Monday, April 30, 2012

140Law - Legal Headlines for Monday, April 30, 2012

Here are the leading legal headlines from Wise Law on Twitter for Monday, April 30, 2012:
- Rachel Spence, Law Clerk

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Is Asset Protection Planning?

Asset protection planning is about protecting your assets from creditors -- and it is not just for the super-wealthy. 

Anyone can get sued. Lawsuits can stem from car accidents, credit card debt, bank foreclosures, or unhappy customers, among many other things. If someone wins a monetary judgment against you, your family could become bankrupt trying to pay it off. 

To keep your assets away from creditors, you need to move them somewhere where creditors can't reach them. Asset protection techniques include maximizing contributions to IRAs, moving funds to an irrevocable trust, retitling various assets, or using limited liability companies or family limited partnerships. 

To develop an asset protection plan, you need to talk to your attorney. Your attorney can discuss your short- and long-term financial goals and help you create a plan that will work for you. 

It is important to note that asset protection planning only works if you act before you are sued. Under the law, you may not defraud current creditors. If you are already being sued or if you know you are going to be sued and you transfer assets so that creditors can't reach them, the court will reverse the transfer. That is why it is a good idea to put a plan into place now -- before it is too late. 

For more information on asset protection planning, click here.

140Law - Legal Headlines for Thursday, April 26, 2012

Here are the leading legal headlines from Wise Law on Twitter forThursday, April 26, 2012:
- Rachel Spence, Law Clerk

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"CourtBerry Syndrome" and Why Some Jurors Can't Resist Tweeting

Trial judges routinely warn jurors to avoid  using social media and the internet to research or comment on matters before the court during trials.  Nonetheless, news reports of jurors who disregard these instructions seem to be increasingly frequent.

Such juror misconduct has potentially disastrous consequences for the administration of justice.  A December 2011 Arkansas appeal provides a ready illustration - see Death row inmate gets second trial due to Twitter-obsessed juror:
In a tweet referencing the trial, Franco wrote ”Choices to be made. Hearts to be broken…We each define the great line.” He also posted updates when each day of the trial started and complained about the coffee. In addition, Franco posted “It’s over” less than an hour before the jury’s verdict was read in court. According to Associate Justice Donald Corbin, Franco was warned during the trial that posting updates to Twitter was forbidden. Corbin stated ”More troubling is the fact that after being questioned about whether he had tweeted during the trial, Juror 2 continued to tweet during the trial.” The Supreme Court justices of Arkansas recently asked a panel to look into restricting the use of smartphones during future trials.
Villanova law professor, Louis J. Sirico, Jr,. offers a generational analysis at Legal Skills Prof Blog as to why some jurors seem unable to resist tweeting and googling during trials:
In November 2008, the Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain, Sir Igor Judge, sounded a warning about the generational shift occurring as web-savvy citizens accustomed to getting their information online entered the jury box. Noting the consequences of this shift for the system of trial by jury, the Lord Chief Justice observed, “If a generation is going to arrive in the jury box that is totally unused to sitting and listening but is using technology to gain the information it needs to form a judgment, that changes the whole orality tradition with which we are familiar.
If our brains are, indeed being rewired by the internet, as early clinical research seems to suggest, is compulsive juror mistweeting simply the cutting edge of a genuine change in our physiology that is naturally finding its way into our courtrooms?

Is crackberry syndrome mutating into courtberry syndrome?

And how can our courts address this?  

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

140Law - Legal Headlines for Wednesday April 25, 2012

- Rachel Spence, Law Clerk

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Name That Regulator: The Law Society of Upper Canada's #Hashtag Problem

It may be the #hashtag that will ultimately do it in.

Or perhaps, it's just that it's still sniggeringly funny to our latent kindergarten brains when someone says the acronym out loud.

This was one of the many things I learned chairing the Law Society of Upper Canada's Legal Ethics in an Age of Technology webinar programmes last fall.

Much of the time, abbreviations essentially overtake long form names in common usage.  You know, the CBA, the OBA, the ABA, the USA....

But nobody does that when it comes to our governing body.

It's interesting - Louisiana State University is known as LSU. Louisiana State University-Eunice is LSUE.

The Law Society of Upper Canada?  Well, in writing, the proper abbreviation is clearly LSUC.  In the spoken English, however, the more usual short-form is "The Law Society," which of course, is no short form at all.

We all know why, right?

(Can I hear giggling starting in the back row of my Grade 4 class about right now?)

Which is bringing me in a round-about way back to the #hashtag issue.

In this Age of Technology, you see, (the Law Society came up with the Title Case for that, not me), Twitter has now wriggled its way into the Continuing Legal Education/Continuing Professional Development classrooms, lecture halls and broadcasting studios of the new world.  Attendees often live tweet from programmes. Remote viewers often pose questions of the panel via Twitter. Occasionally, they also hurl insults constructive feedback utilizing cultivated tones of civility.

It's become quite the interactive world, and therefore it is increasingly commonplace for these CLE/CPD programmes to adopt #hashtags for use on Twitter, so that all related tweets will collect together and be viewable on one Twitter page.

We used #LSUCethics at our two programmes, for example.

And this trend is leading us to a recurring moment of truth for Ontario CPD programme chairs.

In announcing the hashtag, do we say "ELL-ESS-YOU-SEE?"

Or do we just say it the way you naturally want to read it aloud?

Which, of course is (all together now)... "L-SUCK."

