The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
CBA Advocacy

CBA on changes to the Privacy Act

By CBA/ABC National September 29, 2016 29 September 2016

On September 27th, Gary Dickson appeared on behalf of the CBA in front of the standing committee on Access to information, privacy and ethics that is reviewing the Federal Privacy Act.  Specifically, the Committee is looking at 16 recommendations made by the Privacy Commissioner, and called for input from organizations and individuals across Canada. In the video, Dickson describes the need for changes in the Privacy Act and what CBA’s recommendations are.

You can read CBA's comments on the recommendations from the Privacy Commisioner for ammendments to the Privacy Act here.

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Cover

Justice understood

By Justin Ling September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

Justice understood

 

For as long as there have been open courts and a free press, media have covered trials to inform, sometimes to entertain, and generally to ensure that justice is not only done, but seen to be done. But with the justice system coming under the increasing – and often uninformed – scrutiny of the court of public opinion, it's legitimate to ask whether it needs protection of its own.

In simpler times there was no question that courts could take care of themselves. Town criers were trusted to deliver news of court verdicts and sentences without adding their critique of the legal process, trying to shape public opinion, agitating for change or disparaging the abilities and approaches of the lawyers, judges and juries responsible. And their reach was limited to the people who could physically hear them.

In the 21st century, bloggers sometimes react to rulings before the traditional media report on them. Armchair lawyers tweet their disapproval and share scathing remarks on Facebook; they troll the internet for hyperbolic responses and then repost them. Pundits on 24-hour news networks endlessly parse the minutiae of the case, and their comments, along with other news pieces and opinions about how the court’s various actors handled themselves — not all of which are informed by a deep knowledge of the case or of the law — can go viral overnight, reaching millions.

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The profession

Privilege granted

By Mark Bourrie September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

Privilege granted

 

Patent and trademark agents have become the first group of non-lawyers given the quasi-constitutional protection of solicitor-client privilege.

With the adoption of the 2015 omnibus budget bill, which received royal assent in June, amendments to the Patent Act and the Trademarks Act give non-lawyer intellectual property (IP) agents protection “in the same way that a communication is subject to solicitor-client privilege, or, in civil law, to professional secrecy of advocates and notaries.”

The bill says “no person shall be required to disclose, or give testimony on, the communication in a civil, criminal or administrative action or proceeding” if they are “between a person who is a registered patent agent/trademark agent and that person’s client (and) intended to be confidential.”

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Agents of innovation

The lawyer vs. the law firm

By Jordan Furlong September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

The lawyer vs. the law firm

 

"Clients hire lawyers, not firms,” is the oldest line in the business development handbook. Law has long been a personal services business with a strong relationship component: clients come to rely not only on a lawyer’s expertise, but also on his or her judgment and advice. By contrast, the law firm is equally far away from the client, normally present as just a name on a letterhead or an invoice. Most of a law firm’s clients deal primarily, if not exclusively, with one lawyer or small group of lawyers and staff.

Lawyers have sufficient confidence in this dynamic that they exercise an extraordinary degree of autonomy within their firms. Ask a typical law firm partner to vote on a proposal that will compromise revenue in the short-term but enhance profits in the long term: in most cases, the thumb predictably will be turned down. The brand of the individual lawyer has consistently trumped the shingle of the firm under which he or she happens to practice at the moment.

This is the war that’s been raging within law firms for years now: the fight for control of the business between individual lawyers and the collective firm. Firms have lost so many of these battles that they’ve stopped counting and, in many cases, have stopped fighting. When the firm is nothing more than the sum of its individual, autonomous owner/worker lawyers, what chance does the firm have to escape the immense gravitational pull of those lawyers’ self-interest?

That’s why the coming, inevitable decline in law firms’ lawyer population is of such immense importance to law firm strategy.

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Health & fitness

Insomnia? There’s an app for that

By Katya Hodge September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

Insomnia? There’s an app for that

 

Not getting enough sleep? Well you’re not alone. One third of the adult population experience insomnia symptoms, and according to studies, women are twice as likely as men to have sleep issues.

There are different types of insomnia: some people have trouble falling asleep, while others have trouble with staying asleep or waking up too early. Whatever the type, sleeplessness can take its toll on your energy, mood, health and ability to function during the day.

Luc Beaudoin, adjunct professor and cognitive sciences expert at Simon Fraser University has created an app, called MySleepButton, to help people get to sleep by using what he calls a “cognitive shuffle.”

 

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Practice hub

Making the most of media attention

By Julie Sobowale September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

Making the most of media attention

Jason van Rassel has been the “approacher” in this scenario hundreds of times. The former Calgary Herald justice reporter is now the journalist-in-residence at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, and teaches law students about a variety of media topics – from pitching stories to the media to managing crisis communications.

