights lawyers are required to learn the basics of contract law. The substantive framework is . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues

A Few Thoughts for Family Law Litigants: Why It Pays to Let Bygones Be Bygones

Difference is a necessary part of the human condition, without which we’d be an awfully dull lot. Although difference is what gives us creativity and invention, it’s also the cause of intolerance and war, and it’s what keeps family law lawyers in business. As Martin Gore famously put it,

People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully?

There are an infinite number of reasons why committed, long-term relationships break down. Some people get bored. Some grow apart as they get older. Others just turn into assholes.

Once upon a time, thanks largely . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Data-Rich {LAB} Report

There’s plenty of rich data on new lawyers in Canada to be found final report from Law and Beyond (“LAB”), a study of Canadian lawyers called to the bar in 2010. The key findings of the study, released last week by Ronit Dinovitzer, provide a glimpse into the kinds of information researchers gleaned about this cohort; for example:

  • Twenty-two percent (22%) of the LAB sample are non-white, 56% are women, and 16.4% are immigrants.
  • Women remain more likely than men to work in the public sector, even in their early careers, with more than one quarter of women
. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You

When Walmart, Target, and the ultra-conservative Koch brothers stand shoulder-to-shoulder on an employment issue, you could be forgiven for thinking that a workplace apocalypse is brewing. This trifecta is more likely to be found campaigning against union certifications or decrying a minimum wage hike than singing hymns on a picket line with the likes of ColorOfChange.Org, The Center for American Progress, and the American Civil Liberties Union. And yet the lion doth lay down with the lamb.

Several weeks ago Koch Industries added its ample voice to the chorus of “ban the box” promoters. The “box” being “banned” in . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues