The Ontario Bar Assoc-iation''s annual Institute of Continuing Legal Education, now in its 32nd year, is coming to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Feb. 5 and 6.
Those looking to earn LawPro and Law Society of Upper Canada accreditation can choose from 20 full- and half-day CLE programs in areas including family, trusts and estates, civil litigation, criminal, real property, and business law.
There are also 10 special events planned and a distinguished faculty of over 250 speakers, and an extensive trade show of products and services of interest to the legal profession.
With all of this in store, there's little doubt why Institute is "the premier CLE event in Canada," says Heather McArthur, director of CLE at the OBA. "It's the only one that offers this range of programs on areas of law or depth of content or diversity of focus between the substantive law and the practical."
Margaret Rintoul, chairwoman of Institute 2007 and a lawyer at Blaney McMurtry LLP, says while attendees can still count on the usual substantive offerings, this year will have a few twists.
"Real estate has a different twist this year. We've always gone with substantive law issues and we do have that in this program as well, but we're also looking at a bit more of the practice standpoint for real estate practitioners in terms of how they can be good lawyers and still survive in the marketplace."
The Real Business of Real Property Law (Practising Real Property Law in the 21st Century) takes place Feb. 6 and promises attendees "a soup to nuts look at the essential ingredients for running a successful real estate practice."
Speakers include Malcolm Heins, CEO of the Law Society of Upper Canada, as well as other representatives from LSUC and various title insurers, as well as lawyers Randall V. Johns of Thunder Bay, Ont., and Craig R. Carter of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.
The family law section boasts some high profile speakers during its full-day program on Feb. 5, including Stephen Grant of McCarthy Tétrault LLP talking about independent legal advice, Philip Epstein of Epstein Cole LLP doing a year in review, and a panel on spousal support analysis featuring justices David Corbett, Susanne Goodman, and Allan Rowsell.
"We've got very good support from the judiciary on that one," says Rintoul.
A half-day program on Feb. 5 for in-house counsel looks to be informative, with a strong focus on e-discovery matters such as document retention, dealing with your company's IT department, and implementing litigation holds.
With the passing of controversial legislation updating Ontario's human rights regime, the labour and employment section will focus on new challenges and directions under Bill 107. Of note will be how to litigate complaints under the new regime and implications of the bill for unionized workplaces.
Besides the CLE programs, there are also special events taking place during breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the two days.
The lunch on Feb. 5 features a keynote speech by Tom Blackmore, president of Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG. Rintoul says this speech will be different but valuable.
"He's speaking on branding and marketing, which is still quite an issue, particularly in the smaller firms that haven't already done it. I think it will be quite an interesting presentation from him and should be of interest to a lot of the lawyers that are going to be there," she says.
Attorney General Michael Bryant will be addressing the lunchtime crowd on Feb. 6, although it's anyone's guess as to what his keynote speech will be about.
"When it's the AG you can't tell him what to say," says Rintoul. "We're hoping he will make some form of announcement about what they're planning to do or some new initiative. But we can't count on what he's going to say."
The Young Lawyers dinner on Feb. 4 at Joe Badali's restaurant on Yonge Street will provide advice on new insights and great tips on how to deliver persuasive oral and written presentations.
The criminal justice portion of the program will be held Feb. 3, the day before the rest of the program, at the OBA's Conference Centre (20 Toronto St.). This year's theme is "The Ultimate Guide on Hearsay and Voluntariness."
Speakers at the criminal law day hail from the private bar as well as Crown counsel and lawyers from the Ministry of the Attorney General. Ontario Court Justice Gary Trotter; Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst, a former president of the Criminal Lawyers' Association; and Court of Appeal Justice March Rosenberg are also on the bill.
The early bird date for registration has passed but those looking to register can receive a 15 per cent discount if booking two CLE programs, 20 per cent if booking three or more CLE programs, and if you live more than 150 kilometres from Toronto and are staying at the InterContinental Toronto Centre, you receive a 25-per-cent discount.
"We encourage people to come in for more than one program," says Rintoul.
"For most people, there's enough variety in their practice that we can offer different areas. Particularly with the half-day programs, you can mix and match quite effectively."
She says the OBA is doing better on the registration than the same period last year. "So we're quite optimistic," she says of the expected turnout, which usually surpasses the 2,000-person threshold. "But we do take walk-ins," she laughs.
To learn more about the 2007 Institute, visit www.oba.org