Happy Canada Day

slaw - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:00

Canada Day is one of my favourite holidays. Every three years, this not being one, my husbands extended family on his mother’s side takes advantage of the Canada Day long weekend to have a Rebellion – other families call this a reunion from what I understand. I suppose it is a bit odd to host a family rebellion on a day celebrating the coming together of our nation, but that is how we roll.

This year, the buzz about Canada Day seems to be focused on the fact that it was not a long weekend. Canada Day is a celebration of the date of confederation. I think it should stay that way and not be moved to create a long weekend every year. Then again, I look at the statutory holiday list that our awesome human resources department posts on our Intranet to see what days our firm is closed and I plan my vacation days accordingly. Thankfully I work in a large enough team that most vacation day wishes can be accommodated.

What do you think about changing legislation – Canada Day is created under the Holidays Act – to force a long weekend in July?

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

7 Google Docs Add-Ons You Should Try

The Lawyerist - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 07:50

In the past, we’ve covered some alternatives to Microsoft Word, including Google Docs. For quite some time now, Google Docs has done a lot of things exactly right. Easy collaboration, compatibility with a wide variety of formats, cloud-based, free. However, Docs has also lacked some things that are often necessary for a law practice, like track changes and mail merge. Aiming to increase Docs’ utility and attractiveness, Google recently introduced add-ons for Docs, which lets third-party developers create tools that extend Docs’ functionality.

As with most things Google, getting the add-ons is dead simple. In order to get to the add-on store, you simply call up a Google Doc and go to Add-ons – Get Add-ons in the menu. Once you do, you’ll have access to the whole store. There are many things you likely do not want or need, like the Rhyme Finder (or maybe you do!), but here are several that may make using Docs as your only word processor a bit more viable.

A brief note: almost all of these third-party services will require you to either sign up for that third party or use your Google ID as your login credentials. Forewarned, forearmed, and all that.

7 Google Docs Add-Ons You Should Try is a post from Lawyerist.com. The original content in this feed is © 2013 Lawyerist Media, LLC. This feed is provided for private use only and may not be re-published.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Tips Tuesday

slaw - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 06:00

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.

Technology

Use Hidden Level App on Your iPhone to Hang Pictures
Dan Pinnington

You can never trust your eye when it comes to hanging pictures or other similar situations when things have to be level. But no need to run to the toolbox – just grab your iPhone. Open the Compass app, swipe to the left and bingo, you have a handy level that will help you hang a stubborn picture that just doesn’t seem to want to hang correctly on the wall.

Research

Look for Open Source Texts
Shaunna Mireau

I like to think I know about all kinds of sources – partly because I usually remember what I share. Sometimes I just miss things though. Today’s Tip could come with the Beatles as the background music: I get by with a little help from my friends. Thanks to my new colleague Josette McEachern, who posted on the Edmonton Law Libraries Association Blog, I now know that there is an open…

Practice

Golden Moment: Handling Client Complaints
David Bilinsky

Jo DeMars, of NetNeutrals (www.netneutrals.com) spoke at the 2014 Online Dispute Resolution Forum at Hastings College of Law at the University of California in San Francisco. This post is based on her most excellent presentation on Wednesday June 25, 2014. While her comments were presented in the context of resolving disputes that arise in e-commerce, her advice applies to virtually any consumer complaint, including client complaints regarding legal services….

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Passera: Report on the Legal Design Jam at KU Leuven, April 2014

Legal Informatics Blog - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 04:11

Stefania Passera of Aalto University has posted a report on the Legal Design Jam held at KU Leuven, 4 April 2014.

Here are excerpts from the post:

The first Belgian Legal Design Jam has been organized on 4th April, in beautiful and ancient Leuven. The Jam was hosted at KU Leuven by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT (ICRI) and it was aimed at providing the students of the LLM Research Master in Law (KU Leuven and Tilburg University) with a hands-on experience of how design thinking and doing can be applied to make legal texts more user-friendly.

A big thanks for making this Jam possible goes to ICRI’s superladies Veronica Donoso Navarrete, Ellen Wauters, Shuki Tang and Prof. Peggy Valcke, as well as Microsoft EMEA, who provided us the chance to work on their Terms of Use and Sale from the Microsoft Online Store. [...]

Scope of the Jam and results

During this Jam we worked on the Terms of Use and Sale from the Microsoft Online Store, thinking of different ways to make the document more user-friendly. Six teams worked complementary, each at improving a particular aspect of the document. The teams had only 3 hours of work to move from concept and paper sketches to a digital mock-up of their proposed solution, but they succeeded brilliantly in coming up with concrete, fresh ideas.

Team “User-friendly summary”

The challenge picked up by this team was to create a user-friendly summary to create a easy-access, visually pleasant overview of the content of the Terms of Use. Users without a legal background find it hard to read through a long legal document to find the information that interest them: a user-friendly summary provides a simpler overview of the topic, so the readers can find their “direction” through the clauses and drill-down only when it matters.

The team thought of a visual user-friendly summary inspired by Microsoft’s tiles motiv. In their proposal, they suggest that every topic in the summary works as a link to the relevant text. [...]

For more details, images, and excerpts of the final result, please see the complete post.

HT @stewiekee


Filed under: Applications, Design events, Projects Tagged: Commercial law communication systems, Commercial law information systems, Legal communication, Legal design, Legal Design Jam at KU Leuven, Legal design jams, Legal information design, Sales law communication systems, Sales law information systems, Stefania Passera, Terms of sale, Terms of use
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Passera: Report on the Legal Design Jam at KU Leuven, April 2014

Legal Informatics Blog - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 04:11

Stefania Passera of Aalto University has posted a report on the Legal Design Jam held at KU Leuven, 4 April 2014.

