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Archive for January, 2012

A Pay or Play Proposition for Access to Justice

When people lament the deteriorating state of access to justice in Canada and the unwillingness of cash-strapped governments to address the issue in meaningful ways, their focus often shifts to the role of lawyers in ensuring the delivery of critical legal services. Many observers, including Canada’s Chief Justice and Governor-General, characterize the role as a professional responsibility tied to the collective privilege of an effective monopoly on legal work. Others point to the lack of any moral or practical imperative in the equation, and characterize the role as more of a professional expectation. Given that most but not all Canadian . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Avoiding Common Communication-Related Claims in Corporate/commercial Law

Corporate/commercial law accounts for the third highest number of legal malpractice claims in Ontario, after real estate and civil litigation. An article in the January edition of the LAWPRO Webzine examines the causes of these claims in detail, and tells lawyers what they can do to reduce their exposure to claim in this area of law. This post reproduces the portion of that article that dealt with communications-related claims – the biggest cause of claims in the corporate-commercial area.

Over the last ten years, corporate/commercial-related claims (including bankruptcy, tax, and securities-related claims) averaged 14 per cent of LAWPRO’s claims count . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

SOPA: What’s All the Fuss About?

Controversy and anger over the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been gathering since the bill was introduced nearly three months ago.

Corporate supporters of the bill have been the targets of organized boycotts. GoDaddy, for example, was a supporter of SOPA until December 29’s “Dump GoDaddy Day” gained enough traction to force the company to reverse its position on SOPA.

Meanwhile, popular websites such as Reddit and Boing Boing will show their opposition to SOPA by “going dark” (i.e., shutting down) for one day on January 18th. Google and Facebook are being campaigned to undertake a . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

Marriage and Divorce in the Conflict of Laws

The traditional tests for the validity of a marriage in Canada (which adopted the rules established by the English courts in the nineteenth century) was that a marriage had to be valid (i) where it was performed, by the lex loci celebrationis, and (ii) by the law of the parties’ ante-nuptial domicile, usually referred to as the question of “essential validity”. Simon Fodden correctly stated the law in his earlier post.

With respect to the lex loci celebrationis, the ceremony had to comply with the rules of the place where it occurred—the minister had to be licensed, a . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

UKSC’s Newest Member

Leading London barrister Jonathan Sumption (now Lord Sumption) was sworn in last week as a member of the United Kingdom’s highest court, the first barrister in 50 years to be appointed to the jurisdiction’s top court without having served as a full time judge.

My SLAW post on 14 November last reported on a speech Sumption made about that time on the dangers of the widening scope of judicial review.

He returned to that topic in his recent interview with The Times, warning judges to keep out of politics.

Sumption also spoke of his views on judicial appointments. He opposes . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Should There Be Parttime Law School in Canada?

Like Darryl Mountain in today’s column, I have been thinking about law school lately. Or rather, I have been reminded about past thoughts on this topic. Whether law school should be changed or not is a current hot topic in the U.S. In addition to the New York Times article that Darryl points to, The National Law Journal has also just published the article What is Law School For, Anyway? by Karen Sloan about law schools not keeping up with what is needed in the profession.

One thing I believe the U.S. law school system has gotten right, however, . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools

Law School as Vocational School

My fellow slaw columnist Jordan Furlong has written a number of articles over the past few years about the shortcomings of legal education (the latest of which is here). The New York Times has also added to the debate with a recent article entitled “What They Don’t teach Law Students: Lawyering”. One of the themes floating around has been to partially return law school to its roots as a vocational school.

I had the occasion to think about some of these ideas recently when a move to Australia led me to requalify as a lawyer in a different system. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Legalization of Marijuana Now a Distinct Possibility

I just returned from the 2012 Liberal Biennial conference in Ottawa, where a number of policy resolutions were passed. One which has received considerable attention is Priority Policy Resolution 117, which passed with 77% of the vote. The text of the resolution reads:

117. Legalize and Regulate Marijuana
WHEREAS, despite almost a century of prohibition, millions of Canadians today regularly consume marijuana and other cannabis products;
WHEREAS the failed prohibition of marijuana has exhausted countless billions of dollars spent on ineffective or incomplete enforcement and has resulted in unnecessarily dangerous and expensive congestion in our judicial system;

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Inching Towards Open Access: JSTOR Will Offer Reading Access to Some Journals Free

JSTOR—Journal Storage, I think—keeps a good portion of English language scholarship, a thousand journals and more, in digital form to serve up to subscribers. Some have felt that corralling scholarship so assiduously behind a paywall is wrong, wrong as antithetical to the fundamental principle of disinterested scholarly inquiry, and wrong as creating a barrier to knowledge that the relatively poorer members of society can’t afford to cross. See, for example, this talk by Larry Lessig at CERN, and the politically motivated “hacking” of JSTOR by Aaron Swartz talked about here on Slaw.

But JSTOR, a non-profit venture aimed at . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Reading

The Friday Fillip: Shipping News


This is a small part of a stretch of ocean that’s being talked about a lot lately in connection with the Northern Gateway pipeline and the possibility of using Prince Rupert as an alternative western terminus. But this isn’t a fillip about pipelines, oil, or even oceans. It’s about those little coloured shapes that look like old-fashioned pen nibs — and even more about a website that tracks them. Some thousands of them all around the globe. gets data about ships’ positions and movement from AIS (automatic identification system) transponders on board vessels via VHF signals, the kind . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

You Might Like… Ten Temptations to Digression on Books, Torture, Books, Speed, Parking, Books, and More

This is a post in a series appearing each Friday, setting out some articles, videos, podcasts and the like that contributors at Slaw are enjoying and that you might find interesting. The articles tend to be longer than blog posts and shorter than books, just right for that stolen half hour on the weekend. It’s also likely that most of them won’t be about law — just right for etc.

Please let us have your recommendations for what we and our readers might like.

. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading: You might like...

How to Avoid Resource-Draining One-Off Marketing Activities

Many firms and lawyers alike still approach marketing as a task on a to-do list. Get carpets replaced, schedule articling student interviews, get a marketing speaker for the associates…

Marketing is not any singular item. It’s not holiday cards, a website, client lunches, or even a marketing speaker. None of these activities could stand alone and generate much of anything worthwhile unless your firm is the only gig in town. For the same reason that when you meet someone for the first time, it’s unlikely they will immediately send you work. You need to develop a relationship and find multiple . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing