From Lawyer Defence

Why judges’ political activism also hurts lawyers

The Law Times reported that an Ontario Superior Court Justice is facing a complaint by an oil sands advocacy group to the Canadian Judicial Council for his role in a public mock trial of environmentalist David Suzuki at the Royal Ontario Museum this past November 6.  The basis for the complaint is that the judge’s participation in a political event compromised his judicial impartiality.  Another judge of the same court had originally agreed to participate, but later withdrew in the face of a similar objection. Judges have long been criticized for “judicial activism,” especially since the advent of the Canadian Charter of…

Plain-Language Legal Resources in French Now Just a “Cliquement” Away

Did you know that every Ontario lawyer has an obligation to advise francophone clients of their linguistic rights in the justice system?  It will not be long, in my estimation, before a client brings a complaint or a professional liability suit against a lawyer after defeat in a civil, family or criminal matter because the client was not fully able to express himself or herself as witnesses at trial, or on the basis that a bilingual judge or jury would have decided a case differently.

Beware of the chain-link limitation expiry

A lawyer phoned to tell me about a limitations matter.  He said that if the case was time-barred, the time expired long before the client retained him.  Then he told me there was a prior lawyer.  I told him to report himself to the Ontario Lawyers’ Professional Insurer, LawPro, just in case.  (Ouch!)

Buttonholed by a family member?

“In times when access to justice is ever precious, isn’t it great to have a lawyer in the family?” In the May Canadian Lawyer, the Accidental Mentor helps you navigate dealing with the clients you can’t completely fire. ~   ~   ~ “Maintenant que l’accès à la justice soit si précieux, n’est-il pas terrible que notr’ cousin(e) est avocat(e)?” Dans ma colonne de mai dans Canadian Lawyer, vous trouverez des conseils au sujet de l’interaction avec les clients que vous ne pourriez vraiment pas virer. Terms of use / Mentions légales

Unbundling the civil litigation retainer

“A significant proportion of middle-income Ontarians can afford to pay for some legal services.  Developing innovative programs to harness this market, whether through unbundling, legal expense insurance, or other forms of subsidized legal services, would represent an important step forward.” – Report of the Ontario Civil legal Needs Project, 2010, p. 56 (la version française suit) Uncharted territory, albeit well-trodden What is your experience so far with limited scope retainers, otherwise known as “unbundling”?  At the moment, Ontario lawyers appear to be slow adopters of this mode of legal service delivery, at least with that label.  Fingers crossed, no one has…

For the love of being governed, and staying that way

At least once in your career, it is helpful to reflect seriously about the place where the Law Society sends lawyers found guilty of misconduct and worthy of disbarment.  Call it your general deterrence inoculation.  Whatever it means to be a lawyer, this is what it means no longer to be one. (la version française suit)

Your future in Criminal Law

Twenty-five years from now, historians, criminologists and other observers of criminal law in Canada may very well look back to a 2005 lecture given by Justice Michael Moldaver (now of the Supreme Court of Canada), to the Criminal Lawyers Association.  Will they ask, why did we not see the symptoms of a dying branch of our profession? (la version française suit) The important excerpt from the lecture, quoted at the opening of a comprehensive report by the Ontario courts on criminal procedure, pointed to a trial process spiraling out of control.  He repeated his call to action in a 2006…

Are lawyers sitting ducks for breach of privacy claims?

As a lawyer, you are also a spy.  The extent to which you may wish to look the part is up to you. (version française) As a law student in an intellectual property firm, I was often instructed to collect evidence out in the real world, not only to prosecute counterfeiters but also to help prove clients’ rights in administrative hearings.  Every day, commercial lawyers snoop on companies in merger deals, litigation lawyers perform credit and asset checks to advise clients before launching suits, and matrimonial lawyers chase after sources of alimony and child support.  Anyone with a PC can…

Les avocats sont-ils des cibles pour des réclamations pour atteintes à la vie privée?

En tant qu’avocat, vous êtes aussi un espion. La mesure dans laquelle vous en faites la comédie est à vous. (English version) Comme un étudiant en droit dans un cabinet de propriété intellectuelle, j’ai souvent été chargé de recueillir des preuves, non seulement pour poursuivre les contrefacteurs, mais aussi pour soutenir des clients dans leur causes aux audiences administratives. Chaque jour, les avocats commerciaux épient sur les entreprises en opérations de fusion, les avocats contentieux commandent des contrôles de crédit  pour conseiller les clients avant le lancement des poursuites en justice, et des avocats matrimoniaux courent après des sources de…

Avoiding the public eye: How not to become the story, even if you are.

Celebrity lawyer rows with bad-boy aristo-client.” “Star securities litigation lawyer  besieged.” “Counsel sues judges.” “Firebrand pro bono lawyer of yesteryear still tangling with Law Society.” (la version française suit) Whatever your take on these professional controversies, one thing is certain: it is not the kind of notoriety you seek for any stage of your legal career.  Nevertheless, the fine line we tread between representation for and of the members of the public we serve remains one of our greatest challenges.  Where is the line between fearless advocacy end and the loss of objectivity?  When did the lawyer stop advising the failing…