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Archive for January, 2013

Privacy Commissioner Finds (Parts Of) an App to Violate Privacy Principles

Yesterday, a news release by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) informed the public of its recent findings following an investigation into the WhatsApp, also known as WhatsApp messenger (the report of findings can be read here). For the OPC, this investigation is a first in that is was done in collaboration with the Dutch Data Protection Agency.

WhatsApp is a cross is a “cross-platform mobile messaging app”, as described on its website. The investigation looked into whether or not the application contravened certain Principles of the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Protection Act. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

LinkedIn Group to Follow a Conference

I recently accepted an invitation to join a LinkedIn Group. No big deal, like many of Slaw readers I am a member of a handful of relevant discussion groups in LinkedIn. I follow LinkedIn Groups that could generally be described as communities of practice. My groups have titles like Canadian Association of Law Libraries, Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals, Law Firm Research Managers, Law Firm Knowledge Management (a subgroup of Legal IT Netowrk), and so on.

I remember the term “communities of practice” best from an Ark Conference that I attended years ago called Best Practices & Management Strategies for . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD

Karen Dyck Joins Slaw

I’m delighted to announce that Karen Dyck has joined Slaw as a regular blogger. Karen is a freelance lawyer based in Manitoba with a keen interest in enhancing access to justice and equality. For the first five years after her call, she carried on a litigation practice in small firms focusing on family law. She has since drawn upon her legal background to work with a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations in a wide range of roles, from investigations and research to program development and writing to management and administration.

Karen tweets as @karendyck and can be found on . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Announcements

The Anti-Spam Act, Part 2 of 5: The Definition and Treatment of Spam

This article talks about what the Anti-Spam Act defines as spam, the myriad of exceptions, and what needs to be tracked to prove compliance. This will be presented by way of the thought process to be followed to determine whether a message is spam, and whether or how it can be sent without violating the act. The graphic that accompanies this article may be helpful. [Click here to download a PDF file of the graphic.]

This is the second of a series of 5 articles that will introduce the Act, describe what spam is and is not, talk about collateral . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Through a Glass, Darkly: The Future of Court Technology

At the behest of our good friend, D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon, we noodled a bit on the future of courtroom technology for an article Judge Dixon is writing. Having brainstormed the topic, we thought it might be fun to take some of our random thoughts and make them marginally coherent.

At the outset, it is clear that there will be disruptive technologies that no one will anticipate. Having covered our collective posterior on that score, some things seem relatively certain. As courts strive to accommodate the needs of citizens, it is likely that we will one day see . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Tips Tuesday

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.


Lawyers Should (Almost) Never Use BCC
Dan Pinnington

Email is a primary means of communication for most lawyers. It is a fantastic tool. You can easily and almost instantly communicate across the globe with your client and other people involved in a legal matter. You can send different types of attachments. And if you have a smartphone, you can send and reply to emails from just about anywhere on . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

The Impact of an Effective Offer to Settle on Legal Costs

Ontario operates on a “loser pays” civil legal system. At the conclusion of trial (or a motion or application) the successful party can expect the presiding judge to order the unsuccessful party to pay a portion of the successful party’s legal costs. While awarding costs is always in the discretion of the presiding judge, as a rule of thumb litigants can expect to receive a cost award that reflects 40% – 70% of the fees they actually incurred.

Our Rules of Civil Procedure also provide a mechanism to encourage the acceptance of reasonable offers to settle. A party can make . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Substantive Law

One Step Forwards on Media, One Step Back on Substance

Last Wednesday, the UK Supreme Court split on the issue of whether legal advice privilege extended to legal advice provided by accountants. In other words, did the privilege attach because of the nature of the communication, rather than the status of the person communicating.

The Court split 5 to 2, holding that legal advice privilege remains the exclusive preserve of clients of the legal profession. It protects communications passing between a lawyer and his or her client, with the lawyer acting in a professional capacity in connection with the provision of legal advice.

The Prudential case involved the issue of . . . [more]

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

Bob Wilkins

We remember Robert Wilkins who died in Lexington, South Carolina last week.
Bob was a pioneer in the application of technology to the practice of law. In 1979 (that is not a typo), he published “Word Processing for a Law Office”. He was the editor of the Lawyer’s Micro-Computer, The Lawyers PC, The Perfect Lawyer and Shepard’s Elder Care Law newsletter. When I started going to ABA Tech Show almost 30 years ago, Bob Wilkins was a legend, since he had designed his entire Trusts and Estate practice around his technology.

Without pioneers like Bob, today’s practice is almost unimaginable. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Technology: Office Technology

From Westlaw to a Software Company – Thomson Reuters Bold Leap

At New York Legal Tech this week, Thomson Reuters will unveil an interesting basket of software products for the legal market. While a lot of hard innovative work has gone into the products to be released at the start of February, the most notable feature is the elements that they share in common.

The most significant development was not the suite of products that were unveiled but the change in strategic direction that they embody. I’ve commented before on how Thomson Reuters acquisitions appear somewhat disjointed. But this was evidence that the central vision of products like Serengeti has . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Technology: Office Technology

A Patent Troll Meets the Third Billy Goat

While reading about Newegg’s victory over patent troll Soverain Software over the weekend, I was reminded of the Three Billy Goats Gruff fairy tale I read to my children just a week ago.

Soverain claimed three patents it owns gave it intellectual property rights over the “shopping cart” technology that virtually every e-commerce site depends upon. Sorverain filed lawsuits against Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Home Depot, Victoria’s Secret, Avon and even e-retailing giant

While Soverain successfully extorted millions of dollars from these e-commerce companies, it picked one last fight that would prove to be the patent’s troll’s undoing. That fight was . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

CN v. McKercher LLP and Wallace Conflicts of Interest Case Submissions to SCC (Video)

An important case on the scope of the duty to avoid conflicts of interest, Canadian National Railway v. McKercher LLP and Gordon Wallace (on appeal from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal), was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada on January 24. The Canadian Bar Association and the Federation of Law Societies appeared as interveners.

You can watch video of the submissions here.

You can review more information about the case, including the parties’ factums, on the SCC site. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions