A Lying Test – Thoughts from the Hon. J.E. Côté

 LESA Update  Comments Off on A Lying Test – Thoughts from the Hon. J.E. Côté
Apr 272016

Get tips on how to determine if someone is lying from the Honourable J.E. Côté.

Can one test for veracity? There are many popular misconceptions of the accurateness of lie detecting methods, such as polygraph testing. What can you do to ascertain if someone is lying or being truthful? There may be no scientifically proven, universally accepted methods for detecting lies. However, in today’s blog, LESA’s Distinguished Adviser, the Honourable J.E. Côté, explores one theory for explaining how certain important cues may help you distinguish between truths and falsities.

Happy reading!

One always has the air of someone who is lying when one speaks to a policeman.”

–Charles Louis Philippe (1874 – 1909), Les chroniques du canard sauvage


Can lawyers or judges really tell whether someone is lying? How? This is a difficult question. We wish we had a universal method.

Psychologists have carefully researched how to detect lies for a century, but without much certainty. Aside from US “Secret Service” Treasury agents (who chase counterfeiters), no profession or occupation has been found to be much better at detecting a liar that chance would produce.

One study even suggested that studying a transcript is more useful than seeing and hearing witness live!

However, we all know that nonverbal communication can be helpful: tone of voice, posture, facial expression, certain gestures, and so forth. Some of us have trouble making use of that, but others are sure they can “read” people that way. Some people seem to have an instinctive feel for who is lying. Many more think they do.

The basic principles of non-verbal communication are simple:

  • One isolated sign is not worth much, especially if you are not familiar with the person and her manner
  • A constellation of signs pointing the same way is much better
  • Often a sudden change of expression, posture, etc. is more revealing than a constant manner
  • Discrepancies can be significant, e.g. a discrepancy between the person’s words and his nonverbal behaviour
Sapir’s Method

Could any similar principles be applied to speech? Could reading a verbatim transcript tell more than does the logical content of the language? Is there such a thing as verbal non-verbal communication?

Some people think so, but the theory is controversial. The RCMP used this approach to focus on the man who used explosives to murder 8 fellow miners during a strike in Yellowknife. They used the specific techniques refined in Israel by Avinoam Sapir. He had expanded on some theories of German psychologists. For many years, Sapir taught and wrote on this topic.

I cannot vouch for the validity of such techniques. Indeed, some bodies and writers are very critical of Sapir. But his ideas are interesting to think about: particularly if they are used cautiously and not as a simple litmus test. Recall the famous untrue deposition (examination for discovery) of Bill Clinton, the one which got him convicted and fined for contempt. It displayed many of the features set out below.

Here are some of the different presumptions and techniques that Sapir would apply. He would want to see a verbatim transcript of an uninterrupted statement by a witness in his own words.

Basic Premise

Sapir’s starting point is to suggest that most people dislike lying, so liars often prefer to tell part of the truth and omit the rest. Many books on cross-examination make the same point.

Hints Only

Be wary if someone plainly implies that he is innocent, but never really comes out and expressly says so. There are many ways people try to do that. Such a person may talk about:

  • What other people or things did, not what himself did;
  • What the group did;
  • A different time, place, or condition;
  • What habitually or conditionally would happen or should have happened (watch for the subjunctive or the conditional);
  • Plans or intentions, not actual events; or
  • A topic similar to the question, but not quite the same

Watch carefully for omitted events, including:

  • Vague descriptions of long periods (“we horsed around”)
  • Words indicating time jumps, such as after that, and then, started, began, continued, proceeded, or completed
  • Evident big jumps in time

Indeed, watch for any type of failure to answer the question. Lawyers tend to notice that, but non-lawyers often do not notice. Some lay people habitually do not focus on the question, and so often do not answer questions. But others tend to answer. Thus a switch in their manner may be significant.

Watch for failure to mention some obvious or important person.


The wrong tense sometimes is odd. Is a missing person or piece of evidence referred to in the past tense (“loved horses”)? Does the speaker know that he, she, or it is dead or destroyed? Conversely, a narrative of past events should use the past tense; using the present tense for it is odd, especially if it is not the speaker’s habitual way of talking. Could it mean that the speaker is making it up, or are they not recalling it?
Wrong pronouns – such as inappropriate “our” or “we” – or the absence of any pronoun or possessive could mean something. Does the speaker want to distance himself from something or someone or to simply imply consent?

Odd prepositions may also be a clue. Prepositions should indicate the proper place and position of objects and people.

A sudden change in the word used to refer to the same person (or object) may be a sign of something.

It may be significant that the story leaves unclear what happened. Or that the ratio of questions to answers is high.

Sudden change to the passive voice may indicate that the speaker wants to obscure who did something or to distance himself from the act or the results. That is a common feature of many people’s speech or writing.

Sudden Brevity

It is suspicious if a narrative, which so far has given appropriate details, suddenly becomes bald, omitting any detail. It is even odder if it omits memorable conditions like bad weather or a big event going on nearby. Or if it now omits all dialogue.

Conversely, a true narrative often contains curious little observations or details, even little facts which seem unusual or contradictory. It may well contain details that are sincere but misunderstood. It may recite delays, false starts, minor mishaps and errors, and things embarrassing to the narrator.

A story’s main event (such as a fire, accident, or crime) is ordinarily told in at least as many words as the preceding prologue or the following epilogue. If not, the main event should consume at least as many words as its proportion of actual clock time which it occupied. It is odd if one of these is not the case or if sentences suddenly get shorter at the key point.

A long prologue may suggest stalling and reluctance to discuss the hard part. Brevity of the central part may come from a lack of actual details or unwillingness to reveal them.

Time and Space

A true story should be more or less chronological (or be in the order that the narrator learned the facts). Be leery of the story arranged by topic, not order of events.

A true story by someone 12 or older should be well anchored in time and space. Honest people usually mention what was going on or what they were doing. A story by an adult of normal intelligence with no time or space might be sincere, but it may well not be accurate.

Argument and Disagreement

Watch for talk designed as much to convenience as to narrate. Note explanations or justifications. They can be subtle as a word, such as therefore or so. Watch for undue amounts of explanation or talk about what the narrator does not know or does not remember. Also be aware of too many asides.

Different honest people will remember different details, so omission of something may be insignificant. But actual conflicts between witnesses about something, which is more than details, may mean something.

Undue Qualification

People not legally trained do not often emphasize lack of certainty in their own narrative. But a person who is not frank, or is afraid of being accused of deliberate lying, may emphasize such uncertainty or hazy memory. If events recounted are recent, that is unusual.

Marking Transcript

Sapir used to group all these possible signs into a number of distinct categories. He recommended that one photocopy a verbatim transcript, and then carefully reread it a number of times. Each time, one should watch for a single category of signs and use a distinct colour of highlighter pen. When that process is finished, what does the marked up transcript show? It might show that one type of sign was more a constant personal quirk than an indicator. But if much of the transcript is left largely unmarked, yet one passage is mottled with many colours, that is suspicious.


What do you think?

Honourable J.E. Côté
LESA Distinguished Adviser

Get the Alberta Wills and Estates Practice Manual

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Apr 252016

The Alberta Wills and Estates Practice Manual is ready for pre-order!

The Alberta Wills and Estates Practice Manual is now available for pre-order. Topics address issues in planning for death as well as estate administration:

• Drafting wills
• Personal directives
• Enduring powers of attorney
• Family maintenance and support
• Intestacy

• Testamentary documents
• Estate obligations
• Rural estates
• Accounting and expenses
• Property distribution

Pre-order your hardcopy or CD version of the Alberta Wills and Estates Practice Manual today. Shipping is expected to begin this July 2016.

Don’t want to wait? No problem! The Alberta Wills and Estates Practice Manual is available online now through the LESA Library.

LESA Library

Gain instant access to the Alberta Wills and Estates Practice Manual through the LESA Library. Current LESA Library subscribers can access the manual here.

Not a subscriber? Get a single user annual subscription for just $795 + GST or subscribe your entire firm. Gain access not only to the Alberta Wills and Estates Practice Manual but also to thousands of dollars’ worth of pertinent legal documents including seminar papers, our fundamentals series, and more!

Follow the steps below to subscribe to the LESA Library now:

  1. Visit LESA.org/Library
  2. Scroll down the page to Subscribe and select the individual or firm subscription you need.
  3. Add to your cart, complete your purchase, and check your e-mail for login credentials (sent within 1 business day).

Access information and tools to help you manage a variety of issues, including planning for death and incapacity, interviewing and advising clients, working with personal representatives, and more.

ALRI Perpetuities Law Report for Discussion

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on ALRI Perpetuities Law Report for Discussion
Apr 222016

Take the survey to share your feedback on ALRI’s Perpetuities Law Report for Discussion.

The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) recently published a Perpetuities Law Report for Discussion. This latest Report for Discussion 29Perpetuities Law: Abolish or Reform? – addresses complex perpetuities issues in our modern context. You can learn more about the report in today’s guest blog by ALRI’s Carol Burgess.

As with all their Reports, ALRI values the input of the legal community in considering what recommendations to put forward. Take time to share your thoughts on the Perpetuities Law Report for Discussion by completing the survey. Responses are due by June 30!

In Alberta, the Perpetuities Act seeks to balance an owner’s desire to control disposition of their property into the future by use of contingent interests with the need of the recipients of those interests to be able to respond to changed times and circumstances. Has the time come to abolish the Rule Against Perpetuities in this province? Three other Canadian jurisdictions have done so and the Uniform Law Conference of Canada has recently recommended in its Uniform Trustee Act that all others follow suit.

To explore this and other issues, ALRI has published Report for Discussion 29 on Perpetuities Law: Abolish or Reform? The Report asks open-ended questions to facilitate discussion of how perpetuities issues should be addressed in our province.

In the 21st century, do legal mechanisms other than the Rule Against Perpetuities now exist that could adequately handle perpetuities issues? One such possibility might be the income tax system’s 21-year Deemed Disposition Rule. It provides a powerful incentive for trust holders to avoid capital gains tax by making sure the trust property vests before the 21 year deadline. Another mechanism that can limit perpetuities is court variation of trusts legislation. It allows for trusts to be varied or terminated by consent of the beneficiaries and allows a court to give substituted consent on behalf of beneficiaries who are minors, incapacitated, unborn or unascertained. Both mechanisms have changed the landscape for perpetuities in the context of trusts, but are they sufficient controls?

If it is thought that the Perpetuities Act should be retained, the Report also explores whether any reforms are needed to the statute. Is there a way to simplify and clarify how a perpetuity period is set or calculated? Would it be better to enact a straightforward duration limit instead of the Act’s current vesting and wait-and-see model? There is a larger question as well. Quite apart from whatever model is best, should perpetuities law also continue to apply to non-trust and commercial dispositions, or should its application be restricted to trusts and estates only?

ALRI’s consultation on Perpetuities Law: Abolish or Reform? Report for Discussion 29 runs until June 30, 2016. Feedback from interested persons is needed to help determine what recommendations should be made to the government of Alberta. Input is sought via letter, email or by taking a survey.

ALRI thanks everyone for their continued help with the important work of law reform.

Carol Burgess
ALRI Operations Manager

If you want LESA’s help to raise awareness about an upcoming event relevant to the Alberta legal community, contact Andrea Maltais, Communications Coordinator.
780.969.0555 or andrea.maltais@lesa.org

Players de Novo: Lovers, Mechanics, and Fairies in the Forest

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Players de Novo: Lovers, Mechanics, and Fairies in the Forest
Apr 202016

Come see the Players de Novo production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

They’re back! Players de Novo is putting on their 11th annual legal community play, and it’s more unique than ever before.

On Friday, May 6 at 7:30 PM, head down to the Victoria School of the Arts’ Eva O. Howard Theatre, and come see Edmontonian lawyers, judges, articling students, and everyone in between in the magnificent Shakespearean production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The local legal community is raising money for Edmonton’s theatre community, and in 2016 proceeds will benefit the Free Will Players Theatre Guild and the Victoria School Foundation.

Players de Novo’s Francis Price QC says,

It’s as always a lot of work, but we all get through it, and ultimately [everyone] has a blast – whether they’re on or off the stage. … Once everyone is in their seats, you can feel the electricity.”

Click here for more details, including ticket pricing and order forms; full cast lists; and more. If you’re interested in attending, purchase tickets soon; this play sells out every year.

See you in the forest!

If you want LESA’s help to raise awareness about an upcoming event relevant to the Alberta legal community, contact Andrea Maltais, Communications Coordinator.
780.969.0555 or andrea.maltais@lesa.org

New ALRI Reports

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on New ALRI Reports
Apr 152016

Alberta Law Reform Institute

The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) gathers law reform suggestions from the public, the government, and the legal profession as part of their review and recommendation process when making suggestions to improve the law and the legal system.

Two new ALRI reports have been published.

The New Trustee Act of Alberta

The Alberta Law Reform Institute and the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General have extended the joint consultation deadline for feedback on Report for Discussion No. 28 until April 30, 2016.
Based on feedback received to date, we have created a survey that specifically addresses who should be able to vary a trust and when this can be done without court approval. Further, the trust looks at the proper balance of authority in trust variations between a trust instrument and court approval.

We have also taken our original survey on the Report and broken it into several 2 minute surveys. This allows you to answer a very brief survey on the topics that interest you.

Visit the ALRI website to read the Report and take our surveys. You can also link to these from the provincial government’s website.

Please contact the Institute by email at lawreform@ualberta.ca if you have any questions. You can also subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on Twitter @ablawreofrm.

Carol Burgess
ALRI Operations Manager

Reviewable Transactions

The law of fraudulent preference and conveyances is outdated and still relies on the English Fraudulent Conveyances Act, 1571. The law in this area also lacks a clear policy foundation and needs to be clarified and modernised. In 2012, the Uniform Law Conference of Canada recommended new legislation to update this area of the law.

The Alberta Law Reform Institute has reviewed the work of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and recommends that Alberta adopt the Uniform Reviewable Transactions Act.

Key changes that would flow from adopting the Reviewable Transactions Act in Alberta include:

  • Balancing creditors’ rights to recover what they are owed against a transferee’s right to be free from unsuspected claims to property or value received from a person who has creditors;
  • Focusing on the effect of a transaction (did it impede or defeat creditors’ rights of recovery?) rather than the intention of its participants;
  • Considering whether the transferee was in a position to recognise that the transaction was vulnerable because its terms were too good to be true or the transferee knew of and facilitated the debtor’s intention to obstruct creditors.

The Report also includes a sample draft Reviewable Transactions Act. Implementing the Uniform Act in Alberta would also complement the modern legislative framework established by the Civil Enforcement Act and the Personal Property Security Act.

Download the report from our website – Final Report 108, Reviewable Transactions

Carol Burgess
ALRI Operations Manager

If you want LESA’s help to raise awareness about an upcoming event relevant to the Alberta legal community, contact Renee Vander Meulen, Communications Coordinator.
780.969.0553 or renee.vandermeulen@lesa.org

Fees Charged in Estate Administration Matters

 LESA Update, News  Comments Off on Fees Charged in Estate Administration Matters
Apr 132016

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Estate Administration Fee Survey!

In January, LESA conducted an Estate Administration Fee Survey to better understand how Alberta lawyers set fees in estate administration matters. Thank you to everyone who participated!

We are pleased by the robust discussion that has ensued on this topic. To help inform continued dialogue, we are happy to share our survey results with those in the Alberta legal community. Here is our report to the Surrogate Rules Advisory Committee summarizing the survey results (published with permission).

Boilerplate – Thoughts from the Hon. J.E. Côté

 LESA Update  Comments Off on Boilerplate – Thoughts from the Hon. J.E. Côté
Apr 122016

How to use boilerplate effectively.

Have you ever wondered where the term “boilerplate” comes from?

In today’s blog, LESA’s Distinguished Adviser, the Honourable J.E. Côté, sheds some light on the word’s etymology, explains why you should use boilerplate language with caution, and offers tips on how to develop your own collection so that the best boilerplate clauses are available at your fingertips when you need them.


The word “boilerplate” comes from the days of high-speed printing presses for books or newspapers. How could printers keep and later reuse typeset materials? They would make a single-piece metal cast of that type. For a high-speed rotary press, these sets of words and pictures ready to print were curved half cylinders. They looked like a piece of curved plating ready to assemble into a boiler. That’s why printers and lawyers call standard wordings boilerplate.

A lawyer drafting a contract, a lease, a mortgage, a trust deed, or other legal document, rarely builds it all from scratch. (Nor do engineers often design right from scratch.) Usually the lawyer copies parts from previous documents used for other clients. The lawyer may get those from a published book, internet site, or from the lawyer’s own collection of previous documents. (They are often called “precedents” – but the term is confusing, as it also suggests previous court decisions.)

There is a good and a bad way to reuse such previous work. Simply selecting one or two previous contracts (leases, mortgages, etc.) and applying them for this new transaction is dangerous. There are many reasons for that, including poor quality, obsolete precedents, or ones unsuitable for your client or transaction. Another danger is that precedents often favor one side, possibly not your side.

However, there are many general types of clauses that necessarily recur in a host of contracts, leases, or other documents: for example, clauses near the end providing addresses for serving notices or clauses allowing assignments or succession of interests. It is rare that the particular circumstances of the document at hand require much, if any, change in such standard clauses.

These standard clauses are what we now call boilerplate.

Why You Should Organize Your Own Boilerplate Collection

Such standard clauses are easy to use. The only really serious judgments for you to make are which of them to include in a new document you are drafting. But that task is risky unless you have (and keep adding to) a good full checklist of possible boilerplate clauses to select from.

So an up-to-date collection of such standard clauses yields huge benefits. First, it (or its index) provides that checklist of possible boilerplate clauses. That way a useful standard type of clause will not be overlooked. (In the interim, as a first stab at a checklist, look at a book or website, and compare its boilerplate to the boilerplate in the fullest, most elaborate contract or trust deed you can lay your hands on.)

Second, if you collect a number of examples of clauses on one subject (such as mode of payment), you will notice that some are much fuller than others on the same topic. They cover problems that others omit, even though all seem to have the same general aim.

So if you merely collect samples of (say) leases, you will miss that focus on individual clauses. You may well copy from previous leases some standard clauses (boilerplate) that are far from the best standard clauses available.

But if you make an organized collection of various standard clauses on a number of topics, after time, you will find one version of a certain standard clause that contains clear improvements found in no other examples.

If you keep weeding such a collection, using the best possible version of some standard clause costs you almost nothing. Negotiations rarely focus on standard boilerplate clauses. Do most lawyers do more than skim them?

Therefore, if you draft many documents, you need a collection of standard boilerplate clauses. And you need to keep updating it as you run across other possible clauses or versions of them.

How to Get Started on Your Collection

For a long time, it was hard to find any published book containing such standard clauses. But there is one English one now. See Christou, Richard, Boilerplate: Practical Clauses (Sweet & Maxwell, 4th ed. 2005). You will have to examine that book and decide whether it is adequate for your needs. Even if it is, your own law practice may well require some standard clauses not found in that book. So your own or your firm’s own collection of extra clauses is still useful.

I have also found a useful article with examples of boilerplate on the internet. It is by the University of Adelaide. Presumably there are many others there too.

Maintain Your Collection Electronically

Your boilerplate collection is best kept on a computer. That way, later it will be easy to print out a hardcopy version of it or a number of its clauses. And the computer version will always be available for quick cutting and pasting.

Besides, even the best hardcopy book will require you to retype and proofread every clause taken from the book to adapt it for a specific contract. Even if you manage to scan a clause into your computer, proofreading is still necessary. (Scanners often mistake one letter for another.) And that process is slow. Yet the boilerplate part of drafting is often properly left to a late stage. By then deadlines may loom, and you and your clerical staff may be tired.

Therefore, you should have a collection of standard clauses on a computer, ready to cut and paste into a new draft document. That means the clauses must be machine readable. A mere picture of them will not do for drafting purposes. For one thing, even if a clause’s wording is excellent, it often needs minor changes, such as changing “his” to “her” or inserting addresses.

Build Your Boilerplate Collection

How can you or your firm build up a good collection of standard clauses? Here is a list of steps to create a workable collection of standard clauses:

  1. Collect what complete contracts your firm already has, and break them down by individual standard clause topic (e.g. notice clauses, confidentiality clauses, interpretation clauses).
  2. Enter the various clauses into a computer in machine-readable form (not as mere images).
  3. Arrange them by subject.
  4. Create an alphabetical index of subjects.
  5. Find and examine large, well-drafted legal documents from elsewhere, and look over their standard clauses. Select those clauses that are novel or seem better drafted than the usual versions. Good sources for such documents are filings with a securities regulator and prospectuses or information circulars sent to shareholders or prospective purchasers of shares or bonds. Typically the information part of such a document attaches as appendices a number of contracts or trust deeds in full. They are all free, and most are probably accessible by computer via securities commissions. Anyone will get a number of them automatically simply by being a shareholder or by purchasing newly-issued shares or bonds. (Holders of mutual funds can probably elect to receive them.) Add individual clauses from them to your computer file of standard clauses.
  6. In you practice, keep your eyes open for all large, well-drafted legal documents, and skim them for novel or good standard clauses. Add such individual clauses to your computer file.
  7. Go through all the examples of one type of standard clause in your computer collection. Delete the examples of each type that (by comparison) seem inferior.
  8. For each clauses topic, try drafting one or two composites, incorporating all the best features of the examples you have.
  9. Update and revise the index.

Using a collection of standard clauses yields a final bonus, quite apart from better drafting. The collection will let the senior solicitor do only the work that requires experience and judgment. He or she can delegate a lot of the more straightforward work to a junior.

Honourable J.E. Côté
LESA Distinguished Adviser

National Volunteer Week: James T. Swanson

 LESA Update, Volunteer Profile  Comments Off on National Volunteer Week: James T. Swanson
Apr 112016

James T. Swanson - National Volunteer Week SpotlightWe like to periodically take time out to thank our volunteers by giving them the spotlight, and since it is National Volunteer Week (NVW), we can’t think of a better time to say thank you!

Our hundreds of volunteers are what keep LESA going, and we’re pleased to take the opportunity of National Volunteer Week to send our gratitude to each and every one of our volunteers. Thank you!

Though we would love to feature you all in today’s blog, this time around we’re sending a special shout out to James T. Swanson who has assisted LESA numerous times with organizing, chairing, and presenting at our seminars.

Here’s what James had to say in a recent interview. Happy reading!

How did you first become interested in law?

The first experience that interested me was when I was about 19 or 20. I had a part time job in a news warehouse. … I organized a union and became the shop steward, so I was the one involved in negotiating the collective agreement. That was my first exposure to lawyers, watching them work, and that sort of planted the seed. … It took until I was about 28 to really get serious about it, so I wrote the LSAT, I already had the degree, I applied, got in, and off I went!”

Can you tell me a little bit about your practice?

My practice focuses on technology of all types – not just information technology but general technological issues as they relate to the legal system – and on intellectual property, like copyrights, trademarks, patents and trades secrets, confidential information, design – those kinds of things. … I work both the solicitor side and … I also litigate. … I’ve been on some pretty complicated cases over the years.”

What would you say you like best about your job?

The fact that it’s always interesting because, as you know, technology is advancing increasingly more rapidly – it’s an exponential increase. … The way I looked at it was, if you take an Olympic swimming pool, which is 50m long, and you say it’s 2m deep, [and think] what if you add one drop per second – ignore the fact that it’s going to evaporate – how long would it take to fill the pool? And the answer is 567 years. But if you double the drops … a drop in the first second, 2 in the second, 4 the third, 8, then 16, 32, etc. the pool is half full in 23 seconds. … At 40 seconds you’re at the yearly supply of water for all of Toronto. You can’t get to 2 minutes because there is not enough water on earth to do it. That’s the power of doubling. That’s what’s happening [in terms of technology]. … Yogi Berra said it best, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for LESA?

I really enjoy the people. I really enjoy working with you guys; I enjoy the lawyers I meet. Usually in the sessions I’ve been at, the audience is really engaged. … People come up to chat during the coffee break; … you meet some really good people. Also, I like the feeling of getting up and explaining something that somebody didn’t know before.”

What else motivates you to volunteer?

It’s kind of pay it forward, pay it back. … I’m getting older, and eventually I would like to retire. I want to make sure people know what’s going on in my area, and I think there is a lot of risk that can be better managed by other lawyers. … They should understand that.”

What advice would you give to some of your colleagues who may be considering volunteering?

I’d just say do it! It’s a really worthwhile experience; … it’s win-win for everybody. … You know what, I don’t think I’ve ever given a seminar to an audience where I didn’t learn something – either by what I had to do to prepare for it … or by what somebody in the audience said to me. I always learn something. Everybody out there has a story or a fact that they know that will improve your life when you hear it.”

Surrogate Practice and Procedure Town Hall Meetings

 News  Comments Off on Surrogate Practice and Procedure Town Hall Meetings
Apr 062016

Upcoming Surrogate Town Hall Meetings

Do you practice in the area of wills & estates? If so, we encourage you to attend the upcoming Surrogate Practice and Procedure Town Hall Meetings.

Members of the bar are invited to join in open discussion and to submit questions and comments relating to Surrogate practice matters, including the process of applying for grants, to the Co-Chairs at SRAC@albertacourts.ca.

Efforts will be made at the meeting to address these questions and concerns. Select the city where you wish to attend to see full details, including guest speakers and session topics.


Meeting Information

Calgary meeting date: Monday, April 18, 2016
Time: 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: Calgary – QB Courtroom 1801

Red Deer meeting date: Friday, April 11, 2016
Time: 12:45 PM – 1:45 PM
Location: Red Deer – QB Courtroom 201

  • Justice P.B. Michalyshyn, the Northern Alberta Surrogate Practice Advisor
  • Justice C.M. Jones, the Southern Alberta Surrogate Practice Advisor
  • Surrogate Rules Advisory Committee

Edmonton meeting date: Friday, April 15, 2016
Time: 12:45 PM – 1:45 PM
Location: Edmonton – QB Courtroom 317

  • Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rooke
  • Justice P.B. Michalyshyn, the Northern Alberta Surrogate Practice Advisor
Apr 012016

Calendar Image. Discover April 2016 Upcoming Legal Events!

They say April showers bring May flowers, but the next few weeks are also packed full of interesting events and useful continuing professional development programs. Read today’s blog to find out what April 2016 upcoming legal events you’ll want to mark on your calendar.

April Programs

Enduring Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives

Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 5) or in Calgary (April 12).

  • Join seminar chair Farah Salim and panel experts to explore both common and extraordinary issues, such as inter-jurisdictional concerns, health care challenges, litigation tips, and more.
  • Read the blog for a sneak peek of what you can expect.
Unanimous Shareholder Agreement Disputes

Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 6) or in Calgary (April 20).

Read the blog to discover the top 5 program takeaways and to find out why seminar chair Bryan Haynes says this program offers valuable tips, information, and best practices to address the surprisingly common issue of shareholder disputes.

A lot of people enter into ventures with friends, family, or, in some cases, strangers. At the outset, everyone has the best intentions and is acting in good faith, but, more often than one would like to think, there is a breakdown in the relationship and a dispute arises.”

Basic Collaborative Law

Discuss negotiation theory, preparing for 4-way meetings, the principles of collaborative practice, ethical issues, how to advise clients, and more.

If you missed your chance to attend this program on April 8–9 (the seminar is full!), don’t delay and register online now to attend this fall (September 30–October 1).

Legal Project Management

Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 13) or in Calgary (April 14).

Join instructors Pamela Woldow and Patricia Olah in this interactive seminar to explore various project management skills: from the top 4 project management strategies, to the connection between project management and profitability, and even metrics used to measure and evaluate project management performance and success.

Read the blog for the inside scoop about what legal project management is, how you can implement its principles, and why this is a useful tool to add to your practice management tool box.


Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 19) or in Calgary (April 28).

  • Delve into questioning with experienced practitioners and Queen’s Bench Masters. Discuss specific issues, and join the conversation by participating in roundtable discussions and demonstrations.
  • Read the blog with seminar chair Patrick Kirwin for the inside scoop on the top 3 reasons this seminar is particularly valuable.
Alberta Land Titles Online

Register online to attend in Lake Louise on April 23!

Stay up-to-date on significant upcoming changes to how electronic signatures will be used for land title transactions. All practitioners are welcome to attend this add-on program to the 49th Annual Refresher.

Read the blog with Curtis Woollard from Land Titles North to learn about 5 key changes and what all real estate practitioners should be aware of.

49th Annual Refresher: Real Estate

Register online to attend in Lake Louise this April 24–26.

  • Keep current on various issues affecting real estate transactions – from important snippets on topics such as protocol, trust cheques, and real property reports to sessions on practice pointers, commercial real estate, condominiums, and taxes.
  • Read the blog for more information about the 49th Annual Refresher: Real Estate and the add-on program Alberta Land Titles Online.

Registration Savings

If you’re looking to start checking some 2016 CPD requirements off your list, why not consider attending some of these upcoming programs? They’re running in May and June, but don’t wait to reserve your spot. Early bird registration savings for the following programs end in April.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Register online to attend in Edmonton (May 10) or in Calgary (May 17) – Early Bird ENDS April 5.

Consider the unique concerns, competing interests, and estate planning strategies that come into play in the complex situations encountered with blended families. Read the blog with seminar chair Karen A. Platten QC to learn more about the practical tools you’ll gain and why this program offers important advice and information to practitioners.

Every practitioner runs across issues that they haven’t ever seen before. … [Unique situations] require certain expertise and certain understanding.”

Privacy Update

Register online to attend in Calgary (May 19) or in Edmonton (May 25) – Early Bird ENDS April 12.

  •  Explore current issues and emerging themes in privacy law to better prepare yourself to identify and address issues that come up in practice.
  •  Read the blog with seminar chair Ritu Khullar QC and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton for more information about the questions and topics that you’ll discuss in the program.
Criminal Advocacy – Experts

Register online to attend in Calgary (May 14) or in Edmonton (May 28) – Early Bird ENDS April 12.

Both junior lawyers and more seasoned veterans stand to benefit from this review of seminal issues and specialized matters. Consider the top 25 criminal cases in the areas of expert evidence, right to counsel, statements voir dire, and warrantless search and seizure.


The 2015/2016 CPLED year is fast coming to a close now that all regular session modules have concluded. Students completing reserve period modules should contact LESA’s Student Coordinator, Ashley Iachetta if they have any questions.

Registration for the 2016/2017 CPLED year is open. Applicants can read the blog for more information and to register online.

Legal Community Events

AssistFit activities are part of a new program offered by the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) to encourage health, fitness, and creative activities within the legal community. There are several events happening in April. Read the blog to learn more!

Law Day celebrations are happening around the province this month, and volunteers are needed to make the events possible. Read the blog for more information about locations, dates, and volunteer opportunities.

If you want LESA’s help to raise awareness about an upcoming event relevant to the Alberta legal community, contact Renee Vander Meulen, Communications Coordinator.
780.969.0553 or renee.vandermeulen@lesa.org