Here are excerpts from the post:

The first Belgian Legal Design Jam has been organized on 4th April, in beautiful and ancient Leuven. The Jam was hosted at KU Leuven by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT (ICRI) and it was aimed at providing the students of the LLM Research Master in Law (KU Leuven and Tilburg University) with a hands-on experience of how design thinking and doing can be applied to make legal texts more user-friendly.

A big thanks for making this Jam possible goes to ICRI’s superladies Veronica Donoso Navarrete, Ellen Wauters, Shuki Tang and Prof. Peggy Valcke, as well as Microsoft EMEA, who provided us the chance to work on their Terms of Use and Sale from the Microsoft Online Store. [...]

Scope of the Jam and results

During this Jam we worked on the Terms of Use and Sale from the Microsoft Online Store, thinking of different ways to make the document more user-friendly. Six teams worked complementary, each at improving a particular aspect of the document. The teams had only 3 hours of work to move from concept and paper sketches to a digital mock-up of their proposed solution, but they succeeded brilliantly in coming up with concrete, fresh ideas.

Team “User-friendly summary”

The challenge picked up by this team was to create a user-friendly summary to create a easy-access, visually pleasant overview of the content of the Terms of Use. Users without a legal background find it hard to read through a long legal document to find the information that interest them: a user-friendly summary provides a simpler overview of the topic, so the readers can find their “direction” through the clauses and drill-down only when it matters.

The team thought of a visual user-friendly summary inspired by Microsoft’s tiles motiv. In their proposal, they suggest that every topic in the summary works as a link to the relevant text. [...]

For more details, images, and excerpts of the final result, please see the complete post.

HT @stewiekee


Filed under: Applications, Design events, Projects Tagged: Commercial law communication systems, Commercial law information systems, Legal communication, Legal design, Legal Design Jam at KU Leuven, Legal design jams, Legal information design, Sales law communication systems, Sales law information systems, Stefania Passera, Terms of sale, Terms of use
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Regards Citoyens: How GitLaw turns the French parliamentary process into open data

Legal Informatics Blog - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 03:44

Regards Citoyens — a French parliamentary monitoring organization — has posted How GitLaw turns the French parliamentary process into open data, at the Sunlight Foundation Blog.

Here are excerpts from the post:

[...] Initiated in 2011, the Law Factory project worked on the French legislative process to answer a simple question: Does the Parliament actually write the law, or are MPs only validating the executive’s drafts, as most people commonly assume? A collaboration between Regards Citoyens, an NGO that has monitored the French Parliament’s work through its project NosDéputés.fr since 2009, and two research laboratories at Sciences Po Paris, the médialab and the Centre d’études européennes, the project also sought support from all over the world. [...]

Two international conferences, in June 2012 and May 2014, gathered in Paris activists, NGOs, researchers, public servants and journalists, in order to share projects and ideas from a wide range of expertise. In June 2013, a two-day DesignCamp with the italian info-designers of Density Design and the portuguese hacktivists of Manufactura Independente led to a collaboration with Density Design to forge innovative ways to represent and explore bills throughout the legislative process.

[...] After three years, TheLawFactory.fr was finally released on May 28, 2014 as a free software web application, combining all available information on 290 bills promulgated since 2010. All of the text of these bills and their amendments, as well as contextual documents such as debate transcripts, are redistributed as open data, published as version-controlled text into git repositories, and made accessible through four interactive tools that enable users — researchers, journalists, lobbyists, citizens, legislators and legislative staff — to browse the legislative process under various levels of zoom.

Similar to a Gantt chart, the first visualization proposes to navigate through time and discover within the legislative agenda which bills were discussed, when, within which chamber and for how long. The display can be switched from the top menu to other views: a comparative one to compare the global time taken to study each bill, and a quantitative one to consider only the times when the text was actually being discussed and not just sitting in between the two chambers. The menu also contains filters to display only the most amended bills or those that took the most time to consider. Another feature allows the user to select a theme or legislative year. [...]

What’s next?

Still, the automated handling of the sources’ discrepancies remains imperfect. Our robots fail today over 125 of the texts promulgated since 2010, which means our corpus represents only 70 percent of the considered texts. We remain confident that we will soon be able to process the majority of the missing bills on one hand, and further on to integrate texts during their on-going adoption process, allowing anyone to access the detailed version of a text with the proposed amendments during the debates. If some of the parsing errors are clearly identified as procedure issues for financial laws for instance, some exceptional cases will certainly reach the limits of automation, as for this erratum we encountered which further “amends” the adopted text that was published.

This whole work will always retain a variety of complex challenges unless the institutions step forward. This is only one example of the many reasons why Parliaments all over the world should progressively migrate their legislative processes towards fully integrated routines into their information systems. Let’s just imagine how both the institutions themselves and the societies they serve would benefit from the positive externalities which can only emerge from parliamentary openness and transparency. [...]

For screenshots and more details, please see the complete post.

HT @SunFoundation


Filed under: Applications, Conference resources, Data sets, Projects, Software, Technology developments, Technology tools Tagged: Centre d’études européennes Sciences Po, GitLaw, La fabrique de la loi, Law Factory, médialab Sciences Po, NosDéputés.fr, Open legal data, Open legislative data, Parliamentary monitoring organizations, Regards Citoyens, Sciences Po, Sunlight Foundation Blog, Visualization of legal information, Visualization of legislative data, Visualization of legislative information
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Regards Citoyens: How GitLaw turns the French parliamentary process into open data

Legal Informatics Blog - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 03:44

Regards Citoyens — a French parliamentary monitoring organization — has posted How GitLaw turns the French parliamentary process into open data, at the Sunlight Foundation Blog.

Here are excerpts from the post:

[...] Initiated in 2011, the Law Factory project worked on the French legislative process to answer a simple question: Does the Parliament actually write the law, or are MPs only validating the executive’s drafts, as most people commonly assume? A collaboration between Regards Citoyens, an NGO that has monitored the French Parliament’s work through its project NosDéputés.fr since 2009, and two research laboratories at Sciences Po Paris, the médialab and the Centre d’études européennes, the project also sought support from all over the world. [...]

Two international conferences, in June 2012 and May 2014, gathered in Paris activists, NGOs, researchers, public servants and journalists, in order to share projects and ideas from a wide range of expertise. In June 2013, a two-day DesignCamp with the italian info-designers of Density Design and the portuguese hacktivists of Manufactura Independente led to a collaboration with Density Design to forge innovative ways to represent and explore bills throughout the legislative process.

[...] After three years, TheLawFactory.fr was finally released on May 28, 2014 as a free software web application, combining all available information on 290 bills promulgated since 2010. All of the text of these bills and their amendments, as well as contextual documents such as debate transcripts, are redistributed as open data, published as version-controlled text into git repositories, and made accessible through four interactive tools that enable users — researchers, journalists, lobbyists, citizens, legislators and legislative staff — to browse the legislative process under various levels of zoom.

Similar to a Gantt chart, the first visualization proposes to navigate through time and discover within the legislative agenda which bills were discussed, when, within which chamber and for how long. The display can be switched from the top menu to other views: a comparative one to compare the global time taken to study each bill, and a quantitative one to consider only the times when the text was actually being discussed and not just sitting in between the two chambers. The menu also contains filters to display only the most amended bills or those that took the most time to consider. Another feature allows the user to select a theme or legislative year. [...]

What’s next?

Still, the automated handling of the sources’ discrepancies remains imperfect. Our robots fail today over 125 of the texts promulgated since 2010, which means our corpus represents only 70 percent of the considered texts. We remain confident that we will soon be able to process the majority of the missing bills on one hand, and further on to integrate texts during their on-going adoption process, allowing anyone to access the detailed version of a text with the proposed amendments during the debates. If some of the parsing errors are clearly identified as procedure issues for financial laws for instance, some exceptional cases will certainly reach the limits of automation, as for this erratum we encountered which further “amends” the adopted text that was published.

This whole work will always retain a variety of complex challenges unless the institutions step forward. This is only one example of the many reasons why Parliaments all over the world should progressively migrate their legislative processes towards fully integrated routines into their information systems. Let’s just imagine how both the institutions themselves and the societies they serve would benefit from the positive externalities which can only emerge from parliamentary openness and transparency. [...]

For screenshots and more details, please see the complete post.

HT @SunFoundation


Filed under: Applications, Conference resources, Data sets, Projects, Software, Technology developments, Technology tools Tagged: Centre d’études européennes Sciences Po, GitLaw, La fabrique de la loi, Law Factory, médialab Sciences Po, NosDéputés.fr, Open legal data, Open legislative data, Parliamentary monitoring organizations, Regards Citoyens, Sciences Po, Sunlight Foundation Blog, Visualization of legal information, Visualization of legislative data, Visualization of legislative information
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

The Value of Task Codes?

3 Geeks and a Law Blog - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 19:00
Previously I have ranted about how billing task codes are not magic pixie dust. There seems to be a broad perception that task codes will solve pricing and legal project management problems for all practices. "If we only had task codes for [insert type of work], we would know how to price this."

My general feeling is that A) the task codes were not designed to address this need. B) The use of task codes is highly inconsistent, so the data is poorly structured. And C) Even if the data was in good shape, it won't provide magic pricing and budgets.

Recently I was ranting on this subject with a friend who works in the e-billing space. I was especially going off on how the task codes were not intended for solving the pricing problem. The e-billing person made an offhand comment about the current state of the use of task codes for their actual intended purpose. This got me thinking. So I checked the task code web site to better understand the actual intent of the development of task codes and the need for a standard set of them.

There was not much about intent, but here's what I found:

In the mid-1990’s major US law departments and insurers wanted to better understand the services provided by outside counsel. 

As part of this effort, it was decided that electronic invoice time entries should be task-based and aggregated by type of work performed, resulting in the possibility that multiple time entries could result from the services performed in a single day on a matter. 

What occurred to me is that the task codes have not even met the original purpose. My e-billing friend's comment centered on the fact that clients use their own unique task codes and that lawyers need training in order to get effective use of them. And we know how often lawyers go to training. Rarely.

I read Outside Counsel Guidelines (OCGs) on a regular basis and keep an eye out for things like task codes and their use. Just last week I read one where they do not even use 'L" codes. They have their own letter.

What I see is very inconsistent use of task codes by clients, compounded by inconsistent application of the codes by law firms. Result: Serious questions about whether task codes have even met their intended purpose.

Yet somehow task codes are poised to solve a problem they weren't built to address.

Good luck with that.
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Getting Started With Legal Knowledge Management

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 16:32

How do you get started with Knowledge Management (KM) in the legal profession?

I get approached on a regular basis with this question by small law firms that want to have the advantages of the larger firms, by lawyers or librarians who want to become part of an existing KM team in a larger firm, or by individuals hired into firms to lead KM initiatives. There are programs specific to Knowledge Management that exist, but there is not a lot of introductory material specific to the legal industry.

I recently sat down with Garry Wise of Wise Law so he could ask me about starting with KM in smaller law firms. Garry is pretty intuitive about KM and knowledge sharing: he recorded our discussion so that others could benefit. He also summarized the key learnings last week over on Slaw Tips. Here’s our discussion:

I was looking around for other resources. Here are a few I found:

What have I missed? Is anyone putting together a current compilation of sources? I feel there is work that could be done, though, to better summarize the basics and then flesh it out into something practical and useful.

