Criminal lawyers are accusing the province of planning a major overhaul of the legal aid system without sufficiently consulting defence counsel.
In a letter to Legal Aid Ontario and provincial conflict of interest commissioner Justice Sidney Linden, Criminal Lawyers’ Association vice president Norman Boxall complained that “everything imaginable is being undertaken to avoid a simple tariff increase.”
His concerns were echoed in a letter written by Barrie lawyer Thomas Bryson. “The perfunctory nature of our participation suggests that our ‘advisory’ role is more apparent than real.”
Both letters indicate that lawyers haven’t been given the time or information required to meaningfully participate in the legal aid advisory committee for major criminal cases, which is examining alternative payment programs and which is scheduled to hold its final meeting in December.
But LAO president and CEO Bob Ward says his agency is trying to address those concerns. “We’re certainly working very hard to assemble that information under the tight timelines we have,” he says.
The challenge, he adds, is LAO’s goal of making recommendations by December “in order to get the money flowing as per the minister’s anticipation.”
NEW BLOG TARGETS LAWYERS’ RISKS
LawPRO has unveiled a new blog aimed at giving lawyers resources for avoiding malpractice claims.
Launched last week, AvoidAClaim includes information on the common causes of claims and provides tips for Ontario firms on how to reduce their risk.
Most of the content will be produced by Dan Pinnington, director of
practicePRO, a separate site that also focuses on risk management.
LawPRO also operates a Twitter page and a Facebook site for new homebuyers.
The blog can be found at avoidaclaim.com.
SENIOR M&A LAWYER JOINS BAKER & MCKENZIE
Baker & McKenzie LLP in Toronto has added James Rossiter, an experienced mergers-and-acquisitions counsel, to its roster.
Previously, Rossiter was a senior partner with Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP and is well regarded for his work in international mergers and acquisitions, secured lending, and tax transactions.
His previous transactions include the acquisition and financing of National Hockey League teams and arenas, including the Montreal Canadiens and their Bell Centre arena; the Ottawa Senators and Scotiabank Place; and the Edmonton Oilers.
He also acted as lead counsel for transactions involving hotels and office towers, aviation businesses, manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies.
“Adding a lawyer of Jim’s caliber with his proven talent for concluding complex financing and other transactions in Canada and beyond will strengthen our offering to clients,” said Peter Engstrom, the firm’s North American managing partner.
LSUC ORDERED TO PAY IGBINOSUN
The Law Society of Upper Canada has been ordered to pay $61,000 in legal costs after losing an appeal between it and Matthew Joseal Igbinosun, a Toronto lawyer accused of professional misconduct.
Three women accused Igbinosun of sexual assault in 1998, but criminal charges were stayed in 2003 because of delay.
The LSUC subsequently reopened its own investigation, after which a hearing panel found him guilty of professional misconduct and disbarred him.
However, last year the Divisional Court slammed the law society for its actions in the case, calling them “mystifying” and “inexplicable.”
By a majority decision, the court deemed that Igbinosun wasn’t given sufficient time to prepare for a hearing and that the LSUC should have granted an adjournment application.
The court ruled the matter should be sent back to a hearing panel. In June, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected the law society’s bid to overturn those findings. Then, it awarded costs to Igbinosun earlier this month.