Mar 272015


Regular programming for the 2014/2015 CPLED year wrapped up this week when the Negotiations face-to-face module concluded on Wednesday. Now we’re starting to look ahead to the new year.


Welcome to CPLED

If you are a current 3rd year law student or recent graduate who needs to take the Alberta bar admission program, welcome to CPLED and to LESA. We know you’ll have lots of questions about CPLED, and we want to give you all the information that you need.

You’ll find details about when the CPLED face-to-face sessions and online modules run in the 2015/2016 Key Dates.

If you haven’t yet registered for CPLED, you’ll want to register online now. Registration has been open since February 23, and face-to-face session enrolment is limited, with time preferences granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you missed our info sessions at the U of A and U of C or if you have more questions, the CPLED 2015/2016 Presentation, should get you well on your way to answering your questions.

As always, our CPLED Student Coordinator, Ashley Iachetta, is available to answer any other questions you may have. You can reach her at or at 780.696.3557.


Volunteering for CPLED

If you’re looking for a way to give back to the profession, there’s no better way than to contribute your time, skills, and knowledge to help train the next generation of lawyers, who also happen to be our CPLED students.

LESA is currently recruiting volunteers to help with our face-to-face modules. We need both faculty members for the teaching days and evaluators for the competency evaluation days.

If you’d like more information or want to put your name forward as a volunteer, please contact Janette Sztym at or at 780.969.3553.


2014/2015 Reserve Period

If you are a current CPLED student who needs to complete modules in the Reserve Period (March 26 to June 18), you can access your Reserve Period Schedule through the “14/15 Reserve Period” course in Desire2Learn.

If you have any questions about your schedule, please contact Ashley Iachetta (CPLED Student Coordinator) at or at 780.696.3557.

Mar 252015

Register Now for Commercial Real Estate!
If you’re a practitioner with 10 or more years of experience practicing predominately or exclusively in the area of real estate, LESA’s upcoming Commercial Real Estate seminar has plenty to offer you!

As seminar chair Ron Sorokin explained in a recent interview with LESA, this program will allow attendees to explore “practical issues related to commercial real estate transactions” and gain “insights from very experienced practitioners.”

The experienced panel includes a diverse range of speakers, from a developer to commercial real estate and environmental lawyers:

With their various perspectives and experience, the panel will be addressing a number of commercial real estate topics.

We have one very experienced developer who has been involved in all aspects of the developer world: from a planning, engineering, and business perspective. The rest are lawyers who are going to provide comments and different perspectives on various aspects of the transaction, both on the development and subdivision side of things as well as environmental matters and co-ownership, which will deal with multi-party transactions.”

Although you’re certain to glean some valuable information from these speakers’ presentations, Sorokin also notes that the intention of the seminar is to have the audience involved as active participants, saying, “We would expect and hope and anticipate input from experienced participants as well.” So come prepared to share your own insights and ask the questions that continue to work themselves up into your practice.

After all, this seminar is intended to provide a forum for experienced practitioners to come together and have conversations about the important issues that lie at the heart of your practice.

We asked Sorokin what he was most looking forward to about this seminar:

I think it’s always very helpful to hear from and meet with our peers. The back and forth that you’re going to gain from meeting with your peers, and particularly advanced peers, is important to our practice, to our clients, and to our own offices – because a lot of us will go back and educate our own offices after attending these seminars.”

If you’re interested in joining the conversation with your experienced peers, you can head to our website to register for the seminar in Edmonton (May 12) or Calgary (May 20). We’re looking forward to seeing  you there!

Mar 232015

Register online for Criminal Advocacy!

If you practice in criminal law – whether for the Crown or for the defense – LESA is offering a seminar just for you. The Criminal Advocacy – Summary Disposition and Sentencing Hearings seminar is running in Edmonton on May 2 and Calgary on May 9.

This program is part of LESA’s Criminal Advocacy Series and features an impressive panel of seminar faculty for you to engage with and glean insights from.

Karen E. Hewitt (Chair)
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General

Hon. Associate Chief Justice J. D. Rooke
Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

Hon. Judge J. D. Bascom
Provincial Court of Alberta

Hon. Judge L. K. Stevens
Provincial Court of Alberta

Mona T. Duckett QC
Dawson Duckett Shaigec & Garcia

Paul Moreau
Moreau & Company

Today’s blog features an interview with seminar chair Karen E. Hewitt and will give you a sense of why you’ll benefit from this seminar

Why will the Criminal Advocacy – Summary Disposition and Sentencing Hearings program be valuable to practitioners? What will they gain?

The course is designed to be valuable both to young lawyers and as a refresher for more experienced counsel. Sentencing is one of the most important aspects of criminal law, one which engages different skills than those required to run a trial. Participants will be provided a good overview of the current law of sentencing as well as useful information from senior counsel and perspectives from the Judges on the faculty.

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

Participants will gain a thorough understanding of strategies for preparing for sentencing hearing, including the rules of evidence and procedure involved. This will be applicable for both shorter summary disposition hearings as well as longer contested sentencing hearings.

Can you talk about the format of the presentation with a morning plenary session and an afternoon skills training workshop? What can attendees expect from these two sessions?

Participants will receive written materials, including substantive law procedure along with case file examples. The morning portion of the course will be lecture style presentations from faculty members. This will provide an excellent opportunity for participants to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the subject matter. The afternoon will allow participants to work in groups preparing a file for sentencing, and some of the participants will then conduct a sentencing hearing before members of the Bench. This will then be followed by feedback from faculty members. … This allows some people who may not be comfortable getting up there to observe, while those who really want to get up there and hone their skills can [do so].

Would you encourage people to attend the afternoon session? It sounds like the afternoon offers a good hands-on learning opportunity.

The morning is the informational component; the afternoon is the advocacy component. … [In the afternoon,] the most important part is the feedback from the Bench. I found in the last session that the feedback given during the exercise portion gives the participants really good checklists they can take forward and apply to their practice immediately.

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

The only thing I want to add is that the focus on the program is on planning and approach and becoming a more effective advocate during sentencing hearings. It’s a valuable program for those who are actively engaged in criminal practice, whether you’re Crown or defense. It offers a much needed balanced perspective.

So do you have people on the panel from both sides?

I’m senior Crown counsel; Mona Duckett is senior defense counsel. Then we have judges from both levels of court. And we also have some coaching from the defense counsel.

So there you have it, this is a program with plenty to offer, and you can register now in Edmonton or Calgary by heading to our website.

Perhaps you’ve already registered for the morning plenary session, but now you’re intrigued by the option of participating in the hands-on afternoon skills training workshop. If so, send us an email at and we’ll get this set up for you. Note: an additional fee is required.

Mar 202015

Several Alberta law firms in Calgary and Edmonton had the honour of being named 2015 Top Choice Award recipients:


Kahane Law Office

(Real Estate Law Firm)

Litwiniuk & Company

(Injury Law Firm)

Zemp Law Group

(Immigration Law Services)


Cummings Andrews Mackay LLP

(Injury Law Firm)

Heritage Law Offices

(Family Law)

Congratulations to all of these outstanding firms and the individuals behind them who provide the incredible service that these awards pay tribute to!



Mar 182015

Register online for Summary Judgment Applications!

Are you a civil litigator? Have you ever made use of the summary judgment application process? Do you know how this process has changed over the past year, since the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin?

LESA has an upcoming Summary Judgment Applications seminar in Edmonton and Calgary to help answer your questions about this process.

Seminar chair Ken Blake describes Rule 7.3 as giving teeth to the summary judgment application process.

 It’s nice to see that a rule that was created for the benefit of the public is now being used more by their counsel. It’s not a slam dunk, but … the teeth are back in this rule. At one point it was toothless, and now it’s had some implants and can leave a mark. And that’s effective for all counsel. It doesn’t matter what form of civil litigation you’re involved in, it’s a great tool.

As Blake describes it, the old summary judgment application process “rarely, rarely worked” because “deference was always shown to people who were saying, ‘Well, there are still some outstanding issues’ or ‘We’re going to be proving that at a later date.’” This led to a reality where summary judgment applications offered more of a “forlorn hope” than a real opportunity for claims to be dismissed or to receive a judgment.

For Blake, the revived summary judgment application process offers clients two main benefits.

The change that came from the Supreme Court of Canada [in regards to] this theme or mode or different way of looking at something has made summary judgment more of a viable option for people. From what I understand, since that decision, summary judgments have almost been the flavor of the month. People are proceeding with them all over the place, because there are instances now where they can actually proceed and get a determination from a Master or a Justice on these issues without having to have the matter drag along when there’s really no need for it. There are two reasons that you can see throughout the whole theme of all these cases. 1) This is a rule that should be used. It was created for counsel and for the public … because you need access to justice. Sitting around and waiting for other people to do something or waiting for a trial date or anything to move the matter forward still delays and denies access, in my opinion, to your client. The new theory and the new mode of thinking with summary judgments, where the Master can now proceed and make these decisions, … helps out counsel with respect to a lot of items that they can now proceed on a summary fashion. 2) The other thing is cost. One of the reasons why people are not going to trial a lot, at least in the area that I practice in (that is insurance), is cost. Even when dealing with a matter that perhaps doesn’t have a great deal of legitimacy to it, prior to the Supreme Court decision, you could proceed with a summary judgment, but, as long as there was some hope or some oral argument given to a Master that things can be proven and things will come out and whatever, the claim would not be dismissed, because no one wanted to deny someone’s claim and that’s it. But costs for trial have increased a great deal, and this now allows people better opportunity to get their matter before court and save both themselves and, theoretically, the other party cost.

