Canadian Lawyer

July/August 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 5 the R. v. Jordan impact — bumping criminal cases to the top of the docket — and Gleeson says a substantial backlog can form in the best of times. "Already in British Columbia without the COVID-19 shutdown . . . about 80 per cent of family law trials were being adjourned the week prior by the case manager.'" Riley Gallant, a lawyer at Latitude Family Law LLP in Edmonton, AB, says that there are other challenges as well: a triaging system at legal aid and modified court procedures that could further confuse self-represented litigants. "I think people who probably otherwise would be pursuing a separation . . . are just waiting. I think that will contribute to quite an influx," says Gallant. "I have had some people talk to me about wanting to retain a lawyer and say, 'I would "Already in British Columbia without the COVID-19 shutdown . . . about 80 per cent of family law trials were being adjourned." Cristen Gleeson, Baker Newby LLP have no problem paying for it once I'm back to work, but I'm just not working tempor- arily.' . . . I think lawyers are being a little bit more flexible." In Ontario, Thunder Bay lawyer Tim Henderson says more funding is needed for legal aid, legal clinics and duty counsel focused on domestic violence issues, with many women trapped at home with abusers and unable to afford lawyers. One province that may offer lessons for the rest of the country is Manitoba, where, as of May, court dates had already been rescheduled and a new flow of proceedings requires less upfront time in a courtroom, says Laurelle Harris, who practises through a law corporation at Harris Law Solutions in Winnipeg. The province is also focusing heavily on increasing use of mediation and arbitration, and the judiciary recently held a Zoom meeting to answer questions from more than 100 family lawyers, says Winnipeg lawyer Robynne Kazina, a partner at Taylor McCaffrey LLP. "Providing free mediation, or even on the sliding scale, is really important," says Kazina. COVID-19 SAPS COURTS, ECONOMY 6.2% Estimated contraction of the Canadian economy amid COVID-19, according to IMF 22% Rise in domestic incidents in Ontario's York Region during pandemic 50% Portion of civil court events that are historically family law related 64% Parties who were self-represented at the time a case was filed from 2011 to 2012, according to researcher Julie Macfarlane

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