Law Times

February 8, 2010

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A. NEUMAN ASSOCIATES INC. Forensic Accounting & Damage Quantifi cation Specialists Turn Crisis into Opportunity IFAccountant.com (416) 223-5991 ntitled-3 1 $3.55 • Vol. 21, No. 5 9/28/09 12:30:15 PM Covering Ontario's Legal Scene ainmaker_LT_June2_08.indd 1 'These are not the people who are doing online shopping at Holt Renfrew' LAO cutbacks raise alarm BY BENJAMIN GLATT Law Times F rom Rainy River to Cornwall, Ont., Legal Aid Ontario's plan to phase out the application process for assis- tance through its local offi ces is sparking harsh criticism. "I don't want to use the word that starts with 'trans' and ends with 'formation.' I want to speak plainly. It's cutbacks," says Etienne Saint-Aubin, executive director of the S D & G Legal Clinic in Cornwall. LAO is in the process of a makeover by placing legal aid offi ces in an additional 17 criminal court locations in Ontario. In do- ing so, it will eliminate some of the exist- ing local LAO offi ces off -site. "I share the same concern as many of the other lawyers," says Saint-Aubin. "We're going to be in for a bumpy ride." Emery Ruff , a lawyer in Rainy River who gets about half of his criminal law business from legal aid certifi cates, is also convinced his work will be more diffi cult when the LAO offi ces in his district amal- gamate to span a larger region. "Th e people at the clinic are great and to use its services. "Legal Aid Ontario is committed to the use of innovation and technology to im- prove client services, focus resources more effi ciently, and support justice system re- forms," the release said. But, Ruff , for one, doesn't agree. "Th e telephone system will work like any other telephone system. You'll be on hold, you'll be pushing buttons, and no one will care," he says. "Th ere's going to be a lot more frustra- tion. If you ask me, the whole thing is a screw-up." LAO, however, has maintained it was le- gal aid clients who asked for the technological changes as a way of having a more convenient way of applying for assistance from home. Saint-Aubin, though, says LAO is making the changes based on inaccurate information. "Who is it that legal aid serves? If you're running a store, you have to know who your customers are," he says. "Th e people who use legal aid generally Robert Barr says he's OK with closing down Brockville's current office as long as the courthouse location has consistent staffing. if they're cut out, things will not be able to work smoothly," he says. As part of the change, LAO has set up a toll-free number that will off er assistance and allow clients to apply for legal aid from Mon- day to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in 120 languages. It has also put up a revised web site with more accessible information and a simplifi ed online application process. Bob Ward, LAO's president and CEO, said in a press release that the organization's new telephone and online processes aim to provide a quicker and more convenient way are a very high representation of function- ally illiterate persons. Th ese are not the people who are doing online shopping at Holt Renfrew. It's not the right way to do things." Th e moves come just a few months after the government announced plans to increase funding for legal aid in order to "serve more people" and make a "broader range of informa- tion available with more upfront access to it." See Plan, page 3 Lawyers stunned as colleague switches teams T BY TIM SHUFELT Law Times he same day the govern- ment settled its dispute with the Criminal Law- yers' Association last month, a former leader of the boycott was getting set to start a new job with Legal Aid Ontario's new major case management offi ce. Th e move comes as contro- versy continues to surround the fl edgling offi ce, whose staff the criminal bar is labelling public defenders. Th e CLA argues its creation was just another tactic by the province designed to crush the protest. But now, even with the stalemate broken and a pro- vincial commitment to a private criminal bar formalized, the of- fi ce remains open for business. "Now that the [attorney gen- eral] has committed to a more proper level of funding, legal aid is saddled with the contracts of the public defenders as well as the con- tract lawyers they hired," says Paul Burstein, president of the CLA. "It seems to me a colossal waste of precious legal aid money." Th at one of those staff lawyers was a former CLA regional di- rector and vocal advocate for the boycott adds to the intrigue. Last November, in the sixth TitlePlus_LT_Feb9/16_09 2/4/09 2:02 PM Page 1 month of the boycott, LAO posted a job ad for criminal counsel. At the top of the list of job duties was to "conduct litiga- tion of serious criminal trials and appeals" for legal aid clients. Subsequently, it entered into retainer agreements with two private members of the bar. Criminal defence lawyers in Sudbury, Ont., were stunned to learn the following month that their CLA representative had ac- cepted a job with LAO. In rallying the small, close- knit criminal bar in Sudbury, Craig Fleming had previously decried years of political neglect by the province and the burden placed on the poorest accused while insisting on the need for an injection of money, according to his former colleagues. Fleming was the fi rst Sud- bury lawyer to formally lend his support to the boycott and he Together we have all the tools To ensure your clients get the most comprehensive coverage in one title insurance policy, take a look at the TitlePLUS Program , your Bar-related real estate partner! ® ® PROTECTION AS GOOD AS IT GETS 1-800-410-1013 ® TitlePLUS, the TitlePLUS logo, OwnerEXPRESS and LAWPRO are registered trademarks of Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company. ® BAR-RELATED Mark is a registered Mark of North American Bar Related Title Insurers used by LAWPRO under License. titleplus.ca 1 Please refer to the policy for full details, including actual terms and conditions. The TitlePLUS policy is underwritten by Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO®). Contact LAWPRO for brokers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Québec. TitlePLUS policies issued with respect to properties in Québec and OwnerEXPRESS® policies do not include legal services coverage. 1 8 Focus On Intellectual Property/Trademark Law Quote of the week "There is a bit of irony that there are some rights holders who claim Canada is this piracy haven and then express concern when there are people on the Internet that might talk about Canada having lax rules." — Michael Geist, law professor, University of Ottawa See Is Canada, page 10 LSUC Relaxes Rules 6 McLachlin's Decade February 8/15, 2010 5/28/08 10:43:29 AM Inside This Issue 5 encouraged his fellow practitio- ners to do the same, says John Saftic, one of about a half-dozen Sudbury lawyers exclusively ded- icated to criminal defence. "On our end, Mr. Fleming was always an advocate of the boycott and was supporting the boycott right up until he took the job with legal aid." Another area criminal lawyer, Glenn Sandberg, says the change of allegiances prompted shock and disappointment. "Mr. Fleming changed teams," he says. "Th e rest of the bar held fi rm." He adds that during the boycott, he acted on a number of Fisher ap- plications for enhanced funding for See Offi ce, page 3 Click here to subscribe today to LAW TIMES www.lawtimesnews.com

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