Law Times

September 12, 2011

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Billions of dollars invested, not a penny lost. $4.00 • Vol. 22, No. 28 ntitled-2 1 7/7/11 9:10:05 AM Covering Ontario's Legal Scene ntitled-3 1 Disappointment at competition review Regulator missed chance to shake up legal field, prof says BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times sion in Canada, says an Ottawa law professor. Four years ago, the regulator released a T detailed 161-page report aiming to high- light restrictions in five professions, includ- ing the law, that could be unnecessarily im- peding competition. The report made 53 recommendations. Now a post-study assessment says that while "significant progress has been made" towards reviewing and eliminating barri- ers to competition, "much work remains to be done." Similar reports in Britain and other Com- monwealth countries precipitated a whole- sale shakeup in their legal services industries, but Adam Dodek, a professor of public law and legal ethics at the University of Ottawa, says that hasn't happened here. "The report was modest in its recommendations and in its criticism," he says. "The legal profession was very worried about the report, but there was a lot of relief when it was issued because they really escaped serious scrutiny." According to Dodek, the original 2007 report's release in December, a notoriously quiet time for news, helped minimized its impact, while the short followup assessment released last week is light on details about exactly what work "remains to be done." "I don't think a four-page press release he Competition Bureau missed an opportunity to take the lead last week on opening up the legal profes- list on stock exchanges and Britain is ready to enact a brand new Legal Services Act that will allow lawyers to team up with non- lawyers in alternative business structures to raise capital, Canada has been left behind, says Dodek. "The real issues that are on the table elsewhere when you're talking about competition are the extent of deregulation to allow non-lawyers to provide certain legal services and non-lawyer ownership of legal services firms. They weren't really addressed by the initial report." The 2007 report did recommend that law societies remove barriers that discourage multidisciplinary practices and allow law- yers to split fees and revenues with non-law- yers. But the competition regulator ignored that issue in its post-study assessment. In Dodek's view, the profession will be unable to avoid confronting those issues in the near future. Once Britain's new al- ternative business structures are up and running — something that could poten- tially happen as early as 2012 — it won't be long before they're knocking on Can- ada's doors, he says. "It's an increasingly global market, and 'I think there's a real question as to how seriously the Competition Bureau took its own report,' says Adam Dodek. represents a serious post-study assessment," Dodek says. "I think there's a real question as to how seriously the Competition Bureau took its own report." While Australian law firms are now able to eventually one will want to provide legal services here. Then the legal profession is going to be forced to address it. There is going to be continued competition pres- sures, if not from the Competition Bureau, then from other jurisdictions." In its post-study assessment, the Competi- tion Bureau said it had succeeded in raising See Profession, page 4 Lawsuit alleges abusive culture at T.O. firm C BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times anada's largest criminal defence firm is facing a $200,000 wrongful dismissal lawsuit from a former employee who claims it fired her for making the same kinds of dis- paraging remarks she alleges were routine among partners there. In a statement of claim dated 'The passages from the e-mails in question, however much they are accurately quoted, are badly out of context,' says Reid Rusonik. March 30, Tracy Francis demands $106,550 in damages from Toron- to-based Rusonik O'Connor Rob- bins Ross Gorham & Angelini LLP for wrongful dismissal to cover her wages and benefits for 12 months. The lawsuit is also seeking $85,000 in moral damages for the manner of her firing, which Francis alleges caused her mental distress and left her unable to sleep. "The plaintiff has experienced hair loss, panic attacks, and clin- ical symptoms of depression," Francis alleges in the claim. The firm denies all of the alleg- ations, none of which have been proven in court. Francis worked as practice manager, a job that had her maintaining the calendar of court appearances for lawyers and stu- dents at the former Pinkofskys firm between 2005 and 2009, when she left to work for another criminal lawyer in the city. But she returned to Pinkofskys in March 2010 in an altered role working as assistant to managing partner Reid Rusonik. Francis stayed on when the firm switched to its new identity, Rusonik O'Connor Robbins Ross Gorham & An- gelini LLP, in July 2010 with September 12, 2011 5/4/10 2:49:21 PM Inside This Issue 2 Rights Probes 6 Echlin's Legacy 9 Focus On Human Rights Law Quote of the week "Simply because a domain name is intangible property does not mean that it cannot have a location that allows a court to ground jurisdiction." — Justice Karen Weiler See Ruling, page 5 Rusonik as the new principal. According to the firm's state- ment of defence filed on May 4, it terminated Francis for cause. The firm alleges she failed to ad- equately perform assigned tasks and instead "devoted herself near- ly exclusively to attempting to manipulate the students" work- ing at the firm. Francis, the firm claims, en- gaged in a "deliberate course of misconduct designed to disparage and undermine the firm's partners, lawyers and students, as well as breach the firm's confidentiality." In its statement of defence, the firm alleges Francis singled out partner Jeff Hershberg for particular abuse in e-mail corres- pondence with two associates. It claims Francis called Hershberg a See Firm, page 4 ADR Connect: Find an ADR Professional 416-487-4447 • Untitled-2 1 Mediators Arbitrators Gold Standard 5/20/11 1:11:30 PM

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