Law Times

July 25, 2016

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Follow LAW TIMES on BY ALEX ROBINSON AND YAMRI TADDESE Law Times M ore than three years into their fight to unionize, Le- gal Aid Ontario lawyers are stepping up the pressure on the provincial government. A group of LAO lawyers rallied out- side a Liberal Party of Ontario fundraiser that Premier Kathleen Wynne attended in downtown Toronto on July 13, along with representatives of labour groups. The lawyers have been fighting a de- cision by LAO to reject their request to unionize since 2013. "Almost all other groups of public sec- tor lawyers exercise their right to collec- tive bargaining. Other groups like the as- sistant Crown attorneys, who are largely white and male-dominated, have that right already and that difference is not lost on us," Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyer Dana Fisher said at the rally. "We feel discriminated against and we want fairness." Fisher says collective bargaining would help her colleagues secure working con- ditions that would help better serve their clients. Fisher works in a small office with 14 others. There are no desks for individual lawyers and no private space to meet with clients. The office is not accessible for people with mobility issues, she says. "It's not fair to our clients who hap- pen to be some of the most marginalized and disadvantaged often in the province," Fisher says. "And our hope is that collec- tive bargaining rights would put us in a better position to serve those clients." In 2015, the lawyers filed a Charter application challenging what they say is the refusal of LAO to bargain with their chosen representative — the Society of Energy Professionals. The Ontario Superior Court will hear the challenge on Dec. 5. "I shouldn't have to be going to court on their behalf to try to compel Legal Aid Ontario to respect these lawyers' Charter rights to collectively bargain," says lawyer Steven Barrett, of Goldblatt Partners LLP, who is representing the group. Lawyers are excluded under the La- bour Relations Act, meaning they would need voluntary recognition from LAO in order to unionize. Section 1(3)(b) of the act says that any- one who is a member of the legal profes- sion is not deemed an employee under the legislation. "They're antiquated exclusions. They make no sense any more. There is a con- stitutional right to bargain and it should be respected," Barrett says of the Labour Relations Act exclusion. OSC moves ahead with whistleblower policy BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times T he Ontario Securities Commission has adopted a policy that could finan- cially reward in-house counsel for disclosing information about corporate wrongdoing, de- spite the concerns of lawyers, legal scholars, and the Law Society of Upper Canada. The new policy will make in- house counsel eligible for financial incentives of up to $5 million for reporting wrongdoing to the regu- lator's new whistleblower office in certain circumstances. Lawyers were included in the policy, even with concerns voiced by the LSUC and members of the legal community, who said the policy will cause confusion for lawyers, who are prohibited from disclosing informa- tion to third parties in most cases. In an interview with Law Times, Kelly Gorman, the head of the new whistleblower office, de- fended the decision to include in- house counsel in the policy, saying the awards will not encourage law- yers to abandon their professional responsibilities. "I really believe that these indi- viduals certainly have the sophis- tication to look at the facts and the circumstances that they're in, [and] look at what their profession- al rules are," she says. "Nobody is obligating anybody to come forward as part of our pro- gram. We're just simply not bar- ring them from reporting if they can get themselves comfortable with the conditions and the excep- tions as outlined in our policy." The policy, which Gorman stresses is voluntary, makes in- house counsel eligible for awards under three exceptions. The first exception is if the law- yer has a "reasonable basis" to be- lieve that disclosing the informa- tion to the OSC is necessary to pre- vent conduct "that is likely to cause or continue to cause substantial injury to the financial interest or property of the entity or investors." LPP UNDER REVIEW New treasurer says program to be examined P4 ABORIGINAL MANIFESTO Lawyer says LSUC deferral wrong P5 FOCUS ON Entertainment & Gaming Law P8 See Not, page 2 See LAO, page 2 PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 27, No.24 July 25, 2016 L AW TIMES C O V E R I N G O N T A R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W . L A W T I M E S N E W S . C O M A group of Legal Aid lawyers rallied outside a Liberal Party of Ontario fundraiser attended by Premier Kathleen Wynne in downtown Toronto on July 13, along with labour group representatives. Photo: Alex Robinson Legal Aid lawyers push to unionize & $#&!&jmmm$cYa[bbWh$Yec ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 AM When you're working, we're working. End-To-End Legal Marketing Solutions. Visit Amy Salyzyn says making lawyers eligible for a monetary award for whistleblowing could create confusion about what their obliga- tions are.

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