Monday, July 5, 2010

The Advocates’ Society has a new president.

Criminal defence lawyer Marie Henein takes on the job, replacing Sandra Forbes. Also joining her on the executive are Mark Lerner of Lerners LLP; Peter Griffin of Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP; Alan Mark of Ogilvy Renault LLP; and Robert Bell of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Henein’s projects for her term include practice-based and regional forums on the society’s web site, an official committee to help new lawyers, and efforts to supplement members’ pro bono work. The society will also raise money to help build a house for an aboriginal family near Ottawa.

Robert Half Legal is reporting an optimistic outlook on legal hiring.

According to the company’s survey of 100 lawyers at both law firms and in the corporate sector, 40 per cent of those interviewed are projecting new hiring in the third quarter. Just two per cent foresee a decrease, while half of them predict there will be no change.

“Law firms specializing in litigation, corporate law, and commercial and residential real estate especially are adding staff to meet rising demand for their services,” said John Ohnjec, a Canadian division director with Robert Half.

“An increase in employment-related and intellectual property litigation, ongoing corporate legal requirements, and an uptick in the real estate sector are generating hiring activity.”

The company also noted lawyers are finding it hard to find skilled legal professionals as well as a trend towards hiring people on a project basis to assess them before bringing them on permanently.

Fred Krebs has one year left in his job as president of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

Last week, Krebs announced his intention to retire next June. “I have had a very rewarding career with ACC, both personally and professionally,” he said. “But after nearly 20 years as president, I feel the time is right for me to take a break.”

In acknowledging Krebs’ decision, ACC board chairwoman Patricia Hatler paid tribute to him. “We accepted his resignation reluctantly but wish him well in the next chapter of his life,” she said.

“ACC will not be able to ‘replace’ Fred, but his stewardship leaves ACC well-positioned to be able to identify the next innovative, strong leader and for an orderly transition.”

A new bill to limit pardons for certain criminal offences continues its speedy passage through Parliament.
Bill C-23A, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act, was adopted by the Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs last week. It now goes to the Senate for third reading.

The act, passed by the House of Commons before it broke for its recent summer recess, extends the waiting period before people convicted of certain offences, such as manslaughter, and who received a sentence of two years or more.

They’ll now have to wait 10 years instead of five. At the same time, the National Parole Board will have more discretion in deciding whether or not to grant a pardon.
For more on this issue, see “New pardon rules may spark quagmire.”

The Canadian Judicial Council received 161 new complaints about judicial actions during the previous fiscal year, its 2009-10 annual report reveals.

Together with 35 files remaining from the previous year, the council had 196 matters to deal with, of which it closed 167.

In a sample of the complaints, the report noted concerns over a judge’s comments made public in the media; those of a self-represented litigant over a judge’s perceived impatience towards him; and issues of language rights.

For the year, the council spent nearly $1.7 million, according to the report.

The dreaded $6 online search fee of court criminal and traffic records will be dropped after B.C.

Attorney-General Michael de Jong heard complaints from lawyers and media that the fee was impairing their ability to source records.

Effective Aug. 31, the charge for online searches of provincial court records will be removed. The fee was considered especially onerous by lawyers doing legal aid work. Fees collected from January through to Aug. 30 will not be reimbursed.

James Bond, president of the Canadian Bar Association’s B.C. branch, congratulated de Jong on his decision to eliminate the search fee.

“Our members asked us to make a strong case for the removal of a fee that, in our view, not only compromised equal access to the justice system but also risked increasing in-person demand and delay in court registry offices," said Bond.

The announcement, which came last month, couldn’t be implemented immediately as the courts required time to make the adjustment in the internal computer system.

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