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Category Archive: Resources

Bullying & The Law: What To Know This School Year

September is here which means a new school year is about to begin. While this may be an exciting time for many students (or not, if they’re still lamenting the loss of summer) it can also be quite stressful for those who fear the return of a toxic learning environment created by schoolyard bullies.

A serious issue addressed by the Canadian government, bullying isn’t something to take lightly. In fact, there are certain forms of bullying that are considered illegal, in schools and outside of them. Gain some insights on bullying and the law with our brief guide below.

Bullying: Defined

As outlined in Bill 14, which amended the Education Act, the following is the Canadian government’s official definition of bullying:

“the severe or repeated use by one or more pupils of a written, verbal, electronic or other form of expression, a physical act or gesture or any combination of them if it is directed at another pupil and if it has the effect of or is reasonably intended to have the effect of

  • causing physical or emotional harm to the other pupil or damage to the other pupil’s property
  • placing the other pupil in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or damage to his or her property
  • creating a hostile environment at school for the other pupil
  • infringing on the legal rights of the other pupil at school
  • materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school”

Bullying As An Illegal Offense

Mild forms of bullying can definitely be difficult for a child to deal with, even being traumatic, but there are certain forms of bullying that are actually against the law. The RCMP lists the examples the punishable-by-law acts of bullying as:

Threats of death/serious bodily harm: Any statement made that explicitly states the desire to kill or physically harm another person. These can be enacted in-person, on the phone, online, or even through text message.
Criminal Harassment: Online or offline, this is the action of making another person fear for their own personal safety.
Assault: This extends to “pushing, tripping, slapping, hitting or spitting.”

Revenge Porn & The Law

One specific form of illegal bullying was given special focus in a new law that came to be in March 2015, one “that prohibits the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.” Otherwise known as “revenge porn,” the recently made law applies to all members of society, including those above the age of 18.

“Intimate image” is defined in the new law as “an image that depicts a person engaged in explicit sexual activity or that depicts a sexual organ, anal region or breast” that was taken at a moment when the subject in question “had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time of the recording.”

The maximum penalty for this offense is five years imprisonment.

A Small Saving Grace: Bullying Week

Reading about all of the illegal forms of bullying isn’t the most comforting of material, especially if you have kids in school right now. One small respite for parents is another aspect of Bill 14, where it specifically states that every year, the third week of November will be “Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week” in schools.

During this week-long focus on bullying, children will learn about the mechanics of bullying and the emotional and legal consequences of the action. Ideally, the somewhat recent initiative which began in 2011 will ensure that future generations of students no longer feel the need to bully other students.

Featured image courtesy of: nist6ss

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Your Rights When Being Arrested By A Police Officer In Canada

Getting arrested is a pretty terrifying experience. If you ever find yourself in the situation, your mind will likely race with all of the potential outcomes and ways the arrest will affect your life, and you’re probably not thinking too clearly about the arrest itself. But what can you even do in such a situation? Actually quite a bit.

Just because you’re getting arrested doesn’t mean you still don’t have rights as a Canadian citizens. No matter who is arresting you and where, they must follow proper procedures, and you’re able to call upon all of the rights listed in section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Rather than have you perform legal research, we have a basic rundown of your rights when arrested. Read on and know your rights.

You have the right to a lawyer

As stated in section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights And Freedoms, everyone has the right “to retain and instruct counsel without delay,” which basically means you have the right to speak with a lawyer/legal representative as soon as possible. Generally this includes access to a phone and some privacy to call your lawyer as well.

You have the right to know why you’re being arrested

Any officer who may be attempting an arrest needs to make it clear why, or rather, when being arrested you have the right “to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor.” Makes sense, given that a form of justification needs to be given, though you should note an officer need not use the legal language found in the Criminal Code, as colloquial terms can be used instead.

You have the right to refuse a search

Most people tend to go along with whatever a police officer says, given the fact that they’re literal embodiments of authority, but you don’t need to say “yes” to everything an officer may ask. If a police worker asks to search your bag or belongings, you have every right to say no, and they really can’t do a thing.

You have the right to using a recording device

This may seem like a strange thing to include, but given the fact that everyone has a camera/video recorder built into their phone these days, this right has never been more relevant. While a police officer can definitely ask you to shut off a camera/recorder/phone, you aren’t obliged to, especially if you’re on public property.

You have the right to remain silent

Asking questions to investigate a crime is part of an officer’s duties, and you don’t really need to answer. Remaining completely silent could hurt your more than help you, however, though this is a right you should exercise if awaiting legal counsel.

The police have the right to stop your car, for whatever reason

When on the road driving, a police officer can pull you over if they so choose and then demand you to provide a valid driver’s licence, vehicle registration/ownership documents, and proof of insurance. If there is cause for further investigation (your current state, the condition of your car) the police officer does have the right to further the investigation and make more demands, like asking for a breath sample. You do have the right to a lawyer before meeting said demands.

Featured image courtesy of: banspy

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Legalswipe Gives You Instant Advice During Police Encounters

The phrase “there’s an app for that” is quickly becoming a way of life these days. Yes, there really is an app for everything. And for every seemingly trivial app, there’s just as many extremely useful programs being developed for your smartphones. Take Legalswipe, a new free app that gives people brief, immediate legal advice if stopped or questioned by police.

It works by first asking the user what the police officer is attempting to do and then providing options like “Obtain ID” or “Engage in a Search”. From there, it determines questions that you should be asking the officer and will proceed to tell you whether or not to comply with the police depending on their responses.

With heated discussions about the practice of carding in Toronto and how it targets visible minorities, Legalswipe couldn’t come at a more urgent time. And that’s exactly why a 28-year-old law school grad named Christien Levien created it. He had his own violent interaction with police when he was stopped several years ago and asked for identification. When he asked why, he was thrown to the ground and put in a police car, only to be released a while after with no explanation.

While the app is still in its infancy and I imagine would have a harder time handling more complex interactions, it also has a feature that video records the encounter and sends it to a remote server, making it easier to pursue a complaint afterwards.

Legalswipe has already been downloaded about 2,000 times in a few days and Levien is trying to raise money through crowdfunding to improve it even more. I’m sure he’ll get it – in today’s world, this kind of app is unfortunately becoming a necessity.

Image source: Legalswipe

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Laws & By-Laws Every Toronto Bicyclist Needs To Know

It’s almost summer time and rather than being cooped up in your car, you want to feel the wind on your face while speeding around Toronto on your bike. Much healthier and more environmentally friendly than a car, biking is a great travel-alternative to anyone willing to traverse the city on two wheels, but there are just certain things you need to know beyond wearing a helmet.

Don’t stress about doing your own legal research, because we’ve got you covered. To ensure you don’t get fined unnecessarily, here are certain laws and by-laws every Toronto bicyclist should know.

Officially, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act designates all bicycles as “vehicles,” just so you know.

Parking or abruptly stopping on a bike lane/path (or pedestrian way and footpath) can get you a fixed fine of $60.

Bicycles are allowed on most highways, but not on all sections. For a detailed rundown of which highway-areas are prohibited to cyclists, check out this handy document.

At no time are you legally allowed to carry a package/any object that obstructs your ability to keep both hands on the handlebars.

Anytime you’re in an accident, cyclists are entitled to “accident benefits coverage” covered by your own (or your spouses) vehicle insurance, or if you don’t have any, by the insurance of whoever hit you. Read up more on cyclist insurance coverage here.

Side by side cycling isn’t explicitly prohibited by the Ontario Traffic Act, though there are some guidelines recommended by the City of Toronto. Essentially, you should never block the flow of traffic and faster vehicles. You can find some handy visuals here.

Anytime a car is overtaking you while on your bike, it’s required by law to “turn out to the right to allow the vehicle to pass” to allow enough room for safe passage for both parties.

As stated in Section 142 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, bicyclists are required to use hand and arm signals when around other vehicles.

E-bikes are officially allowed to be on Toronto public roads and highways, as per the amendment in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Note that since bike lanes and park paths are managed by the City of Toronto bylaws, certain municipalities may prohibit the use of e-bikes.

