Law Times

May 3, 2010

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ADDRESS MARMER PENNER INC. NEW A DRE From Marriage Contracts ADDRESS BUSIN SS S ESS VALUATORS&LITIGATION ACCOUNTANTS BUSINESS VALUATION To Divorce Judgments and Everything in Between Visit today! DMOne lug_LT.Feb.09.indd 1 $3.55 • Vol. 21, No. 151/29/09 3:17:39 PM Covering Ontario's legal Scene MATRIMONIAL & OTHER LITIGATION SUPPORT FORENSIC ACCOUNTING QUANTIFICATION OF DAMAGES 2 Bloor Street West, Suite 2603,Toronto, Ontario M4W 3E2 Tel: (416) 961-5612 Fax: (416) 961-5168 Website: armer_LT_May3_10.indd 1 Lawyers, paralegals mobilize for skirmish at law society AGM BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times meeting this week over the expansion of paralegal practice into family law, an issue one lawyer believes is putting "the future of the legal profession" at stake. F A motion on the agenda for the meeting would, if passed, require the law society to report on the possibility of expanding para- legal practice to include "preparing fam- ily law documents, representing before the family court for certain matters, drafting incorporations, and drafting uncontested divorces," a proposal that's left family law- yers up in arms. Now both sides are scrambling to gather enough supporters to pack the meeting and win the vote, which will be decided by a simple count of hands on Wednesday with no proxies allowed. Chris Surowiak, president of the Parale- gal Society of Ontario, says his group sup- ports the motion because it would merely restore services many of its members per- formed before 2007 but lost when the LSUC began regulating paralegals. "When family law was taken away from paralegals, it created a void for the public, and there were not a lot of lawyers ready to jump into that void," he says. "Many highly 'This isn't just another sleepy AgM. What's behind it is the future of the law society and the future of the legal profession,' says James Morton. qualifi ed practitioners have been prohibited from providing services in those areas. Th e public will benefi t if they are reintroduced amily lawyers and paralegals are mo- bilizing for a clash at the Law Soci- ety of Upper Canada's annual general because they will have choice, and there will be more access to justice." Marshall Yarmus, a former vice president of the paralegal society who fi led the mo- tion, was planning to use the group's own annual general meeting this past weekend to build support for it. He notes he still gets calls every week asking for family law ser- vices, mainly from people who don't qualify for legal aid but can't aff ord a lawyer. "A huge proportion of people who ap- pear in family court go unrepresented in court. Paralegals can fi ll the gap and not steal business away from lawyers. Th ere's enough people out there in the family court to go around." But that misses the point, according to Georgina Carson, chairwoman of the On- tario Bar Association's family law section. She says the complexity of family law requires ex- pertise only a lawyer can provide and suggests that's precisely why the law society omitted it from areas of paralegal practice. Th e OBA group has joined the Family Lawyers Association (FLA) in urging mem- bers to attend the law society meeting and vote down the motion. Th e FLA has begun a poster campaign in courthouses around the province urging lawyers to attend the meeting in person. "Family law is not about fi lling out forms," Carson says. "It's about knowing the whole context of the law. Family law lawyers See It's, page 5 LawPRO reverses special HST levy BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times O ntario lawyers have been spared a one-time $450 LawPRO levy for the harmonized sales tax, in part due to the $8-million settlement reached earlier this year between the Law Society of Upper Canada and its former auditors. Beth Symes, chairwoman of the law society's audit committee, told Convocation the LSUC had fi lled a $10.7-million hole in LawPRO's accounts with money from its er- rors and omissions fund. Although the HST doesn't come into eff ect until July, LawPRO was forced to acknowledge the eff ect its introduction would have on unresolved claims from last year. For 2009, unresolved claims to- talled $384 million, leaving an HST liability of $10.7 million. "It had to be funded," Symes said, noting LawPRO had warned in its annual report late last year that one solution was the special levy on law society members. "It didn't have to happen because the money fl owed from errors and omissions to LawPRO." Symes explained the LSUC could aff ord the payment to LawPRO be- cause the proceeds from the $8-mil- lion settlement with TitlePlus_LT_Feb9/16_09 2/4/09 2:02 PM Page 1 its former accountants, Ernst & Young, and actuary, Tillinghast, went directly into the errors and omissions fund. Th e law society began its action against the defendants in 1997 alleging professional negligence after discovering a $154-million defi cit in its insurance program. In a report to Convocation, law society CEO Malcolm Heins de- fended the mediated settlement, in which the defendants admitted no liability, to benchers. "Th e costs and complexity of the trial were important factors in pushing all parties to settle, togeth- er with the potential exposure of the losing party to costs," he said. "Th is was a reasonable resolution of the litigation, having regard to the risks in continuing to pursue the action and a realistic appraisal of law society's and LawPRO's re- coverable damages." Heins also revealed for the fi rst time that the net recovery to the 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. 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 errors and omissions fund, which covered the litigation costs, was $5 million. "Given the fact that the events took place giving rise to this litiga- tion over a four-year period, the complexity of the matters at is- sue, the length of the litigation, including the interim proceedings that took place, the costs and the circumstance, at least in my view, were reasonable," he said. Th e HST liability com- pounded what Symes called a "challenging year" for LawPRO, which lost $6.5 million last year compared to a $7-million profi t in 2008. As a result, it had al- ready hiked base premiums by $500, or 20 per cent, to $2,950. See Claims, page 5 May 3, 2010 4/29/10 2:07:44 PM Inside This Issue 2 Benefit Woes 6 Tax Traps 9 Focus On Personal Injury Law Quote of the week "Saying, 'Let's think about this for three years' is not good enough. We need immediate action. Studies are important, but you don't study in order to put off action." — Joy Casey, A Call to Action Canada, See Legal, page 4 Click here to subscribe today to LAW TIMES

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