Tagged MENTORSHIP

“Micro-ethical” issues key to teaching professionalism

In a much-anticipated research paper on training lawyers to be ethical professionals, Shelley M. Kierstead of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and University of Toronto’s Erika Abner have published groundbreaking work in “Learning Professionalism in Practice.”  How and where do lawyers learn to be professional?  What are the modes of learning?  Is professional ethics the responsibility of law society regulators, the legal academy, or the profession?  Can ethical lawyers bring “swimmers” onto their lifeboat? The paper, funded by a fellowship grant from the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism (now the OBA Foundation Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowships in Legal Ethics and Professionalism),…

Aucune substitution pour la lecture ~ Read what it says, not what you think it says

Last week, was speaking to a lawyer about a document, when I sensed he hadn’t even read it. It was in French.  ‘How’s your French,’ I asked.  ‘Awful,’ he replied.  ‘I guess you haven’t read it,’ I continued.  ‘I expect it says what you say it says,’ he explained.  Alas. In the final article in the Accidental Mentor, I share my memory of the late George Miller, an extraordinary lawyer.  He taught me never to interpret a document without reading it first.  Simple enough?  How many times have you broken that rule?  Scan or click on the QR Code above-right, to…

Distilling the LSUC’s decision in Groia: An old debate between passion and reason

  Want a break from reading the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 88-page Appeal Decision in Groia?   Consider it a replay of that old Hume v. Kant debate: To what extent can the passions inform ethical behaviour?  Or, to extrapolate Sontag’s famous 1963 NYRB book review contrasting Camus with Sartre, the Groia appeal panel confirms that trial lawyers ought to be good ‘spouses’ and not try to be good ‘lovers.’  The Ideal Husband stands as one of the great essays of the 20th Century, and proves that great thought can be a light read. Malheureusement, l’arrêt Groia n’est pas encore disponible en français.…

Lawyers as the public conscience of their clients

On October 16, as part of their joint professional development seminar, Current Topics in Ethics & Professionalism, the Toronto Lawyers Association and University of Toronto’s Centre for the Legal Profession will be staging “A Great Debate:  Should Lawyers Consider Themselves the Moral Conscience of their Clients?”  I will be debating in favour of the resolution. If you are attending and want to prep for the debate, or can’t make it, read my September, 2013, column in the Canadian Lawyer entitled “Lawyers and their demons.” (click on graphic, above right) ~  ~  ~ Le 16 octobre, l’Association des juristes de Toronto et le Centre…

Mentoring Site Launched for Real Estate Lawyers by OBA, CDLPA and ORELA

Real Property Lawyers: Are you in need of a mentor?  Would you mentor someone if you had the time?  Here is a possible solution for both.  The Working Group on Lawyers and Real Estate has undertaken a mentoring initiative on their web site, http://www.lawyersworkinggroup.com.  This mentoring initiative is set up so that everyone can participate with little effort.  Go to the site, see the question of the month, click on the suggested answers provided or add a comment and you’re done. The Working Group encourages all Ontario real estate lawyers to visit the web site regularly or sign up for the…

Removing exceptions for better legal drafting ~ Supprimez les exceptions et rédiger mieux!

Here you are, but —  You see how the word ‘but’ is the harbinger of bad faith, how the grantor never intended to give without taking away or wanting something in return.  What flows from the use of the conjunction is a natural source of ambiguity.  The use of the exceptionalist style, so pervasive among lawyers, is also poor form because it weakens the product of our work.  In the July, 2013, Canadian Lawyer, my column explains how this happens and how we can reduce our addiction to the use of the word.  Click on the image to the right, to read…

The Ambiguity of Merit ~ Le Mérite et son ambiguité

Is it earned? Or is it an entitlement?  We never quite get our mind around the concept of merit, although it is among the most recurring themes in Canadian law, and despite its importance to every lawyer’s career.  In this month’s Accidental Mentor column, the writer takes the plunge into the ambiguous meaning of merit.  Click on the image to read the article. Qu’est-ce ça veut dire, que l’on ‘mérite.’  Verbe transitif et non-transitif, et nom masculin terminé d’un ‘e’.  En droit canadien, la signification du mérite est soumise à des usages différents à différents points dans une carrière juridique. Malgré son importance…

What lawyers can learn from actors – Ce que les comédiens puissent nous enseigner

Chapter 7 of Uta Hagen’s 1973 technical manual for the professional actor, Respect for Acting, is devoted entirely to thinking.  As a theatre or cinéma fan, read this book and you may never put up with bad acting, ever again.  As a lawyer, we could only wish the equivalent were available to help us stay on top of our game. In my April, 2013, Canadian Lawyer column, Respect for Lawyering, I suggest that our profession, once respected for our prowess at thinking, might learn a thing or two from Hagen’s disciplined approach to the actor’s craft.  Whether it is resisting the movement…

Why Civil Litigators Have to Keep Current on Criminal Law

In the privacy of mediation rooms, I often listen to assertions made by counsel about certain facts, such as soft-tissue injuries suffered in a car crash, and then I ask: How are you going to prove that? I may as well have asked a question about Heidegger’s thoughts on the revelation of reality.  The lack, most of the time, of a satisfactory answer to my question comes from the apocryphal nature of the rules of civil evidence in Canada, and from the dearth of actual trial experience among litigators called to the bar in the last 15 years. (la version française…

Does Linguistic Diversity Matter in Law?

During a bilingual hearing in the Court of Appeal, an unrepresented party made an objection to the use of the court-appointed translator.  When this occurred, the presiding judge on the panel asked whether the parties were content to hold the hearing in French only. It turned out the only one who demurred was the lawyer from the Crown, who was not a party but who had standing as an intervenor because of a Charter issue.  Eager to avoid an adjournment, I turned around, spoke to the lawyer in French and ascertained that he could in fact speak French.  I avoided…