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The Canadian Bar Association

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Time to act on pay equity

By CBA/ABC National October 11 2016 11 October 2016

    In February the federal government established a special committee on pay equity, and in June, as required by its mandate, that committee tabled a report on its findings, titled It’s Time to Act?

    The second recommendation of that report is that the government take its time drafting pay equity legislation – a generous 18 months.

    Recommendation #3 is that the new legislation “accept the overall direction of the 2004 Federal Pay Equity Task Force report and that the majority of the recommendations be adopted.”

    So to recap: a 1956 federal law requiring equal pay didn’t close the gender wage gap. Neither did the 1977 law establishing a complaint-based system for equal pay for work of equal value. In 2016 a special committee suggests the government get around to drafting proactive legislation based on a report tabled 12 years ago that said it was time for women to be paid the same as men for work of equal value.

    It’s time to act, indeed.

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    Reactions to Ottawa’s national carbon pricing plan

    By CBA/ABC National October 7 2016 7 October 2016

      Jason Kroft, Jonathan Drance and Luke Sinclair size up the federal government’s plan to put a price on carbon:

      While Trudeau’s Plan emphasized consistency between the provinces and suggested using existing regimes, such as British Columbia’s carbon tax or Ontario’s cap-and-trade, as policy anchors, the Plan doesn't yet adequately account for the fundamental differences between the two methods. The Plan also doesn't yet connect the proposed pricing floor with Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement at least not in any tangible way. For example, Alberta’s carbon pricing proposal, embraced by Trudeau’s Plan, aims to keep emissions flat until 2030, a far cry from the required 30% reduction under the Paris Agreement.

      Richard Corley, Daniel Gormley and Catherine Lyons explain some of the impracticalities of transitioning to a low-carbon economy in Canada:

      The pre-existing provincial carbon pricing models, together with the dim prospects for federal/provincial unanimity on carbon pricing, seems to have tied the federal government’s hands and to have made both the unilateral federal announcement and the return of all carbon revenues to the provinces and territories, necessary elements of the federal model. As a result, further federal action on climate change will have to be regulatory in nature and/or be funded from revenues other than the price on carbon. As the recipients of the carbon revenues, the provinces and territories will have the financial resources, and responsibility, to continue to take on a central role in achieving Canada’s climate change commitments. Under this decentralized model, it may also be more difficult for the federal government to implement carbon border adjustments (for example, as were contemplated by the ill-fated U.S. national (Waxman-Markey) cap and trade bill) which could become a more significant concern as the price on carbon continues to rise.


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      Being a mentor - it's good for you too

      By Carolynne Burkholder-James October 7 2016 7 October 2016

        Having good mentors can be key to a young lawyer’s success. But Stephanie Okola, a Toronto-based lawyer and mediator, says that the mentors themselves can also benefit from this relationship.

        Okola, who specializes in litigation at Okola Law, says that her experiences as a law student and junior lawyer inspired her to mentor others.

        “I completed my law degree outside of Canada and then came back and qualified to practise law in Ontario,” she says. “Without mentorship, that process would have been impossible for me.”

        Okola now uses this experience to help others who are going through the same process.

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        Decrypting the government's intentions

        By Justin Ling October 6 2016 6 October 2016


          When Bill C-30 was tabled by then-Justice Minister Vic Toews in 2012, it was considered one of the most aggressive lurches towards lawful – authorizing law enforcement to intercept private communications – in recent Canadian history.

          But there was one clause that, at the time, may not have seemed terribly significant. But, now, it raises questions around reasonable expectations of security, the limits of police power, and cyber security.

          “If an intercepted communication is encoded, compressed, encrypted or otherwise treated by a telecommunications service provider, the service provider must use the means in its control to provide the intercepted communication in the same form as it was before the communication was treated by the service provider,” C-30 reads.

          Bill C-30 never did become law as the then governing Conservatives pulled it in 2013 in the face of bad publicity targeting the warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information, and provisions forcing telecommunications service providers to build intercept capabilities. Several provisions contained in bill C-30 later wound up in the cyberbullying bill, C-13.

          Now as the Liberal government carries out public consultations on national security, there are once again hints about possible changes to expand warrantless access provisions in Canadian law.

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          MLT Aikins: Western Canada’s law firm

          By Yves Faguy October 6 2016 6 October 2016


            In 2017, Saskatchewan’s largest law firm, MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman, will merge with Manitoba’s leading firm, Aikins MacAulay & Thorvaldson, to form MLT Aikins LLP in what is being billed as Western Canada’s law firm.  CBA National caught up with Don Wilson (pictured above), managing partner of MLT and incoming managing partner of the new entity to ask him what was behind the tie-up.

            CBA National:    What were the main drivers for the mergers?

            Don Wilson: There were two imperatives in our growth. One, we wanted to stay in Western Canada because we felt that was our sweet spot. Those were the people and businesses we understood. Secondly, we decided we would never grow in any fashion that jeopardized our culture. Lots of firms talk about it; we actually live it. We have this team approach to things. Nobody says “my client.” We all operate out of the same profit pool. We don’t have a head office mentality. So we wanted to be careful and measured in doing it because of culture.

            N: So why Aikins?

            DW: Well we have known and respected Aikins forever. I’ve certainly talked to their managing partners and senior people over the years. It sounds counterintuitive, but we also felt the best way to solidify our credibility of the claim of Western Canada’s law firm, was to add the fourth western province to our team. We felt the best way for us to grow in Alberta and BC was to do this with the preeminent Manitoba firms. Obviously they dominate in Manitoba, we have continued strength in Saskatchewan. Aikins also has significant contacts in Alberta and BC and now we can go to those marketplaces with 250 lawyers with wide variety of bench strength and expertise. From Aikins’ perspective, about a year and a half ago when they heard about our BC move, they were looking at redesigning their playing field. They loved the Western Canada firm concept.

            N: Why is that western identity so important?

            DW: The Canadian economy is, generally speaking, a commodity based economy right across the West. Everyone in Canada understands the oil patch largely in Alberta. But I don’t think they fully understand that commodities go way beyond that. There’s obviously forestry, uranium, potash, hard rock mining of all sorts. There is a common thread to the businesses in these provinces.

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            PNG LNG: Where do we go from here?

            By Supriya Tandan October 4 2016 4 October 2016

              Last week, against the backdrop of a calm B.C. Coast, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (“the Minister”), announced that the Federal government is approving the $11 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG Project, subject to over 190 legally binding conditions.

              It remains to be seen whether the project is still economically viable. However, if it does go ahead the Pembina Institute argues the BC Government will be incapable of meeting its own legislation-mandated targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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              Let the children go: The detention of immigrants is hard on the kids

              By CBA/ABC National October 4 2016 4 October 2016

                Children don’t belong in detention.

                That’s the message the CBA along with nearly 400 other signatories sent to the government in an open Statement Against the Immigration Detention of Children, published on Tuesday.

                The statement follows on the heels of a report out of the University of Toronto International Human Rights Program that “uncovers the deficient legal underpinnings and detrimental practical implications of child immigration detention in Canada.”

                An estimated 242 children were detained in Canada each year between 2010 and 2014 – children who arrived in Canada alone, or with parents who might have been detained for immigration-related reasons.

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                Fintech in Canada gets a boost

                By CBA/ABC National October 4 2016 4 October 2016


                  When we interviewed Christine Duhaime about fintech and the legal industry, she pointed to the UK and Singapore as countries that have shown more flair than others in creating an environment where fintech start-ups, in the early stages, could innovate without having to worry about heavy regulatory oversight. Now the Ontario Securities Commission has announced OSC Launchpad, and plans to open the way for fintech product experimentation with the introduction of a regulatory “sandbox”. OSC invested with a mandate to “tailor regulation and oversight to their unique business models, as long as investor protections are in place.” Making the announcement was OSC chair and CEO, Maureen Jensen:

                  “Some of the new fintech businesses and platforms don’t fit neatly into our regulatory framework. And some of our requirements may not make any sense in the context of their business,” said Jensen. “We recognize that we have to keep pace with the changes brought on by fintech and not prevent promising business models from coming to market. Our objectives of investor protection and fair and efficient markets are unchanged, but the approach we take needs to evolve.”

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                  If you lose, you win

                  By Mélanie Raymond October 4 2016 4 October 2016

                    I have a group of women friends, whom I originally met professionally, and I like them a lot. We get together once every season. I call them “my gang of losers.”

                    They didn’t really appreciate it when I revealed my pet name for them, one night over dinner when a bit too much wine was consumed. I tried to explain to them that this was a tribute, but I’m still not sure I didn’t hurt their feelings.

                    The thing is, what I especially like about these professional women is that they dared to deviate from the well-beaten path. They explored disciplines other than those they had originally studied, dared to enter an environment whose codes they didn’t know, tried to be different, took the trans-disciplinary plunge.

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                    Legal Futures round-up: October 3rd, 2016

                    By Brandon Hastings October 3 2016 3 October 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.

                      On September 20, 2016, Thompson Reuters’ Legal Executive Institute, and Toronto’s MaRS LegalX incubator held a forum on Emerging Legal Technology. The program included speakers and panelists from within and around the legal and technology industries. A central theme to the event was the need for law firms to focus on mastering data analytics.

                      Mark Cohen has an item in which he explains that profit-per-partner “is the seminal metric of law firms” but that PPP is a poor measure of more important standards, namely results, client satisfaction and cost.

                      Pulat Punusov joins a chorus of voices which believe lawyer’s jobs will be automated and streamlined, leaving lawyers to do “value added” work while the more monotonous processes will be automated. In his well-articulated article, he analogizes automation of legal processes to self-driving cars, and blockchain.

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                      The omega to the alpha: The key to effective project management

                      By CBA/ABC National October 3 2016 3 October 2016

                        Psst! Hey, lawyers, wanna know the secret to project management? Here it is: The end is the beginning.

                        That’s not just some banal claptrap meant for Facebook memes featuring misty photos of summer meadows, it’s the way it works. There are no quick fixes, there’s no silver bullet, but it’s guaranteed that if you don’t know where you want to be at the end of the project, you won’t know how to start.

                        That’s the word from Melissa LaFlair – a lawyer, consultant and certified project management professional.

                        “You start by understanding what’s the objective, what’s the goal … and then mapping out ways to get there and understanding, particularly, the stakeholders’ objectives and risk tolerance and context, because sometimes the best legal approach isn’t practically what works best for the client’s needs,” says LaFlair, who is one of two people presenting an Oct. 4 Solutions Series webinar on project management.

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                        Women, law, and alcohol

                        By Jennifer Taylor October 3 2016 3 October 2016

                          The wine-loving woman has become something of a stereotype, at least in certain corners of North American pop culture. Picture Scandal’s Olivia Pope – trained as a lawyer – and there’s probably a large glass of red wine in one hand and a big bowl of popcorn in the other. It’s no different in the real-world legal profession, where events for women lawyers often feature wine as the focal point.

                          That’s just the way it is, I thought.

                          And then I read this article by Kristi Coulter, which went viral over the summer (be warned: it contains lots of swears) and woke me up to the connection between the pressures that professional women face, and the social pressures to drink. Coulter wrote, “there’s no easy way to be a woman, because, as you may have noticed, there’s no acceptable way to be a woman. And if there’s no acceptable way to be the thing you are, then maybe you drink a little. Or a lot.”

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