The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
Human rights

The IOC and human rights

By Erika Schneidereit March 30, 2017 30 March 2017

The IOC and human rights

 

The Olympic Games – these words conjure up images of national anthems, medal counts, and the world’s best athletes competing for glory on the international stage.

But for many, reports of widespread human rights violations in the lead-up to the 2008, 2014 and 2016 Games overshadowed the excitement of watching the world’s finest go for gold.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has heeded calls from human rights organizations and other groups to establish the protection of human rights as a core value of the Games. In February, the IOC announced that it had revised its Host City Contract for the 2024 Games to strengthen human rights protections, including its first explicit reference to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The amended contract states that host cities are required to:

protect and respect human rights and ensure any violation of human rights is remedied in a manner consistent with international agreements, laws and regulations applicable in the Host Country and in a manner consistent with all internationally-recognized human rights standards and principles, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, applicable in the Host Country.

So, will this amendment really have an impact on the actions of future hosts?

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Legal marketplace

A sign that in-house legal support is becoming big business

By Yves Faguy March 29, 2017 29 March 2017

A sign that in-house legal support is becoming big business

 

Catrin Griffiths reports that mid-tier firms are right to worry about PwC’s recent decision to snap up half of GE’s tax department – along with 600 of its lawyers – as part of a five-year deal to provide tax services to the multinational conglomerate, starting April 1:

So here’s the initial question for PwC: how long can you get away with providing business services to a market you are also competing with? Isn’t this doomed?

The answer is no, it’s not in the slightest bit doomed. PwC has been consistently smart about what it wants long-term, and right now what it’s doing is disrupting its own business. However strong its law firm consultancy service is, it pales into insignificance against the growth potential of its legal arm, which grossed £60m in the UK last year alone with a 24 per cent increase in billings. Yes, PwC may have lost audit clients among the top 100 – Burges Salmon and Ince & Co being two examples – but at the same time, it has won Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills. Neither CC nor HSF is likely to have sleepless nights over PwC as a competitor; they’re too busy worrying about the US firms.

Part of the worry for law firms, understandably, resides in what one industry watcher called a “rapid blurring of the boundaries between what used to be thought of as separate and distinct professional services.”

Fair enough. But another takeaway is that that PWC’s efforts are really a confirmation that clients see value in the delivery of in-house legal services.

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Meaning of consent

Involuntary parenthood claims don’t pay

By Jennifer Taylor March 28, 2017 28 March 2017

Involuntary parenthood claims don’t pay

 

There is no right to sue for “involuntary parenthood.” That’s according to the Court of Appeal for Ontario in PP v DD, which upheld a lower court decision to toss out a father’s lawsuit against his former female sexual partner for making him a parent before he wanted to become one.

The decision helps prevent tort law from being used to control women by making them pay – literally – for the consequences of their reproductive choices.

I wrote about the lower court decision last year, arguing that it was the right call for women’s reproductive autonomy.

Let’s back up and recall the facts: PP, the male plaintiff (a doctor), and DD, the female defendant (who also worked in health care), had a brief sexual relationship in 2014. PP understood that DD took birth control pills, so they did not use condoms. DD became pregnant and informed PP, who suggested that she have an abortion. DD decided to have the baby, born in early 2015.

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Constitution 150

Why are we ignoring the Constitution Act of 1867?

By Léonid Sirota March 27, 2017 27 March 2017

Why are we ignoring the Constitution Act of 1867?

 

An anniversary might be thought an occasion for commemorating the event to which it refers. Not so, apparently, the sesquicentennial of Confederation. Celebrations are due to take place, to be sure, but a visitor to Canada might be forgiven for wondering what it is that we are about to celebrate. He or she might head to the government’s Canada 150 website, and find plenty of information about the festivities that are due to occur―but precious little about the historical events that we will, or will not, be marking. Yet in case you forgot, July 1 will be the anniversary of the coming into force of what we now call the Constitution Act, 1867.

This lack of interest in one part of our constitution is all the more remarkable when contrasted with the attention being showered on another―the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is turning 35 this year, and the Canadian government wants to make sure we know. A special section of the Department of Justice’s website, complete with nifty graphics, is dedicated to the Charter’s 35th anniversary, while the Justice Minister herself is travelling the country speaking and tweeting. There was indignation when the previous government ignored the Charter’s 30th. The watchword this time seems to be “never again”―except, that is, for that pesky old Constitution Act.

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Q&A

Law is A Buyer's Market: Jordan Furlong talks about his new book

By Yves Faguy March 24, 2017 24 March 2017

Law is A Buyer's Market: Jordan Furlong talks about his new book

 

CBA National sat down with author and analyst of the global legal market (and former editor-in-chief of this publication) Jordan Furlong to talk about his just released book, Law Is A Buyer’s Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm in which he describes a rebalancing of power in the legal marketplace from sellers towards buyers, and offers some guidance on how law firms can respond to this fundamental shift.

CBA National: What surprised you the most about writing this book?

Jordan Furlong: I suppose one of the positive, unexpected takeaways is that we're not as far behind, collectively speaking, as we might otherwise have expected to be. When I first approached the subject, I proceeded on the assumption that there really weren't very many examples of law firms or organizations that are making strides towards becoming the kind of legal service supplier that the legal market requires. And I'm happy to report that there really are some. The obvious ones that are always mentioned – and they should be. In the U.S. Bryan Cave is a clear leader; Littler Mendelson, which of course now has an office in Toronto; Seyfarth Shaw.  Some other firms don't get quite as much attention but are making strides in this direction: Perkins Coie is one of those; Davis Wright Tremaine certainly. Here in Canada, Gowlings usually heads my list of firms that are making real strides in this direction. But McCarthy's is making a serious investment and so is Osler. Among increasingly innovative Canadian firms, there’s Blakes and Torys too. I think the primary value in that for lawyers and law firms is they can say, “look, this can be done and it is being done right now in the market. There's no reason why we can't do it either.” And they can point them out to more skeptical colleagues.

N: So let’s say a firm recognizes that law is now a buyer’s market and is ready to align their innovation strategy, their interests and priorities with those of their clients. Where do you start?

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Justice

Budget 2017: What's in it for justice

By Justin Ling March 22, 2017 22 March 2017

Budget 2017: What's in it for justice

 

The federal budget proposes to spend $55 million over five years to hire new judges, aimed mostly at Alberta and Yukon, to speed up the trial process in Canada.

The prospect that scores of charges being thrown out due to trial delays caused by an over-burdened court system has been top-of-mind since the Supreme Court handed down its ruling last year in R. v. Jordan, setting a ceiling on delays at trial.

In fact, dozens of cases have been stayed, with Crown counsel shouldering the blame for not bringing cases forward fast enough. Lawyers across the country have called for a hike in spending to hire more judges, help legal aid, and streamline the court administration process.

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Climate law

Do not backtrack: Non-regression in environmental law

By Yves Faguy March 22, 2017 22 March 2017

 

When progressive political leaders remind us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” the statement includes a caveat – that the arc does not travel in a straight line and that there will be setbacks.

But for climate activists, for whom time is of the essence, setbacks are to be avoided at all cost. “Do not backtrack” has become something of a rallying cry against regressive government action (or inaction).

In legal terms, that has led to calls for the recognition of the principle of non-regression in environmental law and policy, even as a fundamental human right. As University of Ottawa law professor Lynda Collins explains in the video above (around the 3:20 minute mark), non-regression means that part of one’s right to a healthy environment is to “have today’s level of environmental protection preserved.”

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The Supreme Court

Warrantless searches: A high threshold

By Justin Ling March 20, 2017 20 March 2017

Warrantless searches: A high threshold

 

Just what are “exigent circumstances,” anyway?

Turns out, they’re pretty specific.

