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Monday, August 13, 2012

NEW JUDGE APPOINTED
Melanie Dunn has joined the Ontario Court of Justice bench in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Dunn was called to the bar in 2000 and has served as past regional director for the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.
Most recently, Dunn had been a sole practitioner in association with Sault Ste. Marie law firm Dunn Tremblay-Hall.
Dunn will take the position on Aug. 15.

PARALEGAL REVIEW ANNOUNCED
D.J. Morris & Associates Ltd. managing director David Morris will examine paralegal regulation in Ontario as part of the next phase of the province’s five-year review.
Morris, a professional writer, will review the current status of paralegal regulation in Ontario, analyze feedback from the public and stakeholders, and make suggestions for ways to improve paralegal regulation. Morris will also consider the Law Society of Upper Canada’s recent five-year report on paralegal regulation.
The law society’s report found paralegal regulation was effective and beneficial to the public. However, it noted some concerns from paralegal students who felt their education and training should be more rigorous. Some paralegals also argued they should be able to provide a greater range of services, the report found.
The government amended the Law Society Act in 2006 to provide for paralegal regulation in Ontario. Full paralegal regulation began in May 2007.
The legislation calls for several reviews of paralegal regulation in Ontario. It also requires the appointment of a person who’s not a lawyer or a paralegal to review paralegal regulation.
Morris is expected to provide his report to the Ministry of the Attorney General on Nov. 1.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest online Law Times poll are in.
Almost 79 per cent of respondents said outsourcing mediating will fix the case backlog at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.
The results come as the Ontario Court of Appeal considers a number of cases stemming from the backlog. Some observers have cited outsourcing as a possible solution to it.

LEGAL CLIENTS PUSHING TECHNOLOGY: SURVEY
Clients may be the main catalyst pushing lawyers to adopt the use of technology, according to a new report that predicts big spending on information technology by law firms and corporate departments over the next two years.
The study from Robert Half Legal, “Technology's transformation of the legal field,” looks at how emerging technologies are affecting management strategies at law firms and corporate legal departments and changing the delivery of legal services. The report is part of Robert Half Legal’s 12th annual Future Law Office project.
“Certainly, in the last two or three years, there’s been close to an explosion in terms of what firms and companies are doing. Whereas two or three years ago it might have been a pipe dream, it’s now being implemented,” said John Ohnjec, division director of Robert Half Legal.
As clients in large companies use enterprise hardware and software tools to better manage their own businesses, law firms are feeling the pressure to keep up and they’re seeing the economic benefit as they do so.
“There’s certainly a recognition of how this can be very cost-effective for a firm. Sometimes, the corporations firms are working with may be more advanced as a whole in their operations, and all of a sudden it has leached into the legal field and firms realize they have to keep up to date and service their technology-savvy corporations,” said Ohnjec.
The report also shows that while there will be an investment in information technology, it might result in a reduction in staff as firms and corporate departments will be able to minimize employee numbers through advances in technology. Law firm office size is already shrinking with mobile devices and wireless networks enabling lawyers to work remotely from any location.
Technology is also levelling the playing field. With firms of all sizes using similar services and tools, small firms and sole practitioners are able to establish a bigger presence online and, in some cases, better compete with larger firms.
“Technology has also allowed some smaller- and mid-size firms to catch up,” said Ohnjec. “Some smaller shops that are technologically advanced can take on work that in the past they may not have been able to due to volume. Not only is using an iPad or BlackBerry fun, but it’s far more reaching and can have results on the bottom line which obviously everyone is most concerned with.”

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Lawyers have expressed concerns that of 38 justices of the peace the province appointed this summer, only 12 have law degrees. Do you think this is an issue?
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