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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

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

Driving Change in Access to Justice

Why is the idea of asking service users what they need in terms of access to justice so challenging to those working in the justice system?

This is the question that I was asking myself as I participated a recent workshop on enhancing access to justice in the area of family law, coordinated by the Manitoba Law Foundation and facilitated by John Paul Boyd.

Participants represented a range of justice system service providers and included some community voices as well. Working in small groups, we brainstormed the obstacles to access to justice and ways to provide better supports to those . . . [more]

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

It’s Not Just Them: The Social and Economic Consequences of Family Conflict

Busy family law lawyers, myself included, live in a bubble of immediacy, a shroud of crisis that moves with us as we go forward in time and cross entry after entry off our calendars. This often has two consequences. First, it discourages us from enquiring into the past, into the roots and evolution of the law on domestic relations, for example, or the delightful but sadly defunct matrimonial torts, and from seeking to decipher the meaning of important statutory passages such as this:

Subject to this Act, a guardian of the estate of a child has all powers over the

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

You Can Vote for the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Members of the public have until Friday, June 5 at 11:59 p.m. to vote online for the winner of the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The prize, which is sponsored by ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law, is intended to recognize a work of fiction that best exemplifies the role of lawyers in society.

The three finalists this year are:

There is a judging panel of four:

  • Roy Blount Jr., author and
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Access to Justice and Drafting Family Law Legislation as a Complete Code

A fog of uncertainty and conflicting case authority continues to beset British Columbia’s Family Law Act. The confusion is understandable, given that barely two years have elapsed since the act came fully into force and that the Court of Appeal has yet to pronounce upon the key areas of controversy, but nonetheless highlights critical access to justice issues that went unobserved and unnoticed under the previous legislative regime which thirty years’ of case authority had fully illuminated.

One of these key areas concerns the status of gifts received by spouses and whether such gifts are divisible family property or . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Catastrophic Changes in Ontario Budget for Motor Vehicle Injuries

When Ontario made wide-sweeping changes to automobile insurance and personal injury law in 2010, the intent was to reduce insurance premiums for the public. Although insurance companies did save money, much of these savings were not passed on to the consumers.

The amount of claims observed in Ontario did decrease in this period, but still remain the highest in the country. In 2006, accident benefits claims were $331, and rose to $588 per insured vehicle in 2009. This dropped down to $313 per vehicle in 2013 after the reforms.

 

Following the 2014 Cunningham Report, many anticipated that further . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Of Privacy Awareness Week and the Canadian Mavens of Reddit’s AMA

Privacy Awareness Week runs from May 3 – 9 and is an event hosted by the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum (APPA) each year to “promote awareness of privacy issues and the importance of the protection of personal information.”

Do you ever long for an excuse to zip your Android phone into a Faraday bag, paint your face with irregular lines and slip into incognito mode to evade facial recognition software? Well, now is the season!

Canadian participants this time-around included the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which is promoting a few nifty resources, as well . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology: Internet