Small firm practitioners from across Ontario are gathering at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre today for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s sixth annual Solo and Small Firm Conference and Expo 2011.
Law society Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza opened the two-day conference this morning, telling the 650 attendees that she was proud to have small-firm practitioners as the “face of our profession in Ontario.” Despite never having practised in a small firm, she said she got insight into the difficulties her own partners faced as a sole practitioner.
“Our job is to regulate the profession in the public interest and facilitate access to justice,” she said. “If we can help you help the public, then we’re doing our job and you can keep doing yours. You’re the front lines of our profession.”
Robert Todd|Jun 2, 2011
A blue-ribbon group of commissioners from across the globe is calling for an end to misguided drug laws that have had the ironic affect of boosting narcotics usage while fuelling violent cartels that rake in billions of dollars in illicit profits each year.
“Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after president Nixon launched the U.S. government’s global war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed,” said former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who acted as chairman of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in a statement today.
“Let’s start by treating drug addiction as a health issue, reducing drug demand through proven educational initiatives and legally regulating rather than criminalizing cannabis,” he added.
The self-regulatory system for lawyers in Canada needs an overhaul, University of Calgary law professor Alice Woolley argues in a paper released today.
There has been some (really not enough) debate in the legal profession in Canada about the future of self regulation. There are critics who call for it to be abandoned entirely and have the courts regulate and discipline lawyers as is done in many U.S. states.
Woolley maintains that independence of the bar is paramount, but does not wholly subscribe to the theory that lawyers must regulate themselves in order to be independent. “Rather, the things that independence should protect — the ability of lawyers to be zealous advocates for clients within the bounds of legality — should be used to assess the adequacies of any regulatory scheme. Does regulation ensure that lawyers fulfill their duty of zealous advocacy? Does regulation ensure that lawyers remain within the bounds of legality? Does regulation ensure access to justice?”
Jean Sorensen|May 31, 2011
Lawyer and newly elected Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, representing the Delta-Richmond East riding, has been appointed parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
Findlay took 54.2 per cent of the vote in her riding on May 2. She had 14,870 more votes than her closest rival NDP candidate Nic Slater.
She has practised law in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland most of her life, representing clients at every level of court including the Supreme Court of Canada. Findlay has been active in the Canadian Bar Association and is the founding chairwoman of the B.C. Women Lawyers Forum and National Women Lawyers Forum, and a former 1997-98 president of the CBABC. She was also a member of the national task force on court reform.
Andi Balla|May 31, 2011
Ogilvy Renault LLP will officially become part of the Norton Rose Group tomorrow, ending the transition process that started when the firm announced the “combination” last November.
Ogilvy Renault becomes the first major Canadian operation to join a global law firm. Starting tomorrow, the firm will be officially known as Norton Rose OR LLP.
The new firm will kick off its celebrations by opening trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange tomorrow morning. A group of about 20 of its lawyers, including Canadian chairman Norm Steinberg, Norton Rose Group’s chairman Stephen Parish, and Toronto managing partner John West.
The need to retain top talent and the continued economic recovery mean law firms are predicting a generous year for employees, according to a new survey.
The survey by Robert Half Legal shows that 79 per cent of lawyers polled said their firms or corporate legal departments are planning on pay raises and bonuses for their associates. A further 15 per cent don’t expect to boost compensation while seven per cent of respondents didn’t know or didn’t answer.
The poll included responses from more than 150 lawyers at big law firms and corporations in Canada. It comes on a day when new economic data revealed Canada’s gross domestic product grew at a brisk annualized rate of 3.9 per cent during the first quarter of 2011.
Julie Gordon, Reuters|May 27, 2011
A Canadian court has cleared the way for Ottawa to seek penalties of up to $10,000 a day against U.S. Steel for allegedly breaking job-protection promises made when it bought Hamilton, Ont.-based Stelco.
The Federal Court of Appeal struck down U.S. Steel’s efforts to overturn Canadian investment law — the second such court decision to go against the company — after almost two years of procedural and legal challenges by the Pittsburgh-based company.
The Canadian government sued the company in 2009, claiming U.S. Steel’s decision to temporarily shut down two former Stelco plants violated promises it made about maintaining employment levels.
Jeffrey Jones, Reuters|May 27, 2011
Having sex with someone who is unconscious constitutes sexual assault, even when the victim consents during relations to being choked to the point of blacking out, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.
In a 6-3 decision in R. v. J.A., the top court overturned an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling and reinstated a sexual assault conviction on a man who had sex with his partner during an mutually agreed-upon erotic asphyxiation session.
"The definition of consent for sexual assault requires the complainant to provide active actual consent throughout every phase of sexual activity," said Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing for the majority. "It is not possible for an unconscious person to satisfy this requirement, even if she expresses her consent in advance."
Robert Todd|May 27, 2011
Intellectual property lawyers say the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision yesterday in Masterpiece Inc. v. Alavida Lifestyles Inc. is a victory for those seeking stronger protection of trademark laws.
“The decision affirms that the Canadian trademarks regime is national in scope and upholds the plain language of the Trade-marks Act,” said Daniel Bereskin of Bereskin & Parr LLP, who represented the intervening International Trademark Association at the SCC.
The case holds that a registered trademark is not valid if a confusingly similar trademark had previously been used anywhere in Canada.