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New TOROG Document

As I hope everyone knows, TOROG — the Toronto Opinions Group — kindly allows Slaw to publish some of their memos and precedents on third party opinions. A new document has just been added to the collection: “Limitations Act, 2002 (Ontario) – Proposals for Improving Contract Drafting and Appropriate Opinion Qualification Practice – June, 2009,” which, like the others, is available in PDF.

This relatively lengthy document (18pp.) describes the impact of recent changes to the Ontario Limitations Act on one’s freedom to contract with respect to a limitation period. The document also contains a sample provisions of purchase . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information, Substantive Law

Just One Reason Why Judicial Appointment Hearings Aren’t a Good Idea

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the Judge Sonia Sotomayor appointment to the United States Supreme Court have reminded me why the idea of importing these hearings for real into our Canadian SCC appointment process bothers me. They’ve reminded me in a lot of ways, but one that stands out from this time around is the way in which the exchanges are antithetical to the process of judging. Judging should involve thoughtful consideration of the evidence, and, depending on the nature of the case, especially constitutional cases, of the context of the case. Of course, judges have predispositions, based on . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Canadian Copyright Consultations Begin

The Federal government has just launched public consultations intended to lead to a new copyright reform bill. The last few attempts to revise copyright law have not become law – but have been highly controversial. This is an important topic that affects things we do every day. The difficult part is striking the right balance between the entertainment industry desire to charge for and control everything, and the consumer expectation of getting everything free all the time. Past efforts have not accomplished that balance, and in some ways took a step backwards by being stuck in a digital time warp. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Challenging the Ontario Racing Law

Since the Ontario government brought in the the so called “racing law” (HTA s. 172) thousands of Ontario drivers have been charged, most for the simple act of driving more than 50 km/h over the speed limit (an action which is referred to as “performing a stunt” under the Statute and Regulations). In fact the police and the Crown have taken the position that anyone driving more than 50 km/h over the limit is guilty of stunt driving under the Highway Traffic Act. But in taking this position they have violated the intent of the Ontario Legislature.

It is a . . . [more]

Posted in: Uncategorized

Vanish

A team of computer scientists from the University of Washington has developed Vanish, a program that lets you create an email or a document that will self-destruct at a given time. At the moment it’s still in the developmental stage, but you can download a trial copy that will enable you to use a Firefox plugin to create the various temporary documents. There’s also an online Vanish service if you’re leery of installing a trial app.

From what I can gather from the press release and an article in the New York Times, Vanish works by using an . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

LSBC Strategic Plan for 2009-11

A copy of the Law Society of British Columbia’s 2009-2011 strategic plan was posted to their website yesterday. Adopted by the Benchers’ back in February, the 12-page document identifies three principal goals:

1. enhancing access to legal services;

2. enhancing public confidence in the legal profession through appropriate and effective regulation of legal professionals;

3. effective education, both of legal ­professionals and those wishing to become legal professionals, and of the public.

Hat tip to Courthouse Libraries BC. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Article of the Future

The giant publisher Reed Elsevier (in whose capacious bosom LexisNexis rests) is experimenting with the form that a published scientific article takes online. The “Article of the Future” project, in beta, is an attempt to re-think the way in which a scientific article is presented, given the possibilities made available by information technology. At the moment there is a prototype that makes use of a couple of articles originally published in Cell, reformatting them in such a way that, among other things, graphics are more readily available and can be scaled, contents of the article are broken . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Technology

What Makes Us Happy?

All we need is love…

Lyrics and Music by Lennon & McCartney

In the June 2009 issue of The Atlantic online, Joshua Wolf Shenk looks at the issue of “What Makes Us Happy?” This is no new-age, crystal-based, aromatherapy-scented review of superficial meaning-of-life issues (not that The Atlantic would ever stoop to that level). Rather, this is an article that examines a 72 year Harvard longitudinal study of 268 men that started in 1937 which included among its participants, President John Kennedy. The article is also an exploration of psychiatrist George Vaillant who has been “the chief curator . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

This Week’s Biotech Highlights

Everyone this week seemed to be extending a helping hand:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law

Lawyers Feed the Hungry: A Practical Guide

Lawyers Feed the Hungry, the meal program run out of the cafeteria at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto, has now been in operation for over a decade. Each week, close to a thousand guests are served a hot meal four times per week (Wednesday and Friday dinner, and Thursday and Sunday breakfast), as well as a bag lunch at the latter three meals. In effect, guests are provided with a free meal for every day of the week.

Many members of the profession think about helping out with the program from time to time but lack access to a practical . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Is There Such Thing as Work-Life Balance for Lawyers?

Just as Allison Wolf shoots some holes in the myth of work-life balance in her recent Slaw column “The Tyranny of Performance,” the Canadian Bar Association has launched a new Work-Life Balance Resource Centre in the CBA PracticeLink section of their website.

Allison asks us:

What is the quality of our work life? What is the quality of our personal life? When both activities are fulfilling we have an abundance of energy. When one or both are draining we run into health issues and performance challenges.

Instead of work-life balance can we just talk about work-life enjoyment?

The . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law

Constitutional Lessons From an Israeli Supreme Court Justice

­­I had the opportunity to hear one of the Chief Justices speak at the Israeli Supreme Court today. He explained some of the basics of the Israeli judicial system, and shared some of the challenges that they currently face.

Unlike some jurisdictions, Israel has had no problem drawing on international law for their domestic discourse. For example, when developing their position on freedom of expression, they looked to the most robust and liberal legal discourse on the subject and borrowed freely from American case law.

As a Jewish state they also do use some Jewish religious law, although in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law