Features

Monday, 03 January 2011 09:30

Behind the scenes

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2011_January_cl_jan_11.jpgIn what may have been the biggest murder case of his career, criminal defence lawyer Michael Edelson had no opportunity to unsheathe his most potent weapon. Known for his ability to cripple key Crown witnesses with cutting cross-examination, Edelson struck no blows. His client, 47-year-old David Russell Williams, a former colonel in the Canadian air force and commander of the country’s largest airbase, took the remarkable step of pleading guilty to two charges of first-degree murder. “This plea was extraordinarily unusual because only a handful of people in Canada have ever pleaded to first-degree murder and he may be the first ever to plead to two first-degree murders,” says Edelson, a founding partner of Edelson Clifford D’Angelo Barristers LLP, a small Ottawa firm with a history of defending high-profile clients.
Monday, 03 January 2011 09:15

The lights are always on

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Illustration: Dushan Millic
Illustration: Dushan Millic
Few people have observed the profound shift Canada’s legal profession has taken in recent years as closely as Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP chairman and CEO Scott Jolliffe. Called to the bar in 1978, he says the pace of legal practice has accelerated to a rate no one would have envisioned back then. When he started out, “You would send a letter out, and it would take several days for the letter to get there. Then they’d consider it on the other end, and a response would come back.” That lag time has now evaporated. “When a client asks a question, they want an answer,” explains the member of Gowlings’ international strategic advisory group. “They are expecting that you are attached to your cellphone or your BlackBerry, and receiving their message as they give it. It’s instant messaging on e-mail.” It also means lawyers now check their smartphones at least every hour during the day, and especially before going to sleep and upon waking. “That’s just the way it is now,” says Jolliffe.
Monday, 03 January 2011 09:00

A growing sense of unease

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Illustration: Jason Schneider
Illustration: Jason Schneider
A broad patent claim for a groundbreaking stem cell technology has raised fears that medical research and the development of new treatments could be held back by a corporate monopoly on intellectual property in a promising new field.
Sunday, 14 November 2010 19:00

Greener pastures

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2010_November_cl_nov_10_pg_01.jpgJoel Kennedy sat down with a road map after being called to the Ontario bar in 1974. Raised in the burgeoning city of Brampton, Ont., he wanted to pursue a more relaxed lifestyle and was looking for some direction. He focused his gaze on the low-key and lush northern part of the province, and after a few calls to friends found an opening in the scenic town of Parry Sound. He has been there ever since. “It’s a good life,” says Kennedy. “I can look out the window here and see my boat in the water and sneak away early if I want to.”

 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 10:07

Labour rights hang on Supreme Court ruling in Fraser

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_2010_Nov_Dec_labour-rights-final.jpgBy the time you read this, the highest court in the land may have already ruled on a landmark case involving the country’s humblest workers. If and when the decision does come, it will bring relief to the many labour experts who have been waiting as eagerly as teenagers anticipating the launch of the next iPod. “I think it may be the most important case in Canadian labour law in a century,” says Roy J. Adams, professor emeritus of industrial relations at McMaster University and the Ariel F. Sallows Chair of Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law. “The implications are absolutely huge.”

 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 09:48

Costs still top priority

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_2010_Nov_Dec_coins-page.jpgThe economy might have improved, but the benefits have not yet trickled down to legal departments, according to the latest annual Canadian Lawyer corporate counsel survey.
Sunday, 03 October 2010 20:00

Growing pains

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2010_October_legal-report.jpgThe last 10 years have seen a phenomenon sweep through the family law community in the form of collaborative law. The hallmark of that movement has been that lawyers are only retained for the purpose of negotiating a settlement, and if that fails to eventuate, the parties have to find new counsel to litigate the matter. The collaborative approach turns away from aggressive, adversarial behaviour and favours interest-based negotiations. While collaborative family law is growing exponentially and has almost acquired mainstream status, it is very much in its infancy in estate law. Practitioners all over the country extol the concept as an excellent fit for estate matters. Why then are so few estate lawyers actually doing it?

 

Sunday, 03 October 2010 20:00

Legal aid: a system in peril

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2010_October_cl_currentissue.jpgJordan Weisz is the kind of lawyer who has kept Canada’s legal aid system afloat for the past two decades. About 80 per cent of the clients who come to his doors each year have a legal aid certificate in hand. Yet they represent less than half of his revenue. As a senior practitioner, he qualifies for Legal Aid Ontario’s top tariff rate of $106.90 per hour. But LAO is forced to make do with a fixed amount of funding each year regardless of demand for services. To cover the shortfall, it restricts the number of hours for which lawyers are compensated, regardless of what may be required for a proper defence.

 

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 06:05

A Major undertaking

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2010_September_clcurrentcover.jpgThe morning of June 23, 1985 was a typical Sunday for John Major. At the time a highly touted litigator at Bennett Jones LLP, he enjoyed a pleasant Sunday morning round at the historic Calgary Golf & Country Club, one of the few hobbies the self-confessed workaholic partakes in away from the law. But as he left the course, a startling news report chimed in on the car radio. An Air India plane was reported missing over the North Sea. Major was well aware of India’s internal strife at the time: the country’s prime minister, Indira Gandhi, had been assassinated in October 1984 by two of her bodyguards as radical Sikhs rallied to create their own country in the Punjab. In an effort to quell the campaign, Gandhi had earlier ordered a raid of the revered Sikh Golden Temple. These factors led Major, as he wound his way through the golf course grounds, to assume the plane’s fate was attached to “internal” Indian turmoil.
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 05:55

The 2010 Canadian Lawyer compensation survey

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2010_September_compsurvey.jpgCanada’s improving economic climate might be starting to translate into more jobs for small Canadian law firms, according to the latest compensation survey conducted by Canadian Lawyer. Of the 256 firms that answered the question, 34 per cent said they would hire more lawyers in the coming year and 63.7 per cent say they are planning to keep the same number of lawyers on staff. Only 2.3 per cent said they were planning to downsize.

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