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June 22, 2015

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Another lawyer in hot water over service to refugee claimants By Tali Folkins Law Times ess than a month after its suspension of Viktor Ho- hots for failing to adequately represent refugee claimants, the Law Society Tribunal is holding a disciplinary hearing against an- other Greater Toronto Area lawyer on similar allegations. On June 15, the tribunal be- gan a hearing against Erzsebet Jaszi involving two applications it has decided to hear together. In both, the LSUC alleges that be- tween 2009 and 2011, Jaszi didn't properly serve a total of 10 clients, including nine Roma refugee claimants and their families. At least three of the Roma families have now either been deported or are facing deportation. The case, Law Society of Up- per Canada counsel Lisa Freeman told the panel in her opening, was primarily about vulnerable cli- ents served by Jaszi in a "cavalier and woefully inadequate fashion." Many of the LSUC's allegations against Jaszi revolve around her use of personal information forms is- sued to refugee claimants to make their case for asylum. The forms, Freeman told the panel, are "the single most important document a lawyer can prepare for his or her clients' refugee claims." The allegations against Jaszi in- clude failing to prepare the forms adequately, in one case preparing one on behalf of a claimant and his family without ever having met or spoken with them and in other situations allowing claimants to sign blank or incomplete documents. In some cases, the LSUC alleges, Jaszi filed the forms after the deadline to do so had passed without providing an explanation for the late filing. The second application includes an additional allegation that Jaszi intentionally overbilled Legal Aid Ontario for $1,390 "more or less for services not provided." The hearing began with a rev- elation by Freeman that Jaszi had left a voicemail that morning to let the LSUC know she wouldn't be attending. Freeman and her co-counsel, Joshua Elcombe, then gave argu- ments for why the LSUC should proceed regardless and at one point played a recording of the voicemail. In the message, Jaszi said she was "very sorry she wouldn't be able to attend" but noted she had been deal- ing with health and personal issues. Panel chairwoman Barbara Murchie agreed to proceed with the hearing, citing a number of reasons including the "vague and unsupported" nature of the health and personal issues mentioned in the voicemail. By missing the hearing, the panel deemed Jaszi to have admitted facts in a form sub- mitted by LSUC counsel. The hearing included expert testimony by Lorne Waldman, past president of the Canadian Asso- ciation of Refugee Lawyers. Among other things, Waldman told the panel that it's extremely important to complete a personal informa- tion form in great detail and with It's time to rank… 2015-16 CANADIAN LAWYER'S TOP 10 ONTARIO REGIONAL FIRMS SURVEY Complete the survey online at canadianlawyermag.com/surveys and rank your top 10 picks. SURVEY IS OPEN UNTIL JUNE 29TH Untitled-2 1 2015-05-27 12:21 PM Clinic reform at critical point Merger proponents exploring options as no agreement reached By Tali Folkins Law Times proposal to consolidate Toronto-area legal aid clinics into a handful of organizations appears to be dead in the water as Legal Aid Ontario has reportedly withdrawn fi- nancial support and proponents consider alternatives for reorganizing the sector. "In terms of the actual [notion that] 14 clinics in To- ronto will close [and] three or four or five will be cre- ated out of that, that is definitely off the table," says Gary Newhouse, a member of the plan's steering committee who's also chairman of the board at one of the clinics that opposed the merger proposal, Kensington-Bell- woods Community Legal Services. "So now at the moment, over the last few months as the steering committee has continued to meet, the issue is can the transformation project go forward and how exactly and is legal aid still willing to fund it?" Jack De Klerk, one of the clinic lawyers heading the working group, declined to comment last week on the state of the transformation plan. LAO, meanwhile, wouldn't confirm it had withdrawn its funding for the transformation project. "We have had constructive and positive discussions with the GTA transformation proj- ect co-leads," says LAO spokeswoman Genevieve Oger, noting the organization is looking at "options and next steps." Last September, the working group charged with de- veloping the transformation plan released a report pro- posing to replace 16 of the area's legal clinics with five downwArd dog Can career success and yoga coexist? P7 FOCUS ON Family Law P8 'There's still some interest within the transformation project in saying maybe some clinics might merge or something like that,' says Gary Newhouse. See Refugee, page 2 See Clinics, page 2 PM #40762529 DM Tools Cloud For details, visit www.divorcemate.com. Work anywhere, anytime, on any device. ntitled-9 1 2015-02-17 3:24 PM $5.00 • Vol. 26, No. 21 June 22, 2015 Follow LAW TIMES on www.twitter.com/lawtimes L AW TIMES A L big rUliNg ON gOOgle B.C. decision 'disastrous,' lawyer says P3 Photo: Robin Kuniski

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