How Quami Frederick Got Busted

By: Contributor · December 31, 2008 · Filed Under Diversity in Law, Law School · 1 Comment 

We previously wondered how The Star discovered that Quami Frederick used a fake degree to get into Osgoode.

Yesterday, The Star revealed how they came across the information,

Frederick’s name is on a list of bogus-degree buyers compiled by U.S. Homeland Security and Secret Service agents who took down a Washington State diploma mill in 2005.

Fine, but what if she had a more common or generic name like Jane Doe?  She probably would never have been cross-referenced to a law student in Canada.

And do we really want to rely on terrorist watchlists for law school admissions?  Privacy concerns around the admissions process are already discouraging some potential applicants.

Osgoode has proclaimed they will tighten their admissions process to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Ontario graduates already have to go through OLSAS, which receives transcripts directly from the institutions in the province.  Foreign graduates are supposed to have their education reviewed by the World Education Services.  How Fredrick circumvented this last control is still unclear.

What this will probably mean is that foreign graduates, who comprise a small minority of law students, will come under greater scrutiny.  Those with non-traditional names will probably attract even more attention.

If minority students or those with diverse backgrounds, including educational experiences abroad, and inadvertently excluded or discouraged through the law school admissions process it would be truly unfortunate.

On the other hand, the new Osgoode admissions criteria is supposedly planned to  give greater weight personal statements, which could ensure that a rich student body is maintained.

Of greater concern are law firms like Wildeboer Dellelce, who may be reluctant to get burned a second time.  Let’s hope they continue to value the importance of diversity, in all of its forms, to the success and future of their firms.

Obama for Prime Minister of Canada in 2010?

By: Law is Cool · December 31, 2008 · Filed Under Politics · 1 Comment 

It’s far more common to hear speculation about the U.S. absorbing or invading Canada.

Now, a former KGB analyst, Igor Panarin, is predicting based on classified information that the financial crisis in the U.S. will eventually result in the country breaking up into six pieces by 2010.

He calls U.S. foreign debt a “pyramid scheme,” and notes that people laughed at Emmanuel Todd when he predicted the fall of the Soviet Union 15 years in advance.

In an interview earlier this year Panarin said,

The dollar isn’t secured by anything. The country’s foreign debt has grown like an avalanche; this is a pyramid, which has to collapse.

His theory is gaining credbility after being covered this week by the Wall Street Journal.  He predicts a sharp split along ethnic/cultural lines, which will then be exploited by foreign powers:

Crawford Kilian of The Hook points out some of the challenges that this scenario could create for us in Canada:

  • do we inherit the Congressional representatives and senators of our new domain?
  • does Stephen Harper appoint the senators while the representatives run for Parliament?
  • are millions of these new Canadians entitled to healthcare?
  • do we inherit the nuclear missiles still sleeping in their North Dakota silos?
  • will we have to pay for bilingual signage at O’Hare International Airport?
  • do we inherit the disaster of Michigan’s auto industry?

The updside is that Barack Obama might decide to run for us instead.

When the Law is Really More Like a Rule

By: Law is Cool · December 30, 2008 · Filed Under Humour · 2 Comments 
Ben saw this one in a bathroom in Mazatlan, Mexico. Don’t break the “law”, kids.
From the The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks; h/t Dave Munger of Davidson, NC

Until the Philosophy…

By: Ainsley Brown · December 29, 2008 · Filed Under Civil Rights, Diversity in Law, Ethics · Comments Off 

“Contemplation, Reflection, Insights and Resolutions”

It is the end of another year, tis the season to be jolly and all that jazz.

However, tis the season for something else – no not the holiday blues, though no doubt some will be suffering from this ailment. What I am referring to is far less emotional and more cerebral.

Tis (also) the season for contemplation, reflection, and insights about the out going year leading inevitably to the dreaded New Year’s resolutions to do better in the coming year. And what a year it was – good and bad.

Unfortunately many, if not most of these resolutions are never kept. And why? Is it because they lack meaningful contemplation or reflection or even insight? No, far from it. The reason why so many New Year’s resolutions fail is simple human nature.

That is to say as creatures of habit we find it difficult to change – even when it is in our best interest.

In one of my many moments of contemplative reflection, that come fast and furious especially at this time of year, I had a brief moment of clarity. It was one of those rare moments in life where you gain insight and you just feel, in whole or in part, that “it” all makes sense.

I thought about it for a bit and decided to share the moment.

The central question of this “light blub” moment was: why is there so much injustice in the world? Then I remembered a song from my youth – Bob Marley’s War.

I thought about it a little more then I remembered that the song was based on a segment of a speech given by His Imperial Majesty: Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia to the UN in 1963.

Before I reproduce the excerpt in full and without giving any thing away I would like to point out, firstly that the world has changed much since the speech was delivered and parts of it are no long applicable. Secondly, while the focus of the excerpt is racial equality, do not let that limit your thinking – the words are equally applicable, as you will see, to the struggle for equality generally.

I hope as you read the words below or enjoy them via Bob Marley you will contemplate, reflect, gain some insights but more importantly that you will make a life long rather than a New Year’s resolution, that is if you have not done so already, to fight injustice wherever found and uphold the values of equality and diversity – all proud and valued traditions of the legal profession.

Agree with me or not the words are as profound today as they were spoken in 1963. Enjoy:

That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained and until the ignoble but unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and goodwill; until all Africans stand and speak as free human beings, equal in the eyes of the Almighty; until that day, the African continent shall not know peace. We Africans will fight if necessary and we know that we shall win as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.

Bob Marley’s War on YouTube

Site Updates

By: Law is Cool · December 29, 2008 · Filed Under Administrative · Comments Off 

We’re experimenting with some new templates/site design for the new year.

Thank you in advance for your patience if we’re down when you’re visiting.

We should be back up and running on our regular schedule once school starts up again.

10 Things You Won’t Learn in Law School

By: Omar Ha-Redeye · December 26, 2008 · Filed Under Law Career, Law School · 9 Comments 

Gideon at a public defender, a popular Connecticut criminal law blog,  told me recently,

Whatever your professor tells you, do the opposite.

I thought the statement was slightly extreme, but I did ask him what the best way to learn was and he said, “through osmosis.”  I did find this post he pointed me to somewhat interesting:

Look, law school taught me a fair bit. I won’t lie. It taught me that even grown-ups can get drunk and get in fights at local bars. It taught me that my fellow lawyer isn’t much smarter than me and will one day become really famous. It taught me that you can fake your way through almost anything.

But here are ten things it didn’t teach me:

  1. Nobody ever uses the phrase “black letter law“. Seriously. Lawyers who do use the phrase “black letter law” are usually laughed at by cliques of other lawyers. This is an invention of professors, I’m sure, meant to intimidate and harass poor first year students. Black letter law? Is that some Rules of Court book?
  2. That you will forever be haunted by names of cases, but not remember a damn thing about the case itself. Who here can tell me about Helicopteros or International Shoe or Pennoyer or Dudley and Stephens? (Okay, that last one is really cool – it’s about cannibalism). Wasn’t there a Vana White case?
  3. How to pick a jury.
  4. There is no box. Law school professors keep telling you to think outside the box. What they don’t tell you is that there is no box.
  5. That law review leads to document review. If you want to do real work, take a clinic or something.
  6. Your clients will hate you. They will think they are smarter than you. They will try to tell you what to do.
  7. How to deal with #6 above.
  8. Most judges haven’t practiced in a while, so forgive them if they make stuff up as they go along.
  9. Caselaw and precedent may or may not mean much until you get to an appellate court. And even then…
  10. Finally, no matter how long you practice or what you do, there will always be more to learn and ways to better yourself.

Christmas Carols for Human Rights

By: Law is Cool · December 25, 2008 · Filed Under Civil Rights, Humour, Immigration Law · Comments Off 

AWAY IN DETENTION
(Away in a Manger)

Away in detention, no crib for a bed,
The little child refugee lays down her sweet head.
The guards look at her through the cracks in the door,
The little child refugee asleep on the floor.

The airport is noisy, the baby awakes.
Her mother is sickly, she shivers and shakes.
We will not forget you, so please don’t lose hope.
We’re sorry that Judy Sgro has played this cruel joke.

We’re near you child refugee, we’re not far away.
We’re working to speed up your new Freedom Day.
Bless all the dear children who are detained tonight.
You’ve called us to conscience for you we will fight.

Away in detention, no crib for a bed,
The little child refugee lays down her sweet head.

The guards look at her through the cracks in the door,
The little child refugee asleep on the floor.!

CSIS IS TRACKING YOU DOWN
(To the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

You’d better not talk, you’d better not cry,
You’d better watch out, I’m telling you why
CSIS spies are tracking you down.

They’re making a list, checking it twice
Gonna insist you’re naughty, not nice
CSIS spies are tracking you down

They listen when you’re phoning,
They spy when you’re awake.
They know when you’ve been traveling
So be scared, for goodness sake!

We’d better fight back, we’d better stand firm
We’d better insist on fair and just terms
CSIS spies, get out of our town.

RUDY THE RACIST MP
(Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”)

Rudolph, the racist MP
Had a crappy attitude
And if you ever heard him
You might even say he’s crude

If you were not a white male
He would laugh and call you names
He’d call for closed up borders
And hope we’d all look the same!

Then one freezing Christmas Eve
Carolers came to sing
Rudy with your racist blight
You could be transformed tonight!

Rudy then saw the error
Of his narrow minded views
Rudy the refugee sponsor
Came to love all Muslims and Jews

STRUGGLING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND
(To the tune of “Winter Wonderland”)

Immigrants for cheap hires
And their bosses, cheatin’ liars
Failed Refugee Claims
On reasons that shame
Struggling in this winter wonderland

Try to come across the border
To this land of law and order
If your skin is brown
You can’t go to town
Struggling in this winter wonderland

At the airport they will ask you questions
Have you ever been to Pakistan?
Are you hiding something in your suitcase?
Welcome to our democratic land!

Later on, in detention
Hopefully they’ll pay attention
To your human rights
This season of lights
Struggling in this winter wonderland
Struggling in this winter wonderland

PJ, THE AGENT
(To the tune of “Frosty the Snowman”)

PJ, the agent thinks the world is black and white
If your name’s “Hassan”, he thinks you’re wrong
If it’s George Bush, you’re all right.

PJ, the agent fears a Muslim with a book
And a video of the CN Tower
will make him lock you up.

There must have been some trauma
When PJ was just a boy
Cause he never learned to trust or love,
Just to torture girls and boys.

PJ, the agent thinks ignorance is bliss
He knows nothing but what he’s been told
By his bosses at CSIS

He’ll never catch a terrorist
Cause he’s blinded by his fears
He’ll only torment innocents
with his spying and his jeers.

PJ, the agent has to hurry on his way
Cause Canadians don’t want CSIS
And they’ve got to go away.

Bumpety, bump, bump
Bumpety, bump, bump
Look at PJ run
Bumpety, bump, bump
Bumpety, bump, bump
We’ve got CSIS on the run.

WE’RE DREAMING OF A FAIR PROCESS
(I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas)

We’re dreaming of a fair process
Just like the ones we thought we knew
With clear accusations
Full cross-examinations
And independent lawyers, as is due.

(Oh yes) We’re dreaming of a fair process
‘Cuz deportations are unfair
When torturers are waiting over there
May all our processes be fair!

We’re dreaming of a fair process
Just like the ones we thought we knew.
With no files redacted,
No stalling protracted
And all the “evidence” in view. (mime “air quotes”).

We’re dreaming of a fair process
Though CSIS and judges may not care,
Oppose injustice, we must dare!
May all our processes be fair.

h/t the Toronto Action for Social Change

‘Twas a Night Before Christmas (Legal Version)

By: Law is Cool · December 24, 2008 · Filed Under Humour · 3 Comments 

Please accept without obligation, express or implied, these best wishes for an environmentally safe, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, and gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday as practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice (but with respect for the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or for their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all) and further for a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated onset of the generally accepted calendar year (including, but not limited to, the Christian calendar, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures). The preceding wishes are extended without regard to the race, creed, age, physical ability, religious faith or lack thereof, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee(s).

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS:

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g., stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at sometime thereafter. The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as (“I”), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the party of the second part (hereinafter “Mamma”), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g., kerchief and cap.

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e., the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter “the Vehicle”) being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter “the Deer”). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co- conspirator named “Rudolph” may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items.

He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute “gifts” to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as “lookouts.” Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Or words to that effect.

h/t SBS DIva Blog via Munira Nahas of Queen’s Law (2011)

Mitch Kowalski, Man to Watch in Tough Legal Times

By: Omar Ha-Redeye · December 23, 2008 · Filed Under Bankrupcy & Insolvency, Corporate Law, Intellectual Property, Labour & Employment Law, Law Career · Comments Off 

Last week I met with Mitch Kowalski of the Legal Post.  He mentioned our conversation earlier today on the site, which is the kick in the butt I needed to do my own write-up on it during our break from school.

Mitch is an alumn from my school, Western Law, but has chosen a career path unique from most. After practicing for many years on Bay St. he decided to open a writing center, first at Yorkville, and then moving to a more central location on Bloor West.

And just like those television infomercials, Mitch not only runs the place, but he’s a client too.

Mitch’s column on the Legal Post (RSS) has become a popular one among many lawyers and law students wary of these tough economic times.

Mitch forecasts that current graduates (2009) will probably have it the worst because nobody really knows what to expect.  Canadian law school grads might just be fighting for shifts at Tim Horton’s for a few years.  They should probably be looking at other careers such as NGOs or trying their hands at magic.  In any case, it’s probably still better than doing porn.

Major law firms continue to be in denial in a scenario scarier than Halloween.  Most of these firms have come into existence well after the Great Depression, and their size has never been tested by a serious and prolonged recession.

The problem is that lawyers don’t have a lot of work during a recession.

Some of the potential growth areas such as labour and employment, IP, and even bankruptcy and insolvency, won’t make up for shortages in major corporate work that employs massive numbers of lawyers within the major firms.

With every economic threat there are also opportunities, and Mitch thinks this is an opportunity to transform the legal profession.  The very nature of law firms may change, with some even incorporating other professionals like accountants into their partnership structure, and others even going public.

Cost-saving may force firms to look overseas, instead of using inexpensive articling students (who get paid just over twice minimum wage in some firms when salary/hours is calculated).

The days of sending armies of students to the law library to photocopy into the wee hours of the morning may be ending, because these students still cost too much resources for their office space, workstations and training.  Overhead from downtown rent continues to be one of the major costs after salaries in most large law firms.  Associate turnover due to burnout and mismanagement is completely ignored and accepted as the price of doing business.

The billable hour also attracts considerable wrath from Mitch’s scrutiny.

Naysayers might shun worrying over the ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric.  New grads might feel like they’ve been slipped a mickey by the legal industry.  But those who want it raw and are entering the brave new economic world willing to turn to the blogs for advice, Mitch’s column is a good place to start for a translation of things to come.

The Legal Post is also up for an ABA Award, and you can vote for them here to help make Canadian blogs a prominent landmark in the legal blogosphere.

Cross-posted to Slaw

The “Letters” of the Law for 2008

By: Law is Cool · December 22, 2008 · Filed Under Intellectual Property, Technology · Comments Off 

Michael Geist has an article in the Toronto Star on tech related issues from the past year.

There was rarely a dull moment over the past twelve months in law and technology with no shortage of legislative proposals, controversial court cases and public battles over the future of the Internet in Canada. A look back at 2008 from A to Z…

CSIS Snooping on Calls to Your Lawyer

By: Omar Ha-Redeye · December 21, 2008 · Filed Under Civil Rights, Criminal Law, Ethics · 3 Comments 

Could CSIS be snooping in on your calls?  Routine harassment has been noted where they could not make a legal case.  And if they can violate solicitor-client privilege, anything is possible.

