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Posts from the ‘Law Society of Upper Canada’ Category

How to Use Technology to Improve Your Family Law Practice

It’s more common than ever: family lawyers are using technology to enhance efficiencies, to market legal services, and to operate the business side of their practices. Do you know what tools and apps are out there that can help you? Are you up to date on the latest possibilities? Learn how to appropriately integrate technology to transform your practice while ensuring you comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

  • ​Understand how to use social media to promote your practice
  • Improve client experiences by utilizing technology tools
  • Learn how to incorporate technology through the life of the file
  • Hear about tech tips, tricks and traps

Check here to learn more or to register for the program.

This program qualifies for 2 professionalism hours of CPD.

When Does a Lawyer’s Courtroom Incivility Amount to Professional Misconduct

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Supreme Court Rules For When a Lawyer’s Courtroom Incivility Will Amount to Professional Misconduct

In the recent case of Groia v. Law Society of Upper Canada, the Supreme Court has overturned the decision of the Law Society of Ontario’s  finding that Mr. Groia was guilty of professional misconduct due to his incivility during the proceedings of R v. Felderhof. 

The issue was to determine the ‘reasonableness’ of a lawyer’s incivility to be that which will amount to professional misconduct. Thus, when determining incivility, the courts have shown willingness to impose a multi-factored and context-specific inquiry, opposed to a rigid and precise definition.

The court indicated that:

 It sets a reasonably precise benchmark that instructs lawyers as to the    permissible bounds of ethical courtroom behaviour by articulating a        series of contextual factors — what the lawyer said, the manner and      frequency in which it was said, and the presiding judge’s reaction to        the lawyer’s behaviour — that ought generally to be considered when    evaluating a lawyer’s conduct, and by describing how those factors          operate when assessing a lawyer’s behaviour.

 The approach, with which I take no issue, targets the type of conduct that can compromise trial fairness and diminish public confidence in the administration of justice. It allows for a proportionate balancing of the Law Society’s mandate to set and enforce standards of civility in the legal profession with a lawyer’s right to free speech. It is also sensitive to the lawyer’s duty of resolute advocacy and the client’s constitutional right to make full answer and defence.

The court also stressed that counsel holds the responsibility to not only advocate for their client, but to also uphold ‘constitutional imperatives’ to criticize state actors:

  …for criminal defence lawyers, fearless advocacy extends beyond ethical obligations into the realm of constitutional imperatives

  Defence lawyers must have sufficient latitude to advance their clients’ right to make full answer and defence by raising arguments about the propriety of state actors’ conduct without fear of reprisal

Mr. Groia has since commented on the ruling stating:

civility does have an important role to play in the legal system and in the judicial system, but where there is a conflict between civility and our duties to defend our clients’ interests, the Supreme Court has made it very clear that it’s going to require very serious misconduct before a defence lawyer can be criticized for doing his or her job.

The three dissenting judges viewed the majority had incorrectly applied the standard for breach of civility. Yet, despite the courts decision to follow a context-specific approach in determining incivility, this has been a 10-year ordeal for Mr. Groia and has been outspoken that the process has been stressful and one which no lawyer wishes to go through.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Groia v. Law Society of Upper Canada 

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com

 

Federal Government Announces Proposed Changes to the Divorce Act

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Federal Government Announces Proposed Changes to the Divorce Act

On May 22, 2018, the federal government tabled the proposed Bill C-78 (titled “An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act”) which would make significant changes to the Divorce Act and related legislation.

The overall intent of the Bill, which is only at first reading, is to modernize federal Family Law, by promoting faster, more cost-effect solutions to disputes.  In connection with the Divorce Act specifically, the Bill proposes to amend that legislation to enhance the protection of the “best interests of the child”, by adding new rights and obligations, namely:

  • Parenting Orders. Courts would be allowed to make “parenting orders” (instead of the current “custody orders”) allocating the exercise of parenting time and decision-making responsibility in respect of any “child of the marriage”.  Key points:
    • Only the bests interests of the child must be considered by the court, and the relevant factors will be specified in the legislation.
    • Either or both parents could apply for one, as can a non-parent (e.g. a grandparent) with the court’s permission.

 

  • Notice Obligations. A new process would be added, that requires parents who have decision-making responsibility or parenting time to give notice of an intent to change their or their child’s residence, or to relocate. Key points:
    • That notice must be given to any other person who also is entitled to exercise decision-making authority or parenting time, or who has a contact order.
    • A court may order that these notice requirements be dispensed with, but only where appropriate such as where there is a risk of family violence.
    • A person who receives such notice can apply to the court to object to the child being relocated.
    • Once again, the best interests of the child, as that assessment is informed by legislatively-specified factors, will inform the court’s decision.

The proposed Bill would make many other changes, and among the talking-points is the question of whether and how it might impact on individual rights established under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Stay tuned for additional upcoming Blogs on this topic.

For the full text of Bill C-78, see:

BILL C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com

Opening Your Own Law Practice

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Opening Your Own Law Practice

Law Society of Upper Canada is Presenting “Opening Your Own Practice” Module 1 on Monday, September 16, 2013 (12:00 PM – 1:30 PM)

The Conference will focus on what lawyers need to consider to be their own boss.

Start at the beginning—by defining your law practice. This online course is jam-packed with readings, precedents, checklists, videos, and resources to help you develop a sound operational business plan and offer two interactive question-and-answer webcast sessions with our experienced presenters to ensure you’re fully ready to move ahead.

• Define your practice

• Analyze the financial requirements

• Identify the marketing and networking vehicles

• Anticipate the practice management issues that may arise

• Draft your business plan

Speakers include: Russell Alexander, Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers, Rinku Deswal, RD Law Barristers & Solicitors, Maureen Hastings, Director, Administration, Civil and Immigration Law Services, Legal Aid Ontario, Paul Mandel, B.A., MBA, Insurance Broker, Independent Insurance & Financial Consultants and progran Chair Joel Kadish, Barrister and Solicitor

To learn more or to register visit http://ecom.lsuc.on.ca/cpd/product.jsp?id=CLE13-0090200