The Special Lectures – Continuing Legal Education Since 1943

A short history of the origin of the Special Lectures compiled primarily from the prefaces of the first three Special Lectures on their 76th anniversary.

The 2019 Special Lectures – One of the great traditions of the Law Society

The Special Lectures for 2019 have been announced. Once again the Law Society of Ontario will use the Special Lectures to help guide the legal profession through a period of momentous change. The first Special Lectures were held to educate the members of the Bar to deal with the massive changes in the law triggered by the needs of the war and The War Measures Act. This year, on their 76th anniversary, the Special Lectures address another momentous issue, the effect of new technologies and the promise and disruption of advancing technologies and new ways of thinking on the legal profession.

The Origin of the Special Lectures and Continuing Legal Education

The first series of lectures were given in 1943. The war had led to the enactment of Orders pursuant to the War Measures Act and to the creation of new administrate boards to oversee the country’s war efforts. There was a need to educate the members of the Bar on the changes the had taken place in the practice of law. The result was a “Special Course of Lectures on Emergency Orders and Administrative Tribunals”.

In his Preface to the published edition of the lectures, D. L. McCarthy, the Law Society Treasurer at the time, said that “This course of lectures was inaugurated by the Benchers of the Law Society in the hope that the profession might learn directly from those administering the different boards not only the Rules and Regulations which have been passed by those Boards, but also the method of Procedures before the individual tribunals.” The leading authorities, on each topic, including both government officials and some tribunal chairs, were invited to participate. The lectures were organized by J.C. McRuer, who with the support of Louis St Laurent, was able to “induce the different heads of these boards to come here and tell us how these boards operate, and how they can best help us in presenting our case to them” .

The lecturers and the lectures on Emergency Orders and Administrative Tribunals

Wishart F Spence – Rental Control Orders under the War Measures Act
J.D. Hyndman – The Wartimes Salaries Order
H.B.L. Jones – The Foreign Exchange Control Board Order
J.C. Adams – Wartimes Wages Order
W.H. Harrison – – Administration of Excess Profits Tax
C.P. McTague – War Contracts Depreciation Board
C. Fraser Elliott, H.H. Stikeman and T.W. Bullock – The income Tax Act
Ian M. McKeigan – Wartime Prices and Trade Board – Wartime Price Control Orders
R.M. Fowler – Wartime Prices and Trade Board and the Order Respecting Commencement, Acquisition and Expansion of Businesses
Walter T. Patterson -Industries Control Board – Wartime Construction Control Board

Special Lectures On Taxation

The response to the first series of lectures was overwhelmingly positive and led almost inevitably to a second series in 1944, this time devoted to the subject of Taxation which had been materially changed by the Income Tax War Act. The prototype had been established – invite the leading authorities of the day, including government officials and leading members of the Bar, to instruct the profession in new developments in the law. As was the case in the first series of lectures, J.C.. McRuer played the leading role in organizing the event, which featured presentations by Heward Stikeman, as well as Molyneux L. Gordon and L. A. Richard.

In a spirit of goodwill, the Law Society invited representatives of the Institute of Chartered Accountants to attend these lectures because it felt that “cooperation between the two professions was essential and will be productive of good results as far as the two professions are concerned in their service to the pubic and in the presentation of intricate cases before the Department when legal issues are involved”. This could be read as a portent of things to come regarding the relationship between the two organizations. Worth noting is a comment by Justice McTague in the Canadian Bar Review not long after where he stated that lawyers needed to become “auditors” as well if they were to be effective in the practice of law relating to taxation.

The first two series of lectures set a very high standard.The lectures were authoritative and clear. The published versions were well written and well edited. The Taxation materials in particular read like a text book on Income Tax, undoubtedly attributable in large part to the writing ability of Heward Stikemen who subsequently published the leading titles on taxation law which are still in use to this day.

The importance of publishing

A key feature of the Special Lectures was the publication and widespread circulation of the lectures themselves. There was serious criticism by many of the first series, which was perceived as being organized for the benefit of Toronto lawyers to the exclusion of everyone else. Publication and sale by a commercial legal publisher was considered to be critical to ensure that members of the profession who were unable to attend the lectures in person were able to avail themselves of the benefit of the lectures. The Carswell Company Limited published the first series of lectures. For the new five decades or so, Richard de Boo Limited was the publisher. More recently Irwin Law assumed the role of publisher.

A case could be made that the Special Lectures would not have had the same impact and ongoing influence in the profession if they had not been published in hard copy. The collection provided a lawyer with a library of current information in a wide range of subject matter needed to practice law effectively. In the digital age, a case could be made for offering the complete collection in a digital format and making the collection widely available at no charge. This might be a project that the Osgoode Society should consider, given its role in preserving the legal heritage of the legal profession in Ontario, of which the Special Lectures are an important element.

The Idea of Continuing Education

In 1945, at the end of the war, the Law Society offered a Refresher Course for Servicemen. This undertaking, when combined with the lectures in 1943 and 1944, led to a survey of the members of the Bar who gave their support to an annual series of lectures using the previous lectures as a prototype. The result was the Special Lectures on Company Law in 1950 and the series of Special Lectures that continue to this day. The Special Lectures were definitely one of the earliest if not the first effort at continuing education offered by the Law Society to its members. As continuing education expanded over the subsequent years, the Special Lectures remained the heart and soul of the program.

