Monday, July 22, 2013

NEW PARTNER AT DICKINSON WRIGHT
University of Toronto adjunct law professor Vivian Bercovici has joined Dickinson Wright LLP’s Toronto office as a partner, the law firm announced last week.

Bercovici, who practises in areas including corporate governance, risk management, and insurance, is also a chief negotiator on various claims made by First Nations.

“She is familiar with managing the challenges encountered by regulated industries through her previous role as vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at one of Canada’s largest property and casualty insurers,” the firm said in a press release.

Among her pursuits, Bercovici also sits on the board of directors of CBC/Radio-Canada.

BILINGUAL COURT SIGNAGE INTRODUCED
The Ontario government says it’s making the courts easier to navigate by installing bilingual and more accessible signage in some areas.

Consistent and clear signs have gone up in courthouses in Ottawa, Toronto, Barrie, and Kenora, Ont., according to the Ministry of the Attorney General. The new bilingual signs also feature braille and tactile text.

“We are committed to improving access to justice for all Ontarians. Clear, easy-to-understand signs in courthouses ensure that when people enter a courthouse, there is no confusion about where they need to go or how to get there,” said Attorney General John Gerretsen.

The changes are part of the government’s response to recommendations made by the Civil Justice Reform Project.

LAO REFUGEE PILOT PROJECT LAUNCHED
Starting this week, two Toronto legal clinics will offer refugee services as a part of a pilot agreement with Legal Aid Ontario.

The project will see the Centre Francophone de Toronto and Rexdale Community Legal Clinic offer services to refugees who don’t have lawyers.

“This innovative community-based initiative is an important milestone in LAO’s efforts to diversify its refugee services model, support community-based client legal services, and deliver cost-effective, efficient, quality legal representation,” LAO said last week.

For one year, both clinics will prepare basis-of-claim forms for refugees and file them with the refugee protection division. They’ll also represent claimants at hearings.

MACKAY APPOINTMENT LAUDED
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced a “smart cabinet shuffle” in moving people like Peter MacKay into senior ministries like the Department of Justice, according to a Toronto lawyer.

“I think it’s a move in the right direction,” said Jeremy Richler, a Toronto corporate, immigration, real estate, and estate planning lawyer who regularly writes on political issues and identifies with the Liberal party.

“Having been a Crown prosecutor, I think he’s in a good position to do it,” said Richler of MacKay. He noted MacKay should help put a more moderate face on the justice file as a key figure from the Progressive Conservative wing of the governing party.

“His law-and-order agenda is very important to him, but I think it’s been very poorly communicated,” said Richler in reference to Harper.

Shortly after the announcement last Monday, MacKay tweeted: “As a former Crown prosecutor and defence counsel, I am honoured to have been given the justice portfolio. I look forward to the job ahead.”

Other key changes of interest to the legal profession include MacKay’s switch with former justice minister Rob Nicholson in the defence portfolio; former ambassador Chris Alexander’s appointment to the immigration file as Jason Kenney becomes minister of employment and social development; and Quebec MP Steven Blaney’s move to Public Safety Canada.

TAX TRIO JOINS TORYS
Torys LLP has landed three tax lawyers who were previously of McCarthy Tétrault LLP.

Jerald Wortsman is now a partner at the firm’s Toronto office while Len Nesbitt and Andrew Silverman joined Torys’ tax practice group as counsel.

“We are delighted to welcome Jerald, Len, andAndrew to our firm,” said Les Viner, managing partner of Torys.

“Their addition strengthens our well-regarded cross-border tax practice and expands our ability to serve our clients with an even greater depth of knowledge.
They will addfurther bench strength to our first-rate tax group.”

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

The majority of respondents said the Law Society of Upper Canada should change its system for electing regional benchers in order to put a greater emphasis on the provincewide vote rather than the local outcome.

About 58 per cent of poll participants favoured the change proposed by a law society working group. The law society is currently consulting the profession on the proposal.

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