The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
CBA influence

Manitoba pension review consultation

By Kim Covert April 12, 2018 12 April 2018

 

CBA’s National Pensions and Benefits Law Section took part in a recent consultation on the Pension Commission of Manitoba’s review of The Pension Benefits Act, responding to questions contained in a consultation paper issued in January.

In its submission to the commission, the Section noted that CBA members are not of one mind on the merits of defined-benefit pension plans vs. defined contribution, or shared risk plans, so it could not unequivocally recommend one or the other.

The consultation paper covered questions such as whether a regulatory framework should be developed for defined-benefit or shared-risk plan designs; buying annuities; entitlement to ancillary benefits; locking-in provisions; and whether the new plan should be limited to unionized workplaces.

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Pipelines

Kinder Morgan: Legal questions and a business decision

By Yves Faguy April 11, 2018 11 April 2018

Kinder Morgan: Legal questions and a business decision

Three days after Kinder Morgan announced it is suspending "non-essential activities" spending on its Trans Mountain pipeline project, stakeholders – of the political variety at least – are still in a panic. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said her government would consider acquiring the pipeline in some form to ensure Alberta oil can be shipped overseas. BC Premier John Horgan is digging in, promising to continue in supporting legal action against the project. And the Trudeau government is drawing criticism for having not yet come up with a solution, as well as staying tight-lipped over a cabinet discussion about the issue yesterday.

Is there a legal solution?

None that is readily available.  Part of the issue here is that B.C. hasn’t actually done anything (yet), legally, to block the pipeline.  What’s more, pressuring the federal government to invoke 92.10 (c) of the Constitution Act, 1867 to declare that the pipeline is in the national interest is of limited value — given that most observers agree that it already falls under federal jurisdiction.  Complicating matters further, there is a Federal Court of Appeal ruling about to be rendered on a legal challenge launched by several First Nations and opponents of the project.  Kinder Morgan acknowledged as far back as May of last year that this could put an end to the project altogether.  A ruling upholding the Trudeau government’s approval of the pipeline project, it has been suggested, could give the B.C. government a face-saving way out of promise to legislate against it, but that won’t stop activists from applying political pressure.  Also, a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada for judicial review is one way to speed things up. But even then, it’s unlikely the top court could deliver a judgment in time before the May 31st deadline imposed by Kinder Morgan to end the uncertainty around the project.

Why it all matters

The question that should probably be discussed in a little more detail is the non-legal one. Is the Kinder Morgan pipeline at all economically viable in the long term? And is the company just looking for a convenient way to get out?

 

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The Pitch 2018

Getting to know The Pitch finalists: BidSettle

By Yves Faguy April 10, 2018 10 April 2018

 

As part of a weekly series leading up to The Pitch 2018, the legal innovation startup competition put on by the Canadian Bar Association and Law Made in partnership with LexisNexis, we’re publishing interviews with the five selected finalists to get to know them better.  This week’s Q&A is with Philippe Lacoursière (featured in the above video), co-founder of BidSettle, which offers a virtual legal platform dedicated to improving access to justice for regular people.

CBA National: What are the origins of BidSettle?

Philippe Lacoursière: So a few years ago I was talking with [co-founder] Alexander Desy over a beer. I love the law but was fed up about the way I was practising it and I saw how technology was changing other fields — in education for example. I wanted to figure out a way to bring technology into the law but in a way that would help people. Alex at the time was working for the Quebec Barreau studying the future of the profession and trends in Europe and in the United States. Together we came up with BidSettle.

N: Explain what BidSettle does

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CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy April 10, 2018 10 April 2018

Legal futures round-up

Time for a round-up of notable trends and developments that highlight innovation in the legal industry.

Let’s start with the major news, last month, that legal services provider UnitedLex will partner exclusively with  GE to help the conglomerate optimize its legal functions.  According to The American Lawyer, “The UnitedLex partnership will save GE between $40 and $50 million and allow it to repurpose as many as 75 lawyers, with some of those transitioning to UnitedLex, according to one person familiar with the deal.”  The deal is significant, writes Steve Kovalan, because it shows how in-house legal departments will adapt to the businesses they serve – something presumably outside providers will have to get used to.

Meanwhile, a new survey produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that frustration with high legal fees and demand for local regulatory knowledge has larger clients thinking of shifting their business from larger firms to cost-effective boutique law firms.

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CBA influence

Eligible dependents: Share the support, share the tax credit

By Kim Covert April 9, 2018 9 April 2018

 

It’s time for tax law to join the 21st century when it comes to family breakdowns.

Gone are the days when separation and divorce automatically meant children stayed with one parent and might see the other on the weekends. These days more and more families choose to share custody, yet the CRA doesn’t see that as an option when it comes to applying the tax laws.

When a child lives mostly with one parent, the Family Law Section says in a submission to the Finance Minister, Federal Child Support Guidelines require only one parent to pay child support, and only the recipient of the support may claim the eligible dependent tax credit for the child.

When the child lives with both parents, the guidelines require both parents to pay support. For convenience, most families adopt an informal approach, where the higher-earning parent subtracts the lower amount of support payable from the higher amount, and pays only the difference, instead of both parents having to exchange the exact amounts of support payable.

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Q&A

A female mentoring program for law students

By CBA/ABC National April 6, 2018 6 April 2018

A female mentoring program for law students

Andrea Kruger, a graduate of the Université de Montréal’s law program (pictured above), is launching this spring a mentoring program that pairs female leaders with aspiring women to help them overcome some of the specific challenges they face in the legal profession. CBA National caught up with her to talk about what makes a women’s mentoring program different.

CBA National: Where did you get the idea to launch this program?

Andrea Kruger: When I was going through law school I had always had a lot of questions about the profession, about where women stand in the profession and how we can address the workplace difficulties that women experience at one point or another in their lives. And I felt like I never really had someone of experience to ask these questions. And so, I wanted to help people who were in my position by creating a platform to ask these questions in a comfortable setting, in a safe space where people can speak openly, in a non-judgmental partnership. And from what I’ve seen in my research, while there is progress, there is definitely a lack of university support in terms of female mentorship.

N: Why a mentoring program geared specifically towards women?

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Profile

Julia Shin Doi: Building success one community at a time

By Lynne Yryku April 6, 2018 6 April 2018

Julia Shin Doi: Building success one community at a time

Julia Shin Doi developed a strong sense of community from a young age. Her parents immigrated to Canada from South Korea when she was only 2 years old. “We lived in one of the poorer areas of Toronto,” she explains. “The Korean community nurtured me and became my extended family. I felt a great sense of belonging.” She adds, “When I was called to the bar, the whole Korean community was excited!”

This immigrant experience shaped her outlook early on, helping her define her purpose: “to be a community builder, a real connector.” “As an immigrant, you lack social capital,” she explains. “I have founded organizations to create and be a part of those communities. I always say, ‘If there isn’t one, let’s build it!’”

From grassroots to national

Over the years, Julia has founded (and co-founded) numerous legal organizations, such as the Diverse Champions for Diversity, Women General Counsel Canada, the Korean Canadian Lawyers Association, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, the Roundtable of Diversity Associations and the Council of Ontario Universities Legal Counsel Group.

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Trade

A trade war that threatens the rule of law

By Yves Faguy April 5, 2018 5 April 2018

A trade war that threatens the rule of law

The Economist offers up some numbers:

According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think-tank, America’s list covers Chinese products worth $46bn in 2017 (9% of that year’s total goods exports to America; see graphic). China’s covers American goods worth around $50bn in 2017 (38% of exports).