“Reporters and lawyers don’t do the same things, but both have respective roles in keeping a court open to the public,” says Rassel. “There should be a cooperative relationship.”

Lawyers shouldn’t be afraid of the spotlight, he adds: the media can be a great benefit to your clients and your practice.

To attract media coverage, consider your audience and the story you want to tell.

 

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Lunch with

Clerking at Canada’s highest court

By Corey Larocque September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

Clerking at Canada’s highest court

Clerks at the Supreme Court of Canada get “a ringside seat” to watch Canada’s highest-ranking judges wrestle with cases that affect the lives of Canadians, says Owen Rees, an Ottawa lawyer who spent three years overseeing the high court’s clerking program. They work in a “fertile intellectual environment” and enjoy the satisfaction of contributing to the work of the country’s final court of appeal.

“It is one of the best jobs you can have in the legal profession,” says Rees, himself a former Supreme Court clerk.

On a sunny summer day in the nation’s capital, Rees sat down with Mark Strychar-Bodnar at the Wellington Gastropub, a few minutes away from the high court, to fill him in on what the coming year has in store for him.

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Q&A

Christine Duhaime: Fintech meets law

By Yves Faguy September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

Christine Duhaime: Fintech meets law

Christine Duhaime founded the Digital Finance Institute, a think tank for financial technology, law and policy, and is one of Canada’s most visible lawyers specializing in financial crime and anti-money laundering. CBA National Senior Editor Yves Faguy caught up with Duhaime to discuss the issues emerging at the intersection of law, fintech and digital currencies.

CBA National:  What’s most interesting to you about fintech and law right now?

Christine Duhaime  For one, there’s the “blockchain,” which is this really interesting distributed ledger system where transactions don’t go through a middleman – or a financial institution, or a central bank – but where you’re tracking the transaction online. So we can actually track the transaction, see it, know who the parties are, and cover the anti-money laundering compliance side of it. So eventually, you wouldn’t really need FINTRAC (Canada’s financial intelligence unit), if you think about it, because if we move towards a digital currency and a blockchain, every single transaction of every single person is going to be online.

N: How are the financial services and legal industries going to change as a result?

 

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Closing Argument

O Canada! - Moving aside the sacred cows

By Omar Ha-Redeye September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

O Canada! - Moving aside the sacred cows

Starting with my first day in kindergarten, my classmates and I stood every morning to sing the national anthem. It became part of my routine, our ritual, but one which I never actually reflected upon until now.

In June, The House of Commons passed Bill C-210, which changes the second line of the English anthem from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command,” to make it more gender-neutral.

The English version was written in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir, a Montreal lawyer, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Quebec City. And he did not write it in stone – Weir himself changed the words of his anthem, adding “in all thy sons command” in 1914. Weir’s changes were made against the backdrop of World War I, but potentially also in opposition to women’s suffrage. In other words, “in all thy sons command” was deliberately added to exclude women from Canadian notions of nationalism.

 

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Conduct becoming

No laughing matter

By Gavin & Brooke MacKenzie September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

No laughing matter

 

Gavin: I usually ignore lawyer jokes on the incontestable ground that they’re unfair and insulting. But once in a while, they may have a grain of truth to them.

Brooke: Give me an example.

Gavin: Well, there’s the one about the lawyer and the doctor whose cars collide. The lawyer sees that the doctor is shaken up and offers him a drink from his hip flask. The doctor takes a long drink, some of which he spills on his shirt, and then returns the hip flask to the lawyer, who puts it away. The doctor says, “Aren’t you going to have a drink?”, and the lawyer says, “Oh yes—just as soon as the police leave.”

Brooke: So what qualities attributable to lawyers does that joke exemplify?

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Creative license

The prodigy: Phil Dwyer

By CBA/ABC National September 27, 2016 27 September 2016

The prodigy: Phil Dwyer

 

Phil Dwyer is an award-winning, appointed Member of the Order of Canada, jazz composer, performer and producer. After 30 years in music, he entered his first year of law school in 2014 at the University of New Brunswick. Phildwyer.com

Music has taught me the importance of teamwork, and self-motivation; flexible ‘on your feet’ thinking; and delivering great work on time and under pressure. Lessons learned that I’ll bring to my new career in law.

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Legal innovation

The challenge of scalability for legal start-ups in Canada

By CBA/ABC National September 26, 2016 26 September 2016

One of the challenges facing legal start-ups in Canada is scalability in a relatively small market for legal services – a market that also happens to be governed by 14 governments and as many parliaments.  We raised the issue with Cian O’Sullivan of Beagle Inc, after he won the Pitch, hosted by the CBA and LegalX last month.  What’s interesting about Beagle is that it uses artificial intelligence to help lawyers – often in-house – read contracts.  As such its application isn’t tied to jurisdiction.

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