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The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

International

The Catalan vote: That escalated quickly

By Yves Faguy October 2, 2017 2 October 2017

The Catalan vote: That escalated quickly

A day after the Catalan referendum, marred by disturbing images of the Spanish police’s harsh response, Spain faces a constitutional crisis and the question on everyone’s mind is “what now”? 

The question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”

The answer: Catalonia’s government reports that just under 90 per cent of voters backed independence. But turnout stood at 42 per cent.

Legally speaking: The vote is non-binding. But politics are quickly taking over.

How the main players see it: Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy defended the police’s actions, and maintains the vote is illegal. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said Catalonia had “won the right to statehood” before adding today that the region is not seeking “a traumatic break.” He's also calling for outside mediation.

Outside reaction: The EU is stuck in the middle. Mindful not to encourage other separatist forces within its member states, Brussels has made its position clear that the Catalan referendum was "not legal."  Canada is trying its best to be quiet about the police violence with a statement from the foreign minister’s office that solutions must be found “within the rule of law, according to the Spanish Constitution, and through peaceful dialogue.” Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée is calling on all supporters of democracy to denounce the violence.

Next steps: Guy Hedgecoe outlines some possibilities, ranging from new Catalan parliamentary elections to Rajoy’s resignation. “Perhaps the least likely development: Rajoy and Puigdemont finally engage in a meaningful dialogue, possibly with outside mediation.”

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Legal marketplace

The Big Four are rivalling global law firms

By Yves Faguy September 27, 2017 27 September 2017

The Big Four are rivalling global law firms

 

Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it is opening a U.S. law firm in Washington, D.C. The firm will operate as an affiliate, ILC Legal, and will work primarily on international corporate restructuring matters. Its lawyers are being sold as “special legal consultants”, there to advise on foreign law, not U.S. law. It’s hardly the first time a member of the Big Four has made a push into the legal services space (Deloitte, E&Y and KPMG all have legal arms). But Nicholas Bruch writes that PWC seems to have dropped any pretence about keeping things on the low:

PwC’s decision to launch a US office focused on legal services is not a quiet move. The Firm has US offices. In fact, they already have two offices in Washington D.C. They could have easily built legal marketing and business development resources in their existing offices. Instead they established a US law firm. The company knew such an announcement would draw the attention of the legal press – this is almost certainly why they announced it in the manner in which they did. They also knew it would draw attention – from law firms and regulators. They clearly believed the benefits outweighed the costs.

Such boldness is new from PwC and from the Big Four. If PwC’s new office signals anything, it is that the period of cautious expansion has come to its natural end. Law firms should expect more “major announcements” from the Big Four in the future.

 

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Big picture

Putting a price on carbon

By Yves Faguy September 18, 2017 18 September 2017

Putting a price on carbon

 

U.S. President Donald Trump has signalled his administration’s intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord .  Meanwhile, the number of carbon pricing initiatives implemented or scheduled has almost doubled over the past five years, according to Carbon Pricing Watch 2017. Here’s a look at current pricing regimes.

 

 

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Q&A

Mark Tamminga on the future of blockchain and legal services

By Yves Faguy September 15, 2017 15 September 2017

Mark Tamminga on the future of blockchain and legal services

 

In June, Gowling WLG announced it was signing on as a founding member of the Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute, to study the emergence of the distributed ledger technology (DLT) behind Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. CBA National caught up with Mark Tamminga, a partner and leader of Innovation Initiatives at the firm in Hamilton, to discuss the impact of blockchain on the legal services industry.

CBA National: Where are we in terms of the evolution of blockchain?

Mark Tamminga: It’s like 1994 in our understanding of the web, where it took a universal browser like Mosaic to get people to see it is a great tool that allows for this tremendous worldwide communication platform. Really there is no such thing as the blockchain. We have multiple blockchains, so just as there are many social networks with different purposes, there will not be one blockchain to rule them all. 

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CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy September 8, 2017 8 September 2017

Legal futures round-up


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.

Thomson Reuters recently shared findings that show 484 per cent increase in global patent filings for new legal services technology in the last five years, the bulk in 2016 being filed in the U.S. (38 per cent), China (34 per cent) and South Korea (15 per cent).

To Mark A. Cohen, the findings are evidence that China is “fast becoming a force  in the global legal marketplace… actively working on tech solutions – including artificial intelligence.” For an overview of top Chinese legal tech companies, check out this rundown by Artificial Lawyer.

A new index has been launched to measure innovation in legal services delivery among law firms. Behind the effort is Daniel Linna, the director of the Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law.  His hope is that buyers of legal services will use the index to gauge the efficiency of their law firms. 

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