Month: February 2019

An Introduction to Class Actions

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By Jakaeden Frizzell, CPD Program Coordinator

On Tuesday March 12, the Law Society will be hosting a lunchtime webinar for our members covering the topic of class actions. The webinar will qualify for 1.0 CPD hour.

Meant to be an introductory presentation, the webinar will include a brief history of class actions in Saskatchewan, how they work and how they have been used to date in the province. The speakers will address some of the key procedural considerations that differentiate class actions from regular actions and the steps to consider before commencing a potential class action. The webinar will be presented by Joanne Colledge-Miller (MLT Aikins), who is experienced in the area of class actions defense, and Jason Mohrbutter (MLT Aikins), recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in Canada in class actions litigation. Participants will be able to ask questions throughout the presentation.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about class actions! Register here: An Introduction to Class Actions

Invitation to Lawyers Interested in Offering Unbundled Services and Legal Coaching

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By Kim Newsham; Family Justice Services, Ministry of Justice

Most lawyers offer comprehensive legal service, meaning they represent a client from the beginning of the matter/issue, to the end. The lawyer appears in court, drafts documents, prepares correspondence, and generally manages all aspects of the case. Research indicates that not everyone wants this level of representation, and not everyone can afford this level of representation, but may benefit greatly from specific legal services. You have likely heard about and may offer unbundled services, but may not be as familiar with ‘legal coaching’ as a type of legal practice. If you have not heard of legal coaching, a helpful definition by expert in the area, Nikki Gershbain states,

“Legal coaching is a type of unbundled legal service, where a lawyer-coach offers behind-the-scenes guidance on both the hard and soft skills of lawyering, in order to provide a (primarily) self-represented litigant with the strategies and tools needed to present their case as effectively as possible in the absence of counsel.”

The Law Society of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Justice, and CREATE Justice (the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Action Towards Equal Justice), College of Law is launching the “Saskatchewan Legal Coaching and Unbundled Services Pilot Project”. A webpage is being developed devoted to practice resources for lawyers and information for the public about unbundled services and legal coaching. Part of the public information will include a list of lawyers who offer these services. The existing list that we have currently includes about 30 lawyers, from 4 cities.

We are interested in hearing from you. We invite you to contact us to express your interest in the following:

  1.  If you would like your name added to the public list as a lawyer who offers unbundled services and/or legal coaching, please email Kim Newsham at kim.newsham@gov.sk.ca.
  2.  SAVE THE DATE: A 1-day legal coaching workshop will be held in each of Saskatoon and Regina during the October 2019 Saskatchewan Access to Justice week.  Stay tuned for further updates. If you would like to be notified about new resources and training events related to unbundled services and legal coaching as they become available, please email Kim Newsham at kim.newsham@gov.sk.ca.

 

Federal Proclamation

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Sections 357, 358, 361, 362, 363(1), (3), (4), (7), 364(1), (4), 366, 367, 368(2), 369, 371, 372, 374, 375, 385, 388 and 389 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1., SC 2017, c. 20 are proclaimed into force April 1, 2019 (PC 2019-0064). The proclamation affects the Canada Labour Code and Wage Earner Protection Program Act.

Diversity and Inclusion: Working with LGBTQ+ Clients

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By Jakaeden Frizzell, CPD Program Coordinator 

On Thursday February 21st, the Law Society of Saskatchewan collaborated with the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity to present the free webinar “Diversity and Inclusion: Working with LGBTQ+ Clients” to our members. This webinar is worth 1.0 CPD Hour, all of which qualifies for Ethics.

Jacq Brasseur (Executive Director, UR Pride) and Barton Soroka (Chair, UR Pride & Merchant Law Group LLP) provided attendees with an overview of the terminologies used in the LGBTQIAP2S+ community, as well as which words are best to avoid. Participants were informed about some of the barriers that LGBTQ+ people face when accessing legal services and were offered tips about how to create a safer space for potential LGBTQ+ clients.