Being a total coward, if not a prudently conservative spokesperson for the profession who didn't want to run the risk of developing uncontrollable snicker syndrome in the first five minutes of my first LSUC programme chairmanship, I opted for the safer, if more clumsy, "ELL-ESS-YOU-SEE."  And quite frankly, I delivered the news of this #hashtag our several thousand viewers all across the Province with the unwavering poise of an old-time news anchor.

I was like Cronkite, Murrow, Huntley and Brinkley - all wrapped up together in one guy.

It was a proud moment

My co-panelist, Mitch Kowalski, however, would have none of this.

The words I feared the most were unmistakeably emerging from the lawyer/journalist/author at the far end of our presentation table.  "You mean #L-SUCK-Ethics - right?" offered Mitch.  "That's the #hashtag:  "#L-SUCK-Ethics."

Instantly, I was locked in eye contact with our two other co-panelists, Omar Ha-Redeye and Bob Tarantino.  From deep within our silent crisis-huddle we uttered an unspoken, collective, "OMG, did he just say that?"

But Mitch was on a roll.

He continued, and frankly, delivered a series of very compelling points in arguing for a speedy name change by our governing body from LSUC to the Law Society of Ontario (LSO, for short).

University of Ottawa law professor Adam Dodek (@ADodek) made many of the same points last night on Twitter:

Jeffrey Grey's (@jeffreybgrey) Globe and Mail article, referenced in Professor Dodek's tweets, provides the story that the LSUC name change movement may actually be gaining real momentum:
... A handful of lawyers who work for the federal Department of Justice are supporting a long-shot proposal that would blow at least a symbolic layer of dust off the profession in Canada’s largest province.
They have submitted a motion for next month’s annual general meeting of the Law Society of Upper Canada calling for an end to the body’s archaic name. Instead, they say, it should be known as the Ontario Law Society.
(See:  What's in a Name? Law Society of Upper Canada to Find Out)

What do you think?  Is it time to put the "ELL-ESS-YOU-SEE" regulatory brand out to pasture, in favour of the more palatable, modern and considerably less amusing LSO?

It it time to lose the acronym that shall never be spoken aloud?

Mitch Kowalski thinks so. Adam Dodek appears to think so. And so do I.

Let's do it for the sake of CLE/CPD chairs everywhere.

It's the #hashtag, stupid.

Saturdays are good for segues, so I will use this opportunity to break the news that our Legal Ethics in An Age of Technology Tour 2012 is continuing. Yes, we're getting the band back together.  Mitch, Omar, Bob and I will be reuniting on May 12, 2012 for an all-new and improved live installment of #LSUCethics at Toronto's lawTechCamp.

More on the event:
lawTechcamp is a BarCamp-style community UnConference for new media and technology enthusiasts and legal professionals including technology lawyers, technology developers in the legal space, legal information professionals, bloggers, tweeters, social networkers, and anyone curious about new media technology and its intersection with the legal profession.
lawTechcamp is  scheduled for Saturday, May 12, 2012  from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. The event will be held at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, at 78 Queens Park right next door to the ROM. 
We're going to do lots of q.and a. and are looking forward to a lively session with as much audience interaction as is possible.

We will hope to see many of our readers on the 12th.  In the meanwhile, follow lawTechCamp on Twitter: @lawTechCamp.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Seven Years of Wise Law Blog

Blog years probably should be counted like dog years.

And while I'd be remiss if I didn't note that the seventh anniversary of the commencement of this blog came and went last week, the truth is it seems like it's been much longer than that.

In fact, it's awfully hard to remember life before the blawgosphere.

On April 5, 2005, the day of our first blog post, Paul Martin was still Prime Minister of Canada.  The NHL was in lockout mode and Leafs' playoff drought hadn't even begun.  Gasoline prices were on a rapid, inevitable ascent to a buck a litre (and beyond), but hadn't quite gotten there.  America was unashamedly torturing enemy suspects, and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina was still months down the road.

The Web 2.0 revolution was in its infancy.  The phrase "social media" was nowhere to be found in our common lexicon.  Facebook was still restricted to students and would remain so for another eighteen months.  The first proto-tweet was still nearly a year away.  "The cloud" was something to seen only by gazing upward into the deep blue sky.

And the members of Canada's fledgling legal blawgosphere could probably be counted on one hand.  Stan Rule, Connie Crosby, Slaw... Maybe a few others.  Some still here, some long ago departed.

Suffice to say, it was a very different time, not that long ago.

And I write this short post, I notice a few things.  The seven paragraphs above have consumed about 45 minutes of writing, researching and tinkering time.

And boy, do I ever enjoy writing.

I confess - it has been a while since I wrote regular, narrative blog posts.

It was hard not to notice over the last few years that Twitter simply emerged as a more efficient technology than blogging for sharing breaking legal news items  While our ongoing tweets and daily 140 Law posts continue our original mission of spreading such news developments to the profession and the public, I acknowledge that something is definitely missing - the thinking, researching, reasoning, exploring, creating... (and perhaps, the snark).

Hopefully, this year I will write more frequently.  Not promising. Just sayin'.

This blog has delivered many personal highlights over the years, from Steyn wars and Twitter-feuds to LSUC gigs, media moments, OMG! Law Talk, Blawger-meetups and the persisting kindness of the Clawbie powers-that-be.

This continues to be a very happy and rewarding experience.

Many thanks to our readers and contributors over all these years. Hopefully, we'll still be here to do another one of these posts in 2019.

And how old will we be in dog-years then?

Now, I have some work to do.
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

140Law - Legal Headlines for Thursday, April 12, 2012

Here are the leading legal headlines from Wise Law on Twitter for Thursday, April 12, 2012:
- Rachel Spence, Law Clerk