Law Times

November 2, 2009

The premier weekly newspaper for the legal profession in Ontario

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Follow on TitlePLUS title insurance and you, together we have all the tools TitlePLUS title insurance and you, together we have all the tools. www.twitter.com/lawtimes $3.55 • Vol. 20, No. 34 Inside This Issue 3 Street Legal 6 Roaming 9 Focus On Real Estate Law Quote of the week "You've got an honest seller who's asked to know what's happened under all the previous owners, whether it's ever been used as a grow-op or drug operation. How is anybody supposed to know that?" — Bob Aaron, lawyer at Aaron & Aaron See Seller's, page 11 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene titleplus.ca November 2, 2009 tlePlus_LT_Jan26_09.indd 1 Web sites a 'godsend' for people looking for evidence in legal hot water. The case involved a pair of women charged Social media tripping up litigants A BY ROBERT TODD Law Times recent criminal case in Ontario has called attention to the role social media is playing in landing people with robbing a home last year in Kitchener, Ont. The two women, both in their early 20s, might have gotten away with it if not for a questionable decision to post a photo of themselves with their loot online. Lawyer Jon Graham, who represented Michele Nolan, tells Law Times his client posted photos of stolen jewelry on the social networking web site Facebook. Graham says his client and a co-accused were caught after the latter sold one of three laptops. The buyer had trouble installing a program on the computer, says Graham, and managed to find the registered owner to try to fix the problem. The owner then got the seller's name from the buyer and conducted a search for her on Facebook, Graham adds, noting the victims then found photos of the pair with what appeared to be the stolen items. Graham says the theft occurred sponta- neously as Nolan and the co-accused walked along a residential street in Kitchener in September 2008. The occupants of the house — all female students at Wilfrid Laurier University — were at a homecoming football game at the time, he says. "I think they thought it was a prank or something. They just started filling up gar- bage bags with clothes and some laptops." seems to have finally caught up with the women when they indulged their thirst for what Toronto lawyer Ravi Shukla calls a cultural phenomenon: young people's insatiable need to be seen online. Shukla, an information technology and Internet lawyer with Lang Michener LLP, says the Kitchener incident is consistent with the trends he has seen. "There does seem to be this peculiar idea afoot, particularly among young people, that everything they do should be posted somewhere," he says. "That's why they exist. If it happens but it's not posted anywhere, it didn't really happen." Shukla suggests insurance companies have hired individuals to scour social media tools, such as Facebook, blogs, and Twitter accounts, to find photos of people engag- ing in activities that suggest their claims are unwarranted. He predicts the trend will increase in tough economic times due to a spike in disability claims. "It's just a godsend for them," says Shukla. Ravi Shukla cites young people's insatiable need to be seen online for legal cases sparked by social media. Both women have pleaded guilty to the theft. Following an adjournment late last month, the court is to sentence Nolan in a few weeks, the Record newspaper reports. A lawyer for her co-accused declined to comment. That allegedly spur-of-the-moment act "Before, they had to hire some guy to hide in your bushes to watch you tangoing in your living room. Now, guys are posting it all." Toronto Internet lawyer Gil Zvulony says he often gets cases dealing with social media, including from individuals who have had fake profiles of themselves posted online. He uses copyright infringement or defamation laws to remove such material. Examples include a former employee posting negative comments about her former boss and people complaining about their neighbours. Academics concerned over law school report L BY HELEN BURNETT- NICHOLS For Law Times egal scholars are voicing concerns with a new set of recommendations on national academic standards for entry into bar admissions programs contained in a recent report from a Federation of Law Societies of Canada task force. The final report of the Task Force on the Canadian Common Law Degree, charged with review- ing existing academic require- ments for entry to bar admis- sion programs, came out late last month. It recommends that law societies in common-law jurisdic- tions adopt a uniform national requirement for entry to their bar admission programs. The reason, it says, is to ensure that those seeking entry "have demonstrated certain essential and predefined competencies in the academic portion of their legal education." Task force chairman John Hunter, past president of the Law Society of British Columbia, explains that there were several catalysts that led it to look into the issue of a national standard. These included the application for a law school by Lakehead University as well as the increase in the number of internationally trained candi- dates for bar admission. Included in those national stan- dards are competency requirements relating to skills, problem solving, legal research, oral and written communication, and substantive knowledge in the foundations of law. In terms of compliance, the task-force report recommends law schools submit a standardized annual report from the dean. While the task force, made up of eight benchers and three staff members from law societies across the country, recommends the fed- eration leave it to law schools to determine how their graduates accomplish the competencies, it nevertheless suggests the creation of a stand-alone course dedicated to ethics and professionalism. However, several members of legal academia have expressed concern with some of the recom- mendations as well as the process involved in reaching this stage. Harry Arthurs, a professor and former dean at Osgoode Hall Law School, says that while there are lots of interesting elements to the report, he finds it odd that the fed- eration "took it upon themselves to lay down what law schools should be teaching and how they should use their resources and what their job is in general. "Law societies, much less the federation, have no statutory power to tell law schools what to teach or to what end they should spend their scarce resources," he says. "I would have thought that if the job of this task force had that as an ultimate goal . . . then they would have said to the law schools, 'This has to be a co-operative exercise,'" he adds. While Arthurs notes that the See National, page 5 Click here to subscribe today to LAW TIMES Maybe you need a better mousetrap. Tel: 416.322.6111 Toll-free: 1.866.367.7648 www.doprocess.com 1/20/09 12:14:52 PM See Status, page 5 Industry leader in legal software for real estate, corporate and estates for over a decade www.lawtimesnews.com

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