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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Does the Proposed 25% LSO Fee Reduction Make Any Sense?

The last six months have been a challenge for everyone. The impacts of the pandemic have differed but no one has been spared. Lawyers and paralegals are no different. We have all been affected, in varying degrees and in varying ways. For many of us, the fact that we provide professional services rather produce goods or provide retail services has helped as many professional services need not be provided in person. Remote work has been possible for many. But some have been particularly affected.

The incomes of those who are employed, whether in business, government, larger firms or otherwise, have . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law

New Culture Shift Towards Scheduling Court Motions in Ontario

“A litigation culture has arisen in this province over the last three decades which extols creating and litigating peripheral procedural disputes, instead of moving towards the timely adjudication of disputes on their merits. That culture now lauds, as the skilled barrister, the motions specialist, not the final hearing expert.” – Justice David M. Brown 

Given the hurdles presented by COVID-19, the Ontario courts are trying to shift the litigation culture away from litigating peripheral procedural disputes. It was recently acknowledged in a motion to consolidate two matters in Klassen v Klassen, 2020 ONSC 4835, that “[COVID-19] shut down Ontario’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law

What Is the Future of Lawyers’ Jobs?

Bloomberg Law recently announced that lawyer jobs are down 15% in 6 months. Recovery is predicted to take years. “Lawyer employment information is hard to come by. But when we analyze the data we have, we find that lawyers have taken the brunt of legal industry job cuts in 2020.”

Interestingly, Bloomberg reports that 2020 employment favours non-lawyers over lawyers. In the United States, “lawyers lost more than 150,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2020, and the decline continued in the second quarter. The result is a lawyer employment level not seen since 2017.”

Bloomberg law predicts that lawyer . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Comments on the LSO’s Education Plan for a Family Legal Services Provider Licence

In an effort to increase assistance for family law litigants who do not have legal representation (self- or unrepresented litigants) and to assuage the concerns of the family law bar, some members of whom object to the introduction of paralegals into family law, at the same time, the Law Society of Ontario has proposed a new licencing framework, one limited to the provision of legal services in family law and one most likely to be taken up by existing paralegals. The LSO has invited comment on the entire proposal (see Family Legal Services Provider Licence Consultation Paper (“FLSPL Paper”); however, . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Sexagenarian Firefighter Forced to Hang Up Hose

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

In many cases, the choice of when to retire is based on a variety of factors, including lifestyle, priorities and other circumstances. Sometimes the decision to stop working is an easy one, while others prefer to continue working as long as possible. But what happens when an employee’s retirement is not a choice but is a requirement of his or her pension plan? Is it discriminatory? This issue came before the Human Rights Tribunal of Alberta in Aziz v Calgary Firefighters Association, 2020 AHRC 40 when a firefighter nearing the . . . [more]

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

Ontario Introduces CaseLines to Courts

Following the Civil Submissions Online and Family Submissions Online portals, first introduced starting in 2017, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice announced on July 29, 2020 that a two-week test phase of CaseLines will be launched on Aug. 10, 2020 for select civil motions and pre-trial conferences. The Online Portal will not be integrated with CaseLines at this time.

Starting Aug. 24, 2020, CaseLines use will be expanded to all civil, Divisional Court, Commercial and Estate List, and bankruptcy matters in Toronto. After that, it will be expanded to the rest of the province.

The new CaseLines service will replace . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

The Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act Receives Royal Assent

The Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act (introduced as Bill 32 and referred to as the Act) passed its final reading on July 28, 2020, and received royal assent on July 29, 2020. Some sections of the Act still require proclamation to come into force, however, most provisions come into force on assent or August 15 or November 1, 2020. . . . [more]

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

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