If you’re a civil litigator thinking about attending the upcoming Summary Judgment Applications seminar, here are 3 things you can expect to gain from this seminar:

  1. A better understanding of Rule 7.3 – As Blake explains, “We intend to present the essence of the rule, to break it down. What do you do? What do you need to do? What do you do in cases of self-representation? … I’m sure many … [litigators] who have never even thought of using the Rule would like to do so now, so we’re going to go over the essence of that rule.
  2. Greater knowledge about winning cases – For Blake, it’s important to see “how the court is looking at some of the cases that are coming before it and what facts and what criteria seem to be winning applications and what are not. You still can’t necessarily bring a summary application on a preliminary basis if it’s completely premature. You’re not going to get anywhere. Understanding when is a good time to bring a summary judgment application is probably just as beneficial as understanding how the courts are determining when a judgment should be granted or when a claim should be dismissed.
  3. The chance to talk to the experts – The panel includes Master Schlosser QC and Kunal Nand. Blake describes Master Schlosser as a “very keen, keen student of jurisprudence … [with] insights on this [that will be] tremendous to the bar” and notes that Nand, who will be providing an instructive paper and presentation, “was one of the first to start writing about how the Alberta court has been looking at summary judgments after the Supreme Court’s decision in Hryniak.” There will also be opportunity for the audience to ask questions. As Blake notes, “I would really like people to engage the panel with questions, because I think summary judgments now give people a great option to help their clients, and if you can take away something good that will add to your practice, then that’s great.

We hope you’ll be able to join this knowledgeable panel when they delve into the details of summary judgment applications. You can register online now for the session in Edmonton (April 28) or Calgary May 5).

Mar 162015

Take our breif 2015/2016 Seminar Survey now.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re no stranger to LESA. Perhaps you’ve recently accessed our educational resources or attended a LESA seminar.

Now we want your help as we decide what programs to offer next year.

Complete our 2015/2016 Seminar Survey to let us know what topics interest you in each practice area.

Every year, LESA offers about 40 seminars, and, as your lifelong partner in continuing legal excellence, we strive to offer programs that meet the needs of the entire profession, including lawyers, legal support staff, and articling students. To make sure we’re doing this, we want your feedback about what programs you’d find beneficial.

Thanks to everyone who has already completed the survey by responding to the request we sent out in our E-Letter last week. If you haven’t yet completed the brief 2015/2016 Seminar Survey, make sure you share your insights before the survey closes on Friday, March 20.


If you aren’t already a LESA E-Letter subscriber, you can subscribe here to receive our periodic email updates. You’ll receive about 4 emails a month that share details about upcoming programs and recently released resources. Since we’ll also send you special E-Letter only offers, subscribing to the E-Letter is a great way to keep in touch with the latest LESA news.

Mar 132015

The role of case management counsel at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta was recently legislatively recognized at ss 16.1 and 16.2 of the Court of Queen’s Bench Act.

First rolled out as a pilot project in 2011, the position of case management counsel has now become a permanent fixture at the court house. There are currently two counsel in Edmonton (Brenda Kaminski QC and Michelle Pidhirney) and two in Calgary (Catherine Christopher QC and Susan Borsic-Drummond).

A Notice to the Profession (NP #2011-03) outlines the authority and duties of these counsel, which includes narrowing or resolving issues, assisting with scheduling, and vetting applications to be made by the parties. They are also empowered to conduct references under Rule 6.45 of the Alberta Rules of Court. The mandate of case management counsel applies only to case-managed files and is only available to cases formally assigned into case management. Currently, counsel in Edmonton gets involved with all types of civil cases, regardless of whether the parties are self-represented or have counsel; in Calgary, they take only high conflict family cases with at least one self-represented litigant.

A case is referred to case management counsel in one of two ways:

  1. By the Chief Justice (in Calgary) or Associate Chief Justice (in Edmonton), on the case being assigned into case management, but before going before a case management judge.
  1. By the assigned case management judge, once the case is already in case management.

According to Michelle Pidhirney, “The role of case management counsel has become an important element of the case management process.  We complement the work of the judiciary in a way that makes efficient use of judicial resources and is of value to parties and to counsel. We assist with ensuring the effective administration of case managed actions to improve access to justice for all litigants, particularly those who are self-represented.”

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

Mar 112015


Did you know that the Rules of Court Committee proposes increasing party and party costs by 35%?

Today’s blog offers a short summary of the important details, and the committee’s full report can be found here.

On January 12, 2015 the Rules of Court Committee released its views on the scale of costs in Schedule C of the Rules of Court. Schedule C governs the amounts a successful litigant can presumptively be awarded from an unsuccessful litigant. These are commonly called party and party costs, and they are not meant to provide full indemnification (or solicitor-client costs) to a winner.

Schedule C was last adjusted in 1998 – 12 years before the current Rules came into effect. According to the Committee’s report, “there was a broad consensus that the Schedule needs to be updated to reflect inflation.”

According to the Committee’s report, and based on the opinions gathered by it:

  • The basic structure of Schedule C will stay the same. That is, it will continue to be divided into columns, based on the amount at stake in the litigation.
  • Schedule C will continue to apply to all types of litigation, no matter the area of law or the complexity of the case.
  • The objective of Schedule C will continue to be to provide some, but not all, cost recovery to a successful litigant.
  • The revised Schedule C will not include costs for dispute resolution processes, notwithstanding a call for that change by some commentators.

The Committee recommends that the new Schedule apply to all costs entitlements effective July 1, 2015.

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

Mar 092015

Find seminars and resources!

As you know, the Law Society of Alberta’s Continuing Professional Development Program is a mandatory requirement for all active lawyers in Alberta.

Have you been working on your 2015 CPD Plan? March 16, 2015 is the deadline to declare your plan to the Law Society of Alberta.

If you want to get a jumpstart on your 2015 CPD activities, LESA has 15 seminars being offered between now and June, with offerings in every practice area as well as general skills and knowledge programs suitable for all practitioners. Here’s a sample of what’s coming up next month:

  • Perhaps you’re a litigator interested in how social media can be leveraged in court? If so, Social Media in the Courts will provide plenty of information on this topic.
  • The Business of Law program has something to offer everyone, and it’s designed to help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to manage your business effectively.
  • If you’re looking to grow your business, Steve Hughes will be giving you tips and tricks for how to connect with new clients in our Making Business Development a Natural Part of Your Everyday Life seminar.

If you’re looking for programs being offered in the fall, keep an eye out for our upcoming 2015/2016 Educational Calendar. (Or follow our blog or subscribe to our E-Letter so we can let you know when it is available.) If you practice in family law, we’ve already opened registration for two September seminars: Interest Based Negotiations – one of the programs family practitioners need to become registered collaborative law professionals – and All That Touches Family Law – which will examine the intersection of family law with other areas, such as wills and estates, real estate, business, and more.

Our seminars on demand offer another great way for practitioners to participate in CPD activities. If you couldn’t fit one of the 9 seminars we recorded this year into your schedule, why not include it as a 2015 CPD activity?

Seminars on demand allow you to stream video recordings of presenters and download seminar materials as PDFs. We’ll have more seminars on demand available in the next few months, but for now you can access any of these incredible titles:

If you have any questions about the programs and resources LESA offers, please be in touch ( or 780.420.1987 or toll free in Alberta 1.800.282.3900).

Mar 062015

The recently effective Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, SA 2014 c 13 amends, among several other pieces of legislation, Alberta’s Limitations Act.

The purpose of the changes is to clarify the limitation applicable to claims for contribution made under the Tort-Feasors Act, RSA 2000, c T-5. This Act allows a defending tort-feasor to claim contribution from another potential tort-feasor defendant where both were involved in the same tort.

Until 2013, the courts consistently held that the applicable limitation for such a claim is 2 years from when a defending tort-feasor knew or ought to have known that a claim for contribution existed. However, in 2013 the waters were muddied on this issue when the Court of Appeal held that the applicable limitation begins to run with the plaintiff’s (and not the defendant’s) limitation period. That is, the claim had to have been advanced by a defending tort-feasor against another tort-feasor within 2 years from when the plaintiff knew or ought to have known of a claim against that other tort-feasor. This more narrow interpretation of the Act caused a potential situation in which a defendant, if served late by a plaintiff, could have been out of time to add another tort-feasor to the action before even learning of that tort-feasor’s liability.

The amendments to s. 3(1.1) of the Limitations Act, retroactively effective from March 1, 1999, overcome this problem by essentially overturning the 2013 Court of Appeal decision. Under the new provisions of the Limitations Act, the limitation period applicable to claims for contribution is: the later of 2 years from when a defendant is served with a statement of claim and the date on which the defendant knew, or ought to have known, that another tort-feasor may be liable for the same damage.

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel