The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Brandon Hastings

Legal Futures round-up: September 7, 2016

September 7 2016 7 September 2016


Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our biweekly round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.

In light of Alberta’s Justice Robin Camp’s hearing, and calls for reform, the federal government is considering a review of the judicial discipline process. In 2014, Justice Camp acquitted a man accused of sexual assault, evidently asking the victim why she couldn’t “just keep her knees together.” The acquittal was overturned and a new trial ordered. There have only been 11 public inquiries since the Canadian Judicial Council was created in 1971. The Department of Justice’s public consultation phase ends this Wednesday.

In a move that will increase access-to-justice for marginalized population, and increase the diversity of Canada’s bar, Nunavut Arctic College is to offer a Juris Doctor in association with the University of Saskatchewan. The program will be offered in Iqualuit, Nunavut by mainly University of Saskatchewan faculty. Classes are slated to begin in September 2017.

An article on the blog, written by BC-based legal technology giant Clio, provides several steps firms can take to safeguard their data. The bottom-line, obviously perhaps, is that data should be encrypted both wherever it is stored, as well as when it is transmitted.

Tony Arnold of Zecter provides an insightful overview of business-process-reengineering, as it is applicable to law firms, through analogy to the farming industry. The idea boils down to splitting any process into its constituent parts or stages, and re-imagining how each of those stages can be completed best.

Jonathon Cullen writes in the CBA National that a lawyer interested in making a broad scope of difference may well find that opportunity by aligning himself or herself with an organization. Mr. Cullen’s son Tristan was born with Down syndrome, and Mr. Cullen found that by going in-house with Pfizer, he has been able to make an impact in an area he is passionate about: healthcare delivery. Similarly, Jeremy Millard also provides insight into working in-house with Uber.

The Vancouver Sun recently covered some notable cases of the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) since it was founded nearly 55 years ago. Cases include the defence of a Russian-Christian group who were charged by RCMP with conspiracy in 1979, the creation of the RCMP Independent Investigations Office, and medically-assisted dying.

A recent survey of law firm associates finds that they find value in formal training programs, but that the training currently offered is lacking. Another survey finds that lawyers with active social-media presence are more likely to be hired.

Thompson-Reuters recently spoke with Reena Sengupta about what drives innovation in law firms. Mr. Sengupta owns a leading law-firm innovation consultancy. The article discusses several keys to implementing innovation: allocating resources to experiment, having an innovation champion, and realizing that invention and innovation are not synonymous.

Thompson-Reuters has released an article on Knowledge Management (KM) in law firms. As lawyers are knowledge-workers, KM is of course a logical evolution for law firms, but one which lawyers struggle to adapt to their workflows.

Ron Friedman of Fireman & Co., and Eric Laughlin of Thompson-Reuters, recently sat down to discuss the impact of AI, smart contracts, and blockchain on the legal industry. Discussion includes a lack of clarity around how these technologies would solve specific problems in the legal industry, and how it might impact the future of legal practice. The question, largely, seems to be whether the hype exceeds the potential value these technologies might bring to the practice of law.

The third year of Ontario’s Law Practice Program (LPP) pilot kicked-off on Monday, August 22, 2016. These programs, run through Ryerson University and the University of Ottawa, are geared at providing lawyers with the training and experience they need to be called to the Ontario bar. The LPPs have been both lauded and condemned. Ryan Handlarski, a criminal lawyer in Toronto, meanwhile criticises the requirement for undergraduate studies before beginning legal studies.

Jonathon Miller hits the blawgosphere, riffing on a recent decision of Ontario Justice David Brown calling for an increase in e-trials, and comparing e-trials to advances such as e-mail.

Toronto lawyer Judith Huddart, of Dranoff and Huddart, is teaming up with a social worker and financial adviser to create The Neutral Zone, to provide couples with the information they need when considering divorce. A major purpose of the initiative is “taking the fear out of the separation.”

International law firm Lovells (soon Hogan-Lovells) has released a comprehensive report on how courts award costs in various jurisdictions. The report includes a comparison of approaches in over a dozen dimensions vis-à-vis costs, including the recoverability of costs and disbursements, how the amount of recovery is calculated, and whether security for costs may be ordered.

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