It 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.
The 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.
The 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.
|Photos: Sandra Strangemore|
|Illustration: Matthew Billington|
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.
|Illustration: Huan Tran|
|Illustration: Mick Coulas|
|Illustration: Oleg Portnoy|