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Archive for November, 2012

Once More With Feeling: Watch What You Tweet

What’s that? The stuff you say online has no consequences in real life? I bet those officers at your door felt real.…

— Steve Murray (@NPsteve) November 21, 2012

It’s so easy to type words into a little box and hit send. Sometimes the words are backchannel chatter, during a broadcast of something everyone’s watching sort-of together. Other words are ill-considered remarks or comments perhaps more easily posted on a screen than spoken to a face. Sometimes words are directed at someone—or someone’s avatar—but not really to the person. These words can seem virtual, but they’re real and . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology: Internet

The South Carolina Data Breach and the Failure to Encrypt

It is nothing short of astonishing that more than 75% of South Carolina’s residents had their social security, credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information breached. News of the breach came in October, though it actually began in August. Who uncovered the breach? Usually it is the FBI, but this time it was the Secret Service that notified S.C. on October 10th.

How did the breach happen? Someone, as yet unknown, stole legitimate credentials from one of the 250 state employees with access to the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) database.

Why was the attack so easy? Because . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

A modern currency amongst our legal governance bodies is the “retention of women” in the practice of law. It’s a common rallying cry from the gatekeepers: Make sure the women stay! Because they know we are leaving, and they know as well that the impetus to leave arises, in part, from the disadvantages that we experience due to our disproportionately heavy role in creating and parenting children.

For women in bigger law firms, their maternity leaves prevent them from obtaining the same seniority or work opportunities as non-parenting counterparts. Once baby arrives, women in bigger law firms are then compared . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

What’s Hot on CanLII This Week

Here are the three most-consulted English-language cases on CanLII for the week of November 14 – 21.

1. British Columbia (Workers’ Compensation Board) v. Figliola
2011 SCC 52

[2] In British Columbia, there is legislation giving the Human Rights Tribunal a discretion to refuse to hear a complaint if the substance of that complaint has already been appropriately dealt with in another proceeding. The issue in this appeal is how that discretion ought to be exercised when another tribunal with concurrent human rights jurisdiction has disposed of the complaint.

2. Setia v. Appleby College 2012 ONSC 5369


. . . [more]
Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Bill Nye the Science Guy on Lawyers

I had the pleasure of seeing Bill Nye speak last night at Western with my son. It was gratifying to see a scientist treated like a rock star in a sold out hall of more than 2000 people – mostly Western students. People lined up hours to get the best seats, and there was a standing ovation when he walked on stage. The twitter hashtag #BillNyeWestern was trending nationally before it even started.

Between his talk and questions, he spoke for about 2 ½ hours on various topics including sundials, his involvement with the Mars Curiosity Rover, global warming, nanotechnology, . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

How Many Online Sources Do You Need?

Four – or so it seems.

CanLII’s summer 2012 survey of Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries (discussed here) drew over 4,300 responses*, allowing us to extract insights into matters of general interest.

As shown below in a survey screenshot of Question 10, we asked about online sources used to conduct legal research.

In addition to the eight options offered, respondents added many, many more to the list, but in the end less than a third of respondents reported using more than four online sources in the past 12 months.

The results also showed us that the more experience . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law

The Value of Scenario Planning

With the clean up from Hurricane Sandy now underway in the eastern United States, it is a good time to once again reflect on the discipline of risk management. Though I have not heard any first hand accounts as of yet, those firms in Sandy’s path that had engaged in some form of risk management planning were likely much better prepared for the effects of the storm and likely reestablished their business operations in a much shorter timeframe than those caught unprepared. While a full risk management program is multi faceted and includes a wide range of planning activities, there . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Ban on a Public Nativity Scene

The internet is a-buzzing: after 60 years of display, a court in Santa Monica, California has ruled that the city did not overstep when it barred, in one of its public parks, an annual traditional nativity scene, as well as any other private displays during this holiday season (read article here).

A U.S. federal judge rejected the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee’s motion to allow the religious display this year. The judge found that the city had banned the display booths for holiday-themed installations in that one specific city park as they were a drain on the city’s resources . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Sufficiency of Reasons Discussed by ABCA Decision

The Edmonton Journal headline reads “Edmonton judge’s cut-and-paste findings tossed by appeal court“. The sensational headline is about a decision cited University of Alberta v Chang, 2012 ABCA 324 (linked to the Alberta Courts website).

The appeals were from two chambers decisions:
University of Alberta v. Chang, 2011 ABQB 595 (CanLII),
University of Alberta v. Chang, 2011 ABQB 596 (CanLII),

In the above decisions, the judge granted the applications to dismiss the case for delay and prosecution and dismissed the actions.

The Court of Appeal was very critical of the reasons:

[17] The chambers judge followed

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

A Comment on “Party Autonomy and Access to Justice in the UNCITRAL Online Dispute Resolution Project”

As we are writing these lines, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s (UNCITRAL) working group III is meeting in Vienna to continue its work on online dispute resolution (ODR) or, rather, on establishing guidelines for potential ODR service providers. Since previously scheduled obligations have kept us from taking part in this year’s meeting, we’ll have to wait for feedback from other participants to comment on how things are moving forward.

In the meantime, however, those who wish to get a broader picture of the UNCITRAL negotiations and their potential impact are in luck since Professor Ronald A. . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Divisional Court Quashes Private School’s Decision to Expel Student Who Smoked Pot in His Dorm Room

Two judges of the Divisional Court have quashed the decision of a private high school to expel a student, on his last day before graduation, for smoking pot in his dorm room.

Gautam Setia attended Appley College (a well regarded private high school) in Oakville, Ontario. The night before his final exam he met up with some friends to celebrate the end of high school. They smoked some marijuana off campus and Gautam and a friend later returned to his residence. While in his room they smoked the last bit of pot, and got caught. Gautam admitted to smoking marijuana . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law