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What does it mean when a statute or regulation says that there must be “x days between” two actions? What about “at least x days between” two actions? In keeping with the relative, wibbly-wobbly nature of time itself, the answer sometimes depends on where you are.

Federally, ss. 26-30 of the Interpretation Act set out rules for computing time in Federal legislation, such as how a time limit that expires on a holiday is automatically extended to the following day (s. 26); or how one month after March 30th is April 30th, while one month after March 31st is… also April 30th (s. 28).

When timelines are described in Provincial statutes or regulations, it is the equivalent Provincial interpretation legislation that governs. In Ontario, for example, these rules are set out in the Legislation Act, while British Columbia and Alberta include these provisions in their respective Interpretation Acts.

Confusingly, these rules are not always equivalent across jurisdictions. For example, the meaning of “at least x days” between two events is not the same in every province. Generally, when a legislative instrument refers to “x days” between two events, it is calculated by excluding the first day and including the last day. So, counting from a Monday, “four days between” means the period ends on the Friday (excluding the Monday but including the Friday). But in many jurisdictions, a reference that specifies “at least x days”, or “x clear days” between two events means that both the first and last days are excluded. So, counting from the same Monday, “at least four days between” means the period ends on the Saturday, not the Friday. This is the case Federally, as well as in British Columbia and Alberta, as examples (see ss. 27, 25.2, and 22(3) of their respective Interpretation Acts).

Ontario, however, doesn’t follow this distinction. Section 89(3) of the Ontario Legislation Act explicitly states that a reference to a period of time between two events includes the last day, “even if the reference is to ‘at least’ or ‘not less than’ a number of days”. So, counting from the Monday, “at least four days between” means the period ends on the Saturday for Federal legislation, but on the Friday for Ontario provincial legislation.

When computing a timeline prescribed by statute or regulation, and diarizing your own corresponding deadlines, it’s a good idea to make reference to the applicable interpretation legislation, and keep in mind that time, when it comes to legislative provisions, is very much relative.

Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.

 

It’s been a few years since AccessCLE was cited here on SlawTips, and a recent mention of it on the CALL-L listserv made me think it would be worth pointing to again, especially since there’s been a recent development that makes it even more accessible.

So what is the AccessCLE database? It’s a repository of LSO continuing professional development papers from 2004 onwards. While there was originally an embargo on papers newer than 18 months, the LSO recently lifted that restriction and now all papers are free.

The Great Library’s Know How blog reminds us that:

“Continuing professional development (CPD) program materials are an invaluable source of current legal information. Papers typically cover the practical implications of recent case law and legislative developments, and often include useful precedents, procedure and checklists. “

The papers can be searched full-text or browsed by topic, then downloaded as PDF.

 

CanLII recently announced that 22 reports from the National Self- Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) are now available on CanLII. The NSRLP builds on the National Self-Represented Litigants Research study conducted by Dr. Julie Macfarlane from 2011-2013 and is committed to advancing understanding of the challenges and hard choices facing the very large number of Canadians who now come to court without counsel. The NSRLP regularly publishes resources designed specifically for SRLs, as well as research reports that examine the implications for the justice system. The reports include: 

To access the complete collection of reports, please visit the CanLII commentary site.

[This tip by Melanie Hodges Neufeld originally appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog]

 

As mentioned recently on Slaw, at this year’s annual conference in Edmonton, CALL/ACDB partnered with vLex for an exclusive podcast series, hosted by Colin Lachance, interim General Manager of North America for vLex.

The series features 11 episodes, which are “brief interviews with CALL/ACBD 2019 conference speakers, exhibitors, sponsors and organizers, about their experience at the May 2019 conference, what’s hot in their world, and their thoughts on the future.”

Some topics include: KM & innovation, career opportunities, conference organizers’ perspectives, AI, law as code, human-centered design, courthouse library renovations, legal publishing, the importance of CALL, and more.

Visit lawlibrariespodcast.com to listen to the podcasts.

 

Research shows that lawyers are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety and substance abuse than average. And according to Ontario lawyer-turned-social worker Doron Gold, “If there’s stigma in society generally, the stigma is tenfold in the legal profession.”

Today’s practice tip is a reminder that every province and territory has a lawyer assistance program that exists to help members of the legal profession and those that care about them. Services and programs vary, but most have confidential helplines, counselling, peer support programs, and many more offerings to benefit lawyers, judges, law students, their immediate families and colleagues.

The Judges Counselling Program is another Canadian organization that provides support to judges, justices of the peace, masters, prothonotaries, and their spouses and eligible children.

 

Technology has made life better in oh so many ways. Today, we can even make new connections with colleagues and clients, without leaving the comfort of our home or office.

But there’s been a price to pay.

We’ve become less inclined to get out there, in person. The truth is, it’s just so much easier not to. No traffic. No subway closures or delays. For lawyers, that translates into joining webinars instead of attending live conferences and other educational programs.

That’s a shame because there are so many good reasons to make the effort to show up in person. Here are just three!

  1. Your phone can’t replace the energy of a room. While, you may hear the same content, somehow you won’t have the same experience. Live is better. Every time. A live program will make a bigger impact and stay with you longer.   
  2. You never know who you will meet. Sometimes the most ordinary event can result in the most important of connections. You won’t know, if you don’t put yourself out there.
  3. Solutions to the issues you’re struggling with don’t happen in isolation. When you meet up with a group of peers, discussions about shared challenges and opportunities tend to happen organically.

So, the next time you receive an invitation or a newsletter or someone asks if you’d like to join them at a professional event, make the effort!  Better yet, be the someone asking others to join you.

For more reading related to networking for lawyers, see these past articles on SlawTips and Slaw:

Also, see the following related articles by Sandra Bekhor, Practice Development Consultant:

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

As an enlightened country with an enlightened legal system practised by (hopefully) enlightened legal professionals, we are accustomed to certain neutralities that make no preference for religious beliefs. One such neutrality is the legal equivalence between swearing and affirming an affidavit. Accordingly, the form affidavits provided by courts in every Canadian common law jurisdiction contain a jurat with the words “Sworn (or Affirmed) before me at . . .”, with the options of “swearing” or “affirming” both accounted for in the template language.

However, while an affiant may be free to choose between swearing and affirming, it may be good practice to ensure the jurat specifies which option was used. Leaving the form language unchanged (that is, containing both “sworn” and “affirmed”) may be frowned upon (or worse… technically improper).

This issue arose in British Columbia v. Adamson, where Chief Justice Hinkson of the BCSC suggested that affidavits containing the language “sworn (or affirmed)” within the jurat (that is, without specifying which was used) were “improper” and would have been rejected were they not being adduced in the context of an interim application (see para. 19). The Chief Justice may have been disappointed that counsel had apparently neglected to review the “Guide to Preparing Your Affidavit,” provided by the BCSC on its website, which stresses that a jurat should make clear whether it was sworn or affirmed: “You do one or the other, not both. Cross out or delete the one that does not apply to you.”

Some (though not all) Canadian jurisdictions and institutions provide express guidance that a jurat should specify whether the affidavit had been either sworn or affirmed. Saskatchewan’s Guidelines for the Use of Commissioners for Oaths, for example, states that a proper jurat should identify whether the affidavit was sworn or affirmed, and only contain one or the other (at p. 7). The Northwest Territories’ Information and Instructions for Commissioners for Oaths and New Brunswick’s Commissioner of Oaths Handbook give similar instructions.

While it is perhaps a questionable invasion of privacy to force affiants to specify whether their evidence was sworn or affirmed, consider removing any form language in an affidavit that refers to both “sworn/affirmed” options before it is signed. If it is known in advance whether the affiant will swear or affirm, consider whether the corresponding language should be used in the jurat. If the affiant’s preferences are unknown at the time the affidavit is drafted, consider crossing out the inapplicable language once the affiant makes their election and then initial the alteration.

Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.

 

As noted on Slaw – this week, Slaw Tips reached a big milestone: 1000 tips!

From the Slaw post:

Launched in 2011, the site’s very first tips dealt with turning off pop-up email notifications, finding moved web pages and preventing your firm’s star performers from being poached–all still relevant today.

Our current and past contributors are a talented team of practicing lawyers, librarians, consultants and entrepreneurs–smart folks who generously share their wisdom with our 15,000 monthly visitors.

We tip our hats (pun fully intended!) to all our past and present Tips authors: thank you for sharing your insight, skill, humour and enthusiasm with the Slaw community.

Would you like to join the Slaw Tips team? We’re looking for contributors to write short and sweet tips in the areas of law practice, technology, and research. Tips are posted to Slaw Tips, featured in a weekly roundup on Slaw.ca, and publicized via Twitter and the Slaw Tips email subscription list.

Interested? Please get in touch via the Slaw contact form.

 

When drafting documents, the voluminous typeface options at our disposal may sometimes leave us overwhelmed and relying on the safety of default options, such as Calibri in the case of Microsoft’s Office Suite, or Arial for Google’s suite of cloud-based applications. But venturing beyond the confines of the defaults can not only help your documents appear less rote, but can also increase the effectiveness of the underlying text.

A 2013 experiment conducted by the New York Times found that the choice of typeface has a measurable impact on the persuasiveness of the underlying text. The experimented tested six fonts—including Helvetica, Georgia, Baskerville, and Comic Sans—and asked readers to rate the believability of a series of statements, each written in a different typeface. Unsurprisingly, the much-maligned Comic Sans was found to be the least persuasive. But it was the text written in Baskerville that was most persuasive to readers. A similar experiment conducted in 2016 also found Baskerville to be the most “trustworthy” typeface.

Of course, when drafting documents for a particular institution, your choice of typeface may be restricted. The Ontario Court of Appeal, for example, “encourages” the use of Arial or Times New Roman for all text in factums. The British Columbia Court of Appeal is even more stringent in its requirements, mandating the use of 12-point Arial for all submissions—a constraint sure to disappoint Matthew Butterick, author of Typography for Lawyers, who once declared “you cannot create good typography with Arial”.

For its part, the Supreme Court of Canada requires the use of Times New Roman or a “comparable font”. Judicial interpretation may be required to clarify whether the sans-serif Arial is “comparable” to the seriffed Times New Roman.

And if you’re still not convinced, try converting this Tip into Baskerville and reading it again.

Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.

 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone – a spouse, a colleague, an advisor – that shifted things for you? You somehow felt just a little less burdened or constrained after the fact? More hopeful even?

They asked the right questions.

They listened, actively, as you tried to sort something out, aloud.

They shared from their own experience.

They gave you something profound to mull over.

Well, folks, that’s essentially the value of business coaching.

Whether your struggles are focused on practice development, accountability from your team, leadership in your community, communication with clients or learning to delegate more, coaching conversations with a skilled consultant can help you to overcome your biggest obstacles to growth.

Those obstacles were there a month ago. Six months ago. Even a year ago. You can safely predict that they will continue to fester. But you don’t have to just sit back and wait. Begin the process of effecting change with a meaningful conversation today.


For more reading related to business coaching for lawyers, see these past articles on SlawTips:

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto