The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

The profession

SCC: Lawyers can be suspended for not doing CPD

By Yves Faguy March 30, 2017 30 March 2017

SCC: Lawyers can be suspended for not doing CPD

 

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that law societies can suspend lawyers for not completing their mandatory continuing professional development.  The top court held that the Law Society of Manitoba should enjoy “considerable latitude” in making rules that are the public interest.

Justice Richard Wagner wrote for the court:

To ensure that those standards have an effect, the Law Society must establish consequences for those who fail to adhere to them. As a practical matter, an unenforced educational standard is not a standard at all, but is merely aspirational.

A suspension is a reasonable way to ensure that lawyers comply with the CPD program’s educational requirements. Its purpose relates to compliance, not to punishment or professional competence. Other consequences, such as fines, may not ensure that the Law Society’s members comply with those requirements. An educational program that one can opt out of by paying a fine is not genuinely universal. I am mindful of the fact that in making these mandatory rules, the Law Society was responding to the reality that many lawyers in Manitoba had not complied with the CPD program when it was voluntary.

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Legal marketplace

A sign that in-house legal support is becoming big business

By Yves Faguy March 29, 2017 29 March 2017

A sign that in-house legal support is becoming big business

 

Catrin Griffiths reports that mid-tier firms are right to worry about PwC’s recent decision to snap up half of GE’s tax department – along with 600 of its lawyers – as part of a five-year deal to provide tax services to the multinational conglomerate, starting April 1:

So here’s the initial question for PwC: how long can you get away with providing business services to a market you are also competing with? Isn’t this doomed?

The answer is no, it’s not in the slightest bit doomed. PwC has been consistently smart about what it wants long-term, and right now what it’s doing is disrupting its own business. However strong its law firm consultancy service is, it pales into insignificance against the growth potential of its legal arm, which grossed £60m in the UK last year alone with a 24 per cent increase in billings. Yes, PwC may have lost audit clients among the top 100 – Burges Salmon and Ince & Co being two examples – but at the same time, it has won Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills. Neither CC nor HSF is likely to have sleepless nights over PwC as a competitor; they’re too busy worrying about the US firms.

Part of the worry for law firms, understandably, resides in what one industry watcher called a “rapid blurring of the boundaries between what used to be thought of as separate and distinct professional services.”

Fair enough. But another takeaway is that that PWC’s efforts are really a confirmation that clients see value in the delivery of in-house legal services.

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Q&A

Law is A Buyer's Market: Jordan Furlong talks about his new book

By Yves Faguy March 24, 2017 24 March 2017

Law is A Buyer's Market: Jordan Furlong talks about his new book

 

CBA National sat down with author and analyst of the global legal market (and former editor-in-chief of this publication) Jordan Furlong to talk about his just released book, Law Is A Buyer’s Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm in which he describes a rebalancing of power in the legal marketplace from sellers towards buyers, and offers some guidance on how law firms can respond to this fundamental shift.

CBA National: What surprised you the most about writing this book?

Jordan Furlong: I suppose one of the positive, unexpected takeaways is that we're not as far behind, collectively speaking, as we might otherwise have expected to be. When I first approached the subject, I proceeded on the assumption that there really weren't very many examples of law firms or organizations that are making strides towards becoming the kind of legal service supplier that the legal market requires. And I'm happy to report that there really are some. The obvious ones that are always mentioned – and they should be. In the U.S. Bryan Cave is a clear leader; Littler Mendelson, which of course now has an office in Toronto; Seyfarth Shaw.  Some other firms don't get quite as much attention but are making strides in this direction: Perkins Coie is one of those; Davis Wright Tremaine certainly. Here in Canada, Gowlings usually heads my list of firms that are making real strides in this direction. But McCarthy's is making a serious investment and so is Osler. Among increasingly innovative Canadian firms, there’s Blakes and Torys too. I think the primary value in that for lawyers and law firms is they can say, “look, this can be done and it is being done right now in the market. There's no reason why we can't do it either.” And they can point them out to more skeptical colleagues.

N: So let’s say a firm recognizes that law is now a buyer’s market and is ready to align their innovation strategy, their interests and priorities with those of their clients. Where do you start?

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Climate law

Do not backtrack: Non-regression in environmental law

By Yves Faguy March 22, 2017 22 March 2017

 

When progressive political leaders remind us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” the statement includes a caveat – that the arc does not travel in a straight line and that there will be setbacks.

But for climate activists, for whom time is of the essence, setbacks are to be avoided at all cost. “Do not backtrack” has become something of a rallying cry against regressive government action (or inaction).

In legal terms, that has led to calls for the recognition of the principle of non-regression in environmental law and policy, even as a fundamental human right. As University of Ottawa law professor Lynda Collins explains in the video above (around the 3:20 minute mark), non-regression means that part of one’s right to a healthy environment is to “have today’s level of environmental protection preserved.”

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Conflicts of law

From taboo to transparency

By Yves Faguy March 15, 2017 15 March 2017

From taboo to transparency

 

One of the most significant developments over the last decade in the legal world has been the rapid spread of global litigation finance.

It’s easy to understand its appeal, particularly in strict financial terms. Law firms can share some of their risk with investors, who in turn spread it across a portfolio of cases. As an asset class it isn’t tied to the volatility of financial markets. And for plaintiffs, the practice is a means 
to overcome financial barriers to access 
to justice to go after deep-pocketed and well-insured defendants.

But there are also reasons to watch 
out for some of the disruptive effects it 
can have on our justice system. Critics describe litigation funding as the “Wild West of finance,” largely unregulated, 
or only mildly so by judge-made law and a patchwork of statutes, oftentimes at the subnational level.

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