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Archive for July, 2013

Summaries Sunday: OnPoint Legal Research

One Sunday each month OnPoint Legal Research provides Slaw with an extended summary of, and counsel’s commentary on, an important case from the British Columbia, Alberta, or Ontario court of appeal.



Areas of Law: Employment; Wrongful Dismissal; Constructive Dismissal

~Employers as well as employees could take the benefit of the doctrine of constructive dismissal. Whether the departure of an employee was properly a termination or a repudiation of employment was a finding of fact for the trial judge~

Discussion: This wrongful dismissal case was unusual in that the . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

The Friday Fillip: The Voynich Manuscript

Those of us who write for and read Slaw spend a lot of our time deriving meaning from books or other documents, not an easy task some of the time, particularly when the tomes are old and the language archaic. Imagine, then, how frustrating it must be for scholars when they come up against a text that utterly defies comprehension. Such is the Voynich Manuscript.

Created around 1420, likely in northern Italy, the 200 vellum pages are beautifully inscribed with line after line of what would appear to be text written in characters that are unique to the book. It . . . [more]

Posted in: The Friday Fillip

Delivering Access to Justice in Aboriginal Communities

At the end of June the Attorney General of Ontario announced that Alvin Fiddler, deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation would co-chair a new panel intended to help rectify the severe underrepresentation of First Nations peoples in Ontario’s justice and jury. The panel will oversee the implementation of seventeen recommendations made by former Chief Justice Frank Iacobucci in his report “First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries”. The report, which was released to the public last February, was initially intended to examine the narrow issue of First Nations peoples and jury representation. However, with Iacobucci drawing the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Highlights From Law Reform Commissions

As I like to point out, law reform bodies can be a great source for legal research. They often conduct widespread consultation with stakeholders, compare how other jurisdictions deal with the same problem and frequently dig into the history of an issue.

Here are a few examples just from this month:

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

The Big Firm Conundrum

We are closing in on the dog days of summer and so I was thinking about what greater efficiency, technology and new players do to large firms in Canada.

If a law firm invests more heavily in process improvement, it becomes more efficient – in other words it can do more work with less people or through a different mix of skill sets. The firm will no longer need to hire huge swaths of new lawyers every year as most of any annual growth will be accommodated either by efficiency gains or by better use of non-lawyer personnel to do . . . [more]

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

Fair Access to Work – Removing the ‘Canadian Experience’ Employment Barrier

On July 15, 2013, the Ontario Human Rights Commission launched a new policy on removing the 'Canadian experience' barrier in recruiting. A requirement for Canadian experience, even when implemented in good faith, can be an impenetrable barrier in recruiting, selecting, hiring or accrediting, and may result in discrimination.
Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: Law Schools, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Good Cop, Bad Cop: Comparing the Law of Police Interrogations in Canada and Japan

One interesting scrap of legal news that passed under the radar recently was a testy exchange involving Hideaki Ueda, Japan’s human rights envoy to the United Nations at a session of the UN torture committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The donnybrook arose when a fellow envoy called-out the Japanese criminal system for not mandating electronic recording or the presence of counsel at police interrogations. Mr. Ueda sprang to his nation’s defence, only to be met by the audience’s muffled laughter. In true diplomatic fashion, Japan’s emissary responded by telling his esteemed colleagues to “shut up” not once, but twice. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Thursday Thinkpiece: Furlong on the Open Market for Legal Services

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually 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.

Evolutionary Road: A Strategic Guide to Your Law Firm’s Future
Jordan Furlong
Boulder Colorado: Attorney at Work, 2013

Excerpt chosen by author. Reprinted with permission from Attorney at Work,

Stage 3: The Fully Open Market, 2016-2024


(a) The Market

Multiple legitimate providers are now fully active the in legal market. Lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

What if We Didn’t Wait? Promoting Ethical Infrastructure in Canadian Law Firms

Conventional models of regulating lawyer conduct tend to be largely reactive. In most cases, law society disciplinary regimes respond after a complaint is filed alleging that a lawyer has engaged in some kind of professional misconduct. One obvious shortcoming to this approach is that concerns are addressed only after they become problems. For clients and affected third parties, this type of “after the fact” regulation often provides little solace: lawyer discipline can be a lengthy, time-consuming process that yields little in the way of meaningful relief. Obviously, it would be preferable if the problem never occurred in the first place. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Poster Sessions at AALL13

Many of us enjoy attending and sharing knowledge gained at conferences, and several fellow Slaw bloggers recently have done so in respect of last week’s American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting. An understated newer highlight of the AALL annual meeting is the poster sessions exhibit, introduced in 2012. I took a couple of turns through the exhibit and was impressed by the depth and range of projects and studies carried out by fellow law librarians, instructors, and researchers. The AALL annual meeting site contains the full list of accepted poster sessions, with descriptions. Below are brief notes . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Liberation Through Collaboration

The long-standing monopoly on delivery of legal services is eroding across Canada. The current of consumer demand is steady and strong, seeking out a broader range of legal services and information, driven largely by cost, supply issues and technological change.

There is evidence of this erosion all around us, both within and without the bounds of the formal legal profession. Paralegals, notaries and agents provide specified legal services across the country, assisting with real estate transactions, wills, traffic offences and more. Courts are recognizing the needs of the self-representing litigant by providing self-help centres and creating online resources. Administrative tribunals . . . [more]

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

WolframAlpha as a Dictionary

As David Whelan says in today’s post on his blog, Finding Legal Information, law is “powered by words.” David directs us to WolframAlpha’s word information function, which is pretty impressive. You tend to think of WolframAlpha as the home of mathematical and scientific data — at least I do. So it’s a welcome surprise to find that they do “dictionary” better than anyone else online at the moment. Look up a word and you get the definition, the proper places for hyphenation, pronunciation, word frequency (from 1539 to 2007 using Google’s one million books sample), synonyms, antonyms, narrower and . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous