recognizing - Ava Chisling



recognizing - Ava Chisling
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L E G A L I N S I G H T S & P R A C T I C E T R E N D S • L’ É C L A I R A G E N O VAT E U R E T P R AT I Q U E
The Canadian Bar
L’Association du
Barreau canadien
March 2007 Mars
More lawyers take parental leave with
their law firms’ blessing.
Melanie Comstock
McInnes Cooper, Halifax
with daughter Willoughby
PM 40070230
Return Undeliverable Canadian
Addresses to: Circulation Dept.
One Mount Pleasant Road, 7th Flr.
Toronto, ON M4Y 2Y5
Volume 16, No. 2
Cross-border tensions • Législation
anti-SLAPP • Saying no • Court
technology • Windows Vista • Office
design • Relations publiques • Smallfirm billing • Legal ethics • and more….
7:19 PM
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March 2007 Mars, Volume 16, No. 2
Cover · De la une
The Canadian Bar Association
L’Association du Barreau canadien
The parent track
A younger generation of lawyers has opened up new doors to parental
leaves unavailable to their predecessors. But be warned: lawyers who
embark on the parent track still have a difficult road ahead.
Janice Mucalov
Cover Photography: Marvin Moore
Features · Articles de fond
Poursuites à tête chercheuse
Louis Baribeau
Les poursuites stratégiques contre la mobilisation publique soulèvent des
passions au Québec. Pendant que certains affirment qu’on doit légiférer pour
enrayer le phénomène, d’autres prétendent qu’il n’y a pas lieu d’intervenir.
Border clashes
Susan Goldberg
Security concerns and trade tensions between Canada and the United States
are creating headaches for cross-border businesses and their lawyers, who are
working hard to keep the world’s longest undefended border hassle-free.
Don’t do it!
Allison Shields
Tired of overloaded schedules, too many demands
and a never-ending “to do” list? Maybe it’s time to
create a “don’t do” list and recapture control over
your time and priorities.
Slowly but surely
Ava Chisling
Technology continues to make gradual inroads in courtrooms across Canada.
More progress could mean less frustration for lawyers and more access to
justice for the public.
Mars 2007
w w w. c b a . o r g
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March 2007 Mars, Volume 16, No. 2
Departments · Chroniques
5. From the Editor · Du rédacteur en chef
Why law firms struggle with accommodating lawyers’ non-work lives.
6. From the President · Mot du président
All about the CBA’s continuing commitment to civil justice reform.
9. Comments · Commentaires
Taking babies to work and sending season’s greetings to clients.
11. CBA PracticeLink · ABC En Pratique
11. Vista
What you need to know about the new Microsoft OS.
How to design a client-friendly, ergonomic law office.
15. Billing
Dozens of tips and strategies for effective billing.
17. Relations publiques
Ce que vous devez faire pour vous démarquer.
51. Ethics · Éthique
What to do when opposing counsel helps your case more than his own.
53. Profile · Profil
Colleen Bauman: welcoming new Canadians triggers a new pro bono award.
58. Not Quite Contempt
It’s not every day you find an SUV under the rim of a discarded coffee cup.
The CBA & You · L’ABC et vous
55. De judicieux conseils · Caribbean dreams
Le Comité de développement international de l’ABC
collabore à la réforme du système de justice jamaïcain.
56-57. CLE Calendar · Calendrier FJP
April conferences on litigation and immigration law are filling up fast !
865 Carling Avenue, Suite 500,
Ottawa, ON, KIS 5S8
Tel.: (613) 237-2925 Fax: (613) 237-0185
e-mail: [email protected]
Senior Director of Communications /
Directeur principal des communications
Stephen Hanson: [email protected]
Editor-in-Chief / Rédacteur en chef
Jordan Furlong: [email protected]
Senior Editor / Rédactrice principale
Mélanie Raymond: [email protected]
National is published by the Communications
Committee of the Canadian Bar Association.
Assistant Editor / Adjoint à la rédaction
Jared Adams: [email protected]
865, av. Carling, bureau 500,
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Tél. : (613) 237-2925. Téléc. : (613) 237-0185
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National est publié par le Comité des communications de l’Association du Barreau canadien,
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Editorial Board Chair /
Présidente du comité de rédaction
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[email protected]
March 2007
7:21 PM
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Lessons in leave
Why most law firms can’t truly accommodate life outside work.
Jordan Furlong
reat news: many law firms no longer consider a
lawyer’s decision to start and raise a family to be
an implicit violation of the employment contract.
Our cover story relates that many women lawyers
can now take nine months or more of maternity leave
and return to find their jobs still waiting for them and
their career prospects not greatly dimmed.
This is a good thing, naturally, and we applaud the
architects and pioneers of parental leave acceptance. Of
course, in many firms, parental leave allowances are simply part of an effort to staunch the hemorrhaging of
young talent. Firms have learned that if they want to
keep young lawyers around, they could start by accommodating these lawyers’ desire to have kids and to be
with them during the first several months of their lives.
But that young talent probably will continue to
drain away regardless, because it’s not just about getting time with a newborn. Consider the fact that for
many of these lawyers, the hard part comes when they
return to work and find the firm demanding exactly the
same hours and dedication it did pre-leave — if not
more. I know a number of ex-firm lawyers for whom
that was the breaking point.
Why do so many lawyers still have to choose between
a fulfilling career in a law firm and a fulfilling role as an
involved parent? There are always tradeoffs, naturally:
you can’t be a high-powered, high-paid lawyer and still
From the Editor
Du rédacteur en chef
spend hours on the playroom floor with your kids. But
lawyering and parenting don’t have to be mutually exclusive. More to the point, law firms seem to keep mistaking the symptoms for the problem.
Law firms are businesses trying to turn a profit. But
they’re hamstrung by how they go about it — by their
addiction to the billable-hour system. When you sell your
services, compensate your workers and evaluate your
future partners primarily on the volume of hours billed,
you will disproportionately reward those lawyers who
have few if any commitments outside the office.
If time equals profitability, and if profitability equals
profile and promotion, a firm inevitably will exclude
lawyers who want or need to spend time away from work
(a group that remains overwhelmingly female). There are
thousands of excellent lawyers who fall into that category. They form a vast pool of top-quality resources that
continue to slip away from firms addicted to the billable
hour system. Is the system worth that?
Speaking of parental leaves, I’m about to take one
myself. Our second child arrives in mid-February, and I’ll
be away from the office for three months. The next two
issues will be in the very capable hands of Senior Editor
Mélanie Raymond, whose face and words you’ll find in
this space for the next two issues. See you in August. N
— Send your comments to [email protected]
Les leçons du congé parental
Famille et heures facturables ne font toujours pas bon ménage.
a naissance d’un enfant et une carrière intéressante ne semblent plus
être incompatibles dans le merveilleux monde du droit. Notre article à la
une démontre que plusieurs avocates
peuvent désormais se prévaloir d’un
congé de maternité de neuf mois et plus
sans que leur carrière n’en souffre.
C’est une très bonne nouvelle et nous
nous réjouissons des progrès accomplis.
Plusieurs juristes se sont battus pour que
les congés parentaux deviennent la norme
plutôt que l’exception. Les cabinets ont
compris qu’ils doivent se plier à ces nouvelles exigences afin de freiner l’exode des
jeunes avocates talentueuses.
Mais ces avancées ne seront peut-être
pas suffisantes pour inciter les jeunes
Mars 2007
avocates et, dans une certaine mesure, les
jeunes avocats, à cesser d’aller voir ailleurs s’ils y sont. Pour plusieurs, le véritable défi n’est pas de s’absenter du travail
lors de la naissance de leur enfant. Il s’agit plutôt de survivre au choc du retour.
Car même si la vie personnelle des nouveaux parents est désormais bouleversée,
les cibles d’heures facturables et les
critères d’évaluation de rendement demeurent les mêmes. Famille et vie professionnelle sont encore et toujours difficiles
à concilier.
Bien sûr, on ne peut pas avoir le beurre
et l’argent du beurre. Choisir d’avoir une
famille nécessite certains sacrifices au
niveau professionnel. Cependant, je crois
que la dépendance des cabinets envers le
w w w. c b a . o r g
sacro-saint principe des heures facturables
favorise ceux qui ont du temps au détriment de ceux qui sont efficaces et innovateurs. Or, du temps, c’est ce que les parents n’ont souvent pas.
Au nom d’un système désuet, on perd
ainsi l’apport d’excellents juristes. C’est un
pensez-y bien.
Je me prévaudrai moi-même d’un
congé de paternité au cours des prochains
trois mois. Durant cette période, le magazine sera dirigé par notre rédactrice principale, Mélanie Raymond. Ce sera son visage et ses mots que vous apercevrez dans
cet espace. Nous nous retrouverons au
mois d’août prochain. N
— Des commentaires? Écrivez-nous à [email protected]
From President
7:22 PM
Page 6
Mot du président
Taming the beast
Our continuing commitment to civil
justice reform.
1st Vice-President
1er vice-président
By J. Parker MacCarthy, Q.C.
omething as simple as the space occupied
by legal files on a shelf can point to the
pressing need for reform. Back in the
early 1990s, I was dealing with my firm’s
problem of “dead file” storage. My attention
focused on a complex commercial litigation file
for a major client, completed in the mid-1970s
by my now-deceased former partner David R.
Williams, Q.C., a widely respected litigator.
It was remarkable how little shelf space the
file occupied, even though it contained correspondence, pleadings, discovery transcripts,
pre-trial motions and transcripts of the trial,
right up to and through the favourable Court
of Appeal decision.
On an adjacent shelf was the file of a
recently completed, equally complex commercial litigation file for the same client, with similar contents. But the shelf space occupied by
this 1990s file dwarfed the modest amount
taken up by its 1970s predecessor, and with
no appeal attached.
These were graphic examples of the problems emerging in the early ’90s in the
Canadian civil justice system — increasing
cost, delay and complexity, all inhibiting access
to justice. In 1994, the CBA responded by creating the CBA Systems of Civil Justice Task
Force. Two years later, in a seminal report, the
task force delivered 53 recommendations for
improving the Canadian civil justice system.
One civil justice reform initiative in particular — the report’s greatest legacy — was the
creation of the Canadian Forum on Civil
Justice, an independent non-profit organization established by the CBA and the University
of Alberta Faculty of Law. The Forum has been
influential and effective in promoting, researching and monitoring civil justice reform
throughout Canada during the last decade.
Last year, to help celebrate the report’s
tenth anniversary, and with the assistance of
the CBA and other partner organizations, the
Forum organized “Into the Future,” two-part
conference. Representatives of legal organizations, government and the judiciary met to
assess the progress of reform, examine unresolved barriers to access to justice, and “to
articulate a common vision for the civil justice
system and to create a stronger voice for
reform within every province and territory.”
The CBA continues to work with others to
promote reforms in the 21st century that will
make our civil justice system more accessible,
effective, affordable, and fair. It’s part of the
CBA mandate and what we do extremely well,
for the benefit of our members, the legal profession as a whole, and the public. N
— Send your comments to [email protected]
2 nd Vice-President
2 e vice-président
Past President
Président sortant
Chief Executive Officer
Chef de la direction
Dompter la bête
Notre engagement soutenu à l’égard de la réforme de la justice civile.
u début des années 1990, je
m’attaquais au problème d’entreposage des dossiers archivés
de mon cabinet. C’est alors que j’ai remarqué un dossier d’envergure en litige
commercial, complété pendant les années 1970. Ce qui a retenu mon attention était le peu d’espace réservé au dossier, malgré la présence de tous les documents pertinents.
Car pas loin de là était rangé un dossier
semblable, terminé récemment pour le
même client, mais dont le volume éclipsait celui de son prédécesseur.
Voilà qui illustre bien l’émergence des
problèmes reliés à l’augmentation des
coûts et à l’allongement des délais qui ont
commencé à miner l’accessibilité à la justice civile. En 1996, le rapport du Groupe
de travail sur les systèmes de justice civile
de l’ABC proposait 53 recommandations
visant la modernisation du système, dont
la création du Forum canadien sur la réforme de la justice civile, un organisme
indépendant sans but lucratif qui surveille
et assure la promotion de la réforme de la
justice civile au Canada.
L’année dernière, le Forum était l’hôte
d’une conférence nationale intitulée Vers
le futur, visant à étudier notamment les
entraves à l’accessibilité à la justice, question d’élaborer une orientation nationale
des réformes à venir.
L’ABC demeure vouée à faire avancer
des réformes visant un système de justice civile plus accessible et juste. Cela
fait partie de notre mandat, que nous
complétons avec brio, dans l’intérêt de
nos membres, de la profession juridique
et du public. N
— Commentaires? [email protected]
March 2007
7:22 PM
Page 1
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Page 9
Accommodating children
egarding “Eight is
great” (December
2006, p. 12): I,
too, had the opportunity to bring
my breastfeeding babies to
work at my firm — in both
cases, after the full six months
of maternity leave but before
my daycare centre of choice
had space available.
I brought my first baby
when I was in a non-lawyer
staff position, and it was a
lovely experience for all involved. I had my second baby
immediately after finishing
exams in my third year of law
school, took the full six months
of leave before starting articles,
and was able to bring my baby Charmaine Panko of Balfour Moss LLP
to work for the first couple of in Saskatoon
months of my articles, which
the firm further accommodated by not sending me to court or out-of-office
duties until my daughter was safely ensconced in daycare.
I would like to point out that accommodations should extend not only
to mothers, but also to fathers who are taking on significant parenting
duties, and not only to situations in which “kids are never a burden,”
but also to situations where they are. Firms should actively share that
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Page 11
Installing the
Follow these steps to a trouble-free
Vista installation.
• Sort out the versions.
Windows Vista will have five editions —
Home Basic, Home Premium, Business,
Enterprise and Ultimate. Read about
them at the Microsoft website to determine which is the best fit for your office
or home.
7:40 PM
By Steven Pittsley. Adapted from To
read the full article, along with all ten Vista tips, visit
Feed your need
Internet Explorer 7 offers
RSS feeds, tabs, printing and
heightened security.
Although Internet Explorer 7 has been
available as a free download since late
2006, many lawyers may only upgrade to
the new browser when they move to the
Windows Vista operating system this year.
Here’s an overview of what’s new in IE 7:
indows Vista is the most comprehensive operating system ever produced by Microsoft, but
enhanced functionality and graphical improvements come at a price — usually, high-end hardware. The minimum
requirements to run Microsoft’s latest flagship are much steeper than
any previous operating system. Here are ten factors to address as you
prepare your existing computer to run Windows Vista:
• Analyze your machine for upgrade readiness.
Download and run the Windows Upgrade Advisor utility (www.
This software will examine your computer and provide you with a
summary of what versions of Windows Vista the computer is capable
of running.
• Check the CPU.
To be considered Vista-capable, the computer must have a CPU of at
least 800 MHz. Those that are “Premium-ready” require a processor
of at least 1 GHz.
• Make sure you have enough memory.
To be considered Vista-capable, the PC must have at least 512 MB of
RAM. “Premium-ready” machines must have a minimum of 1 GB.
• Ensure you have enough hard drive space.
The hard drive must be at least 40 GB in size and have a minimum of
15 GB of free space.
w w w. c b a . o r g
• Feeds: Once reserved for techies, RSS
feeds are now growing rapidly in popularity. It’s no surprise, then, that IE 7 has a
built-in RSS reader, allowing you to have
personalized news and information updates delivered straight to you.
• Tabbed browsing: Something that
Firefox users have long enjoyed, tabs
allow you to open several websites within
a single browser window and organize
tabs into groups of favorites. No more
Alt-Tab switching.
• Printing: IE 7 includes improved fit-topage options and more ways to customize
how printed pages appear.
• Security: Like all versions before it, IE 7
has been criticized for being less than airtight in terms of security. For its part,
Microsoft boasts that its new version
includes increased safety of personal data,
more protection from malicious software,
and a new filter to identify online “phishing” scams, where a fraudulent imposter
site impersonates a trusted one.
To download IE 7, visit http://www.
7:41 PM
Page 12
The view from here
■ The
Two pundits’ reasons to
use Vista with care.
What’s new and different about Microsoft Vista?
that change, depending on
the application you’re
using. “It’s pretty different.
People will definitely be
taken aback,” says Shorr.
“But it makes the features a
lot more discoverable.”
s sure as day turns to night,
PC users have come to
expect regular overhauls of
Microsoft’s operating system (OS)
about every three to four years. Vista,
the latest OS from the software giant,
hit the shelves in February right around
the same time as MS Office 2007, the
much-hyped reboot of Microsoft’s ubiquitous productivity suite.
What can long-time users expect of
the new system, aside from a potentially
difficult adjustment period? According
to Ben Shorr, a Honolulu-based technology expert, PC users should brace themselves for four major changes:
1. New interface. Vista contains a new
graphical interface called “the Ribbon,”
which replaces the menus and toolbars
that have been the trademark of MS
Office for years. Major changes here
include the Office button, which
replaces the File menu in the top left
corner of your window and allows users
a greater number of applications,
including file-sharing.
The Ribbon also features a series of
tabs (based on the Firefox web browser)
other view
2. New file formats. Office
2007 users can look forward to a significant file
format change for their documents, from the old .doc to
an XML format. The new hybrid .docx
files will not only mean more flexibility
— you can change numerous documents
with one click — but also more space on
your hard drive; expect an old 60K document to take up about 25K of space.
3. PDF integration. You can “natively”
save, print and transfer PDF files in just
one step — but not without downloading free software from Microsoft first.
(Adobe’s lawyers had something to say
about that, Shorr observes.)
4. OneNote upgrade. Microsoft’s underutilized note-taking software has gotten
a makeover. The new edition of
OneNote is ideal for tablet-style computers, opens up new research capabilities and allows for collaboration across
multiple computers.
Shorr, who has been using a trial version of the software for almost two
years, notes that four years of “massive”
user testing lay behind these changes.
“They take these things very seriously at
the head office,” he says. “[It] was very
heavily designed with the user in mind.”
New operating systems historically
have loads of problems. New drivers
are required for a lot of peripheral
devices, bugs crop up that need to be
fixed, and so on. Vista, in particular,
may not run on older hardware. It
contains tons of new code (including
heavy diagnostic code), fancier
graphics and will require at least
512 megabytes of memory to operate. That translates to a gig of memory in real life. You could find yourself
having to buy a new computer just
to run Vista.
From: “Top 10 Reasons to Delay Your
Upgrade to Windows Vista,” by Rick Georges,
“Vista’s legal fine print includes
extensive provisions granting
Microsoft the right to regularly check
the legitimacy of the software, and
holds the prospect of deleting certain
programs without the user’s knowledge. .... The terms and conditions
[state]: This agreement only gives you
some rights to use the software.
Microsoft reserves all other rights.”
From: “Vista’s fine print raises red flags,” by
Michael Geist,
— Brad Mackay
Official notice
Avis officiel
Canadian Legal Conference
and Expo 2007
Conférence juridique
canadienne et Expo 2007
The Canadian Legal Conference & Expo of the Canadian Bar
Association will be held at the Telus Convention Centre in
Calgary, Alberta, from August 12-14, 2007. Council will meet
on August 11 and 12.
La Conférence juridique canadienne de l’ABC se tiendra au Telus
Convention Centre de Calgary, Alberta, du 12 au 14 août 2007.
Le Conseil tiendra son assemblée les 11 et 12 août 2007.
Resolutions to Council
Vous pourrez obtenir un formulaire de résolutions au Conseil
auprès du service des Affaires juridiques et gouvernementales.
La date limite pour soumettre des projets de résolutions est
fixée au 1er juin 2007.
Forms for submitting resolutions are available from the Legal
and Governmental Affairs Department. The deadline for submitting proposed resolutions is June 1, 2007.
Résolutions au Conseil
March 2007
7:41 PM
Page 13
A Case Study
in Cutting-Edge
Making your law office
McCarthy Tétrault’s redesign
says: “Clients come first”
Here are several ways you can make your office
friendlier and more comfortable for your clients.
he design and
layout of your
law office, the
amenities you offer, and
how your clients are treated once they arrive speak
volumes about your firm.
By putting even a small
amount of time and effort
into making your office
more welcoming, you can
make existing clients
happy. Their positive experiences can spread by word
of mouth to new clients.
If you have a big budget,
as is the case with many
large firms, you can afford extras like
private client rooms and upscale entertaining. However, even if your firm is
small or medium-sized, there are ways
to make clients feel at ease. These notso-little things can go a long way
towards welcoming clients and making
them comfortable — and they don’t
have to break the bank.
Reception Area: First impressions count.
The look and feel of your reception area
offers the perfect opportunity to make a
good first impression on clients.
Greetings: Your receptionist is your clients’
first point of contact with the firm. Make
sure he or she is polite, professional and
informed about lawyers’ whereabouts.
Business Centre: It’s not a new idea, but
many law firms are making them bigger and
providing more amenities, like wireless
hotspots for clients.
Client Parking Spots: Depending on your
location and situation, designated parking
can create an incredible amount of goodwill.
Magazines/Newspapers: If clients absolutely have to wait in the reception area,
make an effort to provide a daily newspaper
and some up-to-date magazines.
Mars 2007
Firm Brochures/Literature: Use the (hopefully short) time clients spend in your reception area as a marketing opportunity. Display
firm brochures, annual reports and other literature, as well as lawyers’ business cards, on
a table.
Coffee and More: Most people would
agree that it’s better to provide no food at
all than something that’s stale and unappetizing. Keep it fresh.
Cleanliness and Organization: A tidy, organized office sends a big message. Boxes of
paper can clutter the firm’s halls and offices
and detract from a clean, organized look.
Accessibility: This includes parking for
disabled persons, a wheelchair-accessible
entrance, barrier-free washrooms and
pathways, and a braille elevator with lowered buttons.
Art: Most firms like to play it safe and stick
with non-controversial artwork. Choose
carefully — some art can offend a client’s
Moot Court: If you have the space, set up a
moot court, complete with raised platform
and judge’s bench, for clients who have
never set foot in a courtroom.
— Ann Macaulay
w w w. c b a . o r g
cCarthy Tétrault LLP completed a massive, multimillion-dollar redesign of
its Montreal office last year. In addition to
the move to a new building and totally
revamped staff offices, the firm created a
huge conference centre for clients on the
25th floor of le Mille de la Gauchetière,
complete with a variety of meeting rooms
and offices that overlook sweeping views
of the St. Lawrence River.
Chief administrative officer Jacques
Bisson, who headed the design team at
McCarthy Tétrault, visited several law
firms in the U.S. and England during the
planning stages in order to take a look at
cutting-edge law firm designs. “We wanted to do something a bit different than
what we have seen in Canada so far.”
The firm created a variety of spaces to
accommodate clients, who stay only on
the conference floor when they’re visiting. In addition to conference rooms,
there are two lounges, several visitor
offices and informal meeting rooms, and
two telephone rooms. Even the reception
area has separate seating areas.
“Better technology for our clients was a
must,” says Bisson. The firm spent more
than a million dollars on AV equipment
alone. Clients have access to wireless
hotspots, computers, a printer, a photocopier and a fax machine.
The firm has a commercial kitchen and a
chef on staff. In addition, contracted caterers can set up food in a separate room.
Lighting was a big priority for the firm.
The east and west walls are glass, which
adds a lot of natural light to the core of
the floor. There are two lounges for
clients made of opaque glass, which lets
in light while providing privacy.
Light fixtures were carefully thought
out. Brais points out that although the
lighting industry has “exploded” with
new products in other countries, office
space in Canada normally includes lighting fixtures that are now obsolete.
McCarthys decided to start from scratch
and buy new lighting for the entire office.
“Don’t blare the fluorescent lighting,”
advises Brais. “Provide comfortable, more
intimate lighting. That has an enormous
influence on how people feel. It’s a
neglected part of design in Canada.”
Adapted from CBA PracticeLink’s Making Your
Law Office Client-Friendly. To read the full article, visit
7:41 PM
Page 14
Check out these articles on law
firm office space, from past issues
of National:
• Standing on Higher Ground
(Jun. 2006)
• Real-Estate Realities
(Oct./Nov. 2005)
economics of
• A Room with a View (May 2005)
• Trading Spaces (Mar./Apr. 2003)
Law firms are starting to rethink the design and use of their workspace.
noll Inc., a designer and manufacturer of office furnishings, conducted a
survey that suggests powerful changes are occurring in some of the largest
firms in the United States and Canada, affecting the way workspace will
be designed and used from now on.
“This spells opportunity for those firms interested in understanding the link
between workplace design and enhanced collaboration and productivity,” says
Christine Barber, Knoll’s Director of Workplace Research.
For a copy of the Knoll survey, e-mail [email protected]
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March 2007
7:42 PM
Page 15
Time entry tips
1. Don’t bill more than two hours for
anything that is done at your desk
(court appearances and meetings
often consume larger blocks of time).
It’s better to break the block into
multiple tasks.
2. Aggregate small entries. If you are
playing phone tag, it’s better to
charge 0.4 hours for the phone call
than 0.1 four times for dialing unsuccessfully three times and having a sixminute conversation.
How technology can help small
firms bill more effectively.
hen it comes to making
their billing processes more
efficient, small-firm lawyers
have a dizzying array of software applications from which to choose. Increasingly,
these programs are within the reach of a
small-firm lawyer’s budget.
One of the best-established programs
on the market is Tabs3, the flagship product of Software Technology Inc., which
was founded way back in 1979 (the hightech equivalent of the Paleozoic Era).
At about US$300 a year, Tabs3 claims to
have about 425,000 users in small to midsize law firms. Its software more or less
paved the way for today’s legal billing
program marketplace, with tools that
In addition to offering accounting
features that automatically generate bills,
account receivable slips and deposit slips,
PCLaw boasts some of the easiest timerecording functions on the market,
according to Toronto technology lawyer
Alan Gahtan.
“If you have three or four or ten different matters you’re working on during a
particular day, you just set them up and
click on a timer, and it keeps track as you
switch between things,” says Gahtan. “It’s
pretty good for productivity, and it
reduces the amount of time that you forget to mark down.”
PCLaw also has a suite of accessories
that allow you to manage your documents,
banking data, and
In addition to offering accounting features that
automatically generate bills, account receivable slips law society records.
And, as a bonus, it
and deposit slips, PCLaw boasts some of the easiest keeps track of GST
time-recording functions on the market.
and PST. But it
comes at a cost:
allow you to keep a running tally of your
entry-level installations run about
billables while reminding you of when to
US$750. Yet when you consider the cost of
bill, and more importantly, who is and
a secretary or admin assistant, it becomes
who isn’t paying up.
a more attractive option, Gahtan notes.
Another popular option is the Ca“It’s a huge help,” he says. “I mean,
nadian-created, but now Americansomeone could probably do most of what
owned, PCLaw program. Recently snappthis program does, but the amount of
ed up by LexisNexis, PCLaw has itself
time you’d have to spend to replicate all
snapped up most of the industry’s top
the functionalities is enormous. I can’t
awards over the past couple of years,
imagine someone running a practice
thanks to its focus on firms of ten employwithout using something like this.”
ees or fewer.
— Brad Mackay
Mars 2007
w w w. c b a . o r g
3. If you’re going to bill a client
$5,000 for the month, and the client
usually gets a bill for $500 to $1,000,
you'd be wise to let the client know
that a big bill is on the way.
Excerpted from “The art of time entries,” by Harry
Styron, Missouri real estate lawyer. Read the full
article at
■ Blogwatch
Law Firm Collections Efforts: Are
Yours Too Little Too Late?
How To Avoid Getting Stiffed On
A Bill
How Much You Bill or How Fast
You Collect?
Make More With Flat Fees
Moving into Alternative Billing Via
— Mark Kuiack
7:43 PM
Page 16
Get up to speed
Faster billing means
more profits.
Here’s how.
hortening the billing cycle and speeding up the collection process can have a dramatic positive impact on
distributable income to a firm’s owners and partners.
While every law firm is different, the average firm has 78 days
of unbilled work. On average, it takes an additional 60 days to
collect fees once they have been billed. That’s slightly more
than 4.5 months from the time services are performed until
payment is deposited in the firm’s bank account.
With faster billing, adjustments will decline, client appreciation for work will improve, and lawyers will be less tempted to
make concessions in exchange for a payment promise. Use the
checklist below as a guide to speed up billing and collection.
• Negotiate trust deposits and/or prepayments together with
minimum trust deposits.
• Agree on billing frequency — monthly or bi-weekly.
• Use cycle billing. Assign specific clients or billing lawyers to a
four- or five-week cycle. This spreads out the workload and
evens out the cash flow.
• Document payment terms in the engagement letter.
• Get agreement on late payment penalties.
• Promote e-mail bills. You will get payment faster while eliminating postal delays, postage cost, paper and administrative
• Negotiate progress payments.
• Insist on zero tolerance that billable information has to be
tracked and reported as worked.
• Get time in on schedule — daily, weekly, etc. This discipline
needs to be a job requirement, period.
• Use time tracking software that turns your e-mails, appointments and calls into time entries without the need to re-enter. ....
By legal consultant Tom Collins. Read the rest of his extensive checklist at 2005/10/18/1295833.html.
Taking a collection
10 tips for effective fee collection for lawyers.
iling up billable hours without receiving cash is the
road to insolvency. The goal in fee collection is to have
a high ratio of collected to billed accounts. An overall
ratio of less than 80 to 85 per cent is a recipe for trouble. An
overall ratio of greater than 95 per cent might mean your rates
are too low — clients could be paying quickly because the
amounts are insignificant to them.
Here are ten techniques you can employ to get accounts
paid quickly.
1. Get fees and budgets in writing. Before beginning every
engagement, you should get the client’s written agreement
regarding the fee to be charged, how it will be calculated, when
it is to be paid, and the consequences of non-payment, including your right to withdraw. Every engagement letter should
also provide a budget that addresses events, time and money.
2. Develop a collection policy. Consider establishing a firmwide written collection policy that outlines how to keep track
of delinquent clients and how to deal with unpaid accounts.
The policy should cover everything from the start of the client
relationship to the payment of the final bill.
3. Offer payment convenience. Accept credit cards to make it
as easy as possible for clients to pay for legal services. Clients
today live on plastic, and paying legal bills with credit cards is
easy for them. ….
By legal consultant Edward Poll ( Read the next seven tips online at
CBA PracticeLink,
March 2007
7:43 PM
Page 17
Faites-le vous-même!
Tout ce qu’il vous faut pour créer votre plan de
relations publiques.
n ne peut se rendre à bon port
sans savoir où l’on va. Or, la
stratégie de relations publiques de trop de juristes et de cabinets se
résume à la pensée magique. Pourtant,
quelques heures de réflexion et de planification peuvent vous mener loin!
Vous n’êtes peut-être pas spécialiste
en communication, mais vous pouvez
vous inspirer des techniques que ces
derniers utilisent et confectionner votre
propre plan de relations publiques. Il
pourra vous servir à mieux vous faire
connaître, à permettre à votre cabinet de
se démarquer ou à attirer l’attention des
médias sur une question importante
dans votre domaine de pratique.
Un plan de relations publiques comporte habituellement six principaux
volets :
2. Recherche et analyse de la situation :
Jetez un coup d’œil à l’environnement
dans lequel vous évoluez. Identifiez les
enjeux, les bonnes occasions et les
risques, en gardant toujours en tête ce
qui pourrait avoir un effet sur vos projets
de relations publiques.
3. Identification des publics cibles :
Segmentez l’audience à qui vous
souhaitez vous adresser en sous-groupes
aux caractéristiques communes. Ce peux
être, par exemple, les journaux locaux ou
encore, les professionnels de l’industrie
bancaire qui ont de bonnes chances
d’obtenir une promotion au cours de la
prochaine année. Identifiez leurs
attentes afin de pouvoir y répondre le
mieux possible.
Mars 2007
Ce qui compte
Selon l’ouvrage Les relations
publiques dans une société en mouvance, plusieurs facteurs ont une
influence sur les attitudes et les comportements des différents publics.
• La crédibilité est essentielle dans
le secteur des services financiers
• Le prix est l’élément déterminant
pour des produits peu différenciés
comme les shampoings.
1. Contexte et objectifs à atteindre:
Votre stratégie s’appliquera-t-elle à
un projet précis ou touchera-t-elle à
l’ensemble des activités du cabinet?
Votre objectif à atteindre est-il la rencontre de nouveaux clients dans votre
région ou souhaitez-vous être perçu
comme une spécialiste dans un domaine
grâce à une plus grande visibilité dans
les médias?
• La fiabilité est un critère de
premier ordre dans le secteur de
• Le service après-vente fait la
différence dans l’informatique.
4. Moyens de communication: Pour
chaque public cible, déterminez quelle
serait la meilleure tactique à mettre en
place afin de transmettre votre message.
Établissez la liste des moyens de communication (téléphone, rencontres, rédaction d’article, présentation de conférences) que vous pourriez mettre en
œuvre pour y parvenir.
5. Échéancier et ressources: Planifier le
temps requis pour réaliser chaque étape
du plan. Pensez aux ressources humaines
requises, aux besoins en ressources documentaires, matérielles et technologiques,
ainsi qu’au budget que vous consacrerez
à cet exercice.
6. Évaluation et rétro-information : Pensez à des marqueurs précis auxquels vous
pourrez vous référer pour mesurer les
effets produits. Serez-vous satisfait si
deux articles dans les médias locaux vous
utilisent comme source? Si trois clients
vous appellent suite à la conférence que
vous aurez prononcée? Déterminez à
quel moment vous procéderez à l’évaluation de l’atteinte de vos objectifs.
En couchant votre stratégie sur papier,
vous vous obligerez à réfléchir à la façon
dont vous pouvez faire votre promotion,
à mettre en œuvre certaines stratégies et
à mesurer l’impact de ces dernières. Vous
serez peut-être parfois forcé de corriger
le tir, mais vous aurez de bien meilleures
chances de vous rendre à destination.
• La performance est LE critère chez
les mordus d’audiovisuel ou de
voitures de sport
• La personnalisation (le fait de se sentir soi-même touché est un facteur de
fidélisation des donateurs pour leur
choix d’œuvres caritatives.
Quels facteurs, selon vous, influencent
la décision de vos clients de vous
choisir en tant que fournisseur de services juridiques?
■ 5 sites web pour vous
aider à rédiger de bons
communiqués de presse
— Mélanie Raymond
w w w. c b a . o r g
7:47 PM
Page 18
La Conférence juridique de l’ABC et Expo
12 au 14 août, 2007
L’Association du Barreau canadien
L’Association du Barreau canadien
est honorée d’annoncer que
le lauréat du Prix Nobel de la paix
Elie Wiesel
sera le conférencier principal de la
Conférence juridique canadienne 2007
Pour plus de détails, consultez la
brochure d’inscription dans le
présent numéro du National et
réservez votre place dès maintenant pour assister, du 12 au
14 août 2007, à l’événement par
excellence pour les juristes du
Canada en ce qui concerne le
réseautage et la formation!
écipiendaire de la Médaille présidentielle de la
liberté, de la Médaille d’or du Congrès des ÉtatsUnis, et de la Grand-Croix de la Légion d’honneur
française, Elie Wiesel est un auteur, un enseignant et
un conteur incité par son expérience personnelle de
l’Holocauste à mettre ses talents au service de la défense
des droits de la personne et de la
paix à travers le monde.
Le juge John Gomery, Peter
Lougheed et Preston Manning,
ainsi que la chanteuse Jann Arden,
gagnante d’un prix Juno, seront
aussi de la partie.
7:44 PM
Page 19
Attirez l’attention des médias
sur vos communiqués de presse
en vous concentrant sur
la nouvelle.
haque jour, des
journalistes sont
submergés de communiqués de presse qui leur parviennent via divers moyens : la poste,
le courriel et même les fils de nouvelles RSS. Comment les juristes
peuvent-ils s’assurer que leurs
communiqués de presse se détacheront de la masse des autres?
La réponse est simple : pensez
comme un journaliste. Un journaliste se concentre exclusivement sur
« l’aspect nouvelles ».
La nouvelle se définit comme l’information que les gens veulent connaître afin de prendre les
bonnes décisions pour leur vie personnelle. Lorsque des cabinets
juridiques font leur auto-promotion, il ne s’agit pas de nouvelles.
Des événements comme l’embauche de nouveaux avocats, les
promotions accordées à ceux qui exercent déjà dans le cabinet,
l’expansion du cabinet dans de nouveaux bureaux ou l’annonce
de récompenses et de nominations peuvent certes être importants pour les avocats, à titre individuel, ou pour le cabinet
juridique dans son ensemble. Cependant, pour la presse non impliquée dans la communauté juridique, soit la presse que vos
clients actuels et potentiels consultent, il s’agit là de nouvelles
sans grand intérêt.
Un communiqué de presse
digne d’être diffusé traite d’un
sujet unique et touche un vaste
groupe de personnes au sein
du public cible d’un journaliste
(qui couvre un secteur ou domaine spécifique) ou une publication imprimée ou électronique. Si une opération ou un
procès risque d’intéresser un
vaste nombre de personnes,
d’entreprises ou d’autres juristes (comme par exemple la
décision d’une cour d’appel),
il y a de fortes chances que
les médias d’information s’y
La meilleure façon d’attirer
l’attention de journalistes ou
de rédacteurs sur vos communiqués de presse consiste à
vous assurer que le sujet dont ils traitent s’inscrit dans les 3%
dignes de faire la nouvelle.
Si c’est le cas, les journalistes apprendront à vous faire confiance et vous considéreront comme une précieuse source de renseignements susceptible de les aider à bien faire leur travail, soit
de couvrir des nouvelles dans un secteur particulier. Sinon, les
communiqués de presse faisant l’apologie de votre cabinet
rejoindront leurs « frères » dans la poubelle des journalistes.
Ce texte est tiré de Comment attirer l’attention des médias sur les communiqués de
presse diffusés par votre cabinet juridique que vous pouvez consulter sur le site Web
d’Enpratique au
Le bon porte-parole
Adoptez une politique pour les relations du cabinet avec les médias
out cabinet devrait adopter une politique indiquant
le nom de la personne
désignée pour s’adresser aux médias.
En mettant un tel programme en place,
on évite tout risque de fuite préjudiciable et on fait en sorte de diffuser le
message souhaité.
Dans la mesure du possible, il est
Mars 2007
préférable que la même personne traite
avec tous les médias. Ainsi, comme
c’est la même personne qui parle au
nom du cabinet, toutes les chances sont
réunies pour qu’un message uniforme
soit diffusé. Il importe de choisir la
personne la mieux qualifiée pour ce
faire, quelqu’un ayant une connaissance approfondie des médias, qui sait
w w w. c b a . o r g
parfaitement garder son sang-froid en
cas de crise, qui est au courant des
principales questions en jeu et qui sait
exactement ce qu’il faut et ne faut pas
Ce texte est tiré du Guide des relations de l’avocat, de
l’avocate avec les médias que vous pouvez consultez sur
le site Web d’Enpratique au
7:52 PM
Page 20
Melanie Comstock of McInnes Cooper
in Halifax with husband Greg Scott
and daughters Adelaide (2) and
Willoughby (4 months)
“I was six months’ pregnant with my
second daughter when I was admitted
to partnership.”
Taking time off work to deliver and raise a child is no longer an automatic
career-limiting move in Canadian law firms. A younger generation of
lawyers has opened up new doors to parental leaves unavailable to their
predecessors. But be warned: lawyers who embark on the parent track still
have a difficult road ahead.
Janice Mucalov
March 2007
7:53 PM
Page 21
hen Trish Morrison became pregnant while
working as an associate with Borden Ladner
Gervais LLP in Calgary, she did something few women lawyers
would have dreamed of a decade ago: she took a 12-month
maternity leave. And if that weren’t enough to shock hardline law
firm leaders of a past generation, she became pregnant again —
and took another ten months’ leave.
Leaving the law firm for nearly two years during her critical
career-building phase spelled the end of Morrison’s prospects at
BLG, didn’t it? Not quite. Morrison was admitted to Borden
Ladner’s partnership in January 2006, and has nothing but good
things to say about how she was treated.
“My experiences were very positive,” says
Morrison, 36. “The firm was very congratulatory when I was pregnant and sent flowers
Trish Morrison
when the baby was born. Another female
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, lawyer in the firm threw a baby shower for me
at which a number of other lawyers and staff
were present.
“The firm was also extremely supportive
“The firm was extremely
when I returned to work,” she adds, “in
terms of helping me to rebuild my practice
supportive when I returned
and recognizing that I had commitments outto work, in terms of helping side of the office.”
If it seems to you that that’s not how law
me to rebuild my practice
firms did it in the old days, you’re absolutely
correct. Slowly but surely, law firms are comand recognizing that I had
ing to grips with the fact that this generation
commitments outside of
of lawyers takes parenting pretty seriously.
Unlike their Boomer or even their older Genthe office.”
X predecessors, young lawyers today insist
that parenting and practising law are not
mutually exclusive undertakings. Young lawyers want both a family and a career, and
they want the chance to do both to the best
of their ability.
And remarkably enough, law firms are listening. The clearest sign that the mood is
changing is the growth in the frequency and
ease of parental leaves — in particular, the
near-routine acceptance of longer paid maternity leaves.
Public-sector legal employers and corporate
law departments have offered year-long
parental leaves and 100% salary top-ups for
some time. Private firms aren’t yet as generous, but they too now offer increased financial support to
female lawyers on leave. Paternity leave is still less commonly granted (and less frequently requested).
But a gradually increasing number of new dads are bidding their firms a temporary farewell to spend
time at home with their newborns
But for all the positive vibes, parental leaves are hardly a walk in the park. Finances dictate that some
private-firm women lawyers return to work sooner than they’d like (and sooner than their counterparts
at more generous firms. And there is still a widespread belief that in most law firms, you take lengthy
parental leave at peril to your standing in the firm and career advancement prospects. The parental path
is finally accessible, but remains potentially dangerous to those who follow it.
Mars 2007
w w w. c b a . o r g
Awards 2007
celebrating innovation in the practice of law
sponsored by:
Platinum Sponsors
Additional information and entry
forms are available online at
All entries must be received by
Friday, June 1, 2007.
7NATL12540A.indd 1
Gold Sponsors
ABA Law Practice
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Canadian Bar Association
International Legal Technology
Association (ILTA)
Office Tiger, RR Donnelley
Silver Sponsors
Altman Weil, Inc.
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Redwood Analytics
02/23/2007 09:16:18 PM
7:53 PM
Page 23
Bé é
Le congé parental est devenu la norme
dans presque tous les cabinets.
es cabinets juridiques comprennent bien le fait que la
nouvelle génération d’avocats
prenne la parentalité très au
sérieux. Contrairement aux
baby-boomers ou à la génération X, les
jeunes avocats d’aujourd’hui ne considèrent pas la parentalité et l’exercice du
droit comme deux responsabilités inconciliables. Au contraire, ils veulent à la fois
réussir leur carrière et avoir une famille
épanouissante. Voici ce qu’ils recherchent :
des heures flexibles, le travail à domicile
et à temps partiel ainsi que la possibilité
de conserver leur statut d’associé.
Les cabinets sont à l’écoute de ces revendications. Pour preuve, l’acceptation
de congés de maternité plus longs devient
même un phénomène banal. Or, cela fait
des années que les juristes qui oeuvrent
dans le secteur public ou en contentieux
d’entreprise obtiennent des congés parentaux d’une année au cours desquels ils
obtiennent 100 % de leur salaire. Mais
qu’en est-il du congé parental accordé à
l’avocat ou à l’avocate en cabinet?
Les considérations financières obligent
certaines avocates qui oeuvrent dans des
cabinets plus économes à retourner au
travail plus tôt que leurs pairs qui travaillent pour des cabinets plus généreux.
Des améliorations à apporter
Cela fait seulement six ans que les législations provinciales sur l’emploi ont subi des
modifications pour donner aux femmes le
droit de bénéficier d’un congé de maternité de 17 à 18 semaines, selon la province, de même que d’un congé parental
De nos jours, « les congés de maternité
dépassant 17 semaines constituent la
norme », affirme Kirby Chown, associée
directrice pour la région de l’Ontario du
cabinet McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
Il semble que dans l’ensemble, les cabinets soutiennent ce choix de prendre
un congé plus long pour s’occuper des
enfants. Il y aurait peu d’effets préjudiciable pour ceux et celles qui choisissent
de ce prévaloir de cet avantage quoique
l’accession au titre d’associé peut parfois
être suspendu temporairement dans certains cabinets
Mais contrairement aux instances gouvernementales fédérales et provinciales,
ainsi qu’à beaucoup de contentieux d’entreprises, qui offrent une compensation
pratiquement équivalente au salaire initial durant une année complète, les cabinets ne sont pas toujours aussi généreux.
La norme dans les grands cabinets est
plutôt d’un salaire complet pendant 17
A whole new world
It was just six years ago that provincial employment legislation across the country changed to give women the right to
one year off work in combined maternity leave (17 to 18
weeks) and additional parental leave. At the time, female
associates in Alberta, for example, were only entitled to 18
weeks’ total leave. These provincial changes followed amendments to the federal Employment Insurance Act in 2001 that
doubled paid maternity/parental leave benefits from six
months to twelve.
Mars 2007
Alors que certains avocats et avocates
aimeraient obtenir une compensation
durant une plus longue période, d’autres
se disent satisfaits d’avoir au moins la possibilité de prendre un congé payé sans
être pénalisés.
L’évolution des mentalités suit
son cours
Les hommes aussi s’intéressent au congé
parental. Non seulement les jeunes avocats ont-ils des épouses qui sont actives
sur le marché du travail, mais ils veulent
aussi passer du temps avec leur nouveauné. « L’équilibre entre le travail et la vie
[familiale] est un problème autant pour
les avocats que les avocates », croit
Brenlee Carrington, consultante en équité
à la Société du Barreau du Manitoba.
Avocat chez Miller Thomson Pouliot à
Montréal et premier avocat de son cabinet
à prendre un congé de paternité sous
l’égide du programme de congé parental
du Québec de 2006, Mathieu Turcotte a été
agréablement surpris qu’ « il n’y ait eu
aucun sourcil froncé [au sujet de son congé]
ni de besoin de négocier ». Administré par
le régime d’assurance parentale du Québec, ce programme donne droit aux nouveaux pères à un maximum de cinq semaines de compensation à 70 % de leur
salaire (jusqu’à concurrence de 59 000 $ en
2007). Chez McInnes Cooper, « la plupart
des hommes prennent six semaines de
congé », indique Melanie Comstock.
« Je connais plusieurs cabinets au
Manitoba pour lesquelles la politique de
congé parental est un moyen important
de recrutement et de rétention du personnel», affirme Brenlee Carrington.
D’ailleurs, « le soutien de mon cabinet
durant mon congé a renforcé mon sentiment de loyauté pour ce dernier ».
Les cabinets semblent désormais accepter que leurs avocats aient des enfants
et qu’ils doivent les accommoder adéquatement en ce sens. De leur côté, les
avocats doivent aussi évaluer l’impact de
leur congé sur le cabinet et sur leurs
clients. Un équilibre qui se négocie encore
au cas par cas… N
— Yasmina El Jamaï
Today, longer leaves are viewed as matter-of-fact for female
lawyers, says Kirby Chown, Ontario regional managing partner for McCarthy Tétrault in Toronto. “Maternity leaves
exceeding 17 weeks are the norm,” she says, adding that the
average leave at McCarthy’s is a full nine months.
In fact, law firms on the whole have proven supportive of
female associates and partners taking extended time off to care
for infant children. For one thing, many law firms now top up
employment insurance benefits. Among Manitoba firms, for
example, top-up amounts range from 55% to full compensation
w w w. c b a . o r g
7:54 PM
Page 24
Brennlee Carrington
Equity Ombudsperson, Law
Society of Manitoba, Winnipeg
“Firms are discovering that
in order to attract and retain
the best talent possible, they
have to be competitive when
it comes to equity issues.”
Changing times
As any lawyer over the age of 40 knows, this is brand-new territory for most law firms, which have traditionally equated a
decision to have children with a decision not to commit to the
firm. Why the change of heart?
“What’s changed is that there are simply more women in
the profession who are having children,” says Chown. Indeed,
women now outnumber men in Canadian law schools, and
these young female graduates are demanding family-friendly
workplaces. “There’s been a huge change in focus in the last
five to ten years,” says Comstock.
“We’re also seeing more mature law students,” she adds.
“They already have families, and they have a better sense of
what’s important in life.” And credit should go to senior
female lawyers who have helped foster a climate of change,
says Comstock. “They didn’t have the same benefits we have
today, so it would be easy for them to say, ‘I did it, so you
should too.’ But they recognize that these changes need to be
made, and that firms can’t survive if they don’t.”
But the wild-card element in recent years has been the
growing number of men who have been demanding parental
leaves too. Many young male lawyers have wives who also
March 2007
for the first 17 weeks of maternity leave, and 55% to 95% for
an additional 10 to 35 weeks of parental leave.
And while longer leaves may damage career advancement at
some firms, it has little or no prejudicial effect at others.
“When I took my first leave, I was in my sixth year of practice,
which is a crucial time for assessment for partnership,” says
Melanie Comstock, currently taking her second maternity
leave from McInnes Cooper in Halifax.
But she wasn’t held back as a result of taking six months
off. Her hours and billings for that year were simply pro-rated
to determine if she met the billing requirements for admission
to partnership, which she did. “I was six months’ pregnant
with my second daughter when I was admitted.”
And as for financial support, McInnes Cooper kept Comstock’s salary whole for the entire six months, as it does for all
its female associates on leave. A groundbreaking new partner
policy similarly entitles female partners to receive their full
draw for the first six months at home with their children.
Firms are showing their support in other ways, too.
McCarthy Tétrault has developed a “buddy system,” whereby
each lawyer embarking on leave is matched up with a more
senior female lawyer in her practice group who has had children. As Chown explains: “The mat leave buddy meets with
the woman before she goes on leave, provides her with our
maternity leave toolkit, answers questions, and helps her with
the strategic ramping-down of her practice. The buddy stays in
touch with her while she’s on leave and
assists her on her return.
Topics discussed by the “buddies” can
range from the nature and extent of contact with the office while on leave, to how
to properly download one’s practice, to
practical tips on parenting and obtaining
childcare. In Toronto, new mothers are
also sent a spa certificate upon giving birth.
McCarthys is also piloting a new Parental Support Program in the Toronto area.
“Six coaching sessions with an experienced
family therapist are offered and paid for by
the firm,” says Chown. Available to both
male and female lawyers, the idea is to help
the lawyer and his or her spouse (they
attend together) deal with the impact of
family life on the lawyer’s work. One session, for example, might cover how to share
childcare duties when both parents work.
These six coaching sessions are matched
by six sessions between the lawyer and the
firm’s Director of Associates to chat about
issues such as flextime or a change in direction of practice upon
the lawyer’s return from leave. The sessions are staggered two
before, two during, and two after the leave.
7:48 PM
Page 25
CBA Canadian Legal Conference & Expo
August 12 – 14, 2007
The Canadian Bar Association
The Canadian Bar Association
is honoured to present
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Elie Wiesel
as keynote speaker of the
2007 Canadian Legal Conference.
ecipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the
United States Congressional Gold Medal, and the
rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of
Honour, Elie Wiesel is an author, teacher and storyteller
whose personal experience of the Holocaust has led him
to use his talents to defend human rights and peace
throughout the world.
See the registration brochure
in this issue of National for
more details about the CLC.
Book your place now at
Canada’s leading networking
and educational event for
lawyers August 12-14, 2007.
Other feature speakers include
Justice John Gomery, Peter
Lougheed, and Preston Manning.
Musical entertainment provided
by Juno-winning performer
Jann Arden.
7:54 PM
Page 26
work, and they appreciate what
unfettered on the partnership
female lawyers need; moreover,
path are two promising ways to
they want to enjoy time with their
attract and keep young lawyers
new babies too. “Work/life balfor whom a family-friendly law
ance is as much of an issue for
firm environment is important.
male lawyers as for female
The end result is that not only
lawyers,” confirms Brenlee Cardo a lawyer and his or her famirington, Equity Ombudsperson
ly benefit from the time off, but
for the Law Society of Manitoba
the firm is rewarded in kind for
in Winnipeg.
the efforts it makes to accommoMathieu Turcotte, 30, an assodate its lawyers. “The support
ciate with Miller Thomson
the firm gave me during my
Pouliot LLP in Montreal, is at the
leaves reinforced my feelings of
crest of this new generation of
loyalty toward the firm,” conmale lawyers. Last year, he was
firms Morrison.
the first man at his firm to take
Room for improvement
parental leave under Quebec’s
But while parental leaves are
new paternity leave program,
more generous today than ever
introduced in January 2006.
before, few people think they’re
Administered by the Quebec
as comprehensive as they could
Parental Insurance Plan, it entitles
be. Federal and provincial govnew fathers to a maximum of five
ernments and many corporate
weeks of benefits up to 70% of
law departments offer top-ups
their income (to a maximum
that allow female lawyers to colincome of $59,000 for 2007).
lect much of their salary for a full
“I told the managing partner,
year of leave. Most law firms
as soon as I knew my wife was
don’t offer anything close to that.
going to have a baby, that I
The situation in the law mirintended to take five weeks off,”
rors that in the general workhe recalls. “There were no negoforce, where government worktiations and no raised eyebrows.
ers enjoy bountiful financial topI thought there would be some
ups for a full year, while the
reaction, but to my surprise, the
majority of employees (80%)
only reaction was from some of
only collect minimal EI benefits,
the older male lawyers, who
leading some critics to charge
joked, ‘So you’re going to stay
that Canada has a two-tier mahome with your baby for five
ternity leave system.
weeks. What are you going to
Some women lawyers have
do?’ It was a very positive expebeen hurt by this inequity.
rience, both personally and proCarrington notes that there are
those who wish their firms offered
Elsewhere across the country, proMathieu Turcotte
greater EI top-ups, so that financially,
gressive law firms are encouraging new
Miller Thomson Pouliot LLP,
they could take the full one-year leave
dads to enjoy parental leave by topping
to which they’re entitled by law.
up their EI benefits — albeit not to the
Morrison has heard from women
same extent as new moms. At McInnes
“I told the managing partner
lawyers who are the primary breadwinCooper, male associates receive six
ners in their family that being deprived
weeks of fully paid top-up, and as of
that I intended to take five
of their full salary for the total period
January 2006, partners can pocket
of leave affected their decision about
their full draw for six weeks too.
weeks off. There were
how much time to take off.
“Most of the dads take a six-week
no negotiations and no
Then there’s the question of
leave,” says Comstock.
lawyers are penalized for takDon’t believe, however, that firms are
raised eyebrows.”
ing long absences. Chown acknowlmaking these changes purely out of the
edges that, at McCarthy Tétrault, takgoodness of their hearts. “Firms are dising a year’s leave may affect a lawyer’s
covering that in order to attract and
advancement in the firm.
retain the best talent possible, they have
“The law requires that there be no
to be competitive when it comes to equity issues,” says Carrington. “I know of several firms in penalty regarding a woman’s career and taking maternity
Manitoba for whom their parental leave policy is an impor- leave,” says Carrington. “There should be no effect on their
career, no discrimination against women.” From a gender
tant means of hiring and retaining staff.”
Generous parental leave policies make good business sense. equity perspective, women lawyers who have children
It’s a costly venture for a law firm to lose an associate after arguably should be financially accommodated in terms of
investing in the lawyer’s education and training. Offering lib- being able to take one year of fully paid leave, with no effect
eral compensation top-ups and enabling associates to advance on their career.
March 2007
7:54 PM
Page 27
Small firm, big results
Large law firms have had to work hard to create a culture of
accommodation for lawyers seeking parental leave. They could
learn something from this small firm.
t Legge & Legge, a generalpractice firm of five lawyers in
midtown Toronto, there are no
lines dividing work and family.
Babies and children are as integral a part
of the lawyers’ lives as are clients and files
— and the two often overlap.
So for Catherine Hibberd, maternity
leave wasn’t a demarcated period of time
off work for the three children she delivered while at the firm. Rather, it was a
seamless ebb and flow of staying home
and bringing her babies to the office,
depending on what worked for her.
“After articling, I started out renting
office space from the firm, because I wanted to do my own thing,” she recalls. About
a year later, Legge & Legge asked her if
she was interested in joining them. “I
joined as a partner in October 1997 just as
I was wrapping up my files to take time off
to deliver my first son. He was two months
old when he became a semi-regular visitor
to the office. I took him in back and forth
until he was about six months old.”
That was when he became mobile, and
she and her husband hired a full-time,
live-out nanny to help. The other lawyers
were delighted to see her newborn.
“Some of them would take him in their
office if I had settlement discussions.”
Other times, he slept in the playpen that
Hibberd took to the office while she
worked on files. With her subsequent two
children, the same flexible arrangement
was repeated.
In an ideal world, this would be true. But the reality is different. “The standard practice in large law firms is to provide
top-up for 17 weeks of maternity leave,” says Chown. “A
year’s top-up would be a significant change and would be a
significant financial cost to law firms, particularly small and
medium-sized firms.” Economics dictate what a firm can offer
by way of top-up. “The reality is that people have to be cognizant of what works within their firm,” says Carrington.
By the same token, extended time off work can be a legitimate factor in delaying admission to partnership, reasons
“A year’s top-up would be a
significant change and would be
a significant financial cost to law
firms, particularly small and
medium-sized firms.”
Chown. Lawyers who have less exposure to files, client interactions and skill development opportunities because they took
parental leave can expect their admission to partnership to
come under scrutiny. “The firm would apply the same test to
those who were away from the firm on secondments, medical
leaves or other reasons for time away,” Chown says.
Mostly, today’s young lawyers understand their employers’
perspective. Turcotte isn’t upset that his five-week paternity
leave wasn’t topped up. “I was the first male lawyer in the firm
to take paternity leave, so I’m conscious that I have had
greater advantages than other male lawyers. I’m just grateful
that I was able to take paid leave without any penalty.” He
Mars 2007
“There was never any discussion about
how much time I’d be taking off. I probably could have taken six months off if I
wanted to,” recalls Hibberd. “But I chose
not to take an extended leave or time off.
This was my comfort level.” Partly that
was because she was a partner — even
though a colleague looked after her work
when she wasn’t in the office, she felt
responsible for handling cases that were
her own files.
After eight years with Legge & Legge,
Hibberd set out on her own again in July
2004 to continue her family practice as a
sole practitioner. She recently gave birth
to her fourth child, hiring agents to look
after her files when she was away from
the office.
Hibberd offers some good advice for
both lawyers and firms. “Law firms must
accept that lawyers have children and
make the necessary accommodations,”
she says. “But lawyers have to consider
the effect of taking leave on their firm
and their clients. You have to balance the
equity of this, too.” N
was assured that his yearly billings would be calculated as if
he had been in the office for those five weeks.
“I don’t think anyone expects a fully paid 12-month leave,”
adds Morrison. “What’s most important is that you have a
choice to take a full year off.” Indeed, the ability to freely
choose to spend time at home when their kids are born —
without criticism or pressure from the firm to return to work
quickly — is what these lawyers value most.
A long road
When it comes to maternity leave, Canada’s legal profession
has come a long way. There are many examples supporting
the notion that a female lawyer today can take a full year off
work to raise a child, receive at least some of her pay during
this time, and return to her firm without anybody thinking
twice, and sometimes even without having to step off the
partnership ladder. The unprecedented nature of that change
should not be overlooked.
Paternity leave remains another matter. “A new way of
looking at work and family has to occur,” says Turcotte. “Law
firms will have to adjust to the reality that new fathers want
to spend time with their babies when they’re born. Many don’t
want to do the same thing as the previous generation.”
At the end of the day, the true challenge still lies in resistance to accommodating family life when the lawyer returns
to work. “This resistance comes from an older generation of
male lawyers who have stay-at-home wives, so their family
dynamics are very different from dual working spouses,”
says Chown. “Parental leave isn’t really an issue anymore.
The more difficult challenge is balancing work and family
once it’s over.” N
Janice Mucalov is a lawyer and freelance writer in Vancouver. Her previous article for
National, on the commoditization of legal services, appeared in our March 2006 issue.
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:09 PM
Page 28
« Le phénomène
des SLAPP existe
depuis toujours. »
Université McGill,
March 2007
8:09 PM
Page 29
Après être disparues de nos écrans
radars pendant quelques années
au Canada, les poursuites stratégiques
contre la mobilisation publique
réapparaissent au Québec. Verra-t-on
naître dans cette province la seule
législation canadienne visant à enrayer
ce phénomène? Quelle pourrait en
à tête chercheuse
être la teneur?
Par Louis Baribeau
et automne, le Port de Québec demandait à la
Cour d’imposer un bâillon à un citoyen sous
prétexte qu’il aurait informé une compagnie
de croisière des inconvénients que pourraient
causer la construction d’un terminal méthanier
à la circulation maritime. D’autres citoyens qui s’opposaient aussi à ce projet, que l’on nomme Rabaska, ont
aussi été mis en cause.
La demande d’injonction interlocutoire a été rejetée, mais
ce n’est que le début d’une guérilla judiciaire. Selon certains
observateurs, cette cause a les allures d’une « poursuite
stratégique contre la mobilisation publique », mieux connues sous l’acronyme SLAPP pour Strategic Lawsuits
Against Public Participation, une expression désignant les
poursuites visant à décourager les opposants à un projet
de développement.
Au pays de l’oncle Sam, 24 États ont légiféré, depuis 1989,
pour limiter les effets négatifs des poursuites stratégiques contre la mobilisation publique sur la liberté d’expression.
Dans un rapport produit pour Industrie Canada en
2004 par le Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Me Susan
Lott mentionnait que les SLAPP ont été reconnues comme
un phénomène canadien dont on a beaucoup discuté,
surtout dans le secteur de l’environnement, au début des
années 1990. Au Canada, seule la Colombie-Britannique a
édicté une législation anti-SLAPP, en avril 2001, mais elle
fut abrogée quelques mois plus tard lors d’un changement
de gouvernement.
Ce type de poursuites semblait s’être fait oublier au
Canada pendant quelques années, mais voilà que deux
affaires en particulier ont récemment attiré l’attention des
médias : la demande d’injonction du Port de Québec contre les opposants au terminal méthanier Rabaska ainsi que
la poursuite en diffamation de l’American Iron & Metal
contre l’Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution
Mars 2007
Se défendre contre une poursuite stratégique
contre la mobilisation publique draine
beaucoup d’énergie des opposants.
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:09 PM
Page 30
atmosphérique (AQLPA). Cet organisme à but non lucratif a
perdu dans la bataille sa couverture d’assurance responsabilité civile et a bien failli mettre fin à son existence parce
qu’elle n’avait pas les moyens de payer ses avocats.
La résistance s’organise
La résistance contre les SLAPP a commencé à s’organiser
l’automne dernier. Plus d’une vingtaine de regroupements
politiques, syndicaux et environnementaux se sont réunis à
Montréal en octobre pour amasser des fonds au nom de
l’AQLPA et demander au gouvernement de légiférer contre
ces pratiques abusives.
Une loi est-elle nécessaire? Pour l’aider à répondre à cette
question, le ministre de la Justice du Québec a créé en octobre
un comité d’expert qui sera présidé par Roderick A.
MacDonald professeur en droit public et constitutionnel à
l’Université McGill de Montréal. « Le mandat du ministre
n’est pas de recommander ou non une loi anti-SLAPP, mais de
comprendre le phénomène et les enjeux, affirme le professeur.
C’est un mandat d’enquête que nous avons reçu. »
L’histoire se répète
Pour bien comprendre le contexte actuel, quelques pas en
arrière s’imposent. « Le phénomène des SLAPP existe depuis
toujours, explique le professeur MacDonald. « Les gens qui se
sentent menacés sur la place publique ont recours aux tribunaux pour essayer d’améliorer leur situation. Le droit connaît cela depuis ses origines. » C’est le terrain où on retrouve
les poursuites stratégiques contre la mobilisation publique qui
a changé.
À la fin du 19ième siècle, les employeurs ont beaucoup utilisé
les SLAPP contre les syndicats de travailleurs. Puis, dans les
années 70, voyant que les ministères de l’environnement faisaient beaucoup pencher la balance du côté des groupes environnementaux, des promoteurs privés ont attaqué ces derniers
à coups de poursuites stratégiques contre la mobilisation
Strategic lawsuits meant to discourage grassroots
activism may be re-emerging in Quebec, but it’s not clear
what the solution is – or even if there’s a problem.
LAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against
Public Participation) is a term
coined by environmental groups
to describe lawsuits aimed at discouraging
those who oppose a development project
from voicing their opinions. The idea is
that a large corporation brings a massive
suit against protesters beyond their ability
to fight it — effectively silencing the
opposition by burying them in litigation.
Since 1989, 24 U.S. states have put limits
on the ability of SLAPPs to achieve these
sorts of ends. In Canada, British Columbia
enacted anti-SLAPP legislation in April
2001, although it was repealed several
months later with a change in government (see: “SLAPPed down,” National,
June/July 2000, p. 10)
SLAPPs had been all but forgotten in
Canada until recently, when two Quebec
cases attracted media attention: the Port
of Quebec’s request for an injunction
against groups opposed to the methane
tanker terminal Rabaska, and a defamation suit by American Iron & Metal against
the Association québecoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA).
Last October, more than 20 union and
environmental groups met in Montreal to
raise funds to help AQLPA with its legal
expenses and to demand that the government legislate against SLAPPs. Quebec’s
justice minister has since created a committee, chaired by McGill law professor
Roderick MacDonald, to investigate the
Michel Bélanger of Montreal’s Lauzon
Bélanger has often been consulted by
activist groups worried about getting
SLAPPed. His message: “You must take it
for granted that you will be sued.” These
lawsuits can be irrational, he says, but
they are crafted carefully such that judges
are very reluctant to summarily dismiss
them. “The only thing you can do,” he
advises environmentalists, “is prepare to
defend yourself.”
SLAPP opponents say the lawsuits are
meant to move the debate from the political arena to the courthouse, putting protesters on the defensive and diverting
public attention away from the environmental debate. The goal is to financially
exhaust their adversary. “The law prevents claimants in abusive lawsuits from
winning, but it does not help the defendants financially survive a SLAPP,” says
Constitutional law practitioner Julius
Grey says these lawsuits illustrate another
barrier to access to justice. “More and
more, the justice system — despite the
complete integrity of the judiciary — is
not sufficiently accessible.” According to
Grey, the solution involves a wide-ranging
improvement of the legal aid system as
well as anti-SLAPP legislation.
The now-repealed SLAPP legislation in
British Columbia provided that qualified
communication of public participation
gave a complete defense to a defamation
suit. California’s powerful anti-SLAPP laws
allow a defendant to present a summary
request to declare prima facie that the
lawsuit is a SLAPP. Grey thinks a similar
clause would be enough in Quebec.
In some American states, judges can
order punitive damages from anyone who
brings a strategic lawsuit, and Quebec’s
Charte des droit et libertés de la personne
already allows for this possibility.
Not everyone accepts the need for antiSLAPP legislation, nor the validity of the
phenomenon itself. “The reputation of a
company can be sullied by the spread of
information on the Internet,” says Paul
Cassidy, an environmental lawyer with
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Vancouver. “We can no longer pretend there’s
an imbalance between the big corporation with large financial resources and the
lone individual.”
Quebec’s Code of Civil Procedure already
includes everything necessary to defeat
unfounded actions, says Michel Yergeau,
an environmental law practitioner with
Lavery, de Billy in Montreal. “Economic
disparities are not relevant in the legal
sphere. It’s fine for governments to
finance the defence of environmental
groups, but you must avoid modifying
civil procedure for these particular cases.”
Defining a SLAPP is not easy: many
definitions co-exist in the numerous
jurisdictions of North America. The
report of Prof. MacDonald’s expert committee will be welcome, not only to
define SLAPPs, but also to verify if these
lawsuits represent a real threat to the
public voice. N
— Alison Arnot
March 2007
8:09 PM
Page 31
Les SLAPP sont la
partie la plus évidente
de nombreuses
barrières qui rendent
la justice plus
difficilement accessible.
Grey et Casgrain,
publique. Les environnementalistes ont riposté en demandant
des législations anti-SLAPP. L’adoption de ces lois alliée à la
mauvaise presse faite à leurs utilisateurs ont précipité le déclin
de ce type de recours dans le milieu des années 90.
Cette histoire semble vouloir se répéter au Québec. Depuis
qu’il a commencé à représenter des groupes de défense de l’environnement vers 1989, Me Michel Bélanger, du cabinet
Lauzon Bélanger à Montréal prétend avoir été témoin de beaucoup de SLAPP. « Le plus souvent, ce sont des menaces de
poursuites ou des mises en demeure dans des conseils municipaux ou dans des forums de consultations », mentionne-t-il.
Une menace pour la démocratie?
Ce qui pose potentiellement problème avec les poursuites
stratégiques contre la mobilisation publique c’est qu’elles peuvent intimider les citoyens désireux de prendre la parole dans
les débats publics concernant les projets de développement.
Me Bélanger a souvent été consulté par des groupes de citoyens hésitant à s’opposer à un projet. Dans ces cas, il leur dit :
« Vous devez prendre pour acquis que vous allez être poursuivis. » Il estime que ces poursuites peuvent être farfelues, mais
ajoute qu’elles sont rédigées de manière telle qu’elles ne paraissent pas l’être et que les juges n’osent pas les rejeter sommairement. « La seule chose que vous pouvez faire c’est vous préparer
à vous défendre, conseille Me Michel Bélanger aux environnementalistes. Évitez les débordements et les qualificatifs. Si vous
avez de l’information à diffuser, basez-vous sur des études. »
Ceux qui se cacheraient derrière une poursuite stratégique
contre la mobilisation publique ne chercheraient pas vraiment
à faire corriger une injustice ou obtenir une compensation
pour diffamation. Le but ne serait pas de gagner, mais d’épuiser financièrement l’adversaire. « Le droit couvre les cas de
poursuites abusives en empêchant les demandeurs de gagner,
mais il ne permet pas aux défendeurs de survivre financièrement à une SLAPP », souligne Me Bélanger.
Les promoteurs se serviraient des poursuites stratégiques
pour déplacer le débat de la sphère politique, dans laquelle ils
perdraient du terrain, vers la sphère légale où ils peuvent mettre
Mars 2007
les opposants sur la défensive. Ils détourneraient ainsi l’attention du public et des médias du débat environnemental pour
les amener à s’intéresser à la guérilla judiciaire.
Se défendre contre une poursuite stratégique contre la
mobilisation publique draine beaucoup d’énergie des opposants. « Tout le temps que ces gens investissent dans la
procédure judiciaire, ils ne l’ont plus pour faire avancer leur
cause », indique Me Stéphane Galibois, l’avocat des opposants
à Rabaska poursuivis par le Port de Québec. Le juriste se
demande jusqu’à quel point, les gens qui ont dû affronter le
processus judiciaire voudront dorénavant se commettre.
« Seront-ils aussi disposés qu’avant à se battre pour l’environnement? », s’interroge-t-il.
Certains avancent que l’impact de telles poursuites pourrait
être énorme pour la démocratie. Les poursuites stratégiques
contre la mobilisation publique décourageraient d’autres
personnes de prendre la parole sur tout projet et iraient à l’encontre de la tendance d’impliquer de plus en plus les citoyens
dans le processus décisionnel.
Le praticien en droit constitutionnel Me Julius Grey, du
cabinet Grey Casgrain, à Montréal, considère que de telles
poursuites sont la partie la plus évidente des nombreuses barrières à l’accessibilité à la justice. « En général, on voit de plus
en plus que le système de justice, malgré l’intégrité totale de la
magistrature, n’est pas suffisamment accessible. » Selon lui, la
solution passe par l’amélioration globale du système d’aide
juridique en plus d’une législation anti-SLAPP.
Quelle pourrait être la teneur de cette législation garantissant un droit de recours aux tribunaux, tout en évitant son
utilisation pour bâillonner des opposants?
L’expérience canadienne et américaine
Une telle législation pourrait s’inspirer de l’expérience de
l’Ouest du pays et des États-Unis. La défunte législation de la
Colombie-Britannique, qui ne fut en vigueur que quelques
mois, prévoyait que les communications et conduites qualifiées de participation publique donnaient ouverture à une
défense complète dans une action en diffamation. Cette clause
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:10 PM
Page 32
était nécessaire, semble-t-il, puisque la liUne intervention législative
berté d’expression garantie par la Charte
contre les SLAPP n’est plus
canadienne des droits et libertés peut
être invoquée seulement dans les litiges
justifiée de nos jours puisque
impliquant l’État. Au Québec la situaPourquoi privilégier les environla participation citoyenne est
tion est différente, la Charte des droits et
libertés de la personne permet d’invoMe Michel Yergeau, praticien en droit
désormais fort répandue.
quer la liberté d’expression même dans
de l’environnement chez Lavery, de
un litige entre parties privées.
Billy à Montréal, fait remarquer qu’il y
Les dispositions-clefs d’une des lois
a déjà dans le Code de procédure civile
Blake Cassels et Graydon, s.r.l.,
anti-SLAPP les plus complètes aux Étatsdu Québec tout ce qu’il faut pour faire
Unis, celle de la Californie, permettent au
tomber les actions sans fondement.
défendeur de présenter une requête som« Pourquoi répondre à un besoin spécimaire pour faire déclarer prima facie qu’il s’agit d’une pour- fique en environnement? demande-t-il. Parce que c’est un dossier
suite stratégique contre la mobilisation publique. Me Julius d’environnement, les gens pourraient dire n’importe quoi et nous
Grey croit qu’au Québec, une clause semblable serait suffi- n’aurions pas de recours contre eux? Ça ne tient pas la route. »
sante. « Un des indices permettant de déclarer qu’on est en
« Tous sont égaux devant la loi, considère Me Yergeau. Les
présence d’une SLAPP est qu’il s’agit d’un litige d’intérêt pub- disparités économiques ne relèvent pas de la sphère du droit.
lic, explique-t-il. Il y aurait alors soit un rejet de l’action, soit Que les gouvernements acceptent de financer la défense des
octroi d’un montant pour les frais. »
groupes environnementaux d’accord, mais il faut éviter de
S’inspirant de certaines législations américaines, Me Susan modifier la procédure civile pour ces cas particuliers. »
Lott, dans son rapport à Industrie Canada, suggère que, dans
De plus, de l’avis de Me Michel Yergeau, il n’y a pas de cas
le cadre de cette requête sommaire, il appartienne au deman- concret de poursuite stratégique contre la mobilisation
deur de démontrer que sa poursuite paraît fondée.
publique au Québec. « Pour avoir une vraie SLAPP, il faut que
Cependant, de telles dispositions ne s’attaquent pas à l’une la procédure soit intentée avant que la décision gouvernemendes principales difficultés découlant de telles poursuites soit le tale soit prise et dans le but manifeste de faire porter aux
fait que les défendeurs n’ont souvent même pas les moyens opposants le fardeau financier des frais légaux. Dans l’affaire
d’assumer les coûts légaux d’une requête en rejet.
de l’AQLPA, le dossier est décidé. » Selon le raisonnement de
« L’une des solutions que nous pourrions envisager serait Me Yergeau, la poursuite du Port de Québec n’est pas non plus
d’offrir de l’aide juridique qui ciblerait directement les vic- une SLAPP, parce que qu’elle a été intentée par un tiers et non
times de poursuites stratégiques contre la mobilisation publi- par le promoteur de Rabaska.
que et de prévoir un fonds spécial en conséquence, propose Me
Pondre une définition de ce qu’est une poursuite stratéSusan Lott dans son rapport présenté à Industrie Canada. Tout gique contre la mobilisation publique n’est pas chose simple.
montant alloué par la Cour à un défendeur pour défrayer les Plusieurs variantes co-existent dans de nombreuses juridicfrais juridiques ou les montants obtenus lors d’un règlement tions en Amérique du Nord. L’éclairage du rapport du comité
pourraient être remis à un fond spécial. »
d’experts dirigé par le professeur Roderick A. MacDonald sera
Dans certains États américains, on permet aux juges de le bienvenu, non seulement pour définir les SLAPP, mais aussi
condamner à des dommages punitifs l’auteur d’une poursuite pour vérifier si ces poursuites représentent une menace réelle à
stratégique. La Charte des droits et libertés de la personne en la prise de parole publique au Québec. N
vigueur au Québec prévoit déjà cette possibilité, ce qui est suffisant, selon Me Julius Grey.
Louis Baribeau est journaliste juridique et d’affaires à Québec.
March 2007
Un concept dépassé?
L’idée d’une législation anti-SLAPP
ne rallie pas tous les intervenants du
milieu juridique. Me Paul R. Cassidy,
avocat en droit de l’environnement
chez Blake, Cassels & Graydon à
Vancouver, estime qu’une telle intervention législative n’est plus justifiée
de nos jours.
Grâce à Internet, un individu peut
avoir beaucoup plus d’influence qu’il
n’en avait il y a 20 ans, affirme-t-il.
La réputation d’une compagnie peut
être entachée par la diffusion d’informations sur Internet. On ne peut plus
prétendre qu’il n’y a pas d’équilibre
des forces entre une grande institution bénéficiant de larges ressources
financières et un simple individu. »
Me Cassidy ajoute aussi un deuxième angle à sa réflexion. « La participation citoyenne dans le domaine
du droit de l’environnement et des
affaires gouvernementales est maintenant très répandue, soutient-il. L’idée
même de SLAPP est désormais académique et ne reflète pas la réalité.
