Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our regular round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.
First, a glance at what’s happening across the pond. Five years after obtaining its ABS licence, among the first in England, and a difficult start, Co-operative Legal Services is now making real profits.
Signalling a possible trend toward outsourcing in-house legal services, PwC has recently snapped up half of GE’s tax department – including 600 of its lawyers -- as part of a five-year deal to provide tax services to the conglomerate.
Also supporting the trend, international law firm Pinsent Masons has taken a 20 per cent stake in New Law start-up Yuzu.
Thompson Reuters’ review of the last decade of legal services concludes that a buyers’ market emerged during the global financial crisis, and that buyers’ market continues today. This is forcing law firms, increasingly, to look at doing things differently, but a paper from McGill suggests Canadian law firms may by talking a good innovation game, while doing little actual innovation.
Mark Cohen writes on legal education requiring a shift for a new legal marketplace, the need for re-regulation of the legal services industry, and changes in the demand for legal services. Jordan Furlong also covers this latter topic is some detail, also in reaction to the 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market.
Burford Capital, the world’s largest litigation finance company the world, bought its main rival Gerchen Keller Capital for $US 160 million. The tie-up has commentators calling it a sign that the litigation funding industry is maturing in the U.S.
According to a recent roundtable, summarized in this white paper, commentators expect that litigation funding will become increasingly prevalent in Canada. As a new wave in legal business, and an access to justice initiative, litigation funding (where large pieces of litigation is financed by third parties) litigation funding could help change the liability landscape in Canadian courts. Litigation which attracts funding currently requires a claim of $10 to $15 million.
La crise de l’accès à la justice se poursuit depuis 30 ans : pourquoi un changement fondamental se fait-il toujours attendre?
Une possible réponse à cette question, que pose Nicole Aylwin, directrice adjointe du Winkler Institute et professeure adjointe à l’Osgoode Hall, c’est que notre système de justice a évolué à l’image de la common law.
Dans la tradition de la common law, chaque nouvelle série de faits exige que la loi raffine progressivement les règles afin de nous rapprocher, en théorie, d’un monde idéal. Or, l’évolution n’est pas toujours aussi organisée qu’on le souhaiterait. Au fil du temps, l’accumulation de changements presque imperceptibles constitue un véritable nœud gordien.
Prenons l’exemple, popularisé par le biologiste évolutionniste Richard Dawkins, du nerf laryngé récurrent. Chez nos ancêtres aquatiques, celui-ci partait en ligne droite du cerveau au larynx en passant sous la crosse de l’aorte. Mais avec l’apparition de notre cou, le nerf, « coincé » sous l’artère, s’est trouvé forcé de suivre un chemin détourné : du cerveau, il descend en lacet autour de l’aorte
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 Canadian Forum For Civil Justice makes the point that while legal technology is often assumed to improve access to justice, many existing legal tech projects focus on enhancing existing services, instead of expanding the ways in which justice may be accessed. Similarly, Patricia Hughes of the Law Commission of Ontario wants to make sure that an increased reliance on technology in justice doesn’t serve to further diminish access to justice through an assumption that everyone is conversant with technology.
Ryerson’s articling alternative, the Law Practice Program (LPP), came up for review in October. Though a Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) Committee initially recommended that the LPP be terminated, several commentators questioned that recommendation, including Jordan Furlong, Ian Holloway, and Noel Semple. On October 31, the Professional Development and Competence Committee reversed itself, recommending that the program be extended for another 2 years, and this extension has been granted. The debate has been divisive, to say the least. Detractors complain the program has done little to create more or better-trained lawyers, while proponents call it an innovative and effective tool for training new lawyers outside of the traditional articling paradigm.
Brandon Hastings is a lawyer, mediator, collaborative divorce practitioner based in Vancouver. Learn more about him at www.bhastings.com