July 20, 2016
A legal battle is currently being waged by three hundred lawyers employed by Legal Aid Ontario to provide legal services in Legal Aid clinics throughout the province to people unable to afford lawyers. They are campaigning for the right to organize a union, a right that crown prosecutors, who are paid much better than the Legal Aid lawyers, already have. By and large, these lawyers are disproportionately female and many come from minority communities.
The article (click here) reports on the struggle for pay equity and Charter rights being waged by these underpaid and over-utilized workers in the legal profession.
Be sure to also watch the video of Clay Ruby addressing Legal Aid Ontario (click here), which makes clear that Ontario’s Legal Aid system is a class system that discriminates against the poor.
March 1, 2016
Silence may be golden; sometimes, it is not.
Take for example, the decision of the Appeal Division of the Law Society Tribunal that was released January 27th this year. You’ve heard this story many times before so here’s the Readers’ Digest version. Harry Kopyto was fighting for his professional life as a paralegal. He had a lengthy hearing before a Hearing Panel chaired by S. Margot Blight. During the hearing, she was asked to recuse herself because of an appearance of bias and a financial conflict of interest. She had been representing, in her day job, the employer of a witness called by Harry in his own defence before her. The witness was suing the employer. The witness was going to testify about Harry volunteering his services in that case and the fine work he did for him. Ms. Blight passed the file on to a colleague of hers in her same firm. That meant that the witness was going to be testifying before her about Harry while the witness was also suing her firm’s client. It also meant that Ms. Blight retained a financial interest in the defence and outcome of Harry’s witness’ case. In fact, speaking of the financial arrangements between her firm and its client being sued by the witness, Ms. Blight stated in paragraph 35:
The Panel rejects the candidate’s suggestions that these financial arrangements should be disclosed; they are privileged. It is nonetheless fair to assume that the chairperson has a financial interest of some kind.
The argument that Ms. Blight should resign from hearing Harry’s case because of this conflict and let the other two adjudicators continue without her was advanced vociferously by Harry in both his legal factum as well as in his oral submissions to the five-person Appeal Panel. So how did the Appeal Panel deal with it? Read the rest of this entry »
January 21, 2016
On March 2, 2015, a three member hearing panel of the Law Society decided that Harry could no longer work as a paralegal advocate. Harry appealed this decision. On October 27th, five Law Society Appeal judges reviewed this decision. Their decision was reserved and is expected to be pronounced soon. In the meantime, we publish the fifth installment of Harry’s submissions made on July 9, 2014 to the hearing panel of the Law Society. It focuses on the reasons for the skewed investigation of his character. The original transcript of his submissions has been enhanced for clarity and emphasis.
I have to mention Adrian Greenaway. He is Read the rest of this entry »
December 21, 2015
Below you will find the fourth installment of Harry’s final submissions made on July 9, 2014 to the Law Society Panel judging his character. Harry pulled no punches. A decision finding that Harry had poor moral character and could no longer work as a paralegal, made March 2, 2015, is presently under appeal. In his Appeal, heard on October 27, 2015 by five members of the Law Society Appeal Panel, he questioned both the impartiality of the Appeal Panel as well as the hearing panel. See the blog article posted here. No decision has been rendered to date. Harry’s submissions to the original hearing panel, printed below, have been adapted from the original for emphasis and clarity. Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2015
Let’s start by asking you a question. What do the following five people have in common?
One of them is a no-nonsense lawyer often acting for other lawyers in sensitive disputes among partners in Bay Street law firms. She is highly regarded as a “strategic” thinker. She has senior status as a Law Society adjudicator. Another is an aggressive businessman. He is a horse breeder (no kidding) and Governor of the Royal Ontario Agricultural Winter Fair. A third is an ex-criminal prosecutor, now a partner in a major Bay Street law firm—the epitome of happiness outside the gates of heaven for a certain category of lawyers. The fourth one is an ex-cop (the Toronto Police Service as well as the O.P.P.) and is now cashing in on his connections as a hard-driving paralegal who can pull strings. The last is a member of a firm that has a full nelson on the market in Workplace Safety and Insurance appeals. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Ontario Bar Association, a group that lobbied successfully for the takeover of paralegals by the Law Society.
Do You Want to Guess the Outcome?
So, what do all these esteemed personages of standing have in common? Read the rest of this entry »
October 20, 2015
Harry Kopyto was already in the cross-hairs of Big Law when the Law Society decided he had to prove his good character to them to be a legal representative. The three Law Society hearing panels that were serially appointed to do the job were about as neutral as a pack of hyenas gnarling at the blood-soaked underbelly of a wounded prey after a lengthy fast.
Are we exaggerating? Judge for yourself. Read the rest of this entry »
October 9, 2015
When Kopyto shows up on Tuesday October 27th at 2:30 p.m. at the new digs of the Law Society Tribunal to argue his appeal, he will start with a bang. He will present a motion that strikes a dagger at the heart of the Law Society’s twisted and biased procedure in dealing with his appeal. He will be asking all five members of the Appeals Panel appointed by Law Society Tribunal Chair, Richard Wright, to resign. This is because the process by which they were appointed is controlled by the Benchers, the ruling body of the Law Society who are elected by lawyers who charged him in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »