Legal Feeds Blog
CSIS obtained taxpayer information from CRA without a warrant, Canadian Press
Jian Ghomeshi trial set to begin next week, Canadian Press
Canadian charged with spying by China, Canadian Press
- Commission executes its second malware-related search warrant in two months
Investigations of malware dissemination are on the rise, as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission executes its second search warrant in as many months under Canada’s anti-spam legislation.
|Lawyer Steve Szentesi says penalties for intentional violations could be ‘in the millions.’|
Yesterday, the CRTC, among three agencies tasked with enforcing CASL, announced that it had raided two Niagara facilities allegedly set up to install malicious software on the computers of unwitting users.
The alleged perpetrators remain unnamed, and violations unspecified, but a similar takedown last month involved what is known as a “command-and-control” centre that uses servers to steal passwords and conduct remote attacks on corporate systems.
"We are working to protect Canadians from online threats by pursuing those individuals and entities who violate Canada's anti-spam legislation,” said Manon Bombardier, the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer in a statement.
This is the second search warrant ever issued under CASL’s malware provisions, which went into force 12 months ago. In December, CRTC investigators — along with the FBI, Europol, Interpol and the RCMP — conducted a raid on a Toronto server responsible for disseminating a type of malware that has already infected over a million computers in more than 190 countries.
Corporations have also come to the aid of enforcement agencies, with Microsoft playing a key role in the first search warrant, and cyber-protection outfit FireEye tipping off authorities in the most recent investigation.
“We are grateful for the assistance that FireEye Inc. provided, which led to the execution of this warrant, and we will continue to work closely with our domestic and international partners in the fight against cyber threats,” said Bombardier.
The involvement of tech companies like Microsoft and FireEye is something that caught the attention of Steve Szentesi, a competition and advertising lawyer who works with clients to ensure CASL compliance. Szentesi points to a parallel in the advertising space, where the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sponsored a contest where “white hat” hackers were invited to help the agency track down the origin of telemarketing fraudsters.
“I would be very interested to see whether, as in the United States with the FTC, we see the CRTC partnering with folks in the tech sector as an investigative tool.”
Szentesi is also curious to see what the penalties are going to be for intentional violations. To date, the CRTC has delivered a measured response, with negotiated settlements and modest penalties of around $50,000 for inadvertent compliance violations.
For intentional violations, however, Szentesi anticipates penalties in the millions: “A number of the cases that have come so far have been for allegedly failing to comply with the consent and ID-unsubscribe requirements, but now we’re starting to see some cases on the more fraudulent end of the spectrum. . . . I'm curious to see, once some of the malware cases or the botnet cases are resolved, whether we are going to see penalties closer to $10 million. That remains to be seen.”
NHL player fined and banned for killing grizzly bear in B.C., Canadian Press
Imagine a criminal defence lawyer, a former prosecutor, and a former Supreme Court judge sitting around a table talking about the wildly popular Netflix documentary, Making a Murderer.
|Ottawa lawyer Michael Spratt’s podcast features former SCC judge Louise Arbour and former prosecutor Emilie Taman.|
Now imagine the former Supreme Court judge is Louise Arbour, one of the most respected (and adored) legal minds in the country. And get this — Arbour is joined by her daughter Emilie Taman, an accomplished lawyer in her own right, and son-in-law Michael Spratt, a prominent criminal lawyer in Ottawa.
It’s like a Thanksgiving dinner party right out of a legal nerd’s dream, and thanks to an iTunes podcast, we’re all invited to the party.
Spratt started the podcast, called The Docket, in May 2014 with fellow criminal lawyer Leo Russomanno. But ever since he invited Taman and Arbour to the show to talk about Making a Murder episode by episode, he says the podcast is getting about 1,000 to 5,000 downloads per day. Spratt also says The Docket’s first episode on Making a Murderer ranked number two on iTunes’ news and politics chart for Canada.
It’s hard to know where to attribute the credit for that. Is it Arbour, who brings not just her reputation but also a pleasant radio voice? Or, as Taman made it clear to Spratt, the credit is due to her. She was an NDP candidate in Ottawa-Vanier in the recent federal election and made headlines last year for challenging the Public Service Commission’s decision to bar her from running for office as a prosecutor. On the show, she and Spratt are effortlessly engaging.