Here are a couple of related questions:

  • If you are already doing KM work, what would you recommend to others to get them started?
  • If you are looking to learn about Knowledge Management, what sorts of resources would you find helpful?

 

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Of Wickr and the Crypto-Ephemeral Anti-Social Revolution

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 15:26

Years before Edward Snowden obliterated digital innocence, showed us what the “Five Eyes” are really up to, and pulled stakes for the unlikely safe harbour of Moscow’s airport transit zone, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger released his 2009 book Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. In it he urged caution for the “Digital Panopticon”, and warned against the growing trend towards mass surveillance. The Internet, as we now know, never forgets. He made the case for why it should.

Throughout human history, forgetting has been the norm and remembering the exception. Technology, as Mayer-Schönberger, a professor at Oxford, points out, merely upended the natural order. With Google, Facebook, NSA and all the other agents of the domestic espionage age, “forgetting has become the exception, and remembering the default.”

For a simple reminder of how inconvenient this can be, cast your thoughts back to 2007 and Andrew Feldmar, the respected psychotherapist who was barred from entering the US on the grounds of “moral turpitude”. An intrepid border guard decided to Google him and found an academic journal wherein he discussed therapeutic applications for LSD, and some experiences from long-ago personal use of the drug. Of course, Feldmar made those statements and did so publicly at some point, so perhaps a more recent reminder will resonate: the rather appalling disclosure of “non-conviction information” by some police agencies as illuminated in this report of the CCLA.

The traces of our digital activities accrete with greater persistency than ought to be. They make possible a most “pernicious version” of the digital panopticon, and ensure what Foucault termed “a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power”—and then some.

We no longer govern ourselves merely out of fear of being observed in the moment—we operate under a legitimate assumption that anything we do will be captured, potentially for later scrutiny. We self-regulate our behaviour not only out of fear of present consequences, but in fear of future consequences for past actions. Even those actions we have forgotten about. This is a virtuous cycle of utilitarian conformity. Everything in our past adds steel to an ever-growing blade that hangs like the sword of Damocles from the horse’s hair. This is your digital legacy.

“As much of what we say and do is stored and accessible through digital memory, our words and deeds may be judged not only by our present peers, but also by all our future ones,” says Mayer-Schönberger. His solution to this problem is law reform and other controls to enforce termination of Internet-stored data after a set period of time.

Time for a “Forget me now”

Against claustrophobic surveillance and incessant bids for personal information by big data interests, this notion of a forced memory purge has gained fresh appeal. A report from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in 2013 revealed that the public opinion pendulum is coming back from 9/11. A majority of Americans now oppose mass surveillance. Mayer-Schönberger’s idea for data expiration has become official policy within the European Union (according to his Oxford bio page), and not surprisingly, investors are now interested in what this means.

Are we shifting from the age of over-sharing to the age of ephemera?

Facebook uses a feature-rich platform with apps and traps carefully baited to get you to reveal consumer interests which improve ad-targeting. By contrast, a new breed of “ephemeral” social apps operates on an entirely different set of objectives.

Wickr is one example of this ephemeral anti-social un-network, and a specimen with some interesting implications for the practice of law. It is a free mobile application that lets you send messages with photos and other attachments on Android and iOS devices. It’s a bit like Viber, Snapchat, or the popular WhatsApp, save for a few key differences:

  1. everything sent or received through Wickr passes with “military-grade encryption”,
  2. all content will self-destruct according to a timer set by the sender (1 second to 6 days max),
  3. no information is stored on Wickr’s servers (sorry Norwich Pharmacal), and
  4. the Wickr application does its absolute best to shred digital remnants, thwart data capture, and stymie forensic retrieval.

It would be pure speculation on my part to determine how the app will make money—although they seem to license the platform for specific applications in gaming and are developing an enterprise product. Wickr clearly has investors paying attention, however, since it announced $30 million in Series B funding last week, following a $9 million Series A back in March this year.

Interestingly, at least one source indicates Wickr’s “early adopters” include lawyers (along with royals, financiers, teens, reporters and some diverse others). I have used the app, and while it is rather simple to use, I can only picture a few cases where the encryption and self-destruction of data would be that important. Mobile communications with staff outside the office who may or may not properly secure their phones is one instance. In many cases, however, you simply want encryption but along with a record of client communications, and there are other encryption apps for that such as Threema, Telegram or Cryptocat which do not necessitate destruction. Otherwise, well, you could always pick up the telephone.

From the Panopticon to the crypto-ephemeral woodshed of forgotten things

One blog post from Robert J. Ambrogi picked up on the potential to use Wickr as an alternative to email, due to its secure nature. In criminal practice, I suspect there could be wider application, and indeed in any situation where the lawyer is concerned about another party (intemperate ex-spouses perhaps, or an inconsiderate government) intercepting communications.

But Wickr and similar services raise some challenging questions too, and it will be interesting to see what direction Canadian courts take when it comes to spoliation concerns. Specifically will a Canadian court take an adverse inference against a party who has deliberately used an ephemeral messaging platform to discuss matters that are at issue in litigation? What about when an apparent policy is in place to avoid “the costs of eDiscovery and litigation” by using a communication platform that creates no electronically stored information? Do insider tips to a cousin’s stock broker or candid quips with management team about an employee (“What?! Another pregnancy with this one!”) seem more or less likely than an innocent explanation of why a defendant uses a secret whisper machine? I certainly don’t know.

Wickr has yet to release their enterprise version, but there is another service similar in core respects to what Wickr offers called Vaporstream. It bills itself as the missing supplement to email, IM and SMS. A fourth way, if you will.

A recent article by John Browning, entitled “Burn after Reading: Preservation and Spoliation of Evidence in the Age of Facebook” says that Vaporstream’s cost is around $25,000 per month for up to 50 employees. For this, the tool offers secure, and controlled messaging. The service gives a somewhat oblique nod to compliance on its website: “Vaporstream has an E-governance module that automatically archives Vaporstream messages from the sending organization as transitory messages decreasing e-discovery risks and costs, archiving costs and increasing regulatory compliance.”

It may be that Vaporstream’s talk around spoliation is evolving, since I could not find within their current FAQs what was referenced by the Browning article, and what the Wayback Machine shows is a rather bold claim that preservation obligations and litigation holds do not apply. The Vaporstream website at one point read that “[u]sing Vaporstream would be no different than talking face-to-face over lunch or at the water cooler.”

You might call this the age of the crypto-ephemeral social network—an age where the Internet heeds the old Irish proverb, “May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten.”

I’d love to know who among the Canadian legal profession is following this. Who are the lawyers using this or similar apps? These forensic folks seem to be making an attempt to assess it. Are there forensic experts among SLAW readers who can confirm the resilience of Wickr? You can ping me on my new crypto-ephemeral anti-social un-profile on Wickr @nrusse to continue this dialogue… outside the Panopticon.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

The Promising Fallout From Hryniak v. Mauldin

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 14:59

Following the release of the SCC decision in Hryniak in January of this year, the widely held view was that the decision would deal a death blow to trials in Canada and would open the floodgates to summary judgment motions.

The Advocates’ Journal Summer 2014 has run an interesting piece by Jonathan Lisus which suggests that, on the contrary, Canadian courts and creative counsel are using the Hryniak to craft procedures that bring cases to trial in a more efficient and cost effective way, than has any other access to justice initiative.

After reviewing the treatment of the SCC decision over the last 6 months Lisus concludes the decision has “…struck a chord with trial and appellate judges across the country. They, like litigants, are frustrated by gridlock in the “conventional” trial system. It has conferred on them an enhanced degree of procedural autonomy and discretion to manage cases to judgement – even in the context of the conventional trial – by weighing their procedural and substantive proportions.”

Seasoned Toronto litigator Allan Rouben has written an excellent commentary on the article.

Lisus urges those of us who are dedicated to preserving the civil trial to use Hryniak to persuade the bench that the trial process can and does work.

I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

My Twitter Digest for 06/29/2014

<CONTENT /> v.5 - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 14:30
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Can a Criminal Conviction Make Your Client Inadmissible for Residency/citizenship?

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 13:20

Where a client charged with a serious crime is a non-citizen of Canada and is hoping to obtain resident status, criminal lawyers should be aware that recent changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) raise special plea and sentencing considerations.

The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
On June 19, 2013, amendments to the IRPA made by Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, came into force. Among other things, the amendments render inadmissible – without right of appeal – permanent residency applicants who have received a six-month custody sentence for an offence with a maximum 10-year penalty, or a sentence longer than six months for an offence with a maximum penalty less than 10 years.

How does it happen?
Convictions that meet these criteria typically come to the attention of the Minister of Immigration via an inadmissibility report (also known as an “A44 report”). These reports can be prepared and submitted to the Minister for a variety of reasons, including where the person who is the subject of the report has been convicted of a crime. In certain non-criminal cases, the Ministry’s issuance of an A44 report is discretionary; however, where an A44 report is issued in response to “serious criminality” as defined by the IRPA, the Ministry considers reporting officers’ discretion to be very limited. A non-citizen who is the subject of an inadmissibility report may face a removal order with no option to appeal.

As currently drafted, the legislation permits an inadmissibility report to be submitted with respect to a person who was convicted BEFORE the amendments came into force; in other words, the immigration implications of six-month-plus sentences are retroactive. Lawyers should also be aware that time spent in custody prior to conviction, when taken into account in sentencing as time served, counts toward the six-month sentence that triggers an inadmissibility report.

What does this mean for criminal lawyers?
Taking into account each client’s citizenship and/or residency status before a plea is entered or plea and/or sentence negotiations with the Crown are commenced gives the lawyer an opportunity to secure a sentence that does not trigger an inadmissibility report. This is an important opportunity, because a lawyer who fails to address the potential immigration consequences of a client’s conviction could be exposed to a claim.

What should criminal lawyers do?
Consider addressing immigration at the initial retainer meeting. When checking identification and recording client profile details, as required (for Ontario lawyers) by the Law Society of Upper Canada’s By-Law 7.1, identify the client’s citizenship and residency. If the client is not a Canadian citizen, make a prominent note in the file so this can be addressed as required throughout the file process.

Early identification is key
This conversation between lawyer and client should occur early enough to allow the client to reflect carefully about the plea decision, and if necessary, an adjournment should be obtained to eliminate any plea pressure and permit the client the ability to seek out immigration advice.

Recommend immigration law advice
Ideally, all non-citizen clients at risk of being subject to removal orders should receive advice on immigration consequences from an immigration lawyer prior to entering a plea. Clients who decline the opportunity to seek this advice should be advised of the potential immigration consequences by the criminal lawyer. One should consider obtaining a signed acknowledgment that the issue was brought to the client’s attention and the client declined the opportunity to seek immigration advice and was made aware of collateral immigration consequences.

Document plea advice and instructions
Not all lawyers document plea advice and instructions. While the rate of claims in criminal law is lower than in some other areas of practice, one of the most common causes of claims is poor communication with the client about the consequences of a plea. There have already been several criminal law claims (not all relating to pleas or immigration consequences) reported to LAWPRO this spring. Disputes over what plea advice was given, what instructions were received, and allegations that the consequences of the plea were not explained lead, year after year, to claims against criminal lawyers. These cases have the potential to become credibility contests, which often favour the client when the lawyer lacks written documentation of instructions and advice.

