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Monday, Feb. 1, 2010

LAWYER DISBARRED FOLLOWING DRUG CONVICTIONS

A Toronto lawyer has been disbarred after he was convicted of a number of drug offences.

The Law Society of Upper Canada revoked the licence of Raymond Wai-Ming Li last month following a disciplinary hearing in which the LSUC rendered a finding of professional misconduct.

In 2004, Li was convicted of trafficking heroin, hash, and marijuana.

According to the law society ruling, Li smuggled drugs to an inmate at the Don Jail, an element the trial judge treated as aggravating.

The judge also ruled that Li used his position of trust as a lawyer to facilitate the crime.

For his crimes, Li was sentenced to four years, 12 months, and six months to be served concurrently.

He was released in October 2008 after serving about eight months in prison.

Rather than have his licence revoked, Li’s counsel submitted the lawyer should be allowed to resign. The panel rejected that argument.

FIRMS CAUTIOUS ABOUT HIRING, SURVEY SAYS

Amid indicators of economic recovery, law firms remain cautious about adding new staff, according to research by Robert Half Legal.

When they do make new hires, firms are focusing more on bolstering expertise in hot practice areas, the study said.

“Improving service levels and hiring associates with in-demand experience are primary concerns for law firms looking to retain existing clients and grow revenue,” said Robert Half’s division director Jon Veale.

“To control spending, many corporate legal departments are also hiring staff with specialized skills to do the work in-house instead of relying on outside counsel.”

Practice areas facing the highest demand include litigation, regulatory and compliance, energy and environmental law, restructuring and insolvency, health care, and corporate transactional.

FREIMAN JOINS LERNERS

Mark Freiman is joining Lerners LLP’s commercial litigation group after acting on a number of public inquiries and royal commissions.

Freiman was lead counsel for the commission of inquiry into the investigation of the bombing of Air India flight 182.

He has also argued before human rights tribunals and the European Court of Human Rights.

From 2000 to 2004, Freiman served as deputy attorney general for Ontario.

He is also national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Freiman brings to the new post expertise in appeals, defamation, commercial disputes, and public law.

CBA REVISES CODE OF CONDUCT

The Canadian Bar Association released a revised code of professional conduct last week.

The new code contains revisions in two areas: conflicts of interest and clients’ language rights.

“Standards of professional ethics form the backdrop for everything lawyers do,” said CBA president Kevin Carroll. “In adhering to codes of conduct, we uphold the long-standing values of our profession and ensure protection of the public.

The revised code makes an important contribution to the delivery of competent legal services according to the highest ethical traditions of our profession.”

The code is available online at cba.org/CBA/activities/pdf/codeofconduct.pdf.

JUDGES CAN SIT PAST 75, COURT RULES

Mandatory retirement doesn’t apply to former judges who continue to work occasionally past age 75, the Federal Court ruled last week.

The decision comes after Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati issued a notice of motion last year on behalf of his client, Luis Felipa, for a declaration that such judges are not statutorily or constitutionally permitted to sit on the bench.

Galati argued the practice of approving them constituted “a breach of the applicant’s constitutional rights to rule of law, constitutionalism, and federalism; embarrassingly invites and brings the administration of justice into disrepute by tainting and breaching the applicant’s right(s) to a fair and independent judiciary.”

The challenge raised concerns about potential challenges of rulings by deputy judges who have continued to sit beyond retirement at 75. It centred on the jurisdiction of deputy judge Louis Tannenbaum, 77, to hear Felipa’s immigration matter.

In his decision last week, Federal Court Chief Justice Allan Lutfy said the practice is legal. “Simply put, deputy judges do not hold office as judges of the Federal Court and cannot, therefore, cease to hold an office to which they have not been appointed,” he wrote.

For more on this issue, see “When judges never retired.

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