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Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017
Lynn Burns says there has been significant public response to a free legal advice hotline.


In an effort to increase access to justice, Pro Bono Ontario has introduced a free legal advice hotline and it’s looking for more volunteer lawyers to take a shift on the phones.

Since the soft launch of the hotline on Sept. 11, the hotline has helped more than 2,000 clients or an average of 54 people per day with their legal questions. 

PBO says it resolves 79 per cent of the issues brought to it in a single call, which mostly takes less than half an hour. The official launch is Nov. 27.

Lynn Burns, executive director of PBO, says she always wondered if there was a way to serve the 85 per cent of legal issues that go unserved in Ontario.

“Everyone talks about the 85 per cent who have legal problems that are not attractive to the marketplace. The legal issue they have falls outside the scope of legal aid and lawyers aren’t going to make any money on it,” Burns says. 

“When they talk about the 85 per cent of legal problems that Ontarians face, there’s really nowhere else to turn.”

The hotline logs about 300 calls per day, answered by an average of four volunteer and two staff lawyers. Burns says that the level of response is impressive given that PBO has not done any outreach beyond providing information at its in-court services at two courts in Toronto and one in Ottawa.


University of Toronto alumni have donated $1 million to create bursaries for indigenous students at the university’s faculty of law.

Norman Loveland, who graduated from the faculty of law in 1972 and is a now-retired tax lawyer and former partner at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, and his wife Gay Loveland say the contribution is “to help right the wrongs in Canada’s history with its indigenous peoples.”

In a statement, Norman Loveland went on to say it’s important to support indigenous people in pursuing fields such as the law so “they will be at the forefront of tackling issues and working with their leaders in their communities,” something he feels is an important part of the reconciliation process.


The Court of Appeal for Ontario has dismissed an appeal of a sentence a lawyer received, in R. v. Boghossian, 2017 ONCA 870. Remy Boghossian was convicted in 2015 of a $1.9-million fraud and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.

“The appellant was a lawyer. His status as a lawyer and the role his status as a lawyer played in the commission of the offence justified treating this as an aggravating factor, warranting a somewhat higher sentence for the appellant,” said the ruling. “We see no error in the sentence imposed.” 


A Law Times column argued it’s time for provincial laws dedicated to stopping defamatory publications on the internet. Readers were asked if they thought that new legislation will help counter defamatory statements online.

About 44 per cent said yes, new legislation will help deal with issues such as anonymous postings made online. Another 56 per cent said no, new legislation is not an effective way to deal with online defamation.

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Ontario’s provincial government said it will use both the courts and the legislature to cut the size of Toronto’s city council ahead of an Oct. 22 election. Do you think lawyers' efforts to stop this move will be successful?