“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

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

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… 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

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… 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

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More