Canadian Lawyer

June 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 30 of 51 29 is not alone, and for the widespread business slowdowns, the government has stepped in with the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy. But Devlin says the program is less helpful for lawyers because of their higher-than-average incomes. The subsidy pays 75 per cent of wages, up to $50,000 per year. The market rate for some of Devlin's lawyers is "well over $100,000 a year," he says. "There's a big gap between what the CEWS will pay me as an employer and what I would otherwise have to pay those employees, so I still have to roll back wages. We're very unsure about what our revenues are. And we're a "These are very challenging times financially for family lawyers." Kelly Jordan, Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm small firm. . . . Wages are a huge percentage of our monthly expenses." At the time of writing, the Canadian government had received 2.7 million employment insurance claims. In the U.S., that number is more than 25 million. The unemployment uncertainty means, that for family law specialist Kelly Jordan, it is a difficult time for clients to negotiate on financial arrangements. Business has suffered as a result. " These are very challenging times financially for family lawyers," says Jordan, who runs a three-lawyer firm in Toronto. For criminal law, the courts have postponed all trials and appeals, handling urgent matters remotely, where possible. Lockyer Campbell Posner managing partner Richard Posner says that, while his firm has suffered from lost revenue, it is taking the time to do some spring cleaning. "On the positive side of the ledger, our firm has been able to clear up significant backlog in terms of the perfection of appeals and the writing of factums," he says. He adds that it has been able to resolve more cases and secure the release of more people on bail, as the courts recognize that detention facilities are a breeding ground for the virus. Legal business is not suffering everywhere. In estate planning and administration, Jessica Lyle, co-founder of Touchstone Legal Inc. in Dartmouth, N.S., has seen a steady flow of business. "I'm fortunate — as much as I hate to say that — in terms of the area of law that I practise in. . . . [Clients] recognize moreso than ever that they probably need to have their documents in place," she says. The pandemic has also given Lyle's clients greater recognition of an aspect of her services of which they often fail to see the importance. Borne primarily by the elderly, COVID-19 has made the helplessness of disease and vulnerability of old age more visible. Lyle says clients seem always attuned to the need for after-death planning, but before-death planning — health-care decisions, banking, "There's just a huge amount of activity that First Nations engage in that is affected by the COVID-19 crisis." Christopher Devlin, DGW Law Corporation

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