The concept of solicitor-client privilege goes back at least 400 years in the common law, and is one of the most well established concepts of privilege in our legal system.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was recently caught listening and recording conversations with Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub and his lawyer since the Egyptian refugee and terrorism suspect was released on bail over a year and a half ago.

When challenged by Justice Carolyn Layden-Stevenson, CSIS lawyer Jim Mathieson agreed that any such recordings would stop, and records would be erased.

But other defence lawyers have now raised some very serious concerns.  Dennis Edney, who represents one of the Toronto18 and Omar Khadr said in response,

How can we trust that the system is working appropriately?  Every lawyer in this country who’s involved in issues of national security has no way of knowing whether (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) is monitoring their calls.

See the rest of the post over at Slaw.

LLM GUIDE Focus on Student Life: Canada

By: Marie Winfield · December 20, 2008 · Filed Under Law School · 2 Comments 

A closer look at some of Canada’s chilly but exciting locations for LL.M. students

Reproduced from LLM Guide with permission

Maple, moose, and snow might spring to mind when thinking about Canada. Clichés aside, it is ethnic and linguistic diversity that are among the country’s defining features and most important assets. Communities from various ethnic groups have strong ties and bring a special flavor to Canadian life: African, Caribbean, Chinese, Lebanese, European, Indian, and more. As a result, international students can find a home away from home in one of Canada’s university towns during their law studies.

Vibrant, urban life is Toronto‘s mainstay. With a population of 2.5 million, Toronto is well-known as Canada’s largest city. The urban landscape has appeared in many films masquerading as New York City, but Toronto holds its own with a delightful mix of ethnicities and a wealth of cultural and entertainment opportunities. Neighborhoods, such as Little India, Chinatown, and Koreatown, are places that foreign students can feel at home, while the night life and winter sports provide a uniquely Canadian experience.

Toronto is also Canada’s most expensive city. However, the relative cost compared to US programs makes Toronto (and Canada) an excellent, more affordable option for students interested in studying in North America.

The University of Toronto estimates rent for a single student to average around 700 dollars per month. In addition, for those students arriving from warmer climates, purchases of heavy winter clothes should also be factored into living expenses. Since Toronto is a large metropolis, cheaper apartments further away from downtown may require greater public transportation expenses to get around the city. The University of Toronto estimates 100 dollars a month in public transportation.

In contrast to the urban sprawl of Toronto, Montreal is a relaxed alternative with a slightly European feel. Students arriving in the summer will be treated to festivals galore, outdoor cafes, concerts, and a friendly atmosphere. The city is officially bilingual with English and Canadian French spoken and mingled on a daily basis. Unofficially, the West of the city is Anglophone, while the East, starting with the gorgeous row houses in the Plateau area, is Francophone. McGill University sits directly in the middle on top of a hill, which can get slippery during the icy winter months.

A couple of hours west of Montreal is Canada’s capital, Ottawa. LL.M. students have the benefit of studying amid the seat of government, in the shadow of the Supreme Court. At the University of Ottawa, LL.M. students can choose from concentrations such as Civil Law Theory in English or Common Law and International Business in French.

On the west coast, Vancouver is a nature lover’s paradise. Compared to other major cities in Canada, the climate is mild, making it great for outdoor activities year round, from hiking to skiing. For two years running, the Economist has declared Vancouver the “world’s most liveable city.”

Home to a large Asian community, Vancouver has three Chinese daily newspapers and a bustling Chinatown. The diversity, educational opportunities, and laid-back coastal atmosphere attracts more international students each year. As far as costs, Vancouver is similar to other major cities in Canada. The University of British Columbia, which offers an LL.M. program, estimates monthly living expenses at 800 dollars for rent, 300 dollars for groceries, and 200 dollars for entertainment.

Victoria is another example of a harbour city exemplifying the West coast lifestyle. With a population of less than 80,000, the city can have a small-town feel compared to Vancouver. Winter sports are de rigeur. At the University of Victoria, students can enroll in the Law and Society LL.M. program.

A few more important practical matters related to studying and living in Canada:

Photo: Chris Vlachos

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