Monday, March 13, 2017

As she prepares to take on her new role as dean of law at Western University starting May 1, Erika Chamberlain says one thing she’ll be focused on is ensuring that legal education is accessible.

“I come from a small town, a working class background,” she says, adding that her parents are immigrants from Germany.

“I want to make sure law school is available to people in all parts of the community.”

Chamberlain says she had a great student experience as a National Scholar at Western Law in 1996, followed by getting her LLB as gold medalist from Western Law in 2001. After clerking for the Supreme Court of Canada in 2002, Chamberlain once again returned to Western as assistant professor in 2005. Following her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2009, Chamberlain has held the position of associate dean (academic) at Western Law for the past five years.

When she takes over from Iain Scott as head of the department, Chamberlain says she wants to preserve the “really good sense of community” for future students. She says the fact that Western Law is the smallest law school after Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law helps foster the close environment.

“Our faculty care a lot about teaching, care a lot about mentoring students, and I think that’s a real strength for us,” she says.

The Law Commission of Ontario has released a report recommending reforms to the province’s laws concerning power of attorney, guardianship and health-care consent.

The Final Report on Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship has 58 recommendations, which spurred out of concerns about a number of issues including the misuse of powers of attorney and elder abuse, as well as a widespread lack of understanding about the province’s laws in the area.

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One of Canada’s leading e-discovery lawyers has joined Heuristica Discovery Counsel as co-CEO and senior counsel.

Duncan Fraser, who has more than 20 years of legal experience, is set to open an Ottawa office for the Toronto-based boutique legal practice.

Fraser previously worked at e-discovery law firm Wortzmans. Before that, he was general counsel and director of e-discovery and National Litigation Support Services for the Federal Department of Justice.

Ontario lawyers say a newly released report by Justice Annemarie Bonkalo that recommends broadening the scope of family law in Ontario could erode current standards and squeeze lawyers out of the marketplace.

Readers were asked whether they think this is true.

Roughly 65 per cent said yes, potential recommendations in the report to broaden the marketplace will have harmful effects for lawyers.

The remaining 35 per cent said no, these recommendations will help clients and will not affect lawyers at all.

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