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The Canadian Bar Association

Ann Macaulay

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How government works

By Ann Macaulay June 18, 2018 18 June 2018

How government works

 

The Diners

The former government lawyer: Before joining Miller Thomson as a partner, John Grant was Crown counsel for 15 years. He has also been a tax litigation expert with Canada’s Department of Justice.

The in-house counsel: Eryn Fanjoy is an associate practising in Stikeman Elliott’s Tax Group.

Tax litigators in private practice often assume the government is all-knowing and all-powerful, with “a massive amount of resources and manpower to throw at litigation,” says John Grant, a former Department of Justice (DOJ) litigator. But that’s simply not true. “Often, the government is the litigation side that’s outmanned.”

Now in private practice at Miller Thomson in Toronto, Grant is sharing his insights with second-year Stikeman Elliott tax associate Eryn Fanjoy, passing along what he learned over the course of more than 15 years at the DOJ.

Over a lunch of black cod at the very busy Drake One Fifty in Toronto’s business core, Grant recalls that courtroom experience plus the opportunity to represent Canada on matters of national scope greatly appealed to him after he graduated from law school. “You’re immediately on your feet” at the DOJ, he says, unlike private practice. “There’s no better training ground than the government.” During his time in government, John worked on hundreds of files, including about 100 reported decisions.

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Environment

Climate change compliance in a time of uncertainty

By Ann Macaulay May 30, 2018 30 May 2018

Climate change compliance in a time of uncertainty

 

This is a time of uncertainty in the Canadian climate-change compliance area, say lawyers who practise in Alberta’s energy sector.

The federal government adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change in December 2017 in order to meet its commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement to set national targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It then released the draft Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act for public comment in January this year. The Act will help to clarify what’s expected of businesses. It proposes a federal carbon-pricing system, including a levy on fossil fuels and an output-based pricing system for industrial facilities.

“The uncertainty of which provinces and territories will be subject to the new Act will last until this fall,” says Cairns Price, Senior Legal Counsel at MEG Energy Corp. in Calgary. The proposed federal legislation, expected to become law this fall, will be implemented in whole or in part next January in any province that does not have a carbon pricing system that meets the federal standard. 

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The practice

Firm foundations: A look at best hiring practices

By Ann Macaulay April 27, 2018 27 April 2018

Firm foundations: A look at best hiring practices

 

Building a strong law firm is an ongoing challenge—not only when it comes to hiring the best people but, more importantly, keeping them. Fortunately, hiring experts say there’s plenty that can be done to cultivate a winning team.

The legal market “is showing confidence by hiring new lawyers,” says Christopher Sweeney, CEO of ZSA in Toronto, though he adds that firms are still being cautious in their hiring of both lawyers and support staff. Hiring activity this year should remain steady, according to The Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide for Legal Professionals, as “attrition rates at law firms and corporate legal departments continue to rise.”

There is a strong demand for professionals with backgrounds in high-growth specialty areas and more than three years of experience. There is also rising demand for tech-savvy support staff, as law firms hire paralegals to help meet the need to provide quality services at lower billing rates.

Behavioural interviewing is a growing trend that is useful for law firms that want to ensure they’re attracting and hiring the right people, says Warren Smith, Managing Partner at The Counsel Network in Vancouver.

Building a strong law firm is an ongoing challenge—not only when it comes to hiring the best people but, more importantly, keeping them. Fortunately, hiring experts say there’s plenty that can be done to cultivate a winning team.

The legal market “is showing confidence by hiring new lawyers,” says Christopher Sweeney, CEO of ZSA in Toronto, though he adds that firms are still being cautious in their hiring of both lawyers and support staff. Hiring activity this year should remain steady, according to The Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide for Legal Professionals, as “attrition rates at law firms and corporate legal departments continue to rise.”

There is a strong demand for professionals with backgrounds in high-growth specialty areas and more than three years of experience. There is also rising demand for tech-savvy support staff, as law firms hire paralegals to help meet the need to provide quality services at lower billing rates.

Behavioural interviewing is a growing trend that is useful for law firms that want to ensure they’re attracting and hiring the right people, says Warren Smith, Managing Partner at The Counsel Network in Vancouver.

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Legal innovation

Trust technology: Rethinking smart contracts for the future

By Ann Macaulay March 26, 2018 26 March 2018

Trust technology: Rethinking smart contracts for the future

 

Blockchain purists imagine a world that eventually has no banks or insurers as we currently know them, one in which lawyers operate in a different way, says Usman Sheikh of Gowling WLG in Toronto.

The disruptive potential of blockchain “will change the fabric of our society,” and create significant upheaval in the legal profession, says Sheikh, describing the potential impact on lawyers as revolutionary.

Blockchain technology is “one of the most disruptive, impactful technologies to have been invented, some say since the early days of the Internet,” says Sheikh, who heads his firm’s Blockchain & Smart Contracts Group, although how things will evolve remains uncertain.

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Ethics and criminal justice

Reconciliation in Canada’s legal system

By Ann Macaulay March 16, 2018 16 March 2018

Reconciliation in Canada’s legal system

 

Lawyers, judges, law schools and legal organizations have a long and challenging road ahead in addressing historic and current deficiencies in how Indigenous peoples are treated in the Canadian legal system. Of the 94 calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 report, two are specifically directed towards the legal profession. One calls upon the Federation of Law Societies to ensure that lawyers receive cultural competency training. The other calls upon law schools to require that all law students take a course in Indigenous peoples and the law.

“Indigenous lawyers can only do so much,” said Koren Lightning Earle, Indigenous Initiatives Liaison at the Law Society of Alberta in Calgary, who spoke at a March CBA-FLSC Ethics Forum in Toronto on steps lawyers and the legal system can take to achieve reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. “Part of the next step of reconciliation is now that we know the truth, we have to deal with it, we have to swallow it, we have to move forward.”

Between 1831 and 1996, more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were removed, sometimes forcibly, from their families and sent to residential schools. This was “designed to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society by eliminating parental involvement in their spiritual, cultural and intellectual development,” said moderator Paul Schabas, Law Society of Ontario Treasurer. Reconciliation is still at the beginning of the process, he added. 

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