CBA President Responds to National Post
A series of scathing attacks on the legal profession written by the Financial Post’s Diane Francis during November has left many lawyers fuming. Responding on behalf of the profession in three separate letters, CBA President Bill Johnson pointed out the flaws, inaccuracies, and misleading statements in the articles, and corrected them for the record. OBA President Jonathan Speigel also responded to the series.
The articles called for banning lawyers from political office, attacked lawyer-client confidentiality, and accused lawyers of creating make-work projects for themselves. Bill Johnson’s responses have refuted the claims with factual information and explanations of lawyers’ ethical obligations to clients.
CBA Favours Bill C-20 – With Amendments
The National Criminal Justice Section supports passage of Criminal Code amendments (Bill C-20) dealing with the protection of children and other vulnerable persons, provided key amendments are made first.
The CBA argued that vague wording and several inconsistencies could make sections of the legislation subject to a constitutional challenge. This Bill died on the Order Paper.
For the news release, please visit: www.cba.org/CBA/News/2003_Releases/2003-10-23_c20.aspx. For the submission, please visit: www.cba.org/CBA/News/pdf/03-33-eng.pdf.
CBA Warns Against Use of National ID Cards
The National Citizenship and Immigration Law Section says Canadians should be wary of government proposals to introduce a national identity card without having a national debate on a national identity policy. The CBA proposes a number of basic principles as a foundation for a national policy on identity, including a clearly stated purpose to justify possible infringements on privacy rights, and assurances of security against fraud and theft.
For the news release, please visit: www.cba.org/CBA/News/2003_Releases/2003-10-02_idcards.aspx. For the submission, please visit: www.cba.org/CBA/News/pdf/idcards_oct03.pdf.
CBA Launches RRSP Service
The CBA is launching a new CBA service – just in time for the upcoming RRSP season. With the potential for member savings in management fees, the new plan is being introduced by CBA Financial Services, a new CBA company that offers a wide selection of investment choices to allow lawyers to save for their retirement.
“While low management fees will make this benefit attractive for all lawyers, it is important to note that CBA members, their families and staff will save even more through an additional significant fee discount,” said John Hoyles, Executive Director of the CBA.
The RRSP benefit is offered in partnership with Manulife Pensions Operations and will be available for enrolment through CBIA authorized sales representatives in time for the RRSP season.
CBA at Supreme Court of Canada
Intervention on solicitor-client privilege
On November 12, the CBA intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in a case involving issues of privilege and confidentiality under s. 9 of the Quebec Charter.
In the case of Ville de Montréal c. La Société d’énergie Foster Wheeler Ltée, Foster Wheeler sued the municipality for breach of contract when certain contracts were terminated. It sought to force the municipality to reveal confidential reports from lawyers advising on the contracts. The city objected to the lawyers being asked to give evidence on their communications and advice in the matter, taking the position that this was precluded by professional confidentiality, given the purpose of the communication. The subpoenas were quashed by Quebec Superior Court, but reversed by the Court of Appeal.
The CBA extends its thanks to Denis Jacques of Grondin, Poudrier, Bernier in Quebec City who acted as pro bono counsel for the CBA.
Study On Access to Legal Aid
The CBA is encouraging the Senate of Canada to conduct a study on the status of and access to legal aid in Canada as soon as the new session of Parliament is called. In September, the Red Chamber passed a motion introduced by Senator Catherine Callbeck of Prince Edward Island, calling on its Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to undertake the study. The study, like many Bills before Parliament, died on the Order Paper when Parliament was prorogued in mid-November.
“Canada has always been a country that values social safety nets and places a strong emphasis on rights and social justice,” said Senator Callbeck. “The fundamental gaps in the legal aid system threaten these values and are counter to the original purpose of legal aid. The legal aid system in Canada is suffering. It needs our immediate help, as Parliamentarians, if it is to fulfil its mandate of providing quality legal assistance to the many who need it.”
Legal aid is a CBA priority. At its November meeting, the Board of Directors authorized fundraising for a test case to challenge the constitutional right to publicly funded legal aid.
New on CBA PracticeLink…
Tips on reducing stress and retaining valuable employees
CBA PracticeLink – the CBA’s newest online member service – is regularly updated with new articles and tips to help lawyers deal with the day-to-day issues of running a law practice. The site includes a blend of expansive guides on a variety of topics such as financial management, internet marketing and starting your own law firm, as well as quick and easy tips on getting accounts paid, what clients want, and much more.
This month on CBA PracticeLink, pick up some sanity savers and practical tips designed to relieve some of the stress that comes with working in the legal profession. From firm practice and finance tips to advice on nurturing personal relationships, this article will help you on your way to a less stressful and more rewarding legal practice.
For a quick read, be sure to check out “When Your Assets Have Feet” – an innovative look at how to develop your firm’s corporate culture and retain your most valuable employees.
Coming soon to CBA PracticeLink… “Surviving Chaos in Times of Crisis”: A disaster recovery guide for small to medium-sized law firms. Plus, visit the site in December for a series of fun and useful holiday-related features.
For all this and much more, visit www.cba.org and click on “CBA PracticeLink.”
National Sections Meet Department of Justice
This year’s 15th annual Canadian Bar Association National Sections/Department of Justice conference brought key members of National Sections together with their counterparts at the federal government.
“These sessions result in a constructive exchange of views and priorities that inform both sides and bring us all closer to a better understanding of our legislative system,” said national second vice-president Brian Tabor in his welcoming speech.
- The Environmental Law Section opened its doors to any Section member who wanted to attend. Thirty-three members took up the offer and participated in discussions.
- Privacy Law Section members took advantage of the trip to Ottawa to meet with the Privacy Commissioner’s Office.
- The Aboriginal Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution Sections met with the Minister responsible for residential schools to share their concerns.
- The Citizenship and Immigration Law Section met with their Justice counterparts to work together to develop a program for next spring’s Immigration Law CLE.
More than 200 participants attended the one-day conference that was part of a three-day program including an orientation for National Section executives and the first ever get-together of CBA National Conference chairs.
These articles were published in the December 2003 issue of BarTalk. © 2003 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.