The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

National Blog

Cast in the perfect role : working in-house for Uber

By Michael Dempster August 24 2016 24 August 2016

    Jeremy Millard grew up in the theatre, soaking in the energy, creativity and performances of his parents and grandparents. It was magical, super cool, says the Toronto native. And while he didn’t follow the family career path, today he’s on a large stage himself—acting as Uber’s Legal Director for Canada.

    Like the entertainment industry, Uber has its critics. But the company’s mobile app has plenty of fans, with people in more than 400 cities worldwide using the ride-sharing service.

    “Internally, we know it’s a novel product,” says Millard. “You won't find many people who aren’t thrilled with the product and experience. That’s a great thing here for staff, or for any company you are working at.”

    Millard joined Uber in July 2015 as its first lawyer in Canada. His role is to advise the San Francisco-based company on matters here and shape a domestic legal approach. The immediate overall goal, he says, is to encourage cities and provinces to enact smart regulations for ride-sharing. Regulations that ensure consumer protection and safety while letting an “innovative new service” grow.

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    Legal Futures roundup: August 23

    By Brandon Hastings August 23 2016 23 August 2016

      Thompson Reuters recently published an interview on the contents of the upcoming Legal Executive Institute (LEI) this fall. The LEI gathers leaders from across the legal industry to discuss, debate and offer guidance on the latest trends, challenges and opportunities. The media and information giant has also created a new fellowship with Stanford’s Legal Design Lab.

      Renée Pelletier, managing partner at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP, has been appointed to the federal government’s environmental assessment review panel. Ms. Pelletier is a member of the Maliseet First Nation, and will provide an invaluable perspective as the panel reviews how natural resource development projects in Canada are approved.

      The British Columbia (BC) Ministry of Justice has promised to review its policies around Legal Aid funding after a woman was involuntarily detained under that province’s Mental Health Act. The patient was only slated to receive a lawyer after an upcoming committal review hearing in August, and the province only committed to providing her a lawyer after she launched an action in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Kate Feeny of the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre makes the point that when someone is detained for mental health issues, the access-to-justice crisis more acutely impacts human rights.

      At the CBA’s National Conference, defense lawyer Donald Bayne speaks cogently on video about the need to educate the public about the justice system and Rule of Law. Mr. Bayne makes allusions that education on the justice system is something that should be taught as early as elementary school and draws a parallel between a decline in popular support of the ‘1%,’ and reduced belief in the Rule of Law. Mr. Bayne’s thesis appears to be that education of the public and journalists on why courts are important, and how they achieve fairness, is vital to the continued functioning of our society.

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      The question of consent: Who decides what you need to know?

      By Justin Ling August 23 2016 23 August 2016

        Is it time to blow up Canada’s oft-mocked, seldom-read privacy policy?

        That’s one suggestion offered by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in a discussion paper intended to draw guidelines for possible updates to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

        The document, published in May, was intended to spark conversation and draw submissions for eventual recommendations from the office regarding how PIPEDA governs consent and privacy.

        From tackling the increasingly-lengthy and complex legalese of privacy policies, to wrestling with the advent of big data and online trackers, to managing the proliferation of algorithms that can build sophisticated profiles of users and internet denizens, the privacy commissioner has been mulling over possible new legislative solutions to boost awareness and protections online.

        “Left entirely to their own devices, individuals can hardly be expected to demystify complex business relationships and complicated algorithms to make informed choices about when to provide consent to the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information,” the discussion paper reads. “The burden of understanding and consenting to complicated practices should not rest solely on individuals without having the appropriate support mechanisms in place to facilitate the consent process.”

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        What is ‘credible’? Edgar Schmidt keeps asking

        By Justin Ling August 19 2016 19 August 2016

          One of the most interesting, and least covered, legal fights in Canada isn’t over yet.

          Edgar Schmidt v Attorney General of Canada contended that successive governments have failed to respect a constitutional requirement that they pass legislation that they know to be compliant with the Charter and that they report any possible inconsistencies in proposed legislation to Parliament.

          Schmidt is the former general counsel in the Legislative Services Branch of the Department of Justice — a position from which he’s been on leave since blowing the whistle on the federal government and launching the current litigation.

          National has covered Schmidt’s case since 2013, from the early rounds of his case against the Attorney General, to the first hearings in a Federal Court in Ottawa, and, most recently, the decision by that court to dismiss Schmidt’s claim.

          And now Schmidt is appealing that decision. On Monday, he and his lawyer, David Yazbeck, of Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne and Yazbeck, filed their memorandum of fact.

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          The unexpected in-house career advantage

          By Jonathan Cullen August 19 2016 19 August 2016

            Counterintuitively, working in-house often offers more opportunities for lawyers to make a difference beyond their sole client. I only realized this when the organization I work for saved my son’s life.

            For a profession whose members are ethically obligated to zealously defend our clients’ interests, we often fail to translate that zeal into passion for our careers. However, I believe the spark we need is right under our feet, in our own organizations. Although going in-house to a single client may appear to narrow a lawyer’s sphere of influence, the opposite is closer to the truth. Our privileged position allows us to make a difference well beyond our organization. It sometimes just takes a turning point to see this opportunity.

            Four years ago, I found out my son was going to be born with Down syndrome. Tristan spent his first four months clinging to life at the Montreal Children's Hospital, undergoing heart surgeries and battling a transient form of leukemia. My career inflection point was on his seventh day of life, the day a nurse administered a chemotherapy medication to my son. It saved his life.

            The medicine was invented and developed by my employer, and only client, Pfizer.

