This issue of Canadian Lawyer is all about money. Our cover story, “Good business or cheating the taxman?” takes a look at offshore financial centres, not something that is much talked about within the Canadian legal scene but which has become more and more part of the practice of business and corporate-commercial law internationally. Offshore financial centres, or offshore tax havens as they are more commonly referred to, have been the subject of heightened international scrutiny and pressure in recent years from governments in the developed world. We take a look at how Canada and Canadian companies and law firms are using the system.
The recent Legal Marketing Association annual conference really spelled out how law firm marketing has shifted over the past few years. When I started writing on legal issues 13 years ago, most firms didn’t have a marketing person, let alone a department. That has changed and most dramatically over the last year to 18 months, those departments have become the focus of business development for the firms. Publisher Karen Lorimer attended the LMA and wrote a piece for our canadianlawyermag.com on the attitudinal transition. Well worth the read.
It’s not the Oscars but award season is upon us in the business-to-business magazine industry as well. Canadian Lawyer has a long history of winning awards for our top-notch editorial and art direction. But this year, the magazine has added a new feather to our cap, winning an American Business Media Jesse H. Neal Award for best single article for “War of the words,” our March 2009 cover story by Lisa Gregoire that examined the battle over the right to free speech versus the outlawing of hate speech.
Commercial courts have been established in various business centres around the world and are common in developed countries. Factors leading to their establishment in other jurisdictions are very much present in Canada, namely, a judiciary lacking expertise in commercial matters, overwhelmed dockets, and complex commercial disputes requiring expeditious resolution. The results are overwhelmingly positive. Canada would benefit from instituting commercial courts in all of its major commercial centres.
As I write, Canada is in the grip of Olympic fever. Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal resulted in the roar of victory heard across the country; tremendous amounts of fist pumping; and spontaneous outbursts of O Canada on the streets. It was a beautiful thing.
It is a commonly held perception that Alberta is a business-friendly province. With little red tape, skinny regulations, modest taxes, a sizeable pool of entrepreneurs, a can-do attitude, near-absent unionization, political invariability, abundant resources, solid infrastructure, a reasonable cost of living, great skiing, private liquor stores, and a young, well-educated workforce, it is difficult to argue against this perception.
As I sit down to write, expectations are that British confectionary icon Cadbury PLC will be swallowed whole by Kraft Foods Inc. in an acquisition worth $19.3 billion despite Kraft’s top shareholder Warren Buffett calling the takeover a “bad deal.”