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Archive for ‘Law Student Week’

The Duty of Confidentiality: Are Rules Made to Be Broken?

“If you would keep your secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend” is an often cited quote from Benjamin Franklin. But what does it mean? It could mean that our friends will eventually become our enemies and, thus, should not be trusted with our secrets. In contrast, it could mean that humankind has an inherent inability to keep secrets, or it could be interpreted simply as a commentary on our hardwired propensity for gossip. In any case, these interpretations have strong implications for the legal profession and, in particular, the duty of confidentiality legal professionals owe to . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Stress Management for Law Students (From a Recent Grad)

Alexandra Kozlov graduated from the Queen’s Faculty of Law in 2012 and articled with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeal Tribunal

We all know what law school stress looks like. Come exam time, we see its physical manifestations: the law student, hibernating in the law library, subsisting on a diet of coffee and candy, sits surrounded by mountains of books, empty cans of energy drinks and an arsenal of highlighters. We recognize the bloodshot eyes and the anxiety-ridden knuckle cracking. Stress is synonymous with law school, but it’s important to remember that stress is merely the interaction between a situation . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Defence Lawyers, Our Unrecognized Superheroes?

The most admired superheroes are usually courageous and persevere despite the odds. Interestingly, these characteristics are also readily apparent in defence lawyers. For example, when balancing their ethical duty to the client against not misleading the court, defence lawyers need to be courageous and have strength of character.[1] Thus, defence lawyers are arguably our modern day superheroes. However, defence lawyers are not recognized as superheroes because of misunderstandings that surround their ethical duties such as, “how can you defend a guilty client”?![2] Society has failed to realize that defence lawyers are like superheroes as they engage in ethical . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

The Dangers of Social Networking and How to Avoid Them

Although social networking tools offer lawyers many interesting new ways to interact with people in both personal and work spheres, there are some risks associated with using them. Before you venture into social networking, consider Section 5.5 of the Law Society’s Practice Management Guideline on Technology (“Technology Guideline”). It states, “Lawyers should have a reasonable understanding of the technologies used in their practice or should have access to someone who has such understanding.”

Don’t talk to or about clients or their matters

Social networking tools have complex and confusing privacy settings and most people are not entirely sure who can . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Common Practice Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO) was created to insure lawyers against legal malpractice claims. Most (though not all) claims are brought by a lawyer’s own client and include an allegation that the lawyer made a mistake or did not meet the standard of care expected of him or her when delivering legal services.

No lawyer is immune to a claim; in fact, our records suggest that four out of every five lawyers will be the subject of a claim at one point in their career. Malpractice claims can be stressful, can hurt your reputation, and can be costly (even if . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

There’s No Place for the Law Society in the Bedrooms of Its Members

The Law Society of Upper Canada’s Rules of Professional Conduct are necessarily ambiguous on the subject of sex with clients to allow for some flexibility, given the highly subjective nature of these conflicts. Such acts are not specifically prohibited, but are referenced in the commentary at rule 2.04 governing conflict of interest. The rule states that a lawyer shall not continue to represent a client where there is a conflict of interest, unless there is full disclosure and informed consent.

However, the wording of the commentary merely suggests that when a relationship with a client becomes intimate, a member should . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

The Perpetuation of Problems in the Public Perception of Legal Professionals: an Analysis of the Erroneous ‘Mitigating Factors’ in Law Society of Upper Canada v. Hunter

For Ontario’s self-governing legal profession, strong rules are a positive step towards public legitimacy, but that legitimacy evaporates if those rules go unenforced. Amidst the debate over whether the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) should continue to govern itself, the LSUC’s duty to protect the public interest requires attention. Law Society of Upper Canada v Hunter, 2007 ONLSHP 27 [Hunter] is pivotal in this conversation because it shows the governing body neglecting its duty to protect the public interest. In Hunter, the panel fails to sufficiently respond to the conflict of interest stemming from Hunter’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Student to Lawyer: 20 Tips for a Smooth Transition

This is an abridged version of the LAWPRO article: “20 tips for a successful transition” – a guide for law students through the transition from student life to legal practice. See for the full article.

  • Honestly assess your strengths and preferences to identify what makes sense for you in terms of the type of firm and area of law you want to practice.
  • Consider all the options: big firm, small firm, solo practice, government, in-house. Don’t just pursue the opportunities everyone else is pursuing – reflect on what is the best fit for you.
  • Create and prioritize a list . . . [more]
  • Posted in: Law Student Week

    Specialized Licensing for Specialized Practices

    The current Law Society model for licensing legal professionals in Canada provides all lawyers with a blanket license to practice in any area of law. Virtually every other major profession that exists today employs specialized licensing and certification in order to ensure the competency of its practitioners in an increasingly complex world. The current system used by the legal profession in Canada is outdated and in need of significant reform in order to protect clients and set minimum competency requirements.

    The Law Society needs to reform the current licensing model in favor of one where lawyers are required to earn . . . [more]

    Posted in: Law Student Week

    Resolve to Get Your Law Practice Off to the Best Possible Start

    Professional liability claims can take the wind out of the sails of anyone’s legal career, but can be especially demoralizing for a new lawyer. Your best chance at avoiding claims is to develop great working habits right from the start. The December 2012 issue of LAWPRO Magazine proposed dozens of New Years’ resolutions for lawyers in every area of practice. We’ve reproduced a few excerpts relevant to newly-called lawyers here.

    There are resolutions to avoid claims in particular areas of law (litigation, corporate/commercial, real estate, family law, wills/estates and crimina) as well as resolutions to run an efficient and . . . [more]

    Posted in: Law Student Week

    Lawyers Seeking Spousal Advice: A Breach of Solicitor-Client Privilege?


    I was once told that the two most important decisions individuals will make in their lifetime are their choices of career and spouse. It has also been said that choice of career is the single most important ethical decision an individual will ever make. After all, becoming a part of a profession entails adhering to certain professional standards and subjecting yourself to certain situations. But regardless of what profession a person chooses to pursue, I argue that one should be able to seek advice from a spouse when facing an ethical dilemma, without being reprimanded.

    The Law Society of . . . [more]

    Posted in: Law Student Week

    Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Sole Practitioner?

    One-third of the more than 24,000 lawyers in private practice in Ontario are sole practitioners. as a solo, it’s great to have the freedom that comes with being your own boss, but you also have full responsibility for all aspects of the operation of your law practice. Do you have what it takes to be a sole practitioner? This self-assessment quiz will help answer that question.

    The chart helps identify your strengths and weaknesses and gives you a better idea of whether you’re cut out for solo or small firm practice. . . . [more]

    Posted in: Law Student Week