The latest issue of the Canadian Bar Review is up with lots of great legal ethics content. Link here.
The abstracts of three articles with a particular focus on the legal profession/legal ethics are below.
Can current law society policy-making structures effectively assess and advance the public interest? This article considers whether law societies can fulfill their mandate to regulate in the public interest when benchers make policy decisions in hard cases, using the Canadian law societies’ response to Trinity Western University’s (“TWU”) attempt to open a law school as a case study. In our view, the TWU case highlights the structural obstacles that can impede the law societies’ accomplishment of their public interest mandate. We conclude that current law society decision-making structures create significant challenges and suggest several changes that could enhance the public interest decision-making of the law societies.
Military lawyers—lawyers who are legal officers in the Canadian Forces—are virtually ignored in the Canadian legal literature. This article assesses what appear to be the most striking potential legal ethics issues facing military lawyers. Several of these issues arise because military lawyers are both lawyers and military officers at the same time, and therefore face two sets of obligations that interact in complex ways. Some issues, however, arise because of the special practice contexts of military lawyers, for example, advising military commanders on the law of armed conflict.
As context for this discussion, the article examines the relationship and tension between the Judge Advocate General and the Minister of Justice. It concludes with recommendations for amendments to the rules of professional conduct and the legislation governing the Canadian Forces to resolve these ethical issues. The article also proposes legislative amendments to clarify the relationship, and reduce the tension, between the Judge Advocate General and the Minister of Justice.
This article examines the duties of loyalty that public sector lawyers owe to their government clients and how considerations of legality limit this duty. It focuses on a recent decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Schmidt v Canada involving a senior government lawyer’s court challenge to the legal position of the Minister of Justice (in whose department he was employed) on the Minister’s statutory obligation to report on the inconsistency of government bills with the Charter and the Canadian Bill of Rights.
The article argues that, while loyalty and legality are both critically important elements that shape the role of government lawyers, neither should be pursued at all costs. Loyalty is essential for maintaining the respect and confidence of public officials in the lawyers who advise them. And although their essential role is to support government adherence to law, this role is tempered by the uncertainty inherent in many aspects of law relating to matters of public policy and the role of the courts to resolve these uncertainties. Public sector lawyers must respect and support the choices of the government officials they advise in all but the clearest circumstances of illegality. The threshold for publicly attacking the legality of government decisions is very high, mirroring the standard the Federal Courts have recognized in Schmidt: no credible argument to support legality. Anything less risks eroding the influence public sector lawyers have with the officials they serve, and ultimately eroding the rule of law itself.