50th Annual Refresher: Family Law Sessions

 LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on 50th Annual Refresher: Family Law Sessions
Apr 132017

50th annual Refresher: Family Law Sessions

The 50th Annual Refresher: Practice Excellence is approaching quickly, so we want to give you a bit more detail about what to expect from each of the substantive law sessions.

In a recent interview, we spoke with our Family Law Sessional Chair, Marie L. Gordon QC, who was pleased to share more detail about each of the family law sessions. We also asked her why she was keen on being involved in this year’s Refresher program. Here’s what she had to say.

I think that this new idea of bringing together four subject areas under the umbrella of Practice Excellence is a great idea. It’s going to give us more exposure to broader thinking about the way we practice law. I think that all of us have capacity to think about our practices from a forward thinking approach, so that excites me. In addition to that, to get Richard Susskind to speak at this conference is a major coup!”

Learn more about each of the Family Law Sessions, including

Separation and Divorce Later in Life | John-Paul E. Boyd
Do Family Lawyers Have Ethical Obligations to the Children of Their Clients? | Patricial M. Herbert QC & Prof. Nicholas Bala
Jurisdictional Issues in Custody Matters | Krysta H. Ostwald
Old Dogs, New Tricks | Deni Cashin

Happy reading!

Separation and Divorce Later in life | John-Paul E. Boyd

About the Session

Family lawyers are facing more elder divorces than ever. This is a demographic shift that all of us are feeling, and these files require that we have an enhanced understanding of the dynamics that are unique to divorces later in life. Some of the more challenging issues that intersect include, retirement; spousal support; new spouses and new partners; insurance obligations; the making of family law obligations binding on an estate; and public assistance programs, such as OAS, CPP, etc. We need to have a broader understanding of these issues.”

About the Presenter

John-Paul Boyd is a very experienced family law practitioner who’s now the Executive Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family. He brings a wonderful hybrid of practical and sociodemographic information about this topic.”

Session Value

Attendees will get a greater sense of what to watch out for in elder divorces and more confidence about guiding clients through a divorce later in life.”

Additional Session Information

This session is running Sunday, May 7 (2017). Make sure to whether or not you wish to attend this session in the comments section upon registration checkout.

Do Family Lawyers Have Ethical Obligations to the Children of Their Clients? | Patricia M. Herbert QC & Prof. Nicholas Bala

About the Session

This is a really interesting take on parenting issues. The majority of our files involve parenting issues, and we’ve come a million miles away from the old fashioned notion of simply managing various schedules. Lawyers used to just help their clients manage a schedule, decide whether it was sole vs. joint custody, and we were done. This session takes a much more sophisticated approach towards understanding our role as lawyers when helping our adult clients. Lawyers have not always been aware of the impact of divorce on children and have sometimes been blind to how their role impacts their clients’ children. This is really going to inform lawyers about how they can manage parenting issues better on their family law files.”

About the Presenters

Nicholas is an international family law star. He is one of Canada’s preeminent academics, and we were extremely fortunate in securing his agreement to speak at this session. He is a prolific writer, judicial educator, and academic who is always on the cutting edge of family law issues related to children. Patricia is highly respected and a nationally recognized expert on issues involving representation of children, parental alienation, and child focus strategies for judges and lawyers. She has experience with some of the hardest files.”

Session Value

This session will give attendees the opportunity to think about their role in an expanded way. It will stretch their understanding of how they can help or harm the children of their clients, and will also allow them to become more conscious of their impact as they move through a standard family law file involving parenting.”

Additional Session Information

This session is running Sunday, May 7 (2017). Make sure to whether or not you wish to attend this session in the comments section upon registration checkout.

Jurisdictional Issues in Custody Matters | Krysta H. Ostwald

About the Session

Family lawyers sometimes feel they have to start at zero when it comes to jurisdictional issues. All of us are concerned about conflict issues and matters that intersect – either interprovincial or international jurisdictional matters. This session provides a very important update with key new cases on jurisdictional matters as they relate to custody. These matters arise frequently on a file and it’s going to be a huge comfort for attendees to get a review of not only basic concepts but also access to key go-to cases.”

About the Presenter

Krysta Ostwald is one of those lawyers who can do it all – litigate, mediate, arbitrate. Krysta has a wealth of practical experience and she is much in demand as a speaker. She is one of the leaders of the National Family Law Program.”