The tradition continues

To quote from the information sheet provided by the Law Society, this year’s Special Lectures will address “what happens when this traditional approach meets the promise and disruption of advancing technologies and new ways of thinking? Special Lectures returns to delve into the many answers to that question. This year, join your fellow practitioners, tech experts, professors, and judges for an enlightening, provocative discussion on how artificial intelligence, innovative technologies, and new measures of social and individual behaviour are changing (or have the potential to change) the delivery of legal services”.

Automated Decision-Making,
Machine Learning,
Artificial Intelligence
Technological Innovation in the Provision of Legal Services
Litigating Algorithms
Technology in Criminal Law
Artificial Intelligence Accountability: Immigration and Refugee Law
Is Privacy Dead? (A Victim of the Digital Revolution)
Substantive Ethical Issues
Regulatory Issues
Future of Law and Tech in 15-20 Years
Direct to the Public, Automated Legal Tools Introduction and Overview and Panel Discussion

Like those before, these lectures will have a significant impact on the legal profession. Once again the lectures have been organized so that members of the profession can have the benefit of the knowledge and expertise of leading members of the profession on a topic of great interest or importance. And so, the tradition continues…


Special Lectures 1943 – 2017

1943 –Wartime Emergency Orders and Administrative Tribunals – The Carswell Company Limited Publisher
1944 –Taxation – Richard de Boo Publisher
1950 – Company Law – Richard de Boo Pubisher
1951 – Conveyancing and Real Property: Surrogate Court Practice – Richard de Boo Publisher
1952 – Practice and Costs: Domestic Relations including. Divorce – Richard de Boo Publisher
1954 – Labour Law and Labour Relations and Counselling the average Businessman – Richard de Boo Publisher
1955 – Evidence – Richard de Boo Publisher
1956 – Bankruptcy and Municipal Law – Richard de Boo Publisher
1957 – Estate Planning – Richard de Boo Publisher
1961 – Remedies – Richard de Boo Publisher
1962 – Claims under Insurance Policies – Richard de Boo Publisher
1963 – Mentally Disabled and the Law, Medical and Hospital Liability, Trade Competition and the Law, Representing an Arrested Client and Police Interrogation – Richard de Boo Publisher
1964 – Taxation – Richard de Boo Publisher
1965 – The Lease in Modern Business – Richard de Boo Publisher
1966 – Recent Developments in the Law – Richard de Boo Publisher
1968 – Developments in Company Law – Richard De Boo Publisher
1969 – Defending a Criminal Case – Richard De Boo Publisher
1971 – Administrative Practice and Procedure – Richard De Boo Publisher
1972 – Corporate and Securities Law – Richard De Boo Publisher
1973 – New Developments in the Law of Torts – Richard De Boo Publisher
1974 – The Changing Face of Land Use and Development – Richard de Boo Publisher
1975 – Current Problems in the Law of Contracts – Richard de Boo Publisher
1976 – Employment Law – Richard de Boo Publisher
1977 – The Professions – Richard de Boo Publisher
1978 – The Constitution – Richard de Boo Publisher
1979 – Abuse of Power – Richard de Boo Publisher
1980 – Recent Developments in Estate Planning and Administration – Richard de Boo Publisher
1981 – New Developments in the Law of Remedies – Richard de Boo Publisher
1982 – Corporate Law in the 80s – Richard de Boo Publisher
1983 – Torts in the 80s – Richard de Boo Publisher
1984 – Law In Transition: Evidence – Richard De Boo Publisher
1984 – Law in Transition – Contracts – Richard de Boo Publisher
1985 – Commercial Law – Richard de Boo -Publisher
1986 – Income Tax for the General Practitioner – Richard de Boo – Publisher
1987 – Insurance Law – Richard de Boo-Publisher
1988 – Creditor and Debtor Law – Richard de Boo Publisher
1989 – Securities Law – Richard de Boo Publisher
1990 – Fiduciary Duties – Richard de Boo Publisher
1991 – Applying the Law of Evidence – Carswell Publisher
1992 – Administrative Law – Carswell Publisher
1993 – Family Law – Carswell Publisher
1995 – Law of Remedies – Carswell Publisher
1996 – Estates; Planning Administration and Litigation – Carswell Publisher
1998 – Personal Injury – Law Society of Upper Canada Publisher
2000 – Family Law: Best Interests of the Child – Law Society of Upper Canada Publisher
2001 – Constitutional and Administrative Law – Law Society of Upper Canada Publisher
2003 – The Law of Evidence – Irwin Law Publisher
2002 – RealEstate Law – Irwin Law Publisher
2003 – The Law of Evidence -Irwin Law Publisher
2004 – Corporate and Commercial Law
2005 – The Modern Law of Damages
2006 – Family Law – Irwin Law Publisher
2007 – Employment Law
2008 – Personal Injury Law
2010 –A Medical-Legal Approach to Estate Planning and Decision Making for Older Clients – Irwin Law Publisher
2012 – Employment Law and the New Workplace in Social Media
2017 – Canada at 150: The Charter and the Constitution – Irwin Law Publisher

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