Is belief in law logical?

Many years ago, I agreed to act for an elder of the Celestial Church of Christ, a religious order based in Nigeria.  A member of his congregation had asked him to be a “character reference” on a bank loan.  It turned out to be a guarantee on a sub-prime mortgage.  To make a long story… Read More

A Very Canadian “Mexican Standoff” of an American Contest between Executive and Judicial Power

Marbury v. Madison is the considered the seminal decision in judicial review of executive and legislative action.  At least, that is what the U.S. courts have subsequently repeated.  In fact, the 1803 decision of a fledgling American high court represented a Mexican standoff between executive and judicial power in which the limits of the U.S.… Read More

Judicial Ethics in Real Time: Commentary D.9 to Principle D.3 of Ethical Principles for Judges

This morning, the Chief Justice of Canada responded to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office that, last summer, she initiated a call to the Minister of Justice regarding the nomination of Justice Marc Nadon.  Media reports have suggested the eruption of a very public battle of statements.  As lawyers, we respect and honour our Chief Justice, and take… Read More

“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… Read More

2013 : The year of ethical lapses among high-performing professionals

If there has been a mystery from the events of 2013, it is the emergence in Canadian public life of respected professionals as instigators of questionable deals and conflicts of interest.  The intrigue surrounding Senator Mike Duffy captured national attention, but we were also mindful of the fact that, in Québec, it was getting hard… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

Avoir le dernier mot, qu’importe? ~ Does getting in the last word matter?

French Presidential Candidate Ségolène Royal tries too hard to hang on to the last word.  La candidate Ségolène Royal essaie trop fort d’avoir le dernier mot. (Watch how many times during the segment 1:50-3:00 she points her finger at him.  Durant le segment 1:50-3:00, combien de fois lui montre-t-elle son doigt?) Les avocats et les… Read More

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,  This mentoring initiative is set up so that everyone can participate with… Read More

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,… Read More