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Monday, March 19, 2012

LEGAL HIRING TO INCREASE: SURVEY

Nearly two in five lawyers plan to hire full-time legal staff during the second quarter of 2012, a quarterly Robert Half Legal survey shows.

That translates to a 37-per-cent net increase in hiring activity compared to the first quarter of this year.

The most in-demand positions were lawyers, legal secretaries, and law clerks.

Of the lawyers interviewed for the survey, half of them expect no change in staff levels over the next three months, while one per cent of them anticipate reductions.

More than three in four lawyers also said it was a challenge to find skilled legal professionals.

“Hiring is expected to remain active this quarter with many law firms adding full-time positions to pursue business development opportunities and bolster growth,” said John Ohnjec, division director of Robert Half Legal in Canada.

SUSPENDED LAWYER WANTED IN PONZI CASE

The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking a suspended Ontario lawyer in connection to an alleged multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted William Wise last month along with Jacquline Hoegel, 55, for conspiracy and mail and wire fraud following allegations the pair had operated an extensive Ponzi scheme in the United States and Canada, the Toronto Star reported.

U.S. authorities allege that Wise, 62, and Hoegel marketed and sold more than $126.5 million in fraudulent certificates of deposit to nearly 1,200 people in Canada and the United States, according to the Star. None of the allegations have been proven.

According to an agreed statement of facts filed with the Law Society of Upper Canada in November 2007, Wise hasn’t been in Canada since 2006 and currently lives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Wise has also been known to work in Raleigh, S.C., where he operated a bank he allegedly used to defraud investors.

The law society received a complaint from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in 2006 that alleged that Wise’s financial group was fictitious or unlicensed. The LSUC conducted an investigation into Wise shortly thereafter.

During the investigation, the law society requested several documents and records linked to Wise’s financial group. But according to the agreed statement of facts, Wise refused to produce the records.

Wise argued that because he was no longer practising law, held no money in trust, wasn’t properly advised of the allegations against him, and had no trust accounts, the law society’s requests were irrelevant to the allegations against him and he couldn’t reasonably produce the documents. He also denied any wrongdoing.

“Continuing your investigation in the face of Mr. Wise’s clear denials of wrongdoing will put him in the impossible position of having to submit to an open-ended investigation based on vague allegations to preserve his membership in the law society while at the same time being entitled to preserve his rights in the face of a threat of criminal prosecution,” Wise argued.

The law society suspended Wise in July 2008 for a period of one month and indefinitely thereafter until he co-operated with its investigation. That suspension is still in effect.

Wise argued he had provided materials within his control, had answered the law society’s request for documents to the best of his knowledge, would submit to written interrogation, and had co-operated with the investigation.

Wise unsuccessfully appealed the LSUC suspension in 2009.

A year later, the law society also issued an interlocutory suspension against Wise after it found there was reasonable suspicion to believe he was a risk to the public.

“In 2010, after additional information came to our attention, in particular with respect to the proceedings initiated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the law society sought and obtained an interlocutory suspension to protect the public,” says LSUC spokeswoman Susan Tonkin.

Wise is currently at large with a warrant out for his arrest. Hoegel, meanwhile, has pleaded not guilty and is out on a bond.

NEW PARTNERS AT NORTON ROSE

Norton Rose Canada has appointed four new partners at its Toronto office.

Kevin Ackhurst practises in the areas of antitrust, competition, regulatory law, business ethics, and anti-corruption.  

Suzana Lobo, meanwhile, handles asset-based lending, corporate and commercial matters, and debt financing.

Marc Kestenberg works in the areas of administrative and public law; arbitration and alternative dispute resolution; business ethics and anti-corruption; class actions; litigation; and product liability.

In addition, Jennifer Teskey focuses on administrative and public law, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution; class actions; energy; litigation; and product liability.

In Ottawa, Wayne Yan becomes counsel in the areas of intellectual property law, mining and resources, and patents.

“It’s exciting to welcome our new partners to Norton Rose Canada. They add depth to many of our key practice areas and demonstrate our new reach as a truly global law firm in Canada,” said John Coleman, managing partner of Norton Rose Canada.

“They are leaders who will continue to help our clients grow domestically and around the world through our commitment to client service excellence. We are very proud to welcome them to the partnership.”

Besides the Ontario appointments, the firm also named four new partners in Calgary; one in Caracas; and two in Montreal.

OLDER CANADIANS FEEL SAFE: STATSCAN REPORT

Statistics Canada has released a study that looks at the number of older Canadians victimized by crimes in 2009.

The study found two per cent of people aged 55 or older were the victim of a violent crime in 2009. The study also found older Canadians reported the lowest rate of violent victimization. They reported at about one-tenth the rate of those aged 15 to 24.

Older Canadians often experienced the same type of victimization as their younger counterparts but reported the incidents more often to police, the report noted.

The rate of household victimization for older Canadians was also less than half of the rate reported by younger households. At the same time, theft of household property was the most common type of non-violent crime reported by both younger and older Canadians.

Still, the study found 91 per cent of older Canadians said they felt satisfied with their personal safety from crime. That rate fell to 83 per cent among older Canadians who had been a victim of violent crime during the past year.

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