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|CBA Canadian Legal Conference, August 13 – 18, 2009|
Dublin 2009 Roundup
Irish eyes smile on CBA’s Dublin conference
Assurances about clemency for Canadian citizens facing the death penalty, the dispute resolution process for Aboriginal students, and the Irish model for self-administered courts highlighted the CBA’s 2009 Canadian Legal Conference in Dublin, Ireland.
CBA Council debated a number of issues, including: expanding the scope of the dispute resolution process for Aboriginal students; encouraging CBA membership for public sector lawyers in the territories; and including a seat for Conferences on the Board of Directors.
Council also overwhelmingly adopted a resolution urging the Canadian government to restore its policy of unequivocally seeking clemency for all Canadians facing the death penalty abroad.
Appearing via video, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin praised the work of the CBA in defending judges and speaking out to support judicial independence.
Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson spoke about the need for constant dialogue among all stakeholders in our system of justice, including the government and the CBA, to improve the legal system for Canadians.
Outgoing CBA President Guy Joubert’s presidential address described the legal profession’s role as stewards of legal knowledge and guardians of the rule of law for future generations.
Keynote speaker Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke on the history of Ireland and the ongoing quest for human rights. More on the keynote addresses…
Judicial Administration panel
A panel of eminent Irish jurists, led by Chief Justice of Ireland John Murray, shared their thoughts and experiences with CBA Council on how Irish courts came to be self-administered. In the mid-1990s, in the wake of several crises in the running of the courts, the Irish government undertook to reform how its courts were run. Unacceptable delays caused court cases to drag on endlessly.
From the reforms emerged the Courts Service, an independent organization charged with managing the courts, supporting judges and informing the public. Over the last ten years, it has transformed how the courts are run in Ireland. Instead of being answerable only to the minister, courts are now run by an independent board, led by a chief executive who is answerable to the public. Whether the Canadian courts should adopt a similar model remains to be seen. Read more…
The future of lawyers. The future was on everyone’s mind as attendees listened closely to Richard Susskind, legal futurist and author of the widely read book The End of Lawyers? Speaking to a packed house of lawyers and judges, Professor Susskind, also a special adviser to the CBA, painted a picture of a profession relentlessly transformed by technology that makes legal services much easier to deliver, for much less — thereby complicating efforts by lawyers to maintain income streams they have previously enjoyed. Read more…
Counter-terrorism and human rights. A sobering panel discussion on counter-terrorism and human rights was moderated by Professor William Schabas, the director of Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR). Among the panelists was Phil Shiner, one of Britain’s top human rights lawyers, who discussed the appalling track record on torture of the U.S. and U.K. governments. Attendees received a detailed and explicit inventory of alleged acts of torture perpetrated by military and intelligence authorities. Panelists raised concerns about lower standards of what constitutes torture. Read more…
Global anti-corruption compliance. One of two CLEs presented by the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association featured a panel of experts on anti-corruption compliance, moderated by Christa Wessel, a partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. Panelists shared their perspectives on international efforts to crack down on the bribery of foreign public officials and the long reach of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and other regional anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws. The papers from this session have been posted on our website here.
Winning Advocacy Skills: First Time Advocacy in The Supreme Court of Canada. A first time appearance before the Supreme Court of Canada can be a daunting prospect. To help relieve some of the jitters, this year’s Winning Advocacy Skills program offered basic information and useful tips to help counsel refine their arguments and familiarize themselves with the general proceedings of the highest Court.
Expert witnesses. Achieving credibility with expert witnesses in litigation was the subject of another well-attended CLE. Former CBA President Simon Potter, a partner with McCarthy Tétrault in Montréal, and Bob MacDonald, a chartered accountant with Navigant Consulting, provided concrete tips for how to carefully select and prepare expert witnesses for trial, from the points of view of both litigation counsel and expert witness. Read more…
From the blogosphere
The links in this article are to the Dublin 2009 Canadian Legal Conference blog. This is the first time the CBA has set up a blog to report on happenings at the annual CLC, and the positive response it generated shows that blogging has a following among CBA members. Meanwhile, demonstrating that news can flow both ways across the Atlantic, CBA Council members were greeted each morning with a “CBA newspaper” created by Ottawa-based CBA staff, featuring news from Canada and around the world that kept delegates up to date with developments at home and abroad.
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