Canada’s online legal magazine.

An Algorithm’s Charter Rights

Everywhere I go during the holidays I seem to be surrounded by Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant. While these computers don’t yet talk the way do, it did have me thinking about the expression rights that might be protected by the Charter.

In 1996, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in Daniel J. Bernstein et al., v. United States Department of State et al. that software source could be protected under the American First Amendment,

…the particular language one chooses change the nature of language for First Amendment purposes. This court can

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology

Reputational Harm of Legal Blogging

No, not the author’s reputation. The subject’s.

In early December, the Americans celebrated legal blogging with the ABA Journal Web 100, and on December 31st, Canada did likewise with the 2017 Clawbies. In between, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPCC) posted a summary of submissions received in its ongoing study into the privacy issues surrounding Online Reputation. Legal blogging wasn’t explicitly mentioned, but it’s hard to see how the subject can be avoided.

The original consultation document notes that “dating sites, sites that re-post court and tribunal decisions, and, overwhelmingly, the so-called . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

End of Year Legal Information Update From Washington, DC

Winter has arrived here with cold (for us) temperatures and some icy snow. But there is good news coming from some U.S. government information sources. In October the Law Library of Congress, where I volunteer, announced a new chatbot service.

“We are excited to announce the release of a new chatbot that can connect you to primary sources of law, Law Library research guides and our foreign law reports. The chatbot has a clickable interface that will walk you through a basic reference interview. Just click “get started,” respond “yes” or “no” to its questions, and then click on the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Welcome to 2018 With New Employment and Labour Law Rules and Obligations Across Canada

Welcome to 2018 and a load of new employment and labour law rules and obligations across Canada.

As most of you already know, a number of new or amended laws and regulations came into effect on January 1 or will come into force later in 2018 across Canada, including marijuana legalization and higher minimum wages in Ontario, Alberta and other jurisdictions. Here is a brief reminder of the new or amended rules you need to be aware of and implement to ensure compliance. . . . [more]

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

Justice Innovation Lessons of 2017

What did 2017 bring? Lots of hard work, but was the dial on justice innovation moved?

Let me briefly beat my drum again why I we must ask this question every year; ministers of justice, chief justices, MPs, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, justice NGOs, tax payers, voters, and revolutionaries.

The past few months, the organisation I run, HiiL, put all the data that it has collected on justice needs and experiences the past four years together. Almost 70.000 voices. Twelve countries. Africa, the Arab world, and Europe. A new Trend Report based on this data will come out in the first . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Reinventing Competence

What do lawyers need to be competent for the practice of law today, and even more, for tomorrow?

The critical importance of at least a foundational knowledge of the law, and the ability to conduct appropriate research to find the answers to what one doesn’t yet know, is generally acknowledged. As well, lawyers should be capable advocates, creative problem-solvers and effective counsellors. Also important are communication skills, facility with relevant technologies and business acumen. The list goes on, including both hard and soft skills, developed through law school and articles and then on the job thereafter.

A debate I attended . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Education & Training: Law Schools

8 Legal/Tech Issues for 2018

Blockchain (the technology behind Bitcoin) is in a hype phase. It has been touted as the solution to many issues around trust. To some extent blockchain is still a solution in search of a problem. Blockchain will, however, become an important technology, and perhaps during 2018 we will begin to see some practical uses.

CASL, Canada’s anti-spam legislation, has been under review. It is a horrible law where the cost / benefit ratio is way off. Most small businesses simply don’t have the resources to comply. And no matter how hard they try, larger businesses have a difficult time complying . . . [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. Cotton v Berry, 2017 BCSC 907

[168] The Father’s aggressive behaviour around the time of separation and during some exchanges of the children has been transient and relatively minor. It has not been directed at the children but may have affected their well-being because they have sometimes been present. This is not a case where family violence is a significant factor . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Is a Bad Lawyer a Bad Person?

In 1976 Charles Fried famously asked, “Can a good lawyer be a good person?” (“The Lawyer as Friend: The Moral Foundations of the Lawyer-Client Relation” (1976) 85 Yale LJ 1060 at 1060).

Law and morality are distinct. As a consequence, lawyers sometimes represent bad people, and sometimes help people do bad things. There is thus a legitimate question about whether being a lawyer is consistent with an ethical life. Nonetheless, Fried answered his question “yes”. Because of the law’s legitimacy and justification, a lawyer who assists people to pursue their goals and interests through the law can be – is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

The Dickensian World of Music

The pittance received by most musicians through modern distribution formats is hardly news. Records sales have long tanked and online streaming – the trending means of music consumption – is famous (see here and here for example) for paying out a fraction of a penny per listen. By one US estimate, it takes over 172,000 plays per month for an artist to make a living wage. The upshot is that you need to go big or go home – or at least tour a lot. In what follows, I will explain the financial side of the business in Canada, . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

The Healthy Respect Between Judiciary and Executive

As we enter 2018, we begin the new year with a new Chief Justice, and an opportunity to reflect on the Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin’s 17 years in this role, the longest in the entire history of Canada.

A well-experienced jurist, who has been on the bench since 1981, her role on the Court has had a discernible impact on the development of the Charter and its interpretation. The Charter is one of the most important national symbols of Canada, outranking even the flag, the national anthem, the RCMP, and even more than hockey. The CBA Presidents who . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Summaries Sunday: Supreme Advocacy

On one Sunday each month we bring you a summary from Supreme Advocacy LLP of recent decisions at the Supreme Court of Canada. Supreme Advocacy LLP offers a weekly electronic newsletter, Supreme Advocacy Letter, to which you may subscribe. It’s a summary of all appeals as well as leaves to appeal granted so you will know what the SCC will soon be dealing with (November 24 to December 29, 2017 inclusive).

Appeals

Aboriginal Law: Treaty Rights
First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun v.Yukon, 2017 SCC 58 (36779)

Yukon did not here have the authority to make the extensive . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday