Recent Legal Ethics Columns on Slaw.ca

In December and January, four legal ethics columns were posted on Slaw.ca that may be of interest to website readers:

  1. Why Do We Regulate Lawyers? by Brooke MacKenzie (January 14, 2021): Exploring the fundamental purposes of lawyer regulation and “suggest[ing] that both regulators and their critics sometimes lose sight of the “why” of lawyer regulation when caught up in the details of how to regulate legal services and their providers”
  2. Is It Time to Regulate Collaborate Practice? by Deanne Sowter (January 6, 2021): Considering whether collaborative practice in family law should be regulated.
  3. A Taxonomy for Lawyer Technological Competence by Amy Salyzyn (December 18, 2020): Outlining a six part taxonomy for thinking about technologically competent lawyering.
  4. If You See Something, Say Nothing: Why Lawyers Don’t Report to the Law Society by Noel Semple (December 2, 2020): Exploring why lawyers do not report misconduct and canvassing possible solutions.

New Book on Comparative Judicial Discipline Published

Co-editors Richard Devlin and Sheila Wildeman, both of the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, have published the first comprehensive comparative analysis of judicial discipline. Disciplining Judges: Contemporary Challenges and Controversies is now available from Edward Elgar Publishing.

From the publisher’s site (here): “The jurisdictions examined are Australia, Canada, China, Croatia, England and Wales, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, and the United States. The core findings are four-fold. First, the norms and practices of each discipline regime differ in ways that reflect distinct social, political, and cultural contexts. Second, some jurisdictions are doing better than others in responding to challenges of designing a nuanced and normatively defensible regime. Third, no jurisdiction has yet managed to construct a regime that can be said to adequately promote public confidence. Finally, important lessons can be learned through analysis of, and critically constructive engagement with, other jurisdictions.”

Judicial ethics has become an important area of concentration within the field of legal ethics. CALE/ACEJ in its institutional capacity and several of its members are active in that area. The links between judicial ethics and judicial discipline make this book a valuable contribution to the ongoing scholarship about judicial ethics.

Malcolm Mercer becomes new Chair of Ontario’s Law Society Tribunal

CALE/ACEJ is pleased to report that Malcolm Mercer, a long-time member and supporter of CALE/ACEJ and a former Treasurer of the Law Society of Ontario, has been appointed Chair of the Law Society Tribunal. Malcolm’s background and experience make him an ideal fit for this role. He replaces David Wright, the first full-time Chair of the Tribunal, who held the position since 2013.

The Law Society Tribunal is an independent adjudicative tribunal within the Law Society of Ontario. The Tribunal processes, hears and decides regulatory cases about Ontario lawyers and paralegals in a manner that is fair, just and in the public interest. It is divided into a Hearing Division and an Appeal Division.

The notice from the Law Society of Ontario is available here.

2020 CALE/ACEJ Awards

At the 2020 CALE/ACEJ annual conference, we presented our annual awards.

The first award presented was the CALE/ACEJ Best Paper Award for an outstanding paper written by an emerging scholar in the field of legal ethics. Papers submitted for this award are assessed based on their originality, the thoroughness of their research and analysis, and the extent to which they advance thinking on topics of importance in the field, nationally or internationally.

We are pleased to announce that Deanne Sowter was this year’s award recipient for her paper “The Future Harm Exception: Coercive Control as Serious Psychological Harm and the Challenge for Lawyers’ Ethics” This research for this paper was supported by the 2019/20 OBA Foundation Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowship in Legal Ethics and Professionalism Studies. The question that Deanne asks in this paper is whether a lawyer can use the future harm exception to prevent her client from coercively controlling his former spouse. Congratulations to Deanne!

The second award presented was the CALE/ACEJ Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is meant to recognize sustained accomplishments in the field of legal ethics and professionalism by a member of CALE/ACEJ.

We are pleased to announce that the winner of this award is Richard Devlin. Richard Devlin was one of the founders of CALE/ACEJ. He co-hosted the very first CALE/ACEJ conference at Dalhousie University in 2006 along with Jocelyn Downie, which was attended by about 15 people. CALE/ACEJ was officially created four years later, and the first official meeting was held at ILEC IV in Banff in 2012. Richard served as the founding President of CALE/ACEJ (2011-2015) and he is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors (2015-Present). In short, throughout CALE/ACEJ’s lifetime Richard has been involved in a leadership capacity.

His contributions to teaching and scholarship in the area of legal ethics have been and continue to be profound. Richard is a regular speaker on issues related to legal ethics, with a particular emphasis on judicial ethics, and he has published over 100 papers, chapters, and essays since 1985.

As one of the letters in submitted in support of Richard’s award stated:

“I genuinely believe that Richard deserves the Lifetime Achievement Award for not just sustained accomplishments but rather for sustained, extraordinary, catalytic, and transformative accomplishments in the field of legal ethics and professionalism”

Those who nominated Richard for the award also emphasized the time and care he has taken to mentor junior members of the legal ethics academic community. His nominators wrote:

“As a matter of common practice, Richard takes the time to reach out and support members of the community when they face difficult challenges within the academy, and when they need to make difficult decisions. He is always there. He also takes the time to read our work and provide thoughtful feedback, even when the world is quite literally upside down and he has an otherwise onerous list of things on his plate.”

So many of us have benefited from Richard’s mentorship and collegiality. Congratulations, Richard!

Recap: Annual Conference 2020

On October 23, 2020, CALE/ACEJ held its annual conference, the intellectual and social high-water mark of its annual activities. The conference was held virtually and was supported by the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. Heartfelt thanks are due to its Acting Dean Richard Devlin and Zoom Coordinator Conor Falvey for their efforts, without which the conference could not have happened as it did.

The conference featured presentations in three areas: teaching, regulation and research. A complete listing of all presentations is on the CALE/ACEJ website under the Annual Conference tab.

The teaching panel focused heavily on issues relating to teaching legal ethics online. One of the themes in the discussions was which recent short-term developments would continue to be used even after the end of the pandemic. This generated considerable (and heated) debate. Another related topic was whether the current requirement that the JD program be primarily taught in person rather than online is defensible as a matter of pedagogy or access to education.

The regulation panel considered the implications of the pandemic on the regulation of the legal profession. All presenters noted the significant demands the pandemic has placed on the need to improve access to technology and training in how to use it effectively. As with teaching, a major issue was thinking about which changes, made for emergency reasons and often in a very short period of time, will be retained for the future.

The research panels ranged widely over the landscape of legal ethics. Several presentations examined lawyers and the use of social media. Other topics included improving the ability of lawyers to work with and serve trans clients, how to regulate electronic legal services provided directly to members of the public, recent developments in the law on lawyers’ undertakings and on the obligation of advocates to raise adverse authority, and how to respond to the increasing use of analytics to predict judicial decisions (“Moneyball” for judging).

Many conference participants were struck by how much exchange and debate the presentations produced. The chat function in Zoom played a major role, allowing relevant commentary and information to supplement the oral presentation in real time and keeping people very engaged. While regular attendees certainly missed seeing each other in person, the virtual format did allow several people to attend who otherwise would not have done so.

CALE/ACEJ very much looks forward to the 2021 annual conference, to be hosted at Lakehead University. Here’s hoping we will be able to be there in person.

Annual Meeting 2020

On October 22, 2020, CALE/ACEJ held its annual meeting of members as an online Zoom meeting. President Amy Salyzyn highlighted CALE/ACEJ’s active role in providing feedback to both the Canadian Judicial Council (for its efforts to create a new version of Ethical Principles for Judges) and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (for its ongoing revisions to aspects of the Model Code). She also noted that a priority for 2020-21 would be to review and confirm the composition of CALE/ACEJ’s membership.

Treasurer Basil Alexander reported that the financial position was not materially changed from the prior year and that CALE/ACEJ is current with its corporate and tax filings.

Elected as directors of CALE/ACEJ for 2020-21 were Basil Alexander, Brent Cotter, Richard Devlin, Jula Hughes, Sonia Lawrence, Andrew Flavelle Martin, Pooja Parmar, Stephen Pitel, Marie-Claude Rigaud, Alain Roussy and Amy Salyzyn. At a subsequent meeting of those directors, the following officers were appointed: Chair of the Board Richard Devlin, President Amy Salyzyn, Vice-President Stephen Pitel, Corporate Secretary and Treasurer Basil Alexander, Chief Information Officer Amy Salyzyn and Conference Coordinator Jula Hughes. Members thanked departing director Noel Semple for his service.

In discussion, some members indicated a desire to consider whether it would be appropriate for non-academic members to serve as directors of CALE/ACEJ. The consensus was that this issue should be discussed in the spring of 2021 and in any event in advance of the 2021 Annual Meeting.

Lakehead University has agreed to host the 2021 CALE/ACEJ conference. The plan for 2022 is to hold the conference in western Canada.

Update on 2020 CALE/ACEJ Annual Conference: We are moving to virtual format!

The Board of CALE/ACEJ has made the decision to move the Annual Conference that was scheduled to be hosted by the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, October 22-24, 2020 to a one-day virtual conference to take place Friday October 23, 2020.

Later this summer, we will circulate more information about registration and the platform that we will be using. Registration is not currently available.

Please also note that the original deadline for calls for research and teaching presentations was June 15, 2020, but we are now extending the deadline to June 30, 2020. Further details on the call for presentations and who to contact can be found here: https://ethicsincanada.com/2020/04/05/cale-2020-conference-call-for-presentation-proposals/.