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Solicitors need a strong voice in convocation!

As you know, solicitors have historically been underrepresented in convocation. With this year’s LSO bencher election, I strongly urge you to: a) vote and b) make a conscious decision to vote for strong solicitor representation.

Many lawyers campaigning for STOP. It’s obvious what they are against, but do you know what they are for?

Convocation deals with more than one issue.

I have the experience and good standing among my peers to be a voice for all lawyers across the province. I am endorsed by the following lawyers, inside and outside of Toronto.

Reuben Rosenblatt
Sid Troister
Jeff Lem
Maurizio Romanin
Bob Aaron
Larry Banack
Alan Silverstein
Bram Potechin
Eldon Horner
Harvey Strosberg
Jonathon Rosenthal
Andrew Dilkens
Don Thompson

How can you help?

  • Let your colleagues know of my bid for re-election by forwarding a link to this blog, http://www.bencherblog.ca/; and
  • Use the social media Share buttons below to spread the word to your networks.

Thank you for your support.

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I Need Your Votes and Your Help!

I have had the privilege of representing you since 2015 as Bencher. I believe my experience both as a lawyer and a Bencher, will allow me to continue to be a voice for all lawyers in the province.

As only one of three Solicitors elected to Convocation, I have co-chaired the Committee for Real Estate Issues, and continue to be a staunch advocate and “voice” for Solicitors. Also, as a member of the OBA Real Estate Executive, I will to continue to bring a Solicitor’s perspective to Convocation.

I believe that I can continue to use the knowledge and experience I have gained over 43 years of practice. Having managed a practice as both a partner in small firm, and in a large firm, I am now Senior Counsel in the Windsor office of a large multinational firm. I believe I understand the challenges that lawyers from a variety of practice areas and backgrounds continue to face.

Once reelected, I will continue to focus on:

  1. More aggressive consultation with the profession before changes are implemented;
  2. Having Convocation deal with “real’ issues facing practitioners; and
  3. Creating a more positive perception of lawyers;

I will focus on the unique challenges facing Solicitors today.


The LSO must do a better job in surveying and consulting the Profession before taking action, e.g. changing our Society’s name and the inclusion of mandatory statements /requirements in annual reports.

Throughout my career, I have mentored countless Articling Students and associates. I have also taught at the CBA, LSO, OBA and Windsor Law. The proposed changes to the Articling program, demand a mentorship program beyond articling so that high practice standards will be maintained. I pledge to focus on ensuring that we implement a program to assist new lawyers and benefit the profession and the public.

The negative public perception of our profession (mainly due to lawyers who have misbehaved) must be addressed. I have, and will continue to advocate, for a more public, transparent discipline process so as to ensure that all complaints and issues are fair to all parties, including lawyers.


How can you help?

We need to ensure a strong Solicitor’s voice in Convocation. You can help by letting your colleagues know of my bid for re-election.

  1. If you aren’t already doing so, follow this blog by entering your email address and hitting the Follow button to the right;
  2. Copy this link: http://www.bencherblog.ca/2019/02/19/lsobencher2019 and paste it into your email program to forward to your colleagues; and
  3. Use the social media Share buttons below to spread the word to your networks.

Thank you for your support.

SPEAK UP OR QUIT COMPLAINING

When I first got elected as a Bencher many, many of you congratulated me and thanked me for being “the voice of the non-GTA Solicitor” in Convocation. I was flattered and honoured to accept your comments and words of encouragement. I continue to do my best to bring the perspective of a “non- GTA”, experienced, solicitor to the work of the Law Society.

When I first started this Blog it was my intention to post something weekly or monthly updating the profession on what was happening in Convocation. I have always felt that there is a real and perceived “disconnect” between this of us who are “slugging it out” on a daily basis outside of the GTA and those who practice on Bay Street and/or have no idea of what it takes to make a living outside of Toronto.

I have learned the dynamics in both places are unique.

I haven’t posted in a while as others such as Larry Banack have a much more extensive email list and are better at getting the message regarding the general events that happen in Convocation or at the LSO out there than I.

In recent weeks, notices have been posted in many places about a request from the Law Society regarding input from the profession regarding Title Insurance.

On other occasions, I have received complaints from the profession that there hasn’t been sufficient consultation. On Title Insurance, this is your chance to speak up.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to voice your opinion.

While the issue is relatively simple – the solution may not be so simple.

Should a lawyer be allowed to received examining counsel fees and/or incentives from Title Insurers? Some people feel there should be a total ban on both. Other feel fees are acceptable provided a genuine service is provided by the lawyer to the title insurer and there is full client disclosure and consent.

But what happens if the premium would be less to the client if those payments weren’t paid by the Title Insurer to the lawyer? A payment for services rendered that actually reduces the costs incurred by a Title Insurer is one thing – but an incentive to refer work to a Title Insurer is another.

If the cost to the Tile Insurer is more because of incentive payments or excessive fee payments, the insurer’s cost will:

A) be passed on to the client; or

B) swallowed by the insurer.

Most of us are not naive to think B will happen.

Let’s be clear.

The LSO does not permit lawyers to receive incentives for recommending a specific title insurance product or to receive commissions or fees with respect to any title insurance coverage.

The LSO has rules in place that require lawyers to disclose and obtain consent where they are retained to provide services to multiple parties. But, a recent survey revealed at least 30% don’t disclose to their clients that payments are being received from title insurers.

If you do residential purchases (like I do), the client just wants to know the bottom line and when they can get the keys. They want to spend as little time in your office as possible and usually will sign almost anything without taking the time to read it (even when you insist they do so). I am concerned whether genuine disclosure and consent is realistic and I’m also concerned whether the true cost and price of title insurance is being inflated because of payments by title insurers.

A lot of emails have been sent out from various stakeholders/advocates promoting different propositions.

My position on this issue has been clear from the beginning.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of a ban on providing paid services.
But, how to we implement a system that is fair to everyone, including both lawyers and clients?

Yes, I’m a fan of TitlePlus Title Insurance BUT
No
, I don’t use TitlePlus exclusively. Under various circumstances I have used Stewart title, Chicago Title and other Insurers.

Yes, other Title Insurers may be easier to use and get policies from.

Yes, every policy has its pros and cons.

Not all policies and coverage are the same.

If you think the present policy is ok then let the LSO know why you support the present approach. Make suggestions on how to insure “full disclosure” is real disclosure.

It is the LSO’s obligation to ensure the public is being treated fairly. But we are also entitled to be paid fairly for the services we provide.

If you have changes/alterations or suggestions, please, let them know.

The time to speak up is now.

WHAT’S NEW & WONDERFUL IN THE PRACTICE OF REAL ESTATE LAW!

A lot has been happening in the Real Estate business the last year.

I haven’t posted anything on the Blog for a while as the information and emails have been fast and furious.

In any event, if you practice in the Real Estate, you need to know the following:

TERAVIEW 9.0 IS BEING RETIRED IN REGION A

Teraview 9.0 is being retired on Monday, February 19, 2018 and after this date you can only access Teraview via the Web. If you haven’t obtained your RSA credentials and Token for the new system yet and you want register in these Registry Offices – you need to do so now.

LRO 2 – Brantford (Brant) LRO 20 – Milton (Halton) LRO 41 – Woodstock (Oxford)

LRO 3 – Walkerton (Bruce) LRO 22 – Goderich (Huron) LRO 44 – Stratford (Perth)

LRO 7 – Orangeville (Dufferin) LRO 24 – Chatham (Kent) LRO 58 – Kitchener (Waterloo)

LRO 11 – St. Thomas (Elgin) LRO 25 – Sarnia (Lampton) LRO 59 – St. Catherines

LRO 12 – Windsor (Essex) LRO 33 – London (Middlesex) LRO 61 – Guelph (Wellington)

LRO 16 – Owen Sound (Grey) LRO 37 – Simcoe (Norfolk) LRO 62 – Hamilton (Wentworth)

LRO 18 – Cayuga (Haldiman)

You might also want to confirm that other lawyers with whom you will be closing transactions have also upgraded to Teraview on the Web so as to avoid any closing issues.

LAND TRANSFER TAX STATEMENTS

We have been advised that the Ministry of Finance is prosecuting lawyers for false statements contained in Land Transfer Tax statements (relating to the first time homebuyer rebate, as far as we know). Pursuant to section 6 of the Land Transfer Tax Act (LTTA), it is an offence to make, participate in, assent to or acquiesce in the making of a false or deceptive statement, affidavit, return or other document prepared, submitted or filed under the LTTA. Apparently, one such lawyer has inquired of FOLA to inquire as to whether others are being investigated and/or prosecuted in an attempt to determine the extent of such actions and to possibly put those lawyers in contact with one another. If you have been or are the subject of an investigation or prosecution under the LTTA, please let me know (and confirm whether or not you wish to be connected with others).

Lastly,

TERAVIEW 9.0

Are you having problems with Teraview 9.0? If so please email Jennifer Connell at Teraview with your concerns. Her email address is: Jennifer.Connell@teranet.ca

They want to hear from Users so they can address issues you or your staff have.

I have advised her that I thought there could be changes made to the program which would “streamline” it and make it more user friendly when gaining “access” and then trying to sign for registration. They are looking into it.

BUT, if you don’t tell them you concerns or issues they can’t fix them.

LTT To Go Up

Tax Freeze on Multi unit Residential Buildings proposed

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The following is reproduced with the kind permission of Federation of Ontario Law Associations:

Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced a few changes to the Land Transfer Tax regime in Ontario and as real estate practitioners in Ontario, you and your colleagues should know. 

In summary, the changes are:

1. Double the maximum Land Transfer Tax (LTT) refund to $4,000 for eligible first-time homebuyers, as of January 1, 2017.

  • With the increased maximum, no LTT would be payable by qualifying purchasers on the first $368,000 of the cost of a first home.
  • With the doubled refund, more than half of first-time homebuyers in Ontario would pay no LTT on the purchase of their first home.

2.  As of January 1, 2017, the government is proposing to increase LTT rates on the portion of the value of consideration:

  • Above $2 million, for transfers of one or two single-family residences, such as detached and semi-detached homes, townhomes and condominiums, to 2.5 per cent from two per cent.
  • Above $400,000, for all other types of property, such as commercial, industrial, multi-residential and agricultural properties, to two per cent from 1.5 per cent.

3.  Additional information regarding purchasers will be required to be submitted, including the intended use of the property (principal residence or rental) and residency/citizenship status.

In addition there will be a freeze on property taxes on apartment buildings while the government reviews how the high property tax burden on these buildings affects rental market affordability. The average municipal property tax burden on apartment buildings is more than double that for other residential properties such as condominiums.

 

LAWPRO Reduces Fees by more than 10%

LAWPRO base premium decreased to $2,950

PLUS strategies to promote access to justice

Toronto, ON, September 22, 2016 –LAWPRO is pleased to announce that Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada approved its 2017 insurance program for the Ontario Bar.

After careful analysis of claims history, capital accumulation, and the need to continue to operate the company in a commercially reasonable manner, the 2017 base premium was reduced from $3,350 to $2,950.

“LAWPRO offers an affordable and effective insurance program that is sensitive to the needs of a changing bar. Our commitment is to refine the insurance policy and terms to take into account developments in the profession we serve and the needs of lawyers’ clients,” said LAWPRO CEO, Kathleen Waters.

The 2017 LAWPRO insurance program also includes the following updates:

  • To promote access to justice and to address the lower demonstrated risk of certain government employed lawyers, there is a new 75% premium adjustment available for those employed by specific Designated Agencies. These Designated Agencies will typically assist those who would otherwise have challenges in accessing legal advice, and thus advance access to justice. Civil litigation transaction levy payments are not needed for the services provided in the course of the lawyer’s employment with a Designated Agency.
  • The 2017 primary insurance policy has also been amended to better address coverage for seconded lawyers and to extend the $250,000 defence-only coverage to the benefit of the seconded lawyer if the “employer exclusion” of the Policy applies.

For details on the LAWPRO 2017 insurance program, see LAWPRO Magazine Insurance Issue.

About LAWPRO

LAWPRO is owned by the Law Society of Upper Canada and is licensed to provide professional liability insurance in Ontario and title insurance in numerous jurisdictions across Canada. Through its malpractice insurance program, LAWPRO insures over 25,500 practising lawyers in Ontario, as well as providing them with risk and practice management information under the practicePRO® banner. LAWPRO’s TitlePLUS® title insurance program is available to Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries to better meet their clients’ needs for professional legal advice and superior protection for their real estate transactions.

Contact:
Naomi Dummett, Director of Communications
Naomi.dummett@lawpro.ca
416-596-4652

® Registered trademark of Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company

Advertising and Fee Arrangement Working Group Needs YOUR Input

Tired of Real Estate Lawyers advertising misleading ads or all-inclusive fees that don’t truly reflect the real cost to your clients??

The Law Society’s Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group is seeking the professions’ input regarding issues related to advertising, referral fees and fee arrangements, as described in its report. The final date to submit comments is September 30, 2016. The working group was formed in February 2016, following a call for input on proposed amendments to the advertising rules that revealed a need for additional, focused study.

To access the report and make submissions:

www.mailoutinteractive.com/Industry/Redirect.aspx?u=1715915&q=1051929001&lm=30018638&r=815037&qz=dbb279b090f20c9a4e3cf161afe5d9a0

This is your chance to have your voice heard. If you don’t speak up now, it may be too late later on!!

New Treasurer Elected

Paul Schabas, of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto, is the new Treasurer.

Paul Schabas

Mr. Schabas was elected Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, on a third ballot at Convocation’s June meeting. He has served for two previous terms as a Bencher and has been very active in many Committees.

Mr. Schabas beat out the other candidates Howard Goldblatt, Raj Anand, and Susan McGrath   It took three ballots, with Mr. Schabas defeating Mr. Goldblatt by a vote of 38-21. Mr. Schabas is a partner and trial and appellate lawyer He is also adjunct professor at the University of Toronto.

I am hoping to interview him in the near future and publish the interview in this blog.

Have any questions???? Please send them to me and I will do my best to see if I can get answers.