The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

National Blog

Legal analytics: Where are the data scientists?

By Yves Faguy September 21 2016 21 September 2016

    What is it that lawyers do?

    “They help people navigate complexity and manage enterprise legal risk," according to Daniel Katz, an expert on emerging legal technology and one of the speakers at a conference put on by LegalX and Thomson Reuters in Toronto this week.

    A follow-up question to that is, how does one put a dollar figure on a lawyer’s work, other than relying on the billable hour? Unfortunately for clients, it’s the complex nature of legal services that makes it so hard to ascribe value to what lawyers do. For the unsophisticated client in particular, it’s almost impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    But in the age of data analytics, that is all quickly changing. There are several tools already available on the market that help companies control their legal spend. Last year, AIG launched a legal consulting company that harnesses the insurer’s own internal data to sell it to corporate clients to help them set competitive pricing for legal services. Increasingly, law departments are looking at past case performance to select law firms and lawyers, says Toby Unwin, co-founder of Premonition LLC, a Florida outfit that uses artificial intelligence to determine the effectiveness of trial lawyers.

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    Judging the judges: CBA comments on judicial discipline

    By CBA/ABC National September 21 2016 21 September 2016

      When news is released after business hours on a Friday or on the last day before government takes a holiday of some sort, don't expect it to get a lot of attention. That’s when the government released its consultation paper on judicial discipline – the last working day in June, at 4:30, on Twitter, with an Aug. 31 deadline for responses.

      Nonetheless, the CBA brought together a team of lawyers with experience in the judicial discipline process and other professional discipline matters, including the chair of the Ethics Committee, to comment on the proposals. Their letter builds on a 2014 submission to the Canadian Judicial Council on the topic.

      The CBA framed its response within the dual requirements of protecting the independence of the judiciary and ensuring that justice is not only done, but seen to be done.

      “Self-governing professions are vulnerable to public suspicion that their governing bodies act in the interest of members of the profession rather than in the public interest,” the submission says.

      The submission makes a total of 16 recommendations, including:


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      LSUC recommends end to LPP

      By CBA/ABC National September 20 2016 20 September 2016

        The LSUC is recommending scrapping the Law Practice Program as an alternative to articling.  More from the Law Times here.

        Noel Semple is aghast

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        Five simple rules for getting along with regulators

        By Pablo Fuchs September 19 2016 19 September 2016


          Keg Restaurants Ltd. was caught in an unfortunate and unlikely situation recently, in which the liquor licence for one of its locations was about to expire due to a series of unforeseen circumstances. An important document was sent to the location rather than the appropriate liquor regulator; the main contact at the liquor regulator was away on vacation; and, after several attempts to get in touch with that contact’s backup, it was discovered that the person had fallen ill.

          Catherine Chow, Vice-President Legal and General Counsel (pictured above), who manages the legal matters of more than 100 restaurants across North America for the company, knows that of the many complex relationships she and her team manage, few are as sensitive—or can have such a profound impact—as those with the regulators that oversee their business. As such, she’s fully aware that ensuring in-house counsel have strong, cordial, open and collaborative relationships with regulators can pay off greatly.

          “We followed up and found a live body to get a hold of, which is very challenging because they deal with a lot of files,” she says. “But we’re a big chain, so liquor regulators and other regulators know us. We’ve been in business for 40 years. Knowing that, and who we are, helped us resolve communication gaps that occurred naturally.”

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          Legal Futures roundup: September 19, 2016

          By Brandon Hastings September 19 2016 19 September 2016


            Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our biweekly round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.

            The United Kingdom’s Legal Services Board has released a report for legislative reform of the legal services industry in England and Wales. The report, among other things, recommends a shift from various regulators of legal activities to a single regulatory body. Currently, there are six legal activities that are reserved for barristers and solicitors, and regulated by a patchwork of regulators. Neil Rose expatiates on the issue, speaking on frustration with the apparent arbitrariness of these reserved areas.

            Meanwhile, Andy Somerville writes on the wisdom of specialization in law firms, exploring whether is it more sensible for partners to develop their management skills, or for firms to hire-in business acumen. Perhaps a mix? Managing lawyers tend to be time-poor, and working on lawyers to develop business acumen can be an expensive proposition. By the same token, however, there is clearly value in having subject-matter expertise in the management-suite.

