Canada’s online legal magazine.

Employer Wins Damages for Time Theft and Unpaid Debt

Written by Lewis Waring, Paralegal, LL.B., Articled Clerk, Editor, First Reference Inc.

In a recent British Columbia ruling, an employee who engaged in a pattern of time theft was found to have been rightfully dismissed for cause. As a result of the dismissal being upheld, the employee was forced to repay a debt she owed to the employer due to an advance agreement that funded her home office supplies and her pursuit of professional credentials. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

A Charter Right to Advise — Even Without a License?

A new American case, Upsolve v. James, suggests that freedom of expression might protect the right of non-lawyers to offer legal advice.

In both Canada and the USA, lawyers have a near-monopoly on legal advice. If anyone tells someone else how the law would apply to their circumstances, the first person is probably deemed to be “practicing law.” That is something that only lawyers are allowed to do.

There are a few exceptions. In Ontario, for example, (i) licensed paralegals acting within their scope of practice, (ii) people giving occasional advice to friends or family, and (iii) employees of some . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Book Review: Litigating Artificial Intelligence

Litigating Artificial Intelligence
Authors: Jesse Beatson, Gerald Chan, Jill Presser
Page count: 368 pages
Publication Date: May 2020
Price: $149 (print) and $99 (e-book)
ISBN 978-1-77255-764-0

In 1962, the renowned science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. As technology progresses with each passing year, more of it may come to feel magical. Yet when that technology has the capacity to impact individuals’ legal rights, it becomes necessary for lawyers to learn the magician’s tricks.

One of the brave new frontiers facing lawyers and judges today is artificial intelligence. AI is deployed . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Client Development Trends

Marketers can move very quickly, embracing change, and often need to drag lawyers kicking and screaming. There are a number of trends that have evolved over the past few years that continue to have prominence in the industry. Firms that embrace them are moving further ahead of the rest.

  1. Content marketing
    This is still a great way to get your name out and the benefits are many. However, if your clients don’t have time to read long case updates, give them a short highlight video instead.
  2. Social
    Use social as a client retention tool, highlight what your clients are doing
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Marketing

Tips Tuesday: Finding PDFs on Google

A very short tip today! You can limit your search results on Google to PDFs by adding filetype:pdf to your Google search.

PDF isn’t the only file type that Google will recognize; you can also limit your search to file types such as .ps, .dwf, .kml, .kmz, .xls, .ppt, .doc, .rtf, or .swf.

Susannah Tredwell . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Tips Tuesday

What’s the Point of Competition in Law School?

“Look to your left; look to your right. Only one of you will be here in a few years’ time.” I’m not the first Slaw columnist to be skeptical that that phrase was ever directed at first-year law students in this country. And based on my own experience, it’s nonsense: About 95% of my first-year class at Queen’s Law in 1990 graduated three years later. Getting out of law school isn’t the hard part; getting in is.

But the myth’s perniciousness points to a fundamental (and I think deeply flawed) feature of law school: its competitiveness. From Day One, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

PÉNAL (DROIT) : La juge de première instance n’a commis aucune erreur en écartant l’application de la maxime de minimis non curat lex aux gestes commis par l’appelant, qui a donné 4 coups, ou «bines», à l’épaule d’une agente correctionnelle.

Intitulé : Yombo c. R., 2023 QCCA 12
Juridiction :  . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Considering the Time Element in Law

Law is a unique and important dataset: to a large degree it is a record of governance. It also tends to be conservative, so people can know what is likely to happen in the future based on what has happened in the past. Structurally, it has elements in common with other large text-based collections, such as aggregations of literary works. However, socially it has more in common with other high stakes bodies of information like medical research, with concerns like privacy and direct impact on people’s lives being necessary considerations. These attributes combine to make law as data a strange . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Can AI Pass Canada’s Citizenship Test?

Artificial intelligence has been in the news since late last year when OpenAI released ChatGPT, a large language model machine learning chatbot that provide surprisingly good responses to questions. This system can write essays, draft legal documents, and produce computer code.

To get a sense of the potential, consider Canada’s citizenship test. Applicants for Canadian citizenship must pass an online multiple-choice exam with questions about Canada’s history, geography, economy, government, laws, and important symbols. The government maintains a study guide to help applicants prepare, and many organizations, including the Toronto Public Library offer online practice questions. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics, Practice of Law

Friday Jobs Roundup

Each Friday, we share the latest job listings from Slaw Jobs, which features employment opportunities from across the country. Find out more about these positions by following the links below, or learn how you can use Slaw Jobs to gain valuable exposure for your job ads, while supporting the great Canadian legal commentary at Slaw.ca.

Current postings on Slaw Jobs:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Friday Jobs Roundup

ABA TECHSHOW’s “Startup Alley”: The Canadian Contingent

Leading up to ABA TECHSHOW 2023 this March 1st thru 4th, our Slaw friend and occasional writer Colin Lachance has alerted me to these five Canadian legal tech startups who have made the Top-40 for this year’s Startup Alley.

  • CiteRight is an essential litigation tool that simplifies legal research and writing by allowing users to save cases, generate automatic citations and produce court documents.
  • Jurisage AI accelerates legal research through instant access to case law insights.
  • Fidu helps legal teams ditch the billable hour for good in exchange for flat fee and subscription legal services by systematizing and scaling
. . . [more]
Posted in: Announcements, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Fired for Physical Flare Up Following Phone Find

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

You’re familiar with the scenario: a momentary physical flare-up over nothing provides the employer with arguable grounds for termination. They’re arguable because there are no hard-and-fast rules that termination results in every case of physical violence. In a legal challenge, arbitrators pay close attention to anything the employee says to take responsibility for his or her actions or to show remorse. In 2022 CanLII 112111 (CA LA), we see how significant the mitigating factor of an apology-or the lack of one-can be. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions