E Craig: Examining the Websites of Canada’s ‘Top Sex Crime Lawyers’: The Ethical Parameters of Online Commercial Expression by the Criminal Defence Bar

By Elaine Craig and posted to SSRN October, 2014

Abstract: 

Online advertising has become a primary source of information about legal services. This trend towards web-based marketing of legal services poses new challenges to the regulation of the legal profession. Challenges which, to date, have not been fully met. It also creates a new source of data for researchers studying aspects of the legal profession such as legal ethics, lawyers’ perspectives and strategies, and legal discourse.

The objective of this study is to examine the most prominent websites in Canada that advertise legal representation for individuals accused of sexual offences. The study of these websites yielded two types of observations regarding the commercial expression engaged in by this subset of the criminal defence bar. The first pertains to the parameters of ethical advertising by criminal defence lawyers who practice sexual assault law. A significant subset of lawyers who advertise legal representation services to individuals accused of sexual offences engage in commercial expression that appears to be inconsistent with the limits and guidelines specified in their professional codes of conduct. The study produced a second observation. Examination of these websites offers a window into the narratives about sexual assault that some defence lawyers construct for their clients, and perhaps also the perspectives about sexual assault held by defence lawyers themselves.

 

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D Tanovich: Are the lawyers pursuing Jian Ghomeshi’s lawsuit acting unethically?

By:David Tanovich Published on the Star Thu Nov 06 2014

As a law professor and one who teaches legal ethics, one of the most troubling parts of the Jian Ghomeshi story for me is the question of the ethics of the civil lawsuit filed by his lawyers against the CBC for a staggering $55 million.
There are serious systemic problems in our justice system surrounding the treatment of sexual assault complainants. There is a culture of intimidation, denial and blaming by police, lawyers, judges and juries that plays a significant role in explaining why so many women do not report their assault and why there are more acquittals in sexual assault cases than for any other offence.
In my view, lawyers have played a significant role in the silencing of sexual assault. Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system will tell you, if they are honest, that lawyers appear willing to be more zealous in defending a client charged with sexual assault than for any other offence. Indeed, one prominent Ottawa lawyer once told a group of young budding lawyers that their role in cross-examining a sexual assault complaint is to “whack the complainant … if you destroy the complainant … you destroy the head … you’ve got to attack the complainant hard with all you’ve got.” More recently, a senior member of the bar told a group of lawyers that their job was to “kill” the complainant in cross-examination.
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A Woolley: The Virtues and Limits of the Representation of the “Man-in-trouble”: Some Reflections on Jian Ghomeshi and Legal Ethics

Posted to ABlawg on November 3, 2014 by Alice Woolley By: Alice Woolley

The recent scandal surrounding Jian Ghomeshi’s dismissal from the CBC, and the sexual assault allegations relating to that dismissal, have had a polarizing impact on Canadian discussion about sexual assault. First, this comment outlines the legal framework surrounding the sexual assault allegations against Mr. Ghomeshi to clarify what is relevant to the adjudication of those allegations, and what is not. Second, this comment seeks to respond to the polarizing conversation on this issue and argue for a middle ground which preserves the presumption of innocence while simultaneously demanding greater support for the victims of sexual assault.

Background

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A Salyzyn: Tackling Technology

Posted to SLAW September 30, 2014

The intersection of legal ethics and technological competency has been a recurring theme in Slaw and other forums for a number of years (see, for example, here, here, and here).

Exactly what type of technological competence a lawyer needs to have has been debated and, presumably, will constantly evolve as technology itself evolves (for discussion of what minimum tech standards might look like, see Mitch Kowalski’s and Omar Ha-Redeye’s previous Slaw posts here and here). There is a growing consensus, however, that all lawyers require some level of technological competence in order to meet their professional obligations.

But how do we make universal technological competence a reality? I have previouslysuggested that law societies consider amending codes of conduct to add an affirmative duty on lawyers to understand the benefits and risks of available technologies relevant to the modern practice of law. Although professional rules can be effective in disciplining mal-intentioned or underperforming lawyers, they also are limited in their reach. One major constraint is that rules address problems on an after-the-fact basis rather than preventing problems before they occur (for further discussion, see here).

MORE

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B Schitka: Private International Law Implications in Conflicts of Interest for Lawyers Licensed in Multiple Countries

Barrett B Schitka, University of Calgary – Faculty of Law; University of Houston Law Center

September 25, 2014 McGill Law Journal, Forthcoming

Abstract:
Conflicts of interest issues are one of the most complicated areas of the law governing lawyers that lawyers and law firms face on a day-to-day basis. These issues are further complicated when lawyers are licensed in more than one jurisdiction and become subject to multiple ethical regimes. This article investigates what rules and duties are applicable to lawyers licensed in multiple jurisdictions, and what solutions are available to the lawyer when the law governing lawyers from different jurisdictions diverge or conflict. Through a discussion of the Canadian and U.S. rules on conflicts of interest, this article advocates for a two-step “proper law” approach to determine which jurisdiction’s ethical rules should be applied.

Full paper on SSRN

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LSUC: Quick Reference Tool for Rules of Professional Conduct

Quick Reference Tool

On October 1, amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Paralegal
Rules of Conduct come into effect. A quick reference tool and other step-by-step resources are available to assist lawyers and paralegals in complying with the amended rules.

More information

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A Woolley: Tweeter or Twitter? Teaching a Federation Approved Legal Ethics Course

Posted to SLAW September 24, 2014

This summer I again provided the Federation of Law Societies with the syllabus for my legal ethics course. The Federation requested the syllabus for, presumably, the purpose of verifying that the University of Calgary’s course complies with the Ethics and Professionalism Competency as set out in Table B of the Federation’s Implementation Report for the Approved Law Degree. As it did the past two summers fulfilling the Federation’s request left me feeling both uneasy and uncertain.

Uncertain because I am not sure what the Federation wants to do with the syllabus. Are they simply ascertaining that it is a stand-alone course on professional responsibility? Is this just something to let them demonstrate that they really are reviewing those programs they approve? Or are they going to review it more substantively to see if it addresses the broad variety of topics set out in Table B (noted below, and here)? Will they tell me if they do not think I am teaching the right topics? Will they go beyond the syllabus to see what I am actually teaching in various areas? And – ultimately – is the status of our degree as approved at stake as a result of what my syllabus contains? How much freedom do I still have?

MORE

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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 Special Issue: GENDER, CARE, LAW AND THE PROFESSION

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

CONTENT

EDITORIAL

Free to view – please click here

ARTICLES

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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