8:12 PM
Page 33
Vol. 2, No. 2
March 2007
NATIONAL Magazine’s Legal Careers Supplement
your bags
Lateral movement these days doesn’t
just mean a new law firm — it can mean
a new city and province, too.
By Huguette Young
Jody Evely
Parlee McLaws LLP, Edmonton
f there were such a thing as frequent-mover miles, Jody
Evely would have quite an account built up by now. In
December 2004, at the age of 36, she moved from a large
firm in Toronto to a smaller 11-lawyer firm in Kamloops,
B.C. to join her husband-to-be. She welcomed the change
“It just instantly eliminated all of the stresses and pressures of
living in a big city and working in a big firm. It was gone
overnight,” says Evely. “It’s not the typical rat race like Toronto,”
where everything is based on billings and earnings. At Morelli
Chertkow, “there was a strong emphasis on life outside the firm.”
Evely still has a hard time believing she lived in a log cabin on
a waterfront lot 20 minutes outside Kamloops. Trained as a franchise litigator at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP in Toronto, it took
her a while to find her feet. “You don’t know the lay of the land,”
she says. “You don’t know any of the judges, the courtroom staff
and all the little procedures.”
Not surprisingly, she took an enormous pay cut from Toronto.
“But the cost of living is so much lower in Kamloops, so my feeling is that I was coming out further ahead. In Toronto, part of
being a lawyer is having a big home, an expensive car and nice
clothes. In Kamloops, if you’re driving a BMW, you look like an
idiot,” she laughs. “How are you going to go up the mountain in a
BMW in Kamloops?”
But just when she was finally settling in to her new position,
another twist took her to Edmonton, where her husband, a track
and field coach, landed an exceptional job. After recruiting a headhunter, she was hired in January 2006 at Parlee McLaws LLP when
she was four months’ pregnant. Evely had “mixed feelings” about
moving again so soon. But in the end, she was able to practise franchise litigation, her specialty, which made it all worthwhile.
Lawyers, particularly those in
the early years of their career, are
changing firms more often today
than ever before. Motivations can
include higher pay, more prestige,
better “work-life balance” conditions, and more interesting work.
And increasingly, lawyers are willing to relocate across the province
or across the country to find the
opportunity that’s right for them.
— Jody Evely
With Canada’s booming oil
and gas sector and the increasingly global nature of law firms, the market is hot for adventurous
lawyers, says Robert Théorêt, Montreal division head for Robert
Half Legal. “At the moment, Calgary is seeing a huge economic
boom, as Toronto has been for quite a while now,” he says.
“Lawyers will want to have opportunities for growth and to perfect
their skill set and their expertise.”
Théorêt and his colleagues at Robert Half say the moves are
mostly east-to-west, as many lawyers are relocating from Toronto
to Vancouver or Calgary. But some industries head to Montreal
and lawyers tend to follow them, so long as they can meet the
How are you
to go up
the mountain
in a BMW in
8:12 PM
Page 34
Christian Monnin
Heenan Blaikie LLP, Ottawa
unique challenges of practising in Quebec:
becoming familiar with the Civil Code and
the language. “French is a big part of the
cultural and professional background,”
Théorêt says.
That sort of challenge was actually an
advantage for Christian Monnin, a 32year-old bilingual lawyer from Winnipeg.
A junior associate at Aikins, MacAulay &
Thorvaldson until March 2006, he jumped
at the chance to work with Heenan Blaikie
LLP’s litigation boutique in Ottawa. In
fact, both he and his wife were offered
positions in the nation’s capital almost
simultaneously. “And three weeks later, we
Faire ses valises
De plus en plus de juristes
n’hésitent plus à déménager
pour trouver un emploi qui
leur convient.
ody Evely est une professionnelle des
déménagements. En décembre 2004, à
l’âge de 36 ans, elle a troqué un emploi
dans un grand cabinet de Toronto pour un
emploi dans un cabinet de onze avocats à
Kamlopps, en Colombie-Britannique. Elle
allait rejoindre son futur époux.
« Le stress et la pression qui découlent
d’une pratique dans une grande ville sont
disparus soudainement », se souvient-elle.
La culture d’entreprise de son nouveau
cabinet, Morelli Chertkow, était fort différente de ce qu’elle avait connu à
Toronto. « On reconnaissait l’importance
d’avoir une vie personnelle à l’extérieur du
bureau », se remémore-t-elle.
La transition ne s’est pas toujours
were en route,” he says.
Monnin has relished the opportunities
at Heenan Blaikie: “The big files at Aikins
which could come around every ten years,
they come here every year.” What’s more,
his linguistic profile has come in handy in
Ottawa, where his practice in French has
more than doubled.
At this stage in Monnin’s career, as a
young associate with no children and no
large book of business, the timing of the
move was perfect. “When you’re a young
lawyer, you don’t have a huge client base,”
says Monnin.“Your biggest asset is your skill
set, and many firms are looking for that.”
fait en douceur pour autant. « Vous
n’avez aucune idée des façons de faire
locales, explique-t-elle. Vous ne connaissez pas les juges, les employés des
tribunaux et la procédure ne vous est
pas familière. »
Non lasse du changement, Me Evely
a tout recommencé lorsque son mari a
décroché un emploi rêvé à Edmonton.
Désormais avocate au sein du cabinet
Parlee McLaws, elle se réjouit d’avoir eu
ainsi la chance de retourner à ses premières amours : le droit des franchises.
On le sait, l’époque où un juriste
demeurait au sein d’un même cabinet
toute sa vie est maintenant révolue. Ce
qui est toutefois plus étonnant, c’est
qu’un nombre grandissant de professionnels du droit sont prêts à refaire leur vie
ailleurs pour décrocher l’emploi rêvé.
Au Canada, la prospérité de l’Alberta
n’est pas étrangère à ce phénomène.
Selon Robert Théôret, responsable de la
division montréalaise de Robert Half
Both Monnin and Evely found their
moves seamless — one of the benefits of
having few family and business obligations to tie them down. But relocating is
more difficult for senior partners, not
least because they’re expected to bring a
load of clients with them to the new firm.
“The more senior you get, the harder it
will be,” notes Théorêt.
And when you get to the senior level,
the offers you receive aren’t limited by
national borders. Robert Hosking, director of training for Robert Half
International in California, says he’s seeing more cross-border hires of senior
lawyers between the U.S. and Canada,
especially if they have “transferable”
expertise in a booming sector.
“Maybe it’s aboriginal affairs or oil and
gas, where the knowledge is transferable,
depending on what the firm wants them to
do,” Hosking says, while cautioning: “If
they’re looking for them to drop a milliondollar book of business on their lap, it’s
probably not going to happen.”
No matter what stage of life a lawyer has
reached, any decision about moving across
the country boils down to the level of risk
the lawyer is willing to accept. “A move is
quite easy, but make sure you [do your]
research, because the grass always looks
greener on the other side,” Monnin says.
And it never hurts to have a backup
plan: Monnin is renting his house back in
Manitoba. “I get on a plane and in two and
a half hours, I’m in Winnipeg.”
Huguette Young is an Ottawa-based writer.
Legal, la plupart des déménagements se
produisent de l’est vers l’ouest. Quelques
industries viennent s’établir à Montréal,
mais l’importance de devoir parler français et la méconnaissance du droit civil
en freine plus d’un.
Ce sont surtout les jeunes, en début
de carrière et sans enfant, qui décident
de tenter leur chance. Ce fut le cas de
Christian Monnin, 32 ans, qui après avoir
travaillé au sein du cabinet Aikins
MacCauley & Thorvaldon à Winnipeg, a
déniché un boulot chez Heenan Blaikie à
Ottawa. « Lorsque vous êtes jeune, vous
n’avez pas encore beaucoup de clients,
constate Me Monnin. Vos meilleurs
atouts sont vos habiletés juridiques. »
Et de toute façon, c’est toujours bien
d’avoir un plan B. Me Monnin, par exemple, n’a pas vendu sa résidence. « Je n’ai
qu’à prendre l’avion et au bout de deux
heures et demi, je suis de retour à
Winnipeg. »
— Mélanie Raymond
March 2007
7:22 PM
Page 4
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Project1:Layout 1
3:48 PM
Page 1
8:13 PM
Page 39
Security concerns and trade tensions
between Canada and the United States
are creating headaches for cross-border
businesses and their lawyers, who are
working hard to keep the world’s longest
undefended border hassle-free.
By Susan Goldberg
“It is in Canada’s interest to
strengthen and improve on the
market access guarantees provided
under NAFTA, particularly in the
post 9/11 environment.”
Mars 2007
f you left your passport at home January 23, you might
have had trouble flying into the United States. That was
the day new travel regulations came into effect south of the
border, making a passport the only legitimate proof of
identity for travelers entering the U.S. by air.
By most accounts, the new requirements didn’t cause too
much of a stir. For travelers already accustomed to emptying
their water bottles and removing their shoes at international airports, carrying a valid passport is just one more minor aggravation in the long series now posed by flying. Seasoned travelers
already have passports, while the new regulations were publicized far enough in advance to give most flyers a chance to
acquire them.
Land and sea travelers were given a reprieve from the new rule
— but only until sometime in 2008, when they too will be
required to flash a passport in order to cross the U.S. border. For
Canadian businesses that depend on cross-border travel, tourism,
and trade, that application of the passport rule has the potential
to upgrade from mere hassle to serious business concern.
“I expect trade will slow down closer to the 2008 deadlines,”
says Riyaz Dattu, who leads Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s
international trade and investment law practice in Toronto.
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:14 PM
Page 40
what current and future issues are going to complicate crossborder commercial trade for corporate clients? And how
should counsel be ready to advise their clients who carry on
cross-border business about what to do and how to get ready?
“All these regulations can be a bit
of overkill. They are time-consuming,
expensive, and cause delays.”
“Companies should be proactive today to the effects on the
transport of goods and people across the border. Start now by
evaluating the potential impact on your businesses, and get the
passports and other documents now.”
Glenn Cranker, co-chair of the International Trade Law
Group at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal, isn’t as worried
about the impact of passport requirements on commercial
trade. He cites programs like FAST (Free And Secure Trade)
and the NEXUS Air pilot program, which expedites clearance
through customs and immigration, as initiatives already in
place to speed up border transit. “Commercial cross-border
movement is already so controlled and regulated, and there
are so many programs to expedite trade, that I don’t see the
passport thing changing much,” he says.
But both Dattu and Cranker agree that the new passport
rules are a symptom of a larger shift in trade relationships, both
between Canada and the United States and internationally.
Continued economic and political globalization, coupled
with a shift toward bilateral trade agreements and a hyperfocus on safety, already characterize trade in the new millennium. For lawyers advising corporate clients, the new passport
requirements are just one more symptom of a post-9/11 world
in which cross-border commercial trade is becoming increasingly complicated.
All this leaves lawyers grappling with tough questions:
Secure the area
Cranker sees Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and
other governmental department (OGD) requirements for
cross-border trade as more likely culprits in impeding trade.
Recent pandemics, like avian flu and SARS, and outbreaks
of bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) — mad cow disease
— have led to more stringent (and often more confusing) trade
requirements. “If you have clients dealing with OGS requirements, it can be very difficult to comply,” he notes.
Cranker cites the example of one client who encountered
problems with the Canada Border Services Agency and the
CFIA when trying to import from India a scientific product
containing a dairy ingredient — even though the product
would not be consumed by humans or animals.
In another case, Cranker fought for five or six weeks
over a client’s wooden shipping container from Australia
that didn’t have the proper stamp to show it had been fumigated according to regulations. Although the client furnished
proof of fumigation, the container was sent back by border
services to Australia for its stamp before it was allowed
into Canada.
“It doesn’t make any practical sense,” he says. “In my
humble opinion, all these regulations can be a bit of overkill.
They are time-consuming, expensive, and cause delays.” His
advice is succinct: be aware of these regulations prior to
import. The “D Memoranda” page on the CBSA website is a
good place to start.
Concerns over diseases like SARS, BSE and avian flu are
consistent with a post-9/11 shift in focus, from trade to security, for the United States government, says Dattu. That shift
often “trumps the more laudable objective of free trade and
free movement of people across borders.”
March 2007
8:14 PM
Page 41
Sur la
La vie n’est pas simple pour le commerce transfrontalier.
epuis le 23 janvier, si vous
avez oublié votre passeport
à la maison, vous pourriez
avoir de sérieuses difficultés à prendre un
vol pour les États-Unis. Cette date correspond aux nouvelles règles de voyage en
vigueur, selon lesquelles le passeport
constitue la seule preuve d’identité légitime pour les voyageurs qui entrent aux
États-Unis par voie aérienne.
Cette règle s’ajoute à une série de nouvelles conditions imposées aux voyageurs
bien avisés telles que la nécessité de vider
leurs bouteilles d’eau et de retirer leurs
chaussures dans les aéroports
internationaux. Ces nouvelles
conditions ont été publicisées
suffisamment à l’avance pour
que la majorité des voyageurs
aient le loisir d’acquérir un
Un sursis jusqu’en 2008 a été
accordé aux voyageurs qui transitent par voie terrestre et maritime. Eux aussi devront alors
brandir leur passeport afin de
traverser les frontières américaines. Pour
les entreprises canadiennes qui dépendent
du voyage transfrontalier ainsi que les
secteurs du tourisme et du commerce,
cette règle relative au passeport a le potentiel d’escalader pour devenir une préoccupation d’affaires majeure.
Riyaz Dattu, un dirigeant d’Osler
Hoskin & Harcourt à Toronto, prévoit
« un ralentissement du commerce une
fois les échéances passées de 2008 ». Il
recommande aux entreprises d’être
proactives et de commencer à évaluer
dès maintenant cet impact potentiel sur
le commerce et de ne pas attendre pour
se procurer les passeports et autres documents requis.
Glenn Cranker, coprésident de Stikeman Elliott à Montréal, ne voit pas de
raisons de s’inquiéter d’un impact sur le
commerce, car le « mouvement commercial transfrontalier est déjà très réglementé et contrôlé. De plus, plusieurs
programmes sont présents pour l’expédition des biens commerciaux ».
Riyaz Dattu comme Glenn Cranker
reconnaissent à l’unisson que les nouvelles
règles relatives au passeport sont symptomatiques d’une modification plus importante des relations commerciales entre le
Canada et les États-Unis de même qu’à
l’échelle internationale, changement qui
se caractérise par une complexification.
Une manifestation de ce changement
se traduit par un commerce du nouveau
millénaire déjà marqué par une globalisation économique et politique continue,
subventions américaines comme l’amendement Byrd et plus récemment la Farm
Act. Les questions liées aux droits humains
peuvent aussi rendre les tensions commerciales sino-canadiennes tendues.
Quant à l’Accord de libre-échange nordaméricain (ALENA) il ne semble plus
répondre aux besoins des partenaires commerciaux, selon Riyaz Dattu. Il estime qu’
« il est dans l’intérêt du Canada de renforcer et d’améliorer les garanties d’accès
au marché offertes par l’ALENA, et ce,
surtout après l’incident du 11 septembre ».
Face à ces enjeux majeurs, les dirigeants
d’entreprises et leurs avocats
devraient porter une attention
accrue aux humeurs de Washington et à l’issue des accords
commerciaux internationaux,
de l’avis de Keith Mitchell, un
expert de Vancouver oeuvrant
chez Farris, Vaughan, Wills &
Murphy LLP. « La convergence
entre la planification d’affaires
au Canada et l’action politique
américaine n’a jamais été si
vivace », déclare-t-il. « Ceux qui ne suivent
pas de près ce qui se passe au Congrès et
au sein de l’administration Bush le font à
leurs risques et périls. Les avocats qui
représentent leurs clients corporatifs
doivent savoir, par exemple, quels membres du Congrès sont plus susceptibles
d’être des adversaires de leurs clients, et
lesquels leurs partisans. Ce que les politiciens font aussi à Bruxelles et en Chine
nous affecte aussi », ajoute-t-il. « Le besoin
de penser à la fois à l’échelle locale et à
l’échelle internationale n’a jamais été
aussi grand ».
À un moment où la frontière la plus
convoitée n’a jamais été aussi jonchée
d’obstacles politiques et de défis liés à la
sécurité, autant les citoyens, les entreprises et les avocats du Canada et des
États-Unis partagent un intérêt commun :
le maintien de canaux commerciaux
ouverts et communicants. N
« Le besoin de penser
à la fois à l’échelle locale et
à l’échelle internationale
n’a jamais été aussi grand ».
Mars 2007
couplée à une tendance aux accords commerciaux bilatéraux et à une emphase
extrême placée sur la sécurité.
Par conséquent, les avocats se trouvent
aux prises avec de nombreuses questions
ardues. Quels sont les problèmes actuels
et à venir qui sont susceptibles de complexifier le commerce transfrontalier pour
les clients corporatifs? Et comment conseiller ces derniers sur les actions à prendre et sur la façon de s’y préparer?
Glenn Cranker considère les conditions
commerciales transfrontalières de l’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments et d’autres instances gouvernementales comme d’autres contraintes
imposées sur le commerce. La grippe aviaire, la maladie de la vache folle ont
également donné lieu à des conditions
commerciales plus rigoureuses et qui portent souvent à confusion. Sans oublier le
litige sur le bois d’œuvre qui oppose le
Canada et les États-Unis ou encore les
w w w. c b a . o r g
— Yasmina El Jamaï
8:14 PM
Page 42
Privacy at risk
Can your laptop be searched at the border?
By Sergio Karas
awyers throughout North
America are trying to come to
grips with the fallout of a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals of the United States, which
held that computer devices and the data
they contain can be thoroughly examined at the border. The rulings opened
the floodgates to more thorough bordercrossing searches.
probation and that possession of the
images violated it. CBSA agents informed U.S. Customs in Seattle that
Romm had been denied entry and probably had illegal images on his computer,
a violation of his probation order.
Upon Romm’s arrival at the SeattleTacoma Airport, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement arranged for a preliminary forensic
The Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals held that the
forensic analysis of
Romm’s laptop fell under
the “border search” exception to the requirement to
obtain a warrant.
Sergio Karas
However, even as the ink on that
decision was beginning to dry, another
opinion released by a court in the
Central District of California, in the
same Ninth Circuit, reached the opposite conclusion, adding to the confusion
of an otherwise settled doctrine of border searches of persons and their goods.
In the first case, U.S. v. Romm, the
defendant connected to the Internet from
a Las Vegas hotel room and visited websites containing images of child pornography, of which his computer automatically saved copies on his “internet
cache.” When he flew from Las Vegas to
Kelowna, B.C., on business, the Canada
Border Services Agency (CBSA) discovered that he had a criminal history and
directed him for further questioning.
The CBSA agent asked Romm to
turn on his laptop and briefly examined
it, finding several child pornography
websites in the laptop “internet history.” Romm admitted that he was on
analysis of the laptop hard drive by an
expert using complex software tools,
which revealed ten images of child
pornography. The officers conducted
the investigation as a “border search”
and never obtained a warrant to examine the data contained in the laptop.
Before trial, Romm’s defense counsel
moved to suppress the evidence
obtained through the search of his laptop. The court denied that motion and
convicted Romm, who appealed.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
held that the forensic analysis of
Romm’s laptop fell under the “border
search” exception to the requirement
to obtain a warrant. Under this exception, the government may conduct
searches of persons entering the United
States without probable cause, reasonable suspicion or a warrant. The court
also affirmed that, for the purposes of
the Fourth Amendment, an international airport terminal is the “functional
equivalent” of a border. Therefore,
passengers deplaning from an international flight are subject to routine border searches.
