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Archive for March, 2014

Wearing My Religion: The European View

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
wearing my religion.
[apologies to R.E.M.]

As surely everyone in Canada will know there’s currently an attempt in Québec to impose a “charter of values” that would restrict the ability of some government employees to wear conspicuous religious symbols. Indeed, there has been discussion of extending to employers the freedom to impose rules excluding the use of conspicuous religious symbols.

In light of this, you might be interested to read “Religious Symbols, Conscience, and the Rights of Others” by Andrew Hambler and Ian Leigh in the Oxford Journal of Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Show Me the Money – a Reply

 I thoroughly enjoyed Susan Munro’s recent Slaw column “Show me the Money” in which she forcefully and unabashedly made the case for the value of high-quality legal editorial work. She stands on firm ground when in defending the professional standards of paid editors she argues that “when the job is done properly, enormous value is added”. To this I would add that in such circumstances, professionals are very happy to pay for the result. As Susan notes, unquestioned quality permits reliance, efficiency and cost savings to lawyer and client.

But she misses the point.

Her article was a response to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: 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 this last week:

  1. Reference re Supreme Court Act, ss. 5 and 6 2014 SCC 21

    1] The Supreme Court Act provides that three of the nine judges of the Supreme Court of Canada must be appointed “from among the judges of the Court of Appeal or of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec or from among the advocates of that Province”: R.S.C. 1985, c.

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

Focus, Flush-Out, and Follow Through

Some lawyers think that the work marketers do is easy or adds little value – it is obvious to them, that marketers spend all day surfing the internet and making things look nice. While not exactly true, legal marketers do need to spend time on-line (researching clients and prospects, finding speaking events for lawyers, sponsorship and branding opportunities, etc.) and playing with crayons (creation of advertising, event invitations, newsletters, promotional material, presentation and proposal responses, etc.), there is actually a lot more they can do for you.

One of the marketing teams’ greatest strengths is helping lawyers focus, flush out . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

A Quieter Kind of Change: One Lawyer’s Story

Amidst appeals for “disruptive innovation” and dire predictions for the future of the profession, some lawyers are quietly changing the way they practice. They’re not doing this as part of a movement – they’re just doing what is best for themselves. There are more of them than you might think.

I recently chatted with a former client who exemplifies this situation perfectly. The interview illustrates how and why one litigator modified his practice – and realigned his definitions of personal and professional success in the process.

When lawyer Ronald J. Smith, QC quit practicing law to focus exclusively on mediation, . . . [more]

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

The Court, and SCC News Releases

My Supreme Court of Canada news releases subscription told me that The Court heard Loyola High School, et al. v. Attorney General of Quebec (read the summary at Docket 35201) yesterday.

I look on this case with intellectual interest from the perspective of someone who convinced my (public school) Jr High principal that we should have French as our option rather than Religion. There were 27 kids in my Jr High School and we all had the same ‘option’. My younger brother who shared a classroom and teacher with me though he was a grade younger is still mad . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Nadon Decision and the Wonderful Elasticity of Language

What struck me most about the Supreme Court of Canada’s Nadon decision was the simplicity of the underlying issues. “How should s. 5 and s. 6 of the Supreme Court of Canada Act be interpreted?” These questions go to basic issues of statutory interpretation involving the very composition of the Court. Yet the issue prompted a diversity of views from intelligent people – six on behalf of the majority, versus possibly four others (if the legal opinions of former Justices Ian Binnie and Louise Charron and scholar Peter Hogg are included together with Justice Moldaver’s dissent).

The only questions the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Pastor Fred Phelps Has Died. Revisiting the Westboro Church’s Contribution to First Amendment Jurisprudence

The news last week that Fred Phelps, head of the Westboro Church had died, was not a particularly sad event for the vast majority of Americans. Fred Phelps had founded the « Primitive Baptist » Church, based in Topeka Kansas, in 1955, based on the idea that all calamities that befall the United States are a result of God’s wrath for the apparent acceptance of homosexuality in American society. The Church’s teachings were oftentimes hard to follow, but central to their message was their incessant picketing of the funerals of soldiers and homosexuals who had died of AIDS or had . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

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.


You Can Ignore “Low on Ink” Warnings on Inkjet Printers
Dan Pinnington

All too frequently, we have all faced the frustrating “printer is low on ink” warning – usually when we are printing something urgent. Do you need to immediately change your . . .


How to Read Case Citations
Shaunna Mireau

An important legal research translation skill is the ability to look at a case citation and . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

What Actually Happens to Cases Filed in the Superior Courts?

While we don’t have much by way of empirical data about what actually happens to claims filed in the superior courts, we do know that only about 2% to 5% of these cases are ultimately resolved by way of trial.[1] In light of this fact, the conclusion is sometimes drawn that at least 95% of filed cases settle – that is, resolve without trial. Research completed over the last few years however, should serve to displace this assumption. Research into the nature and scale of unmet legal need and into the phenomena of self represented litigants, makes it clear . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

It’s Time to Amend the Bank Act So Clients Can Collect on Judgments

Ontario utilizes a “loser pays” legal system in which the losing party is usually ordered by the court to pay a portion of the successful party’s legal fees. As a result, regardless of who wins, someone ends up with a piece of paper requiring the other party to pay money.

Assuming that the losing party does not voluntarily cut a cheque, a bank garnishment ought to be the most straightforward and direct means to collect. I emphasize the word “ought”.

Put simply, once a bank is served with a Notice of Garnishment it is required to seize any funds the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law: Legislation

Would You Take the Bait in a Phishing Scam?

“Phishing” is one of the most common scams that cyber criminals use because it can produce spectacular results with very little effort or expense on the part of the hacker. Phishing involves the use of an email, text message or phone call that appears to come from a trusted source or institution, vendor or company, but is actually from a third-party impostor. Phishing messages are intended to trick you into giving cyber criminals your information by asking you to update or confirm personal or online account information. Personal information and identity theft and/or payment scams are the motives behind most . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet