Monday, February 16, 2009

Statistics Canada has reported that legal aid spending in Ontario for 2007/2008 remained the same, while it and nine other provinces and territories spent $670 million overall.

“After accounting for inflation, spending was up from the previous year in six jurisdictions, with Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and Northwest Territories reporting the largest increases at 10 per cent each,” stated the government agency in a release.

“Spending was down in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Yukon, and unchanged in Ontario.”

The agency went on to report that half of direct legal aid spending went to criminal cases. Ontario and Quebec were the only jurisdictions to report spending more overall on cases involving civil matters.

Almost 748,000 applications for legal aid were submitted to the 10 legal aid plans that participated in the study, two per cent less than the previous year. Of the five jurisdictions reporting declines - Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec - Alberta had the largest decline at seven per cent.

The number of approved applications (472,000) remained the same, with approvals down in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Yukon. Criminal cases made up the bulk of approved applications, at 70 per cent or more.

Ontario and Quebec were the exceptions, where similar numbers of applications were approved for both criminal and civil matters.
Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nunavut were unable to provide data for the report.

The Toronto Lawyers’ Association has honoured The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted and civil litigator Ronald Slaght with awards of distinction.

“This is the first time the TLA is giving the award to an organization,” said incoming TLA president Jessica Kimmel, in a release.

“We are honouring this group because it has been involved in almost every wrongful conviction in Canada in the last 15 years and recently played a vital role in the Honourable Justice Stephen Goudge inquiry into pediatric forensic pathology in Ontario.”

Turning to Slaght, of Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP, Kimmel said he “is being honoured because of his foresight into the importance of the promotion of civility initiatives within the legal profession, which has enhanced his reputation as one of Toronto’s most respected civil litigators.”

The award is handed out each year for the recipients’ “contribution to the integrity and worth of the law and to the legal profession,” said the TLA.

Macleod Dixon LLP last week honoured the work of firm partner Charles Berard, who passed away Feb. 6. He had spent 28 years with the firm.

“Charlie was part of the heart and soul of Macleod Dixon,” said the firm in a statement posted on its web site. “He became a partner in 1989 and a member of the firm’s executive committee in 2003. He was unselfish and his efforts were tireless, and his chin was always up. He was committed and loyal to the firm and stands as a shining example of the values our firm is based upon.

“His presence in the firm helped shape those values. Charlie was practical, approachable, and fun loving, and he enjoyed a good practical joke, even if it was on him.”

The firm said Berard’s “greatest interest” was his family, included daughter Cassandra and son Matthew.
The firm has established the Berard Cup, an annual hockey tournament for firm members and alumni, in his memory.

It will also make a donation to the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, where Berard volunteered.
“A beloved member of the Macleod Dixon family is gone. We will miss him dearly but we will never forget him,” said the firm.

Lavery de Billy has snagged the legal talent of Guy Lavoie, who has joined the Montreal firm as a partner and member of the labour and employment group.

Lavoie also has expertise in the area of occupational health and safety, and will advise clients and represent them before administrative tribunals in labour relations and employment law matters, occupational health and safety, discrimination, and harassment.

The Supreme Court of Canada has announced a number of changes to its web site ( Factums are now being posted online, oral arguments will be webcast, new terms and conditions have been rolled out, and a revamped hyperlinking policy has been unveiled.

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