The decision of the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Romm sent
shockwaves through the legal profession
in the United States and Canada, and
has raised serious concerns about the
limits of border searches conducted
without warrants. While Romm deserves no sympathy for his actions, the
decision may result in very thorough
searches of electronic data at U.S. borders and airports.
In an October 2006 ruling in the
Ninth Circuit, however, the Central
District of California appears to have
taken a different position. In U.S. v.
Arnold, another case involving child
porn found on a laptop owned by a person entering the U.S., the court held that
Customs agents do not have free reign
to search files on a laptop computer.
The court compared a search of the
private information stored on a computer with a strip or body cavity search,
ruling that electronic storage devices
were an “extension” of the person,
unique in its storage capabilities.
“[E]lectronic storage devices function as
an extension of our own memory,” the
court said. “They are capable of storing
our thoughts, ranging from the most
whimsical to the most profound.
“Therefore, government intrusions
into the mind — specifically those that
would cause fear or apprehension in a
reasonable person — are no less deserving of Fourth Amendment scrutiny than
intrusions that are physical in nature.”
The court concluded that such a border
search must be based, at a minimum, on
a reasonable suspicion.
The U.S. v. Arnold decision appears
to be somewhat far-fetched and at odds
with well-established jurisprudence on
earlier decisions like U.S. v. FloresMontano and U.S. v. Ickes.
Accordingly, practitioners must be
careful and advise clients concerning the
risks involved in international travel.
They must add the prospect that the
data contained in laptops and electronic
devices can be searched without a warrant at a U.S. port of entry. N
Sergio R. Karas is a Certified Specialist in Canadian
Citizenship and Immigration Law by the Law Society of
Upper Canada. He is current Vice-Chair of the Ontario Bar
Association Citizenship and Immigration Section and coChair of the International Bar Association Immigration
and Nationality Committee.
March 2007
7:22 PM
Page 8
8:15 PM
Page 44
Recently, for example, the Royal Bank of Canada made
headlines when it temporarily denied applications for or cancelled the U.S. dollar accounts of Canadian customers with
dual citizenship from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea or
Myanmar — countries sanctioned by the U.S. government.
After a public and media outcry, the bank reversed the policy,
but only after citing U.S. Treasury Department rules, tightened
after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Similarly, Canada and the U.S. continue to butt heads over
the case of Maher Arar, cleared of all links to terrorism in
Canada but still unable to travel to the United States. At the
same time, Canada is considering its own “no-fly” lists and
other measures to restrict certain persons’ travel — not only
across borders, but also potentially within the country.
New trade dimensions
Dattu’s focus is on the new bilateral initiatives that have
emerged in the wake of increased economic globalization,
especially as China, and to a lesser extent India, have
entered the global marketplace. With the Doha Round of
multilateral trade talks lying comatose, Canada is following the United States’ lead
and entering into more
bilateral trade agreements.
Dattu thinks this trend
will continue.
With new agreements,
“Those who do not
however, come new concerns for Canadian trading
follow what is
partners and the lawyers
happening in Congress who advise them. For
example, as Prime Minister
as well as with the
Stephen Harper’s recent
Bush administration do remarks on China illustrated, human rights issues can
so at their peril.”
strain Canadian-Chinese
trade relationships.
As well, the growing
number of imports from
China have triggered new complaints about dumping into the
Canadian marketplace. These charges are complicated, says
Dattu, by the fact that China’s production costs are so low
that it can be difficult to define “dumping” in the context of
its exports. Now, Canadian manufacturers are resorting to
safeguard remedies to address these issues.
Cranker points to transfer pricing assessments as another
area not yet satisfactorily resolved by trade agreements. The
Income Tax Act requires pricing between a Canadian resident
(say, a Canadian subsidiary of a U.S. parent corporation) and
a non-arm’s-length non-resident (the parent corporation) to be
substantially the same as what arm’s-length parties in comparable circumstances would use.
In practice, however, deciding what “substantially the
same” means is an inexact science. The Canada Revenue
Agency, says Cranker, is aggressively attacking royalties as
too high or unjustified, while the American Internal Revenue
Service defends the same royalties as justifiable for the parent
company’s intellectual property and brand.
“The IRS says one thing, the CRA says another, and the
client gets proposed assessments dating back six or seven years
for millions of dollars,” Cranker says. “You get whipsawed.”
All of this points to the fact, Dattu says, that NAFTA,
which has been in effect for 13 years, may no longer meet the
needs of its trading partners. The issues have changed, and the
agreement needs rethinking or risks being rendered obsolete
by bilateral trade agreements. “It is in Canada’s interest to
strengthen and improve on the market access guarantees provided under NAFTA, particularly in the post 9/11 environment,” he says.
Watching Washington
Despite NAFTA, Canada and the U.S. still have many unresolved trade issues, including softwood lumber and subsidies
to U.S. industry, like the Byrd amendment and, more recently,
the U.S. Farm Bill, described as “trade-distorting” in a WTO
complaint filed by Canada and other potential and actual
trade partners.
Many trade experts expect a Democrat-controlled Congress to entrench subsidies to American farmers, which could
Continued on page 55
March 2007
8:18 PM
Page 45
Don’t do it!
Tired of overloaded schedules, too many demands and
a never-ending “to do” list? Maybe it’s time to create a “don’t do” list
and recapture control over your time and priorities.
By Allison Shields
Illustrations by Bernice Lum
nother day, another five million things on
the “to do” list. Most days, nothing even
gets crossed off the list because too many
other things come up — phone calls,
unanticipated client problems, a lastminute emergency that must be handled
today. And at the end of the day, has anything of value been
You think you’re organized because you’ve got a “to do”
list — you’ve thought about what you want to get done, and
you’ve got it all planned out. But somehow, it just never works
out. The problem might not be your “to do” list — it might be
that you need a “don’t do” list.
What’s a “don’t do” list? It’s all the things you shouldn’t be
doing, the things that could be delegated to someone else or
Mars 2007
outsourced. The “don’t do” list also includes all of the things
you can completely let go — things that can be eliminated
entirely (or eliminated for a specified time period).
Clearing the distractions
As lawyers, we’re so preoccupied with how much needs to get
done: always on the go, rushing from one thing to the next to
the next. And while we’re busy doing the first thing on our list,
ten other things crop up, or we’re thinking about what we
need to do as soon as we’re done with what we’re working on.
It’s frustrating, exhausting and ultimately, unproductive.
Law school trains lawyers to spot issues, but this issuespotting behaviour isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to
run a law practice. In fact, it often leads to “analysis paralysis” — every issue must be at least considered, if not
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:18 PM
Page 46
addressed, creating too many distractions. In effect, the “don’t
do” list narrows your options so that you’re not overwhelmed
by so many choices every time something new arises.
A “don’t do” list lets you identify from the outset the kinds
of things you don’t want to do, or just shouldn’t be doing
because they prevent you from accomplishing more important
tasks. If it’s already on the “don’t do” list, it’s easy to immediately recognize it and move on to more productive endeavours.
How do you decide what goes on the “don’t do” list?
Anything that diverts you from the goals you want to accomplish belongs there. The “don’t do” list can come into play in
many areas in your practice: your choice of day-to-day activities, your selection of clients or cases, or even which matters
you should respond to first.
I had one client, the managing partner of a four-lawyer
firm, who felt it was her obligation to open the mail every day,
so she could be on top of what was going on at the firm. But
the time it took for her to open and sort the mail was time
away from her other, more valuable duties.
When she finally used her “don’t do” list and gave the job
of opening and sorting the mail to her receptionist, she
reclaimed a lot of billable time. Now she can breeze through
the already opened, date-stamped and sorted mail and still
keep current.
It’s not just tasks
Your “don’t do” list could also include certain types of
clients. A friend of mine recently fired a client who was difficult from the moment she first met him, and she finally drew
the line when he began treating her abusively. She’s since
added abusive clients to her “don’t do” list. Now when she
sees one coming, she’ll just say no.
She won’t add to her stress level by dealing with clients
who don’t respect her and don’t value her work. The money
that client might bring in just isn’t worth it. She has saved herself endless hours of worry and unproductive activity, because
dealing with that abusive client was distracting, even when she
was working with other clients.
Think about your strengths and weaknesses when making
your “don’t do” list. If you’re a great speaker but a poor
writer, maybe writing articles, motions, briefs, etc. should go
on your “don’t do” list. You can use a ghostwriter, hire a contract lawyer to do the writing for you, or give the task to
someone else in the firm with excellent writing skills. Then
you can focus your energies on litigating cases, giving seminars
or making presentations where you can showcase your speaking skills.
Some marketing activities might also belong on your “don’t
do” list. One solo I know belongs to so many networking
groups that he’s at a networking event every day, sometimes
two or three times daily. That means he’s at his office late into
the night and every single weekend handling his regular work.
Marketing and practice-building are very high-value activities for a solo to perform. But they’re only valuable if they’re
strategic — if they’re putting you in front of potential clients
or leads, or if the groups or events are ones about which
you’re passionate.
Make room for yourself
Saying “no” is an essential part of your “don’t do” list. If you
don’t say “no” to a request when you’re already overburdened, you’re making a mistake. If you can’t devote the necessary time and energy to a project or group, your participation
can end up working against you by creating a negative impression. (see sidebar, p. 47)
A sample
“don’t do”
What might a lawyer’s “don’t do”
list look like? Here’s a hypothetical
seven-point list for a small-firm
lawyer, with an explanation
for each item.
1. Don’t check my e-mail every time a new message
pops up. (It’s aggravating to have to interrupt my
work for every beep — I’ll check it every 20 minutes
2. Don’t accept any speaking invitations unless they
put me in front of potential clients. (I only have so
many nights and lunchtimes available for these presentations.)
3. Don’t give any more referrals to Lawyer X across
town. (We knew each other in law school, but I’ve
heard complaints that his work just isn’t up to par.)
4. Don’t accept any new clients who can’t post my
retainer. (I can’t gamble that clients might be able
to pay me down the line.)
5. Don’t take on any more real estate transactions.
(It’s not my area of expertise anymore.)
6. Don’t do any work for family or friends, whether
paid or not. (Handling my cousin’s estate planning
was way more hassle than it was worth.)
7. Don’t take any calls between 3:00 and 4:00
p.m. Wednesdays. (That’s my dedicated marketing
time slot.)
— Gideon Clarke
March 2007
8:18 PM
Page 47
If you want to develop the ability to say no, you
also need to realize that sometimes it’s going to be
very difficult to say no — sometimes, there’s just
pain. But when you say no, you’ll feel relief in the
long run. And if you’re going to say no, do it as
early as possible.
How do you say no? Here are some examples:
• “I already have a meeting at that time.”
• “I can start that next week and deliver
something by…”
Just say no
How one little word can open up vast
amounts of time and flexibility.
our ability to say “no” is an important component of your time management skills. It
determines how much of your time will be
spent doing things you don’t want or have the
time to do.
How easily you say no is a matter of your personality, rather than knowledge of time management skills. Saying no is not about being mean and
aggressive — it’s about being assertive, and you
might need to learn some assertiveness skills to
accomplish this. The cost of not saying no always
becomes greater over time — a truthful no is better than a white-lie yes.
• “I’m not able to handle your matter for
two weeks. Could I suggest someone
else? Or would you like to wait for me to
handle it?”
• "I’m in the middle of something now.
Could I get back to you ...?
• “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to attend.
Thanks for asking.”
• “Let me call you back at 3:00 pm, when I
have more time to give you the attention
you deserve.”
Say yes only if it will help you meet your goals, and
understand that every decision about saying yes or
no is about making choices. Saying yes to working
late means saying no to going home to your family or having some fun outside of work. Saying yes
to taking Saturday off means saying no to getting
your office organized.
Irene Leonard ([email protected]) is a professional development coach who works with lawyers, professionals and executives to assist them with
the management of their practice ((206) 723-9900). This article was adapted from “Life Balance for Lawyers” (
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Mars 2007
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:19 PM
Page 48
Sachez dire non grâce à une liste !
En avez-vous assez des horaires surchargés et de votre liste interminable de tâches à accomplir?
Le moment est peut-être venu de créer une « liste des tâches à éviter absolument » pour vous
permettre de reprendre le contrôle de votre temps et de vos priorités.
i votre liste de tâches à accomplir
est longue et ne désemplit pas
pour autant, et que vous êtes
débordés d’appels téléphoniques, de problèmes de clients qui surviennent sans
crier gare et d’urgences de dernière
minute, il est fort probable que vous ayez
l’impression de ne rien avoir accompli
d’important durant votre journée.
Si c’est votre cas, il est plus que temps
de préparer votre « liste de tâches à ne
pas accomplir » afin de vous sortir de ce
cercle vicieux.
Qu’est-ce que cette liste, au juste? Elle
comprend toutes les tâches que vous ne
devriez pas accomplir comme les éléments
que vous pourriez déléguer à des collègues ou des sous-traitants. Elle peut
également inclure toutes les tâches auxquelles vous pourriez renoncer pour une
période de temps donnée ou de manière
Finies les distractions !
En tant qu’avocats, nous voulons être productifs autant que possible et nous nous
activons sans relâche d’une tâche à
l’autre. Pendant que nous sommes
occupés à exécuter la première tâche qui
se trouve sur notre liste, 10 autres surgissent. Il s’agit d’une situation frustrante,
épuisante, voire improductive.
Une liste de tâches à éviter identifie le
genre d’éléments que vous ne désirez pas
ou que vous ne devriez pas faire parce
qu’ils vous empêchent d’accomplir des
tâches plus importantes.
Quels éléments devriez-vous inclure
dans votre liste ? Tous les éléments distrayants par rapport à votre plan d’action :
votre choix d’activités quotidiennes, votre
sélection de clients ou de problèmes ou
encore vos priorités.
Une de mes clientes, l’associée directrice d’un cabinet, se sentait obligée
d’ouvrir le courrier du cabinet chaque
jour afin d’être au courant de tout.
Après avoir confectionné une liste de
« tâches à ne pas accomplir » et avoir
confié à sa réceptionniste la lecture et le
tri de ses courriels, elle a récupéré beaucoup de temps facturable tout en
restant à jour.
Bien plus que des tâches…
Votre liste pourrait également inclure certains types de clients. Une de mes amies a
récemment renvoyé un client qui s’est
Evaluate which groups or activities will be the most beneficial to you, or to the people or causes you’re supporting. Limit
your participation to the most valuable events or organizations.
You can get more value for less time, energy and stress. If the
things already on the “to do” list are more important or more
valuable, these invitations belong on the “don’t do” list.
Although we need to be responsive and accessible to our
clients, a good “don’t do” list might include particular days or
times when you’re “off limits.” Allowing constant interruptions for family or leisure time not only robs you of muchneeded recharging and rest, but is a disservice to clients who
are only getting part of your attention.
The same goes for interruptions of important business or
client-related activities. It’s rare that clients have a real emergency that can’t wait an hour or two for you to finish preparing your motion or complete a meal with your family.
Know your limitations
Practice areas can also be on your “don’t do” list. If your practice focuses on family law and a client brings you a medical
malpractice case, or if you’re a transactional lawyer and
you’re asked to try a case, turning it down is almost certainly
the right decision. If you aren’t well-versed in the particular
avéré difficile dès leur première rencontre.
Elle a finalement établi ses limites lorsqu’il a commencé à la traiter de manière
abusive. Depuis, elle a ajouté les clients
abusifs à sa liste.
Vous pouvez également agrémenter
votre liste de vos faiblesses afin de vous
concentrer sur les fonctions qui constituent vos forces.
Allouez du temps pour vous-même et
respectez vos limites!
Dire « non » est essentiel pour la préparation de votre liste. Refusez une requête si
vous êtes déjà submergé de travail, sinon
cela pourrait donner une impression
négative à votre égard puisque que vous
ne serez pas en mesure d’y vouer le temps
et l’énergie nécessaires.
Vous pouvez également agrémenter
votre liste de jours ou de plages horaires
durant lesquelles vous ne voulez pas être
interrompu par votre famille ou par des
clients moins urgents, de manière à vous
consacrer à des tâches plus prioritaires.
La liste réduira votre stress tout en
faisant en sorte que vous ne failliez pas à
vos véritables objectifs. N
— Yasmina El Jamaï
area of the law, don’t have the time or resources to learn, or
don’t have someone to help you, you may be asking for more
trouble than taking on the case is worth.
A ready network of lawyers to whom you can refer cases in
other practice areas, so that you know these clients are well
taken care of, can assure that you’re meeting your clients’
needs while still remaining true to your own goals.
Identifying the “don’t dos” can be an effective tool for managing your time and reducing your stress. Knowing in advance
what you won’t do lets you move quickly, without wasting additional time analyzing everything that comes to your attention.
The “don’t do” list also reminds you to ask for help in the
areas that aren’t your strengths, so you can focus your efforts
on what you do best and what brings the most value to your
clients and to your life. It allows you to let go of the idea that
you can do everything and be everything to everyone. It’s a
shorthand way of cutting through all the clutter, so you can get
back to providing great service to your clients. N
Allison C. Shields is the New York-based president of Legal Ease Consulting
( She has been a practising lawyer for 12 years and currently
helps small to mid-sized law firms get the most value out of their billable hours and to
attract better clients: (631) 642-0221.
March 2007
8:19 PM
Page 49
Slowly but surely
Technology continues to make gradual inroads in courtrooms
across Canada. More progress could mean less frustration for
lawyers and more access to justice for the public.
By Ava Chisling
Courtroom Technology?
What’s new in...
Smith notes, “there may be no [outlet to allow] the judge or
jury to see them.” The fact that the judge, jury and witnesses all face different directions in the courtroom only adds to
the difficulties of using visual presentations.
That’s not to say Canada has made no advances in
courtroom tech — the Air India trial in Vancouver is perhaps the most high-profile example. In Toronto, the
“major crimes” courtroom has an extensive array of technology, including an evidence presentation station with a
high-resolution document camera, flat LCD screens for the
accused and the jury, and electrical outlets at every table.
This new courtroom — another is on the way — also
allows selective evidence display: evidence can be shown to
the judge alone, to the judge and jury, or everyone at once.
But in general, it’s still a challenge in
many courtrooms just finding an electriIn general, it’s
cal outlet for your laptop.
he future is already here,” sciencefiction author William Gibson is widely
quoted as saying; “it’s just unevenly distributed.” An excellent illustration of that
principle can be found in the asymmetric
development of courtroom technology across North
Consider, for example, the world’s most technologically
advanced trial space: William & Mary’s McGlothlin
Courtroom in Virginia. Individual jurors have their own
flat-screen monitors, witnesses use touch-screen displays,
and lawyers can employ rear-projection plasma screens and
zoom cameras to provide up-close details of fingerprints, xrays, and pretty much anything else they want the judge,
jurors and public to see.
Contrast that with the state of technology in many
Canadian courtrooms, as described by litigator Glenn
Smith of Lenczner Slaght in Toronto. “Technology is clearly not there yet,” he says. “In the courtroom, you have a
registrar and a security guy who sit there all day, filling up
jugs of water. Surely we can replace one of them and get
our own water. This is totally a budget issue….
“And when we can get our images onto a laptop,”
Mars 2007
still a challenge
Showing the way
Overall, British Columbia has been in many courtleading the field in the use of courtroom
technology nationwide, helped by a rooms just findnew practice direction governing the
use of technology in B.C. civil proceed- ing an electrical
ings that took effect last July. “We are
in a unique position, because our chief outlet for your
justices control the spending of the bud- laptop.
gets,” says Chief Justice Donald
Brenner of the B.C. Supreme Court.
