Commentary

Monday, 06 May 2013 08:00

Don’t be a speed bump

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At last month’s Canadian Corporate Counsel Association spring meeting, I sat in on a few sessions and panels that focused on various aspects of one’s legal career. One was a lunch panel with a group of high-powered women general counsel discussing their careers and how they broke through into the upper echelons in their companies. While they were all women (who will be featured in a book coming out in the fall called Breaking Through), their tips for success are universal.
Monday, 01 April 2013 09:00

Who, now, will defend the indefensible?

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“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The above quote is often attributed to French philosopher Voltaire, but it is most likely a paraphrase by another writer of something Voltaire may have said. Nonetheless, it should be the heart of the matter where defenders of free speech are concerned. And last month, Canada lost one of its most controversial defenders of free speech when British Columbia lawyer Doug Christie died of cancer.
Monday, 04 March 2013 08:00

Lawyers are people too

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Last month, the Ontario Bar Association launched a public relations campaign aimed at improving the image of lawyers. I, like many others, actually found out about the campaign through an article in the Globe and Mail. So I went to the OBA’s web site and despite my fairly strong research skills, was unable to find even a single word about it — no link, no press release, nothing, at least not on the public parts of the site. A few lawyer colleagues I spoke to had done the same thing and come up empty as well. Turns out, the OBA has created a micro site, whyiwenttolawschool.ca, which gives lots of details about the plan.
Illustration: Scott Page
Illustration: Scott Page
The important question of how much latitude judges have in Ontario to avoid trials by granting summary judgment under Rule 20 is scheduled to come before the Supreme Court of Canada in March in two appeals involving an alleged investor scam.
Monday, 04 February 2013 08:00

A bedrock ethical obligation

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Illustration: Dushan Milic
Illustration: Dushan Milic
Even the brightest law school graduate will likely find himself adrift when he starts to practise his new profession. He may have got a bunch of As in law school — he may have been a whiz at torts and know the Charter of Rights upside down and backwards — but he won’t be the slightest bit prepared for the demands and drudgery of daily law practice. The first day on the job can be quite a shock to someone used to thinking of himself as highly competent and super-smart.
Monday, 04 February 2013 08:00

Time for an attitude readjustment

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I’ve written a lot in these pages about the issues of diversity and equality — much of it directly related to maintaining the number of women in the legal profession. But inequality in the law goes much further.
Monday, 07 January 2013 08:00

An undiplomatic guide to the emerging markets guide

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_Standard_photos_neillmay.jpgTo outsiders (like me), the world of diplomacy is impossibly complicated. It’s difficult enough to get agreement on a point. The complexities expand logarithmically when you factor in the need to resolve the structure, optics, communication, and other facets of the agreement.
Monday, 07 January 2013 08:00

Judging civility

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This month’s cover story looks at the thorny issue of how discipline is doled out in the profession. There will continue to be disagreement over whether certain members of the bar are treated differently than others, but it is fairly undisputable that small firm and sole practitioners end up in the crosshairs of regulators more often than big firm, government, or in-house lawyers. One of the most controversial discipline proceedings in recent memory is that of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s prosecution of Joseph Groia for incivility, the details of which are covered in the article “Discipline dichotomy.”
Monday, 12 November 2012 08:00

Making a quick exit

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Image: Jacqui Oakley
Image: Jacqui Oakley
There’s something odd going on at the Supreme Court of Canada. Three of the last four justices who retired could have stayed on for another 15 years. Instead, they chose to leave early — very early. Michel Bastarache was 61 when he went in 2008. Louise Charron was 60 when she retired in August 2011. Marie Deschamps resigned this past summer at 59. The mandatory retirement age for a Supreme Court judge is 75. Being a Supreme Court judge is the job every Canadian lawyer wants — until, apparently, she gets it.
Monday, 12 November 2012 08:00

To article or not to article

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As we go to press, the Law Society of Upper Canada has decided to put off a debate and vote on the future of articling in Ontario. In mid-October, the LSUC finally released its long-awaited task force report on the future of articling. The issue is so divisive and challenging even the task force could not agree on a single course of action to recommend to Convocation to vote on.
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