“‘Exigent circumstances’ denotes not merely convenience, propitiousness or economy, but rather urgency,” wrote the majority of the Supreme Court in a decision passed down on Friday. “Even where exigent circumstances are present, however, they are not, on their own, sufficient to justify a warrantless search of a residence.”

The ruling, R. v. Paterson, offers new guidance and framework on when police can enter and search a private residence without a warrant. What’s clear is that it’s a very high bar.

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Cover story

The $4 trillion question

By Agnese Smith March 15, 2017 15 March 2017

The $4 trillion question

 

Economists will tell you that trust is necessary for a stable economy. So what are we to make of growing concerns about what businesses do with the personal data of internet users?

Poll after poll shows that consumers simply don’t trust companies with their data and are losing faith in government’s ability to protect their personal information. Meanwhile, regulators around the world struggle to keep pace with technology and business models that are, by nature, anti-privacy; at the same time they worry that overly stringent rules could dampen growth in the digital economy which is expected to contribute an estimated $4-trillion to major economies.

“Today, the digital economy is the economy,” Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, said in a speech last year. In fact, mass data has become a valuable asset. Whether it’s vacuumed up by mobile or other internet devices, consumer data increasingly drives business decisions. Web-based giants like Google and Facebook are earning fat profits from targeted advertising. 

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In person

Interview with Naiomi W. Metallic

By CBA/ABC National March 15, 2017 15 March 2017

Interview with Naiomi W. Metallic

 

Naiomi Metallic was the first Mi'kmaq law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada. The Halifax lawyer holds the Chancellor’s Chair in aboriginal law and policy at Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law .

CBA National: Who has had the biggest influence on you and why?

Naiomi Metallic: My dad. My mom. My high school English teacher, Ora Watson. The Mi’kmaq professor who encouraged me to apply to law school, Patti Doyle-Bedwell. The Hon. Michel Bastarache for picking me, of all people, to be one of his law clerks. My husband, Al Mcpherson.

N: If you had a personal motto what would it be? 

NM: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

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Practice hub

Lunch with Marjorie Hickey: Practising with conviction

By Willy Palov March 15, 2017 15 March 2017

Lunch with Marjorie Hickey: Practising with conviction

 

The Diners

The Expert: Marjorie Hickey, partner at McInnes Cooper in Halifax. Hickey’s practice focuses on regulatory and liability issues for professionals. She is also a retired Commander in the Naval Reserve and past Commanding Officer of HMCS Scotian.

The Apprentice: Jennifer Taylor, research lawyer at Stewart McKelvey in Halifax. Taylor articled at the Crown Law office – Criminal in Toronto. She clerked at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal after articling and completing her LL.M.  She supports her firm’s advocacy group and has a special interest in aboriginal law and LGBQT issues.

What is in the public interest? It's a question Halifax lawyers Jennifer Taylor and Marjorie Hickey often ask themselves. Taylor, a research lawyer just seven years into her career, and Hickey, a 35-year veteran, may be at opposite ends of their arcs as legal professionals, but they’re both committed to that age-old law school ideal of “trying to make a difference” in the world – and they’re able to do so in private practice.

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Practice hub

The innovation game

By Beverley Spencer March 15, 2017 15 March 2017

The innovation game

 

You’ve read the books, gone to the seminars and accepted the inevitable: If your firm wants to stay competitive and attract the best people, it has to develop a business strategy to deal with changing client demands, new technology and a shifting regulatory landscape.

So now what?

You’re already ahead of the game if you recognize that business as usual isn’t viable in the long-term, says Mike Ross, founder of Juniper, a Montreal-based strategy consulting boutique. Now you have to get your partners on board and start rethinking how to deliver client services.

That’s not going to be easy: in law firms where money is still rolling in, partners don’t have much incentive to change and there’s a succession crisis brewing; in 
63 per cent of U.S. law firms, for example, partners age 60 or over control at least a quarter of total firm revenue but only 31 per cent of firms have a formal succession planning process, according to an Altman Weil study released last year.

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