Canadian Lawyer

May 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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6 UPFRONT ONTARIO UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Bill erodes legal clinic autonomy, say professors A report takes aim at Attorney General Doug Downey's bill 161, which proposes changes to the Legal Aid Services Act. If passed, the bill would cancel all existing funding agreements between community legal clinics and LAO, which must be renegotiated within six months of the bill coming into force. Downey has said new rules would give LAO more flexibility. "There is serious concern that such high-pressure, behind-the-scenes negotiations will result in further restrictions on clinic practice, funding, and independence," said the report, which includes the input or endorsement of nearly 40 Ontario law professors. LSO names recipients of 2020 awards Recipients of the Law Society Medal include: Jeff Berryman, former dean at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law; Marie Chen, staff lawyer at the Income Security Advocacy Centre; Ron Ellis, inaugural chair of the Worker's Compensation Appeals Tribunal; Arleen Huggins, past president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and employment law group leader at Koskie Minsky LLP; Gilbert Labine, former director of the Criminal Lawyers Association and past president of the Thunder Bay Law Association; Vihar Joshi, lawyer with the Office of the Judge Advocate General; Heather Joy Ross, founder of the South West Region Women's Law Association; Dianne Saxe, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario; real estate lawyer Donald Thomson. Former partners, court scrutinize firm's capital Lawyers who withdrew from the partnership at insurance defence law firm Samis + Company failed to have the firm pay their disputed capital into court amid a breach of contract lawsuit. Ontario's Commercial List ruled on the issue in Samis + Company v. Strigberger, 2020 ONSC 585, finding that the capital will not be paid into the court but that the firm must treat former partners' capital with the same level of care as the remaining partners' money and the firm should provide the withdrawn partners with quarterly reporting of the firm's financial position. Referral network launched for women lawyers A referral network was created last month, seeking to increase visibility among women lawyers in Ontario who are sole practitioners, social justice lawyers or members of small firms. Thijiba Sinnathamby, principal lawyer of TSJ Law, was inspired to create Her Legal Network. While Sinnathamby was on maternity leave, she reached out to women lawyers in a similar position, aiming to gain insight on what obstacles they faced and how they managed to achieve work-life balance. Lawyers must stay on for trial, judge says In the decision Cengic v. Castro, 2020 ONSC 986, Justice Frederick Myers found that the client's refusal to follow the lawyer's settlement advice was not "an irreconcilable breakdown of the relationship between lawyer and client." Myers noted that the law firm did not present "any law on the question of whether a lawyer's advice on settlement is the type of advice that the client is expected to accept." Myers said that "a further delay of the trial that has already been delayed for a year and is ready to go is prejudicial to and imperils the client." Lawyers deemed essential Legal organizations pull together to respond as COVID-19 pandemic shutters courts, stymies law practices BY MID-MARCH, courts had started to shut down in-person proceedings, wrap- ping up jury selection, and on March 23, the Ontario government ordered at-risk work- places to close down, except for "essential" businesses — such as lawyers. Nonetheless, large Bay Street firms announced lawyers would be working from home. The Law Society of Ontario, in turn, announced that it will interpret the require- ment in s. 9 of the Commissioners for taking Affidavits Act that "every oath and declaration shall be taken by the deponent in the pres- ence of the commissioner or notary public" as not requiring the lawyer or paralegal to be in the physical presence of the client. "Since the onset of this unprecedented event, we have seen the legal community respond as leaders in innovative and creative ways by adapting their practices to ensure continued access to justice for clients," according to a joint statement by LSO Treasurer Malcolm Mercer and CEO Diana Miles. The law society was one of many orga- nizations that responded to the pandemic's impact on the legal industry. Lawyers and paralegals who pay fees monthly will not have money withdrawn from their accounts on April 7 as planned, the LSO announced. Legal Aid Ontario extended interim busi- ness supports and solutions to lawyers to assist them as they dealt with the COVID-19 crisis. LAO announced it would be temporarily allowing lawyers to apply for legal aid on behalf of clients who are in custody, if the clients cannot do so themselves. LAO also

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