BARE BONES BRIEFS: Appeal panel: Jeremy Diamond denied procedural fairness – Mercer should have recused | Report: international and domestic arbitration growing in Canada | “Most positively reviewed” lawyer misconduct hearing set | BLG appoints Canadian law firms’ first chief AI officer | Jason Kroft joins Gowling as head of structured finance

By Julius Melnitzer | June 4, 2024

DIAMOND WILL GET NEW PENALTY HEARING

A new panel will determine the penalty Toronto lawyer Jeremy Diamond will face in his advertising misconduct case. A split (3-2) Appeal Division of the Law Society Tribunal has sent the case back for re-hearing after finding that the original panel’s chair, Malcolm Mercer, a former Law Society of Ontario treasurer, should have stepped down because his “pre-hearing social media activity gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and his participation in the proceedings therefore denied the lawyer . . . procedural fairness.” Among the tweets cited by Diamond’s defense team was one linked to a Wizard of Loz video that impugns certain legal advertising practices and includes an implicit reference to Diamond’s firm, Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP.  The Appeal Panel’s decision arose in the context of Diamond’s Appeal from the sentence imposed by the original panel – three-months’ restrictions on his practice, tantamount to a suspension; a $100,000 fine; and costs, all imposed after the Law Society Tribunal refused Diamond’s request to withdraw his misconduct admissions after the panel rejected a joint submission of a reprimand as the appropriate penalty. Diamond admitted he directed prospective clients to other lawyers in return for a fee, without disclosing this practice appropriately in the firm’s advertisements.

Related Article: Jeremy Diamond appeals from de facto suspension and $100,000 fine for professional misconduct 

Canadian arbitration will experience “significant growth” in coming years

The initial Canadian Arbitration Report 2024, which presents a summary of survey data obtained from Canadian-based arbitrators, counsel and experts regarding all commercial arbitration activity, including investor-state and sports arbitration that took place between January 2020 – December 2022, has been released. “This profile of the practice of commercial arbitration in Canada will be of interest to the entire arbitration community – law firm practice groups, arbitrators, and experts, as well as corporate counsel, academics, and service providers”, explained Professor and arbitrator Janet Walker, who co-chaired thr survey with arbitrator and mediator Barry Leon and in partnership with FTI Consulting. The Report also augurs well for the future of arbitration in this country, Leon says. “It demonstrates that the choice of arbitration to resolve commercial disputes is growing in Canada.”

Related Article: ICC touts arbitration as part of international minimum tax framework 

SAMFIRU MISCONDUCT HEARING SCHEDULED

Lior Samfiru, the Toronto-based national co-managing partner of employment law boutique Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, a firm whose advertising claims it is the “most positively reviewed employment law firm in Canada”, faces a misconduct hearing on June 5. The allegations against Samfiru stem from litigation that he threatened or commenced against three former clients. The Law Society of Ontario’s notice of application states that Samfiru failed “to discharge all responsibilities honourably and with integrity” and communicated “in a manner that was abusive, offensive, or otherwise inconsistent with the proper tone” of professional communications. Samfiru is also contending with misconduct allegations in Alberta, where the Law Society alleges that Samfiru improperly failed to promptly transfer a client’s file when her lawyer left the firm; attempted to influence the complainant to withdraw her complaint; and failed “to act honourably and with integrity”. None of the allegations in Alberta or in Ontario have been proven.

Related Article: LSO alleges misconduct against “most positively reviewed” lawyer

NEW AI ROLE EMERGES AT BLG

Lisa Chamandy has become the chief artificial intelligence officer at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, making her the first such appointment among Canadian law firms. Chamandy, who was previously the firm’s chief knowledge and innovation officer, will make strategic recommendations on AI-related business opportunities, risk mitigation, financial investments, technology implementation, education and adoption, go-to-market, as well as serving as a resource for clients seeking to benefit from the potential of generative AI. She will also chair BLG’s new AI Steering Committee, which will oversee the development and implementation of the firm’s AI strategy.

Related Article: Alberta CA justice joins BLG

JASON KROFT AT HELM OF GOWLING’S STRUCTURED FINANCE DEPARTMENT

Jason Kroft, formerly at Miller Thomson LLP, is the new head of Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP’s structured finance and securitization group. He has 25 years’ experience in structured and specialized finance, and includes carbon finance, ESG, emissions trading, green bonds, sustainable-linked notes, and compliance risk mitigation strategies related to greenwashing and ESG reporting among his areas of expertise.

Related Article: Blakes absent, but Gowling shines on YouTube 

Julius Melnitzer is a Toronto-based legal affairs writer, ghostwriter, writing coach and media trainer. Readers can reach him at [email protected] or https://legalwriter.net/contact.

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