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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

When Unions Fight

Headlines get made when employers and unions wage labour war. Teachers fighting provinces, police officers fighting cities and postal workers fighting Canada Post all make for great news. Inter-union fighting makes less noise but is also fascinating when it ends up before labour tribunals. A recent case provides a great example of what happens when unions “raid” each other (“raiding” is when one union attempts to sign up members represented by another union).

The story seems to start here, with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) talking to its membership (Toronto area airport screeners) about . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

WSIB Proposing Significant Changes for Employers

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is proposing significant changes to the employer Rate Group Classification System and premium rate-setting processes. Consultations are underway, and the board expects to start implementing the proposed changes starting in 2018, with full implementation by 2021. The “Proposed Preliminary Rate Framework” aims to simplify the system and make it fairer. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Transgender Rights in Canada: Another Letdown Looms

In Canada, in fact all around the world, transgender individuals face some of the highest risks of human rights violations of any sector of society. By any measure, the levels of violence, discrimination and other abuses they face are shockingly high.

It is a grave human rights problem in need of attention. More needs to be done to assure and uphold the equality rights of transgender individuals, and protect them from discrimination. More also needs to be done to keep them safe from hateful acts of violence.

For ten years there have been efforts in Parliament to do just that; . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

80 Hours and Counting

I heard recently about a mid-career lawyer who is a partner in a small, boutique litigation firm, and who began her career in a large firm setting. Though now well-established in her career, she still arrives at the office early each morning and rarely leaves before midnight. Those who work with her understand that this is the expectation for them as well. I suspect she’s not at all unusual in these habits and expectations.

That’s never been my approach to work and so I struggle to understand both the motivation for that kind of work-life imbalance and how it benefits . . . [more]

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

Will Self-Driving Cars Spontaneously Reboot?

A common rebuke to self-driving cars are thoughts about cars behaving like computers – like freezing or rebooting while driving. Those make amusing sound bytes or twitter comments, but there is a grain of truth to it. Self driving technology has come a long way, but while computers and software can follow programmed instructions, and can learn over time, humans are still better at many things.

An article in the New York Times entitled Why Robots Will Always Need Us does a good job of putting this in context, in part by the experience of aircraft.

Author Nicholas Carr points . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Elmardy v Toronto Police Services Board, 2015 ONSC 2952

[96] The police are entitled to speak to members of the public with whom they interact. Similarly, members of the public are entitled to decline to speak to the police. Had Constable Pak approached me, I might have given him the information he wanted. I might have said, “Constable, I prefer to . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Tenant Who Is 1.5 Years and $13,000 in Arrears Gets One More Chance

A recent decision demonstrates once again that our Province’s residential tenancy laws are in need of an overhaul to give more protection to landlords.

By the time the case (almost) came on for a hearing on April 27, 2015:

(a) the tenant had accumulated arrears of rent from September, 2013;

(b) the Landlord and Tenant Board (“LTB”) had made several orders terminating the tenancy and ordering eviction for non-payment of rent and arrears;

(c) the LTB had also made several orders setting aside the orders mentioned in (b) above and instead installing various repayment schemes;

(d) the tenant breached all . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Partnership Has Its Limitations

Perhaps because most law firms are partnerships, we don’t pay much attention to the practical implications of the partnership structure. This is understandable as there isn’t much of an alternative in our existing system at least so far as private practice is concerned.

A law firm partnership is very different than most ordinary businesses. In most businesses, the owners of the business are not involved in the business whether as workers or as managers. In contrast, law firms are owned and managed by people who provide services to customers (often with the assistance of others). In a law firm, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Tips Tuesday

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.


On iPad/iPhone Turn Caps Lock on With a Double-Tap on Either Shift Key
Dan Pinnington

iPads and iPhones have a Shift key, which is handy when you need to type a capital letter. But what if you want to type something in all caps? Pressing Shift for each letter is a pain. …


Ask Directions
Shaunna Mireau

I’ve been travelling in the Maritime this pas week. Like many . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Inside the Lawyer’s Mind: Managing Our Traits

Following up on his previous week’s posts on lawyers’ personality traits (autonomy, skepticism,urgency), sociability, and resilience.) Ian Hu (practicePRO and Claims Prevention Counsel at LAWPRO) looks at how lawyers face an uphill battle to keep turnover low, keep colleagues happy, and maintain civility across the profession.

I spoke with consultant and blogger Dr. Larry Richard, who provided strategies to manage or overcome these problems in his LAWPRO article. Dr. Richard pointed out that personality traits are expressions of preference. As such, we are not stuck with our personality traits forever. We can learn . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

May the Repo Man Work From Home?

The Internet of Things involves the connection of many things to the Internet that did not use to be networked. The numbers of such interconnected things is growing rapidly; the estimates vary greatly but are always counted in the billions over the next few years. The interconnection allows those things to communicate with the world, and vice versa. We have considered some of the legal issues raised by such communications, whether with the ‘world’ intended by the designer of the interconnection or with someone with unforeseen capacity or intention.

This column focuses on one communication: an ‘off’ switch, used by . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology