Law Times

September 21, 2015

The premier weekly newspaper for the legal profession in Ontario

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Page 2 September 21, 2015 • Law timeS NEWS Mental health in the profession New online course for lawyers launched BY NEIL ETIENNE Law Times W ith concerns about mental health in the legal profession gaining promi- nence, lawyers involved in a new online mental health and addic- tion course specifically designed for legal professionals are touting the benefits of an anonymous portal to help people recognize they may have a problem and where to seek help. The course on mental health and wellness in the legal profes- sion is available at ness. It's the result of a partner- ship involving Bell Media's Let's Talk program, the Canadian Bar Association, and the Mood Dis- orders Society of Canada aimed at helping legal professionals identify any mental-health or ad- diction issues they may be deal- ing with and assist users to find resources and support in their area. Advocates also hope it will help start a discussion about the need to address mental health in the profession. "What I hope from this course is that it normalizes the discus- sion on mental health," says Or- lando Da Silva, the former presi- dent of the Ontario Bar Asso- ciation who for the past year has been vocal about his own battles with mental-health issues and takes part in the course as one of six high-profile legal experts sharing their struggles in video testimonials. "I began speaking out at a time when people were more open to speaking about mental health. The discussion has struck a nerve and carried on in tangible ways, like this course," he says. "What the legal profession needs is a cultural change and to recognize that it is normal and it is common to have mental-health or addiction issues. I hope we can continue to chip away at the stig- ma and let people know, most im- portantly, that you are not alone as a lawyer who is suffering." Doron Gold, a psychothera- pist and former Toronto lawyer whose practice focuses on legal professionals, took part as one of the subject-matter experts for the course. He notes the material will help users recognize the signs of mental-health or addic- tion issues, outline available options for treatment or cop- ing tools, and break down the stigma around discussing men- tal health by showcasing legal professionals like Da Silva who have had their own struggles. "The issue is pervasive and the discussions are few," says Gold. "This [online course] creates a very safe and completely confi- dential place to get all the infor- mation you need to deal with mental-health issues, depression, drug or alcohol abuse. The key is there is a lot of help available out there for le- gal professionals, but they don't often reach out for that help, so this is the resource to hopefully change that." Including Da Silva, six legal professionals share their personal struggles through a series of vid- eo clips that participants can use to help recognize the issues they may be dealing with themselves. Users can anonymously ask health experts questions and find local resources to work toward recovery or better mental health through coping strategies. "Legal professionals need to understand it is not weak people who deal with mental-health is- sues," says Gold. "There are strong, success- ful people who manage their daily lives dealing with this. There are a lot of reasons why lawyers don't seek help, and we need to be discussing them and dilute the idea that they can't be helped. That's a long process, but programs like this [online course] are beginning to change the tenor of how legal profes- sionals discuss mental health." The course is free to use and confidential. Gold also notes most law societies in the country have accredited the material to count toward continuing profes- sional development hours. LT Register online at For more information, please contact Lexpert® Events at 1-877-298-5868 Advertisers today seem to have less of everything yet are expected to do more than ever before. Less words (or characters), less money, less paid media, less disclaimers. More reviews, more consumer testimonials, more platforms, more sharing, more new laws, more disclosure and most importantly, more risk. Catch up on all of the latest legal requirements relating to advertising and marketing to ensure that you and your clients do not end up in unflattering orange. COURSE LEADER Brenda Pritchard, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP COURSE HIGHLIGHTS • Top Five Things That Can Keep Advertisers Up at Night (Some high-level advice for less worry – more sleep!) • "They Really Like Me" Testimonials/Ratings & Disclaimers/Disclosures • Gamification - How to Make New Friends in The Yard - Hot Trends in Engagement • La Belle Province • Food, Drugs and Rock & Roll • Creepy Privacy - More Obligations, More Collection, Less Space • Integration of IP v. Advertising • Mock Trade Dispute – You Be The Judge DATE & LOCATION December 1, 2015 WTCC Halifax Halifax, Nova Scotia December 9, 2015 St. Andrews Club and Conference Centre Toronto*, Ontario *Webinar also available. EARLY BIRD ENDS NOV. 6 8 TH ANNUAL ADVERTISING AND MARKETING LAW: LESS IS THE NEW MORE E V E N T S Untitled-4 1 2015-09-17 2:20 PM 'Legal professionals need to understand it is not weak people who deal with mental- health issues,' says Doron Gold. Disbarment set aside in lengthy LSUC disciplinary case BY YAMRI TADDESE Law Times A Law Society Tribunal appeal panel has reduced a Toronto real estate lawyer's disbarment to a two-year suspension in a split decision that centred on how much weight to place on lengthy delays in penalty considerations. The Law Society of Upper Canada first contacted lawyer John Abbott about a mortgage fraud complaint in 2007, but more than six years had passed before the regulator commenced a discipline hear- ing in the matter. In the years between 2007 and 2013, LSUC investi- gators made "requests that were needlessly repeated, apparently due to the succession of investigators who handled the file," according to the majority's finding on appeal. In a 2-3 decision last week, the majority of the appeal panel found the hearing panel, in deciding to disbar Abbott for knowingly assist- ing in mortgage fraud based on wilful blindness, had failed to put sufficient weight on the "extraordinary delay that took place here." "While the hearing division took the law society's delay into ac- count, the panel did not give proper consideration to the multi-fac- eted impact of this delay on the public interest," wrote Raj Anand on behalf of the majority. "Together with other aspects of its reasons in support of revoca- tion of the applicant's licence, the hearing division erred in law by failing to give proper significance to the delay factor," he added. The hearing panel found Abbott hadn't demonstrated exceptional circumstances that would mitigate his penalty. But in its 30-page rul- ing, the majority suggested it should have considered the requirement for exceptional circumstances more broadly. The panel should have considered prejudice not just to the lawyer but the administration of self- regulation, the majority said. Lawyer James Morton, who represented Abbott, calls the major- ity's decision "remarkable." "I think the thing that was most striking was that they took delay standing alone and they raised it to a major consideration in terms of penalty," says Morton. "There have been cases where delay has been taken into account, but to move from revocation — which we said was not appropriate — to a suspension is a very major step." Morton adds that if the majority's decision stands, it will be sig- nificant "to more than just the law society. I think it has implications in other self-regulated bodies." The dissent in Abbott's case, meanwhile, was reluctant to disturb the hearing panel's findings on appeal. "We see no error in law in the hearing panel's consideration of the issue of delay," wrote Christopher Bredt on behalf of himself and Marion Boyd. "The panel correctly recognized that delay can be a mitigating factor in determining appropriate penalty, and consid- ered the relevant factors. Its conclusion that the prejudice from delay was not a proper basis to turn revocation into a lengthy suspension in the circumstances of this case is reasonable." LT

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