Some lawyers who document advice and instructions use checklists to assist them in remembering conversation points. For instance, during a plea conversation, it will often be appropriate to cover the potential impact of a conviction on the client’s ability to travel internationally for pleasure, employment or business; to work with vulnerable populations (such as children, seniors, or people with cognitive impairments); or to obtain permanent resident status or citizenship. A checklist used for this purpose could even be provided to the client for signature, as a way of obtaining the client’s acknowledgment of having received the advice and being made aware of the collateral immigration consequences. If the situation permits, consider confirming the advice and any instructions in writing with the client.

Implications for pleading and sentence submissions
Understanding the implications of the IRPA changes is equally important when negotiating with the Crown, in case there is an option for the client to plead guilty to a lesser offence, and/or for counsel to develop a joint sentencing submission. Raising immigration issues at an early stage with the Crown may assist with negotiations.

Finally, it is useful to be aware that judges are entitled to take immigration implications into account when imposing sentences, so that you can prepare an appropriate argument ahead of time. While the decision in R. v. Hoang Anh Pham, 2013 SCC 15 suggested that a trial judge’s unawareness of immigration implications is a factor that can be considered in an appeal of a sentence, Pham narrowed the scope of appellate tinkering. The Court in Pham stated:

The flexibility of our sentencing process should not be misused by imposing inappropriate and artificial sentences in order to avoid collateral consequences which may flow from statutory scheme or from legislation, thus circumventing Parliament’s will.

These consequences must not be allowed to dominate the exercise or skew the process either in favour of or against deportation. Moreover, it must not lead to a separate sentencing scheme with de facto if not a de jure special range of sentencing options where deportation is a risk.

Further, the Pham decision was released prior to the coming into force of the Bill C-43 amendments. A stated objective of the new provisions was a stricter approach to protecting national security. With the statements made in Pham and the subsequent changes to the legislation, appellate courts could be less willing to reduce sentences to avoid collateral immigration consequences. This makes it more important than ever to consider immigration consequences when making plea and sentencing decisions at trial.

Criminal lawyers are not immune to professional liability claims. Familiarizing yourself with the Bill C-43 amendments to the IRPA and taking steps such as confirming advice in writing can help keep you in the clear.

Katie James is claims counsel, and Nora Rock is corporate writer and policy analyst at LAWPRO.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Hackers May Have Obtained Data on 163,000 at Butler U.

The Chronicle Wired Campus - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 13:04

Butler University has joined a growing list of higher-education institutions hit by data thieves.

Butler’s president, James M. Danko, said in a letter to those who may have been affected that personal information on as many as 163,000 students, alumni, employees, and even potential applicants might have been obtained by hackers, according to The Indianapolis Star. The data breach was discovered in late May, when a flash drive containing information about some Butler employees turned up in California.

A subsequent investigation revealed that a hacker or hackers had access to the university’s network from November 2013 to last month. Names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and bank-account details were all exposed. The university, which says it has since secured its network, is offering those affected a year’s access to an identity-protection service.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

QuickWire: Deal Adds Campus-Security Features to Blackboard App

The Chronicle Wired Campus - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:04

Students and campus-security officials alike are increasingly turning to mobile apps to report incidents and disseminate emergency information—in part because students are “mobile-device driven,” as one university police chief puts it, and in part because those devices incorporate features, like GPS and cameras, that can come in handy when reporting a problem.

Now Blackboard, the course-management heavyweight, is setting up a partnership that will incorporate an app called In Case of Crisis into the Blackboard mobile app, Mosaic.

According to a news release, the enhancement can store up-to-date emergency information on the mobile device, so the information is available even if the device loses contact with wireless and cellular networks. Colleges will also be able to send emergency alerts to the devices, and students and other users will be able to report incidents—along with precise location data—or seek help, anonymously if necessary.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

What Do Your Clients Consider to Be “Good Value” When It Comes to Legal Services?

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:00

In September, 2008, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) formally launched its “Value Challenge” initiative with a goal “to reconnect value and costs for legal services.” At the time, many in the legal media declared that this would be the beginning of the change in the way law firm’s act as a business. They predicted that we would soon see the mass implementation of alternative and fixed fee arrangements, lowering of costs and increased efficiency. We’re five years on and there has not been nearly the movement the ACC had hoped, especially in regards to Canadian firms.

And so, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Daniel Desjardins, senior vice-president and general counsel of Bombardier, has made the decision to step in to offer some advice to law firms. Mr. Desjardins is considered one of the best in-house lawyers in the country, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s Canadian General Counsel Awards, and has an in-house legal team of 175 lawyers.

His advice came in the form of a five page letter posted on the ACC website. In his letter, he reiterates succinctly what we all know about the market – that things aren’t what they used to be.

“This notable and growing shift toward insourcing is dramatically altering the nature of the legal work being outsourced. More often these days, outsourced work tends to be at one end of the scale or the other: Either the work is of lower perceived value and treated as a commodity, or it is significantly strategic that it requires the support of key partners and specialists.

In addition, as many corporations expand nationally or internationally, in-house legal departments are adjusting their external legal spend. Often, their spend in foreign jurisdictions is increasing.

Taken together, the globalization of legal services, the emergence of the in-house law department as the manager of core legal services, and the insourcing of legal work have significant and serious consequences for law firms.” 

For those who us who have long been the proponents, and designers, of client feedback and key client programs in law firms , one of the overwhelming themes that shines through is the emphasis on client value. Mr. Desjardins explains it as such,

“Certainly, having external law firms provide legal services with true added value relative to the cost will benefit both the GC and the in-house legal team, as it will benefit the external law firm. Delivering what is really sought by their clients will, in turn, solidify the trust and the long-term relationship between the in-house legal team and the law firm. In short, having better suppliers makes us better.” 