Key Takeaway

This session will help attendees gain a better understanding of the basics of jurisdictional custody –how to avoid leading clients into unsuccessful litigation, how to reduce client costs, and to help clients to effectively litigate if they have to.”

Additional Session Information

This session is running Monday May 8, 2017. Make sure to whether or not you wish to attend this session in the comments section upon registration checkout.

Old Dogs, New Tricks | Deni Cashin

About the Session

About 95% of all the files we ever touch never go to court. This session reminds attendees to constantly think about more effective ways for settling files. It is important to constantly challenge ourselves to get out of our old routines and to think about strategies to bring family disputes to resolution. Everything we do – whether it is in collaboration, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, etc. – all of it requires that we constantly reexamine and improve how we help people “get to yes”. Deni is going to harvest ideas and strategies to share from other family law practitioners.”

About the Presenter

I know Deni personally as being one of those hard-working effective family lawyers, who – like all of us – is striving to constantly get better as a litigator and negotiator.”

Additional Session Information

This session is running Monday, May 8 (2017). Make sure to whether or not you wish to attend this session in the comments section upon registration checkout.

Register Online

Join us for the 50th Annual Refresher this May 7–9 in at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Read the conference brochure to learn more about this once-in-a-career event.

Register on.lesa.org/50years.

Intersection of Family and Criminal Law

 Calgary, Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Intersection of Family and Criminal Law
Jan 232017

Intersection of Family and Criminal Law

Criminal law matters have implications in family law matters, and vice versa: bail conditions may conflict with family orders, affidavit evidence in family proceedings can differ from information of record in criminal proceedings, and emotional social media posts arising from tense family matters can give rise to criminal considerations.

This March 11 (Calgary) and March 18 (Edmonton), join us for Intersection of Family and Criminal Law. Examine the intersection of these two areas of practice, and discover how to proactively consider the implications of each on the other.

About the Program

Join seminar chair Richard W. Rand QC and experienced panelists to discover strategies for managing family law files with criminal law components, and vice versa.

Review topics, including:

  • Preventing the Intersection of Family & Criminal Law,
  • The Criminal Law That Family Law Lawyers Need to Know,
  • Getting the Goods on the Other Side: Social Media as Evidence, and
  • Conversations Between Family & Criminal Lawyers.

In a recent interview, we spoke to program panelist Brian A. Vail QC about the upcoming program. Here’s what he had to say.

I have long said, “listen you criminal and civil lawyers, when you’re acting for a client, you can’t have tunnel vision.” You’ve got to be aware of related proceedings. A lot of criminal lawyers don’t know much about civil law, and vice versa, and they don’t want to. The fact is: your client is facing a multi-front war. They will be facing criminal proceedings on one side, and civil proceedings on the other. So, just as the allies did in WW2, you want to coordinate what you do on one front with what you do on the other.”

Sneak Preview

Brian told us a bit about his discussion topic, Getting the Goods on the Other Side: Social Media as Evidence. Here is a sneak preview of what you can look forward to in the first part of his presentation.

The first part I’ll speak about is social media in litigation, and that’s going to involve a number of things. I’m going to talk about civil law applications – like getting background information on litigants or witnesses, using that information to challenge a witness’s credibility, and how to get at the non-public portions of the subjects social networking site. I’ll talk about how you can use Facebook to serve people and about civil publication bans. I’m also going to talk about the fact that the court can take judicial notice about the facts that are on some websites, ethical issues including document production, and I’ll discuss the destruction of evidence.”

Brian also gave us the inside scoop on the second portion of his presentation.

The second portion of my presentation involves litigation from the criminal into the civil and vice versa. I’m going to talk about the fact that if there is a criminal proceeding that is related to a civil one, you cannot use or disclose the contents of that in any other civil action. You have to indicate “there is a crown disclosure package that I have possession of but I decline to produce or provide it for inspection absent permission of the other side or order of the court. I’ll also discuss how to get at a police file, how to get at the crown disclosure package, and the impact of a criminal verdict on a civil case. I’ll be looking at the Canadian Rights Against Self-Incrimination under the Charter and Evidence Act and the Alberta Evidence Act.”

When we asked Brian why he was excited about this program, he told us he was excited to finally share with all of the attendees, how he has found success as a litigator.

Too many lawyers are too insular when it comes to civil or criminal law. When I do a civil case, I look for every other case that the other litigant has been involved in and often, it is an absolute gold mine. What makes these files interesting to me is that there are four fronts, there is the police and the crown, the job action (maybe dismissal from the employer), civil action from the victims, and professional misconduct proceedings. That makes it fun.”

Register Online

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the interplay between criminal and family law. Register to attend the Intersection of Family and Criminal Law program in Calgary (March 11) or in Edmonton (March 18).

Register on or before February 7, 2017 to take advantage of our Early Bird pricing.

Become a More Complete Lawyer: Answers You Need

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Become a More Complete Lawyer: Answers You Need
Mar 082016

Complete Lawyer

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where friends, family, or clients are looking for a bit of advice? Maybe they want tips on starting up a business, or perhaps they are interested in knowing the rules around spousal obligations with respect to children.

LESA’s Complete Lawyer seminar is for all lawyers in all practice areas. As we heard in a recent interview with seminar chair Deirdre M.I. McKenna, Complete Lawyer offers an opportunity for you to gain a broad understanding of various areas of law including: real estate, employment law, family law, litigation, business law, and wills & estates.


Join Deirdre M.I. McKenna and panel experts of varying experience levels to get a true sense of the multiple approaches you can take to deal with common legal issues:

You can learn more about each panelist’s discussion topic in the program brochure.

Be prepared to ask challenging questions about these topics. Deirdre and the rest of the panel want the program to be “an opportunity for dialogue between participants and the presenters.” For Deirdre, the goal is that people come to the program with real, concrete questions that initiate meaningful conversation, allowing everyone to leave the seminar with a fuller understanding and the answers that they were looking for.

Why Attend?

As Deirdre notes, the discussion topics focus on practical issues: from how to successfully navigate difficult litigation issues to addressing agricultural real estate concerns and the shifting sands of complex areas with blended families, employment law, and more.

Here’s how she explained the value of this program:

Being able to have a broad range or broad understanding of different areas of law is valuable because it will allow you to do a better job for your clients. … [This seminar] would be good for … anyone … who wants to make sure that their knowledge is broadened in … the most common areas.”

Register Online

Maybe you are interested in changing your area of practice; broadening your skills and knowledge; or perhaps simply keeping up-to-date on common questions, concerns, and key issues.

Whatever the case may be, Complete Lawyer is sure to answer many of those key questions, leaving you feeling more confident and complete!

Reserve your spot to attend Complete Lawyer in Lethbridge on May 6.
To take advantage of early bird savings register on or before March 29.

Practice Profile – Family Law with Marla Miller QC

 Practice Profile  Comments Off on Practice Profile – Family Law with Marla Miller QC
Jul 302015

Marla MillerIn this latest instalment of our practice profile series, we continue to explore the different directions your legal education can take you by speaking with Marla Miller QC of the Miller Boileau Family Law Group. Marla shares with us her experiences and insight on becoming a sole practitioner, the family law practice, and the family law bar as a community.

At Miller Boileau, Marla and her colleagues have each taken on a unique role – be it a mediator, litigator, or collaborative family lawyer – to offer their clients a full range of services. Marla focuses on using mediation and collaborative family law to seek out a suitable arrangement for her clients and the parties involved.

At first glance, Miller Boileau may look and act like a small firm; however, it enjoys the structure of an association of lawyers. As Marla explained, “It is the best of both worlds in that there is support from … a group of family lawyers but you also have all the good things that come with being a sole practitioner.

Before starting her own practice in 1990, Marla worked at both a small and a mid-size firm. Her motivation to go solo came from her surroundings as well as her interest in the business side of a law practice. The idea of becoming a sole practitioner may be a daunting one, but Marla shares with us some advice that she kept in her pocket when starting out.

If you have the choice to work with a lawyer for five years and if you are doing good work and your clients are happy and sending you referrals, after five years you’ve done enough and seen enough that you have a good chance of surviving on your own.

In terms of a typical day, Marla is usually able to meet with two sets of clients, as most meetings take up a full morning or afternoon. The freedom and flexibility to set her own schedule is certainly important to her, but one of the things that Marla values the most as a family lawyer is also what sets the practice apart from others.

