M Mercer: Independence and Self-Regulation

Posted to SLAW September 17, 2014

It is entirely human to fail to appreciate when one’s judgment is affected by a conflicting personal interest or duty. Our conflicts rules reflect this problem. Where there is a substantial risk of impairment of representation, clients get to decide whether to accept that risk. Where representation will be materially impaired, lawyers cannot act even with client consent.

This concern about conflicting interests is well rooted in behavioural psychology. Dan Ariely, an author and a professor of psychology and behavioural economics[i], writes on this topic[ii].

More … 

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LEGAL ETHICS Volume 17 . Part 2 . 2014 

Hart Publishing is pleased to let you know that Volume 17. Part 2 of Legal Ethics is now published.  3 Articles with Canadian content.

ONLINE ACCESS  To access this issue online, read the abstracts and purchase individual papers please click here



Free to view – please click here


Hypercompetitiveness or a Balanced Life? Gendered Discourses in the Globalisation of Australian Law Firms

Margaret Thornton

Abstract: Although women comprise almost 50 per cent of the practising legal profession in Australia and elsewhere, numerosity is insufficient to overcome the ‘otherness’ of the feminine in corporate law firms. Despite measures to recognise the ethic of a balanced life for those with caring responsibilities, these initiatives are undermined by the contemporary imperative in favour of competition. This article argues that there is a hypermasculinist sub-text invoked by the media reporting of a flurry of mergers between super-élite London-based global law firms and Australian firms with an eye to expansion in the Asia-Pacific. It is suggested that the incommensurability of the discourses of flexible work and hypercompetition symbolically revives and sustains the masculinity of super-élite law firms as the gender tipping point draws nigh. To illustrate the thesis, the representation of the two discourses in the print media between 2011 and 2012 are considered, drawing primarily on The Times (London) and The Australian(Sydney).  Continue reading

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D Wiseman: Alternative Business Structures and Access to Justice

Posted to SLAW on August 28, 2014.  Full post HERE

The Canadian legal profession is currently engaged in a much-needed debate about the future of legal services in general and whether to allow the use of so-called alternative business structures (ABSs) more particularly. Thankfully, the issue of access to justice is figuring prominently in the general debate, as evidenced by the recently released CBA Legal Futures report and the ongoing work of the Action Committee on Access to Justice. Beyond that, the potential for ABSs to improve access to justice is being put forward as a key reason for allowing them, as can be seen in Slaw columns of Malcolm Mercer and in the work of the Law Society of Upper Canada’sWorking Group on ABSs that he co-chairs. However, in relation to the ABS debate, it is necessary to ask: access to justice for whom? The answer is: mostly, the middle class – which, in my view, is good, but not quite good enough.

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CALE Conference October 23 – 25: Last Reminder

The CALE conference is scheduled for October 23-25, 2014 in London, Ontario.  On the evening of Oct 23 there will be dinner and a social event at the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre and then on Oct 24 we start in the morning with a shuttle over to Western Law.  The conference ends mid-afternoon on Oct 25.  On Oct 24 there will be a dinner sponsored by Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP followed by a speech by Ian Binnie.  Other sponsors of elements of the conference include Emond Montgomery Publications and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

There is no registration fee.  We will be tracking attendees based on your booking of the accommodation (for which you are responsible, logistically and financially) at the Centre or based on you telling us that you are attending but staying elsewhere.  If you are not staying at the Centre and you do not know for sure that I know you are attending, please contact Stephen Pitel at Western.

The Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre is now taking bookings.  You can make your booking over the web (https://resweb.passkey.com/go/WesternLaw) or by phone (1-888-678-6926).  

The conference will feature:

  • a session on teaching covering several issues including the “flipping” of the classroom;
    a session on regulatory developments covering several issues including the notion of principle-based regulation’ and
    three sessions on in-progress research on a wide range of legal ethics topics. 
    If you did not see the earlier calls for volunteers to present or for some reason did not respond, and are interested in presenting, please let me know because it is possible that we might be able to fit you into the program.
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CBA: Ethics and New Information Technologies

The CBA Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee just recently released an update of its 2008 Guidelines for Practicing Ethically with New Information Technologies.


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A Salyzyn: Positivist Legal Ethics Theory and the Law Governing Lawyers: A Few Puzzles Worth Solving

Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2014


Debates about the proper boundaries of a lawyer’s role are far from new. A fresh spin on this old debate, however, has emerged with the “positivist turn” in legal ethics theory. While in legal theory scholarship the label “positivism” carries various nuances and controversies, its use in the legal ethics context is, as a general matter, more straightforward and uniform. Broadly speaking, positivist accounts of legal ethics share a general view that the law owes its normative content to its ability to solve coordination problems and settle moral controversies. This view of the law, in turn, informs a particular view of the lawyer as governed in her actions by the legal entitlements at issue, as opposed to, for example, considerations of morality or justice writ at large.

Because the positivist account grounds a theory of legal ethics in respect for the law, it seems safe to assume that the law governing lawyers is properly viewed as playing a central role in this account. Stated otherwise, the same “fidelity to law” that lawyers must exhibit when, for example, interpreting tax codes to advise clients on structuring financial transactions is presumably also required when a lawyer is interpreting how the rules of professional conduct apply to her situation.

What has not been given much, if any, attention is how the law governing lawyers is different from other types of law and how this difference may be consequential for the positivist account. The law governing lawyers does not simply have the status of law (and therefore, assumes a central role in the positivist account), it also addresses the same subject matter—the proper bounds of lawyer behavior—that legal ethics theory itself purports to address. As a consequence, two of the “typical” questions or challenges lobbied at positivist accounts of law—what to do when: (1) following the law leads to unpalatable outcomes; or (2) the law at issue contains moral terms—give rise to some outstanding questions in the case of positivist legal ethics theory. Below, some very preliminary thought is given to how these puzzles might be “solved.” Ultimately, however, the main goal of this Idea is to highlight these issues as ripe for further consideration and critique.



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Commentary: New Brunswick Real Estate Association v. Estabrooks, 2014 NBCA 48

By Stewart McKelvey



“The majority decision in Estabrooks will be a good precedent for professional regulatory bodies sued for malicious prosecution based on disciplinary proceedings that turned out to be unfounded – and for counsel and litigants urging a cautious approach to the expansion of any contested tort. But as the dissent points out, there is now a conflict in the Canadian case law on malicious prosecution. It might take a trip to the Supreme Court of Canada to settle the dispute.”


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Composition of the Inquiry Committee established in regard to the Honourable Michel Déziel

Ottawa, 11 August 2014 – The Canadian Judicial Council announced today the composition of the Inquiry Committee established to review the conduct of Justice Michel Déziel.

The Inquiry Committee is comprised of three members: two Chief Justices appointed by the Canadian Judicial Council and one lawyer appointed by the Minister of Justice. The members are: the Honourable Ernest Drapeau, First Vice-chair of Council and Chief Justice of New Brunswick (Chairperson); the Honourable Glenn D. Joyal, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba; Mr René Basque, Q.C. of the law firm Actus in New Brunswick.

Ms Suzanne Gagné of the law firm Létourneau Gagné in Québec City has been appointed Independent Counsel in accordance with the Council’s Bylaws. Her mandate is to present the case to the Inquiry Committee, in the public interest.

Under the Judges Act, the Inquiry Committee is deemed to be a Superior Court. The Committee will decide, in the coming weeks, when to hear this matter. Inquiry Committee hearings are normally held in public, although private hearings are possible if required in the public interest and the due administration of justice. The Committee will decide on the scope of its inquiry.

The mandate of the Inquiry Committee is to review all the issues and submit a report to the Canadian Judicial Council, presenting its findings and conclusions on whether or not a recommendation should be made for the removal of the judge from office. The Council will then make a recommendation to the Minister of Justice regarding the judge’s ability to remain in office.

Information about the Council, including the process for public inquiries, can be found on the Council’s website at www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.

Contact: Norman Sabourin Executive Director and Senior General Counsel (613) 288-1566 ext 313


Composition du comité d’enquête établi au sujet de l’honorable Michel Déziel

Ottawa, le 11 août 2014 – Le Conseil canadien de la magistrature a dévoilé aujourd’hui les noms des membres du comité d’enquête mis en place pour examiner la conduite du juge Michel Déziel.

Le comité d’enquête est composé de trois membres: deux juges en chef nommés par le Conseil canadien de la magistrature et un avocat nommé par le ministre de la Justice. Les membres sont: l’honorable Ernest Drapeau, premier vice-président du Conseil et juge en chef du Nouveau-Brunswick (président), l’honorable Glenn D. Joyal, juge en chef de la Cour du Banc de la Reine du Manitoba et Me René Basque, c.r. du cabinet Actus au Nouveau-Brunswick.

Me Suzanne Gagné, du cabinet Létourneau Gagné à Québec, a été nommée avocate indépendante. Conformément au règlement du Conseil, elle a pour mandat de présenter l’affaire au Comité d’enquête, dans l’intérêt public.

En vertu de la Loi sur les juges, le comité d’enquête est réputé être une Cour supérieure. Le Comité agit de façon indépendante et devra décider, au cours des prochaines semaines, quand il entendra cette affaire. Les rencontres du Comité d’enquête se déroulent normalement en public, bien que des audiences privées sont possibles si l’intérêt public et la bonne administration de la justice le requièrent. Le Comité décidera de la portée de son enquête.

Le mandat du Comité d’enquête est de revoir l’ensemble de l’affaire afin de présenter un rapport au Conseil canadien de la magistrature sur ses conclusions quant à savoir si une recommandation devrait ou non être faite pour relever le juge de ses fonctions. Le Conseil présentera ensuite une recommandation au ministre de la Justice en ce qui concerne l’aptitude du juge à remplir ses fonctions.

Des renseignements sur le Conseil, y compris le processus d’enquêtes publiques, peuvent être consultés sur le site Web du Conseil à www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.

Personne-ressource : Norman Sabourin Directeur exécutif et avocat général principal (613) 288-1566 poste 313


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R Mendleson and R Brennan, Judging of judges should be public: Opposition critics

 Critics at Queen’s Park are calling on the province to lift the veil of secrecy that keeps the public in the dark about investigations into complaints against judges.

“There is something suspicious about the whole process when there isn’t even a report put out to the public,” interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson said Monday. “I think the government should be held accountable.”

Wilson’s comments come after a Star investigation into a complaint against a Toronto judge who had been repeatedly admonished, and the system that keeps the vast majority of such complaints under lock and key.

Confidential documents, provided to the Star by an unknown source, detailed how the complaint was handled in secret, and the case closed.

According to the Ontario Judicial Council, which probes complaints against judges, there is a “general order,” permitted under Ontario law, banning the publication of any documents and information relating to complaints that don’t result in a public hearing.

The rest of the Toronto Star story HERE

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A Dodek: Why won’t MacKay release his legal advice on prostitution?

ADAM DODEK  Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Jul. 08 2014, 12:34 PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Jul. 08 2014, 12:42 PM EDT

Minister of Justice Peter MacKay has confidently asserted two things about Bill C-36, the Government’s new proposed prostitution law: that it will certainly be challenged in the courts and that it is constitutional. Mr. MacKay is undoubtedly correct that there will another round in the legal battle over the country’s prostitution laws that will make its way back to the Supreme Court. Until then, we will not know if he is correct about the bill’s constitutionality.

Mr. MacKay can, however, back up his second claim by showing Members of Parliament and Canadians the legal advice that supports his confident assertion. And he should.

Canadian governments have remained steadfast in their refusal to publicly reveal the legal advice that forms the basis for many of their decisions. Governments love to rely on solicitor-client privilege – the protection afforded by the law to confidential communications between a client and lawyer. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized solicitor-client privilege as a fundamental legal and civil right that enjoys constitutional protection in certain circumstances. For reasons that I have argued elsewhere, it does not make a lot of sense to talk about the government enjoying such constitutional protection.

For the rest of the post, click HERE

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