Jordan Weisz is the kind of lawyer who has kept Canada’s legal aid system afloat for the past two decades. About 80 per cent of the clients who come to his doors each year have a legal aid certificate in hand. Yet they represent less than half of his revenue. As a senior practitioner, he qualifies for Legal Aid Ontario’s top tariff rate of $106.90 per hour. But LAO is forced to make do with a fixed amount of funding each year regardless of demand for services. To cover the shortfall, it restricts the number of hours for which lawyers are compensated, regardless of what may be required for a proper defence.
- Legal Report: ADR
The Université de Montréal law faculty’s Centre de recherche en droit public drew the ire of lawyers across the globe in 1996 when it launched the CyberTribunal project. The groundbreaking venture was the first to offer consumers an exclusively online mediation and arbitration platform to settle disputes with online vendors. Many lawyers were appalled by the brazen experiment in managing disputes between parties that would never come face to face and, perhaps more to the point, not pay counsel to help generate a settlement.
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Rod Snow, a partner at Davis LLP in Whitehorse, practises aboriginal, mining, and environmental law. He was born and raised in Nova Scotia, but found himself in Vancouver after completing his LLM at the University of Washington. In 1993, he moved to the Yukon to help Davis open its first office in the North and stayed ever since. As the first president of the Canadian Bar Association from the North, he plans to focus on several issues affecting Northern Canada.
- Legal Report: Family Law
When newly appointed Attorney General Chris Bentley set off on his travels around Ontario, hoping to speak to members of the legal community about criminal and civil matters, he found that everyone really wanted to talk about family law. “For many years we hadn’t done much to family law — just little tweaks in the legislation and the process — but everywhere I went the lawyers and judges and people in the community all agreed that something needed to be done.” According to Bentley, the call for reform has been hard sell; loud and persistent. “I heard that the existing approach was ‘very frustrating.’ That’s the nicest way of putting it. Everyone wanted decisions to be made faster with less anger and confrontation and for the system to be one heck of a lot cheaper and less complex.”
- Legal report: Litigation
- Cover Story
Brian Saunders had two inspirations when he signed up with the federal Justice Department in 1977. Public service was in his blood and — among the goals that would lead him one day to head the new Public Prosecution Service of Canada — he wanted to go to court. “All of my father’s family and my mother’s family were public service,” the youthful-looking Justice Department veteran says. “My father’s family, all his brothers and him, were in the military. My mother’s family were all school teachers and nurses, so I was brought up in families that had a sense of working for the public.”
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