From Bar Leadership Skills

We, the jury.

In the midst of the Covid-19 emergency, the courts have ground to a standstill. Civil jury trials, in particular, have been suspended indefinitely. This week, in Higashi v. Chariot, an Ontario Superior Court judge issued an order stating a civil action arising from a serious automobile accident should not be heard by a jury, because…

Vanitas

The Ethics of Getting It So Wrong

In most professions, excessive caution in giving a range out outcomes can be as wrong as a lack of it. In medicine, telling a patient about a remote cancer diagnosis without adequate data could be considered negligence if the patient suffers nervous shock. In law, a lawyer who causes a real estate closing to fail…

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…

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…

2019 © Riichiro Akazaki

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…

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 profess ion must either article under an approved lawyer or pursue an experiential education…

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…

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…