Distinguished Service Awards

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Distinguished Service Awards
Nov 282016

Distinguished Service Awards 2017Distinguished Service Awards 2017

Nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Service Awards are due this Wednesday, November 30, 2016. 

These prestigious awards, presented by the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta, recognize Alberta lawyers for the remarkable contributions they provide.


If you are a member of the legal profession, you may be eligible to submit a nomination in one of the following four categories:

  1. Legal Scholarship
  2. Pro Bono Legal Service
  3. Service to the Community
  4. Service to the Profession

The awards are chosen by a selection committee comprised of Law Society and Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch representatives and members of the legal/academic community. Awards recipients are chosen based on the following selection criteria:

  • role model for other lawyers,
  • dedication,
  • results achieved,
  • creativity,
  • initiative,
  • individual achievement,
  • obstacles overcome,
  • significance of achievement,
  • impact, and
  • effective contribution to the role of law in society.

Additional Information

Don’t miss the opportunity to be recognized for your hard work and dedication to Alberta’s legal community. Click here for more information.

If you have questions or concerns, contact:
Distinguished Service Awards
Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch
710, 777 – 8 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2P 3R5
P: 403.263.3707, F: 403.265.8581



Program Feature: Effective Legal Support

 Calgary, Edmonton, Legal News: Alberta, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Program Feature: Effective Legal Support
Nov 242016

Effective Legal Support

Legal support staff are the backbone of a legal practice, and those with the knowledge and skill to facilitate efficient work practices can have a considerable effect on a firm’s success.

This January 17 (Edmonton) and 19 (Calgary), join program chair Michelle D. Millard, TEP and a distinguished panel for Effective Legal Support . Delve into strategies to more effectively utilize the talents and proficiencies of your legal support staff.

Who Should Attend?

This program is targeted to legal support staff from all practice areas interested in developing skills for providing more meaningful and effective legal support. Discover tools and strategies to effectively organize, prioritize, diarize, and learn to use office technology more efficiently.

This program may also be of interest to lawyers or office managers who supervise or train support staff. Uncover the role of support staff, including the many duties they perform, and explore various ways to work with your support staff to maximize the efficiency of your practice.

What You’ll Take Away

In a recent interview, we asked program chair, Michelle D. Millard what she thinks attendees will take away from this program. Here is what she had to say.

Participants will walk away having a better understanding of how to best provide legal assistance or use their legal assistants to become more efficient at their practice. This will allow the lawyer to practice more of the legal side and the legal assistant to add value by keeping things moving along smoothly. Participants will also be getting checklists that they will be able to use and refer to, and will walk away with pointers about different practices that other people follow.”

What Perspectives You’ll Gain

Learn practice management tips and strategies from distinguished panelists Ross G McLeod Q.C., Elizabeth Aspinall, Erica Banick, Bev Boyden, Bente Hallin, Kristine Jeffels, Aurora Lifeso, and Marvin Toy.

Here’s what Michelle had to say about the diversity of this panel and some of the perspectives you’ll gain.

We have a number of experienced legal assistants to speak about how and why an efficient practice benefits everyone. We also have a lawyer, who is very efficient in his practice, to address how to work most effectively with a legal assistant. Some outside parties will be participating as well and will be taking a bit more of a holistic perspective, offering solutions to make sure things run fairly, smoothly, and in accordance with the rules.”

Registration and Additional Information

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn tips for enhancing the efficiency of your practice. Register online to attend our Effective Legal Support program.

Take advantage of our Early Bird discount. Register on or before December 13, 2016, and receive $40 off the regular price.

Weekly Program Feature: Estate Administration Fundamentals

 Calgary, Edmonton, Legal News: Alberta, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Weekly Program Feature: Estate Administration Fundamentals
Nov 092016

Estate Administration Fundamentals

Join program chair David J. Koski and experienced panel on November 30 (Edmonton) and December 7 (Calgary) for Estate Administration Fundamentals.

Learn the basics of estate administration, from the review of key documents and timelines, to some of the common issues lawyers face today, and more.

Benefits and Takeaways of this Program

In a recent interview, David shared some of the benefits of attending Estate Administration Fundamentals. Here’s what he had to say.

We have five practitioners who practice primarily in non-contentious estate administration matters. These matters are harder than they seem; there are a lot of work-arounds that the practitioner will need to deploy as they assist personal representatives with estate administration. With the eclectic wisdom of the panel, we will be able to provide some helpful tips and work-arounds for these matters.”

David also let us know why this program will be valuable for attendees.

There is more to the practice of non-contentious estate administration than people expect. There is a need for effective legal advice for personal representatives, and the process to follow isn’t always that clear. Those attending will have a better appreciation of what some of those challenges will be and learn some practical suggestions for negotiating themselves.”

Discussion Topics

Understand key aspects of estate administration. Review key documents and timelines, and explore the common issues lawyers face in a typical (non-contested) estate.

Here’s a sneak preview of what the faculty will be discussing during this seminar.

The faculty is composed of a number of practitioners with a fair amount of experience in this area. We will cover difficult grant applications, accounting applications, and share our perspectives on how the practicing lawyer can better manage their files and their client’s expectations, so administration can be a better experience for all.”

Register Online

Don’t miss the opportunity to deepen your understanding of estate administration. Reserve your spot today. Register online to attend in Edmonton (November 30) or Calgary (December 7).

For additional information, including program times, prices, locations, and more, view the brochure.

Update on Advance Care Planning Survey

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Update on Advance Care Planning Survey
Oct 282016

Advance Care Planning Collaborative Research & Innovation Opportunities Program

The Advance Care Planning Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities research program (ACP CRIO) greatly appreciates the support of the legal community – including LESA, the Law Society, and CBA – for this survey.

Thank you for providing information about ACP in your practices, barriers to assisting clients with ACP, and resources that might address these barriers.

These results have implications for practice change and greater interprofessional collaboration between the medical and legal communities. This infographic summarizes our preliminary findings and proposed next steps. Our final results and publications relating to the survey will be posted on www.acpcrio.org. We are planning to launch this survey in three additional provinces and in Australia in the coming year.


Weekly Program Feature: Family Law Trial Fundamentals

 Calgary, Edmonton, Legal News: Alberta, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Weekly Program Feature: Family Law Trial Fundamentals
Oct 112016

Family Law Trial Fundamentals

This November 17 (Calgary) and 22 (Edmonton), join program chair Heather McKay QC and expert panel for Family Law Trial Fundamentals. Learn effective trial advocacy from senior family law practitioners, understand best practices for retaining and using experts, and more.

Benefits of this Program

In a recent interview, we asked Heather what attendees will find beneficial about this program. Here’s what she had to say.

I think this program will appeal to everyone, including junior lawyers and lawyers who have not run a trial in a long time. It’s going to be very hands on. There will be demonstrations and  discussions from senior lawyers, a judge, and a lawyer who has run many provincial court trials.”

Heather also let us know why she thinks this program will be particularly unique.

I think that people learn not just by listening to people talk – especially when you’re dealing with the fundamentals of trial. A lot of people have never used or seen an opening statement, and many lawyers have never had the experience of cross examining or qualifying an expert. Having the experts there speaking to us will be beneficial.”

Faculty and Discussion Topics

Heather also gave us a sneak preview of what some of the other faculty members will be discussing.

Justice Horner will talk about effective advocacy from the bench’s perspective. Larry Fong Ph.D. has years of experience with bilateral custody assessments and litigation support. He is also a trained mediator and arbitrator and is going to talk about the things that counsel can do to effectively use their expert. Sharon Gray and Heather Askham are experts in the area of income determination and business valuations. They are going to give some tips for using your expert, including how to understand expert reports, and what questions to ask. We’ve also got Michael Kraus QC, who’s going to talk about summary trials, and Dustin Tkachuk, who’s going to speak on provincial courts.

