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Monday, December 16, 2013

LAW SOCIETY ACT CHANGES PASSED

A bill amending the Law Society Act passed third reading last week.

Among other things, the bill aims to streamline professional discipline proceedings and make them more transparent. As well, paralegal representation at the Law Society of Upper Canada will get a boost under the changes.

The legislation will:

•   Create a new body called the law society tribunal — chaired by a full-time, non-bencher lawyer — that incorporates the appeal and hearing panels.

•   Increase the number of paralegal benchers to five from two.

•   Align the legislation with current practice by providing that paralegals may charge for legal services.

•   Allow the law society to suspend a lawyer or paralegal’s licence for failure to pay legal costs related to a discipline hearing.

•   Clarify that the law society can receive information protected by solicitor-client privilege from any person, such as a client, and introduce it in proceedings.

$150K FOR PRO BONO GROUP

Epstein Cole LLP has donated $150,000 to Pro Bono Students Canada’s campaign for family Justice.

As part of its family law efforts, the organization trains students to assist low-income families who don’t qualify for legal aid.

Epstein Cole says the campaign “will save and expand Pro Bono Students Canada’s family law project, a vital court service that is at risk of closure.”

The campaign’s fundraising goal is $650,000. The money will help expand the program to additional Ontario courts, according to Epstein Cole. So far, the organization has $320,000.

“As a family lawyer, I know too well a relationship breakdown can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life, particularly when there are children involved,” said Philip Epstein of Epstein Cole.

“For poor and low-income Ontarians who can’t afford a lawyer, the stress is often unbearable.”

M&A LAWYER JOINS DENTONS

A former Baker & McKenzie LLP transactional lawyer has joined Dentons Canada LLP’s Toronto office.

Dentons says Jim Rossiter’s 25-year cross-border practice portfolio includes acquisition and financing of NHL hockey teams, hotels, and office towers.

“Jim’s established cross-border practice and broad experience will be of tremendous benefit to our clients, and is an excellent fit with the strengths of our Toronto office and our global platform,” said Mike Kaplan, managing partner of Dentons’ Toronto office.

Rossiter says Dentons stands out from other international firms.

“Markedly different from other international law firms, Dentons is polycentric, with substantial local depth and breadth in all key markets, including in the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Canada,” said Rossiter, adding that the sheer size of Dentons’ offices in the United States and Canada creates “an unbeatable combination.”

POLL RESULTS

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

According to the poll, 55 per cent of respondents agree that lawyers should have an obligation to mentor their peers.

In the wake of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s announcement that it was creating a task force to look into mentorship, lawyer Lee Akazaki suggested it would be helpful for the regulator to amend its rules to include an obligation on lawyers to mentor their peers.

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Law Times reports that the Correctional Service Canada has been found to be negligent in the severe beating of an inmate. Do you think inmate safety at jails and prisons needs significant improvement?
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