Moving on from LSO’s abandonment of #EDI: The Case for Affirmative Action in Canadian Law

After a week in which the Law Society of Ontario moved to repeal a requirement that lawyers and paralegals make an annual private pledge to promote equality, diversity and inclusion (“EDI”), the Bar must now reflect on the root cause of this public policy failure: Asking a privileged group to give up its perch, or… Read More

The Ethics of Lawyers Recording Conversations

Canadians’ interest in legal ethics continues to remain very high.  What, then, are the ethics of a lawyer’s secret recording of a telephone call with a client, including the employees of a client? Rule 7.2-3 of the Ontario Rules of Professional Conduct provides: 7.2-3 A lawyer shall not use any device to record a conversation between the lawyer… Read More

Cabinet Confidentiality: Navigating the Procedural Ins and Outs

What is cabinet confidentiality?  How does it restrict what a minister of the Crown can reveal in public discourse?  How can a court, tribunal or parliamentary committee compel disclosure, and how can that process be blocked? Cabinet confidentiality is a feature of Canadian constitutional law derived from Part III of the Constitution Act, 1867, in which… Read More

Talking to the Attorney-General about Solicitor-Client Privilege

Out of the blue, solicitor-client privilege is a meme.  The subject excites legal ethics nerds but is not recommended dinner-party conversation.  Until now. If the public weren’t confused enough by this legal principle, a former Attorney-General hires a retired Supreme Court judge as her legal counsel.  The former minister declines comment to reporters on the… Read More

Is it time to unshackle law schools from law societies?

On December 10, 2018, the Law Society of Ontario chose to stay the course on its dual streams for lawyer licencing.  Apart from a few substantive enhancements such as the requirement for paid internships, a candidate for membership in the legal profession must either article under an approved lawyer or pursue an experiential education program… Read More

The Myth that Lawyers Believe in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

In case you missed it, the Law Society of Ontario now requires lawyers to prepare and embrace a ‘Statement of Principles‘ regarding diversity in their practices.  I have been critical of the initiative because, at the end of the day, it requires no more than yet another act of lip service to fix real diversity… Read More

Did Politics Trump Justice Zabel’s Sentence?

Yesterday, the Ontario Judicial Council sentenced Justice Bernd Zabel, a trial judge sitting in Hamilton, to a 30-day suspension without pay for having brought a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” cap into court the morning after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and for telling the public assembled in court that he had “voted” for Mr. Trump… Read More

Resolving R. v. Jordan linguistically: Why the dissent was right

It was the most significant Supreme Court of Canada decision of 2016, and it continues to dog the justice system.  Last July, R. v. Jordan set 18 months as the presumptive ceiling for criminal cases in the provincial courts, and 30 months in superior courts (or cases in provincial courts after a preliminary inquiry).  Canadian courts do… Read More

Why some courts don’t get consent in sex offence trials

Canadian courts have recently come under intense scrutiny over the treatment of complainants in trials of sexual assault offences.  From the judicial discipline proceedings against Judge Robin Camp, who asked the assault complainant why she “couldn’t just keep [her] knees together,” and referred to her as “the accused,”  to the acquittal of taxi driver Bassam… Read More

The Trial of Hillary Clinton, the Lawyer and Woman

“The episode is one of … America’s most notorious cases of mass hysteria. It has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.” No, this is not a future historian’s description of yesterday’s election of the… Read More