Law Times

January 21, 2008

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Page 0 of 15 What do over 2 , 500 Canadian law firms have in common? They all use to process their family law practice needs. I nvestigative & F orensic A ccounting Specialists Damage Quantification + Expert Testimony Free Consult - 416.223.5991 A. NEUMAN ASSOCIATES INC. $3.55 • Vol. 19, No. 2 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene January 21, 2008 Maybe you need a better mousetrap. Tel: 416.322.6111 Toll-free: 1.866.367.7648 Industry leader in legal software for real estate, corporate and estates for over a decade Harper's onetime lawyer faces hearing OTTAWA — An Ottawa lawyer with Conservative connections in high places is facing three days of hearings this month over allegations he billed the City of Ottawa for work he did not perform. The allegations of professional misconduct against Emanuel (Man- ny) Montenegrino, a partner and registered lobbyist with Lang Mi- chener LLP, were made to the Law Society of Upper Canada last year by Daniel Leduc, a former partner at that firm. Leduc has since joined the Ottawa office of Ogilvy Renault LLP. The hearing is slated to begin Jan. 29. The allegations have not been proven. Montenegrino, who was Prime Minister Stephen Harper's lawyer in a wrongful dismissal suit brought by Harper's former chef and who has also represented Environment Min- ister John Baird, declined to com- ment on the case. His lawyer for the law society hearings, Allan O'Brien, also would not discuss the allegations. However, O'Brien says that de- spite the complaint from Leduc and the law society hearings, the City of Ottawa continues to retain Lang Mi- chener and "specifically continues to retain Mr. Montenegrino." The notice of the hearing on the law society web site says "particu- lars of alleged misconduct" against Montenegrino claim he "engaged in improper billing practices and proce- dures" in connection with his client, the City of Ottawa, and that from November 2001 to December 2003 "submitted accounts to your client, the City of Ottawa, for services that you did not perform." A media relations officer with the city was unable to say what kind of legal work Montenegrino performed. City solicitor Rick O'Connor was unavailable for comment. O'Brien tells Law Times that, de- spite the allegations, the city has not taken legal action against Montene- grino or filed a claim for money it might be owed. A one-page written statement from Lang Michener, the only com- ment the firm has made on the af- fair, also notes the city "conducted its own review and determined that it received good value for accounts rendered. "Indeed, the City of Ottawa has remained supportive of Lang Michener and Mr. Montenegrino throughout the process and the cli- ent relationship has continued," the statement says. The statement says the com- plaint from Leduc represented less than one per cent of Lang Michener fees charged to the City of Ottawa during the two years and adds, "The firm itself has never been under investigation." Montenegrino has been active behind the scenes in Ottawa Con- servative ranks for more than two decades; he came under fire last year when he represented Harper while Montenegrino was also registered to lobby Harper's office on behalf of the Air Canada Pilots Association. Harper's communications di- rector, Sandra Buckler, said at the time Montenegrino did not lobby the prime minister himself. The pi- lots were in a dispute over seniority Paralegals ask court to rule on constitutionality Access to Justice Act taken to task A group of Ontario paralegals has filed an application for judicial review in Div- isional Court, claiming that sections of the Access to Justice Act dealing with the regu- lation of paralegals are unconstitutional and contrary to the public interest. "We're happy to be regulated; we've always believed that we should be regulated" says Judi Simms, president of the Paralegal Society of Canada and one of the applicants. "This is not opposition to regulation. This is merely an op- position to being regulated by a body who re- gard us as their competitors." The act became law in October 2006. It requires that paralegals undergo mandatory training, carry liability insurance, and answer to a public body to investigate complaints. The regulations came into force on May 1, 2007. The act assigned the task of paralegal regu- lation to the Law Society of Upper Canada, and a paralegal standing committee — chaired by a paralegal and composed of a non-lawyer majority — was formed to deal with the imple- mentation process. Parties to the Divisional Court application include North York paralegals Gerald Grupp, on behalf of Persuader Court Agents Inc.; Riv- ka Labelle, on behalf of Alpha Paralegal Associ- ates Ltd.; and Simms, on behalf of Judi Simms Paralegal and Associates Inc. Simms says they'll represent themselves and the Paralegal Society of Canada will likely be an intervener. The attorney general of Ontario and the law society are respondents. The application seeks: • an order quashing parts of the Access to Justice Act relating to the regulation of paralegals; • an order forcing the law society to stop all ac- tivities involving the regulation of paralegals outlined in the act; • an order for injunctive relief requiring the law society to hold off on implementation of paralegal regulation until the application is ruled upon; • an order of mandamus requiring changes to the act that would make the paralegal stand- ing committee the only body regulating paralegals; • an order allowing paralegals to continue act- ing on behalf of clients in Family Court, and an order preventing the law society from charging paralegals who are granted permis- sion to act in Family Court. The application cites as support of the re- quests ss. 7, 15, and 28 of the Charter. It claims, "Paralegals are the only profession which have not been separately regulated and are proposed to be regulated by an organization regulating their competitors." The application says that, in ceding para- legal regulation to the law society, the act is dis- criminatory, as "paralegals will not be given the same rights of membership in the law society to stand for election of its benchers or to vote for those who stand for such election." The application claims the act lacks an ad- equate definition of what it is to practise law, and it cites the 2007 case FCT Insurance Com- pany (First Canadian Title Company Limited) v. Law Society of New Brunswick in alleging that the law society "has not administered the Ac- cess to Justice Act in the public interest." Law society spokesman Roy Thomas says the "law society is confident in the Ontario govern- ment's authority to enact this legislation." Valerie Hopper, a spokeswoman for the at- torney general, told Law Times in a statement, "We have been served with a notice of an appli- cation for judicial review challenging the consti- tutionality of the Law Society of Upper Canada regulating paralegals under the Law Society Act. 'This is not opposition to regulation,' says Judi Simms. 'This is merely an opposition to being reg- ulated by a body who regard us as competition.' Inside This Issue Civil Claims 3 Tax Time 7 Focus On Real Estate Law 9 Quote of the week "The courts feel that if I'm buying from a fraudulent person, it's my respon- sibility. But if someone buys from me, I'm inno- cent and they're innocent, so that next person gets good title." — Noella Milne Lawyer at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP See Lawrence, page 2 BY ROBERT TODD Law Times BY TIM NAUMETZ For Law Times See Paralegals, page 4 See Ottawa, page 4 Photo: Robert Todd *Pages 1-16.indd 1 1/17/08 7:18:36 PM

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