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Archive for December, 2016

Ho-Ho-Holiday Cards (Or Not)

So by now the parties are in full swing, the eggnog is flowing, and most of your law firm partners have already taken off for the holidays, while insisting that associates and staff work until the last minute before the statutory closing.

One thing that may NOT yet have ground to a halt, though, is the Dreaded Holiday Card process.

Have you ever wondered how law firm holiday cards get to be so generic? Or how many emails the Marketing Department gets begging for a more creative card this year? Or how many versions they go through, losing creativity at . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Employee Did Not Have Right to Delay Work Refusal Investigation

Written by Cristina Lavecchia, Editor, First Reference

The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) recently dismissed an application where an employee claimed that her employer threatened her with discipline for exercising her right to refuse unsafe work. Why? The employee did not have the right to delay the employer’s investigation of her work refusal, to wait until her preferred union representative completed a personal matter and attended at the workplace. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

BC Liquor Law: The New Liquor Control and Licensing Act

In any given year a significant number of new laws come into force in British Columbia. The announcement of most laws are confined to back pages of the British Columbia Gazette, while a select few warrant engaging headlines in newspapers and make the rounds on social media. For example this year the Motor Dealer Amendment Act and the Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act both came into force. While those are undoubtedly very important pieces of legislation for some segments of the population (like motor car dealers and notorious criminals) I expect that few British Columbians were aware that those Acts . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

The Science of Bad Decisions

Freakonomics, is one of my favourite series of books, blogs and audio podcasts. As the authors proclaim, they look at “the hidden side of everything.”

So imagine my delight when I found a recent podcast that examined how decisions by adjudicators (baseball umpires, judges and bank loan officers) can be affected by totally random factors such as the the order in which they are made and time of day.

The problem is, people don’t really understand randomness. They understand that, if you flip a coin, the odds of landing heads or tails are 50/50. This means that, out of . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Task Force Recommendations on Legalization of Marijuana: The “Coles” Notes

On June 30, 2016, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Minister of Health announced the creation of a nine-member Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation (the “Task Force”).

The mandate of the Task Force was to consult and provide advice on the design of a new legislative and regulatory framework for legal access to cannabis, consistent with the Government’s commitment to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access.”

Over five months, the Task Force consulted with a wide variety of groups and individuals before finally releasing its report . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Racing to Nirvana – Legal Research Edition

Will Amazon start delivering packages before you order them? They’re getting close.

Will your autonomous vehicle know your destination before you tell it? Probably, if you are sticking to a routine.

Will legal research databases give you what you need before even you know what that is? Don’t bet against it.

In Tim Knight’s recent Slaw post on the black box of artificial intelligence, he talked about the importance of understanding the “how” of the underlying algorithms as we become more reliant on both their results and their predictive capabilities. Unsaid but implied in Tim’s post was that, yes, these . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

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. Platnick v Bent, 2016 ONSC 7340

[2] The email communication giving rise to this litigation was made by Ms. Bent – then president-elect of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association – to a confidential “Listserve” accessible only by those OTLA members who subscribed to it. The email alerted subscribers to an incident that had occurred during the course of her representation of a . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

2017: Regulating Law Firm Culture

As we say goodbye to 2016, it’s time to embrace 2017. For 2017, law societies should place an emphasis on regulating law firms.

A law firm’s culture seeps into the very make-up of its constituent lawyers. An unethical culture breeds unethical lawyers. An ethical culture breeds ethical lawyers.

In “Regulating Law Firms in Canada“, Professor Adam Dodek states that the absence of law firm regulation undermines the legitimacy of law societies. I agree.

Under the pressure from law firms to meet deadlines, win cases, win motions, appease clients, and surrounded by a certain firm culture, lawyers may find . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Tenant Lives Rent Free for 18 Months After Consenting to Order to Vacate Unit

In what very well might be a record for living rent free, a recent case illustrates how a tenant was able to live rent-free for over 18 months despite agreeing to an Order requiring him to vacate the unit.

The tenant stopped paying rent as of April 1, 2015. The landlord took steps to evict and on June 25, 2015, the landlord agreed to waive all rent arrears and fees owing by the tenant to the landlord up to June 30, 2015 in exchange for the tenant agreeing to an Order ending his tenancy and evicting him for non-payment of . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Transparency Can Be Tricky: Questions About Solving the Lawyer Quality Information Gap

In a recent Slaw blog, Malcolm Mercer thoughtfully explores how information asymmetry between legal service providers and consumers may impact access to justice. He suggests that creative solutions are necessary in order to provide the public with better information about the quality of lawyers and the legal services that they provide.

Mercer makes a good point: if the public feels that it can’t accurately assess the quality of legal services, there is a risk that people won’t retain lawyers or, at the very least, people may feel compelled to hire those practitioners who charge lower rates even if they . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Counsels’ Duty to the Court and Role in the Proper Administration of Justice

Two recent SCJ decisions are, in my view, examples of counsel failing in different aspects of their duty to the court and, as such impeding, or at least not assisting, the judge in the proper administration of justice.

Others (who are practising lawyers, I suspect) may have different views on whether the counsel involved in these cases did anything they ought not to have done or did not do something they ought to have done. If you do, perhaps you should take a few moments to consider why you you disagree and respond.

I am not going to discuss the . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues

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 research, writing, and practice.

Research & Writing

Colons and Semi-colons
Neil Guthrie

This week, you get a full colonic! Sorry, couldn’t resist that. Actually, full treatment of this subject is beyond the scope of a brief piece, but here are some basics. The colon (:) The colon is most frequently used to introduce a list of items, but it can often be omitted. There is no need for a colon in the following sentence: . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday