Link Round-Up: Feb. 4th, 2016


‘Link Round-up’ gives you a glimpse into the articles that got the most airtime around the Loom Analytics water cooler this week. Published each Thursday, article topics include access to justice, big data, legal technology, and what’s happening in the Canadian legal landscape.

  • Congratulations are in order: The Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) and Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) have officially tied the knot! The two organizations have joined together in secular matrimony to form LawConnect, an organization focused on delivering “public legal education and information” to Ontarians, particularly low-income and disadvantaged communities. Although the launch party was held on the 20th of January, you can still check our their page to see photos, the happy couple’s story, and their wedding registry.
  • A Stanford research team finds that 1% of American doctors are responsible for 32% of paid malpractice claims. NPR highlights some of the characteristics of these claim-prone doctors:

         “The researchers said that the claim-prone physicians were disproportionately male (82 percent) and were older, rather than younger. More than half the claims were by doctors in four areas: internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery and general practice/family medicine. But the biggest predictor of all for claim-prone doctors was whether they’d had a prior claim. “Compared to physicians with only one previous claim,” Studdert said, “a physician who has had three previous claims is three times as likely to have another one.”

  • January 28th was the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Manitoba! On the CBC News website, you can watch Marcia McClung reflect on lasting impact of her grandmother, Nellie McClung, who was a member of the “Famous Five” whose work led to the landmark Supreme Court of Canada personhood decision. On a more sober note, the CBC article also discusses the First Nations men and women who were excluded from the vote in the decades following the women’s suffrage movement.
  • The Toronto Star reports that the conflict of interest case against Rob and Doug Ford was dropped this week. Jude MacDonald, who began the case in 2014, cited family responsibilities following the death of her father as the reason she was unable to continue with the litigation. Regardless of whether or not the Fords’ actions constituted a legitimate conflict of interest, this episode highlights some serious access to justice concerns with Ontario’s current Municipal Conflict of Interest Act:

         “MacDonald noted the conflict-of-interest law depends on ordinary citizens bringing such applications in a timely manner, and to fund costly actions themselves or get pro bono legal help.

         She called on the Ontario government to require proactive disclosure from politicians, and acknowledge it is “unfair and unreasonable” to require private citizens to hold council members to account.”

    For more on the role of private citizens in municipal conflict-of-interest law in Ontario, check out another Toronto Star article from back in 2014 that argues that the current system is flawed.

  • The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice just published Rural and Remote Access to Justice: A Literature Review, which explores the unique challenges in providing legal services to remote & rural communities. Among other suggested strategies, the 56-page report discusses ways to harness technological solutions and increase the presence of legal professionals in remote areas.
  • Over on Slaw, Ken Chasse highlights some concerns about the current model of legal research that’s heavily dependent on law students and clerks, especially in courts like the SCC that require extremely high-level legal expertise. Chasse argues that what’s needed to fix the experience gap “are career-oriented experienced legal research lawyers, specialized in each area of the practice of law” who would work out of a national legal research unit, developing large and well-organized centralized legal research databases. Also check out the comments section for some interesting discussions on what a program like this might cost, as well as the training benefits that the current model has for the next generation of lawyers.