Feb 272015

Real Estate Practice Manual

If you’re looking for substantive, Alberta-specific, legal resources, we’ve got you covered with LESA’s Practice Manuals.

Practice Manuals are a valuable resource for practitioners at any point of their career, since they provide in-depth coverage of specific areas of the law and are authored by leading lawyers in each field.

Available Practice Manuals include:

These resources are purchased as a subscription service. As updates become available they’re sent to you automatically and you’re invoiced for them at the time of publication. This way your materials are always up-to-date without you having the hassle of checking for updates yourself.

Two of these manuals have been recently updated and sent to subscribers: Alberta Civil Practice and Alberta Real Estate.

If you practice in these areas and aren’t yet a subscriber, here’s a look at what these resources have to offer.

Alberta Civil Practice

This resource provides background information and commentary on how to work through a litigation file from start to finish, including topics such as:

  • Bringing an action
  • The questioning process
  • Amending pleadings
  • Managing litigation
  • Resolving issues and preserving rights
  • Trial

You can purchase this manual online in electronic form (a CD) or in hardcopy (which includes a binder and CD).

If you are searching for civil litigation resources, our recently released seminars on demand are also useful resources you can access from the home or office:

  • Evidence Law Refresher – Discover recent case law, substantive legal content, and practical advice regarding issues in civil evidence. View the trailer to learn more about the topics addressed!
  • Running Your First Trial – Develop a practical understanding of how to handle a Queen’s Bench civil case. Review pre-trial considerations, evidence, opening statements, examining a witness, and using expert witnesses. View the trailer for a sample of what the speakers have to say!

Alberta Real Estate

Whether you practice in commercial or residential real estate, this manual has plenty to offer you. It provides an overview of real estate transactions in Alberta and follows a real estate deal from beginning to end.

Highlights include chapters on:

  • Offers to purchase, options, and ROFRs
  • Pre-closing
  • Closing
  • Mortgages
  • Condominiums
  • Insurance
  • Tax considerations
  • Remedies

You can purchase this manual online in electronic form (a CD) or in hardcopy (which includes a binder and CD).

If your real estate practice finds you involved in condominium issues, you may also want to check out our condominiums seminar on demand:

  • Condominiums: A Practitioner’s Update – Gain insight into seven key topics: condominium basics, lawyer liability, legislative issues, bare land units, mixed use projects, closing day problems, and developer transactions. View the trailer for a sneak preview of what to expect!

Perhaps you practice in family law and are considering purchasing the Alberta Family Law manual. If so, you’ll be happy to know that an update for that resource is coming soon!

If you have any questions about available LESA resources, please be in touch at info@lesa.org or 780.420.1987 (toll free at 1.800.282.3900).

Feb 252015

Social Media in the Courts Image

LESA’s Social Media in the Courts program is running in April and, whether you practice in civil or criminal law, this fascinating seminar will give you an edge on understanding how to make the most of social media evidence.

Seminar chair Jack Kelly shared his insights with us about why this program will be so enlightening to attendees.

Why will Social Media in the Courts be valuable to practitioners? What will they gain?

Social media is a common form of expressing oneself, and, because of that, there are instances where people will put information online that is relevant to court proceedings or cases that go to trial. It’s essentially a gold mine for information about witnesses, plaintiffs, or defendants.

This program will be useful for both civil and criminal litigators, is that correct?

Yes, it’s really aimed at answering questions that all litigators should be thinking about in terms of what to do with social media evidence. One of the things that will be addressed is admissibility. Another question that will get answered is how you as a practitioner would use it, particularly in cross examination.

What do you think will be the main takeaways for participants?

I think that the main takeaway is going to be that people will have a better understanding of what social media is and how it can be used in court. … It’s going to provide practical knowledge on social media as evidence.

I’m going to also say that participants will learn about social media as a concept and what it really is, from the standpoint of the way social media works. … Some of the material will look at security concerns, particularly state monitoring. In relation to that, there’s going to be some commentary on how the users of social media often overexpose themselves online in relation to the security concerns of state monitoring and public access to these comments.

I would also say that when we move into the practical uses of social media as evidence, people are going to learn about how the courts treat social media in terms of admissibility. There are going to be examples of social media treatment in Canada and foreign jurisdictions.

And then finally, I’m going to say that there will be examples of how a skillful litigator will be able to take advantage of social media to attack the credibility of witnesses.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about the seminar?

One of the things I think we need to point out is that Dr. Tom Keenan is going to be giving a very broad and thorough explanation of social media as an unfolding phenomena in society. He is very concerned about the amount of information that is available from the users of social media and so his inclusion is really going to provide insight into social media beyond the limited scope of social media as pure evidence, or on a purely evidential basis. It’s my opinion that it’s going to be a really interesting seminar for that reason alone. There are a lot of people who are going to learn things about social media that they don’t know.

John Gregory and Brian Vail are going to be talking about the case law on admissibility.

John Gregory will examine the evolution and the mechanics of using social media and what concerns the courts may have when faced with social media evidence.

Brian Vail has a lot of experience using social media and will be able to provide good ideas on how to use social media in the course of cross examining witnesses. In other words, Brian Vail is going to show how it’s a useful, very useful, and a valuable tool.

Just about everyone seems to be using social media, but not everybody fully appreciates what it is. This seminar, although it’s just for lawyers, does answer a lot of the questions that many people in the public have or should have. So it’s certainly interesting from a public interest stand point. … [It will probably answer questions that lawyers have] not just as practitioners but also as people who use social media.

Register now to secure your spot in Edmonton (April 10) or Calgary (April 17).

Feb 232015

Making Business Development a Natural Part of Your Everday Life Image

Every law practice is a business, and businesses can’t thrive for long if they don’t grow. Although connecting and networking with others can seem a daunting task, there are many different techniques you can use to grow your business depending on your personality and business needs.

We’re pleased to offer an upcoming LESA seminar that will provide you with tips and tricks to help you hone your skills in this areaMaking Business Development a Natural Part of Your Everyday Life.

In this program, Steve Hughes will provide you with a range of strategies you can employ to develop your business by connecting with new clients (rainmaking, as it’s known in the business world).

Today’s blog shares Steve’s insights about what this program has to offer practitioners.

Why will the Making Business Development a Natural Part of Your Everyday Life seminar be valuable to practitioners? What will they gain?

I think the most important thing that they will get out of the session [is understanding] why rainmaking is important in general. … It’s such a vital part of the health and growth of any firm, any practice. One of the biggest obstacles that  lawyers have is finding ways to integrate it into their lives, so they tend to avoid it. They tend to hope for magical things to happen. This program will give them tangible ways to use their specific skills to develop a plan that will work for them. There really isn’t a one size fits all [approach], that’s the other thing I would say to people. We’re often told that the rainmaker is that gregarious personality, shaking hands, and smiling, and “How are you doing?” and owning the room, and all that kind of thing. Really it does not have to look like that at all. In many ways, the more successful rainmakers are ones who essentially quietly go about their business, build relationships, and connect with people that way.

Can you explain the term rainmaker for those who might not be familiar?

Rainmaking is simply bringing new business, new clients, into your firm in an intentional way. … [This includes] building relationships, connecting with people, and eventually asking for the business – that’s a very big part of it. At some point you have to say, “We’d love to do your work.”

Do you think asking for someone else’s business is maybe the step that people find the hardest?

I do think so, yes. I’ve worked with a lot of lawyers who do all the right steps and then are afraid to take the final one. But until you actually ask someone, well, they might say no, but if you ask them there’s still the possibility of it working out. The smart thing really is to find out if you’re wasting your time or not, and whether it’s worth still pursuing that person. If it’s not going to happen, it’s better to part ways or spend your energies elsewhere.

What do you think will be the main takeaways for participants?

It really will be different for each person. It’s designed that way. I will provide a host of ideas and strategies and each person gets to say, “Okay, I can do that.” Some people might want to spend more time writing articles or blogging or doing more behind the scenes things to raise their credibility and their visibility. That’s one option. There are others who will want to spend more time on one-on-one interactions. So really it’s hard to say what one specific thing everyone will walk away with, because I’m going to offer quite a few [practical tips].

I don’t mean to dodge the question, but there isn’t just one thing. I guess the main thing is that … they need to do it, they need to be intentional, and they need to come up with a plan. From that, usually good things will flow. The thing I always get concerned with is people thinking that rainmaking has to be going to traditional networking events and handing out your business card … and all that kind of cheesy, almost used-car-sales-person type of stuff, and that’s not at all what we’re talking about here in this seminar.

And I guess that’s where the individual takeaway comes in, right? It will be what a person feels is best suited to their purpose and their personality?

Correct. Absolutely.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add about the seminar?

It will be very practical in nature, but I’m a big believer in attendees having a good time, so it will be delivered in an entertaining way. … This won’t just be a boring, talking head type of thing. It will be interactive. It will allow time for participants to internalize and apply what they’ve learned to their specific practice.

I do provide examples of how real lawyers have done it, even ones who don’t necessarily enjoy it.  They’ve taken these x, y, or z steps that have led to certain kinds of results. I think it’s always encouraging to hear what other people have done.

I’d also say it’s never too late to start, no matter where you are in your career. A lot of times, very simple tweaks or very simple adjustments can lead to big results. I would compare it to a diet. We too often think, “I have to eat tree bark and flax seed,” but you could just make smart, sensible eating choices every time you have a meal. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this blog points to a promising and useful seminar. If you’d like to take advantage of the tips and tricks Steve has to offer, you can register now to secure your spot in the Edmonton (April 14) or Calgary (April 15) seminar.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to grow and manage the business side of your practice in other ways, check out The Business of Law Program.

This program discusses things like accounting, business plans, professionalism, cash flow, time management, and more. Read our blog with The Business of Law chair Jocelyn A. Frazer to discover what this program has to offer you.

Feb 202015


LESA is now hiring to fill Summer Student positions. If you’re a student who has completed at least 1 year of law school, you could become part of an innovative and dynamic organization that makes a meaningful contribution to the legal profession.

Our mission at LESA is to serve the spectrum of educational and professional development needs of Alberta’s lawyers, articling students, and their staff. By joining our team, you’ll partner with us in our efforts to provide high-quality resources to the legal community. You’ll also gain experience and knowledge in the key areas of the law and hone the writing and research skills that are critical to success in a legal career.

Summer students are responsible for assisting the Legal team with legal research, writing, and review. They also help bring a valuable student perspective to our organization by assisting in updating resources for use by articling students, lawyers, and their staff. Research may be required to update existing legal content for both print publications and online resources.

Specific tasks may include:

  • Reviewing and editing publication submissions,
  • Researching and noting up case and statutory law for publications including practice manuals and foundational materials,
  • Writing blog posts on recent legal developments (your writing could be featured here!),
  • Assisting in the development of online courses, and
  • Working to develop the online library (wiki).

If you’re interested in joining our LESA team, please apply by email to Daniel García at daniel.garcia@lesa.org. Competition closes March 13, 2015.

Feb 182015

Register now for Buying and Selling a Business!

On one hand, it’s hard to believe that February is already half over, but, on the other, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Time always seems to fly when you are busy, and here at LESA we are looking ahead and planning for the 20 remaining programs we have running from now until June.

For those of you who practice in the area of business law, we’ve been working with seminar chair Glenn Warkentin on the Buying and Selling a Business program.

The brochure for this program details the topics being covered and should have hit your desk last week, but, for those of you wanting to know more, we’ve asked Glenn why this seminar will be valuable for attendees.

As Glenn explains, the greatest benefit of this seminar will be the opportunity for practitioners to “gain greater insight into the dynamics of a deal … [and] takeaway some real practical solutions, options, and trends, so that they can add value for their clients.”

Since this program is targeted to practitioners with 5 or more years’ experience in business law, the material covered will go beyond the basics. Glenn emphasized that “this seminar will be more in-depth and not limited to issue identification.” Rather, it will take things further by examining options for resolving the issues.

Having an interactive and engaged audience will be key to achieving this goal of helping attendees gain insight into the issues they are facing. For Glenn the goal is to have “each of the panel members … actively solicit questions” so that “during the discussion phase some really good ideas are thrown around amongst the panel and the participants to say, ‘When you come up with this kind of an issue, what are some options or workarounds?’ … We hope that the panel will be able to give ideas, options, [and] solutions.”

While the panel won’t be able to solve every problem that practitioners face, Glenn’s intention is to utilize these experienced faculty members to identify “what’s going on in the marketplace in terms of how other practitioners are solving some of those [problems]”  and to provide attendees with “potential workarounds for [those] issues depending on the fact scenario that you’ve got.”

At the seminar, you’ll hear from these experienced practitioners:

Bryan Haynes – Purchase and Sale Agreements
Mark Kortbeek, Peter Inglis – Due Diligence
Kristopher Noonan – Severance Issues
Susan Naylen – Financial Analysis
Matthew Clark – Tax Issues Related to Deal Structuring
Cameron MacCarthy – What Public Corporations Look for When Acquiring Privately Held Corporations: Current Market Trends

Each faculty member will address their topic from the perspective of a public company or private equity firm acquiring a privately help business.

Buying and Selling a Business runs in Edmonton on April 9 and in Calgary on April 23. Follow the link to register online now in the city of your choice.

Feb 162015


If you’ve been waiting for details about the CPLED program’s upcoming 2015/2016 educational year, we don’t want to keep you on the edge of your seat any longer.



Current 3rd year law students, recent graduates, or others needing to take the Alberta bar admission program should mark February 23 on their calendars – CPLED registration opens at noon.

Register for CPLED here by filling in the short Application for Admission form. Note that this link will not direct you to the form until registration opens on February 23.

The CPLED program includes 7 online modules and 3 face-to-face sessions. Each face-to-face session has 4 offering times. Since session enrolment is limited and time preferences are granted on a first-come, first-served basis, students are encouraged to register early.

For details about when the face-to-face sessions and online modules are running, view the CPLED Program 2015/2016 Key Dates.

Info Sessions

To learn more about the CPLED program, attend one of the CPLED info sessions happening at the University of Alberta (February 24) or the University of Calgary (March 12). Both the Law Society of Alberta and LESA will make presentations about the program to help answer your questions about what to expect from CPLED.


If you have any questions about CPLED or the registration process, LESA’s Student Coordinator, Ashley Iachetta, is just an email or phone call away. You can reach her at ashley.iachetta@lesa.org or at 780.969.3557.


If you are a practicing lawyer, have you considered being a part of our CPLED program?

Contact Bronwyn Connolly at bronwyn.connolly@lesa.org for information on becoming a learning group facilitator (LGF) or learning group evaluator (LGE) for the online modules; contact Janette Sztym at janette.sztym@lesa.org if you are interested in participating in the face-to-face modules.

Feb 132015

Running Your First Trial Image

LESA received rave reviews of the Running Your First Trial seminar that we held a few weeks ago. Since we had this sold-out seminar recorded, you can find out what all the excitement was about for yourself with our seminar on demand!

Given the format of this program, viewing the recordings of the seminar presenters will be much more valuable than simply reading their print materials. You’ll benefit from seeing:

  • Mona Duckett QC’s interactive demonstration of how to prepare an examination of a witness in chief and cross,
  • The recorded Q & A sections of the presentations, which offer additional insight and information not necessarily addressed in the print materials, and
  • Videos of a mock case (Michel v Canless Housing Corporation) that presenters used to anchor their discussions and demonstrate the practical application of the points made.

This seminar on demand includes videos and materials that address the following topics:

  • Overview of the mechanics of trial, rules of evidence, and the concept of theme and theory,
  • Pre-trial processes necessary to prepare for trial,
  • How to organize your evidence using a proof table and how to best introduce evidence at trial,
  • What to include in and when to make opening statements,
  • How to examine a witness in chief and cross-examination, and
  • Strategy for using experts.

There is plenty of useful information and practical tips to be gained from these materials, and it may be hard to nail down what is the most useful part of this resource. Here’s a sample of what live seminar attendees found beneficial about this program.

The linking of the information contained in the materials to the practice of the presenters was very valuable as it grounded the material to concrete stories. … The printed materials are really excellent and well organized. The videos were fantastic for a visual and experiential learner like me.”

“Interaction between the panel and audience; video examples”

“Hearing the various perspectives, ranging from personal injury defense counsel, medical plaintiff counsel, to criminal defense counsel, and the bench really gave me a better idea of what is involved in preparing and running a trial”

“Practical information from experienced lawyers that I can begin using today”

“Very practical tips. Mona’s whiteboard exercise was particularly helpful”

If you’re a civil litigator wanting to brush up on your trial skills, this is the perfect resource to provide you with information on a range of topics. Although it was targeted to new lawyers, we received feedback that there’s something to gain regardless of your level of experience. Attendees told us that it was both “a great program to help new lawyers” and “a good refresher on how to run a trial.”

Visit our website to purchase Running Your First Trial or to discover other seminars on demand.

Feb 112015

The Business of Law Image

Have you heard about LESA’s upcoming program – The Business of Law?

Every law practice is a business. Whether you are just starting out on your own, building a partnership, or looking for tips and tricks to take your practice to the next level, this program will help you gain skills and knowledge to manage your business effectively.

As seminar chair and Law Society of Alberta Equity Obudsperson and Practice Advisor Jocelyn Frazer puts it, “Law school doesn’t teach people how to run a business, and so often the success of practice is impacted by the effectiveness of the business side of things.”

With this realization in mind, LESA, Frazer, and the seminar faculty, have put together this seminar to address the following topics:

  • Accounting
  • Business Plans
  • Client Development & Marketing
  • Ethics & Professionalism
  • Finance & Cash Flow
  • Office Set Up (organizing your business)
  • Time Management

For Frazer, the goal of the seminar is to address “some of the key business elements that go into running an effective, efficient, profitable practice.”

Frazer emphasized that, rather than providing substantive legal updates, this program focuses on the technical and practical aspects of running a business, including:

  • Working on and understanding your balance sheet
  • Looking at the detailed aspects you can gain from your records
  • Working with and motivating your staff
  • Strategic approaches to building your practice and managing your clients.

All of the topics addressed in this seminar provide opportunities for practitioners to move their practice (as a business) to the next level.

Of all these opportunities, Frazer identified “business planning, the financial aspects of creating a business plan, understanding your financial records and reports, and structuring your business to maximize tax advantages” as probably being the most exciting topics of discussion and areas for growth.

Whichever of these topics you find most exciting, you’re bound to takeaway practical pointers to help you grow your business. We asked Frazer what the main takeaways from this seminar will be for participants. Here’s what she said:

They’ll be able to take away, at the very least, a couple of key takeaways or systems that can be implemented right away to make their practice more effective: whether it’s how to understand the balance sheet or a business plan, how you can take your finances to the next level, how you can better organize the resources that you are currently dedicating to your practice to get maximum output or return on investment, ways to implement systems to guard against risk or exposure, or making sure that your ethical obligations are met.”

As Frazer explains, “anybody who’s responsible for implementing the systems and operational strategies of a law firm will find this seminar useful.” Maybe you’re a sole practitioner, small firm lawyer, managing partner, or someone else who has input into operational decisions at your firm.

Whatever you’re role, we’re looking forward to seeing you at this seminar.

And by attending you’ll get a chance to hear from these incredible speakers, who are joining Frazer on the panel for this program:

Frank C. DeAngelis QC
Loreen Austin
David J. Bilinksy

Nancy M. Carruthers
Leanne S. Cherry
Sander van der Wissel

If you haven’t already registered, you can head to our website and save your seat in no time at all. Registration is open for Edmonton (April 8) or Calgary (April 9).

Feb 092015

Assist Logo

Here at LESA, we rely on our dedicated and talented volunteers to keep our programs running smoothly.

Like LESA, the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) is a non-profit organization that relies on volunteers to make their programs a success. Assist is dedicated to providing confidential help with personal issues to lawyers, law students, and their immediate families.

One way Assist fulfills this mission is through the Peer Support program. The Peer Support program offers lawyers and law students the chance to receive or offer support to address personal and professional issues in a safe and confidential environment.

Here’s how it works.

Participants contact Assist and are matched with a Peer Support Volunteer who has shared a similar experience or can relate in some way. The volunteers help participants by sharing their knowledge and experience, whether practical, emotional, or social. Volunteers are available to talk, share resources, and provide encouragement.

Find out more about the program by reading Assist’s program brochure.

Interested in volunteering?

Volunteers are able to help others in need of emotional, personal, or career-related support. As a volunteer you receive training to explain your responsibilities and develop your helping skills. You can either accept or decline peer support matches based on your comfort level and previous experiences. While working as a Peer Support Volunteer, you are supported by Assist’s Peer Support program and professional psychological services.

Here’s what one volunteer had to say about the program, “The participant always initiated the calls. He seems happier now; he has a new job and a different life schedule” (Ms Barbara Stratton QC).

Get Involved

If you’re interested in helping others gain the satisfaction Stratton describes, consider becoming a Peer Support Volunteer. To volunteer contact Assist at 403.537.5508 (toll free at 1.877.737.5508) or submit an online application form.

The next Peer Support training sessions run in Calgary on March 14 and Edmonton on March 21. By attending, you’ll be prepared to start volunteering and helping your peers.

If you’re a lawyer or law student in need of support, contact  Assist at 403.537.5508 (toll free at 1.877.737.5508) to be matched with a Peer Support Volunteer.

Feb 062015

Want to learn more about the aid in dying debate? Register for our 48th Annual Refresher!

This morning the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 9-0 on the Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) case, deciding that Sections 241(b) and 14 of the Criminal Code are unconstitutional and that a prohibition on assisted suicide infringes on an individual’s rights as laid out in Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Court determined that s. 241(b) and s. 14 “are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition” (Supreme Court Judgments).

The Court has given the federal and provincial governments 12 months to craft legislation in response to this ruling, but the ban on doctor-assisted suicide stands until then.

With this decision, the issue of aid in dying will likely continue to be a major topic of discussion for the foreseeable future.

It is timely then that our 48th Annual Refresher: Wills & Estates program, running April 19–21, opens with a keynote address on Aid in Dying. Dr. Arthur Schafer, of the University of Manitoba, will describe the contours of the current Canadian debate, ethical concerns, and legal issues. Kevin Díaz, Director of Legal Affairs for Oregon’s Compassion & Choices organization, will describe Oregon’s 17 years of experience with its Death with Dignity Act, which permits aid in dying to some terminally ill people.

Have you kept up with how the issue of aid in dying has been discussed in the news over the past few days and months?

  • Today the Calgary Herald shared an article written by Ian MacLeod, of the Ottawa Citizen, that outlines the debate over aid in dying that has been playing out in Canada, including a video with statements from Stephen Fletcher, Conservative MP, and Lee Carter whose mother, Kay Carter, travelled to Switzerland to end her life because aid in dying had been illegal in Canada.
  • In response to today’s ruling, the Edmonton Journal provided a summary of some right-to-die legislation that exists in other jurisdictions throughout North America.
  • Globe and Mail’s Sean Fine published an article yesterday, outlining the top 10 things people should understand about doctor-assisted suicide.
  • In December, the National Post shared findings from an Angus Reid poll that asked Canadians about their feelings on the proposed changes to allow assisted suicide. In this article, Joseph Brean solicited feedback on the issue from Dr. Arthur Schafer, who our Refresher program attendees will hear from on April 19.
  • Andrew Coyne, a Canadian political columnist, weighed into the debate, offering his thoughts on the ethical implications of erasing the distinction between suicide and assisted suicide in an editorial published in the National Post on December 8.

What is your perspective on this issue and the Supreme Court’s historic ruling today?

If you’re interested in hearing more about the issue of aid in dying (and 5 other pressing topics related to the area of wills and estates), consider heading to our website to register online for our 48th Annual Refresher program. If you want to attend this incredible program, don’t delay – there is limited space left available.