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Monday, February 10, 2014

NEW SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES APPOINTED

Justice Minister Peter MacKay has appointed four judges to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Among the new appointees is Justice Kelly Wright, previously an Ontario Court of Justice judge in Toronto. She replaces Justice Michael Brown in Newmarket, Ont. Brown moves to Toronto to replace Justice Katherine Swinton, who became a supernumerary judge in November.

Another new judge is Frederick Myers of Goodmans LLP. Myers had been a partner at Goodmans since 2003 and before that practised insolvency law and litigation at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. He replaces Justice Mary Lou Benotto, who joined the Ontario Court of Appeal in November.

In addition, Miller Thomson LLP insolvency and litigation lawyer Alissa Mitchell will sit in London, Ont. She replaces Justice Alan Bryant, who became a supernumerary judge in November.

Finally, Vice Hunter Labrosse LLP’s Marc Labrosse will sit in Ottawa. He replaces Justice Peter Annis, who joined the Federal Court last year.

LAWYER’S COST APPEAL ALLOWED IN PART

Vaughan, Ont., lawyer Kenneth James, who faces money-laundering charges, was partly successful in his appeal of a $180,000 cost order against him following a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing.

James’ disciplinary hearing came to a halt in 2012 after an “extraordinarily long and costly 23 days” of proceedings. Alan Gold, chairman of the panel hearing the case, recused himself because it turned out he and James shared a client, a situation that led him to receive “privileged information” regarding James.

On appeal, James said argued it wasn’t his fault the hearing panel had failed to ensure none of the panel members were in conflict. The appeal panel allowed his appeal in part and ordered the law society to pay $12,270 in costs to James.

Meanwhile, former teacher James Melnick, who got the green light to practise law in Ontario after the law society considered his past conviction on two charges involving sexual offences with a minor, won’t get costs in his successful appeal to the law society’s appeal panel.

At first, a hearing panel rejected Melnick’s bid to practise law following a good character hearing. But in a decision dated July 29, a law society appeal panel granted Melnick a licence to practise law after finding he was now of good character.

Although his appeal was successful, the appeal panel dismissed Melnick’s request for costs on Jan. 23.

For more, see "Lawyer facing criminal charges consents to suspension" and "Ex-teacher convicted of sexual offence with minor gets OK to practise law."

COURT UPHOLDS LAWYER’S DISBARMENT

The Divisional Court has rejected former  lawyer Leslie Vandor’s appeal of his disbarment.

Vandor, an Ottawa lawyer disbarred for misconduct that included misappropriations of significant funds from his family’s company and from clients, sought to set aside a Law Society of Upper Canada appeal panel order upholding his disbarment. He argued the appeal panel erred in failing to apply a Superior Court order related to his discharge from bankruptcy and in upholding the hearing panel’s ruling that there was a failure to account for proper disbursements and expenditures.

Among other things, he argued the court absolved him of any wrongdoing at his bankruptcy discharge hearing. But in its decision on Jan. 27, the Divisional Court noted there was no hearing on the merits of the claim of misappropriation of funds and that the purpose of the bankruptcy proceedings wasn’t to assign blame.

Vandor also argued there was evidence before the hearing panel that some of the misappropriated funds in fact went towards buying a condo for his mother and paying other family expenses. The Divisional Court, however, found the hearing panel “rendered a comprehensive, well-reasoned decision.”

For more, see "Lawyer took $1M from dad's estate."

FIRMS TAKING ON HEENAN BLAIKIE PARTNERS

Among the many announcements of departures from Heenan Blaikie LLP last week was competition and antitrust lawyer Subrata Bhattacharjee’s move to Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

“We are delighted to have Subrata join our growing competition law practice,” said Sean Weir, national managing partner and chief executive officer at BLG. “His unique background and international experience is an asset to our current client base and will prove to be a strong addition to our group as they continue to build the practice on a national and international basis.”

BLG described Bhattacharjee, who practises antitrust, foreign investment, and regulatory matters, as one of the “leading” lawyers in his area of practice. Bhattacharjee is one of many lawyers who left Heenan Blaikie as the firm considered its future.

Last week, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP announced the arrival of four former Heenan Blaikie lawyers to its Ottawa office. Labour and employment lawyers Claire Vachon and Sébastien Lorquet have joined Faskens as partners along with associates Judith Parisien and Marie-Andrée Richard.

Among the more high-profile departures was veteran business lawyer Ralph Lean, who moved to Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. He had joined Heenan Blaikie just last April after moving from Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

“I came back from Florida on Jan. 14 and went to a meeting, where they indicated they were doing some financial restructuring or downsizing and I was taken aback,” he said.

Two firms approached him with offers, he says, but he wasn’t interested until Heenan Blaikie’s problems became more apparent after a meeting on Jan. 20. As Lean was counsel on contract with Heenan Blaikie, he had no equity in the firm.

NEW COUNSEL AT DICKINSON WRIGHT

Intellectual property lawyer Eric Lavers has left Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP to join Dickinson Wright LLP’s Toronto office as of counsel.

A member of both the Ontario and New York bars, Lavers practises intellectual property law with an emphasis on the acquisition, protection, and enforcement of patent rights in Canada and around the world.

POLL RESULTS

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

According to the poll, about 71 per cent of respondents don’t think Ontario should adopt a right-to-work approach by making union dues optional.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has been proposing to make Ontario a right-to-work jurisdiction, something he argues would make the province more competitive and help attract jobs and investment. Critics, however, argue the proposal is an attack on workers’ rights.

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