Commentary

Monday, 02 May 2016 09:00

A love letter to Marie Henein

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Anti-feminist. Unethical. Traitor to her gender. These are just a few of the epithets slung at criminal lawyer Marie Henein during and in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi sex assault trial. Her choice of shoes, not to mention their cost, also came under fire. As did her hair and clothes. Let’s not even get started on what the twitterati had to say about her cross-examinations. What a tremendous amount of energy was spent by so many professional and armchair critics in trying to tear down Henein. What an absolute blood sport the trial turned into, and not just for the accused and the witnesses.
Monday, 04 April 2016 09:00

Are platforms coming to legal?

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Are platforms coming to legal?Much has been written recently about “platforms” and their impact on the legal industry. And by platforms I’m referring to the digital business model rather than the shoes (sadly). Avvo, Rocket Lawyer, and LegalZoom are touted as the next platforms for legal, and I want to delve into this proposition a little.
Monday, 04 April 2016 09:00

The great divide

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In the July 2011 issue of Canadian Lawyer, we wrote about “hot tubbing” — the term was coined in Australia to describe the procedure of organizing all experts in a case into a panel and hearing their evidence concurrently. As the story reported, judges and many experts liked the idea of it but the jury was still out with the lawyers.
The here and now of legal innovationUnbelievably, we’re now months rather than weeks into 2016. While it’s late to make new predictions, we’re new here, so please allow us to begin what will be a regular column with a landscape scan of where we are with legal innovation and technology and where we’re heading. Think of this less as a prediction and more of a state of the union.
Monday, 07 March 2016 09:00

Welcoming the new

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I was out of the country when the Liberals won the federal election last October. I was keeping up with the news but trying to take a mental break from too much news — instead filling my head with intensive study of Spanish — so I almost missed it when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named his new cabinet — cabinet that included Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s first aboriginal justice minister. At the time, I was in Oaxaca, Mexico — a city whose main square is filled daily with indigenous people marching and protesting against a variety of political, social, and human rights issues. It seemed somehow perfectly appropriate being in that milieu to be looking back at my own country and the possibilities for dramatic change that a new government and this new minister could bring about.
Monday, 01 February 2016 09:00

Is there a new view on defence ethics?

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Illustration: Scott Page
Illustration: Scott Page
What are the ethical boundaries for a lawyer defending someone accused of a sex crime? Is he a hired gun, expected to do everything legally possible to win the case, concerned only about the fate of his client, free to attack the complainant unreservedly in cross-examination, dedicated — as it is sometimes put — to proof, not truth? That, I think, was the old idea, unchallenged for many years.
Monday, 01 February 2016 09:00

Know your client & other data management games

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Know your client & other data  management gamesThe information we hold on our clients, their businesses, transactions, trials, and strategies can no longer be held on unprotected hard drives or sent willy-nilly through the exposed airwaves. “Regulators are pushing firms to get better at knowing their customers, and managing their data more comprehensively than they have in the past,” says Deloitte in November 2015’s CIO Journal. This push began some years ago with the know-your-client professional obligations placed on banks, law firms, and others to collect identification information and understand client’s activities and risk profiles for their investment decisions.
Monday, 01 February 2016 09:00

A mighty wind

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It’s barely past the middle of January as I sit to write this editorial and already the waves of change, some might even call them disruption, are crashing on the shores of the Canadian legal business. There’s two more notches in the lipstick case of the globalization of legal practice with the arrival here of Axiom, which has purchased the general counsel business of Canadian legal services pioneer Cognition LLP, and international labour and employment firm Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC, which gets its first beachhead in Toronto.
Monday, 04 January 2016 09:00

Embarrassing behaviours and corrective disclosures

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I think it is a certain sign of my age that when thinking about the proliferation and ubiquity of social media my thinking has evolved from initially worrying about the creation of a permanent record of embarrassing personal choices to then becoming concerned that it may actually be more damning to have absolutely no record of any embarrassing activity, proceeding finally to the realization that I’m too “mature” to be a good judge of what, in 2016, is embarrassing.
Monday, 04 January 2016 09:00

A long, hard road

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Nobody is perfect. People make mistakes. It could be a momentary lapse of judgment. It could be leading with your heart instead of your brain. It could be trusting someone who perhaps you shouldn’t have. It could be that you were tired. Or it could simply be that something had to be done, and this is what got done. These types of mistakes are and should be forgivable — because no one is perfect.
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