From Bar Leadership Skills

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…

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…

Why the Rock needs a Law School

Archetypally, Newfoundlanders are the lawyers of Canada: proud, passionate, and fiercely loyal in temperament despite historically being the butt of bad jokes. Now, once again, Memorial University is considering a law school.  (Click on the Memorial logo – above right – to read the story.) A law school is a living monument to hope and the rule of law.  It is a statement that localism can co-exist with an international perspective.  It is so many things, but above all: a recognition that the lawyers trained in a distinct community can, through national mobility, add to the legal diversity and dialogue of…

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…

My Choice for “Best New Blog” in the #clawbies2012 Awards

My Choice for CLawBies 2012 Best New Blog?  The Law Society of Upper Canada’s Treasurer’s Blog. Not because the idea of a Treasurer’s blog is “cool.”  (Do we even want that?  No one outside of Ontario know he is actually the President of the Law Society, and we cling on to the misnomer to prevent the leader from being described with such epithets.) Not because the Law Society under Tom Conway has embraced social media.  (He’s still a one-man-band.  We’ll wait for the chorus of  “lifer” benchers to sign up on Twitter.) Not because it reaches out to a new…

Van Gogh et le prochain juriste

Septembre marque le véritable début du calendrier de l’avocat. En Ontario, nous ouvrons nos tribunaux judiciaires au cours de ce mois.  Le cycle post-estival commence également pour les cabinets d’avocats et les services juridiques. Pour de nombreux nouveaux avocats après leur admission au barreau en juin, la fin de l’été signifie que les mentors et les mentorés travaillent côte à côte enfin. (For English version, click here or on artwork)

Winning at a meeting

Clients hire lawyers to fight their battles, but ultimately they want you to show them the peace, and to take them there. Unfortunately, we teach our lawyers to be technical wizards but leave it to chance whether they learn the law’s most basic skill: how to mobilize a gathering of people.  In 2012, winning does not mean getting your way but persuading people in an organized assembly to do what you envision they should be doing. Whether it’s an internal law firm committee, or a hearing in the law courts, this month’s Canadian Lawyer column, The Accidental Mentor, talks about three questions you…

Law Society of Upper Canada – What’s in the name?

Call it what it is, instead of what it is not. Call it: Ontario Independent Regulator of Lawyers and Paralegals. (le résumé en français suit) The Law Society of  Upper Canada‘s name is a millstone around our necks in the battle to preserve self-regulation.

An academy of criminal law for Ontario

This is my final post on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s articling consultation.  During the last few months, some interesting ideas have emerged from various quarters. (la version française suit) First, the “articling” crisis is perceived to be a Toronto-centric problem.  It has long been known to be a predominantly Ontario problem, probably because Toronto is a magnet for would-be lawyers not only from Ontario but also from the rest of Canada and some common-law jurisdictions abroad.  Anecdotal accounts of small-town firms unsuccessfully seeking articling students to fill jobs may suggest that it is not, ultimately, the Toronto bar’s…