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Archive for January, 2019

Collegial Reputation and Peer Rankings: An Invisible Hand?

Suppose you have practiced law for many years in the same community. You are shown a list of other lawyers who do the same sort of work as you, in the same area. You probably have an opinion about most of the names on the list. Favourable or unfavourable impressions will have accumulated from your interactions with them on files, your observations of their work, and other colleagues’ comments to you about them.

Of course, they also have opinions about you. Your collegial reputation is the sum of the opinions about you held by others in your community of practice. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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. Dentons Canada LLP v. Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company, 2018 ONSC 7311

[5] The dispute arises from an insurance claim submitted by the applicant, Dentons, to Trisura on April 10, 2017. The insurance claim arises out of an alleged social engineering fraud, in which Dentons asserts that one of its lawyers was duped into transferring over $2.5 million in funds belonging to . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

AI Requires a Different Lens Than Human Decisions

There has been a lot of consternation over artificial intelligence, and rightly so. The technology will be disruptive in many ways, and there are ethical issues to be solved. Embedded bias for example. The form of AI called machine learning learns by looking at large data sets of information. That could be how to play a game, who to hire, or even who to convict.

If the data set has bias in it, the AI will learn and propagate that bias. This problem has led to unexpected results which may or may not be obvious.

In some ways this is . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Setting Intentions

As 2018 ended and 2019 began many of us made New Year resolutions. Resolutions are typically about making a change to an undesired behavior or to accomplish a personal goal. The goal is not always directly to improve ourselves (eat better, go to the gym more, spend less) but could be about how we treat others or how we do business. One year I made a resolution to stop drinking craft beer because the big brewers were having a hard time. That one didn’t last very longJ.

By the time you read this, many New Year resolutions will have failed. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Investigating Consent: Lessons Learned From the Surviving R. Kelly Documentary

In the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly”, R. Kelly’s alleged patterns of manipulation and abuse are exposed. R. Kelly begins most of his abusive relationships by promising young girls mentorship and access to music deals. This “mentorship” quickly turns sexual. He then increasingly violates young women’s boundaries. The ones that don’t turn away, he deems fit to move in with him.

Once they are in his home, they become prisoners. Often isolated and locked in rooms without access to a toilet or food for days. When the women are allowed out, they must obey him or be beaten.

Survivors described their . . . [more]

Posted in: 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 practice, research, writing and technology.

Research & Writing

Yet More Bad Business Jargon
Neil Guthrie

Baked in: This is (regrettably) now used to mean something like integral. Does it have its origin in that vacuous remark by the sometime MP Belinda Stronach about baking ‘a bigger economic pie’ (whatever that was intended to mean)? I don’t know, but please stop talking about things being baked in; you’re a lawyer, not a baker. …

Practice . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Lawyers Need to Be Able to Identify When Clients Have Experienced Abuse

On Friday (January 25th), The Globe and Mail reported on a new risk-assessment tool being developed by Deepa Mattoo, the legal director of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. This much-needed assessment tool joins others that have been recommended or are in development, primarily related to family court matters. While it is important that practising lawyers and judges, among others, learn to recognize the signs of abuse, it is also crucial that law students are prepared to work with clients who appear to have experienced abuse, as well as possible abusers. In 2012, the Law Commission of Ontario released a . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training

2018 ABA Legal Technology Survey Highlights

Every year the American Bar Association sends out a survey to tens of thousands of attorneys requesting information about several area. The 2018 survey contained six questionnaires covering the following:

  1. Technology Basics & Security
  2. Law Office Technology
  3. Online Research
  4. Marketing & Communication Technology
  5. Litigation Technology & E-Discovery
  6. Mobile Lawyers

The complete survey is available for purchase from the ABA at It’s not cheap, but packed with useful information. We’ll cover a few of the highlights here. Each volume is available separately, but you’ll need the complete publication to appreciate all the technology that lawyers use and the trends . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

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 more than 80 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. IP Osgoode 2. Legal Feeds 3. Alcohol & Advocacy 4. First Reference 5. Know How

IP Osgoode
Enforcing Your Crypto Contracts and Avoiding Criminal Transactions

Every month, TorontoStarts hosts a Toronto Cryptocurrency Conference focusing on a different aspect of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. One of these events

. . . [more]
Posted in: Monday’s Mix

A Judge’s Job Is Not a Minister’s Adviser

Tax law is no easy business. There are lots of complicated and seemingly conflicting rules, and tax litigation can come across as quite technical. Perhaps to add some animation to tax litigation proceedings, judges can add some clever wit buried in their decisions.

In 2015, a private corporation earning rental income was eligible for a dividend refund under subsection 129(1) of the Income Tax Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. 1 (5th Supp.), but failed to do so due to health problems of its principal. It applied for relief from the Minister under the discretionary taxpayer relief professions in subsections . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

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.

Clancy v. Clancy, 2018 BCCA 448

Adam v. Insurance Corporation, 2018 BCCA 482

AREAS OF LAW: Insurance law; Personal injury; Hit and run; Definition of “highway”

~A sandbar that is used by members of the public to access fishing areas, but is not maintained or improved by public entities, is not a “highway” for the purposes of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.~


This case . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Summaries Sunday: Supreme Advocacy

One Sunday each month we bring you a summary from Supreme Advocacy LLP of recent decisions at the Supreme Court of Canada. Supreme Advocacy LLP offers a weekly electronic newsletter, Supreme Advocacy Letter, to which you may subscribe. It’s a summary of all appeals as well as leaves to appeal granted so you will know what the SCC will soon be dealing with (December 21, 2018 – January 25, 2019 inclusive).


Constitutional Law/Charter: Right to Vote
Frank v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 SCC 1 (36645)

A.G. Canada concedes the limit on the voting rights of . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday