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Monday, September 13, 2010

LAWYER LEAVES GOV’T TO RETURN TO BLAKES

Graham McLeod has rejoined Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, returning as a partner in its infrastructure and procurement groups.

McLeod, who articled at Blakes in 1997 and stayed on as an associate until 2005, focuses his practice on procurement and infrastructure with an emphasis on international developments.

He spent the last five years at Infrastructure Ontario, most recently heading up the Crown agency’s project legal group, where he was responsible for all project and corporate procurements.

“We are very pleased to have Graham coming back,” said Blakes’ chairman Brock Gibson. “He is considered an industry leader, and his presence will significantly strengthen the firm’s infrastructure expertise.”

FIRMS’ FEES RISE DESPITE DOWNTURN: REPORT

An analysis of the billing practices of American firms has found legal fees have increased sharply despite the global downturn.

The Real Rate Report is a collaboration between CT TyMetrix, a legal management company that audits legal bills, and the Corporate Executive Board Co., a research and analysis business.

They pooled billing data from 36 large corporate clients to generate a database containing information on 90,000 individual billers from 3,500 different law firms in 51 cities across the United States. The $4.1 billion worth of bills were cleared of identifying information before analyzing the results.

The report covers the period between 2007 and 2009 as the world economy slumped. But that didn’t stop firms from increasing their fees above the rate of inflation as well as other sectors.

In fact, the report found partners boosted their rates by almost nine per cent, while fees for associates went up by close to 17 per cent. At the same time, the report notes in-house counsel acquiesced with almost 75 per cent of them rubber-stamping the hikes.

In addition, the report found that 78 per cent of lawyers charge clients different rates for similar work, with the largest discrepancies ranging from $350 to $1,000 per hour.

John Weber, general manager of CT TyMetrix, says the report will provide corporate counsel with the empirical data they’ve been calling for to help them make informed decisions about legal services.

“They can see how their providers rank in different dimensions of the report and look for opportunities to build alternative fee arrangements and alternate staffing models.

It’s good for anyone who’s trying to understand the drivers of rates. It will help them build pre-matter strategies and budgets so that they have the predictability that corporations really like.”

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LAWYER JUMPS FROM CAYMANS TO BAY STREET[/span]

Michael Davies has joined Heenan Blaikie LLP as a partner in the financial services law group.

Davies moves from Ogier, an offshore law firm based in the Cayman Islands, where he served as counsel for the last three years.

Davies has more than 20 years of experience in banking and finance law and has represented borrowers, institutional lenders, real estate investment trusts, pension funds, and investors in connection with domestic and cross-border financings, secured and unsecured bank credit facilities, subordinated debt, loan syndications, structured finance, and inter-lender arrangements.

“Michael brings a combination of national and international experience to our financial services law group, having worked extensively in the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada,” said the firm’s co-managing partner Norman Bacal.

LEGAL PUBLISHER HELPS PRO BONO GROUP

Pro Bono Students Canada has teamed up with legal publisher Carswell to provide students with specialized legal research training.

The arrangement will see Carswell, a division of Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd., provide financial support over the next three years, as well as developing a program that will cover legal research services relevant to public interest and social justice issues.

“Thanks to this exciting and unique partnership with Carswell, PBSC law student volunteers across the country will benefit from a legal research training program that has been customized to focus on the kind of public interest and social justice work that we do.

This will significantly improve the quality of the pro bono legal services our students are able to provide,” said Nikki Gershbain, the organization’s national director.

Now in its 15th year, PBSC has chapters in every law school in Canada. Each year, about 1,500 volunteers provide roughly 120,000 hours of free legal services.

“I believe we are making a real difference in improving access to justice for community-minded organizations that rely on pro bono legal services to continue their important work,” said Don Van Meer, president and CEO of Carswell.

LFO ANNOUNCES JUSTICE FELLOWSHIPS

The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced the recipients of its Community Leadership in Justice Fellowships.

Danielle McLaughlin, director of education and administration at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust, will spend six months in residence at the University of Windsor Faculty of Education helping teachers to prepare students to think critically about civil liberties.

“Students have an interest in exploring their rights and freedoms even in the primary grades,” McLaughlin said.

“And if we want them to become engaged citizens who can constructively resolve differences, one of the best things we can do is equip teachers to encourage that interest and build it into classroom activities.”

Vincent Greason’s one-year part-time fellowship will see him delivering workshops and lectures on community mobilization in the Outaouais region of Quebec near Ottawa, as well as conducting research on anti-poverty practices in Quebec and Ontario.

“It will be an opportunity to share key learnings from both sides of the Ottawa River and across language communities,” Greason said.

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