Latest News

b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-INHOUSE_2013_August_screen-shot-roundtable-vide.jpgIn the second of four videos from the InHouse/Association of Corporate Counsel general counsel roundtable, moderated by Jennifer Brown and sponsored by WeirFoulds LLP, the participants discuss how they make the business case to add additional staff and how they demonstrate the added value additional lawyers bring to the in-house team.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-INHOUSE_2013_July_it_weirfoulds_quizz_screen_shot_2013-07-18.pngIn the first of four videos from the InHouse/Association of Corporate Counsel general counsel roundtable, moderated by Jennifer Brown and sponsored by WeirFoulds LLP, the participants discuss their views on succession planning.
George Brown lost its argument that students weren’t consumers as defined in the CPA.
George Brown lost its argument that students weren’t consumers as defined in the CPA.
The Ontario Court of Appeal says consumers don’t have to establish reliance on a false, misleading, or deceptive representation when claiming a breach under the Consumer Protection Act section that prohibits “unfair practices” in consumer transactions.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-INHOUSE_fredkrebs.jpgI saw a recent article about lawyers working together that renewed my interest in generational diversity and caused me to think once again about the challenges of a multi-generational workplace. For most of us, the demographics of our professional environments cross three or even four generations. Thus, we face the challenge to avoid what the Conference Board of Canada has referred to as the “generation wars.”
Monday, 15 July 2013 09:00

Leveling the international tax field

Written by
The objective of the OECD plan is to make more of a level playing field, says Patrick Marley.
The objective of the OECD plan is to make more of a level playing field, says Patrick Marley.
A report expected this week from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development could help kick-start changes to an international tax system many say is out of date for the times.
Eleni Kassaris says she is surprised the court didn't tell doctors to get patient consent to release information to the class counsel.
Eleni Kassaris says she is surprised the court didn't tell doctors to get patient consent to release information to the class counsel.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal says patient privacy outweighs the need to inform potential members of a pending class action involving an injectable wrinkle treatment.
Monday, 08 July 2013 09:00

Prepping for that ‘bear hug letter’

