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The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy December 21, 2017 21 December 2017

Legal futures round-up

 

Time for a last round-up in 2017 of trends and developments that highlight innovation in the legal industry.

Let’s start with a shout out to Aird & Berlis who is partnering with legal tech company Diligen to develop AI-based products in its M&A and real estate practices.

Another Toronto legal tech outfit, Loom Analytics, is offering a legal analytics tool for settled matters that don’t have public court record.

Dentons Canada has announced that it is joining the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium (GLBC), whose mandate is to adopt policies that promote a universal, blockchain-based technology infrastructure for law.

Global law firm Clyde & Co has launched an in house data analytics lab that will be composed of legal, data science and strategy staff, and students from University College London’s computer science department. The initiative was launched with a view to accelerating the firm’s development of new products and services.

London-based multinational firm Clifford Chance is launching a new technology group – “not a designated practice area” – emulating the Big Four accounting firms aimed at addressing issues raised by new technology in IP, fintech and antitrust.

LegalWorks Nordic and Axiom have entered into a strategic collaboration to service customers in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

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The Supreme Court

Richard Wagner named new Chief Justice

By Yves Faguy December 12, 2017 12 December 2017

Richard Wagner named new Chief Justice

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Richard Wagner will be the new Chief Justice of Canada, replacing Beverley McLachlin who retires on Friday.  The pick is hardly a major surprise. Tradition – to the extent there is one – suggested that Justice Wagner, 60, as the most senior member of Quebec, was the safe bet. This is especially so, as Justice Rosalie Abella, the most senior member on the bench, would have to retire in four years.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Justice Wagner to the Supreme Court in 2012.  Prior to that he had been appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 2005, before being elevated to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2011.

He became a member of the Canadian Bar Association in 1980 until he was appointed to the bench in 2004. Wagner sat on the board of the Association’s Quebec Branch and was president of, among others, the Construction Law Section. 

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Legal marketplace

Law firm partnership: in name only?

By Yves Faguy December 8, 2017 8 December 2017

Law firm partnership: in name only?

 

The law firm partnership model has been at the heart of the legal profession’s prosperity for much of the last century. But after decades of enviable growth, it is showing signs of wear. Now, as the legal industry faces major challenges on several fronts, the question is whether it can evolve with the times.

“I just don't think it's going to happen,” says Jordan Furlong, the Ottawa-based legal industry analyst. “The vast majority of law firms are incapable – not necessarily unwilling, though many are – of addressing the fundamental flaws at the heart of their model and making significant structural changes to address them.”

Furlong is not alone in doubting whether the old model can weather the combined forces of technology, globalization and a shift towards a buyer’s market for legal services. “What you’re seeing now is that the strains on the industry are revealing the issues that come with partnership,” says Janet Stanton, a partner at Adam Smith Esq, a New York-based consultancy for the legal industry. Stanton even challenges the notion that partnership was ever all that great a success. “Frankly, everybody was making a lot of money, so it didn’t really matter how they were organized,” she says.

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Q&A

Is Canada ready for the new EU data protection rules?

By Yves Faguy December 8, 2017 8 December 2017

Is Canada ready for the new EU data protection rules?

 

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in May 2018, is meant to allow people tighter control over their data and requires businesses to get explicit consent for how they use it. The new regulations have extra-territorial reach, and carry costly fines for violations (up to 4 per cent of global revenues.) CBA National caught up with Anick Fortin-Cousens, the Program Director in IBM's Corporate Privacy Office, to discuss the impact on Canadian businesses.

CBA National: The EU’s GDPR comes in force next May. Why is this important?

Anick Fortin-Cousens: For over two decades Europe has possessed what has been seen by many as the gold standard as it pertains to data privacy laws. Most countries who have legislated in that space have followed its model to various extents. One reason for this is that it encompasses cross-border data flow restrictions which can be lifted if the transfer of personal information is made to a country that has laws deemed to be adequate by the European Union authorities. By adequate we really mean similar, substantially similar, to the European law. Those countries may want to keep it that way for trade and investment reasons, so may adopt similar models. Beyond this, it’s also important because it’s going to require many organizations to up their game.

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Interprovincial trade

Comeau booze battle before the Supreme Court

By Yves Faguy December 6, 2017 6 December 2017

Comeau booze battle before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing arguments today in the “free-the-beer” case (R. v. Comeau)

What’s the issue?

Five years ago, Gerard Comeau was arrested and fined for bringing beer he purchased in Québec into New Brunswick. Comeau is challenging the constitutionality of section 134 of the New Brunswick’s Liquor Control Act that limits the quantity of alcohol that can be brought into the province by an individual. The trial judge declared the contested provision unconstitutional, as it amounted to a trade barrier in violation of section 121 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which stipulates that goods must “be admitted free into each of the other provinces.” That, Comeau is arguing, prohibits both tariffs and non-tariff barriers. The Court of Appeal of New Brunswick dismissed the application for leave to appeal, and the Supreme Court granted leave in May.

In a 2016 post, Ian A Blue wrote:

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