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Archive for February, 2013

Thursday Thinkpiece: Lawson on the Law of War

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

Sean Lawson
First Monday, Volume 17, Number 7 – 2 July 2012

Footnotes omitted; they are available in the original via the hyperlink above. This paper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution–NonCommercial–ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ]

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Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Lost in Translation? Differing Perspectives on Legal Ethics

As a first post on legal ethics, it seems appropriate to ask “what exactly are we talking about”. The answer isn’t as simple as one might think given the number of different perspectives involved.

Courts set (or reflect) legal ethics in cases involving lawyers. Law Societies set legal ethics in codes of conduct and in discipline cases. Legal scholars posit appropriate legal ethics, either as a matter of formal legal reasoning or from varying philosophical perspectives. Practising lawyers develop their own sense of legal ethics in part from these other sources and in part from their participation in the legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

The Case for Anonymous Reporting of Police Violence

First off, we understand that our position on this subject might not be popular with our colleagues in the legal profession, some of whom might have more faith in the institutions we work within. But today we feel the need to voice it nonetheless.

Events of the past few weeks have once again raised the question of the value of anonymous reports regarding experiences of police violence. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) released an 89-page report that documents the failures of, and abuse by, the RCMP in Northern British Columbia as recounted by 50 aboriginal women and girls they . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Importance of “the”

Fans of interpretation — especially constitutional construction — will enjoy the extended analysis in “The Recess Appointments Clause (Part 1)” by Neal Goldfarb on his blog LAWnLinguistics (Not about the linguistics of lawns). Much in the D.C. Circuit appellate decision in Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board hinges on the “the” found in the Recess Appointments clause in Article Two of the US Constitution:

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

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Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

How Not to Demo Your Product to a Law Firm

I was involved recently in a demo of a product that a vendor was trying to sell to our firm. I won’t identify the product or vendor, because this is not about the product itself. The vendor did two things that did more harm than good.

The first problem was the vendor’s approach. They were quite proud of the product, and launched directly into its advanced and cutting edge features. But they ignored the basics. So anyone observing the demo who was skeptical of the product in the first place, or not comfortable with change, or felt the cutting edge . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Lawyers for Literacy

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass

February is I Love to Read month in Manitoba and this week, a number of Manitoba lawyers are practicing reading aloud while collecting pledges and gathering books to donate as part of Lawyers for Literacy.

The 3rd annual Lawyers for Literacy event on February 23 is sponsored by the Law Society of Manitoba, in support of the work of West Broadway Youth Outreach. WBYO is a small non-profit operating in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood to provide after school and evening recreational opportunities to local . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Practice Management


Was I alone ignorant of Echosign before that client dragged me into using it?

Recently, a client sent me a document for signing through Adobe’s Echosign service. At first I was surprised by this new eccentricity. However, a contract is a contract so I just signed it. I printed the signature – not out of suspicion of the technology but as material reminder to look into Echosign later on. It rested on my desk until Simon’s reminder about Lexum’s column which made me look around to retrieve the name of the signing system: Echosign. A proven leader in web contracting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For February 11 – 19:

  1. R. v. McKay 2013 ABPC 13

    [1] The accused is charged under s. 253(1)(a) and 253(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. The accused has a filed a Notice pursuant to the Charter s. 24(2), to exclude evidence obtained arising from alleged breaches of the accused’ rights pursuant to s. 7, 8 and 10 of the Charter. In particular, the accused says that he

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Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Required Reading: Hogarth v Rocky Mountain Slate Inc., 2013 ABCA 57

Hogarth v Rocky Mountain Slate Inc., 2013 ABCA 57, from the reasons of Slatter JA concurring in the result:

[16] The issue on this appeal is whether the promoters of a limited partnership are personally liable to investors for misrepresentations made about the investment. …

[73] The law respecting the liability of directors and officers for torts committed while conducting corporate business is not entirely consistent. Some cases approach the problem from the perspective of the “duty of care”,whereas others approach it from the perspective of “piercing the corporate veil”. Some exceptions to general liability

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Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

U.S. Minimum Wage Debate

Last year, I posted about the minimum wage in Canada. That same debate has also flared in the United States. During the recent state of the union address, U.S. President Barack Obama argued for an increase in the minimum wage in the United States. The Federal minimum wage in the US is $7.25, which applies to jobs covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (generally applying to employees engaged in interstate commerce). For US employees governed by state law, the minimum wage can go from $5.25 (Wyoming) to $9.19 (Washington State). In Canada, the vast majority of employees are . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Incorporated by Reference in Regulations

I appreciate the efforts of Canadian Senators to fix problems with legislation – specifically those which make legislative research more interesting.

One example of the Seante fixing legislation, is the Statutes Repeal Act, S.C. 2008, c.20 which in the words of Simon Foddensweeps up behind our legislators, killing off statutes that were passed and assented to nine years or more ago but that were never proclaimed in force“. I love the Statutes Repeal Act. It helps to make my job interesting.

In October of 2012, the Senate again committed to working on fixing legislation – this time . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Oregon Bill to Control Drones

One of the many great things about the United States, from a lawmaker’s point of view at least, is that they comprise fifty-one legislatures attempting to tackle the problems that face us (in the West, at least) with a net of words. It’s like a greenhouse or nursery for the legal species. And we up here in slower Canada get to watch to see which cultivars survive politics, real life — and occasionally ridicule.

For example, a bill currently in the hothouses of the Oregon legislature — Oregon Senate Bill 71, A Bill for an Act Relating to Drones; . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Technology