Registration and Additional Information

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore each step of the family law trial process and deepen your confidence in your ability to run a family law trial. Register online to attend in Calgary (November 17) or in Edmonton (November 22).

For more information, view the program brochure.

Practice Profile: Michelle Gallagher

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Practice Profile: Michelle Gallagher
Sep 232016


Michelle GallagherLESA greatly values the contributions of its volunteers. Recently, we spoke with Michelle Gallagher of Patriot Law in Onoway, Alberta. Michelle is a board member of LESA, a CPLED Evaluator, and has presented at several LESA programs.

Before pursuing law as a career, Michelle was an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. Her background with the military has significantly contributed to her career. On a daily basis, she draws from this experience in 2 ways: through her highly developed planning skills, and through her diligence and attention to detail.

These skills have helped Michelle achieve success in the legal profession. Michelle notes, “We had a saying in the military, time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”

Michelle practices law at her small-town general practice with her husband. She enjoys practicing law in a rural community for many reasons, including the more relaxed office atmosphere and the friendly environment. As Michelle put it, “We get really well-embedded into our community out here.”

Community involvement is very important to Michelle, as evidenced by the fact that she is a director on several not-for-profit boards within her region. Currently, she sits on the local Chamber of Commerce Board, the Commissionaires, and is the Chair of the West Parkland Gas Co-Op. She enjoys her work with these organizations because it helps her stay connected to her communities and because it has given her, as she states, “Opportunities and opened doors that may or may not have existed if [she] hadn’t tried to make the leap and tried to find something to be involved in.”

Michelle first became involved with LESA by attending a seminar. Since that time, Michelle has been involved with LESA in several capacities: as a presenter, as a participant in seminars and on-line programs, as an evaluator for the CPLED program, and as a member of the Board of Directors.

Michelle’s involvement with LESA has enriched her practice in different ways. Presenting in seminars has provided an opportunity for Michelle to advance her oral advocacy skills, build her professional network, and ensure that she is adapting her practice to be in-line with best practices. According to Michelle,

[Presenting helps to] get some professional development for yourself at a deeper level, because I think you have to know the subject better than just a basic level in order to be able to stand in front of a group and talk about it.”

Michelle also attends many of LESA’s seminars and participates in online LESA training throughout the year to direct her own personal development as a lawyer. She also enjoys her work as a CPLED Evaluator with LESA, not only because it serves as a refresher for her own skills, but because it also provides gratification.

It’s nice to see that between law school and CPLED, you are bringing some really good people to the profession.”

As a member of the board, Michelle enjoys working with people from many areas of the legal profession and she appreciates that this position affords her the opportunity to take a look at bigger-picture issues facing the legal profession.

Part of what I enjoy about being involved with LESA is having the opportunity to step back and look at lawyer and legal issues on a much larger scale with a view to where things are going in the future.”

It is through the hard work and dedication of volunteers like Michelle Gallagher that LESA is able to provide such a diverse variety of programs to serve the educational and professional development needs of the legal profession throughout the province. Thank you for being our partner in continuing legal excellence.

Sep 122016

This week we’re featuring 2 programs you may want to consider attending this fall:

We interviewed the program chairs to get details on what these programs have to offer attendees, including some sneak discussion topic previews and program takeaways.

 Estate Planning Essentials

Estate Planning Essentials

Join seminar chair Rhonda Johnson and other panelists for Estate Planning Essentials, and explore essential strategies for addressing common estate planning issues.

In a recent interview, we asked Rhonda what makes this program unique. Here’s what she had to say.

I think the panel itself is an excellent mix of practice interests and experiences.

Tiffany Franklin has done a lot of wills & estates litigation and drafting. Her perspective from the litigation side and understanding how we can learn from issues that have arisen on other files is really very practical in a day-to-day world.

