Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for February, 2016

Don’t Take the Bait on a Spear Phishing Scam

By now, most lawyers are familiar with phishing attacks. For those who are not, phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an email. They take the form of a message, allegedly from your bank or an online retailer you deal with, that suggests your account has been compromised or that payment is overdue. Phishing scams are usually bulk emails sent to large numbers of people.

Even if only two or three per cent of recipients fall for them, hundreds or even thousands of people . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet

Monday’s Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from seventy recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. Michael Geist  2. Susan on the Soapbox  3. McElroy Law Blog  4. Vincent Gautrais  5.

Michael Geist
Secret Spending & Weak Results: Why the Ontario Government’s Music Fund Strikes the Wrong Note

Earlier this month, the British Columbia government unveiled a new $15 million music fund to support . . . [more]

Posted in: Monday’s Mix


Recently, the business press has contained articles and books about the abundance of products and services being produced by our economy. See Abundance-The Future is Better than you Think, by Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler (2012).

Some commentators attribute some economic malaise to “too much of everything”. Examples of abundance are the over supply of commodities such as crude oil. Scott Barlow in the Globe and Mail on February 2, 2016 stated that there are “too many mutual funds, television channels, cereal brands, auto companies, clothing brands, taxis, department stores ….”. Barlow added that “technology increases efficiencies and reduces . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Leap Year Proposal Law

The leap year, where the shortest month of February gains an additional day, is one of the peculiarities of the Gregorian calendar. This additional day, February 29, also has some legal lore surrounding it in the Scottish law tradition.

On February 29, 1288, the unmarried Queen Margaret of Scotland is said to have codified the declaration of St. Patrick. In addition to fixing the calendar, the day could be used to “fix” other social norms as well.

The History Channel states,

According to legend, in 5th century Ireland, St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

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.

Boekhoff v. Boekhoff, 2016 BCCA 33

AREAS OF LAW: Family law; Spousal support; Arrears; Material change in circumstances

~Agreeing to accept a lower amount of spousal support does not create a binding contract where no consideration is given, but may constitute waiver of the right to a higher amount.~

BACKGROUND:  The Appellant, Jayne Boekhoff, and the Respondent, Gerald Boekhoff, were married for over 20 years. Throughout this time the . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

FISCALITÉ : Leurs droits fondamentaux ayant été violés lors de l’examen fiscal qui a permis de découvrir la preuve que le ministère public souhaite utiliser contre eux dans un procès pour évasion fiscale, la requête en exclusion de la preuve des requérants est accueillie.

Intitulé : Agence du revenu du . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

DIT A2J 2: Publish Plain-Language Public Legal Help Guides for Your Community

The Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of the United Kingdom have recently published a selection of guides to common legal issues. The legal help guide model deserves close attention from government and the bar as a means of improving access to justice by improving public legal literacy, a concept I’ve written about elsewhere.

Some of the existing materials

The Law Society has published twelve guides in the Common Legal Issues section of its website, covering topics like buying a homemaking a willgetting a divorceprobating an estate and setting up a . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

“Innovate or Die…”

A good portion of my time to date this year has been devoted to planning and launching Innovation Month at my firm, including our kick-off event called the “Osler Big Law Hackathon”, an event hosted in partnership with Ryerson’s Legal Innovation Zone to examine how big law could be done differently.

As part of the organizing committee, I got a better understanding of how my firm is approaching innovation (it’s a well-developed and experienced initiative, as it turns out). I also took it as an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. Innovation is the trending topic du . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

What Should a Code of Conduct Do (Or Not Do)?

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with law society codes of conduct. Not because I’m a law nerd (although I am), but because I’m preparing the second edition of my book Understanding Lawyers’ Ethics in Canada. Much of the time I’m impressed with the codes. They provide clear and helpful guidance to lawyers on a number of important questions of practice, such as how to manage a joint retainer, or withdrawal from representation in the context of a criminal trial. A lawyer trying to answer a question about her duties should start by consulting her law society’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

The Missing Ingredient for Effective Health Care Reform…Empathy

For some years I have been following Dr. Brian Goldman, a veteran ER physician and one of Canada’s most trusted medical broadcasters. His CBC radio show “White Coat, Black Art” tackles tough issues, makes sense of “bafflegab” and highlights important new innovations. His book “The Secret Language of Doctors” is an illuminating view inside of the medical system and a great read.

I went to his Vancouver Institute lecture in Vancouver in January entitled: “Disrupt Me + Engage You: The Health Care Revolution”. I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say about system change in the health . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The American Association of Law Libraries’ Name Change Was Voted Down: What’s Next?

AALL members voted in record numbers to reject being rebranded as the Association for Legal Information. On February 10th these results were announced by AALL President, Keith Ann Stiverson:

“The proposal to change the name of American Association of Law Libraries to the Association for Legal Information has failed by a vote of 1998 (80.11 percent) opposed, to 496 (19.89 percent) in favor. A record number of members voted on this proposal, with 59.51 percent casting a ballot.”

It is unclear as to whether this rejection was due more to opposition to changing the name or opposition to the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Pretty Face of the Internet of Things

We have been looking at the implications of the interconnection of multitudes of devices – for security, for privacy, for property. What happens when the things connected with you and each other on the Internet can recognize your voice, and talk back to you? Voice recognition technology has made rapid progress, and it is already becoming normal that one can ask questions out loud to a computer (generally a “device”, a phone) and have it answer.

Thus Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Not only do they have access to a universe of information, but they learn about . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology