Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Advice for New Lawyers in a Changing Legal Market

The delivery of legal services is changing. Author Mark Cohen writes in “Big Money is Betting on Legal Industry Transformation” that law is a trillion dollar market with no Goliaths. The industry is fragmented and ripe for transformation. Law firms are becoming a smaller segment of the legal supply chain.

Cohen predicts that “the hegemony of the traditional law firms is over.” He explains that “law firms have lost their hegemony over legal delivery. Their market share is eroding.” New legal providers are entering the market. These different providers include, in-house legal departments, accounting firms, technology start-ups, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Alberta Tables Significant Proposed Employment Law Changes

On July 7, 2020, the Alberta government tabled Bill 32, The proposed Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act that will support economic recovery, restore balance in the workplace and get Albertans back to work. The Bill proposes changes to the Employment Standards Code and the Labour Relations Code. Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping stated to the media that the proposed legislation would support economic recovery by cutting “red tape” for businesses and would reverse some changes made by the NDP when they were in government. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Should We Defund the Civil Rules Committee in Ontario?

Past Ontario Bar Association president David Sterns argues that we should defund the Ontario Civil Rules Committee. In its place we should involve new voices and take an inter-disciplinary approach to building the committee. I agree.

We need to either supplement or change the Civil Rules Committee. We must look towards engaging new people. Let’s not just tinker around the edges. Let’s engage new voices. We need new perspectives. We need to hear what lay people think. We need to hear the insight of experienced practitioners and judges. We need to hear what articling students and law students think. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

The Role of the Legal Profession in Promoting Democracy

Much time, effort and funding has been devoted in recent years to trying to increase access to the legal system. At the same time, there has been a movement to “de-expert” or diminish the expertise of lawyers, as is true of many areas of life (everyone can be a journalist, everyone can become famous on social media, educators rely on what their students say they should teach, sometimes I think anyone can become a successful singer, at least to my tone deaf ear), even if not all (not everyone can become a baseball player in the major leagues or win . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Annotated Model Parenting Assessment Order for Use in the Supreme Court of British Columbia

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am part of a small working group that has been developing a standard order for the appointment of mental health professionals to prepare parenting assessments, also known as custody and access reports and bilateral assessments, under section 211 of British Columbia’s Family Law Act. We have finished reviewing and incorporating the feedback we received on our last draft and are now ready to share what amounts to Version One of our model parenting assessment order.

Despite the importance of parenting assessments in the resolution of family law disputes, there is no . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Arbitrator Upholds Properly Drafted and Applied Absenteeism Policy

By Lewis Waring, Paralegal and Student-at-Law, Editor, First Reference Inc.

One of the most important crucial aspects of managing the employment relationship is written policies. Company policies, when drafted and applied properly, can be an effective shield against liability in many employment law cases. Through policy, an employer sets the rights and obligations of the employer and the workers within the workplace. When employers draft up-to-date policy that stays within legal boundaries and workers are kept notified about their rights and obligations under that policy, employers may often successfully fend off legal action such as wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Developing a Model Parenting Assessment Order in British Columbia

Parenting assessments, known as custody and access reports, custody evaluations or bilateral assessments elsewhere, are commonly used in family law disputes in British Columbia whenever there is a significant difference of opinion about the parenting arrangements best suited for a child. However, in the absence of standards guiding the professionals who prepare these assessments, whether psychologists, clinical counsellors or social workers, the methodologies used to assess and describe the circumstances of the children and the capacities of their parents are as varied and unpredictable as the reports themselves. Thankfully, the number of execrable reports is dwarfed by the number of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Should Affidavits of Service Be Required?

Recently lawyers have been debating online about whether the rules about affidavits of service should be reformed. Particularly in the context of serving documents by email, and there is a clear record of service.

Service is important. It ensures that parties know about important court events before they happen. Sometimes self-represented litigants do not know that they must serve materials before filing. Requiring an affidavit of service before filing prevents litigants from unintentionally bringing ex parte motions.

However, we may be able to reach the same outcome without requiring affidavits of service. We can design a better system.

On Twitter . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Court Awards Aggravated Damages in Wrongful Dismissal Case

By Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

The case Acumen Law Corporation v Ojanen, 2019 BCSC 1352 (CanLII) tells the story of the abrupt and acrimonious end of an articling student’s employment with a law firm. The court rejected the range of factors purported to support just cause and, in addition to ordinary damages for breach of contract, awarded the employee aggravated or moral damages because of the way she was fired. The case serves as an important reminder to employers about the seriousness of misconduct required to support just cause, and should also encourage employers to think . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Virtual Court Proceedings: Fictional and the Real Thing

Addicted as I am to tv dramas (and sometimes comedies) about the law, I’ve been watching All Rise. Located in Los Angeles, it follows the professional lives of various characters involved in the criminal court there (and as a “popular” show, it also follows their personal lives). Sometimes it raises some important legal issues, but its finale was its best performance: it did a fine job of responding to the coronavirus crisis by being filmed on Cisco Webex, with all the actors working from their own homes. Apart from the kind of personal issues many people are facing in our . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Technology

Employers Must Ensure All Overtime Work Complies With Employment Standards

Written by Lewis Waring, Paralegal, Student-at-law, Editor, First Reference Inc.

In the federally regulated employment sector, working overtime hours is subject to a number of requirements under the Canada Labour Code. Although such legislation requires that any and all overtime work be compensated adequately, even providing such compensation does not ensure that employers in the federally regulated sectors are in compliance with their obligations. In a recent decision, an Ontario court decided an employer’s policy and labour practices regarding overtime hours failed to comply with the Canada Labour Code in a dramatic and broad class-action lawsuit brought by a . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Pandemic Emphasizes Paperless Roadblocks

I’ve been a fan of paperless and virtual documents and signatures for a long time. Despite the advantages, many steadfastly stick to paper. Many are moving online, but are only part way there.

The transition to paperless and electronic signatures is not always easy, and there are roadblocks that can get in the way. Too often there are one or more steps in a process that require paper or a wet signature that bring things to a halt.

For example, in Ontario we can get articles to create new corporations online, but to amend or amalgamate, we need 2 original . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology