Spotlight on toolkits

  • March 29, 2017

The CBA will soon be launching two toolkits developed and produced by members to help lawyers improve their practice.

The first toolkit is produced by the CBA National Criminal Justice Section with a goal of helping people at all levels of the justice system.

Even a criminal charge, whether it results in conviction or acquittal, can plague a person for years afterward and provide an obstacle to rehabilitation. Consequences can include the inability to find a job or safe housing, or loss of family support, among others. And yet quite often these “collateral” consequences are not considered in the sentencing process.

Despite its title, the toolkit, Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions: Considerations for Lawyers, is aimed at everyone from the judges who decide sentences, to the lawyers arguing for and against, to legal aid providers, public policy experts and trade media. Each of these stakeholder groups, and others, has something to learn about the consequences of a given sentence beyond mere incarceration. In addition to the main report, there is a bibliography, information about provincial and territorial legislation, and a “cheat sheet” – a synopsis of the document in checklist form.

The toolkit will be housed on and will be available to members and non-members alike.

A second toolkit, prepared by the CBA National Children’s Law Committee, is scheduled for launch in May.

The innovative and comprehensive Child Rights Toolkit was prepared to help lawyers, judges and other professionals advocate, adjudicate and make better decisions affecting children. It provides a foundation of basic information for lawyers, judges and other legal professionals on the nature of children’s rights, including overarching principles, constitutional considerations, legal representation, the role of independent human rights institutions for children and child rights impact assessments.

The Toolkit also provides practical suggestions on effectively working with and making decisions regarding children and youth, assisting to identify breaches of their legal rights and provide remedies for them across a broad range of legal subject areas, from family law and child protection to immigration and education law.

The Toolkit provides concrete suggestions and examples of how legal principles can be applied, key cases, check lists and/or practice tips, precedents for argument or facta that have been effectively used, and other resources.

Successful parenting toolkit coming this spring

The honeymoon is over, the magic is gone and you’re both talking to your lawyers.

Separation and divorce are hard for everyone in the family, but there are resources available to help couples who’ve had enough of each other make the transition easier on their children.

The CBA National Family Law Section, in partnership with the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, has collected on- and off-line resources into a curated list designed to equip lawyers to better help separating parents find useful and accurate information on parenting after separation and resolving parenting challenges.

 “(The toolkit) is primarily intended to increase family lawyers’ awareness of the best available information to better assist parents in transforming relationships from being a couple to being successful co-parents,” the Section says in the introduction. “As the first point of contact for many separating parents, effective lawyers need to be aware of the best practices and social science on family restructuring, and should be equipped to easily direct parents to quality resources for further guidance and information.”

The first section contains general material about parenting after separation, and lawyers should consider directing every parent to that information. The remaining sections are more focused on specific circumstances or concerns.

The information in the toolkit is focused on parenting, rather than on law.  It provides useful information, but does not replace assistance from mental health professionals or lawyers.

The Successfully Parenting Apart toolkit will be launched at the end of April and will be available on the CBA National Family Law Section website.

Here are some other tools prepared for and by CBA members:


Preventive Lawyering Toolkit – Preventive lawyering is the understanding that lawyers can be more than just reactive problem-solvers; they can also be trusted allies who help clients avoid legal problems before they arise. Such thinking challenges the traditional understanding of the lawyer as zealous advocate for a client with an identified legal problem.

Legal Health Checks – Legal Health Checks developed by Sections and Forums and are meant to help the general public identify and avoid legal problems.

Measuring Diversity in Law Firms – Designed to help law firms measure their diversity performance, this resource offers guidance about the process, measurement strategies and the major steps involved in measuring diversity.

Joint Policy Statement on Audit Inquiries – A new JPS comes into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. It clarifies the roles of the lawyer, the client and the auditor in the audit of the client’s financial statements. A flowchart and FAQs will help you apply the new rules. For audits before that, the 1978 JPS and 2010 Interim Guidance still apply.

Pandemics and the Workplace: A Resource for Lawyers – This guide, prepared by the Labour and Employment Section, helps lawyers of employers, unions or employees prepare themselves to guide clients through the next pandemic, looking at laws, cases, and best practices. The guide was released in 2014; the section is in the process of reviewing it.

Futures Readiness Self-Assessment Tool – Is your firm ready to face the challenges of the future? This is one way to find out.

A Guide to Strategy for Lawyers – Getting ahead in this world takes a good strategy. Leading legal thinker Richard Susskind lays out a roadmap for lawyers and law firms.

Do Law Differently – This guide by Canadian legal expert Jordan Furlong is aimed at young lawyers and law students, providing them with information they need as they enter a changing legal profession.

Tax Matters Toolkit for Clients/ Tax Matters Toolkit for Lawyers – These very popular toolkits are a collaboration between the CBA Family Law Section, Justice Canada, Finance Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency. They help family law lawyers and their clients understand how tax rules might affect their future finances on separation or divorce. The toolkits are currently being reviewed, with an update expected by the end of the year.

Canadian Corporate Counsel Association does an In-House Counsel Compensation and Career Survey, which provides key information on Canadian corporate counsel compensation and career issues. The survey is available exclusively to members.

The CBA Wellness Forum, along with Bell Let’s Talk and the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, developed Mental Health and Wellness in the Legal Profession, a self-learning course for lawyers, judges, law students and other legal professionals to assist their understanding of mental health and addiction issues.

As well, the CBA’s Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee has developed a number of tools dealing with ethical practices:

Assessing Ethical Infrastructure in your Law Firm: A Practical Guide
Ethical Practices Self-Evaluation Tool
Legal Ethics in a Digital World
FAQs about Privilege and Confidentiality for Lawyers in Private Practice
FAQs about Privilege and Confidentiality for In-House Counsel