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Monday, June 17, 2013

JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has appointed two lawyers to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice bench.

Wendy Matheson, a lawyer with Torys LLP and a bencher at the Law Society of Upper Canada, is replacing Justice Frank Marrocco, who becomes associate chief justice of the Superior Court. Matheson was also an adjunct professor and lead instructor in intellectual property law at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Ronald Laliberté is also joining the bench in Cornwall, Ont., as Justice D.R. Aston leaves his post to become a supernumerary judge. Laliberté, who served as a Crown attorney, joined the bar in 1988.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper also announced the appointment of Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Alexandra Hoy as associate chief justice of the court.

Hoy joined the Court of Appeal in 2011 after serving as a Superior Court judge since 2002. She replaces justice Dennis O’Connor following his resignation last year.

FILION WAKELY OPENS HAMILTON OFFICE

Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP has opened a new office in Hamilton, Ont.

The firm also announced it’s adding three more lawyers to its legal team. “We’re very pleased to welcome Mark Zega, Jane Gooding, and Kamila Polus to our practice,” said Paul Young, managing partner at the firm.

“The addition of these excellent lawyers and the opening of our Hamilton office will allow us to continue to provide exceptional legal services to new and existing clients in Hamilton and the Niagara region.”

The Hamilton office “complements our Toronto and London offices, making us more accessible to our growing base of clients across Ontario,” Young noted.

NEW PARTNER AT GOWLINGS

Financial services lawyer Jim Shanks is joining Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP as a partner in the Toronto office.

Shanks has “extensive experience” in restructuring, private equity, and acquisitions in both Canadian and international settings, the firm noted.

“Over the years, Jim has built an outstanding reputation as a lawyer who knows how to get deals across the finish line,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings’ chairman and chief executive officer.

“His clients value his pragmatic style, his comprehensive knowledge of the financial services sector, and his strategic insight into the constantly changing market. We’re excited to have him as a member of our financial services industry group — his presence further adds to the strength and depth of our firm-wide team.”

FASKENS BOOSTS HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICE

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP is boosting its occupational health and safety practice with six new lawyers.

Norm Keith, Deanah Shelly, Cathy Chandler, Carla Oliver, Susan Carter, and Cassandra Patrick are the newest members of the firm’s team. Keith will be joining the firm as a partner.

“We are delighted to welcome Norm and team to our firm,” said Martin Denyes, regional managing partner for Ontario.

“Norm is recognized as one of the country’s leading OHS lawyers and his joining our firm dramatically increases our capabilities in this area and will add tremendous value for our clients.”

POLL RESULTS

The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, more than 50 per cent of participants thought the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario was wrong to order the Town of Penetanguishene to stop opening council meetings with a non-denominational prayer.

Of all respondents, 52 per cent said the tribunal got it wrong while the rest agreed with the ruling.

Penetanguishene, Ont., resident Henry Freitag succeeded in having the prayer stopped after he complained the practice exposed him as a non-believer and made him feel like an outcast.    

GROIA SEEKING WARDLE'S RECUSAL

Toronto lawyer Joe Groia is seeking to have Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher Peter Wardle removed from the panel hearing his appeal over an alleged bias related to Wardle’s firm’s actions on behalf of the Ontario Securities Commission and the LSUC.

“There is a reasonable apprehension of bias arising from the fact that partners and associates at Mr. Wardle’s firm, Wardle Daley Bernstein LLP, regularly represent the Ontario Securities Commission as prosecutors and are closely involved in proceedings at the OSC and that Wardle LLP also regularly represents the Law Society of Upper Canada as prosecutors in discipline proceedings,” wrote Groia’s counsel, Earl Cherniak, in a June 5 notice of motion.

Groia is gearing up for his appeal of professional misconduct findings against him last year in relation to his courtroom tactics on behalf of John Felderhof on criminal charges stemming from the Bre-X Minerals Ltd. fiasco.

The LSUC has been taking Groia to task for courtroom incivility as he aggressively challenged OSC prosecutors during his defence of Felderhof.

A hearing panel recently suspended Groia for two months and ordered him to pay costs of $246,960. But Groia is appealing both the merits decision and the penalty with a hearing scheduled for Sept. 9 and 10. The penalty is on hold pending the appeal, and Wardle is one of five LSUC benchers assigned to hear the matter.

In his notice, Groia suggests the LSUC’s “prosecution of the lawyer has been and remains of continued interest to the OSC.”

The notice then notes Wardle Daley Bernstein’s work as outside counsel for the OSC, including prosecuting cases on its behalf. In addition, an associate at Wardle’s firm reportedly assisted with the Bre-X prosecution, according to the notice of motion.

“Given these circumstances, there can be no doubt that Wardle LLP and its partners and associates have a great deal of knowledge about the parties involved in the proceedings and an ongoing interest in the litigation and the result,” wrote Cherniak.

“Whatever Mr. Wardle’s own involvement may have been, a reasonable person properly informed would conclude that his firm’s connection to its client, the OSC, is deep, current, and multilayered.

As the Wardle LLP firm owes duties of loyalty to its client, the OSC, this places Mr. Wardle in a clear and compelling conflict of interest.”

Besides the OSC issue, the notice also raises concerns about Wardle’s firm’s representation of the LSUC at tribunal hearings and in court.

“A reasonable person would be concerned that the firm’s duty of loyalty to both clients could influence Mr. Wardle’s views on this appeal,” wrote Cherniak.

The LSUC has scheduled a hearing on the recusal motion for July 3.

FIRM LAUNCHES HELMET CAMPAIGN

Personal injury law firm McLeish Orlando LLP wants to make sure young cyclists are safe through the Helmet on Kids campaign.

The campaign, launched last week at Blake Street junior public school, donated helmets to 500 students between the ages of five and 14 this year.

“The reality is that too many kids injured in cycling collisions in Toronto are not wearing helmets,” said Patrick Brown, a lawyer at McLeish Orlando LLP and organizer of the Toronto Helmets on Kids campaign.

“Studies show that helmets reduce the severity of head injuries, and it just makes sense to have kids wearing helmets.”

The law firm began the campaign for safer bike rides in 2009. Since then, it has donated more than 1,500 helmets to public school students across Toronto.

“The simple fact is that helmets save lives,” said Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League.

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The Law Society of Upper Canada’s governing body has approved a proposal to create a new licence for paralegals that would train them in some aspects of family law such as form completion, uncontested divorces and motions to change. Do you agree with this move?
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