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Monday, January 12, 2009

NETWORKING KEY, SAYS SURVEY

A new survey suggests legal support professionals looking for a job can get by with a little help from their friends.

"Many attorneys are asking their professional or personal contacts to recommend highly skilled candidates who can support growing practice areas such as bankruptcy and litigation or staff large projects," said Robert Half Legal executive director Charles Volkert.

"As the job market becomes more competitive, it is crucial for paralegals and legal secretaries to hone their networking skills."

The legal staffing service developed the survey, which was conducted by an independent research firm and draws on responses from 300 lawyers in the U.S. and Canada. More than half of those queried - 51 per cent - said networking, personal, or peer referrals are the best way to acquire support staff.

The second-highest response, at 21 per cent, was seeking the expertise of a staffing or placement firm.

Rounding out the responses were college/technical school recruiting programs (12 per cent), internet/job boards (eight per cent), and classified advertisements (four per cent).

KERGIN LANDS AT BENNETT JONES

Canada''s former ambassador to the United States has been lured to one of the country''s top business law firms.

Bennett Jones LLP last week announced that Michael Kergin, who served as ambassador from 2000 to 2005, would join the firm as a senior adviseor.

"We are delighted to have Michael Kergin join the firm," said firm chairman and CEO Hugh MacKinnon. "His experience and understanding of public policy, foreign affairs issues, and Canada-U.S. border relations will be a tremendous asset to our clients and our new public policy group."

Kergin will join David Dodge, Eddie Goldenberg, Sheridan Scott, and John Jessup in the firms Ottawa office, which is set to officially open in a new office near Parliament Hill early this year.

After leaving the U.S. embassy, Kergin served as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's special adviseor on border issues, and later became negotiator for Ontario in the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S.

OTTAWA FIRM GOES GLOBAL

The addition of former White & Case LLP lawyer Andrew de Lotbinièere McDougall has prompted Ottawa firm Perley-Robertson Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. to launch an international arbitration group.

McDougall, an Ottawa native, previously spent nine years in Paris with White & Case.

"Our clients require solutions to problems that extend beyond borders," said Perley-Robertson senior partner Aaron Rubinoff. "The knowledge and expertise that Andrew brings to the firm enables us to better serve our clients whose business affairs are global in nature and contributes to attracting more international business to the firm."

The firm said McDougall acts as both counsel and arbitrator, and has acted on matters involving several billions of dollars throughout the globe.

He has dealt with cross-border disputes on issues such as joint ventures, oil and gas, construction, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, telecommunications, defence, power, mining, and other natural resources, said the firm.

"I look forward to continuing my practice based in Ottawa and to building an international arbitration group at the firm," said McDougall. "I believe that my experience will benefit the firm and its clients."

PROTESTING THE BILLABLE HOUR

Evan R. Chesler, a presiding partner at U.S. firm Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP, offers an insightful argument for the death of the billable hour in Forbes magazine.

The thrust of his concise argument is summed up in the following paragraph: "The billable hour makes no sense, not even for lawyers. If you are successful and win a case early on, you put yourself out of work.

If you get bogged down in a land war in Asia, you make more money. That is frankly nuts."

Read the full piece at www.forbes.com/opinions/forbes/2009/0112/026.html.

BOROVOY HONOURED BY LAW FOUNDATION

Toronto's Alan Borovoy will receive this year's Guthrie Award Medal, getting the nod from the LFO for his stellar contributions to society and the legal profession at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"Throughout Mr. Borovoy's illustrious 40-year career with CCLA, he has been an advocate for the rights and freedoms of people who might otherwise be denied them and has devoted extraordinary amounts of time and energy to enabling ordinary citizens to engage with justice issues," said the Law Foundation of Ontario in announcing the award.

The award, created in 1996 and in honour of former LFO chairman Donald Guthrie, "is bestowed upon individuals or organizations that demonstrate outstanding public service, make significant contributions to access to justice, and symbolize excellence in the legal profession," according to LFO.

Borovoy, who recently announced his impending departure from the CCLA, will receive the award Jan. 15 following a 5:30 p.m. reception at the University of Toronto's Hart House Grill.

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