The audience was very interactive, asking about best practices for addressing someone when unaware of the pronoun they use and how to reference LGBTQ+ people when drafting documents. The presenters did a great job answering all questions that were submitted as well as providing a platform for participants to offer comments based on their own experiences.

Register here to view the free recorded version of the webinar: Diversity and Inclusion: Working with LGBTQ+ Clients

Healthy lawyers make healthy practices: support for mental health and wellness resources

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This article is based on the AvoidAClaim.com post Healthy lawyers make healthy practices: LAWPRO’s support for mental health and wellness resources

Mental health challenges in the legal profession are often ignored, stigmatized, and untreated. This not only leads to poorer quality of life for lawyers and their families, it is a contributing cause of many malpractice claims. This is why SLIA and the Law Society of Saskatchewan co-fund wellness and mental health plans for Saskatchewan lawyers. Since 2013, wellness and mental health resources have been available to Saskatchewan lawyers, articling students, law students, judges and their eligible dependent family members at no cost through Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) operated by Homewood Health, an independent program provider.

LCL provides a variety of mental health services, including:

  • Confidential short-term and crisis counselling, available in-person, online, or over the phone from experienced therapists, which address issues such as work and non-work related stress, anxiety, depression, and addiction;
  • Coaching and learning resources on subjects such as childcare, parenting, elder and family care, financial and legal issues, career counselling, retirement planning, nutrition, and smoking cessation.

All communications between lawyers and LCL and its provider, Homewood Health, are completely confidential, and the only information provided to the Law Society or SLIA by LCL and Homewood Health are aggregated and anonymized statistics.

These resources and additional information about LCL can be accessed online through homeweb.ca or by calling 1-800-663-1142.

Taking mental health seriously: What we can do

In any given year, one in five Canadians will struggle with mental illnesses such as depression, severe anxiety, or stress disorders. This is even more common among lawyers. According to a recent study conducted at the University of Toronto, not only are lawyers in Canada more likely to suffer from mental illness than the public at large, but lawyers with higher paying and higher status jobs are more likely to self-report depression and poor health than lawyers with lower-status positions.

The health consequences of poor mental health are wide-ranging and often serious. But the consequences to a lawyer’s legal practice and their colleagues’ practices can also be severe. Poor mental health has been linked to an inability to meet deadlines, respond to client communications, and complete important tasks. If unaddressed, lawyers and their colleagues can suddenly find themselves facing a large cluster of malpractice claims stemming from breakdowns in a lawyer’s mental health.

Thankfully, there are things that every lawyer can do to promote mental health within themselves and their coworkers and prevent potential malpractice claims:

1. Encourage positive communication about mental health and warning signs

Lawyers and support staff can be trained to look for signs of temporary or chronic physical or mental health problems. An assistant may be best situated to know if certain files are being left to linger or a lawyer is not responding to calls or important correspondence. But these warning signs may be left unaddressed if the staff member feels that bringing these concerns to others will make the problem worse or be seen as an attack on the struggling lawyer. Building a positive culture that responds to stress and mental health problems without judgment can prevent dangerous silence as claims pile up unbeknownst to colleagues.

2. Implement a claims notification policy

In both smaller and larger firms, management can ensure that it is notified whenever a claim is made against an associate or a potential claim is discovered. Inquiries can be made at that time as to whether this claim is symptomatic of larger problems, such as excessive workload or mental health issues, and steps can then be taken to assist the lawyer.

3. Promote mental health resources for lawyers

Building a healthy workplace is a team effort. Lawyers, staff, and management can all choose to be open about the importance of mental health and encourage one another to lead healthy lifestyles. Senior lawyers and management can set an example by taking advantage of lifestyle or health benefits, such as gym memberships offered by a firm, as well as the resources available to Saskatchewan lawyers, articling students, law students, judges and their eligible dependent family members through LCL.