Law Times

November 15, 2010

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STORE & SHRED Exceptional Quality at Reasonable Prices! COPY, SCAN, Call us today to fi nd out how much you can Save. TF: 1.888.781.9083 $4.00 • Vol. 21, No. 36 ocdavit_LT_June7_10.indd 1 6/4/10 9:22:44 AM Inside This Issue 3 For The Defence 7 End of An Era 9 Focus On Labour and Employment Law Quote of the week "They can't just throw spaghetti at the wall and hope that something sticks. The parties really have to defi ne the issues that they want to advance and really have to think about the theory of their case." — Madeleine Loewenberg, Ogilvy Renault LLP, See New, page 12 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene Billions of dollars invested, not a penny lost. ntitled-3 1 November 15, 2010 5/4/10 2:49:21 PM Does LSUC target small-firm lawyers? Concerns raised as three sole practitioners disbarred for misconduct BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times A rash of disbarments has raised con- cerns about the Law Society of Up- per Canada's treatment of sole and small-fi rm practitioners as well as lawyers from diverse backgrounds. Th e law society capped a busy disciplin- ary period by announcing the disbarments of three sole practitioners on Nov. 5. A fourth solo lawyer received permission to resign for his misconduct. Th e decisions come as the law society turns up the heat on small fi rms by recalibrating the selection criteria for its practice-management review program to increase the proportion of sole and small-fi rm practitioners caught in the net of its random checkups. Joe McCallum, chairman of the Ontario Bar Association's sole, small fi rm, and general practice section, says spot audits serve an im- portant purpose but suspects a disproportion- ate number of them translate into disciplin- ary proceedings for lawyers in small practices compared to their counterparts at larger fi rms. "It probably has something to do with the fact that small fi rms tend to be better targets," says McCallum, who practises at Heelis Wil- liams Little & Almas LLP in St. Catharines, Ont. "I don't think people are as intimidated going after a sole or small-fi rm lawyer as they would be going after one of the bigger fi rms. How many large fi rms aren't being called on things because they are large fi rms?" But Diana Miles, director of profession- al development and competence at the law more than half of the province's lawyers fall into that category. "Ninety-nine per cent of all claims paid out involve sole and small- fi rm practitioners, and 80 per cent of com- plaints we receive involve sole and small- fi rm practitioners. Th at is the reality of the legal profession." Th e comments follow the release on Nov. 5 of four LSUC decisions either disbarring the lawyer in question or, in one instance, allowing the practitioner to resign. In one case, Robin Scott of Whitby, Ont., was dis- barred for failing to fulfi l an undertaking to close his trust account by October 2005 and failing to respond to the law society's investi- gation. It was the fourth fi nding of miscon- duct against him in eight years. Th e LSUC also ordered him to pay $3,000 in costs. Moeen Mahmood Ahmad Janjua of Mis- The law society takes action wherever necessary without regard to the firm's size, says Diana Miles. society, insists her department takes action wherever necessary without regard to the fi rm's size. "If we fi nd someone in a large or small fi rm who is not acting in the best inter- ests of their clients, we're going to make sure that's corrected," she says. Miles notes the predominance of sole prac- titioners involved in disciplinary proceedings at the law society is to be expected given that sissauga, Ont., had his licence revoked in his absence after he disappeared with $4 million in fraudulently acquired mortgage funds on 13 properties. Th e law society made an op- timistic order for costs of $36,000 but ac- knowledged that not even his wife appeared to know where he had gone. In the third case, the law society found Richard Chojnacki, another sole practitio- ner based in Mississauga, to have misap- propriated more than $3 million from funds held in trust for two toy company clients, including $500,000 applied to pay his law practice and personal expenses. He withdrew his co-operation halfway through the 19-day hearing, which left the panel with no choice but to ignore a half-argued mitigation defence See Some, page 5 fi rms into a single unit is a daunt- ing task. But in their case, it could be more diffi cult than usual. Th e prevailing wisdom is that the emergence of Canada's 12th- largest law fi rm results from the combination of two entities: Mc- Millan and Lang Michener. But, as lawyers would say, that's the form of the transaction. Th e substance is another matter. At the heart of the distinction between form and substance lies the fact that Lang Michener may be a single fi rm in name only. Th e Integration a challenge for McMillan merger A BY JULIUS MELNITZER For Law Times s McMillan LLP and Lang Michener LLP are about to discover, integrating law current form emerged in 1989, when Lang Michener absorbed Vancouver fi rm Lawrence & Shaw, which, with the recently established Hong Kong offi ce, constitutes its western division. Toronto and Ot- tawa make up the eastern division. Although both divisions fell under the Lang Michener banner, they have operated as separate prof- it centres for most of the past 21 years. Indeed, even the hierarchical nomenclature is diff erent: Robert Cranston, who heads the eastern division, has the title of managing partner; François Tougas, Cran- ston's counterpart in Vancouver, is the western division's chairman. "Out West, we weren't re- ally thinking about the East, although we did do some joint stuff and combined on national expenditures," Tougas says. Th at was so much so that a con- tinuing issue in almost a year of negotiations was whether Lang Mi- chener would fi t into McMillan's national income pool model. "Our greater concern was how the western division partners would behave in an income pool," Tougas says. "What we wanted this time was a true national merger but as we came to understand what it meant, it was much harder to implement than to talk about it." Now Tougas is confi dent that Lang Michener is fully behind the merger. "Th e level of consensus in Van- couver is very high," he says. "So much so that I can say with confi - dence that our partners have already committed themselves emotionally Get more online • Fresh Canadian legal news and analysis every week Canadian Lawyer | Law Times | 4Students | InHouse Visit Us Online 1-8-5X.indd 1 9/27/10 3:07:58 PM to the merger and to the idea that its primary driver is about adding value for our clients." Andrew Kent, McMillan's chief executive offi cer who will become the new fi rm's CEO when the merger takes eff ect on Jan. 1, agrees that internal inte- gration was his No. 1 concern. "Th e proposition to merge fi t with our overall strategic plan, but we wanted to have a real shot at in- tegration," he says. "Otherwise, we would be bulking up our numbers instead of becoming a real fi rm." In fact, integration was on the table from the outset. "Early on, we had unanimous support for the concept at McMillan, but ensuring that the Lang Michener partners committed See McMillan, page 5 LT Digital version.indd 1 6/25/10 12:59:47 PM Click here to subscribe today to LAW TIMES

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