Archive for the ‘LawPRO’ Category

UPDATED: Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play (Lawyer)

December 16, 2013

Did I make the team?

Over at Slaw.ca, Professor Julie MacFarlane proposes a solution to the vexing problem of “self-represented litigants (SRL’s”) in a post entitled: “Lawyers Coaching SRLs in “Self-Advocacy”? Why This Paradoxical Proposition Deserves Your Serious Consideration“.  Essentially, Professor MacFarlane, drawing upon her recent 2011-12 study and responses to the National Self-Represented Litigants Project , proposes a “Lawyer-Coach” model to stem the rising tide of “self-advocacy” within the Canadian legal system. MacFarlane writes,

How SRLs want help

SRLs want help – that is loud and clear. On-line resources get them part of the way – sometimes. But they want face-to-face help too.

Almost all of them say that they want lawyers. But they cannot afford to use a lawyer for every step of their case.

They want help to be effective self-advocates.

Crazy – or Adapting to Reality?

OK, so there is something paradoxical about lawyers assisting people to do the work that they would ordinarily charge them to do for them. The irony is that the profession now needs to consider this possibility in order to retain public legitimacy, as well as to enable the justice system to be more functional (more of this below).

Some lawyers will take the view that encouraging individuals to self-advocate is irresponsible and that our energy should be directed at bringing these SRLs “back into the fold” of full-on legal representation. While this sentiment may be coming from a good place, here is the reality – unless those same lawyers are willing to cut the cost of their services at least in half, or support a tax system that hugely expands legal aid, that it not going to happen.

And even then – if we can imagine either eventuality – there will be an appetite for saving costs. Whether this is self-advocacy, outsourcing, or access to para-legals, it’s all going in the same direction. The age of passive deference to professional advice is over. And a lawyer-coach model opens up the possibility of a lawyer/client partnership of the sort that so many personal and commercial clients now expect.

I am not entirely clear on what the “age of passive deference to professional advice” means. If I retain an accountant to give me professional tax advice, I do not offer up my opinions on how best to avoid or, heaven forfend, evade paying my taxes. The same holds true if I consult with my doctor about performing surgery under general anesthetic. It’s a given that I will defer to the person with the medical degrees hanging on their office wall. (more…)

Does a lawyer’s duty of care extend to reviewing applicable limitation periods with a client?

January 22, 2013

Lawyer and Client - Cartoon

Does a lawyer’s duty of care extend to reviewing applicable limitation periods with a client?

The Court of Appeal for Ontario says: “No”:

[1] The appellant raises two issues on this appeal.

[2] First, she says the trial judge erred in finding that the respondent was not obliged to reduce to writing that he was not retained to act on the tort and accident benefit claims. We do not agree.

[3] Given the basis on which this appeal proceeded it is clear that the trial judge found as a fact that the appellant, despite her health challenges, understood what she had and had not retained the respondent for. There was no basis in the evidence, given these facts, to extend the respondent’s duty of care to putting in writing what the appellant already understood, namely that she had not retained him for the tort and accident benefit claims.

[4] Second, the appellant says that the trial judge erred in failing to decide whether the respondent’s duty of care extended to reviewing the applicable limitation periods with her.

[5] Again, we do not agree. The trail judge found that the appellant had not established that the respondent’s duty to her extended to this and had called no expert evidence that would suggest otherwise. There is no basis for us to interfere with that finding. Moreover, the trial judge clearly found as a fact that the respondent had reviewed the limitation periods with her thereby satisfying any duty had one been found to exist.

[6] In all the circumstances the appeal must be dismissed, with costs fixed at $6,000 in total in favour of the respondent.

Broesky v. Lüst, 2012 ONCA 701 (Ont. C.A.) per Goudge, Simmons and Juriansz JJ.A.

Using Social Media Tools in a Practical and Ethical Way

June 2, 2012

 I had the privilege of co-presenting with David Whelan, Manager, Legal Information, Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) at the LSUC’s 7th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference and Expo (Two-Day Program) (View Program Agenda (PDF)).  We presented on the topic of  “Using Social Media Tools in a Practical and Ethical Way”.

See David Whelan’s Blog for a copy of his excellent Power Point slideshow and paper.

Here’s my Power Point slideshow:

Here’s a link to a pdf copy of my paper: Using Social Media Tools in a Practical and Ethical Way. Pribetic

Kudos to the Program Co-Chairs for organizing an informative and interesting conference:

Michele Allinotte, Allinotte Law Office (Blog: http://yourcornwalllawyer.com/category/blog/and

Daniel Pinnington, Vice President, Claims Prevention & Stakeholder RelationsLawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company (LawPro) (Blog: http://avoidaclaim.com/

Lawyer Phishing Email Scam Alert: Brett Abraham chases Eric Muller for a debt

November 15, 2011
Depicting phishing of information from a computer.

I received the following phishing scam email today from “brett abraham” [brettabraham13@gmail.com].

“RE: LEGAL REPRESENTATION

Hello Counsel,

I am inquiring about the possibility of your firm representing me in the litigation of a loan matter.

Debtor: Eric Muller

Amount: $288,000.00

Amount Paid:$80,000

Balance $208,000.00 plus 7.75% annual interest.

If you or your firm can be of any assistance, please get back to me at your earliest convenience so I can send you related documents.

Your’s Truly

Brett Abraham”

The New Zealand Law Society website has also posted a similar warning.

I highly commend readers to follow Dan Pinnington’s Avoid A Claim Blog that identifies various types of frauds, email scams and related chicanery. Here is a link to FAQ’s About LAWPRO’s enhanced coverage for counterfeit certified cheques, bank drafts, including conditions or limitations to the enhanced coverage.

While this phishing email is plainly obvious, it is likely that some unsuspecting, distracted,  desperate, naive lawyer or law firm will respond and waste their time, if not get actually get hooked into the scam.

It would be helpful if the Law Society of Upper Canada provided similar warnings to the legal profession in Ontario.


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