David Parkinson, while not dismissing the impact on traded goods, argues that there is a bigger story at play:

During this shoving match, many missed the moment when China crossed a meaningful line. China’s retaliation, while pretty small potatoes in terms of trade value, quite consciously skipped the WTO’s recognized process for adjudicating trade disputes. That is a troubling precedent – not just for the two countries embroiled in this squabble, but for the entire global trading order.

If the WTO as an institution embodies the rule of law in international trade, then its dispute-resolution mechanism is the justice system that enforces those laws. Without an agreed-upon system of enforcement, the rules become toothless very quickly. China, one of the WTO’s most important and powerful trading citizens, just went vigilante.

Reihan Salam expects that the two sides will likely pull back a little at first (and indeed the U.S. is already trying to dial things down) but he remains gloomy about the long-term prospects of the U.S.-China trade relationship:

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The Pitch 2018

Getting to know The Pitch finalists: Founded

By Yves Faguy April 5, 2018 5 April 2018

 

As part of a weekly series leading up to The Pitch 2018, the legal innovation startup competition put on by the Canadian Bar Association and Law Made in partnership with LexisNexis, we’re publishing interviews with the five selected finalists to get to know them better.  This week’s Q&A is with Shane Murphy (pictured above), co-founder and CLO of Founded, an outfit that helps lawyers and entrepreneurs automate the legal needs of growing businesses.

CBA National: What are the origins of Founded?

Shane Murphy: The whole idea of Founded came up when my co-founder [and CTO] Travis [Houlette] was selling his business to Yahoo in a fairly large transaction, back when I was practising law. Although I wasn’t involved in any way in that transaction, Travis was my friend and he was always calling me and saying, “What is wrong with the legal industry? Why is it so devoid of technology? And why is my experience as a client so antiquated, even though I’m hiring top tier lawyers?” So we started talking about how technology could be used to give clients a better experience when they need legal services. That was the genesis of it.

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Justice

Automating justice and public confidence in AI

By Yves Faguy April 5, 2018 5 April 2018

Automating justice and public confidence in AI

Bob Tarantino weighs in on the topic of our latest cover story on using predictive technology to improve our justice system. He raises an obvious but fundamental question: Who gets to say whether the justice system is fair?

Whether and when we deploy AI in the civil and criminal justice systems are questions that should be answered only after taking into account the views of the people who would be subject to those decisions. The answer to the question of judicial AI doesn’t belong to judges or lawyers, or at least not only to them — it belongs, in large part, to the public. Maintaining public confidence in the institution of the judiciary is a paramount concern for any liberal democratic society. If the courts are creaking under the strain of too many demands, if resolutions to disputes are hobbled by lengthy delays and exorbitant costs, we should be open to the possibility of using AI and algorithms to optimize judicial resources. If and to the extent we can preserve or enhance confidence in the administration of justice through the use of AI, policy-makers should be prepared to do so.

Do read the whole thing.

 

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The practice

Finding good financial advice

By James Careless April 4, 2018 4 April 2018

Finding good financial advice

People go to law school to become lawyers, not small business owners. But that’s exactly what those who establish their own law firms become, with all the financial responsibility that entails.

“Most attorneys that go into solo or small practice don’t have a background or formal education in financial management,” said Heidi Alexander, Director of the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program. Many attorneys in Canada and the U.S. “would prefer to just avoid finances altogether,” she says, but knowing how to manage them is “absolutely essential in order to run a successful solo or small law practice.”

Fortunately, there are many ways to build your financial knowledge and get the advice you need to succeed in business.

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CBA influence

CBA: Why we need ADR training in all law schools

By Kim Covert April 4, 2018 4 April 2018

 

In a legal environment where most cases settle before they ever reach trial, being able to facilitate the reaching of those settlements is a valuable skill.

That’s why the CBA has called on law societies and law schools across the country to recognize the importance of mandatory training in alternative dispute resolution.

A 2016 CBA resolution says that since dispute resolution skills are a foundation of being an effective advocate, all graduating law students and bar admission students should be taught the spectrum of dispute resolution options.

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