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).
Barrett B Schitka, University of Calgary – Faculty of Law; University of Houston Law Center
September 25, 2014 McGill Law Journal, Forthcoming
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
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.
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?
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].
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
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