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.
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!) Continue reading
In the May Canadian Lawyer, the Accidental Mentor helps you navigate dealing with the clients you can’t completely fire.
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“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.
“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
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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 been successfully sued or disciplined for an error or omission in an “unbundled” retainer. Look up “unbundling” in the law reports or the Law Society of Upper Canada discipline decisions and you won’t find anything – yet. Continue reading
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.
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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?
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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 address to the Justice Summit in Toronto. What Justice Moldaver left out of his clarion call, however, was the future of the criminal defence bar. Now is the time for a new generation lawyers to chime in. For most senior lawyers, it may be too late to make a difference. (Although at least one senior civil litigator I know has returned to law school to obtain training in criminal law.) For new lawyers, however, the call to service will come sooner than you think.