Commentary

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 09:24

Are you happy now?

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_2010_Nov_Dec_coloured.jpgThere’s a general belief that a lot of lawyers don’t enjoy what they do. Their work makes them unhappy. The empirical evidence tends to support this suspicion. In a recent American Bar Association survey, for example, only 55 per cent of lawyers who responded said they were satisfied with their job. In a 1998 study of Michigan lawyers, 60 per cent said they would not become lawyers if they could start their careers over. It is reported that half of all lawyers don’t want their children to follow in their footsteps. There are a number of surveys like this, particularly in the United States, all showing much of the same results.

 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 09:15

You’re more biased than you think

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Last month, I attended the International Bar Association’s conference in Vancouver. About 5,000 lawyers from around the world descended on the city to discuss issues from law firm management to emerging M&A trends to dawn raids to professional ethics and the appointment of judges to the International Criminal Court. There was a little of something for everyone with points of view from across the globe.

 

Sunday, 03 October 2010 20:00

Time for action

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Legal aid is a problem child. It doesn’t matter which province you’re in or what type of law you practise, if legal aid is part of your legal business, it’s not easy. The system is straining at the seams, some might even say it’s broken beyond repair (See our cover story on page 28). And there are no shortage of reports and studies over the last decades that have suggested ways to fix it. Mostly, those recommendations are collecting dust on the shelves of attorneys general’s offices across this fine country. According to the Canadian Bar Association’s report on legal aid released in July, “Despite lobbying and litigation efforts, there have been no significant systemic improvements in access to justice in Canada during the last four decades.”

Sunday, 03 October 2010 20:00

Politics is not all fun and jokes

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2010_October_vote-for-me_back-page.jpgBrazilians go to the polls to elect a new president in October. But under a 1997 law, that socialist country forbids TV and radio stations from making fun of candidates in the final three months of the campaign. No late-night TV monologues. No radio DJs doing impersonations or satirical songs.

 

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 05:37

Getting back to basics

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2010_September_legal-ethics.jpgIt’s good to get back to basics occasionally. What is a lawyer’s fundamental ethical obligation? Surely the answer must be, to protect and promote the rule of law.

 

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 05:32

News from the home front

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Aug. 4 was just an ordinary day of editing the stories for this issue of Canadian Lawyer when publisher Karen Lorimer and I were called into a meeting with our company president at which we were given the official news that our publications, Canadian Lawyer, InHouse, 4Students, and Law Times, had been sold to Carswell Thomson Reuters. We were part of a larger deal that will see Canada Law Book, a division of The Cartwright Group Ltd. owned by former judge Ian Cartwright, aligned with Carswell. Also part of the deal are CLB Media’s legal directories that include the Canadian Law List.

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 05:16

No claim means no claim!

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It is a fundamental principle of contract law, one which public policy favours and subject only to certain well-established and narrowly defined exceptions, that parties are free to determine for themselves the terms of contracts voluntarily entered into. Regrettably, the Supreme Court of Canada recently departed from this principle in Tercon Contractors Ltd. v. British Columbia (Transportation and Highways), thereby injecting uncertainty into the enforceability of contractual arrangements.

Tuesday, 03 August 2010 05:08

Positions of influence

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Every magazine and web site has a list of the top this or top that. And love or hate the lists, everybody ends up reading them and talking about them. At Canadian Lawyer, we’re no stranger to lists but for the most part we’ve not tackled the most controversial type of list: one about individual lawyers. So about 18 months or so ago, I decided to take on the task and come up with such a list. Its main characteristic, though, had to be that it was different from all other lists in the various legal publications and web sites dotting the Canadian landscape. What I realized is that most such tallies look at one particular area and don’t take into account the law as a whole: every area of practice, government, regulatory, judiciary, etc.

 

Sunday, 04 July 2010 20:00

A sad loss

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It is with great sadness that I sit to write my editorial for this issue. Upon arriving at work this morning, I was greeted with an e-mail message from a journalist colleague in Quebec notifying me that Mike King, our correspondent in Montreal, had passed away over the weekend from a brain aneurysm. He was 51.

 

Sunday, 04 July 2010 20:00

Counsels of perfection

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_2010_July_conflict-of-interest.jpgA Law Society of Upper Canada disciplinary panel recently held hearings into the conduct of Dorothy DeMerchant and Darren Sukonick. The two lawyers are accused of having acted in a conflict of interest without disclosing the conflict and without getting the informed consent of each affected client. At the time of writing, the panel’s decision had not been handed down. A lot of people are nervously waiting for it.

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