But perhaps the podcast’s success is in the topic itself — the addictive, if often enraging series about Steven Avery, the Manitowoc County, Wisconsin man who was exonerated after nearly 20 years in prison for a rape he did not commit only to be locked up again following a shady conviction for murder.
The trio starts its discussion of the series on the common ground that wrongful conviction should be every judge’s, prosecutor’s, and defence counsel’s worst nightmare. At the outset, Arbour says Making a Murderer “raises tons and tons of questions, it leads the mind in all kinds of different directions, including outrage, cynicism, [and] hope.”
This week, Avery’s co-counsel Jerry Buting recorded the show with Spratt and Taman. It was an interesting discussion that touched on differences in the U.S. and Canadian court systems.
“We talked about why we don’t like cameras in the courts and elected judges versus appointed judges,” Spratt says. “Any discussion around those areas is really interesting.”
A consumer of podcasts himself, Spratt says it’s a medium he’s always been interested in. “It was a good excuse for me to talk to people whom I found interesting,” says Spratt, who has invited guests such as Senator George Baker and MP Sean Casey.
“I also thought there was sort of a lack of communication between the legal profession and the public about basic principles of our legal system — why things are done a certain way, why legislative changes are important, and how public policy [and] criminal justice policy can affect your everyday life.”
You can download The Docket for free on iTunes and read Spratt’s new criminal law column in Canadian Lawyer.
Trial will proceed in case of missing Alberta couple: judge, Canadian Press
Air India perjurer granted release to halfway house, Canadian Press
Canada ranked as ninth least corrupt country, Canadian Press
Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone has teamed up with Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP to provide startups at the incubator with access to feedback and resources of big law.
As a founding partner of LIZ, Osler will support the innovative startups working out of Canada's first legal incubator, which is creating a space for entrepreneurs, lawyers, students, tech experts, government players, and industry leaders to drive innovation.
“I think it’s enormously important for startups to see that the big legal institutions value innovation. The biggest challenge for startups is getting someone to actually try their product, try their innovation,” says Chris Bentley, executive director of the LIZ at Ryerson. “When you start getting major, well-established law firms saying ‘Hey, innovation is important,’ you’re going to send a message to the broader legal and business community that maybe it’s time to take another look at the innovation happening not only in our zone but in the broader Toronto community.”
The partnership began when Osler’s chief knowledge officer, Mara Nickerson, heard about the launch of the LIZ and met with Bentley and director Hersh Perlis.
“We’re trying lots of different technologies and different things these days and you never know where things are going to come from,” says Nickerson. “I thought it all fit with what we were trying to do in terms of encouraging innovation internally, so we decided it was a good fit and we would sponsor them.”
There are currently 13 companies working out of the LIZ.
“We benefit from the experience, eyes, ears, and practice of law firms like Osler and others,” says Bentley.
Map Your Property is just one of the companies currently in the incubator. It uses open-source data to identify 50 different data points on every property in York Region and Toronto. It’s one that has already had an opportunity to demonstrate their product to Osler’s commercial real estate group.
“It’s the first one I saw that I thought could have an application. I think our real estate group is trying to determine if it’s something they could pilot and give feedback on,” says Nickerson.
Map Your Property first started selling its system to land developers and it was at that point their clients suggested their lawyers would also benefit from using the product.
“It saves lawyers time. What used to take them 10 hours trying to find all this data, now they can pull it up in a couple of minutes and identify points they need to do a much deeper dive on,” says Perlis.
“We are focused on any system or technology-based innovation that is going to make the law faster and better whether it’s access to justice, has a focus on big law or on the consumer,” says Perlis.
Bentley says the relationship with Osler doesn’t guarantee a company access to the firm’s partners, but it ensures the lawyers will know what the companies are working on and give those companies the opportunity to have their innovations tested.
As part of this sponsorship, Osler and LIZ will work together on a number of unique initiatives over the next year; the first being a hackathon next month involving Osler lawyers, clients, and other industry participants, looking at how “big law” could be done differently to create greater client value.
“One of the things I liked about Ryerson and Chris and Hersh was their belief you can’t have too many of these groups to help Canada be that innovation leader,” says Nickerson.
Peter MacKay, the former federal attorney general and minister of Defence, will be joining global law firm Baker & McKenzie LLP's Toronto office, ending media speculation around potential leadership by MacKay of the Conservative party.
|Kevin Coon, managing partner of Baker and McKenzie’s Toronto office, welcomes Peter MacKay.|
There had been media speculation about MacKay returning to politics in light of the leadership race for the Conservative party, but MacKay says he wants to focus on practicing law.
“What I can tell you is that I have made a very clear decision to resume the practice of law, and so that’s where my focus is,” says MacKay.
“I made that decision some time ago, when I exited politics to spend more time with my family, to be more available to them, but also, just to return to the private sector was always my intention, as a career, to practice law.”
MacKay says it will be the first time he’s made his home in Toronto, where he will be settling with his family, including two young children.
He says he is hopeful about having a healthy work-life balance.
“That was part of the calculus, I think it’s a good fit here. It’s a very family friendly environment, among other qualities attributable to Baker & McKenzie,” says MacKay.
Baker & McKenzie currently has about 80 lawyers in Toronto, and about 4,400 lawyers worldwide.
“All law firms react to what’s happening with their clients, and what their clients’ needs are,” says Kevin Coon, managing partner of the Toronto office. Coon says the firm has focused on “a pretty slow and steady strategic build.”
“If you look at the Fortune 500 list, there’s about 87 Canadian-headquartered companies, and many of those doing business globally now, and looking at how to do that in a compliant manner,” says Coon. “We’ve been focusing on their needs as they go global.”
Coon says the firm also focuses on global companies coming into Canada.
“Compliance is certainly one of those areas that we have built rapidly in North America, and globally. In Canada, we’ve been building it as well,” says Coon.
MacKay isn’t the only high-profile former politician to go back into practice. Former Ontario premier Bob Rae is with Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP, and former Ontario premier David Peterson is with Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.
Update Jan 26 to correct formatting and style.
La Loche shooting suspect to appear in court today, Canadian Press
Calgary shooting suspect killed in confrontation with police, Canadian Press
In the legal profession, there are plenty of protégés, but finding mentors can be another matter.
When the first Law Society of Upper Canada early career roundtable meetings kicked off late last fall at Osgoode Hall, welcoming about 20 lawyers and paralegals in their first 10 years of service to guide the future of their profession, the first issue they tackled was the lack of mentors in the industry.
That first meeting set the table for providing input on the needs of the younger professional in 2016, and while they address those concerns this year the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers continues to grapple with the issue of mentorship as well.
One solution the not-for-profit organization came up with a few years ago was a mentor-a-thon. Last year it drew more than 120 participants. Tushara Weerasooriya, FACL mentorship committee chairwoman, says racialized students and young professionals can face barriers to the profession after their call to the bar and often find it challenging to find avenues to grow their careers.
“Racialized licensees lack traditional mentorship and that’s a barrier to their progress, so we see it as a two-pronged problem,” she says. “There’s the barrier to the entry point — getting those law students jobs — and the second problem is the barriers to career enhancement.”
Weerasooriya, counsel in McMillan LLP’s restructuring and insolvency group, says that while it can be difficult across the profession to place mentors with young lawyers, it can be even more difficult for racialized licensees and students.
The FACL mentor-a-thon is specifically geared toward pairing up articling students and new lawyers with professionals one to five years after their call to the bar. Weerasooriya says the one-to-five-year call professional is best positioned to offer advice to students on the application process and how to make professional contacts.
“Our communities are for the most part new to Canada and many of the students we see are the children of immigrants so they’re not necessarily as well connected to the business community in Toronto, and we see that as a fundamental barrier to being successful in the legal community,” Weerasooriya says. “There aren’t that many practitioners that are from these communities.”
That translates into a lack of mentors as well, so the FACL is hoping this year’s event might draw some new mentor candidates.
“We won’t run out of mentees, but finding the mentors is important,” Weerasooriya says.
The organization is also preparing to launch a pilot project later this spring geared toward connecting professionals two to four years out with those who are closer to 10 years after their call. The program will include workshops and events to provide networking opportunities and advice for advancing in the profession. Information for both initiatives will be posted on the FACL web site.
Next week, registration will open for the Feb. 26 mentor-a-thon, to be hosted at the Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP offices in Toronto.
“A big thing to remember is mentorship goes both ways: It’s a very rewarding experience, it’s a great opportunity to take stock of your own career, take stock of your own experience, and pass on the lessons you’ve learned to somebody else who is usually very enthusiastic, excited, determined, and ambitious,” Weerasooriya says.
“Nobody makes it on their own — we’ve all learned from somebody and I think it’s part of our duty as lawyers to help the next generation become successful.”
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