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Archive for December, 2014

Feeding Our Research Needs

I’d like to use my last entry of 2014 to highlight a few worthy potential recipients of your charitable spirit. Depending where you live, and to whom you contribute, you may also still have a few hours left to earn a 2014 charitable tax credit or to see your donation doubled for the recipient.

If, like me and other old and not-so-old people, you continue to rely on good old email, you likely are still seeing a steady stream of last-minute 2014 donation appeals from one charity, non-profit, or political group or another.

A recent lesson in giving reminds . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

10 Resolutions for Change for Unhappy Lawyers

Tomorrow begins a new year, open with possibilities for new opportunities and improvements upon the status quo. At this time of list making and reflection upon the year past, my contribution focuses on what I know best – taking the leap from a joyless legal practice to an enthusiastic and impassioned approach to work. Having implemented this kind of change in my life, from time to time I hear from dissatisfied lawyers asking for advice on how they can do the same. What follows are some of the bits of advice I have given over the years, in no particular . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law

Reasons for Decisions: The Path From Intelligible to Implicit

The writing of reasons for decisions is never easy. Adjudicators must strike the right balance between comprehensiveness and intelligibility. In most cases, adjudicators also have a heavy workload and perfection in reason writing is not possible. There are many readers of an adjudicator’s reasons, but the readers that I will focus on in this column are judges. There has been a sea change in the approach of courts to reasons over the past decade. That change reflects the reality of increased litigation, stagnant or declining resources and an increased focus on efficiency. This has led to a focus on a . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Anti-ABS Arguments Continue to Be Based on Emotion – Not Fact

I’m tired.

Tired of ABS fear-mongering.

Tired of disingenuous and protectionist arguments made by those who know very little about ABS – yet are fiercely opposed to it.

And tired of the misinformation being floated by ABS opponents.

Now I know what it was like in the McCarthy-era.

Lawyers (particularly trial lawyers) are trained to argue a position based on logic and evidence – not hyperbole and emotion.

OTLA’s recent pronouncements in the Law Times on December 29, 2014, are particularly troubling:

“We have studied ABS from the time it was first raised by the law society in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Lawyer Who Sues Client for $4,000 Is Ordered to Pay Client Nearly Twice That Amount in Costs

A lawyer who sued her former client for $3,937.50 for unpaid legal fees has had $7,000 in costs awarded against her, and the matter has yet to reach trial.

In the lawyer’s Small Claims Court lawsuit, she was ordered to produce her entire file to the former client and make production of the documents in chronological order, such that it could be ascertained whether or not she had in fact produced the entire file.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, the lawyer failed to produce the file in chronological order. A Deputy Small Claims Court Judge awarded costs against . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law

Practice Wellness

The business of practicing law has become more demanding and complex since I articled in 1996. The introduction of emails, smart-phones, and text messages has increased the pressure on lawyers to always be available to clients and to respond to queries with alacrity. Long gone are the days when one would receive a letter from opposing counsel, dictate a response, go home for the evening after disconnecting from your practice and return the next day to consider your reply letter after having “slept on it”. More articling students appear to be competing for the same number of positions. Regional firms . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Where Is Canada?

Around one-half of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes because of the unending, devastating civil war, mass human rights violations and acts of terrorism that have been their unrelenting reality for close to four years now.

The UN estimates that 7.6 million Syrians remain internally displaced within the country, unable or unwilling to escape into neighbouring countries. Another 3.8 million have fled the country as refugees, the overwhelming majority in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Turkey alone now shelters 1.6 million Syrian refugees. And the one million Syrians in Lebanon now make up approximately one-quarter of that country’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Suicide by Irrelevancy and Yahoo! Directory’s Death

In with the new, out with the old. Last week I beamed about the promise of new gifts from Google in the form of the pending End-To-End extension which will put pretty good privacy in reach of ordinary Gmail (and probably other email) users. As Tiny Tim may have said, “Encryption to us all; God bless us, every one!”

This week I draw your attention away from the shiny and new, and direct it to the digital dumpster—where all shiny toys eventually end up. Fresh to the heap: the Yahoo Directory. This marks not the passing of some fleeting fad, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Technology: Internet

Avoiding Communications Claims in Corporate Law

No matter what the area of practice, the number one source of claims at LAWPRO is a breakdown in communication between the lawyer and client.

Between 2008 and 2013, nearly 4,600 communications claims – an average of 762 a year – have been reported to LAWPRO. The total cost of these claims to date is about $158 million – and likely to rise as more recent years’ claims are resolved.

In the Fall 2011 issue of LAWPRO Magazine we asked LAWPRO claims counsel with expertise in the various areas of law to provide insights into the communications mistakes they see . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

These Four Skills Not Just for Programmers

I’m a fan of Life Hacker and as a programmer wannabe this post, “What It Really Takes to Be a Professional Programmer,” captured my attention. Tori Reid canvassed some professional coders and other Life Hacker readers and found these were the four important skills that contribute to successful programmer careers: . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training

Ensuring Competent Representation: Know What You Don’t Know

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

The Gambler (Don Schlitz; performed by Kenny Rogers)

Being a competent lawyer means knowing your own limits. Lawyers representing clients in cases for which they do not have the necessary knowledge and skills risk liability in negligence, being found to have provided ineffective assistance of counsel (in a criminal case) and violating the obligations of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

The New “Persons” – the Apes

In Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General), the Privy Council considered whether “persons” under s. 24 of the Constitution Act included women,

24. The Governor General shall from Time to Time, in the Queen’s Name, by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada, summon qualified Persons to the Senate; and, subject to the Provisions of this Act, every Person so summoned shall become and be a Member of the Senate and a Senator.

Lord Chancellor Viscount Sankey of the Privy Council stated,

…their Lordships have come to the conclusion that the word “persons” in sec. 24 includes

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