Law Times

March 10, 2014

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Visit or call 1.800.387.5164 for a 30-day no-risk evaluation )BSECPVOEȕ1VCMJTIFE'FCSVBSZFBDIZFBS 0OTVCTDSJQUJPOȕ- 0OFUJNFQVSDIBTFȕ- .VMUJQMFDPQZEJTDPVOUTBWBJMBCMF 1SJDFTTVCKFDUUPDIBOHFXJUIPVUOPUJDF]UPBQQMJDBCMFUBYFTBOETIJQQJOHIBOEMJOH CANADIAN LAW LIST 2014 :063*/45"/5$0//&$5*0/50$"/"%"Ȏ4-&("-/&5803, ȕ BOVQUPEBUFBMQIBCFUJDBMMJTUJOH ȕ DPOUBDUJOGPSNBUJPO ȕ MFHBMBOEHPWFSONFOUDPOUBDUJOGPSNBUJPO .03&5)"/"1)0/�, CLL-Dir_LT_Feb10_14.indd 1 14-01-31 12:11 PM Heated debate on alternative structures Consultations launched despite fears about big-box law BY YAMRI TADDESE Law Times D espite fears about providing legal services at places like Walmart, Law Society of Up- per Canada benchers unanimously voted to launch a consultation on four options for non-lawyer ownership of law fi rms at Convocation on Feb. 27. A working group presented Convocation with four diff erent ways to proceed on the issue of non-lawyers owning law fi rms. e options followed an examina- tion of what working group chairman Malcolm Mercer said had worked for Britain and Australia. e four models proposed by the alternative busi- ness structures working group included allowing par- tial or unrestricted ownership by non-lawyers. During a discussion on whether to seek the bar's in- put on the four options, Mercer had to convince some reluctant benchers the options weren't too narrow and that the Australian and British data was reliable. "Not everything from Europe is good for Canada," said Bencher Susan Hare, eliciting laughter from Con- vocation. For ex-offi cio Bencher Gerald Swaye, the issue was with allowing non-lawyers to own law fi rms in any ca- pacity. "My view is the moment we permit our profession to go into the Walmarts or the Best Buy stores or any of the big-box places, somehow it loses some of our professionalism," he said in a likely reference to Britain, where a supermarket chain is a large provider of legal services. But Mercer said: "Professionalism isn't about you. Professionalism is about protection of the public in terms of what we call legal ethics. It isn't about your dignity or my dignity. It's ensuring that services are ef- fectively provided in ways that protect confi dentiality, privilege, competence, and the like." According to Mercer, the current framework isn't meeting 85 per cent of legal needs. Benchers debated that number throughout the discussion on alternative business structures with some suggesting the percent- age comes without an explanation on exactly what kinds of legal needs the current system isn't meeting. "We do not permit anyone other than lawyers to serve the 85 per cent," said Mercer, noting there's a ma- jor gap in the provision of legal services that non-law- yer ownership could fi ll. Ex-offi cio Bencher Bradley Wright presented a more boisterous opposition to the four proposals for alterna- tive business structures, warnin g of "corporate concen- tration" once non-lawyers begin owning law fi rms. "It's already happening," he said. " e people in- volved in it are already saying it's happening and they predict it to worsen. If you get too great a corporate concentration, it becomes anticompetitive." To date, there hasn't been a "fair debate" around al- ternative business structures since those touting the potential positive outcomes dominate the discussions, according to Wright. As an ex-offi cio bencher, Wright couldn't participate in the vote. For Hare, part of the trouble with the motion was that it only provided four options and could in the Ruling a relief to lawyers asked for friendly advice he Ontario Superior Court has ruled lawyers consulted by their col- leagues and who don't receive confi dential information in the course of the consultation may give general advice without fear that they won't be able to act in the proceedings giving rise to the request for assistance. e decision in 1623242 On- tario Inc. v. Great Lakes Cooper Inc. will come as a relief to senior mem- bers of the bar who routinely re- ceive requests to help more junior or less specialized colleagues with general legal advice. Indeed, many lawyers have found themselves in the same situ- ation facing Milton Davis of To- ronto's Davis Moldaver LLP when the veteran counsel took a call from lawyer Gregory Govedaris. Govedaris called with general questions about mortgage foreclo- sure proceedings that involved one of his clients. He didn't identify the clients or other litigants in the action. Davis answered the question, unaware that the opposing parties in the action included two com- panies, Great Lakes Cooper and 3072453 Nova Scotia Co., whose principals he had had a solicitor- client relationship with for some 20 years. ree months later, the com- panies retained Davis to repre- sent them in the action against G ovedaris' clients. Gary Caplan of Toronto's McCague Borlack LLP, acting for Govedaris and his clients, moved to prevent Davis from continuing as counsel. " is was a case in which Milton Davis let his guard down, thinking it was the right thing to do to help a colleague in the profession," says Tom Curry of Toronto's Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffi n LLP. Curry represented Davis and his cli- ents on the disqualifi cation motion. Justice David Price of the On- tario Superior Court of Justice framed the issue as follows: " is motion calls for a determination as to whether a lawyer, by providing legal information that benefi ts an- other lawyer's client in litigation, is COMPENSATION FUND Law society to revamp guideline P4 DISRUPTIVE MODELS Lakehead's approach defended P6 FOCUS ON Litigation P9 The current framework isn't meeting 85 per cent of legal needs, says Malcolm Mercer. Photo: Robin Kuniski See No, page 5 See The, page 5 'This was a case in which Milton Davis let his guard down, thinking it was the right thing to do to help a colleague in the profession,' says Tom Curry. PM #40762529 ! ! 1-800-340-3234 | Accounting and Practice Management Untitled-4 1 14-03-03 7:35 PM L AW TIMES $4.00 • Vol. 25, No. 9 March 10, 2014 800.340.3234 Civil Litigation A U T O M A T E D NEW "TICKLER" INCLUDED Untitled-4 1 14-03-03 7:32 PM BY JULIUS MELNITZER For Law Times T L

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