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Archive for March, 2012

What I Wish I Had Known in Law School

May El-Abdallah / Excerpted from LAWPRO Magazine, Student Issue #1, 2012

Law school can be a steep learning curve, and stepping into the world of practice can seem even more daunting. One of the most common complaints I hear from recent graduates is that they feel under-prepared to deal with the day-to-day realities of practice that they are confronting as articling students or recent calls.

While there may never be a substitute for hands-on learning, here are a few lessons my colleagues and I wish we had learned in law school to make the transition into the world of ‘lawyering’ . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Declining Clients Who Cannot Pay: Discriminating Against Women Who Have Survived Sexual Assault

by Jenna Marie Pilon

[footnotes omitted; available on request]


A Canadian lawyer must respect the requirements of human rights laws and not deny services to persons by discriminating on the ground of sex. However, lawyers may refuse services to clients who cannot pay. This lawful principle, when combined with the cost of civil litigation and the demographic reality that it is predominantly women who experience poverty and sexual assault, results in adverse discrimination that prevents this group from accessing civil justice.

What is the Access to Justice Problem?

Currently, there are approximately 90,000 lawyers in Canada. Despite this growing . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

and the Women Lawyers Still Leave

A conversation I often have with partners (both male and female) goes like this. The partner tells me, “We bend over backwards to help our women associates by accommodating lengthy maternity leaves; putting on programs to help them develop business; holding events for potential female clients and allow some women to work reduced hours. But it makes no difference – the women lawyers still leave.”

These partners are correct. Despite these programs, the women lawyers still leave. They leave because these programs do not address the deeper reasons why women leave private practice either voluntarily or are dismissed by firms . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Digital Public Library of (North?) America and Google Books

A couple of weeks ago the University of Toronto Faculty of Law hosted the Grafstein Annual Lecture in Communications. This year, Robert Darnton, the University Librarian at Harvard, spoke on “Books, Libraries & the Digital Future“. A webcast of the talk is available via the UofT’s Information Commons website.

I know a number of law librarians were disappointed to miss the talk as it was not publicised widely outside the University community. As it turned out Professor Darnton spoke to a packed house. His talk picked up on the themes in his widely read New York Review of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing

Leveraging Generational Diversity in Law

The following article by Nora Spinks, president of Work-Life Harmony Enterprises appeared in the Winter 2008 edition of LAWPRO Magazine. The original article also features sidebar interviews with law firms that are making great efforts to address the issue of changing demographics in the workplace.

They, them, those … each generation assessing the others. Generational diversity is quickly becoming one of the top stressors in organizations. With five distinct generational characteristics mixed with other elements of diversity including gender, culture, ethnicity, language, experience etc., the complexity of our workforce has never been greater.

Historically, there were three distinct generational . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

What’s Hot on CanLII This Week

Here are the three most-consulted English-language cases on CanLII for the week of March 20 – 27..

1.Romspen Investment Corp. v. 6176666 Canada Ltée. 2012 ONSC 1727

[2] Let me tell a little story. It is not an unusual story. Indeed, it is a common story in this court. But the story illustrates an important point, a point which judges, as the ultimate stewards of the health of our system of justice, must be vigilant in keeping on the radar screens of those who hold the purse strings of this Court’s administration system.

2. Doré v. Barreau . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

What New Lawyers Need to Know About LAWPRO’s Mandatory Professional Liability Insurance

Excerpted from LAWPRO Magazine, Student Issue #1, 2012

What is professional liability insurance?
Professional liability insurance is designed to indemnify lawyers against the consequences of a lawyer’s liability for a client’s loss. For this reason, only lawyers in private practice are subject to the mandatory insurance requirement.

What is private practice?
Private practice, for the purpose of LAWPRO’s insurance program, is the delivery of professional services (including advice) to anybody who is not the lawyer’s employer. . . .

What kinds of lawyers are exempt from the mandatory insurance requirement?
In general, lawyers working as in-house counsel, who are employed by the government, . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

New Lawyers Are Proving to Be a Conservative Bunch

One of the puzzling things I have noticed about new lawyers is that they tend to come out of law school thinking like 50 year old lawyers – and not like the digital natives they are. In general they don’t seem to think like their peers who have pursued callings other than law. And that’s not a good thing. 

That seems strange to a digital immigrant like myself, who embraces things like a paperless practice and social media. We sometimes wonder why law students are not pushing us into this world and demanding new and innovative approaches, rather than the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Racy Lawyer Advertisements Create a Spiralling Strip-Poker Race to the Bottom

by Mona Zarbafian

Chicago lawyer Corri Fetman’sLife’s short. Get a divorce” marketing campaign is a combination of sexualized images and suggestive slogans that influence a greater market than solely potential divorce-seeking couples. In her quest to deviate from the stereotypical image of legal advertising, Fetman has linked the legal profession to the sex industry; furthermore, she has implemented a marketing strategy that violates ethical codes of conduct, encourages litigation, and diminishes confidence in the legal profession. Although these violations have resulted in individual gains for Fetman, broader collective ramifications for the legal profession are at stake.

There . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Focusing on Justice System Reforms in the Drummond Commission Report

by Lesley Jacobs*

In all the extensive commentary on the release of the Drummond Commission Report last month, virtually no attention has been paid to the implications for Ontario’s justice system. The Justice system accounts for about 5% of total public sector spending by the Government of Ontario, making it the fourth biggest sector after health, education, and social services. From the perspective of trying to rein in public spending, neglect of the justice system is especially surprising because, as the Report notes, in the past year it has seen the biggest sector increase in spending, almost 11.5%.

The central . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Social Media Pitfalls to Avoid

The following article appeared in the December 2009 edition of LAWPRO Magazine.

Although social media sites offer lawyers many interesting new ways to interact with people in both personal and work spheres, there are some risks associated with using them. Some of these risks are obvious, some are not.

Before they venture into social networking, lawyers should consider Section 5.5 of the Law Society’s Practice Management Guideline on Technology (“Technology Guideline”). It states, “Lawyers should have a reasonable understanding of the technologies used in their practice or should have access to someone who has such understanding.”

This article will . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week

Memos vs Papers

In honour of law student week I am sharing some advice for students on the differences between writing in law school and writing at a law firm. First let me remind you that I am not a lawyer. My experience in this area comes from being surrounded by legal writing – in the sources that I am responsible for evaluating and collecting in my library, in work product I assist with, read, and have responsibility for retaining for future use, in my email, on the web. I also have responsibility for training articling students in legal research and writing.

There . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information