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Thomson Reuters Labs in Waterloo Research Partnership

Cloaked in several “cliches and meaningless metaphors” (in the words of a colleague) is an announcement of a research partnership intended to improve access to “Thomson Reuters vast and unique datasets”. This could lead to significant developments in legal research. Then again maybe just cliches and….

Thomson Reuters to launch data and innovation lab in Waterloo, Ontario
By GlobeNewswire, September 16, 2015, 11:00:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK, September 16, 2015- Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today announced the establishment of Thomson Reuters Labs – Waterloo Region, in Ontario, Canada. The Lab will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

ABS v ABS+ for A2J

This post is authored by David Wiseman, Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Faculty.

A noteworthy aspect of the Canadian debate on whether to introduce alternative business structures into the legal services sector is the emphasis being given to the potential of ABS to improve access to justice. Instead of just assuming it will happen, I think we need to integrate specific measures into the regulatory framework to make sure that it does. We need to create what I’m calling ABS+.

I have argued that while the middle class may benefit from gains in access to justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Deputy Judge Who Allows Trial to Continue in Absence of One Party Overturned on Appeal

A Deputy Small Claims Court Judge who made the decision to allow a trial to continue on its second day notwithstanding that one of the parties failed to show up has been overturned by the Divisional Court.

The trial which was originally scheduled for only one day, took place over two days. The first day of trial was August 28, 2013. On that day the court heard from two witnesses. The first witness gave evidence in chief and was cross-examined by the defendants. The second witness then gave their evidence in chief. At this time it was determined that . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

An Alternative ABS Structure for Better Legal Business

Alternative Business Structures (ABS) is all the debate right now in Ontario, with a current discussion paper released by the law society. Over 40 responses were received from various organizations and stakeholders. The interim report presented to convocation in February included a wide range of views on ABS, from strongly for it to staunchly opposed.

The incentives for adopting ABS appears to primarily be for the purposes of attracting capital and promoting access to justice. The report references an alternative to plain ABS called ABS+, to focus specifically on how this capital could be harnessed to address those . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

ABS D.O.A.? Idk

Is the debate over Alternative Business Structures in the legal profession dead on arrival before it truly begins? I don’t know.

Among the most active participants in the current debate, things are hardly over. But from my perspective, the volume and passion of the opponents of ABS is such that much of the potential discussion risks foreclosure. If ya ain’t fer us (the opponents), yer agin’ us!

The opponents raise many valid concerns that warrant further exploration, most significantly the risk to the public interest if a lawyer’s duty to the client and her ethical obligations could be comprised by . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Some Ground Rules for a Constructive ABS Discussion

As is apparent from the OTLA, and the many comments on my previous post, the upcoming Bencher elections in Ontario finally have an issue that has grabbed the attention of lawyers across the province: Alternative Business Structures.

While this issue may drive better voter participation in the April election, it has also greatly divided the profession in this province.

One can already see the huge generational rift among lawyers; those at the twilight of their careers fighting to retain a 19th Century business model, while younger lawyers want to move the profession into the 21st Century so as . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management

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

LSUC’s Worrisome ABS Proposals

The Law Society of Upper Canada’s (LSUC’s) “alternative business structures” proposal (the ABS proposal in its Discussion Paper)[i] will bring about a critically important and worrying change to the practice of law in Canada. Therefore all of Canada’s lawyers should consider the following three categories of factors when questioning candidates for all Bencher elections, particularly the April 30, 2015, Bencher election in Ontario:

A. Such proposals are particularly vulnerable to a questionable initiation process and subsequent use because:

  1. They are not subject to the established methods of prevention and discipline, i.e., by: (a) legislation; (b) the regulator (the
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

A Different Take on ABS – Proponents and Opponents Both Miss the Point

The Lawyers Weekly recently included an article by Cristin Schmitz entitled Study sounds note of caution in ABS debate. Ms. Schmitz discusses a thoughtful paper by Nick Robinson who is a research fellow with the Harvard Program on the Legal Profession.

In an interview with Ms. Schmitz, Mr. Robinson said:

“I’ve been amazed in this debate how much each side kind of talks past each other, dismisses the concerns of the other side, or the point of the other side. I am a bit cautious about non-lawyer ownership in the paper, but I can also see in certain situations

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Ethics

Absentee Voting, Part II

Five and a half years ago, I wrote a comment on Slaw questioning why the Canada Elections Act precluded most non-resident Canadians from voting. The prohibition bothered me on a very personal level: I had many Canadian friends and acquaintances living abroad long-term, who almost without exception felt closely connected to Canada and invested in its future. Moreover, the ban was plainly inconsistent with the Charter, it lacked any clearly articulated justification, and it had been widely criticized. Yet no one seemed particularly moved to do much about it.

Well, I’m happy to admit I was mistaken. Someone did . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Fight for ABS Is Just Beginning

The recent Law Society Committee report on Alternative Business Structures has resulted in much excitement across the world among legal innovators.

I wish I could share that joy.

The report is thorough – and lengthy. One wonders how, with two jurisdictions having adopted ABS (Australia a decade ago and the UK over 2 years ago) there could be any debate on the rationale behind allowing such structures?

Why do we need a uniquely Canadian solution?

What is so unique about the Canadian legal environment that Australia and the UK do not already provide a well-researched, well-documented and well-experienced solution?

I’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Ontario’s ABS Struggles Continue

Earlier this month I was invited to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Alternative Business Structures symposium. It was a bringing together of international speakers, thinkers and interested parties to discuss the possibility of allowing Alternative Business Structures (ABS) in Ontario – read: allowing outside investment in legal services providers, as is permitted in the UK and Australia.

Kudos to Benchers, Susan McGrath and Malcolm Mercer for organizing the event.

For those of us who were there, the consensus seemed to be that if ABS was allowed in Ontario the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse would not descend upon our . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management