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Adam Dodek – Slaw



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Last Build Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:00:37 +0000

 



Letter to a Future Lawyer . . .

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 11:00:12 +0000

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Spring is upon us. Law school exams are over but students are still in law libraries, studying for the bar exam. These students are looking forward to becoming articled students and then lawyers. Others have received acceptance letters and are looking forward to starting law school in the fall. It is the circle of law.

I recently met a future law student, full of enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of soon beginning law school. He was kind enough to write to me after the brief meeting and seek my advice on what to read to prepare for law school; . . . [more]




What Actually Goes on in Articling? Ethical Obligation of Regulators . . .

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 11:00:06 +0000

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The Law Society of Upper Canada is undertaking (yet another) review of its licensing process. This is at least the fifth time that it has examined changes to the licensing process since 2000. However, in all of these reviews, the Law Society has never actually examined the actual working conditions of articling students. In this it is not alone. I am not aware of any Law Society in Canada that has done so. The Law Society of Upper Canada now has the opportunity as well as the responsibility to undertake such research.

There is both a policy imperative as . . . [more]




Law Student Week 2017

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:00:56 +0000

In a decade of teaching legal ethics, I have come to realize that students bring different and often fresh viewpoints to their analysis of ethical issues in the profession. Slaw founding Publisher Simon Fodden agreed to provide a forum for our future colleagues at the bar to share these perspectives with a wider audience. We are fortunate that his successor Steve Matthews has continued to do so.

This year seven University of Ottawa students produced interesting and provocative that will be published by Slaw over the course of this Student Week (March 27th through 31st). The issues range from how . . . [more]




Time for Webcams in the Courtroom? the Imperative of Transparency and Accountability

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 12:00:32 +0000

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“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” So declared Louis Brandeis over a century ago. Brandeis’ argument was that shining a light on activities both exposed wrongdoing as well as deterred it. The second part of his quote is that “electric light the most efficient policeman.”[i] Writing in 1914, Brandeis was ahead of his time. In 2017, his words should make us sit up and take notice. Especially when it comes to the administration of justice.

Justice Morris Fish – recently named to the Order of Canada – understood Brandeis’ quote more than others. Fish was a former . . . [more]




Stepping Up for Diversity: Law Societies Must Begin to Address the Challenges Faced by Racialized Lawyers and Paralegals

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 12:00:25 +0000

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Law Societies have a lot on their plates these days: ABS, access to justice, advertising, articling . . . and that’s only the first letter of the alphabet! It is critical that the work of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Working Group on the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees not get lost in all this regulatory alphabet soup. The report is important. It is groundbreaking. It is also controversial. And it is necessary. This report will be debated by Ontario’s benchers on December 2nd. The Law Society of Upper Canada has a real opportunity to exercise strong leadership on . . . [more]




Reforming the Judicial Discipline Process: Putting the Public in the Public Interest

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:00:12 +0000

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Over the summer, Justice Canada engaged in a low-key consultation on “Judicial Discipline Process Reform”, releasing a bland discussion paper appropriately-titled “Possibilities for Further Reform of the Federal Judicial Discipline Process”. The title is at once both misleading and accurate. It is in part misleading because there have been no significant changes to the federal judicial discipline process as set out in the Judges Act since that statute was enacted in 1971. It is accurate because the Justice Canada consultation comes on the heels of reforms enacted by the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) in 2015 after . . . [more]




Taking Self-Regulation for Granted?

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:00:00 +0000

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“It is not a right. Self-regulation is very much a privilege.” So declared Premier Christy Clark at the end of June when she announced that the BC government would take over regulation of the real estate industry in that province.

As those in BC know, the BC housing market has been on fire over the past year. Potential home buyers face a crisis of affordability. Questionable practices by some real estate agents and a failure to respond by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) fuelled a crisis of confidence in the regulator. And the government stepped in.

We . . . [more]




Judicial Confidentiality

Mon, 13 Jun 2016 11:00:41 +0000

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Do judges and former judges owe a duty of confidentiality? This might seem like a silly question. After all, the legal system zealously protects judicial deliberations from compelled disclosure. However, when it comes to recognizing any restriction on judges’ ability to voluntarily disclose or use such deliberations, to date there has been silence. Hopefully, that may soon change as various actors consider the implications of retired judges returning to the practice of law.