“We have run our first real-time trials and converted
our courtrooms to be [technologically] compatible. We
have our own IT group, our own servers and network, and
we have had it for 20 years. … There is no negative side to
using technology.”
Most other Canadian jurisdictions have made more
incremental progress. In Saskatoon, as in other cities, there
has been some development in the use of distance video. In
adult docket court, there is a pilot project whereby adult
offenders have access to video-conferencing.
“This is a bit more efficient for those who are in custody, especially over a weekend,” says Inez Cardinal,
Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Saskatchewan Department of Justice. “Instead of making two or three trips,
the offender can be released right then and there.”
But Cardinal has reservations about the impact of some
courtroom technology. “We are not actors. Prosecutors are
not there to put on a show,” she says. Cardinal believes
two crucial points to consider are: What is the cost of getting this into evidence, and is it really necessary? “You
don’t want the jury saying, ‘How did they do that?’ instead
of focusing on the facts.”
w w w. c b a . o r g
Quoi de neuf...
8:20 PM
Page 50
dans l’utilisation des technologies pour l’exercice du droit?
La technologie pénètre graduellement les tribunaux canadiens.
introduction des technologies
dans les tribunaux d’Amérique
du Nord est asymétrique. Par
exemple, la Virginie remporte la
palme d’or technologique, avec le tribunal le plus avancé au monde. Dans
la salle William & Mary’s McGlothlin,
les juristes disposent de leur propre
moniteur à écran plat. Les témoins
peuvent utiliser un écran tactile; et
les avocats des écrans translucides à
plasma en plus de focaliser leurs
caméras afin de mettre à la disposition du juge, du jury et du public des
détails d’empreintes digitales et de
rayons X.
Or, cela n’est pas le cas de tous les
tribunaux canadiens. « Il est clair que
la technologie n’est pas encore
disponible, et ce, en raison d’un problème de budget, croit l’avocat
plaideur Glenn Smith de Lenczner
Slaght à Toronto. Et lorsque nous
sommes munis d’images sur notre
ordinateur portable, il se peut qu’aucune fiche d’alimentation électrique
ne soit accessible ».
Cela ne revient pas à dire que le
Canada n’ait pas effectué une
avancée technologique. À Toronto, la
salle de tribunal dédiée aux crimes
majeurs dispose d’un vaste ensemble
technologique (une station pour la
présentation des preuves agrémentée
d’une caméra à haute résolution et
d’un moniteur plat à cristaux liquides)
à l’intention des personnes accusées
et du jury. Des fiches d’alimentation
électrique sont également présentes
sur chacune des tables. Mais, en
général, il est encore difficile d’en
trouver pour son ordinateur portable.
Montrer l’exemple
Dans l’ensemble, la Colombie-Britannique a été un meneur sur le plan
de l’usage de la technologie à
l’échelle nationale. « Nous avons
dirigé nos procès en temps réel et
nous disposons de nos propres groupe
TI, serveur et réseau depuis 20 ans »,
explique le juge en chef Donald
Brenner de la Cour suprême de C.-B.
La plupart des grandes villes canadiennes ont effectué quelques progrès. À Saskatoon, l’usage de la vidéo
à distance s’est quelque peu développé. Un projet pilote donne aussi
accès aux contrevenants adultes à la
Inez Cardinal, substitut du procureur général pour le Ministère de la
Justice de la Saskatchewan, émet certaines réserves quant à l’impact de la
technologie dans les tribunaux. « Les
procureurs de la Couronne ne sont pas
Cardinal says that simply showing a crime-scene video can
be a powerful way to show the judge or jury what happened.
“Our goal is to be more effective, but do we want theatrics
over evidence? I don’t think you get ahead with flash. When
you do a jury trial, what they want is a smoking gun. What
they actually get is an expert who testifies that the [evidence
presented] matches the accused.”
Smith, for his part, doesn’t believe that adding technology
to the courtroom takes away from the traditional role of a
lawyer. “Putting lasers into the operating room did not do
away with the scalpel,” he says. “Juries are asking if we can be
more sophisticated than we are, and the answer to that is ‘No,
we are back in the Stone Age.’”
Clients and the public
Indeed, courtroom technology isn’t just about what lawyers
and judges think. Gordon Kelly, a family lawyer with Blois
Nickerson in Halifax, thinks technology improves client
access. “We tend to think of technology as being useful on big
files, but it’s also very useful for the ordinary, everyday person.
Even saving $100 per client across the country can help.”
Kelly believes advancements in technology will most help
the middle class, those who do not qualify for legal aid but still
worry about the high cost of hiring a lawyer. Similarly, Chief
là pour se donner en spectacle »,
À l’inverse, Gordon Kelly, un avocat
de Blois Nickerson à Halifax, considère que la technologie améliore l’accès du citoyen à la justice. « Nous
croyons à tort que la technologie
n’est utile que dans les gros dossiers,
mais elle peut aussi être au service des
clients de tous les jours, affirme-t-il.
On peut faire beaucoup en réalisant
100$ d’économies par client à travers
tout le Canada. »
Au bénéfice du citoyen
Me Kelly estime que les avancées
technologiques viendront en aide
surtout à la classe moyenne qui n’a
pas droit à l’aide juridique. Le juge en
chef Brenner va jusqu’à prévoir que
« le public réclamera une salle de tribunal [électronique] sans papier ».
Pour l’heure, Smith fait remarquer
qu’au sujet des TI , « aucun standard
ne fait consensus et nous ne pouvons
même pas obtenir d’accord sur l’utilisation d’images en tiff ou en JPEG ».
Smith aimerait qu’il y ait plus de coordination dans ce domaine et que l’éducation permanente des barreaux et
de la magistrature facilite leur utilisation quotidienne des technologies. N
— Yasmina El Jamaï
Justice Brenner sees technology as a fundamental access-tojustice issue: “The public will have expectations, and they will
demand the Bar provide the best service possible for the client.
The public will demand we go to a paperless courtroom.
Where I see us going is the electronic world.”
But Kelly believes that courtroom technology still is in dire
need of uniform standards. “Right now, the technology and
the software are not lawyer-driven,” he says. “Firms hire IT
people, so the technology appears like magic.”
Smith concurs: “There is no agreed-upon standard, and
too many vendors are doing what they want. We can’t even
get an agreement on whether to use tiff or jpeg images.” In
addition to a uniform manner of producing and exchanging
exhibits, Smith would also like to see continuing education
for the Bar and the bench in learning to accept technology, as
well as renovations to courtrooms to help enable the everyday use of technology.
“The hardware is there, but we are not connected,” Kelly says.
“People have come forward with isolated projects, but there is no
coordination among them. Overall, things are progressing, but
at an uneven pace.” William Gibson would surely agree. N
Ava Chisling, a recent graduate of McGill University’s LL.B./BCL program, is the awardwinning former Executive Editor of enRoute magazine.
March 2007
8:22 PM
Page 51
Unfair advantage
What do you do when the opposing
lawyer isn’t up to the task?
Alison Arnot
Code Words ))))
Relevant extracts from the
CBA’s newly revised Code
of Professional Conduct
Chapter IX: The lawyer
as advocate
Mars 2007
When acting as an advocate, the lawyer
must treat the court or tribunal with courtesy and respect and must represent the
client resolutely, honourably and within the
limits of the law.
Commentary 17
In adversary proceedings, the lawyer’s function as advocate is openly and necessarily
partisan. Accordingly, the lawyer is not
w w w. c b a . o r g
ntario Superior Court Justice Denis Power
still remembers the incident, years ago,
when he was a practising lawyer. He was
representing a fellow lawyer in a professional negligence matter. Opposing counsel, who had just come on to the case, contacted him to
make sure his client would be present, because he intended to call the impugned lawyer to testify.
“The case was 100% a credibility issue,” Justice
Justice Denis Power
Power recalled. “I didn’t know if I should raise with him
the dangers of doing that.” After discussing it with his
client, Justice Power called the lawyer back and asked
opposing counsel has not asked. But the lawyer does have
him if he really wanted his client to testify. The trial judge
a duty to bring to the court’s attention caselaw that the
also explained the pitfalls in doing this, but the lawyer
opposing counsel may not have found, even if it’s
would not change his mind.
favourable to the other side. The goal is to ensure the
“He put my client in the box, who
judge has the full state of the law.
denied the totality of the plaintiff’s evi“Our duty as lawyers is to protect and
dence and was much more credible than
advance the legal rights of our clients,”
the plaintiff, and that was the end of the
said fellow panelist Gavin MacKenzie, a
case,” Justice Power says.
partner at Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto
Often, lawyers find themselves in court
and current treasurer of the Law Society
facing an opposing counsel who, for whatfor Upper Canada. “Our clients have no
ever reason, hurts his own cause, doesn’t
legal right to benefit by reason of a mistake
effectively express his client’s case, or generof another party’s lawyer.”
ally acts in a manner unintentionally helpful
What about the judge’s role in a situato the other side. What should the ethical
tion where counsel is doing a poor job?
lawyer do? That was the subject of a
It’s a question of exercising judgment,
“Duties and Dilemmas” panel at the
said Justice Power. If really substantial
County of Carleton Law Association Civil
issues come up, and the lawyer doesn’t act
Litigation Conference in Montebello,
on them, it’s appropriate for a judge to
Bernard Amyot
Quebec, this past November.
raise the possible inadmissibility of evi“The judge, the court, and the opposing counsel must
dence or Charter implications.
seek a balance in the process to help the disadvantaged
“Look down the line,” he advised the audience. “If
party,” said Bernard Amyot, a partner with Heenan
you don’t do something, and the problems then come out
Blaikie LLP in Montreal and first vice-president of the
on appeal when a new counsel has been retained, then
CBA. The lawyer has a duty to enlighten the court and
chances are the results that you obtained as a successful
should mention anything that is relevant, whether it’s
counsel are going to be upset in the Court of Appeal.
helpful to the lawyer’s case or not.
You’re going to be back trying the case all over again. So,
Amyot pointed out that this obligation doesn’t go so
as a practical matter, we should be aiming to get it right
far as having to ask witnesses relevant questions that
the first time.” N
obliged … to assist an adversary or advance
matters derogatory to the client’s case.
When opposing interests are not represented, for example, in ex parte or uncontested matters, or in other situations where
the full proof and argument inherent in the
adversary system cannot be obtained, the
lawyer must take particular care to be accurate, candid and comprehensive in presenting the client’s case so as to ensure that the
court is not misled.
8:22 PM
Page 52
Avantage indu
Que faire lorsque l’avocat de la partie adverse n’est pas à la hauteur?
enis Power, juge à la Cour
supérieure de l’Ontario, se
souviendra de ce dossier toute
sa vie. Alors qu’il était encore avocat,
il devait représenter un confrère dans
une affaire de négligence professionnelle. L’avocat de la partie adverse
l’appela un jour pour lui annoncer
qu’il avait l’intention de faire témoigner le juriste dont on remettait
en cause la compétence.
« Il s’agissait d’un dossier où seule
la crédibilité de l’un ou de l’autre des
protagonistes importait, explique le
juge Power. Je ne savais pas si je
devais prévenir l’avocat de la partie
adverse du danger qui le guettait s’il
choisissait de procéder ainsi. » Après
avoir consulté son client, le juge
Power a choisi d’en souffler mot à
l’avocat et le juge du procès le fit
aussi. Rien à faire, l’avocat de la partie
adverse ne démordait pas.
Ce qui devait arriver arriva. « Mon
client s’est retrouvé dans la boîte des
témoins et a nié tout ce que le demandeur avait avancé, relate le juge Power.
Son témoignage était le plus crédible
et le procès s’est terminé ainsi. »
En tant qu’avocat, il est possible
que vous deviez faire face à un procureur de la partie adverse qui pose
un geste allant à l’encontre des
intérêts de son client. Comment
devriez-vous alors réagir? Quelles sont
vos obligations déontologiques?
« Le juge, le tribunal et l’avocat de
la partie adverse doivent faire en
sorte que le processus soit équilibré
afin de venir en aide à la partie désavantagée », croit Bernard Amyot,
associé du cabinet Heenan Blaikie à
Montréal et premier vice-président de
l’ABC. L’avocat a le devoir d’éclairer le
tribunal et devrait porter à son attention ce qui est pertinent.
Pour ce faire, l’avocat n’a pas à
aider l’avocat de la partie adverse à
présenter sa preuve en posant des
questions que ce dernier a omis de
poser. Cependant, l’avocat doit
soumettre à la Cour tous les jugements pertinents, même si certains ne
sont pas à son avantage. Le tribunal
doit être bien au fait du droit en
vigueur. Le juge devrait intervenir
lorsqu’il est question d’inadmissibilité
de la preuve ou que des questions de
chartes sont soulevées.
« Pensez à ce qui arrivera au bout
du compte, enchaîne le juge Power.
Si vous n’agissez pas et que l’avocat
de la partie adverse est remplacé par
un autre, vous avez de fortes chances
que le jugement soit porté en appel.
Vous devrez alors tout recommencer.
Est-ce que le jeu en vaut vraiment la
chandelle? » N
— Mélanie Raymond
How to handle an opposing counsel with a problem.
Question: Opposing counsel is behaving erratically,
and it’s becoming clear that he has been drinking
on the job. It’s affecting both his conduct of
the matter and the pace of finding a resolution.
What should you do?
“As the lawyer on the
other side of the case, you cannot and
should not do anything about it,” said
Pasquale Santini, a lawyer with Ottawa
firm Kelly Santini LLP, during a panel
discussion of “Duties and Dilemmas” at
the County of Carleton Law Association
Civil Litigation Conference in Montebello, Quebec, in November
But Santini also recognized that the
CBA’s Rules of Professional Conduct
creates a difficult issue. Rule 1.03,
“Standards of the Legal Profession,”
states that “a lawyer has a duty to carry
on the practice of law and discharge all
responsibilities to clients, tribunals, the
public, and other members of the profession honourably and with integrity.”
But to whom is a lawyer’s duty owed?
“There is a clear conflict as to
whom we owe the first duty of care,”
said Santini. What is good for the
court and the public may not be good
for the client. “As an officer of the
court, we have a duty to make sure
that justice is done. But because we
live and work in an adversarial system,
as long as a party is represented by
counsel, I do not believe that we need to
do the other counsel’s work for them.
Clearly that would conflict with our
duty to our client.”
Still, Santini pointed out that Rule
6.01 makes it mandatory to report to
the governing law society “the mental
instability of a lawyer of such a serious
nature that the lawyer’s clients are likely
to be severely prejudiced,” unless doing
so would be unlawful or involve a
breach of solicitor-client privilege.
He questioned whether this rule put
the interests of the law society and
other lawyers before the interests of the
client. “I think this rule is meant to
address situations of lawyers who are
not involved in the case, and not
opposing lawyers,” he said.
But fellow panelist Gavin MacKenzie
disagreed. He suggested first getting the
lawyer’s associates involved in trying to
get help for the lawyer in question (the
CBA’s Legal Profession Assistance Conference, is a great resource). Failing that, he said, you would
have a duty, in consultation with your
client, to report opposing counsel’s
erratic behaviour to the law society. N
— Alison Arnot
March 2007
8:24 PM
Page 53
Welcome to Canada
Colleen Bauman
A law student’s pro bono work for immigrants and refugees
garners her a pioneering prize.
By Bill Rogers
n the eyes of Colleen Bauman, now clerking at the
Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, the concept
of hospitality is key. She views it as an invaluable
commodity much needed by immigrants and
refugees who come to Canada without necessarily
knowing the customs, language and practicalities of a
new country.
“My family is Mennonite,” says Bauman, a graduate
of the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Program
who grew up in the rural community of Elmira, Ontario,
near Kitchener-Waterloo. “Historically, Mennonites have
been a very migrant people. So there’s an empathy for
people who have been forced to move.” When she was a
child, her parents were actively involved in refugee sponsorship, which left an imprint on her.
Her education continued when she went to Chad to
teach English for a year. “I learned a lot about hospitality when I was there,” she says. “I learned how to be
Mars 2007
welcoming. Chad has such a wel- “I like
coming culture — when you come
back to Canada, you don’t see quite working
the same thing.”
So it comes as no surprise that in areas
one of Bauman’s many pro bono
activities at U of O Law involved that involve
helping people who came to people’s
Canada but found themselves in
immigration detention. “I did an daily life.”
unpaid internship with the Canadian Red Cross Detention Monitoring Program,” she says. “The program monitors the conditions for individuals held in immigration detention in
Canada. I found it very rewarding.”
She also did pro bono research for Michael Bossin,
who was counsel for Amnesty International Canada on
the three “security certificate” appeals that the Supreme
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:24 PM
Page 54
Le comité d’accueil
Une étudiante en droit est honorée pour son travail pro bono auprès des réfugiés.
hospitalité est une valeur très
poursuivi alors que Mme Bauman a
juridique communautaire de l’Uni-
importante pour Colleen Bau-
séjourné au Chad durant un an pour y
versité d’Ottawa.
man, auxiliaire juridique à la
enseigner l’anglais. « C’est là que j’ai
Pour tous ses efforts, Mme Bauman
Cour suprême du Canada à Ottawa.
compris tout le sens du mot accueil »,
s’est méritée le Prix pro bono Derek
C’est pourquoi elle a choisit de s’im-
Smith & Alain Roussy. D’une valeur de
pliquer auprès des immigrants et
Il n’est pas donc pas étonnant que
1000$, ce prix créé par deux diplômés
réfugiés qui viennent au Canada à la
Mme Bauman ait choisi de s’investir
de l’Université d’Ottawa, vise à
recherche d’une vie meilleure.
bénévolement auprès de ceux qui se
souligner l’excellence dans la presta-
« Ma famille est Mennonite », dé-
retrouvent dans des centres de déten-
tion de services bénévoles.
clare Bauman, une diplômée du pro-
tion de l’immigration dans le cadre
En réfléchissant à sa carrière, Colleen
gramme de common law de l’Univer-
d’un stage de la Croix Rouge. Elle a
Bauman se fait philosophe. Elle sait
sité d’Ottawa qui a grandit dans la
aussi effectué de la recherche pour
que les thèmes des droits de la person-
collectivité rurale d’Elmira en Ontario.
Me Michael Bossin qui représentait
ne, de la justice sociale et des réfugiés
« Les Mennonites ont souvent dû
Amnesty International dans trois
demeureront toujours fort importants
bouger et sont donc empathiques en-
dossiers de certificats de sécurité qui
pour elle. « Même si je risque de ne pas
vers ceux qui n’ont d’autre choix que
se sont retrouvés devant la Cour
exercer le droit de façon traditionnelle,
de se déplacer », explique-t-elle. Ses
suprême en juin dernier.
je sais que je mettrai mes habiletés
parents ont tracé le chemin en par-
Ne s’arrêtant pas là, Mme Bauman
juridiques au service des autres, sou-
rainant des réfugiés alors qu’elle était
s’est aussi beaucoup impliquée auprès
tient-elle. J’aime m’impliquer dans
encore une enfant.
de l’organisme Pro Bono Students
des projets qui ont un impact sur la vie
Canada (PBSC) et auprès de la Clinique
quotidienne des gens. » N
L’apprentissage de l’hospitalité s’est
Court heard last June. “He’s really committed,” Bauman says
of Bossin. “He mentored me and tons of other students. My
research focused on international standards relating to arbitrary detention and the absolute prohibition on return to torture. It was a great experience to be involved in a very, very
small way in these important cases.”
In addition, Bauman volunteered with and then later worked
for Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC). “It exposed me to a lot
of interesting public interest law initiatives,”
she says. “They do a great job of providing
law students with a huge range of interesting
pro bono opportunities.”
And if that weren’t enough, she also volunteered countless hours at the University of
Ottawa Community Legal Clinic, lending her
expertise to the tenant division. Plus, she gave
presentations on topics like human rights in
the workplace and police powers. People
began to look for some way to recognize her
for her outstanding pro bono contributions.
Enter Derek Smith and Alain Roussy,
two University of Ottawa law grads who
themselves are involved in pro bono work.
They had an idea: there are already law school prizes for the
highest standing in various subjects — corporate tax, copyright, labour law, and so on — why not create an award to recognize a student’s pro bono excellence?
So they approached their respective law firms — Smith is
with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and Roussy is with Heenan
Blaikie LLP — and asked them to sponsor a $1,000 prize.
“Neither firm hesitated in the slightest,” says Smith of what
is now called the Derek Smith & Alain Roussy Pro Bono
Award for outstanding volunteer work.
“It had to be a large enough amount of money,” he
notes. “We’re obviously not under the impression that
$1,000 is going to change anybody’s life. But it’s large
enough to send a message that pro bono does matter, and it
does pay off.”
Roussy hopes that creating the award will spur other law
school alumni to do the same. “This award is part of the
broader movement to promote pro bono work in Canada,” he
says. “We call on alumni of other Canadian
law schools to create similar awards at
their schools.”
Bauman is no stranger to winning awards
— she also took home the University of
Ottawa Gold Medal for the highest grades
over the entire LL.B. program. Adding the
pro bono award to her trophy case makes her
feel “humbled and honoured,” she says. “I
know a lot of other students who were also
doing a lot of great pro bono work and who
equally merit recognition.”
As she embarks on a clerkship at the
Supreme Court with Justice Rosalie Abella,
she reflects on her career path. “My route to
law school was a bit eclectic,” she says. Her undergraduate degree
is in history and fine art history, which paved the way for a fouryear stint working at museums. “I’m the only person I know in
law who has museum exhibit planning experience!” she laughs.
As for the future, Bauman remains passionate about
human rights, social justice, and of course, refugee resettlement issues, where she engages her sense of hospitality. “I
might not end up in a totally traditional legal role,” she says.
“But I’ll use my legal skills in some way. I like working in areas
that involve people’s daily life.” N
“I’m the only
person I know in
law who has
museum exhibit
March 2007
8:26 PM
Page 55
De judicieux conseils
Des juristes canadiens offrent leur concours à la réforme du système
de justice jamaïcain dans le cadre des activités du CDI.
Par Mélanie Raymond
uit juges, spécialistes du droit et avocats canadiens se sont rendus en Jamaïque, du 26
novembre au 2 décembre dernier, dans le
cadre d’un projet d’examen complet du système de justice jamaïcain auquel collabore le
Comité de développement international de l’ABC.
« Nous souhaitions qu’ils puissent constater de visu
les défis et problématiques auxquels le système de justice
jamaïcain doit faire face », déclare Andrejs Berzins,
expert en droit criminel canadien et membre du groupe
de gestion de la Jamaican Justice
Review Task Force. La Jamaïque
est aux prises, entre autres, avec
un taux élevé de criminalité.
Les huit juristes, qui représentent divers domaines d’expertise tels que l’administration de la
justice, le droit pénal ou la justice
en matière familiale, font tous
partie du Comité consultatif canadien. Ce dernier sert d’appui institutionnel aux travaux
de la Jamaican Justice Review Task Force.
Créée à la fin de l’été 2006, la Jamaican Justice Review
Task Force a pour mandat d’examiner l’état du système
de justice jamaïcain et d’élaborer des stratégies afin d’en
faciliter la modernisation.
Le projet est une initiative du gouvernement jamaïcain
qui a fait appel aux connaissances du Comité de
développement international de l’ABC en matière de
réforme judiciaire. Rappelons que l’ABC a mené, au
milieu des années 1990, une vaste enquête sur la situation
du système de justice civile à l’échelle canadienne qui a
Mars 2007
CBA & You
L’ABC & vous
donné lieu à plusieurs projets de réforme.
C’est ainsi qu’une équipe de juristes canadiens œuvre
en étroite collaboration avec des professionnels du système de justice jamaïcain afin d’élaborer un plan d’action
pour cette révision d’une durée de 9 mois qui se terminera
à la fin de juin 2007.
Lors de leur visite en sol jamaïcain, les huit juristes
canadiens ont été jumelés à huit collègues locaux oeuvrant
dans le même champ d’expertise qu’eux. Il s’agissait ainsi
de maximiser la quête d’informations pertinentes sur le
terrain et de favoriser une collaboration continue entre les divers
« Nous voulions que nos collaborateurs canadiens puissent
voir évoluer leurs collègues jamaïquains dans leur environnement de travail, explique
Andrejs Berzins, et soient ainsi en
mesure d’évaluer eux-mêmes
quels sont les aspects positifs et les ratés du système. »
Les juristes ont arpenté les couloirs des palais de justice et ont pu constater que nombre d’entres eux accusent
leur âge et ne disposent pas, dans certains cas, de salles
d’entrevues ou avocats et clients peuvent échanger en
toute confidentialité, de services de sténographie et même
de salles de bain.
Deux ateliers portant sur les systèmes de justice civile
et pénale ont aussi été offerts par les délégués canadiens.
Ces derniers avaient pour but de partager les leçons
apprises lors de la mise en œuvre de certaines réformes au
Canada. L’évènement était ouvert à tous et Me Berzins
w w w. c b a . o r g
L’ A B C & V O U S
8:26 PM
Page 56
Caribbean dreams
The CBA’s International Development Committee is contributing to the reform of the Jamaican justice system.
ate last fall, eight Canadian lawyers
and legal specialists sponsored by
the CBA’s International Development Committee visited Jamaica, as part
of a project studying reform of the country’s entire justice system.
“We hoped that they could see firsthand the challenges and problems with
which the Jamaican justice system is confronted,” says Andrejs Berzins, former
Chief Crown Attorney for Ottawa and current member of the management group
of the Jamaican Justice Review Task Force.
The eight lawyers are part of the Canadian
advisory committee that is providing the
task force with institutional support.
Created last summer by the Jamaican
government, the task force has a mandate
to examine the state of Jamaica’s justice
system and come up with strategies to
facilitate its modernization. Impressed
with its Systems of Civil Justice Report in
the mid-1990s, the organizers invited the
CBA to participate. An action plan is
expected by the end of June.
During their visit, the eight Canadian
lawyers were paired with eight local colleagues working in the same field (family
law, criminal law, administration of justice, etc.), allowing them to identify the
most pertinent information in the field
and support continuing collaboration
among the players.
“We wanted our Canadian participants
to be able to see their Jamaican colleagues in their work environment,”
explains Berzins, “and thus be able to see
for themselves what the positive aspects
estime qu’environ cinquante personnes du milieu juridique
jamaïcain ont assisté à chacun des événements. Deux autres
ateliers misant sur le renforcement des capacités en matière de
participation de la population ont été offerts aux employés du
Ministère de la Justice jamaïcain.
Cette visite n’était que l’une des étapes du programme.
Plusieurs organisations de la société civile jamaïcaine ont été
and the failures in the system are.”
The Canadian lawyers found some
courthouses showing their age and others where no interview rooms are provided for lawyers and clients to talk confidentially. They also offered two workshops on Canada’s civil and criminal justice systems to share lessons learned during the establishment of similar reforms
in Canada. Two other workshops provided insights on getting more public input
into the system.
This visit was only one step in the program; for more information on the
Canadian advisory committee and to learn
more about the activities of the Jamaican
Justice Reform Task Force, visit
.org/jamaicanjustice/about/ N
— Alison Arnot
invitées à soumettre un mémoire à la Jamaïcain Justice Reform
Task Force et des consultations publiques se tiendront dans diverses régions de la Jamaïque au cours des mois de mars et avril.
Pour connaître la composition du Comité consultatif canadien ou pour en savoir plus au sujet des activités de la
Jamaïcain Justice Reform Task Force, consultez le
.org/jamaicanjustice/about/cac.htm N
Droit des organismes de bienfaisance — 10 mai 2007,
Holiday Inn, Toronto
Évenements à venir
Conférence nationale de FJP en litige civil — 12 et 13 avril
2007, Delta Centre-Ville, Montréal
Renseignements : Kim MacDonald au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
Renseignements : Ann-Marie Suurland au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
Conférence nationale sur le droit des douanes, des taxes et
de ventes à la consommation — 17 mai 2007. Centre des
congrès, Ottawa
Conférence nationale de l’ABC en matière de citoyenneté et
d’immigration — 13 et 14 avril 2007, Hôtel Fairmont
Empress et Centre des congrès, Victoria
Renseignements : Ann-Marie Suurland au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
Renseignements : Carole Roussel au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
Conférence nationale de l’ABC en propriété intellectuelle —
17 mai 2007, Ottawa
Conférence nationale de l'ABC sur le droit de l'environnement, de l'énergie et des ressources : les enjeux en
matière d'énergie — 27 et 28 avril, 2007, Hôtel Inter
Continental Montréal, Québec
Renseignements : Ann-Marie Suurland au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
Conférence nationale de l’ABC en droit des aîné(e)s —
15 et 16 juin 2007, Delta Fredericton, Fredericton
Renseignements : Kim MacDonald au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
Renseignements : Kim MacDonald au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
L’Amérique du Nord et la mondialisation de l’antitrust —
3 et 4 mai 2007, Sutton Place Hotel, Toronto
Le droit fiscal à l’intention des avocat(e)s — 27 mai au
1 juin 2007, Queen’s Landing, Niagara On The Lake
Renseignements : Carole Roussel au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
Renseignements : Kim MacDonald au 1-800-267-8860 ou
[email protected]
March 2007
8:26 PM
Page 57
Upcoming events
North America and the Globalization of Antitrust: Spring
Competition Law Conference — May 3-4, 2007, Toronto
National Civil Litigation Law Conference — April 12-13,
2007, Montreal
Information: Ann-Marie Suurland at 1-800-267-8860 or
[email protected]
National Citizenship and Immigration Law Conference —
April 13-14, 2007, Fairmont Empress Hotel/ Victoria
Conference Centre, Victoria
udges, senior practitioners, Department of Justice lawyers, administrative tribunal members, and government representatives (CIC,
CBSA, HRSDC) will discuss and debate a wide range of important
issues. More details to follow as the program is developed.
Information: Carole Roussel at 1-800-267-8860 or [email protected]
CBA National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law
Conference — April 27- 28, 2007, The Intercontinental
Montreal Hotel, Montreal
Information: Kim MacDonald at 1-800-267-8860 or [email protected]
ointly presented by the CBA’s National Competition Law Section
and the Antitrust and Trade Law Section of the International Bar
Association Legal Practice Division, this landmark Spring Conference
will feature up-to-the-minute, in-depth discussions on current and
emerging developments in mergers, unilateral conduct and cartel
enforcement. More details to follow as the program is developed.
Information: Carole Roussel at 1-800-267-8860 or [email protected]
CBA/OBA Joint Health Law Conference — May 3-4, 2007,
Delta Chelsea, Toronto
Information: Ann-Marie Suurland at 1-800-267-8860 or
[email protected]
CBA/IBA Joint Spring Competition Law Conference —
May 3-4, 2007, Sutton Place Hotel, Toronto
Information: Carole Roussel at 1-800-267-8860 or [email protected]
CBA/OBA Joint Charity Law Conference — May 10, 2007,
Holiday Inn on King, Toronto
Information: Kim MacDonald at 1-800-267-8860 or [email protected]
Border clashes
Continued from page 44
further hamper trade negotiations (including attempts to
revive Doha — between the U.S. and other countries. “Once
the farm subsidy issue is resolved,” says Dattu, “the less-developed countries may be more willing to negotiate bilateral
agreements with the United States.”
For these reasons, business leaders — and their lawyers
— now must pay closer attention to the mood in
Washington and to the outcomes of international trade
agreements, says Keith Mitchell, an international trade law
expert and managing partner of Vancouver’s Farris,
Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP.
“The convergence of Canadian business planning and
American political action has never been so alive,” says
Mitchell. “Those who do not follow what is happening in
Congress as well as with the Bush administration do so at their
peril.” Lawyers who act for corporate clients need to know,
for example, which members of Congress are likely to be those
clients’ adversaries, and which their champions.
Which states house the competitive pressure for clients’
products? How important are those Congressional representatives and senators? Where are they likely to use their leverage?
Onto which appropriations bill will they likely try to tack a
rider? At what point — say, when Canadian imports of softwood lumber to the U.S. rise above 30% — have trade issues
historically triggered reactions, and how can businesses anticipate and prepare for such reactions?
In short, says Mitchell, “Canadian lawyers need to understand the American political mindset and players. What
politicians do in Washington — or Brussels or China, for that
matter — affects us. As counsel, you can’t afford just to do
Mars 2007
black-letter law and ignore these developments.
“Your clients are interested in where their business interests lie. And their business interests are now under scrutiny
in political fora other than Canada,” he says. “The need to
think locally and to be aware internationally has never
been greater.”
For these reasons, Mitchell, like many Canadian trade
lawyers, maintains good networks with U.S. trade lawyers and
American and Canadian trade officials, particularly in the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He is
also active in Washington, where clients have sent him to meet
with embassy officials for countries whose interests are alive
to Canadian commercial interests.
The secret to the Canadian trade story, he says — a secret
that every trade lawyer should take to heart — is that “for
every Canadian exporter, there is a U.S. importer. So there’s a
U.S. political ally down there who often has to be motivated.
Canada carries no brief with U.S. elected officials, but U.S.
importers and U.S. consumers do. And therefore, we have to
be very mindful of forming influences with U.S. importers and
It’s a good reminder that while the world’s longest undefended border has rarely been so fraught with political
obstacles and security challenges, citizens and businesses on
both sides still have one very important thing in common:
keeping the lines of trade and communication open and
humming. N
Susan Goldberg is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her previous article for National,
about legal battles in the pharmaceutical industry, appeared in our January/February
2007 issue.
w w w. c b a . o r g
8:27 PM
Page 58
Money for nothing
Donuts, possessory title, and fortune’s vagaries.
By Douglas Mah
ike the majority of Canadians, I plan to finance my
retirement with lottery winnings. I know the odds
of a big payday are something in the order of
31,256,986 to 1 (unless, as the CBC’s Fifth Estate
would have us believe, you operate a lottery concession),
but finite probability be darned, you’ve got to hang on to
that dream. Otherwise, for me with my two school-age
children, I’ll be on the Freedom 75 plan.
An irresistible allure attaches to free money. There is
no finer feeling than finding a $20 bill in an old pair of
pants, getting more than you claimed as an income tax
refund, or, as one my lawyer friends discovered, that a
recently dead relative
he’d forgotten about
had bequeathed him a
winery in Germany.
Another lawyer acquaintance of mine
was not practising
much law and had
repaired to a subsistence living, playing a
resonant rock guitar in
seedy bars. Someone
he knew asked him to
register a patent on a
new and untested software application, and
he obliged on a lark, not expecting payment. He was
given some shares in return, which, given the company’s
track record at the time, he regarded as toilet paper.
Well, in time’s fullness, the company went public on
the London Stock Exchange, and my lawyer friend
became an instant gazillonaire. He now flies around in
his own jet and engages in philanthropy, such are fortune’s vagaries.
The Tim Horton’s chain has lately promoted its product with a “Rrroll up the rim to win” contest, through
which cash and fabulous prizes can be instantly won by
checking under the lip of their disposable cardboard cups.
Their website demonstrates the best techniques for doing
so, for those challenged by the physics of rim-rrrolling.
I admit to being dubious about the donut vendor’s
promotional gimmickry. Tim Horton’s claims to be iconic in Canadian culture, on a par with, let’s say, Pierre
Elliot Trudeau and the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. Further, the 12th installment of its “True
Stories” series of television commercials depicts three
generations of Chinese Canadians healing lifelong rifts
and grievances by sharing tepid cups of coffee.
Not to sound like a know-it-all, but I’d say the
chances of this happening are also about 31,256,986 to
1. Besides, the older generation mostly likes to drink tea.
Enough of that. Back to free riches, and a case of prizewinning garbage. We heard last March that in St. Jerome,
Quebec, a 10-year-old found a discarded Tim Horton’s
cup, and with the assistance of a 12-year-old friend,
looked under the rim, only to discover some not-tooshabby winnings: a Toyota RAV4 SUV worth $28,700.
Their respective parents couldn’t agree on how the
vehicle should be shared, however, so predictably, they
are headed for litigation. A third claimant has entered the
fray, a bus driver who claims to have thrown the coffee
cup in the trash in the first place.
The case may be decided on the doctrine of bona
vacantia, which is not Latin for “Have a nice vacation.”
It refers to ownerless property, which may be claimed by
a finder. I’m guessing the bus driver in the Tim Horton’s
case is sucking wind, because public garbage has no
owner. (Tip: the most effective way of getting rid of
unwanted furniture is to put it by your garbage cans.
Someone is sure to take it.)
A precedent of sorts can be found in Thomas v.
Canada (Attorney General), 2006 ABQB 730, a case I
first heard about while driving to work in the morning
and listening to the CBC, which is how I get most of my
ideas for this column. It seems a cache of bills, $18,000
worth, was mistakenly stuffed into Mr. Thomas’ post
office box. Not reading the addressee info, he opened the
package and found the money. The average schmuck can
always use 18 large. He must have wept for joy.
Being a model citizen, Mr. Thomas took the money to
the police, who apparently told him about bona vacantia. The RCMP conducted an investigation into the
money’s origin. Mysteriously, the intended recipient disavowed any connection with the funds and asserted no
interest, nor could the sender be located. The 18 bills
truly were ownerless.
Both Thomas and the AG claimed the money on the
basis of possessory title. In the ensuing lawsuit, the AG
argued first that Canada Post had a better claim to the
cache of cash, and second, as a matter of public policy,
opening someone else’s mail is a no-no and people
shouldn’t be able to profit from such bad behaviour.
In the denouement, Justice Trussler found that
Canada Post was a stranger to the lawsuit and therefore
not entitled to put forward a claim. Second, Mr. Thomas
was actually trying to be a good guy in turning the
money over to the authorities so that the rightful owner
could be found. That he inadvertently opened someone
else’s mail did not disentitle him as a finder.
I truly hope Mr. Thomas enjoys his 18 grand. In the
meantime, I’m envious. No freebies for me, and I’m continuing to work until I’m 75. N
Douglas Mah is an Edmonton lawyer and writer.
March 2007
Not quite contempt
7:22 PM
Page 9
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investment fees, they may take
a $100,000
out of your
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Invest in the CBAF Retirement Savings
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Consider this example:
You have $100,000 invested in a Registered Retirement Savings
Plan (RRSP) today (assume a 7% rate of return). For the next
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With lower investment management fees than most personal
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the CBAF Retirement Savings Plan gives lawyers – like you – the
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The CBAF Retirement Savings Plan is provided through Manulife Financial Group Savings and Retirement Savings, a business unit operating within Manulife Financial
(The Manufacturer's Life Insurance Company). Investment management fees are associated with any segregated funds offered through this plan. For more information
on the investment management fees offered through this plan, contact your CBIA Authorized Representative or visit The rate of return indicated
is for illustration purposes only and not a guarantee of future performance of any investment funds offered through the plan.
7:22 PM
Page 10
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