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Archive for August, 2012

Getting the Final Document Correct: A Checklist for Commercial Transactions

The following is the introductory article to LAWPRO’s new commercial transaction checklist that appeared in the August 2012 edition of LAWPRO Magazine. The full checklist can be downloaded from our Checklists page at

Many commercial matters involve the preparation of one or more documents. These documents are drafted based on communications between the parties to the document and/or their respective lawyers, the specific circumstances of the matter and applicable substantive law.

While the majority of commercial deals in Ontario are concluded without difficulties, all too often LAWPRO sees claims arising due to various real – or alleged – problems . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Of Tweets, Twits and Threats

Last Friday the Globe and Mail carried a piece about how authorities here in Canada are dealing with threats made using the internet. In a somewhat confused article the question was raised as to whether our Criminal Code should distinguish between threats made using the internet and those conveyed elsehow. Currently the applicable provision is s.264.1 of the Code:

(1) Every one commits an offence who, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat

(a) to cause death or bodily harm to any person;
(b) to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property;

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

The Perennial Access to Justice Policy Challenge: Are We Finally at a Crossroads?

At the Canadian Bar Association 2012 annual meeting in Vancouver, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin again made the case that access to justice is probably the most urgent policy challenge facing Canada’s justice system. The Chief Justice argued,

Being able to access justice is fundamental to the rule of law. If people decide they can’t get justice, they will have less respect for the law. They will tend not to support the rule of law. They won’t see the rule of law, which is so fundamental to our democratic society, as central and important.”

This message is one that she has . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

CBA’s New Membership Fee Review

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is the voice of the legal profession in Canada. It promotes the independence of the judiciary and legal profession, seeks to improve the law and administration of justice, and promotes equality.

But none of that is possible if lawyers aren’t members of the CBA, because membership is voluntary. Approximately two-thirds of all lawyers in Canada are CBA members, and the 37,000 members include lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers, and law students.

Changing times mean changing demands from the membership, and at the past annual meeting earlier this month in Vancouver, council approved a resolution that . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD

We Were Warned

Since what happens in the U.S.A necessarily affects Canada (eventually). It might even get past Alberta’s firewall.


Adam Chodorow (Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.)

The U.S. stands on the precipice of a financial disaster, and Congress has done nothing but bicker. Of course, I refer to the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting on the living. A zombie apocalypse will create an urgent need for significant government revenues to protect the living, while at the same time rendering a large

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Friday Fillip: The Horn

The French horn isn’t. French, I mean. It’s German, if anything. So the International Horn Society — oh, yes, there is such a thing — has decided we should join most of the rest of the world and leave off the nationalism, calling it simply a “horn”

Whatever you call it, this brass snail occupies a special place among the instruments — and I don’t just mean at the back of the orchestra. It seems to have a reputation as the most difficult instrument to play. This has something to do with the its great range — five octaves — . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Automating Process: The Future of Profitable Law

The Canadian legal market is worth roughly $12 billion a year. That is a very big number – one that will certainly catch the attention of aggressive multi-national companies. A good portion of that $12 billion market involves the careful application by sophisticated lawyers of high-end skills, knowledge and analysis. But an equally large portion, I can say with certainty, involves the application of simple, standard, repeatable processes. We in the legal profession need to understand just how vulnerable we are to losing our share of that market.

Clients are not prepared to pay our traditional high fees for what . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger

Expose Yourself

For a variety of reasons, some law firm websites may not have reached the top slot in Google, Bing, or Ask. There is competition for keywords, and the search engines change their algorithms frequently. Without having a team of folks tweaking the site, there will likely be some ebbs and flows in visibility in search results. However, there are a number of ways to boost visibility on the web so that whether someone finds the firm or attorney through social media, a directory, the website, or a professional nameplate site, you can get the message out about the firm’s professionals . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

You Might Like … a Brief Visit to Mars, Opulence, a One-Room Hotel, Baarle-Hertog, Glyndebourne, 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: Miscellaneous, Reading: You might like...

The Value of Prison Libraries

A small item on the CBC Books website caught my attention the other day. Entitled The life of a prison librarian, it describes the unique experience of Québec-born writer Jean Charbonneau who has been working as a prison librarian in Maryland:

It would be a strange experience for most, but Charbonneau found a calling right away.

“I had the feeling that what was I doing there as a librarian was important,” he said in The Current’s [a CBC radio show] documentary “Shelf Life,” adding, “I don’t how many inmates have told me that they have never read a book

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Proof and Causation: When Courts and Scientists Disagree

[This column was written with the asstance of Meredith James.]

One of the challenges in environmental work is the inconsistent and erratic relationship between law and science. To be effective, environmental policy needs to be based on good science, which is why current government cuts to key environmental research are so harmful, in both the short and the long run. But even when good science exists, the law struggles to properly incorporate it, and sometimes science can’t (yet?) answer the questions the courts are interested in. What should happen then?

Criminal cases

The courts sometimes seem to have a poor . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Only the New Can Change the Profession

The more I discuss change in the legal profession, the more the same question is asked of me: what will drive the change than many in the profession agree is long overdue. And when I say “many in the profession,” I mean young lawyers. The established, older set of partners in charge of many of this country’s firms have no reason to change what they are doing and are simply eyeing the finish line of their careers. Add to that, the fact that large established firms are weighed down with legacy IT systems, as well as an antiquated partnership and . . . [more]

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