Features

Monday, 17 November 2014 00:08

Taming the digital chaos

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2014_November_CL-Nov-Dec-2014-cover.jpgIt appears to have become the new norm. Not a week seems to go by without a report about a data breach. America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, is one of the latest high-profile victims, and it is still reeling from this summer’s cyber attack that compromised 76 million household accounts — the equivalent of 65 per cent of all U.S. households — and seven million businesses. Law firms are far from immune. An American multi-state criminal firm discreetly filed a report in late June with California authorities, the first U.S. state to adopt data-breach notification legislation, after a hard drive containing backup files for one of the firm’s servers was stolen from the locked trunk of an employee’s vehicle. Closer to home, hackers three years ago compromised the security of seven major Canadian law firms involved in BHP Billiton’s proposed takeover of Saskatchewan’s Potash Corp. Law firms are often seen as a weak link in the cyber-security chain.
Monday, 17 November 2014 00:08

Seeking alternative arrangements

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2014_November_CorpSurvey-HandsOpener1.jpgThe momentum has been growing slowly for years but it seems in-house counsel are ready and want to trade in the billable hour model for something more progressive. Responses to the 2014 Canadian Lawyer Corporate Counsel Survey indicate there is a growing interest within the in-house bar to changing the conversation when it comes to negotiating billing options with external law firms.
Monday, 17 November 2014 00:08

Unsportsmanlike behaviour

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2014_November_LabourFinal.jpgThe fiasco of the NFL’s reaction to players’ legal problems filled the headlines lately. The well-publicized video of Baltimore Ravens’ player Ray Rice punching his then-girlfriend in the face sparked outrage from millions of people worldwide. In this age of social media, news travels fast and it travels far. That punch in the elevator prompted a wide-scale, emotional public debate over what role the NFL should play in its athletes’ lives, particularly when they’re off the field. And as the magazine went to press, the story of CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi’s firing shone a bright Canadian spotlight on the issue of whether someone can be fired for private sex acts taking place off duty.
Monday, 29 September 2014 10:23

The next frontier

Written by
Photos: Sandra Strangemore
Photos: Sandra Strangemore
The practice of law is always evolving as new influences such as technology add complexity to how lawyers solve problems for their clients. From intellectual property to labour and employment to business law, and beyond technology and evolving business models have created new opportunities for lawyers to do what they do best — resolve disputes and grow their practice areas.
Monday, 29 September 2014 10:23

The trouble with criminal speech

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2014_October_CriminalCode.jpgIn 2011, an RCMP officer called Karen MacKinnon at her home in Drumheller, Alta. and asked her to come into the station for an interview. He wanted to talk to her about comments she had made on Facebook. She was wary at first, but agreed to meet with him and drove down to the station in her truck.
Monday, 29 September 2014 10:23

Chasing data

Written by
Illustration: Matthew Billington
Illustration: Matthew Billington
Anne Glover will admit it: She sometimes misses all those banker’s boxes. Well, maybe not all the banker’s boxes. “I miss the days of five boxes where they would say, ‘Here are all the documents in the case,’ and you could read them five times and know you didn’t miss anything. Those days are gone,” says Glover, a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto.
Monday, 01 September 2014 08:00

Cracking the system

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As far as political firestorms go, Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s June was slightly hotter than most. It began innocently enough on June 13 with the announcement the federal government had appointed 12 new judges to the bench. It was undoubtedly expected to be a routine announcement to fill various vacancies across the country; in law firms and wine bars across the country there would be small gatherings of law firm partners to toast the elevation of their colleagues to the bench. Then something unusual happened. It was pointed out not a single one of the new judicial appointments was a woman. The only woman mentioned in the announcement was already a judge being promoted to a higher court.
Monday, 01 September 2014 08:00

A new era of title claims

Written by
Illustration: Huan Tran
Illustration: Huan Tran
A landmark ruling on aboriginal land rights will open the door to more title claims, possible slowdowns in mining and other development, higher costs, and a heightened push to negotiate deals. But the Supreme Court is building on existing practice rather than pushing aboriginal law in a new direction.
Monday, 04 August 2014 08:00

Avoid common ADR pitfalls

Written by
Illustration: Mick Coulas
Illustration: Mick Coulas
Compared to the combat of litigation, alternative dispute resolution might seem to some like a pleasant alternative. But mediations, arbitrations, and their various brethren come with pitfalls of their own that can ensnare an unwary lawyer. Whether it’s your first time working through a labour mediation or you’re a jet-setter representing global multinationals, make sure to avoid some of the most common errors that plague ADRs.
Monday, 04 August 2014 08:00

DoJ hunger games

Written by
Illustration: Oleg Portnoy
Illustration: Oleg Portnoy
As the election returns rolled in on a cold January night in 2006, few Canadians were watching them more closely than the people who worked at 284 Wellington St. in Ottawa. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper had sent a chill through senior public servants a few days earlier when he reassured Canadians he couldn’t do anything rash because the Liberal courts and the Liberal bureaucracy would keep him in check. At the federal Justice Department, that had officials more than a little concerned. “They were all reading the tea leaves and saying . . . this is going to be interesting,” says one senior Justice Department official who traded anonymity for candor. “In their case, he doesn’t like public servants and he doesn’t like courts. Well, that seems to get us from two sides.”
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