Written by
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-INHOUSE_Standard_photos_renato-pontello.jpgIn Canada, a bidder interested in launching a takeover bid to acquire parts, or the whole, of a business will publish its intention either by posting a newspaper ad, delivering a bid circular appealing directly to the security holders, or, more typically, will send a “bear hug letter” to the CEO (and/or the chairman). In the latter case, if the letter is rebuffed, its only way forward is to launch a takeover bid directly to the target’s security holders.
Oil companies’ collaboration to reduce trucking costs is not contrary to the Competition Act, says the Alberta Court of Appeal.(Photo: Todd Korol/Reuters)
Oil companies’ collaboration to reduce trucking costs is not contrary to the Competition Act, says the Alberta Court of Appeal.(Photo: Todd Korol/Reuters)
Just because a small service provider went out of business doesn’t mean a joint venture between two oil giants was the root cause, according to an Alberta Court of Appeal decision.
Add the Canadian Wheat Board to the list of organizations finding alternative means to tackle the risks lurking in its underfunded defined benefit pension plan.
Last week, the CWB announced it had signed a $150-million inflation-linked annuity policy with the Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada that transfers investment and longevity risk from the wheat board’s defined benefit pension plan to Sun Life Financial.
An “annuity buy-in” is a type of investment held in a pension fund that allows investment and longevity risk to be transferred to an insurance company, while preserving members’ pension benefits.
The agreement is unique in Canada because it involves pension income that grows with inflation as well as the annuity buy-in solution.
The $150-million transaction is the largest single-day purchase of inflation-linked annuities in Canada, and the largest single-day purchase of a next-generation annuity buy-in in Canada.
CWB was advised by Aon Hewitt, as well as lawyers from Dentons Canada LLP pensions and benefits group including partners Scott Sweatman, Mary Picard, and pension associate Colin Galinski. Sweatman points out the concept of using an annuity to offset risk in a defined benefit pension plan is not an entirely new idea.
“The notion of having an annuity as an investment goes back to where we started, really. Many years ago companies would have annuities as part of their investment plans,” he says.
In fact that practice goes back to the 1920s, but over time pension plan sponsors moved away from buying insured annuity products and towards other risks such as equities for higher returns. But over the years, market crashes and roller coaster returns have plan administrators eyeing insurance annuity products again as DB plans struggle.
DB pension plans commit to pay set pensions to future retirees and were created decades ago when workforces were young and interest rates were high. But as interest rates fell and workers stayed employed longer, liabilities grew while asset values fell.
And while it’s large, the CWB annuity deal is small compared to some purchased in the United States in the last year to achieve the same transference of risk away from the company and to an insurer. Last June, General Motors Co. announced it would reduce its pension obligations by $26 billion by shifting assets and liabilities to Prudential Financial of America. And last October, Verizon Communications moved 25 per cent of its pension obligations, or $7.5 billion, to Prudential.
Sweatman also points out the CWB deal is not an “annuity buy-out,” which transfers all the liability out of the existing pension plan. And while it’s predicted there will be more annuity buy-in transactions announced in Canada this year — of significantly larger size — he cautions there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to annuity solutions.
“You have to look at whether the organization can afford it and what the risk tolerance is,” he says. “CWB looked at its pool of assets and conservative stock portfolio and it made sense.”
Sweatman says unlike others who have been predicting the demise of DB plans for years, he thinks they will be around for some time to come and is actually a fan.
“Another client wanted to get out of its defined benefit plan and the cost was very expensive to go to a defined contribution plan. I’m still a big fan of defined benefit plans and I don’t think they’re all going to die off,” he says.
Even though the CWB has essentially outsourced the risk management portion of its pension plan to Sun Life for employees, Sweatman says there should be no visible change to employees in how their plans are managed.
Despite tough times, Scott Sweatman predicts defined benefit plans will be around for some time.
Despite tough times, Scott Sweatman predicts defined benefit plans will be around for some time.
Add the Canadian Wheat Board to the list of organizations finding alternative means to tackle the risks lurking in its underfunded defined benefit pension plan.
Situational awareness is a relatively new term, applied most frequently by the military, emergency services, and air traffic control. It is a complex field and has generated much study and many definitions. One I like simply defines situational awareness as “being aware of one’s surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations.”
So, what does situational awareness have to do with today’s in-house counsel? I believe that to be effective in-house counsel must practise good situational awareness in at least three areas: law, finance, and technology. Today I will focus on technology and save legal and financial situational awareness for another day.*
For in-house counsel, situational awareness may simply be knowing what is going on around you and its effect on your goals. Effective communication, understanding expectations, and careful monitoring of what is happening are especially important. Your training and experience also affect situational awareness. These concepts are both familiar and important to in-house counsel.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with a global search consultant about what it takes to be a good general counsel. Among other things, she described the importance of understanding the implications of technology and how to use it as an increasingly necessary skill set.
This got me thinking about two columns [http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleLTN.jsp?id=1202585662374&thepage=2] by Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel for Kia North America, describing how and why he audits his outside firms for their basic tech skills. Then, a few days ago, I saw another story about Flaherty entitled “Big law whipped for poor tech training” [http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleLTN.jsp?id=1202601218054&thepage=1] describing his keynote address about his tech audit at LegalTech West Coast.
Flaherty has long been frustrated by large bills for routine commodity matters, just like many other in-house counsel. In his eyes, law firm inefficiency is a major factor. He requires a firm to provide a senior associate to be tested on several basic skills such as using Word and Excel. Nine firms have taken the test and all have failed. He contends this results in higher bills and he takes five per cent off every bill until they pass the test.
Flaherty recognized a problem most of us face: We rarely use all of the technology tools available to us and the ones we do use we generally do not use to full capacity. (As I type this column, I am well aware that my Word and Excel skills are limited. I suspect the same is true for you as well.) Most significantly, Flaherty now uses this information to help his client.
I asked Jeff Brandt, the editor of Pinhawk, a daily law technology digest, about technology and situational awareness. He readily identified two “potential threats and dangerous situations” directly applicable to in-house counsel.
First, he noted the importance of cyber security and hacking for both corporations and law firms. He cited Bank of America auditing the cyber security practices of its law firms and the effort by Chinese hackers to scuttle the attempted takeover of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. by BHP Billiton Ltd. a few years ago. Second, he referenced e-discovery and records retention, two issues that have been well documented in recent years as major concerns for in-house counsel.
These are but a few examples of how situational awareness can help you do a better job for your client. Indeed, for some it has become a minimum standard for professional competency. Last August, the American Bar Association stated that minimal professional competency includes keeping up with “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology” in a comment to Rule 1.1 of its Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
How do you keep up to date without becoming a technological guru? I suggest a subscribing to a newsletter on legal technology issues. You might also consider joining a networking group that deals with IT and legal technology issues or simply checking out online technology resources from a variety of law and bar associations.
As one security expert asserted, albeit in a different context, situational awareness is more of a mindset than a hard skill. One does not have to be an expert; anyone with the will and self-discipline can exercise good situational awareness.
All in-house counsel should keep this in mind.
* I fully recognize that the “potential threats and dangerous situations” normally faced by in-house counsel are not equal to the challenges faced by the military, first responders, and others who first developed the concept of situational awareness.
b_150_0_16777215_00___images_stories_01-INHOUSE_Standard_photos_fred_krebs.jpgSituational awareness is a relatively new term, applied most frequently by the military, emergency services, and air traffic control. It is a complex field and has generated much study and many definitions. One I like simply defines situational awareness as “being aware of one’s surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations.”
<< Start < Prev 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Next > End >>
Page 10 of 40

Latest Videos

  • Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at CBA meeting Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin told the Canadian Bar Association's council that  2013 has been a “busy and productive year” for top court and…
  • The Top 25 Most Influential Canadian Lawyer announces the 2014 Top 25 Most Influential figures in the Canadian justice system and legal profession. The list, now in its sixth year,…
More Canadian Lawyer TV...

Digital Editions