Averie McNary, QC was instrumental in the writing of the new Wills and Succession Act, and she also spent years with the public trustee’s office. She’s also had a lot of experience dealing with disabled adults, so she will be giving practical tips and advice based on her years of carrying out disability trusts.

Timothy Kirby will be speaking from the tax perspective, which is something all of us lawyers are anxious about, and in this area of practice, is always in the background. He has done many, many estate freezes and he can really help alert us to some of the issues from the tax perspective.

Noel Xavier is with the Edmonton Community Foundation and doing really innovative work to help people who are wanting to do some gifting to charities. There isn’t a great deal of awareness in the public eye about the benefits, but it is really is one of those rare situations where you can have a plus, plus – there is a benefit to a charity but there isn’t a drain on the estate.

Finally, I’ve done a lot of work on will substitutes – the most popular in BC are the trusts. I’m doing more and more of those trusts for Albertans for different reasons: disabled adult children, second spouses, challenges with different family members, things like that. I’ll also be talking about some ways of helping clients with those issues, whether that’s through the use of trusts if they have property outside of Alberta.”

Register Online

View the brochure to find out more about this program. Register online to attend in Calgary (October 20) or Edmonton (October 27). Early Bird registration ends September 13, 2016.

Financial Disclosure in Family Law Matters
Financial Disclosure in Family Law Matters

This October, join seminar chair Karin Schwab and experienced faculty members for a full-day program, and learn to identify appropriate and adequate disclosure, effectively review disclosure, and more.

Ryan D. Anderson | Huckvale LLP
Wayne Barkauskas | Wise Schieble Barkauskas
Laura Bruyer | Gordon Zwaenepoel
Christopher A. Jackson | Jackson Law
Aaron D. Martens | Dunphy Best Blocksom LLP
Trevor Phillippon, CA, CBV | Pennock Acheson Nielson Devaney

In a recent interview, Karin gave us a sneak preview of the program. Here’s what she told us.

The whole issue about this new practice note, that isn’t a new practice note, has caused quite a stir in the family bar. The Honourable D.A. Yungwirth and the Honourable J.D. Rooke perceive it as a solution to a problem of too many steps required for the basic disclosure, which is what the note of disclosure is designed to prevent. I think the process they’ve created has been viewed in many different ways in the family bar. This program will allow people to have some input in terms of how they would have addressed this problem and the solutions that they have found in their practices. We all have our little tricks, and perhaps this will give us the opportunity to give some feedback to Justice Rooke and Justice Yungwirth about the pros and cons about what they’ve proposed.”

Not only will you get the chance to weigh in and provide their feedback, but you’ll also receive practical, useful takeaways that will allow you to enhance your practice and hone your skills. As Karin stated, attendees can expect to receive a checklist designed for practitioners of all vantages.

Register Online

Reserve your spot in Financial Disclosure in Family Law Matters. Attend in Edmonton (October 18) or Calgary (October 25). Early Bird registration ends September 13, 2016.

View the program brochure for more details.

A special congratulations goes out to Karin Schwab, who will be celebrating 31 years at the bar this Tuesday, September 13!

Unreasonable Delay

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Unreasonable Delay
Sep 072016

Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada decided a trio of significant precedents for determining unreasonable delay in criminal trials: R v Vassell,  2016 SCC 26, 130 WCB (2d) 597 [R v Vassell], R v Jordan,  2016 SCC 27, 130 WCB (2d) 596 [R v Jordan], and R v Williamson,  2016 SCC 28, 130 WCB (2d) 600 [R v Williamson]. The right to be tried for a criminal offence within a reasonable time is protected by s 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11 [Charter]. In the past, this had been determined by applying the R v Morin, [1992] 1 SCR 771 at para 26, 12 CR (4th) 1 [R v Morin], framework which balances four factors in order to determine whether the delay was unreasonable. R v Jordan overrules the R v Morin framework and replaces it with a strict timeline that is supported and fleshed out by R v Vassell and R v Williamson.

