Monday, May 12, 2014

Several members of the legal community were among those inducted into the Order of Canada in Ottawa last week.

The citation for new Order of Canada member Linda Silver Dranoff honours her as being “instrumental in advancing equality in Canadian family law. As a lawyer, she has argued many precedent-setting cases that have directly benefited women by recognizing marriage as a social and financial partnership. Notably, her lobbying efforts resulted in essential reforms to family law legislation, including equal sharing of all matrimonial property between spouses following a separation or death, and automatic cost-of-living adjustments in support payments.”

The ceremony took place last Wednesday at Rideau Hall. Gov. Gen. David Johnston bestowed the honour on 35 members and 10 officers.

Also honoured was Wesley Nicol, an Ottawa man named a member of the Order of Canada and described as a “self-made man, lawyer, and community developer” who has shared his wealth through his family foundation.

The honourees also included Shelagh Day, founding president of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and co-founder of the court challenges program, who becomes a member of the order.

For the first time in 10 years, the number of men who joined the Ontario bar exceeded the number of women in 2013, according to statistics released by the Law Society of Upper Canada as part of its annual report.

According to the report, 1,005 men were called to the bar last year compared to 989 women. Every year since 2003, the number of women who joined the Ontario bar had exceeded the number of men. A total of 1,994 new lawyers were called to the bar in 2013, the highest number in the last decade.

Meanwhile, women are still outnumbering men in becoming paralegals. They made up 67 per cent of the 1,344 paralegal applicants who got their licences last year. That’s also the highest number of admissions to the paralegal profession since the LSUC started regulating paralegals in 2009.

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

About 45 per cent of respondents believe the decisions by the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society not to accredit Trinity Western University’s law school will survive a legal challenge.

Another 42 per cent of participants suggested the law societies’ refusals to grant accreditation are wrong in law while the remaining 13 per cent were unsure as they felt the issues are very complex.

Last week, the university said it would be going to court in British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia in regards to the law school.

“We feel the provincial law societies in Ontario and Nova Scotia have made decisions that are legally incorrect and, unfortunately, TWU is now being forced to re-litigate an issue that was decided in its favour by an 8 to 1 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001,” said Trinity Western president Bob Kuhn.

The school went on to suggest the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and Law Society of Upper Canada decisions against accrediting Trinity Western’s planned law faculty had set a “dangerous precedent.”

While Trinity Western has received approval from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and several other law societies, Trinity Western is also going to court to apply as a respondent in a B.C. action launched by Clayton Ruby against the B.C. minister of advanced education’s decision in favour of the law faculty.

The controversy, of course, relates to gay and lesbian rights at the law school set to open in 2016. The school’s community covenant includes a statement about abstaining from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

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