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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Appointing Judges: Can Statistics Help?

The appointment process for judges is somewhat opaque. We may know how many judges there are in Canada, but why some lawyers are chosen over other lawyers remains a bit of a mystery.

Can statistics help us identify who would make a good judge? Can it help us answer a very difficult question?

Over the years, it has been observed that humans have a tendency to substitute a hard question with an easy question. For instance, “the question we face is whether this candidate can succeed. The question we seem to answer is whether she interviews well.” (Thinking Fast . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

British Columbia Law Institute Blog Series on Financing Litigation

The British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) recently published a Study Paper on Financing Litigation that looks at six financing models that have emerged both in Canada and internationally that can help litigants pay for litigation:

  • Unbundled legal services
  • Third-party litigation funding
  • Alternative fee arrangements
  • Crowdfunding
  • Legal expense insurance
  • Publicly funded litigation funds

The Institute has started a 6-part blog series on the topic. Each blog post will showcase one of the financing models.

Two posts have appeared so far.

The first post is on Unbundled Legal Services. The second is on Third-Party Litigation Funding.

It is all part . . . [more]

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

Who Dunnit? Artificial Intelligence and Unauthorized Practice

OK, I’m going to talk about AI and unauthorized practice in just a second, but first…

Who can resist those stories with the teen genius? The wunderkind trope. That Dutch teen with the Boomy McBoomface contraption setting out to heal our polluted oceans. That Mark Zuckerberg fella circa 2004, with the other face thingy.

Who is not in awe of an uncalloused mind lit by bedazzling precociousness and disarmingly naive ambition?

Take Joshua Browder, for instance. He’s surely that kid—our teen wonder—for legal automation. He taught himself to code at age 12 and first came to glory two years . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology: Internet

Shining Light on Exclusion Will Assist Diversity

Despite 5 years of research, detailed consultations, and ample careful thought, the resistance towards the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group’s recommendations continues to grow among the fringes of the legal profession, although some of the most vocal voices do not practice at all, and are far removed from the realities that most practitioners in Ontario face today. Sadly, the Statement of Principles that has to date attracted the greatest scrutiny is still only one part of a larger program underway.

For those of us who have been involved in supporting these initiatives, and who are better informed of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Improving Outcomes in Family Law

The barriers to access to justice in the arena of family law have been well-researched and frequently commented upon, both on these pages and in a myriad of academic papers and government commissioned reports. For the most part, I feel like there’s really not much left to add.

I’ve read the research. I’ve practiced in the area. I’ve spoken and assisted self-representing parties. I’ve delivered public legal education sessions on the subject. And I’ve concluded, quite some time ago, that what’s needed more than anything else in this area, is massive systemic reform. Family law processes and the laws that . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Quebec’s Religious Neutrality of the State Bill Passed

An amended version of Bill 62, An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies to foster respect for religious neutrality of the state and aimed in particular to frame requests for religious accommodations in certain organizations passed third reading on October 18, 2017, with a vote of 66-51. It is now awaiting royal assent to become law. . . . [more]

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

On the LSUC Dialogue on Licensing, Pt 2: Where Is Access to Justice?

This blogpost addresses a second shortcoming in the foundational framing and materials for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s unfolding Dialogue on Licensing. In Part 1, I argued that the initial arguments and subsequent materials that have framed the Dialogue do not provide a clear or compelling demonstration of a ‘need for change’ in the current system for licensing of lawyers in Ontario. In this Part 2, I argue that a further shortcoming is a failure to adequately acknowledge the relevance of the ongoing inaccessibility of justice in Ontario. Proper recognition of access to justice issues could provide the . . . [more]

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

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Are Components of Competence

What does it mean to be a lawyer?

Is it to possess an encyclopedic knowledge the law? To use this knowledge to make money? Is being a lawyer simply just another way to make money (as some who correctly identify the lack of business skills among lawyers as one of the major challenges for innovation or reform point out)?

What differentiates the law from other businesses are the professional responsibilities imposed on a lawyer, through the Model Code of Professional Conduct and its implemented versions across Canada. Some of these responsibilities, such as the duty to the court and to . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues

Mobilizing the Legal Corps in Puerto Rico

When disaster strikes, other professions have formalized organizations to assist with the response and recovery that follows. Physicians have Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and engineers have Engineers Without Borders. As a former disaster management professional and first responder, a career in law sometimes feels geographically limiting.

Lawyers are notoriously apt to stick within borders, and to a certain extent there are constraints to the portability in law. However, my humanitarian work overseas, and the implementation of Sphere Principles, was one of my first exposures to real-world implementation of international law, and one of the roads that eventually . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Sausage Man at the Corner of Queen and University

Sometimes things do change.

To much debate this week the Law Society of Upper Canada, which has brandished this name for over two centuries, voted to change the name to drop “Upper Canada.”

It might seem a strange controversy to outsiders, who might be puzzled with the attachment to an acronym that spells “El-Suck,” or alternatively the need to spend what will likely be hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebranding and administrative expenses. But it has been one of the issues that has deeply divided the legal community now for years.

It really started in 2012, when Thomas Vincent, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

A Sign of the Times

A new Practice Direction from Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench reflects increasing acceptance of the fact that litigants without lawyers are no longer an anomaly in civil litigation. The notice sets out that contested motions and applications involving at least one self-representing litigant must be set for a case management conference before a contested hearing takes place. This is already the norm for contested motions in the Family Division of the Court of Queen’s Bench, regardless whether there is a self-represented party, but is new in the Civil Division.

Other than the procedural change, two specific aspects of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law