Canada’s online legal magazine.

Learnings From the Demographic Data on Litigants Without Counsel

The demographic information on litigants without counsel available to date reveals a number of interesting patterns: most litigants appear to be 40 years old and older, and people in that age range are involved in litigation at rates far higher than those in younger age groups; although most litigants have lower incomes, a significant number have incomes around or exceeding the average income; and, litigants’ often high incomes match their educational achievements, which often exceed the average. All of this information strikes me as potentially useful when designing services and reforming processes for litigants without counsel.

In her 2013 report  . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Current Awareness Services in Law Libraries

One useful service that libraries can provide is current awareness. This service lets lawyers know about new or proposed developments in legislation, case law of interest, and articles relevant to their practice. It can also function as a business development tool by keeping lawyers up-to-date with what is happening in a specific industry or by letting them know if a client (or competitor) has been mentioned in the news.

Journals and newsletters

Traditionally libraries have routed a periodical or a photocopy of its table of contents around the firm. Routing a physical copy has problems: it is fine for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Publications Nominated for the 2016 Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing

Every year, the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) hands out the Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing.

It honours a publisher that has demonstrated excellence by publishing a work, series, website or e-product that makes a significant contribution to legal research and scholarship.

The nominees this year are:

  • BC CLE Online (Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia): CLE Online is the home of CLEBC’s online subscription services
  • Quickscribe 2.0 (Quickscribe Services Ltd.): Quickscribe provides up-to-date consolidated legislation, point-in-time legislation, and the current status of bills, regulations and Orders in Council from British Columbia
  • WestlawNext Canada
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing

Amendment to the Charter of the French Language: Signage in French and Trademarks

The Charter of the French Language currently allows for the exclusive use of trademarks in languages other than French unless a French version of the trademark has been registered. Seeing an increase in the presence of trademarks in a language other than French displayed on outdoor signage all over the province, the Québec Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister Responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language, Hélène David, tabled proposed amendments to regulations under the Charter of the French Language (Loi 101). The amendments are to ensure a greater visibility of French in the display of . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Yet Again the Question Is “Where Were the Lawyers?”

Jasminka Kalajdzic recently highlighted a New York Times column entitled Panama Papers Show How Lawyers Can Turn a Blind Eye. The column reported that Ramón Fonseca, one of the founders of the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, “told The New York Times that the lawyers did nothing wrong in helping their clients set up shell companies”. Mr. Fonseca was quoted as saying:

We are like a car factory who sells its car to a dealer (a lawyer for example), and he sells it to a lady that hits someone. The factory is not responsible for what is done with the

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Ethics

Enemy of the State – Still Topical

I recently watched the 1998 movie Enemy of the State . It is a spy thriller about a lawyer being smeared by politicians because they believe he has information that can implicate them in criminal matters – the murder of a politician who was opposing a privacy bill that is really a bill empowering mass surveillance. They use sophisticated, unsavoury, unethical, and illegal methods to watch him, discredit him, and retrieve the evidence. No one is watching the watchers, who are out of control.

While like any disaster movie the plot is a bit over the top, it was fascinating . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, 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. Pritchard v. Van Nes, 2016 BCSC 686

[65] I find Mr. Pritchard has proven that Ms. Van Nes’ initial Facebook posts and her subsequent replies to her “friends”’ comments were defamatory, in that they tended to lower the plaintiff’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person. The ordinary and natural meaning of Van Nes’ comments unequivocally described Mr. Pritchard as . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

A Proposal for Automated Online Dispute Resolution, Part 1

This essay proposes a set of draft standards for automated online dispute resolution (AODR). The drafts I propose here are for transactional disputes, and specifically for AODR that generates arbitral awards in the millions of claims for debt and breach of contract. This proposal does not consider AODR for torts or disputes with non-AODR-compliant evidence or claims.

The AODR promise is simple and a little mind-boggling:

  • Take millions of claims out of the court system.
  • Reduce cost of dispute resolution (pre-enforcement) to zero.
  • Increase speed of dispute resolution (pre-enforcement) to infinity (limited only by bandwidth and machine capacity).
  • Give a
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

More Than a Google Search: 4 Ways to Assess Your Reputation

When I ask lawyers how they plan on building their reputations, the answers that I usually hear range from “do whatever I’m told” to “don’t screw up” to “execute my stellar marketing plan”. Of course, there’s more to it than that.

A reputation rests on:

  1. The esteem in which you are held
  2. The respect people have for you
  3. Your perceived level of trustworthiness
  4. The admiration that stakeholders have for your character

Having a “good” reputation means knowing what matters to those whose opinions affect your career. It doesn’t just result in referrals and job offers. It’s also about getting . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Marketing

Confucius

Who was Confucius?

See the book Confucius: And the World he Created by Michael Schuman (2015). Many of the words and phrases below are those of Michael Schuman.

Confucius was born in China in 551 B.C. and died in 479 B.C. He was a teacher, politician and philosopher. In Asia his influence ranks with Abraham, Jesus and Buddha. He spent most of his professional life teaching – he taught the wisdom of Chinese antiquity, a timeless code of morality. He handed down the standards for human morality.

Confucianism offers a moral code to guide human behavior analogous to the Ten . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

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 research and writing, practice, and technology.

Research & Writing

Go Gender Neutral
Neil Guthrie

Strive for neutrality, or at least balance. As Richard Wydick suggests in his excellent Plain English for Lawyers, ‘many readers, both women and men, will be distracted and perhaps offended if you use masculine terms to refer to people who are not necessarily male.’ Wydick also notes that it’s equally distracting to use ‘clumsy efforts to avoid masculine terms’, or . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Of Smartphones in an Age of Privacy Breaches and Paranoia

“Several were almost tharn—that is, in that state of staring, glazed paralysis that comes over terrified or exhausted rabbits, so that they sit and watch their enemies—weasels or humans—approach to take their lives.”
– Richard Adams, Watership Down

Go to enough legal tech conference sessions and you’ll eventually catch the fear. It may start with a shocking statistic or factoid —”80% of big law firms have been targets of hackers” or “The FBI unofficially recommends paying the cryptovirus ransom”— and it will escalate quickly into a litany of sinister sounding jargon and neologisms.

Phishing scams. Botnet zombie armies. Malvertising. Heartbleed. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology