Ethical Principles for Judges: Draft Released for Comment

The Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) has posted a draft of the revised Ethical Principles for Judges.  Information about the process of revising this important document is available here and the draft itself is available here.  The changes are sufficiently substantial that a blackline or mark-up drawing attention to the specific changes is not available.

CALE/ACEJ, through its Board of Directors, will provide feedback on the draft to the CJC by its new deadline (updated December 3, 2019) of February 14, 2020.  It will post this feedback on this website.

The revision of Ethical Principles for Judges is a generational event.  It is therefore important for the process to be as inclusive and responsive as possible to ensure continued public confidence in the Canadian judiciary.  CALE/ACEJ encourages anyone interested in judicial ethics and conduct to review the draft and to provide feedback to the CJC, either at info@cjc-ccm.ca or Canadian Judicial Council, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0W8.  If you provide feedback, you are most welcome to also share it with CALE/ACEJ.

 

Recap: 2019 Conference

CALE/ACEJ held its annual conference at the University of Windsor on October 24-26, 2019. Conference coordinator Professor Jasminka Kalajdzic and her team did a wonderful job hosting the conference in the university’s modern facilities in downtown Windsor.

The conference (detailed schedule here) featured three research panels and one on each of teaching and professional regulation. It also featured a keynote address by Professor Rebecca Roiphe of New York Law School on prosecutorial independence in the United States, examining the degree to which it has been eroded during the Trump administration.

The research panels covered a wide range of topics. Several presentations addressed access to justice and proposed possible initiatives. There was a focus on legal ethics and government lawyers, including discussion of the Edgar Schmidt and SNC-Lavalin cases. Other topics included the regulation of lawyer advertising, comparative approaches to judicial discipline, concerns about independence for in-house counsel, and the tension between what is legal and what is moral in regulating legal ethics. Over half of the presentations were by graduate students or new members of the legal academy, which is a testament to the emergence of new scholarly voices in the field.

The teaching panel discussed several interesting topics including how simulated clients (people trained to play the role) can be used in teaching ethics and the merits of requiring students to create their own podcast about an ethical issue. The panel of legal regulators discussed efforts in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario to develop detailed data about sexual harassment within the profession and steps that can be taken to address the problem.

In conjunction with the conference, CALE/ACEJ held its annual meeting of members and announced the winners of its annual awards. For details see the blog posts on those specific topics.

Annual Meeting 2019

On October 26, 2019, CALE/ACEJ held its annual meeting of members as part of its conference at the University of Windsor. In her report to the members, President Amy Salyzyn highlighted the association’s formal name change to a bilingual name, the revived process for the two annual awards, and CALE/ACEJ’s role thus far in the Canadian Judicial Council’s efforts to create a new version of Ethical Principles for Judges.

Treasurer Jula Hughes reported that the financial position was unchanged from the prior year and that CALE/ACEJ is current with all corporate and tax filings.

Elected as directors of CALE/ACEJ for 2019-20 were Basil Alexander, Brent Cotter, Richard Devlin, Jula Hughes, Andrew Flavelle Martin, Pooja Parmar,  Stephen Pitel, Marie-Claude Rigaud, Alain Roussy, Amy Salyzyn and Noel Semple. 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 Frances Chapman. Members thanked departing director Elaine Craig for her service.

Lakehead University has agreed to host the 2020 CALE/ACEJ conference.  The plan for 2021 is to hold the conference in western Canada.

The members warmly thanked the University of Windsor and conference coordinator Jasminka Kalajdzic for hosting this year’s conference.

New Scholarship: Full Disclosure: Family Violence and Legal Ethics

CALE member Deanne Sowter has a new article up on SSRN. Abstract is below:

Abstract

Family violence creates ethical challenges for all family law lawyers, but it creates unique challenges for collaborative lawyers. Two of the tenets of collaborative practice are good faith and transparency. Two of the fundamental professional duties for lawyers are the duty of loyalty and the near-absolute obligation to keep client confidences. These ideas are at odds with each other, and the impact is problematic where there is family violence. This paper looks at the duties of loyalty and confidentiality, the contractual obligation in collaborative practice of full disclosure, and the presence of family violence. It looks specifically at the ethical challenges that arise when disclosing information pursuant to the collaborative practice participation agreement that create risk of harm for a spouse when there is family violence. Collaborative practice is still in its infancy in Canada, and without regulation, the options lawyers have when there are ethical challenges due to family violence are not conducive to meeting client interests, including promoting safety. Ultimately, this paper presents a solution in the form of collaborative practice legislation, amendments to the Model Code, and practice guidelines. The focus of the paper is collaborative practice, but some of this discussion is relevant to non-CP family lawyers as well, so where possible the recommendations are broad enough to include all family law lawyers.

Call for Papers: ILEC 2020

The next International Legal Ethics Conference will be held July 23-25, 2020 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  This major legal ethics conference is held every two years.  Recent previous conferences include Melbourne (2018), Fordham (2016) and City University London (2014).

The organizers have now issued a call for proposals (available here), which includes both papers and other kinds of presentation such as panel discussions.  Proposals are due by January 31, 2020.  The theme is “Lawyers in Divided Times”.

It would be great to see a strong Canadian contingent in California next summer.