            Over the following months, I reflected on how I could use my experiences and skills as a lawyer for something grander. I knew I would be a different person when I went back to work. I just wasn't sure how.

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            The Supreme Court, Justin Trudeau and “Diversity Firsts”

            By Kerri A. Froc and Rebecca Bromwich August 17 2016 17 August 2016

              Justin Trudeau recently announced in a Globe and Mail op-ed, that he will usher in a new way of appointing Supreme Court of Canada judges.  It will emphasize the importance of the bench representing the “diversity of our great country.” This is so, he explains, because “a diverse bench brings different and valuable perspectives to the decision making process, whether informed by gender, ethnicity, personal history or the myriad other things that make us who we are.”

              Including gender in this diversity mix intrigued us.  A female appointment would give the court a majority of women for the first time.  But, that is not exactly what Trudeau is promising – only that the federal government will incorporate gender into the diversity equation.

              Within weeks of Trudeau’s op-ed, the Globe and Mail published another article, a profile of Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella.  In that article, it said that she was introduced before an important speech as the “first Jewish judge on the Supreme Court of Canada.”  She quickly made a correction that she was the first Jewish female judge” on the Supreme Court – the other “first” went to Bora Laskin, appointed by the Trudeau the elder.  Abella’s understanding of women’s religious identity served the Court well when it came to deciding Bruker v Marcovitz, 2007 SCC 54, [2007] 3 SCR 607.

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              In Egale’s fight for LGBTIQ2S equality, when it rains, it pours

              By Michael Motala August 17 2016 17 August 2016

                Last Saturday, deep inside the Chateau Laurier’s L’Orangerie Board Room, a dozen human rights activists from across the country—men and women, cis and trans, representing diverse races and indigenous experiences—listened intently to constitutional lawyer Douglas Elliott’s opening remarks at the meeting of the Just Society Committee of Egale Human Rights Trust.

                In light of last Thursday’s revelations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will adopt most, if not all, of the recommendations in Egale’s Just Society Report, it was an historic gathering. In just eight months, the federal government has reversed course on gender and sexuality. For Egale, it is a decisive victory.

                Canadian gay rights groups have advocated for law reform and redress since 1971, and the unofficial list of reforms outlined in John Ibbitson’s recent column look very promising.

                Participants from the We Demand Network, who were purged from the Canadian military and bureaucracy, have been campaigning for a formal apology most of their lives. For Martine Roy, a lesbian who was expelled from the military because of her sexuality, news of the upcoming apology is surreal. Martine has spent her life fighting for change. 

                In the struggle for LGBTIQ2S equality, when it rains, it pours.

                Details about the government’s plans on key international questions are scarce. While the LGBTQI2S community has won many battles in Canada’s courtrooms, it is clear Canada must do more for human rights in the global context.

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                Judy Smith’s advice for lawyers on crisis management

                By CBA/ABC National August 14 2016 14 August 2016

                  Renowned crisis manager Judy Smith, who has helped such high-profile clients as Monica Lewinsky and NFL quarterback Michael Vick, was the closing keynote speaker at the CLC in Ottawa.

                  In an interactive session moderated by Policy Option Editor-in-chief Jennifer Ditchburn, Smith shared key lessons for managing a crisis, particularly if you have an issue that hits at the core of your brand.

                  There’s plenty that lawyers can do for their clients at the pre-crisis stage, she says, namely leading a proper risk assessment of the client’s activities. 

                  Having a roadmap ahead of time is invaluable when a crisis does hit. A good rule of thumb is to get your message out first, she said. “Get the factual understanding of the case out there.”

                  She also advises lawyers that taking the "no comment" route can be counter-productive.  She recommends instead that, if possible, the client take control of the direction of conversation. 

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                  Tips for happier, healthier lawyers

                  By CBA/ABC National August 14 2016 14 August 2016

                    There are all kinds of tips out there for ways to take better care of yourself.

                    Specific steps that lawyers can take was the topic of a rapid-fire CBA Legal Conference panel including Dan Pinnington of LawPro, Karen Dyck of the Legal Help Centre in Winnipeg, and Doron Gold, a former lawyer and current clinician at Homewood Health in Toronto.

                    The panel offered dozens of tips, whipping through themes like managing time, dealing with clients, technology, physical and mental health.

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                    Educate the public about the law

                    By CBA/ABC National August 14 2016 14 August 2016

                      Defense lawyer Donald Bayne talks about the need to educate the public and journalists on the justice system and the Rule of Law.

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                      Beware the ‘chaotic herd’ when litigating high-profile cases

                      By CBA/ABC National August 14 2016 14 August 2016

                        Professional restraint.

                        That’s Don Bayne’s best advice for lawyers when facing a trial that’s likely to be tried in the court of public opinion. Bayne knows whereof he speaks – the partner at Bayne, Sellar, Boxall in Ottawa is most recently known for representing Senator Mike Duffy on fraud charges.

                        That can be difficult, even for the most experienced of lawyers – or the most experienced of journalists, as Bayne illustrated with an anecdote from the first day of the Duffy trial. Asked what it’s like to arrive at a courthouse to a mass of cameras and reporters, he replied, “I can honestly answer that it’s daunting,” said Bayne, at a Sunday morning session titled “Litigating in the Court of Public Opinion” at the CBA Legal Conference in Ottawa.

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                        Meet the New President: René Basque

                        By CBA/ABC National August 14 2016 14 August 2016

                          René Basque, of New Brunswick, talks about his priorities for his upcoming year as President of the Canadian Bar Association.

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