Law Times

Jan 14, 2013

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NATIVE UNREST CLAWBIE WINNERS Awards name Canada's top legal bloggers Follow LAW TIMES on $4.00 • Vol. 24, No. 2 P5 FOCUS ON Harper in over his head as cases proliferate P7 L aw TIMEs CO V E R I N G O N TA R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W. L AW T I M E S N E W S . CO M ntitled-4 1 P9 Real Estate Law January 14, 2013 12-03-20 10:44 AM Conway warns of downsides to reform Treasurer concerned about reducing profession to service provider BY ELIZABETH THOMPSON For Law Times OTTAWA — Controversial proposals to reinvent the way lawyers deliver services could lead to a decline of less profitable practices and transform law from being a profession to just another business, warns the head of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Speaking during a discussion with Toronto lawyer Mitch Kowalski at the University of Ottawa on Wednesday, LSUC Treasurer Thomas Conway said he's concerned by the idea of reducing the profession of law to just another service provider. Conway said many big law firms have already moved to a corporate structure but noted the idea of outside shareholders presents ethical issues. As partners start to see themselves more as shareholders, that often means maximizing profits and the temptation to discourage the practice of less profitable areas of law, he said. While once there was "a kind of social compact" that full-service law firms owed a responsibility to provide a wide range of services, that has been changing. "As the ethos changed and firms became more corporate in their attitudes and wanting to increase profits, the easiest way of doing that was to shed these practices that were not so profitable." While it makes business sense, it makes it more difficult for the public to access affordable legal services, said Conway. "I don't think that's a good trend. I'm not sure that's a trend we should encourage." Nevertheless, Conway said the law society has set up a committee to study Kowalski's proposals. Conway's comments came as Kowalski's controversial proposals to transform legal services in Canada took Mitch Kowalski, left, spoke at a lecture in Ottawa last week about the future of the profession of law. Panellists included Sophie Arsenault, Michael Geist, Margaret Ross, and Tom Conway. Photo: Elizabeth Thompson centre stage during the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law's Thomas Feeney annual memorial lecture last week. In his book Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, Kowalski argues that the legal profession is undergoing structural change and lawyers have to adapt if the profession is to survive. Options range from scrapping the system of billable hours to outsourcing some services and allowing shares in law firms to be publicly traded. "We are now, ladies and gentlemen, in 2013, living in the most disruptive period of time in the history of the legal profession in Ontario, bar none," Kowalski told an audience of about 200 law students and professors. See Alternative, page 4 Accused lawyer seeking deceased husband's insurance For Law Times A n Ontario lawyer accused of killing his husband is in a legal battle with the deceased man's family over the murder victim's life insurance while his criminal case proceeds. As beneficiary of the insurance policy, Demitry Papasotiriou, who's currently under suspension by the Law Society of Upper Canada, stands to collect about $2 million if the criminal charges related to the death of his husband, Allan Lanteigne, are dismissed. In addition, Lanteigne wasn't in possession of a will before his death, which means his estate would Childview_LT_Dec3_12.indd 1 "If a person dies normally pass to his without a will, then the husband, Papasotiriou. estate would go to the According to Jane spouse. That's the statMartin, lawyer for utory law," says Mary Lanteigne's mother Wahbi, a trusts and esand sister, Papasotiriou tates lawyer at Basman filed for his deceased Smith LLP. husband's insurance But if Papasotiriou money before he was is convicted, Lancharged with murder Demitry Papasotiriou teigne's insurance and tried to compel the two insurance companies to money and estate may not go to pay out the claims. And since the him. In addressing the other relacouple had no children, the victim's tives' application to intervene, entire estate would pass directly to Superior Court Master Ronald Papasotiriou and would bypass the Dash noted the courts "will not victim's other surviving relatives. permit a criminal to profit from That prompted Lanteigne's moth- his own crime." "There is a public policy rule in er and sister to seek legal action to intervene as having a financial the common law that says a person can't profit from their crime, interest in the insurance policies. so a person who is convicted of murdering someone cannot benefit from their estate," says Charles Ticker, an estates litigation lawyer. "That's pretty longstanding public policy that is recognized by our courts." In the legal dispute, however, Papasotiriou is arguing Lanteigne's relatives shouldn't receive any of the estate if he's convicted. In his response to the family's application to intervene, Papasotiriou argues all of the life insurance claims should go to the state and not the relatives should he be barred from receiving the money. Recently, the victim's mother, Rosaline Lanteigne, and sister, Jocelyne Sterritt, filed to become PM #40762529 BY BREANNE NICHOLSON See Family, page 4 12-11-26 11:24 AM

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