The Supreme Court has recognized an absolute privilege that protects the confidentiality of communications between judges in cases: see Mackeigan v. Hickman (1989) and Ontario (Public Safety . . . [more]




The Perspectives of Future Members of Our Profession

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 12:00:00 +0000

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We have been fortunate to have taught legal ethics over the past two decades at four law schools: U of T, Osgoode, Windsor and uOttawa. We quickly came to appreciate the multiplicity of experiences and perspectives that students bring to the discussion of these issues. We both have included requirements that students write short analytical papers, along the lines of the blogs that appear here on Slaw, or newspaper op-eds.

We both encourage students to dissect a particular issue, to push themselves and to be creative. We have been well-rewarded with thoughtful and original pieces. The work of these . . . [more]




Ending Bullying in the Legal Profession

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 11:00:31 +0000

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Lindsay Cameron‘s best-selling novel BIGLAW is billed as “The Devil Wears Prada meets One L, BIGLAW provides an insider’s view of the cut-throat world of big New York law firms.”

Most of the partners in the book are bullies. The book is a good read not so much because the characters and the storylines are outrageous but rather because both are credible and familiar. Cameron, a graduate of UBC’s Faculty of Law, was a corporate associate for six years in large law firms in both Canada and the United States. During that time, she no doubt accumulated a . . . [more]




In Praise of the Queen’s Counsel

Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:00:37 +0000

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For many lawyers, December is a month filled with anticipation as most of the provinces announce coveted Queen’s Counsel (QC) appointments prior to Christmas. For federal government lawyers, they waited for an announcement that never came.

In 2013, the Harper government revived the federal QC after a two-decade hiatus. In 2015, the new Trudeau government appears to have quietly abandoned this practice. Or it may simply not have been a priority for a busy new government. Whatever the explanation, if the Trudeau government wants to recognize the value of public service, it should continue the practice of awarding QCs to . . . [more]




Judge Camp and Judicial Competency: the Duties of Appellate Courts

Tue, 08 Dec 2015 12:00:50 +0000

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At what point do concerns over the conduct or competency of a lower court judge rise to the level that an appellate court should report that judge to the relevant judicial council? Appellate courts are naturally hesitant to do so, lest they infringe on judicial independence. However, at some point a judge’s conduct may cross the line and compel an appellate court to report them in the name of protecting the integrity of the administration of justice and maintaining public confidence in the same. The Alberta Court of Appeal’s review of the judgment of Judge Robin Camp in R v. . . . [more]




A Judge’s Place Is on the Bench . . . Not in the Political Arena

Mon, 21 Sep 2015 11:00:05 +0000

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Judges and politics don’t mix. Political involvement by sitting judges is an accepted taboo. Political involvement by former judges is a relatively recent development. But as the political candidacy of former Chief Judge of the B.C. Provincial Court Carol Baird Ellan is showing, there is a serious danger of political blowback against the bench as an institution when one exchanges her black judicial robes for the Blue, Red or Orange colours of a political party.

The Progressive Conservative Party is running an attack ad targeting the NDP’s so-called “star candidate”. The ad is found at www.youbethejudge.ca and says:

Carol Baird

. . . [more]



What to Read Before Starting Law School

Thu, 23 Jul 2015 11:00:50 +0000

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This fall an estimated 2800 students will begin their three-year journey for a J.D. degree at one of Canada’s 18 Common Law Schools (there are 23 law schools in total in Canada).[1] If they are anything like I was some 23 years ago, these students are excited but apprehensive. The vast majority of new law students have had no contact with the legal system and have not taken any law-related courses. Their knowledge of law comes from popular culture. For me this was L.A. Law, Inherit the Wind, Perry Mason and To Kill a Mockingbird. For today’s law students, . . . [more]




Reading: Learning, Lounging and Escaping

Tue, 26 May 2015 11:00:04 +0000

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I did it. I read a hundred books (#100Books) on my sabbatical. The whole list can be found here. Why did I do it? I set off to read 100 books because I felt I could and I should.

As lawyers, we spend so much of our time reading but so little time reading books. I can remember years when I’m not sure if I read a single book outside of work. Even as a law professor, I would only read two or three books of fiction a year. As a law student, I took a course called “Law . . . [more]




In Praise of Judicial Empathy, Humility and Simplicity

Thu, 16 Apr 2015 11:00:27 +0000

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It takes a big person to admit they have made a mistake; it takes an even bigger judge. Justice Shaun Nakatsuru of the Ontario Court of Justice is such a judge.

