Monday, April 6 - 13, 2009

The economy may be flagging and layoffs a reality in the legal industry, but many lawyers have reported plans to add personnel in the year ahead.

“The current recession and financial crisis have increased demand for bankruptcy services and resulted in a higher volume of litigation,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, in a release.

“In response, law offices are hiring lawyers and other legal professionals on a full-time and project basis to augment their practice offerings.”

The legal staffing company recently polled 300 Canadian and U.S. lawyers on their expectations for staffing levels at their firm or corporation over the next 12 months. According to the results, 25 per cent expect an increase, 65 per cent think staff levels will stay the same, and 10 per cent envision a decrease.

Of those polled, 51 per cent said they think bankruptcy will be the largest growth area of law, with litigation coming in second at 31 per cent.
The survey was conducted in February by an independent research firm.

The Law Society of Upper Canada last week tabled its two-year report on paralegal regulation, an initiative that saw Ontario become the first North American jurisdiction to regulate paralegals.“The regulatory system is self-funding and has won the support of paralegals, lawyers, judges, and the public,” said law society paralegal standing committee chairman Paul Dray, in a release.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress made over the first two years of regulation and look forward to continuing to improve the services that licensed paralegals provide to consumers.”

The law society says over 2,300 paralegals are now licensed and insured to represent clients in Small Claims Court, at administrative tribunals, and at the Ontario Court of Justice in Provincial Offences Act matters.

An additional 200 to 300 new paralegal candidates are expected to enter the system each year with the accreditation of training programs at colleges and schools, said the law society.

“We believe the Ontario government’s commitment to the regulation of paralegals is visionary,” said law society Treasurer Derry Millar.

“Thanks to regulation, licensed paralegals are now held to the same high standard of professional conduct as lawyers, must pass a licensing examination, and carry liability insurance. They are now providing a range of important legal services within a recognized, regulated profession.”

Managing Intellectual Property recently awarded Toronto’s Dimock Stratton LLP its Canadian Contentious Firm of the Year 2009 honour.

The award was recently handed out at the magazine’s North American IP Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. This year marks the third in a row that Dimock Stratton has been recognized by the publication as one of Canada’s top IP litigation firms.

The firm received the same award last year, and in 2007 was named Canadian Trademark/Copyright firm of the year.

Thunder Bay lawyer Joseph Caron has been appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice as justice of the peace.
Caron is a bilingual lawyer who has offered French language services and access to justice for clients in remote areas of his region of the province.

Practising since 1992, Caron has experience in corporate, family, real estate, criminal law, and civil litigation.
Caron currently works for the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay, where he is responsible for the prosecution of Provincial Offences Act matters.

The Law Society of Upper Canada on Monday was set to hold its first in a series of educational events focusing on the rule of law.

A panel of experts in human rights, foreign policy, and international law were to talk about “reconciling state sovereignty with the global responsibility to protect” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 6.

“Panellists will look at the political, legal, and moral questions of humanitarian intervention - when it is appropriate for states to take action against another state to protect people from catastrophe, genocide, and crimes against humanity,” read a law society release.

“They will also look at ‘The Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine produced by the International Commission on International and State Sovereignty, and discuss how it applies to contemporary cases.”

Anticipated panel members included Georgette Gagnon of Human Rights Watch, Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Harry LaForme, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law assistant professor Pacifique Manirakiza, and MP Bob Rae.

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