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Monday, January 10, 2011

TORONTO LAWYER FACES ASSAULT CHARGE

The Toronto lawyer involved in a copyright dispute with the Aga Khan has been charged with assault with a weapon following an incident at a Markham, Ont., mosque.

According to Sgt. Gary Phillips of the York Regional Police, Alnaz Jiwa was arrested following an altercation with another worshipper at the mosque.

He’s scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 28.

The Aga Khan accused Jiwa and Nagib Tajdin, a Canadian based in Kenya, of infringing his copyright by selling copies of his religious teachings to fellow Ismailis.

A Federal Court judge recently reserved judgment on motions for summary judgment brought by both sides in the case after a personal meeting between the defendants and the Aga Khan failed to resolve the matter.

For more on this issue, see "Toronto lawyer, Aga Khan call truce."

TWO BENCHERS NAMED TO ORDER

Two benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada are among 54 new appointments to the Order of Canada.

Lawyer and activist Paul Copeland was named a member of the order for “his contributions as an advocate for human rights and social justice.”

The practising criminal lawyer co-founded the Law Union of Ontario and was once co-president of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.

Beth Symes was also named a member of the order “for her contributions as a champion of women’s rights in the legal profession.”

She was a founding member of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and served on its national legal committee.

Symes practises administrative law and civil litigation in the areas of equality rights, professional regulation, labour and employment law, and human rights with her firm Symes & Street.

BENNETT JONES HONOURED AGAIN

The intranet at Bennett Jones LLP has been honoured for the second time in two months.

BenNet was named one of the 10 best intranets in a survey by Silicon Valley-based consultants Nielsen Norman Group as part of the international Intranet Design Annual 2011. It’s the first time a law firm has received the award.

“We’re very proud to receive this prestigious award,” said Hugh MacKinnon, chairman and CEO of Bennett Jones. “It recognizes the commitment at Bennett Jones to continually enhance our ability to provide the highest level of service to our clients in the most timely and efficient manner.”

The win follows November’s platinum award for BenNet in the 2010 Intranet Innovation Awards.

Judges at Nielsen Norman reviewed hundreds of submissions from eight different countries but praised BenNet for its “smart, thoughtful design.”

“The Bennett Jones intranet team built not only a new intranet but also a mission critical knowledge-management work tool,” said Jakob Nielsen, principal of Nielsen Norman.

HRTO DECISION CHALLENGED

The Peel Law Association will seek judicial review of a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruling last month that found it discriminated against Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters and two black colleagues during an incident in 2008.

Adjudicator Eric Whist found race was a factor when Melissa Firth, a librarian/administrator for the association, asked Pieters, fellow lawyer Brian Noble, and Pieters’ articling student Paul Waldron to identify themselves in the lawyers’ lounge at the Brampton, Ont., courthouse.

Association president Frances Wood tells Law Times it has instructed counsel to ask for a judicial review of the decision.

The association operates the lounge that’s open only to lawyers and law students. All three men were wearing business suits, according to the decision.

The association argued it regularly checks the identities of people in the lounge, but Whist found Firth’s account of the incident was “not credible.”

“The way in which she interacted with the applicants was tainted by consideration of their race and colour,” he wrote.

BLG LANDS JEFF BARNES

Jeff Barnes has joined Borden Ladner Gervais LLP as a partner after leaving Heenan Blaikie LLP.

The mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer, who has acted for many of North America’s major investment banks and multinational corporations, will join the firm’s Toronto office.

“Jeff is a builder who is joining a strong team and will make it even stronger,” said Sean Weir, BLG’s managing partner.

Barnes frequently lectures on securities, governance crisis management, and law firm management and is a past member of the securities advisory committee to the Ontario Securities Commission.

“I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues at BLG,” Barnes said. “I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with many good people and I’m happy to be able to add my experience and knowledge to a firm I have always admired, and to help build on an excellent practice.

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