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The Canadian Bar Association

National Blog

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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            CBA on changes to the Privacy Act

            By CBA/ABC National September 29 2016 29 September 2016

              On September 27th, Gary Dickson appeared on behalf of the CBA in front of the standing committee on Access to information, privacy and ethics that is reviewing the Federal Privacy Act.  Specifically, the Committee is looking at 16 recommendations made by the Privacy Commissioner, and called for input from organizations and individuals across Canada. In the video, Dickson describes the need for changes in the Privacy Act and what CBA’s recommendations are.

              You can read CBA's comments on the recommendations from the Privacy Commisioner for ammendments to the Privacy Act here.

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              The challenge of scalability for legal start-ups in Canada

              By CBA/ABC National September 26 2016 26 September 2016

                One of the challenges facing legal start-ups in Canada is scalability in a relatively small market for legal services – a market that also happens to be governed by 14 governments and as many parliaments.  We raised the issue with Cian O’Sullivan of Beagle Inc, after he won the Pitch, hosted by the CBA and LegalX last month.  What’s interesting about Beagle is that it uses artificial intelligence to help lawyers – often in-house – read contracts.  As such its application isn’t tied to jurisdiction.

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                Putting the Charter first

                By Justin Ling September 23 2016 23 September 2016

                  Canada’s constitutional safeguards are failing us, according to a new report from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and that’s enabling the passage of too many unconstitutional laws.

                  The CCLA released the new report as a part of their Charter First campaign, seeking to raise awareness about the constitutional vetting process.  The aim is to get Parliament to introduce new checks and balances into Canada’s federal lawmaking process.

                  “These mechanisms would provide more transparency and accountability to Canadians, as well as more information and resources to parliamentarians in their consideration of Charter issues,” the report reads.

                  The report discusses at length the case of Schmidt v. Canada, in which CCLA intervened. Edgar Schmidt is a former Department of Justice lawyer who sued the government over its process for vetting legislation to ensure its validity under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

                  CBA National has extensively covered Schmidt’s lawsuit, and his effort to force the government to adopt clear Parliamentary reporting rules around legislation if it is believed to be likely unconstitutional.

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                  Being reasonable when it comes to temporary residents

                  By CBA/ABC National September 23 2016 23 September 2016

                    When it comes to the rules governing implied status and conditional permanent residence in Canada, a little reasonableness wouldn’t go amiss, the Chair of the CBA’s Immigration Section suggests in a letter to Immigration Minister John McCallum.

                    The letter follows up on a meeting held in the spring with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada officials. Section Chair Vance Langford notes that the implied status rules can place an unnecessary burden on temporary residents, here on a work or study permit, who for example might file for an extension but not hear back before the permit expires. “These conditions force a temporary resident holding (implied status) who is required to travel outside of Canada to choose between remaining in Canada until a decision is made on the application or losing the ability to work or study.”

                    It shouldn’t be assumed that a foreign national who must leave the country doesn’t want to come back, either, the letter says – they may have to leave to do their jobs, or to attend to critical family matters. If they applied for but didn’t receive the extension before they left, they are forced to reapply for the permit at a point of entry. “This burden is greater for citizens of countries requiring a Temporary Resident Visa because a new TRV in addition to a work permit is required to return.”

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                    Weed whacking: Consultation on legalizing marijuana

                    By CBA/ABC National September 23 2016 23 September 2016

                      Rethinking the role of marijuana in Canadians’ lives is an exercise fraught with obstacles, including nearly a century of social and legal stigma and the confusing dual nature of marijuana use – marginally accepted medical use and still-criminal recreational use. It’s hard for anyone outside the 4:20 culture to sit back and get mellow about it.

                      And that includes the federal government. The governing Liberals made big waves with their election promise to legalize marijuana. But the CBA response to a discussion paper released this summer notes that legalization is not the same as decriminalization, and legalizing without decriminalizing will be problematic.

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                      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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