The idea of value is relative and can be very specific. For example, if your client is a GC with a ‘bet the bank’ class action litigation, value may be achieved through a precedent setting win – no matter the size of the bill. Another example would be if your matter involves a family law client and value means not having the children dragged into the divorce proceedings. Value is not one size fits all.

But how can the law firm discover “what is really sought” by their clients big or small? That’s easy – simply ask.

As I described in a previous column, client feedback, and acting upon the feedback given, needs to become a natural part of your client service process. It can be integrated into many areas of client interaction, in a way that suits both you and your client, but it should be consistent and deliberate. As Mr. Desjardins points out;

“The feedback I’m getting from other GCs is that most often, listening to clients has been done on an ad-hoc basis, as opposed to a rigorous and steady fashion. To my way of thinking, however, the kind of two-way discussions I’m advocating should be more structured. This could even extend to the creation of an informal advisory board composed of a small group of key clients who meet with the leadership team once or twice a year, on specific issues as they arise, or to discuss the core strategy and long-term vision of the firm.”

So the question is this. Are you ready, and willing, to accept his challenge even at the most basic level? If the answer is yes, and you believe that it’s time to implement, or improve, your client feedback program, you should decide the direction and form it should take. A few areas that you should consider are as follows:

1. Program strategy and goals
Why are you establishing the program? What information do you want to glean? How will you incorporate your client feedback program into your wider client management and business development efforts?

2. Participants
Who will be asked to participate in your program? Are you looking only at your largest clients or across a larger section of clients? Is there room in your program for new clients and prospects?

3. Methodology
What methods will you use to implement your program? Are you considering client questionnaires which can be efficient to implement or in-person interviews which can be more time consuming but can yield more in-depth feedback? Will you use hardcopy surveys sent by mail or utilize an on-line survey program? Will your program contain a combination of methodologies? How often will you contact your clients?

4. Who will implement the program?
How does your client view the idea of client feedback? Will they be as willing to participate, and be as honest, if the program is implemented by your lawyers as opposed to an external consultant? If using in-house resources, do you have the skill set and time commitment necessary available? Will you use the relationship partner, other partner or business development resources of the firm?

5. Program reporting and follow up
Who will collect and evaluate the data received from clients participating in your program? How will you record the specific feedback from each client and ensure that any follow-up’s take place? What take-away will be registered from those clients who declined to take part?

Even if you simply ask your clients on a periodic basis, “How are we doing?” it would be a step in the right direction. That being said, I feel it’s only fitting for Mr. Desjardins to have the last word on the matter.

“A strategy and a solid action plan to understand the needs of clients that is well implemented would serve to solidify and deepen the existing and current relationship, as well as achieve the necessary financial results for the law firm.”

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

How to Build a Small Knowledge Graph: Video Series

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 08:33

Eric Franzon, over on semanticweb.com, has a nice post about a series of videos on semantic web and linked data technologies.

The series is called Build a Small Knowledge Graph and there are three videos:

I’m looking forward to trying out the graph database Cayley.

A great short series from last week’s Google I/O, the annual Google developer conference.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Monday’s Mix

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 06:00

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from sixty recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. Vincent Gautrais  2. Family LLB  3. First Reference Talks  4. Environmental Law and Litigation  5. Barry Sookman

Vincent Gautrais
Tournoi de pétanque CRDP / CICC

C’est déjà une tradition que plusieurs universités, à travers le monde, nous envient : après une pause l’an dernier, le 15 juillet prochain (12h) aura lieu la déjà fameuse confrontation CRDP / CICC à la pétanque. Au regard de nos archives, il s’agirait de la sixième, la troisième ayant eu lieu en 2011. Les modalités sont simples: aucune inscription n’est nécessaire…

Family LLB
Cottages as Matrimonial Homes – It Can Get Complicated

With the recent improvement in the weather, it seems my mind is on cottages lately. I have written before that matrimonial homes enjoy special legislated protection under Ontario family law. I have also written about how second homes and often-used cottages – and sometimes even sailboats can sometimes satisfy the legal requirements for what constitutes a “matrimonial home” in some cases….

First Reference Talks
Employee who lied about ability to work justly fired

An Ontario labour arbitrator upheld an employee’s termination for just cause after the employer learned that the employee faked the severity of her injury and ability to perform work for over five years. The arbitrator found that the employer was justified in terminating the employee for just cause because the actions of the employee went to the heart of the employment relationship. …

Environmental Law and Litigation
Current environmental liability issues for municipalities

On June 17, Dianne and Graham Rempe of the City Toronto’s Legal Services spoke on the issue of current environmental liabilities for municipalities. Graham gracious agreed to allow us to post the paper we prepared here. As the introduction explains: Few topics evoke more concern about “vast” liability than environmental mishaps. Municipalities and their legal advisors are well advised to carefully monitor developments in this area, where liability is writ large. ….

Barry Sookman
Aereo: SCOTUS rules its service infringing

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 6 to 3 opinion yesterday that Aereo’s Internet retransmission service infringes copyright. Aereo had tried to architect its television restransmission system to avoid paying copyright royalties or license fees by “renting” dime sized antennae to subscribers. Judge Chin of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals had called Aereo’s service “a Rube Goldberg-like contrivance, over-engineered in an attempt to avoid the reach of the Copyright Act and to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the law.” …
_________________________

*Randomness here is created by Random.org and its

href="http://www.random.org/lists/">list randomizing function.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Voices, My Personal Demons

slaw - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 06:00

I am not sure if the voices in my head were inherited or created for survival. I suffer from the disease of alcoholism and medical opinion suggests that the predisposition to this disease is inherited. All I know is that the voices are part of my disease and long before I took a drink and for as long as I can remember they were there.

At first the voices helped me cope with a very abusive father. However, even from a young age the voices were more detrimental than helpful. They told me “you are bad, you deserved it, you don’t belong, you are worthless, you are fat, you are stupid” and so on. I could quiet them down or make them even go away for a time through a variety of strategies; reading, studying, being a workaholic, holidaying, social Interaction, having a relationship, having a baby. In the end they would always come back with renewed vigour each time.

I spent a lot of my life feeling like a fraud. I pretended to the world that I had everything together, that I was a strong successful woman, wife, mother, daughter and friend. Inside I felt the absolute opposite. As a result of this extreme dichotomy I felt I was going Insane. I thought surely “normal” people did not have this war going on inside them. Further, as part of this insanity was my total inability to share the secret of my “voices” and my pain with anyone. It was a very lonely and crazy existence. My strategies to control the voices worked less and less as time went on.

Eventually I found a much better way of coping with the voices, alcohol. It was great! Alcohol completely banished them for periods of time and I felt, for the first time in my life, comfortable in my own skin. But of course my love affair with the bottle came to an inevitable crashing end. I had to keep upping the amount of alcohol until no amount of alcohol worked. In fact the voices were stronger than ever as I had created so much chaos in my life as the alcohol had taking over and my life was spinning out of control.

Now the voices had more traction and ammunition than ever, “look at what you did, look at the chaos, look at the hurt, you are flawed, you are disgusting, you are a terrible mother”, etc. The shame, guilt, hangovers, shakes and the destructive cravings for more alcohol fueled the voices like nothing before had ever done.

I felt like I would die if I could not drink and at the same time I knew that I would likely die if I continued to drink. I felt physically very ill, spiritually empty and emotionally at the end. I could not see a way out except death to quiet the chaos in my head and the extreme physical cravings in my body.

Fortunately through my family’s intervention I did get into recovery a number of years ago and by the Grace of God I hope to continue there.

Although putting the alcohol down wiped out the cravings it did not wipe out the voices. They were and will continue to be part of my disease for the rest of my life. I do know now that the voices in my head are telling me lies designed to make me hate myself. The voices, when they are not telling me how awful I am, tell me that I am a victim and cannot change my situation, another lie. I continue to battle these obsessive negative “tapes” on a daily basis.

To help with this battle I am involved in 12 step programs as well as counselling. I have tried to clear some of the wreckage of my past and make peace with it. I have taken ownership of my actions. I cannot afford to see myself as a helpless victim because then I would wallow away in justified and unjustified resentments and let the voices take over again. I have come to realize that I alone am responsible for my happiness. The only person that I can change is me. I strive for a positive attitude and I surround myself with positive people. I try to help others with similar problems. Most importantly I work on my spiritual connection with God.

Since I have been actively treating my disease my life has become filled with joy and miracles. Every day is a blessing, to be free from alcohol and for the most part free from the voices.

However should the slightest thing go awry, whether I make a work mistake, hurt a friend, have an argument with a family member or experience a financial or health problem the voices come pouring back in. Every time it happens I am offended as I was under the delusion that I had become “normal”. But I am not “normal”, I have a disease that twists my thoughts and wants to make me feel so worthless that I cannot stand to be “me” any longer. Furthermore it wants to keep my “condition” a secret. It wants to shame and embarrass me into living in my head. I cannot and do not do this. No matter how embarrassing or serious the problem I must and do share it with my support people and take the next right steps no matter how hard it might be.

I recently encountered a situation where I had made a mistake. My voices instantly screamed “of course you made a mistake, it was only a matter of time, you are so lousy at what you do, you are worthless”, etc. Then they said “you better hide this, tell no one and panic”. I did so for a few days then did the opposite. I shared the problem and took all the appropriate actions and the voices once again were relegated to the dark corners of my mind where they will however always be at the ready to attack.

I am writing this article so that people who suffer from the same disease as I do can have hope that these debilitating voices (or tapes, bad thoughts or whatever you call them) can be diminished to the point that one can lead a healthy, happy and productive life. One filled with joy and freedom. The best advice I can give is; get help, tell someone, share the burden, work on building a connection with a higher power and join a support group. This is not shameful and it can be treated. Don’t suffer in silence!

Elke C.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Surden: Computable Contracts – Part 2

Legal Informatics Blog - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 03:29

Professor Harry Surden of the University of Colorado has posted Computable Contracts – Part 2, at Concurring Opinions.

Here is a summary of the post:

This is the second part of a series explaining “computable contracts.” For more about what a computable contract is, please see the first part here.

[...] The goal of this second part is to explain the intuition behind how an ordinary contract can become a computable contract.

Three Steps to Computable Contracting

There are three steps to creating a computable contract:

  1. Data-Oriented Contracting
  2. Semantic Contract terms
  3. Automated assessment of contract terms

I will discuss each of these steps in turn. [...]

Click here for video of Professor Surden’s May 2014 presentation on Computable Contracts, for Professor Michael Genesereth and Dr. Roland Vogl’s course on legal informatics at Stanford Law School.

For details, please see the complete post.


Filed under: Applications, Others' scholarly or sophisticated blogposts, Technology developments, Technology tools, Videos Tagged: Artificial intelligence and law, Automated assessment of contract terms, Automated evaluation of contract terms, Automated evaluation of contracts, Automated evaluation of contractual terms, Computable contracts, Concurring Opinions, Contract compliance systems, Contract information systems, Contract law information systems, Contracts as data, Contractual rules as data, Data-oriented contracting, Digital contracts, Electronic contracts, Harry Surden, Legal compliance systems, Legal rules as data, Modeling contract provisions, Modeling contracts, Modeling contractual obligations, Modeling legal rules, Semantic contract terms
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