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Archive for March, 2010

SCC’s New Guidance for Lawyers on Withdrawal From Representation

The Supreme Court of Canada this morning told the Canadian legal profession of its obligations to continue to provide services when the money runs out, when it handed down its decision in the Cunningham case.

Jennie Cunningham was a lawyer working for the Yukon Legal Aid Services Society. Her client had been charged with three sexual assault offences against a six-year-old girl. Legal Aid found out that the accused was working but had not reported his income. So they dropped him from coverage. The client couldn’t pay. So Cunningham asked the Territorial Court in charge of the criminal proceedings . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Spreed: Speed Reading on the Small Screen

Spreed:Inc, a Canadian IT startup, offers to provide online publishers with the ability to present their content in such a way that readers can grasp it quickly, even — or perhaps especially — on the small screen of a smart phone. The notion has been kicking around for some time: flash one or a few words at a time in the centre of the screen, so that the eye doesn’t have to track left and right the way it might with a line of text. Those of you who have seen a Lawrence Lessig PowerPoint presentation will know that . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

Terabytes Became Terrorbytes

I had an interesting experience the other week with a law firm client and their corporate client regarding the need to process a vast amount of data and the associated costs with the project. It was apparent that there was a lack of understanding of scope and appreciation for the associated costs related to achieving their goals. In my opinion, the scope of work was further reaching than what was needed. I am not a lawyer, but common sense should rule the day over restoring data from an entire network that could amount between 400 and 800 backup tapes and . . . [more]

Posted in: e-Discovery

The SCC and Technological Change

Last week, David Cheifetz collected the salient paragraphs of the SCC’s decision on R. v. Morelli (2010 SCC 8) in a post here on Slaw, but only limited discussion followed. The dissent, though, has some interesting observations that deserve highlighting, such as this one from paragraph 144:

In light of the inevitability of technological change, it is important not to needlessly handcuff the courts to a concept of possession that is limited to certain technologies or to current-day computer practices. Control has been the defining feature of possession, not the possibility of finding data files on a hard drive. To

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

Technology Woes

I often tell people (my great Field IT guys and gal) that I know only enough about technology to be dangerous (usually when I break something). I try to learn things and understand engineeringish processes and sometimes I meet with moderate success. Not today.

Since re-planting ourselves in rural Alberta, my family has been attempting to live land-line-less…no telephone line. It is still remarkable costly to bring telephone service onto an undeveloped property and our last experience doing that was unpalatable. We do have pretty consistent and speedy Internet service so we gave VOIP a try. For 17 painful months. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Spindle Law: Treatise by Crowd

Spindle Law is a U.S. project to facilitate legal research by getting a community of lawyers to lay down the bones of areas of law in a hierarchical online treatise. Let me unpack that notion for you. To help me understand what Spindle is doing, I spoke to David Gold, the CEO and one of the founders of Spindle. At one level the notion is simple and straightforward: legal professionals join Spindle and, much as with Wex, the Legal Information Institute’s encyclopedia, members contribute to the building of a database. However, unlike Wex, which aims to meet the . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Tackling Impaired Driving…By Decriminalizing It.

Yes. You read the title correctly.
No. I’m not crazy. Although one might argue that point considering that I am about to propose a solution to the intractable problem of impaired driving that would, if implemented, wipe out a large percentage of my practice.

When the typical impaired driving client approaches me they invariably express one or both of the following two concerns: first, they want to avoid the stigma of a criminal record and second, they want to keep their driver’s licence. As the law now stands, neither of these objectives are possible without winning the case outright. If . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Labour Mobility and the Legal Profession

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) defines labour mobility as the freedom of workers to practise their occupation wherever opportunities exist. According to HRSDC, every year, approximately 200,000 Canadians relocate to a different province or territory to look for work.

Several Canadian provinces and territories have enacted or are in the process of enacting legislation that will eliminate internal trade barriers and enhance labour mobility to ensure all Canadian workers have the freedom to be able to work in their fields anywhere in Canada. These endeavours stem from the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), signed in 1994 by the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Nova Scotia Crowns Demand Better Security in Courthouses

According to an article in today’s Canadian Occupational Safety, Crown attorneys in Nova Scotia want the provincial government to investigate security at the Halifax and Dartmouth courthouses.

They complain of incidents of violence against lawyers, witnesses and other people.

Court house security committees composed of lawyers, Crown attorneys, judges, Department of Justice officials and sheriffs made recommendations to the government in the spring of 2009 on how to improve courthouse safety.

Saying that the government has done nothing, the Crown Attorneys Association has decided to file an official complaint with the Department of Labour.

Cross-posted to Library Boy . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Copyright Reform Bill This Spring?

In anticipation of a possible copyright reform bill in Canada in the Spring of 2010, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) issued a statement today reiterating its September 2009 position on copyright reform:

Fair dealing – Fair dealing is critical to a balanced and fair copyright regime. Copyright law reform must not limit or narrow fair dealing.

Damages and fair dealing – A change in the law should ensure that a user of a copyright-protected work is not subject to damages where he had reasonable grounds to believe that an activity is fair dealing.

Technological protection measures – Circumventing . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

What if the Cloud *Evaporates*?

♫Some sunny day-hey baby
When everything seems okay, baby
You’ll wake up and find out you’re alone
Cause I’ll be gone
Gone, gone, gone really gone…♫

Lyrics and Music by Don Everly and Phil Everly, recorded by The Everly Brothers.

The ABA Journal today published an article “Get Your Head in the Cloud” which states:

The early indications from ethics authorities are that storing client data in the cloud does not violate ethics rules, as long as the lawyer took appropriate steps to safeguard the information from inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure.

While I agree about taking . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

Texas Will Execute Henry Skinner Today

Modern states tend to keep meticulous records. This bureaucratic penchant lets us see how truly bizarre one aspect of the Texas justice system is. Thanks to a chart prepared by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, I can tell you that: since 1982 209 people have received capital punishment at the hands of that state; I could even tell you their “races,” as if that mattered. Another chart, this listing information on all executed offenders, will give you a photograph of the convict, some scanty information about the crime that led to execution, and the executed person’s “last statement.” . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law