In family law, you can only make a bad situation better. When people come to you and are having a terrible time, you can help them get to a better place.

This ability to aid and guide people through a difficult situation is a driving force for many in their pursuit of a family law career. How to set off upon the path to reach that position, however, can be unclear. When students interested in family law ask her about articling, Marla’s answer may seem counterintuitive at first, but it is not without reason.

Don’t article at a family law firm. Instead, try articling at a general practice firm. You need to learn all the other skills in order to be a good family lawyer. Talk to the firm and tell them that, while you want to learn everything, you think you might want to end up in family law. They might already be sending the work off, and you could end up being an asset to the firm.

Students can also find comfort in knowing that the family law bar is supportive and that there are opportunities for mentorship and guidance. Marla reassured us that “if people have questions, they can probably call any family lawyer. It’s a very generous and collegial bar. We like to help people get to where they need to be in their lives. It’s what we do.

We appreciate Marla’s willingness to share her insight and expertise as well as her valuable advice for pursuing family law. We bring this chapter of our series to a close with something that has stuck with us and most certainly will stick with you. When asked about the impact her work has on her clients, Marla answered that, at the end of the day, being a family lawyer is not all about winning.

You close your file and go on to your next client, but whatever has happened is the story that these people have to live with. If you’re not helping the whole person and looking only at the legal problem, you’re doing a disservice. You do a disservice to the client, you do a disservice to their children, and, in the long run, you do a disservice to yourself.

Kristine Gu
LESA Summer Student

Access Legal Resources – Download Seminar Papers

 LESA Update, Resource  Comments Off on Access Legal Resources – Download Seminar Papers
Feb 042015

Discover LESA's Seminar Papers!

Perhaps you’re a newly called lawyer or you’ve recently started practicing in a new area of law? Maybe you’re faced with a particularly vexing issue or you simply want to keep your legal knowledge up-to-date?

Whatever your professional development needs are, we have resources to help you find the information that you’re looking for.

LESA seminar papers provide insight into specific questions, issues, and topics that you encounter in your practice.

There are several ways that you can discover the resource that’s right for you.

1) Search by seminar name

Visit our Educational Resources – Seminar Papers webpage and enter the seminar name in the “Search By Seminar” field to find resources you know you missed.

Most seminar papers presented at LESA programs are subsequently available for individual purchase. If you missed our 4th Annual Law and Practice Update back in November, for example, you can still benefit from the presenter’s wealth of knowledge by accessing their seminar papers:

Although the Law and Practice program is targeted towards sole practitioners and small firm lawyers, other practitioners can benefit from these great resources as well. If you practice in the wills and estates area, consider reading Diminished Capacity for Solicitors – Black, White, and a Lot of Grey, which addresses estate litigation issues surrounding individuals with diminished capacity. For family law practitioners, Getting People Out examines the legal process involved when a relationship breaks down and one party must be removed from the home.

2) Search by practice area

Visit lesa.org, select your practice area from the left-hand navigation bar, and explore available papers applicable to your particular practice.

For example, in the “Recent Seminar Papers” section of our Criminal Law webpage, you’ll find the popular Criminal Advocacy – Trial Strategy paper that Karen Hewitt presented in April 2014. This paper provides criminal defense lawyers valuable, detailed pointers to help you prepare effectively for trial by utilizing a systematic focus to help improve case analysis, issue identification, and response strategy.

In addition to searching by major practice areas, you can also search for general skills and knowledge resources, which provide useful information to practitioners regardless of your practice area. Resources specific to legal support staff can also be explored.

3) Search by author

Visit lesa.org and enter the author’s name in the “Search our Catalogue” field (upper right).

Let’s say your colleagues tell you about a particularly useful paper, and they identify the paper by its author: Tracy Hanson, for example. Simply type “Hanson” into the search field on our main webpage and you’ll find all of that author’s papers.

In this case, you’ll discover the Transfer of Farm Property – The Tax Rules paper that Hanson presented at the Family Farm Issues seminar in May 2014. This paper provides an overview of tax rules – namely the rollover rules and capital gains exemptions – explores how to utilize these rules, discusses the issues that can arise, and includes 3 precedent situations and their resolutions.

4) Search all available papers

Visit our Educational Resources – Seminar Papers webpage, scroll to the bottom of the recent seminar papers listing, and select the “View All Results” link.

