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When Does Preparing a Witness Turn Into Distorting Evidence?

The Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Upper Canada state that: “The lawyer must not …knowingly attempt to deceive a tribunal or influence the course of justice by offering false evidence…suppressing what ought to be disclosed…”

Lawyers may be offering false evidence without even knowing it. Lawyers frequently refresh witnesses’ memories in preparation for discovery or trial. However, refreshing a witness’s memory is not a neutral activity. In Witness Preparation: A Practical Guide, Bryan Finlay et al state that “the process of memory is not a simple matter of resurrecting fixed traces, but instead a process . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

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. Servus Credit Union Ltd v Parlee, 2015 ABQB 700

[12] Mr. Parlee said he has “100% legal title to the estate”, and relied on documents in an Affidavit he had filed on July 20, 2015. He claimed his signature “… creates the currency.” His authority to sign comes from his certificate of live birth. His documents were no different from others . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

The Holiday Season, Reinvented

As I write this, the holiday season is almost upon us and I’m just returning from a lunchtime trip to the local shops. It’s not necessary to be terribly observant to see that customers and store clerks are beginning to lose their patience, drivers are behaving more aggressively (especially in parking lots!), and a general feeling of anxiety is descending upon the populace.

Sometimes I think the expression “holiday season” is a misnomer. For many of us it’s a time when we’re pulled in multiple directions simultaneously. Social obligations, family obligations and end-of-year deadlines coupled with long days, late nights, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How to Master Complex, Unfamiliar Tasks

If you’re about to tackle a complex matter or task in an unfamiliar area, how should you prioritize your first steps? New research shows that you’ll be off to a better start if you focus on learning rather than results. This is especially true if the matter context is unpredictable or dynamic.

I interviewed Dr. Meredith Woodwark – whose research uncovered these findings – to learn more. Woodwark teaches organizational behavior and leadership at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research focuses on motivation, learning goals and employee engagement.

Q. How is your research . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

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.

Research & Writing

Catchy Headlines and Openers
Neil Guthrie

Just as blogs get more readers than e-mails, articles with catchy headlines and enticing openers are more likely to be looked at than, well, boring ones. Here is a post from LinkedIn that illustrates the point: …


Law Firm Marketing: Finding an Online/Offline Balance
Garry Wise

There is no shortage of evangelism out there on the importance of the Internet . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Please Don’t Try to Disrupt Anything, Just Build Useful Stuff That Helps People Work Better

Once in one of my law and technology LL.M. classes at UdeM, we had a dare: how many times can one possibly include the word “mayonnaise” in a class presentation. I feel that there is something similar going on with the word “disruption” in law-related talks.

The following are random thoughts about building and positioning products for the legal market which are drawn mostly from lessons learned (read: things that didn’t work out), but also from some stuff that turned out not so badly.

In order to not sound skeptical, I will deliberately not go into my memories of how . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Of Cyberbullying, Digital Citizenship… and Technological Competence?

OK, Canada may be somewhat behind our neighbours when it comes to adopting rules around technological competence for lawyers, but at least “Digital Citizenship” is getting some traction—or at least with respect to standards for children and parents.

On Friday November 13, 2015, while two more states adopted a duty of technology competence into their codes—and while Canadian law societies maintained unanimous silence on such requirements for lawyers—British Columbia’s Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner and Representative for Children and Youth, released Cyberbullying: Empowering Children and Youth To Be Safe Online and Responsible Digital Citizens. The Privacy . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology: Internet

Win Clients With This Simple Question

This post is by Ian Hu, claims prevention and practicePRO counsel at LAWPRO

I vividly remember losing one of my first potential clients. He was shopping for lawyers and had whittled his list down to three or four. I had dealt with legal issues exactly like his before and resolved them successfully. I felt I knew the law as well as anyone. I would help him and impress him with my knowledge and experience. I put on my best suit and tie. As I walked down to meet him I figured I had the advantage.

During the meeting I gushed . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Fighting for Environmental Assessment in Canada

What kind of Canada do you want? One that prioritizes industrial development over
people, or one that finds innovative ways to grow its economy in balance with nature?

If you’re interested in environmental law and environmental justice then you’re probably aware of the fantastic work done by Ecojustice. It was 1990 when they started “leading the environmental fight” in Canada under the Sierra Legal Defense Fund banner. That’s 25 years of successful “groundbreaking” litigation representing community groups, non-profit organizations, First Nations, and individual Canadians. Through their efforts they have “secured many precedent-setting legal victories that protect wildlife . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Monday’s Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from sixty recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. Susan on the Soapbox  2. 3. All About Information  4. University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog  5. À bon droit

Susan on the Soapbox
POTUS Kills Keystone XL

On Friday Barack Obama refused to issue a presidential permit allowing TCPL’s Keystone XL pipeline to cross the border . . . [more]

Posted in: Monday’s Mix

Clinical Legal Education on the Move in Canada

The Place of Clinical Legal Education was the theme of the 6th annual conference of the Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE), held at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law from October 22-24.

The conference keynote was by author and playwright Maria Campbell on the place of clinics in reconciliation. Some of the topics covered at the conference were:

  • Beyond Cultural Competence: the Place of Decolonialization in Clinics
  • Leveraging Law School: Breaking Down Silos to Enhance Access to Justice
  • Community Lawyering and Teaching Clinics
  • The Internet as a Site for Clinical Legal Education: Using Online Dispute Resolution
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Education

Drug Smuggling Lawyer Reversed on Appeal

As lawyers, we hold ourselves to a higher code of conduct. So when that code is called into question, for example through allegations of impropriety around drug trafficking, they create cause for concern for the entire bar.

In 2012, Deryk Gravesande was charged with trafficking after approximately 58 grams of marijuana and a parcel of lidocaine was found on his former client, who was incarcerated at the time. The guard claimed to search the prisoner both prior and following his meeting, and it was in the second search that the drugs were found in the prisoner’s underwear.

He was convicted . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions