Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gilbert says LU not giving up on law school plan

Tb News Source
Web Posted: 7/29/2008 8:12:25 PM

The president of Lakehead University is vowing to continue the fight after a major blow Tuesday to the plans to bring a law school to Thunder Bay.

The McGuinty government has announced it will not be funding any new law schools in Ontario for the foreseeable future. Fred Gilbert said LU will carry on its plans to renovate the former PACI, but he admits that opening a law school in 2010 is no longer a realistic possibility.

When LU and the Lakehead school board signed the $850,000 purchase agreement for PACI last month, things appeared to be looking up for the university's plans to open a law school in Thunder Bay but the plans have hit a major snag. Liberal MPP Bill Mauro says his government has received advice that there are enough law graduates in Ontario as it is. Therefore, LU and three other universities will not get any financial backing for their law school plans.

The president of the Thunder Bay Law Association, Stephen Wojciechowski, says his group is very disappointed by the province's decision. He says Thunder Bay and other small cities are approaching a crisis situation with their limited influx of new lawyers, and he says the legal resources in the Northwest are slowly dwindling to unacceptable levels.

Gilbert says the LU law school would have turned out 55 graduates each year with expertise in aboriginal law, natural resource and northern issues. Despite the setback, he says LU will move ahead will their plans to renovate PACI will still proceed trying to achieve accreditation for its law school curriculum.

Eight years ago, Gilbert and local politicians convinced the province to reverse a decision and allow a full four-year medical school at LU. Gilbert says they plan to do it again and Mauro said he's on board to help LU reach its goal, as he pledged in his 2007 election platform.

But for now, Gilbert concedes that the chance of the law school opening as planned in September 2010 is no longer a realistic goal.

The province has six southern Ontario-based law schools and a new one hasn't been opened in almost 40 years.

Province lays down the law

Asearch through the Law Society of Upper Canada's directory shows there are 203 lawyers in Sudbury. Yep, that's right CCIII.

The Law Society of Upper Canada's membership data shows there are 38,879 lawyers in the province. (We won't trouble you with the Roman numerals.) Almost 1,500 new lawyers were called to the bar last year in Ontario.

A few in Sudbury aren't practising, a few are suspended, a few in the registry are deceased.

And while the North suffers from a chronic lack of professionals and specialists, with lawyers it is not because the province isn't churning out enough of them, it's largely because they don't settle here.

The argument made in favour of the medical school -- training doctors in the North, giving them a look at the lifestyle -- can reasonably be transferred to lawyers, since they must leave the area to enrol in one of Canada's 16 law schools (Ontario has six) to pursue their legal ambitions. But if the province is to put money into education, the legal profession, says Colleges and Universities Minister John Milloy, isn't a priority. He wants to focus on graduate studies and doctors.

We cannot disagree with those priorities.

Read the whole editorial here.

Ontario won't fund proposed law schools

The Ontario government says it has no money to train new lawyers, dashing the hopes of three universities in the province competing to open the first new law school in Canada in nearly 30 years. Plans for the new schools come from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Sudbury's Laurentian University.

All three universities looking to set up full law schools, including two in Northern Ontario, say they developed their proposals in response to local concerns about the lack of legal services and the need to attract young lawyers to rural areas.

But in a letter to university presidents last Friday, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities says it will not be approving any funding for new law schools in Ontario. The province's six existing law schools are meeting the demand for new lawyers, the letter says. As well, it says, the number of law-school graduates in Ontario exceeds the number of articling placements available.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Olympic hungry

Man, I have just loved keeping track of all of the Olympic trials, both for Canada and the US. Olympic time is my favourite time. I have gotten hyped during the summer every four years since 1984 when I watched the Olympics in my grandparent's living room. This year is even more exciting for me as my children are now getting to an age where they can start to appreciate some of the finer points of sports, and as they are now competing in sports themselves. Last night, my one daughter told me that she wants to be a doctor and an Olympian when she grows up. That really inspired me. Our swim team is called the Raymond Olympians, and both of my daughters are competing and my wife and I are coaching. Really cool. Really real.

I have also been getting in the water as much as possible, and my swimming is improving. Our family is all competing in a triathlon in August. I don't feel that I will be competitive at all, but I probably won't come in last place. I did a 10K in June that really hurt, but I was proud to have finished as I had not been training properly for weeks before the race, and I had woken that morning with aches and pains and a big headache. Work seemed to get in the way of training. Having my wife and daughters train for the triathlon is really inspiring and exciting for me. I have a bit of a cold/flu today, so training has taken a back seat least for a few days.

I met with a fellow lawyer today at lunch, and was pleased to hear that my experience of seeing a decline in the amount of available work is not unique to my personal practice. He said that he is having to work harder to meet his own billable expectations. Those lawyers in Canada (especially sole practitioners) who think that the current state of affairs in the US and Canada is not going to affect them - they had better make sure that they are prepared, flexible and outgoing. Real estate has been the bread and butter for so many of us for a few years, but it's getting harder to rely on conveyancing to pay the bills...

It might be time to go do some more research into rainmaking tactics. Actually, my personal practice is thriving right now. Each month seems to bring an increase in client base and quality of work. There are some specific files that are bringing me great joy as I work on them. Further, I am getting better at firing those clients that I really do not appreciate working with. Also, each month I am gaining expertise in the areas that I am practicing in, and my confidence continues to grow. Each day brings its own challenges. It's not getting boring yet. This is the longest that I have held the same job (i.e. being a lawyer) in my life, I think. Well, that's not true - I was a lifeguard for many years, but that was usually part-time work, and I didn't really consider it a career. In any case, I feel I have reached a bit of a milestone in that my practice just passed its two-year anniversary (I opened my law firm the day after I passed the bar). Cool, huh?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good reading makes a good lawyer

Over the past few months, I have been spending some of my down-time reading some great books. I found a website - 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library

Whether that list of 100 books is necessarily exclusive to men is obviously debatable. However, I do think it is a good collection of classics and potential classics that hold a considerable amount of knowledge, and entertainment.

I decided to read all or at least most of the books on that list, with the hopes that I might better myself. Enough of the John Grisham books. Besides, his latest work absolutely sucked. I'm ready for something bigger, something better.

So, to date, I have read from the list:

1. The Hobbit (read numerous times)
2. The Great Gatsby (I hated this book, and wouldn't even render a review of it)
3. 1984 (read a long time ago, and thought it was very depressing)
4. The Catcher in the Rye (I absolutely loved this book, and will provide some comments later on)
5. The Picture of Dorian Gray (a very strange, but fascinating read)
6. Brave New World (so strange, but very thought provoking. I will provide comments later)
7. Animal Farm (read a long time ago)
8. Frankenstein (one of my favourite stories, but getting to be a downer when I read it over again)
9. The Stranger (L'Etranger) by Albert Camus - one of my all-time favourite books, I have read it at least 10 times in both English and French.
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I absolutely loved this one. I liked the legal aspect of it, but it had so much more to say. More comments forthcoming.
11. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I really, really enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, and think that I will be a better person for having read the first 3/4. The last part had way too much US history that was totally irrelevant or over my head.
12. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I have read this book a couple times and really enjoy it. I am planning to buy a motorcycle soon, so I might have to read it again soon to relive the great feelings portrayed in this book.

I am currently reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris and Into the Wild by John Krakauer. I am really enjoying both, especially the latter. I have started The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, but it is slow going.

I tried A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, but found it too wispy of a book. Almost contrived. Maybe I was missing something. I got about 1/2 way through before abandoning it.

So, not too bad. Am I a better man now? I think so. I find myself thinking about these books a lot, especially the ones I have read in the past three months. I find I am thinking on a higher plain. Am I a better lawyer? Maybe - at least, I am more present in my thinking, and not just bogged down in real estate documents and wills and contracts.

Have any books that you would add to this list? Either for being a better person, or for being a better lawyer?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Senior Will & Estate Planner

Here's an example of a job posting that was on This is really cool. I'm glad to see these kinds of postings...
As one of Canada's Top 50 Employers for the fourth consecutive year, Scotiabank places great importance on recognizing and rewarding strong performance. We offer room for advancement, a stimulating work environment and the resources to help you make the most of your career. Together, we continue to make Scotiabank a great place to work.

Incorporating the key personal investment and advisory activities within the Scotiabank Group, Wealth Management provides a full range of products and services that encompass retail brokerage, investment management advice, mutual funds and savings products, and financial planning and private client services for affluent clients.


Department assists clients appointing Scotiatrust as their Executor/Trustee with the development of an estate plan, and works with external lawyers for the preparation of client Wills.

Key accountabilities for this role:

  • Support the development of new Wills and estate / trust business and identify cross-sell opportunities
  • Work with eligible clients to provide information / advice on planning options and record /confirm Will instructions
  • Review draft Wills prepared by an external drafting lawyer as to form and content prior to execution
  • Prepare and deliver seminars to staff and clients / prospects in Will and estate planning in conjunction with the Financial Consultants, SPCG and ScotiaMcLeod partners
  • Develop relationships with Centers of Influence for the purpose of initiating new Will - estate opportunities
  • Expert knowledge and understanding of estates, trusts, Will and estate planning, and personal income tax, that may be supported by a LLB., relevant experience and Trust Insititute designations.
  • Effective relationship management and networking skills with particular emphasis on supporting the sales team, working with affluent clients, SPCG and ScotiaMcLeod business lines, and internal and external centers of influence
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills to effectively represent the department
  • Demonstrated speaking and presentation skills in a sales team environment to attract corporate executor and other trust business.
  • LLB, or Trust Insitute Designation and Senior Estate and Trust Planning Experience

The Scotiabank Group is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from all interested parties. We thank you for your interest, however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. No agencies please.

If interested, please apply online at Scotiabank Careers

Dear Adam,

I recently came across your blog, specifically your post of July 15th entitled "Leaving the Law". Given the nature of that post and your blog, I thought your readers would be interested in knowing about our new job posting blog for Canadian lawyers.

You can visit us at:

Our blog focuses on a growing and under served group within the legal community, namely:

Lawyers who are seeking alternative career opportunities both inside and outside the legal profession.

Our site ONLY posts the following types of opportunities:

* In-house, government and non-profit counsel positions;
* Law related careers;
* Non-legal careers for lawyers;
* Opportunities to join start-ups and small businesses.

To ensure that our visitors have access to the largest number of career opportunities, posting jobs on our site is absolutely free (our editorial staff reviews and approves each job posting before it is published to ensure that it is relevant for our audience).

Feel free to email me if you have any questions about our website.


Stephen Fine

Founder –
Alternative Law Job

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Leaving the Law

A few of my friends and associates have already left law as a career. Most of them aren't sure if they will ever come back. That got me to thinking, what would I do if I wasn't practicing law. It is a difficult thought, now that I am deep into a personal legal practice. The idea of throwing away those three years of law school, that year of articling, that year of preparing for law school. Many, that would be hard. But, there are those out there who are desperate to get out of this career. Believe me, it is not for everyone. Here are some resources that I have recently come across:

1. "You can find meaningful, engaging work outside of the law and make a good living. Together we help you discover the alternative career you were meant to have and make your career transition with joy and ease.

A former miserable practicing lawyer, I’ve developed a variety of unique products and services that empower you to find fulfilling work.

Become someone you never thought you could be—a lawyer who looks forward to going to work."

2. The Unhappy Lawyer: A Roadmap to Finding Meaningful Work Outside of the Law (Paperback) by Monica Parker (Author)

3. Running from the Law: Why Good Lawyers Are Getting Out of the Legal Profession (Paperback) by Deborah Arron (Author)

4. What Can You Do With a Law Degree?: A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law (Paperback) by Deborah Arron (Author)

5. Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers, Fifth Edition (Paperback) by Gary A. Munneke (Author)

6. Alternative Careers for Lawyers (Princeton Review Series) (Paperback) by Hillary Mantis (Author)

7. Beyond L.A. Law: Inspiring Stories of People Who've Done Fascinating Things with a Law Degree (Paperback) by National Association for Law Placement (Author)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Women In Law: Bucci serves community and piles up accomplishments

By Robert Todd | Publication Date: Monday, 14 July 2008 - Law Times

Small towns in Ontario fighting to keep legal services may want to give Kristen Bucci a call for advice on luring law grads.

Read this inspiring article here.

The Attorney Multipass

July 2008 Issue
By Jill Schachner Chanen
ABA Journal

From his office at Butzel Long’s Detroit headquarters, lawyer Richard Rassel can watch the massive 18-wheel trucks driving across the Ambassador Bridge from Michigan into Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Most of those trucks started their long journey north to Canada from Mexico, crossing through three countries with three distinct legal systems, observes Rassel, the firm’s past chairman and current director of global client relations.

In some ways that journey is a fitting metaphor for the needs of most businesses these days.

As foreign trade becomes more common for even the smallest of businesses, a need for lawyers versed in multiple legal systems has emerged. And now the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law is stepping for­ward to help fill this need.

Earlier this year the law school launched a dual-degree program with Mexico’s Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, a private law school in the Mexican state of Nuevo León. The program is modeled after UDM’s 8-year-old dual-degree program with the University of Windsor Faculty of Law in Ontario, which allows law students to obtain combined J.D./LLB degrees in three years.

That program has had a total of 120 students studying in both countries since its inception. And its dual-degree grads have found their way to big law firms in Toronto, New York City and Chicago, among other cities, where they have put their international legal and language skills to work, says UDM law school dean Mark C. Gordon.

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye to Robin Penker

A really good friend of mine died last week in a mountain climbing accident. I am really saddened by the loss of Robin Penker. He was one of the first people that I met in law school. He was an outstanding law student and lawyer. He was on the editorial board of the Alberta Law Review when I was Editor in Chief, and he always did excellent work.

I hiked with Robin and did some scrambles with him. He died doing a scramble by himself in Kananaskis. We will probably never know what happened. He was on Mt. Kidd. They had a hard time finding him because he didn't tell anyone where he was going.

Robin was a lawyer at FMC, and then in a firm in the Maritimes. He then went to work in-house, and was recently on a sabbatical. He traveled to South America and Europe.

He was just an outstanding person, and I am going to miss him very, very much.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Friends of Kananaskis Country (

I have information about memorial services if you know Robin and would like to attend.

Hands off LSAT students' fingers

Mon, July 7, 2008


A recent decision by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada found that taking finger/thumb prints from those writing the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a privacy breach and must be stopped.

Read the whole article here.

That's some good news. Surely there are other ways that they can reduce cheating on this test.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

An update on my life

I haven't written a personal post in some time. Here's the scoop:

I am a sole practitioner right now, searching desperately for a partner. I do not like working alone. At all. It's boring. Want to be my partner? I'm really fun to work with. Really.

I sold my publishing house. Now I can just be a lawyer. And an author. I am supposed to write another book soon. It's title is a secret. But, it should be good. It's non-fiction again. I'm also slowly working on a fiction book. That's a lot of fun, when I can get in the right mood.

I'm also supposed to be working on a book called A Practical Guide to Canadian Law Schools with another author. However, he might write the whole thing...we'll see how he does. It will be a great complement to my book. It will look specifically at each law school. It's a ton of work, I'm sure.

I'm helping my wife coach our girl's swimming team. I came up with a logo for it yesterday. I think it looks kind of cool. Being a swim coach is a lot more fun than being a lawyer, which means being a swim coach is really, really fun. (smile)

I am trying to stay away from my office as much as possible this summer, but it is hard because it is busy. Summer is always the busiest real estate time, and my firm does a lot of that work.

I miss law school. I miss taking off from life whenever I wanted to go run a few miles, hit the gym, or go swimming. But, I'm trying to do that as much as I can this summer. My assistants probably hate me for that. I am hoping to take some holidays in September.

Blasphemy law should be repealed

Jul 06, 2008 04:30 AM


Last month, after a long debate, England abolished the ancient common law offence of blasphemous libel.

Historically, the crime of blasphemy was committed whenever "contemptuous," "reviling," or "scurrilous" statements were made about God, Jesus Christ or the Church of England.

The offence had been the basis for hundreds of prosecutions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries before falling into a period of dormancy after 1922.

Surprisingly, however, the offence was suddenly resurrected as the basis of a successful private prosecution against a gay newspaper in 1977.

Subsequent private prosecutions against Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses in the late 1980s and against the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera just last year were unsuccessful but equally disturbing to modern proponents of free speech.

What most Canadians (even most lawyers) don't realize is that our own Criminal Code also prohibits blasphemous libel and sets a penalty of up to two years in prison.

Read this whole fascinating article here.

I had no idea this was part of our Criminal Code? I don't remember discussing this in Criminal Law class at Law School. What do you think? Should it be repealed?

Ontario schools compete for law faculties



Three Ontario universities are jockeying to be the first to open a law school in Canada in nearly 30 years, setting the stage for a battle of ambitions as they compete for government funding and approvals from the legal community, as well as the prestige that a new faculty would bring.

Plans for the new schools, in various stages of development, come from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and most recently Sudbury's Laurentian University, which last month announced it was conducting a feasibility study on a new law faculty.

Also in the works are plans for a graduate law program at the new Balsillie School of International Affairs, which would involve the University of Waterloo and could be linked to the Laurier proposal.

Read the whole story here.

Lots of you have indicated that you don't think we need another law school. How about three???