Features

Friday, 01 April 2011 15:26

Remains of the day

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2011_April_cl_april_11.jpgIt was a Canadian icon and global trailblazer, then it took a turn for the worse that reverberated around the world. The Nortel Networks Corp. insolvency will be one of the most protracted and complicated undertakings for all of the lawyers and financial professionals involved, but when it is finally resolved, it will indeed set a new model for multinational companies facing financial difficulty.
Friday, 01 April 2011 11:33

The fight for the hallways

Written by
Illustration: Victor Gad
Illustration: Victor Gad
Before 2004, Quebec journalists wanting to take photos or film had for years enjoyed several freedoms inside the province’s courthouses that went beyond many other North American jurisdictions. Journalists with cameras could roam the corridors of courthouses, shoot and take photos anywhere, as long as they didn’t do so inside individual courtrooms while proceedings were going on. “As long as I can remember, practising for about 36 years, the media was always present in courts, in the public areas, and that’s just how things are here,” says Barry Landy, a partner at Spiegel Sohmer in Montreal. “It’s different from the rest of Canada, and other than for a handful of isolated cases, it has never posed a serious problem.”
Monday, 07 March 2011 14:48

Mass disorder

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2011_March_cl_march_11.jpgToronto defence lawyer Howard Morton refers to the G20 summit in Toronto last June as “my weekend in Argentina.” He compares it to the oppression of a dictatorship and to what happened here 1970, when Pierre Trudeau’s federal Liberal government enacted the War Measures Act in the midst of the October Crisis, which made way for the arrests of 465 people. Yet he considers the Toronto summit, during which an estimated 1,170 were arrested, a far more troublesome event in Canadian history. “If you went down there blindfolded, and somebody took the blindfold off of you, you would never assume you were in Toronto,” says Morton, who assisted with bail hearings at a special court set up during the summit. “It was like an armed camp, and the police action was carried out as if it was a military operation.”
Monday, 07 March 2011 14:41

Back to basics

Written by
Illustration: Kim Rosen
Illustration: Kim Rosen
Lawyers who work in big firms receive a lot of administrative support. There are entire departments devoted to handling the very basics of conducting business: hiring and firing, billing, collections, paying rent, ordering supplies, not to mention courier and catering services. With all of the basics covered, each lawyer is free to do what is expected of him or her: bring in clients and earn money. The problem with this big-firm model is that when lawyers want to practise on their own or within a small firm or company, they quickly discover their knowledge of how to run a business is as limited as their experience in ordering paperclips — that is, very little.
Sunday, 06 March 2011 08:38

My parents’ keeper

Written by
Illustration: Jeff Szuc
Illustration: Jeff Szuc
With many adult children choosing to take on the responsibility of financially supporting a parent in need, elderly moms and dads heading to court to demand support from kids who are unwilling to pay has proved a rare situation across the country. But as Statistics Canada projects the aging of Canada’s population to rapidly accelerate over the next 25 years, lawyers are divided on the question of whether parental-support cases could become a more prevalent trend.
Friday, 04 February 2011 11:21

Merging into the future

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b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2011_February_cl_02_11.jpgIn the course of five weeks last fall, four of Canada’s top 20 national law firms underwent significant facelifts by way of mergers. It began with a pair of firms joining forces to enhance the scale of their operations, continued with a firm linking up with a global powerhouse to expand its international presence, and ended with a fourth firm swallowing up a regional player to gain a foothold in one of Canada’s fastest-growing provincial economies. It will take years to determine the value of these moves by McMillan LLP and Lang Michener LLP, Ogilvy Renault LLP, and Miller Thomson LLP respectively. What is evident in the short term is that law firms are feeling pressure to solidify their position in the market as their global counterparts descend on Canada.
Friday, 04 February 2011 11:12

Automate this

Written by
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-CANADIANLawyer_2011_February_computerman.jpgMama always said, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” But then Mama wasn’t a lawyer.
Friday, 04 February 2011 11:05

Facebook is the new water cooler

Written by
Illustration: Dushan Milic
Illustration: Dushan Milic
Canadian workers have been gathering around water coolers to complain about supervisors for as long as they’ve been taking afternoon trips to Tim Hortons. But only recently has the workplace grumbling emerged online, with the dawn of social media sites like Facebook. A recent British Columbia Labour Relations Board ruling, however, should make workers think twice before venting online about their bumbling bosses.
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

Written by
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.
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