The Framework

The framework developed in R v Jordan is dependent on the concept of the presumptive ceiling. The presumptive ceiling prescribed by the Supreme Court of Canada refers to a time limit for criminal cases from the charge to the actual or anticipated end of trial. If the presumptive ceiling time limit is exceeded, then the delay will be presumptively unreasonable (R v Jordan at para 49). Applicable across Canada, the presumptive ceiling is 18 months for provincial court and 30 months for superior courts.

In situations where the presumptive ceiling is exceeded, the burden shifts to the Crown to prove that there were exceptional circumstances outside of the Crown’s control that necessitated having a longer trial. To meet this test, the exceptional circumstances must be: (1) reasonably unforeseen or reasonably unavoidable, and (2) cannot be reasonably remedied (R v Jordan at para 69). The SCC further clarifies this test by considering how the nature of the exceptional circumstance plays a role in determining delay. If the delay arises from a discrete event, then the delay reasonably attributable to that event is subtracted from the total time calculation. If the exceptional circumstance arises due to the complexity of the case, then delay is reasonable. Proving that there was an exceptional circumstance that was of a discrete or complex nature is the only basis on which the Crown can justify exceeding the presumptive ceiling (R v Jordan at para 81).

If the defence seeks an 11(b) application when the time of the trial is still below the presumptive ceiling, then the burden is on the defence to demonstrate that the delay is unreasonable. In order to do this, the defence must meet two qualifications. First, the defence must show that they took meaningful steps to demonstrate a sustained effort to expedite the proceedings. Second, the defence must demonstrate to the court that the case took markedly longer than it reasonably should have taken (R v Jordan at para 82). This is not a matter of precise timelines, but of the trial judge’s assessment based on contextual factors such as complexity, jurisdiction, and their own experience.

The Impact on the Crown, Defence, and the Courts

In addition to determining the presumptive ceiling, R v Jordan also clarifies the responsibility borne by the Crown, the defence, and the court. The Crown bears a significant responsibility in ensuring that trials are held within the presumptive ceiling limit. In R v Vassell, the court firmly emphasized that the Crown must take an active role in ensuring that trials are completed within a reasonable time. Specifically, this case states that, “the Crown cannot close its eyes to the … inability of the system to provide earlier dates” (para 7), which indicates that the Crown bears a duty to mitigate systemic delays (R v Jordan at para 75). However, the Crown is not the only party responsible for ensuring the trial meets the presumptive ceiling timeline.

R v Jordan makes it clear that the actions of the defence are part of the solution (para 113). Although legitimate actions taken by the defence do not constitute delay, delays waived by the defence or caused solely by the defence will not contribute to the calculation of the presumptive ceiling (para 66). The reasoning behind this measure is that, “[s]ection 11(b) was not intended to be a sword to frustrate the ends of justice” (R v Jordan at para 21), and should not be used as a defence mechanism by counsel.

In addition, R v Jordan discusses how the courts must also play a significant role in ensuring the timely conclusion of trials (para 114). Trials do not take place in a vacuum (para 43), and the delays from one trial have a ripple effect throughout the justice system and contribute to the administrative delays that plague many jurisdictions. Courts must remain aware of the practical results of delays and therefore be conservative in their allowance of delays in trials (para 114).

Incorporating the Framework into the Current System

The new presumptive ceiling framework in R v Jordan applies to cases that are currently in the system, with two exceptions. The first exception is where there is a transitional exceptional circumstance for a case that exceeds the presumptive ceiling (R v Jordan at para 96). As demonstrated in R v Williamson, the transitional exceptional circumstance applies when the Crown can demonstrate that the time taken by the case would have been reasonable based on the previous law of the R v Morin factors. Of particular importance, a finding of guilt has absolutely no bearing on determining the outcome of the unreasonable delay application (R v Williamson at para 32). The second exception is for cases that fall below the presumptive ceiling. In such cases, R v Jordan holds that it is not necessary for the defence to have taken initiative to expedite matters for the period of delay preceding the decision in R v Jordan, because it was not required by R v Morin; however, defence initiative may be a persuasive argument in showing the delay was unreasonable (R v Jordan at para 99).

In addition, assessments of both exceptions are to be conducted in a contextual manner based on factors relevant to the particular case such as complexity of the case, behaviour of the Crown, and institutional delay issues in the trial jurisdiction.

Closing thoughts

Although these three cases focus on different applications of the law of unreasonable delay in criminal cases, they each focus particularly on increasing the Crown’s responsibilities in ensuring that the trial moves forward in a timely manner. R v Vassell requires the Crown to take a more active role in ensuring that cases are brought to trial in a reasonable time, and R v Jordan and R v Williamson mirror this theme. Given the significance of these decisions, it is likely we will see further developments in the case law relating to unreasonable delay in the future.

Assist: Annual Walks for Wellness

 Calgary, Edmonton, Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Assist: Annual Walks for Wellness
Aug 312016

6th Annual Walks for Wellness

Have you heard of the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society’s (Assist) annual Walks for Wellness? This September marks the 6th Annual Walk for Wellness events in Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton.

Locations, Dates, & Times

Join Alberta’s legal community for a free walk at,
• The Lethbridge Courthouse Park, September 22, from 12:00 – 1:00 PM;
• The Calgary Courthouse Park, September 22, from 12:00 – 1:00 PM;
• The Red Deer Provincial Courthouse (Remand Centre/East Side), September 27, from 12:00 – 1:00 PM; or at
• The Edmonton Courthouse Park (Sir Winston Churchill Square), September 27, 12:00 – 1:00 PM.

This walk is free, but participants are asked to pledge one of the following:
Family Time;
Active Time;
Quiet Time;
Reflective Time; or
Fun Time.

Help promote health and wellness and raise awareness of Assist’s services this fall. There are prizes to be won and plenty of fun to be had!

More Information

Get more information about this year’s Walks for Wellness.
Red Deer

Have questions? Call, 1.877.737.5508 or 403.537.5508.

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

6th Annual Law & Practice Update

 Calgary, Legal News: Alberta, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on 6th Annual Law & Practice Update
Aug 292016

6th Annual Law & Practice update

Have you registered for the 6th Annual Law & Practice Update?

This 2-day program is designed specifically to meet the needs of sole and small firm practitioners.

Join us in Calgary, October 14 & 15, and get up-to-date in various areas of the law, including Wills and Estates, Litigation, Family Law, Real Estate, and Corporate/Commercial Law.

Get practical information that corresponds to the categories outlined in your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Plan.

  • Ethics and Professionalism; 
  • Substantive Legal Knowledge;
  • Client Relationship Management;
  • Practice Management; 
  • Oral & Written Communication, Analytical & Research Skills; and
  • Wellness.

Topics and Speakers

Hear from seminar chair Les Scholly, panelists Anthony Young QC, Michael Birdsell QC, Tracey Bristow, Richard Low, Sonja Lusignan, Scott McCamis, Richard Verhaeghe, George Wowk, and others on a range of topics, including:
Recent Developments & Practice Pointers in Wills & Estates;
Corporate Law in the Small Firm; and
The Power of the Pleadings.

Program Benefits

What was the most valuable take-away from the program?

The most valuable take-away for me was the knowledge that I am doing things right and my understanding of the law is up-to-date.”

What was most beneficial about the program?

Being with other practitioners like me and having a program geared towards the interests of smaller (and rural) practices.”

What would you tell others who are considering attending this program?

This is one of the best LESA courses I have taken, by virtue of helping me to know I am on top of the things I need to be on top of.”

Register Online

Register online to attend the 6th Annual Law & Practice Update in Calgary, October 14 & 15.

We look forward to seeing you there!