If you just want to peruse the papers that we have available this will show you all the options, including the fantastic papers we’ve discussed above and many other valuable resources.

Of course, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always call our main line (780.420.1987 or toll free in Alberta at 1.800.282.3900). We’re happy to point you in the right direction.

Tina Huizinga – Feature Volunteer

 LESA Update, Volunteer Profile  Comments Off on Tina Huizinga – Feature Volunteer
Jan 302015

Thank You Volunteers
Twice a year LESA honours all of our volunteers by publishing a brochure identifying each valued, indispensable, incredible person who partnered with LESA to make our programs and resources a great success.

While this is just a small token of our appreciation of all that you do, we want to recognize your gift of time and talent by telling everyone that you’re an amazing volunteer.

If you haven’t already seen LESA’s latest Volunteer Appreciation brochure, it should be hitting your desk today.

You’ll notice that our brochure also highlights one feature volunteer who provided exceptional support to our LESA programs and resources over the past six months. With so many of you to choose from, this was no easy choice.

But we managed to make a decision, and we’re pleased to feature Tina Huizinga for her outstanding contribution to all three of LESA’s major areas where volunteers provide support! Since July, Tina has served as an author for the 2014 Family Law Practice Manual update, a faculty member at our Child Support seminar, and a CPLED face-to-face learning exercises facilitator for the Oral Advocacy module.

You’ll find our interview with Tina on the front page of the Volunteer Appreciation brochure, but we had such a good interview that we wanted to pass on even more in today’s blog.

Is there a background of people in law in your family?

Nope. I was the first. Actually I was the first person in my family to go to university, period. My mom was a bookkeeper and my dad sold doors and hardware. So they were completely gobsmacked when I said I wanted to be a lawyer. They were like, “Do you even know what a lawyer does? So I cannot explain where that came from at all. It’s just always what I wanted to do. I guess it’s one of those things that people say, “Well that’s a calling I had.”

What motivates you to volunteer?

It’s a sense of wanting to give back. Being a lawyer has afforded me a lot of opportunities financially that I had never expected. Being a lawyer to me was never about the income. I was assuming, because I had planned to be a Crown Prosecutor, that … I wasn’t going to be earning a huge income. So I have the opportunity to do a lot of things that I didn’t expect to be able to do, and I think it’s important to give back and share what I’ve learned. That was part of why I was a sessional instructor at the U of A as well. I was teaching Techniques in Negotiations, and part of every class was a section called Coaches Corner, which is not just about law and the practice of law but also some practical advice that I wish people had given me when I was in law school. So it’s sort of wanting people to not make the mistakes I did as a young lawyer, or even now [as a more senior lawyer]. I mean you learn from your mistakes at the time, so I want to pass on my experiences and hope that people learn something from it. I find it really rewarding when people say, “Wow, that was really interesting.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I think everybody really needs to find some form of volunteering. … Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, find some outlet and take some time every year to volunteer. It returns itself to you tenfold, in terms of how you feel about yourself. Once you’ve done a volunteer experience, if you’ve never done it before, you’ll realize how beneficial it is. It’s not really altruistic to do it, because you get such a good feeling from helping somebody. I encourage people to do it for their own benefit. And it makes the world a better place. That sounds really Pollyanna, which is not how most people would describe me.

With such a busy career and volunteer schedule, how do you like spending your free time?

I’m a sports nut. I play baseball all summer. … And I have a dog [named Radar] who I spend lots of time with. He’s a mutt, a lab crossed with we don’t know what – maybe some Shepard, maybe something else. It’s like having a small child. I like hanging out with him. He’s adorable. And I love not only playing sports but watching sports. I’m a big Blue Jays fan, I’m a Jets fan, and I’m a Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan, since I grew up in Manitoba.

We hope you appreciated today’s blog and the chance to hear from one of your colleagues. For more of our interview with Tina, check out the Volunteer Appreciation brochure.

If you volunteered for us in the past six months, thank you! Please ensure that your name is listed in the Volunteer Appreciation brochure. We truly appreciate the contributions of all our volunteers, and we sincerely hope no technological or human error would have led to your name being missing from the list. If that did happen we’ll feel terribly about it, and we hope you’ll call (780.420.1987) or email (lesa@lesa.org) so that we can correct the brochure on our website.