            Closer to home, Jordan Furlong offers six takeaways from Norton Rose’s acquisition of Bull Housser in Vancouver, suggesting that the move adds to Vancouver’s appeal as “a hub between North America and the Asia-Pacific region” and giving it the upper hand over Calgary and Montreal in the contest to be Canada’s Second City to Toronto.

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            The Vader decision: Mistrial or down to manslaughter?

            By Justin Ling September 16 2016 16 September 2016

              Justice Denny Thomas might be wishing that he wrote his conviction of Travis Vader in pencil.

              The Alberta Queen’s Bench judge appears to have made an error in law in his second degree murder conviction, delivered live on TV, when he relied on Section 230 of the Criminal Code.

              Section 230 maintains that an accused is guilty of culpable murder if death occurs during the commission of a litany of crimes, including — in Vader’s case — robbery.

              Thomas concluded that Vader had killed Lyle and Marie McCann, two Alberta seniors whose bodies have yet to be found.

              But the murder charge may be thrown out, as Thomas likely should’ve relied on Section 229, which deals with simple murder.

              Alberta law professor Peter Sankoff was the first to point out the error, taking to Twitter upon watching the decision to note that Section 230 had been declared unconstitutional.

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              Lawyers not great at building relationships under pressure

              By CBA/ABC National September 16 2016 16 September 2016

                At the CLC in August, CBA National caught up with J.P. Pawliw-Fry, a global leadership expert with the Institute for Health and Human Potential who gave a talk on performing under pressure. Above is what he had to say about lawyers in particular.

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                The new face of globalization: Internal trade

                By CBA/ABC National September 16 2016 16 September 2016

                  In his latest column, Tyler Cowen refutes the notion that globalization has “hit a wall”, post-Brexit, and with TPP and TTIP on the skids:

                  Globalization isn’t so much slowing as it is taking new forms. The most potent form of globalization today is occurring inside nations, notably China and India.

                  Globalization typically is defined as the movement of goods, services, ideas, labor and investment across national borders. But many nations lack integrated economic relations within their borders, and thus they could reap high gains from trade by opening up internally. This is happening, and its logic very much resembles that of globalization.

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                  Trust the market and just say no to regulations

                  By CBA/ABC National September 16 2016 16 September 2016

                    Innovation is a Canadian value,” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada says in an online consultation on the federal government’s innovation agenda asking for input from stakeholders in six areas:

                    • Entrepreneurial and creative society
                    • Global science excellence
                    • World-leading clusters and partnerships
                    • Grow companies and accelerate clean growth
                    • Compete in a digital world
                    • Ease of doing business

                    The Competition Law Section replied to the last item on Sept. 9 with a clear caution that if the government wants to foster innovation, regulations are contraindicated – open market forces, should be trusted to promote increased competition and innovation, it says.


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                    Modernizing immigration should emphasize economic needs and families

                    By Kim Covert September 15 2016 15 September 2016

                      The CBA's Immigration Law Section looked to the past to answer questions about the future of Canada’s immigration policy, with its responses to an online consultation carried out by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada this summer.

                      The consultation looked at four topics: strengthening the Canadian fabric, what needs immigration policy is responding to, modernizing the system and leadership in global immigration and migration.

                      “Immigration must continue to play a key role in nation-building, in addressing Canada’s demographic gaps, and in driving innovation and economic growth,” the Section said. “For Canada to benefit from the full potential of its immigration programs, however, it is crucial that:

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                      National security consultation: Leading questions?

                      By Justin Ling September 15 2016 15 September 2016

                        In the election that carried Justin Trudeau to power, the would-be Prime Minister made two promises on national security: he would defend Canadians’ rights, while protecting their security.

                        In terms of specific policy commitments, he would strike a Parliamentary committee, made up of both Members of Parliament and Senators; and he would change aspects of the previous government’s anti-terror bill, C-51, he found unconstitutional while preserving many of the powers that Liberals and Conservatives promised would foil future terror attacks.

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                        Omar Ha-Redeye on the false debate around lawyers vs non-lawyers

                        By CBA/ABC National September 14 2016 14 September 2016

                          In the third part of our series of interviews with Omar Ha-Redeye, we asked the Toronto lawyer about the opening up the legal profession to allow non-lawyers to provide legal services.

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