In a remarkable judgment that has attracted significant media attention from the likes of the Toronto Star, the CBC and CTV, Judge Nakatsuru issued a personal and collective judicial mea culpa. While Justice Nakatsuru did not actually make a mistake per se, he admitted that as a judge he had “sinned” in terms of writing less than user-friendly judgments over the course of his ten years on . . . [more]




Separating the Offices of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice

Thu, 05 Feb 2015 12:00:20 +0000

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The time has come to begin seriously considering whether to separate the long-fused offices of Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The Attorney General is responsible for providing legal advice to the executive branch of government and for representing the government in all legal proceedings. In certain matters, the Attorney General is supposed to act completely independently in the public interest without reference to partisan politics. The Attorney General is known as the “defender of the Rule of Law” and indeed, under federal and provincial legislation, the AG is charged with seeing “that the administration of public affairs is in . . . [more]




Familiar Complaints: The State of the Legal Profession in Israel

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:00:04 +0000

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There are too many lawyers. Too many law schools. The bar exam is too easy. The Law Society should fail more applicants. Such statements are familiar in Canada but they are also heard in Israel where I am spending part of the year as a Visiting Scholar at the David Weiner Centre for Lawyers’ Ethics and Professional Responsibility and as a Visiting Professor at the Halbert Center for Canadian Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

When I was much younger, I worked for a year in the Israeli court system as a law clerk so I know something about . . . [more]




Verdict a Victory for Defamed Professor and Defamed Justice System

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:00:43 +0000

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In June a jury awarded my uOttawa colleague Professor Joanne St. Lewis a stunning $350,000 verdict in her defamation lawsuit against blogger and former University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt. The jury’s verdict not only vindicated St. Lewis but also the entire justice system because the defendant had impugned the integrity of most of the judges who participated in the proceedings and the integrity of the Canadian justice system.

Let me be transparent in exposing my connections to the dramatis personae and my own biases about the case. Professor St. Lewis is a colleague whom I consider a friend and . . . [more]




Rationing Civil Justice

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:00:05 +0000

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We all know we have an access to justice problem in this country. Actually doing something about it is more of a challenge.

In 1999, Justice Rosalie Abella – then a Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario – gave a speech which should be required reading for every lawyer, every judge, every ministry of justice official, every law professor and every law student; in short, for everyone involved in whatever way in the legal profession. Clients don’t need to read the speech because they experience its bitter truths.

Sadly, Justice Abella’s speech is timeless. The only thing that . . . [more]




One Shared Legal Future, Too Many Solitudes

Mon, 24 Mar 2014 11:00:25 +0000

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We often talk about the “Two Solitudes” within the legal profession: the silos between the academy and the profession. However, a recent talk by the Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada Thomas Conway made me realize that this dichotomy is wrong. There are not two solitudes within the legal profession, there are many more. 

As the Director of the Cavanagh LLP Professionalism Speaker Series at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, I invited the Treasurer to speak about “The Law Society of Upper Canada: Promoting the Public Interest and Facing the Challenges of a Changing Legal World”. . . . [more]




The Most Dangerous Client? Rob Ford and Legal Ethics

Thu, 13 Feb 2014 12:00:33 +0000

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In The Lincoln Lawyer, lawyer-hero Mickey Haller learns from his father that “there is no client as scary as an innocent man”. In an interview, author Michael Connelly explained that for the lawyer defending an innocent man there can only be one acceptable outcome: Not guilty. “There can be no middle ground. No deal. No plea bargain.” According to Connelly, this places enormous pressure on the lawyer because if the lawyer fails and the client is convicted and goes to prison, the lawyer “has to live with their own guilt in knowing that an innocent man is in . . . [more]




The Ethics of Articling

Mon, 09 Dec 2013 12:00:27 +0000

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It has long been an open secret that our articling system is deeply flawed. But is it unethical?

Articling today is a system that would be equally at home in Downton Abbey and in Booker Prize Winner Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

While I don’t think articling is inherently unethical, I do believe that it is inherently unequal and therefore creates an environment where unethical behavior is possible. Articling takes a vulnerable and powerless law student who is often carrying a significant financial debt and requires her to be at the beck and call of an experienced lawyer with largely . . . [more]




The (So-Called) Professional Responsibility to Foster Access to Justice

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 11:00:42 +0000

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There are many excellent recommendations in the CBA’s Reaching Equal Justice report. 

As a law professor and a member of the Legal Education and Training Team of the CBA’s Legal Futures initiative, I naturally focused on those relating to law schools, including this one:

All graduating law students should have a basic understanding of the issues relating to access to justice and know that fostering access to justice is an integral part of their professional responsibility.

This sounds great but there is a problem. Reaching Equal Justice assumes that access to justice is part of a Canadian lawyer’s professional . . . [more]




Does Solicitor-Client Privilege Apply to an Attorney-General Who Is Not a Lawyer?

Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:00:04 +0000

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No, it should not. That’s the best answer under existing doctrine and I think it is also the right answer.

In my previous post The Curious Case of the Non-Lawyer Attorney General: White Tiger of the Legal Profession, I reviewed the BC courts’ rejection to a challenge to a non-lawyer being appointed to the top legal job in the BC government.

Since then, BC Premier Christy Clark appointed a lawyer (!) as Justice Minister and Attorney General (The Hon. Suzanne Anton).

Despite this, the trend of non-lawyers being appointed as AGs is not abating and the . . . [more]




The Curious Case of the Non-Lawyer Attorney General: White Tiger of the Legal System

Wed, 29 May 2013 10:00:05 +0000

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Must the highest legal officer in the land be a lawyer? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

Recently, the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from a decision of the BC Supreme Court that held that the appointment of a non-lawyer Attorney General (the Honourable Shirley Bond) did not breach that province’s Legal Profession Act. In Askin v. Law Society of British Columbia, 2012 BCSC 895, Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein held that “the Legal Profession Act cannot be read in a manner which limits the Lieutenant Governor’s absolute and unfettered right to appoint members to the Executive . . . [more]




Ronald Dworkin and Canadian Legal Ethics

Mon, 25 Mar 2013 11:00:49 +0000

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Legal philosopher and Oxford and NYU Law Professor Ronald Dworkin died last month. Dworkin was arguably the most influential legal mind of his generation. Throughout his many writings, Dworkin argued that there was a moral content to law and to many of the phrases contained in the American Constitution. He strongly influenced legal scholarship and teaching in the United States and around the world, including Canada. Dworkin’s fingerprints can be seen in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, its interpretation by the Supreme Court of Canada and in much academic writing in this country. 

Dworkin has also cast a giant . . . [more]




Top Issues for the Canadian Legal Profession in 2013

Thu, 03 Jan 2013 17:42:18 +0000

In the spirit of the New Year, Resolutions and Top 10 lists, I present to you my predictions for the top issues that the legal profession in Canada will face in 2013. This was inspired by a discussion on the listserv of the Canadian Association for Legal Ethics (CALE) and in particular by contributions from Alice Woolley who started things off with a “Best of 2012” post that you can find here. Malcolm Mercer, Tom Harrison, and Richard Devlin, as always, expanded and enriched the discussion. Some of my “Top Issues for 2013” repeat Alice’s Top Issues in . . . [more]




Every Lawyer Needs a Guardian Angel

Sun, 09 Dec 2012 18:46:03 +0000

The Ottawa Citizen reported last week that a lawyer who posted confidential information about his own client online was caught in a police sting operation. The Ottawa criminal defence lawyer posted a PDF of disclosure that he received from the Crown in a criminal case against his client. The PDF contained blacked-out information and the lawyer used the web to seek someone to help him read the blacked out portions of the disclosure document. A man in Australia saw the post and contacted the Ottawa police who then caught the Ottawa lawyer in a sting operation. Read the Citizen . . . [more]




Holiday Gifts From the Supreme Court of Canada

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 12:53:21 +0000

It’s December so Christmas, Hannukah and other holidays are right around the corner. For law professors, law students, judges and court staff this is a relief. And the same is certainly true for most lawyers. However, for lawyers that have cases on reserve at the Supreme Court of Canada, the last two weeks of December can be a nerve-wrecking time.

In the last few years, the Supremes have saved some of their biggest cases as a pre-Christmas holiday gifts for all of us SCC-watchers. In 2009, they gave us Grant v Torstar, 2009 SCC 61. The next year, . . . [more]