You can only ride an e-bike in Toronto if you are over the age of 16.

You can only ride a bike on a sidewalk if you’re under the age of 14. Anyone older than 14 can be fined $60 if biking on a sidewalk, which can be increased to $90 if you are found to be reckless.

Certain Toronto lanes are “sharrows,” a marked road with a bike icon and two white chevrons. Found on less busy streets with low traffic volumes, these are shared lanes between bikes and cars. To read more on sharrows head here.

For more on all things bike-related in Toronto that individuals and bicyclists should know, head to the city’s official “Cycling and the Law” page here.

This is a sponsored post brought to you in collaboration with LexisNexis. 

Featured image courtesy of: sporras

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Utilize Your Legal Management Tech With PCLaw Software

Integrating legal management software into your firms daily operations is definitely a step in the right direction. Gone are the days of micromanaging various deposits of information – clients, billing, expenses, etc. – into multiple folders, then having them handled by multiple individuals, who can mishandle and even lose vital documents. Now, you can have a computer software program that compiles, organizes, and tracks all that info for you.

In theory, legal management software is a godsend to legal firms and lawyers everywhere. But only if one is using such software properly.

It’s almost laughable how many companies invest in software, only to not use it properly in the slightest. According to a recent survey by Black Duck Software and North Bridge, 78% of companies are using open-source software (OSS) yet only 3% are using said software in any beneficial capacity.

Legal management software, such as LexisNexis® PCLaw, isn’t in the realm of OSS (though the company does support OSS initiatives) but one could use the survey and extrapolate its findings to the number of firms/businesses using PCLaw or similar software in the same way, namely ineffectively.

Thankfully, an official how-to guide on PCLaw has just been released. Marketed as the definitive manual on LexisNexis’ premiere legal management software, Steven Joseph Best’s “The Lawyers Guide to PCLaw Software” (published by the ABA Law Practice Division) is 300 pages of useful information to anyone who owns and operates PCLaw.

Catering to new and established firms alike, “The Lawyers Guide to PCLaw Software” is comprised of incredibly well-researched documentations (a writing process that took 18 months) on how to implement PCLaw to its fullest potential.

Already used by 30, 000 law firms around the world, PCLaw is one of the (if not the) most widely used legal management software tools on the present market. No doubt that some of the many employees who use the software every day are somewhat confused by its many applications, and that’s what Best’s book is there for, to act as a reference guide and explanation on PCLaw’s capabilities.

If you (or your entire firm) are in that aformentioned boat, then “The Lawyers Guide to PCLaw Software” was written specifically for you in mind. For those reading who have contemplated the purchase of computer software to streamline their firm’s day-to-day operations, be certain to have a copy on hand when you first start using PCLaw.

Read more on the book’s applications and creation process here.

This is a sponsored post brought to you in collaboration with LexisNexis. 

Featured image courtesy of: BusinessWire

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Meet Ross: The Future of Legal Research

Remember back in 2011 when Watson, an artificially intelligent computer system, beat out trivia experts on the TV quiz show Jeopardy? Well now University of Toronto students have been given access to Watson with the goal of turning him into the best legal researcher available.

This artificially intelligent legal researcher has been named Ross. The system has been used to predict the outcome of future cases based on past ones, and the system can sift through millions of emails before a big litigation. Basically this machine can do in seconds, what takes the average lawyer hours.

U of T was one of ten universities, and the only one in Canada, that got the chance to access IMB’s Watson system remotely. Ross will compete against those other nine schools for the right to continue to develop Ross further, along with $100,000. Ross was chosen because of its technology, as well as its associated business plan to take the next step in the competition.

Here’s how Ross works. You ask it a legal question and Ross responds with an answer, citing a legal case, while providing relevant readings and a percentage number indicating how confident Ross is he got it right. When the creators are short of time they just call it “Siri for lawyers.”

Ross could make a lot of legal grunt work easier in the future, saving lawyers precious time. The goal is not to replace lawyers, but to help them do their work better.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Lexis Nexis.

Source: Globe and Mail

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President of the OBA Opens Up About Mental Health


The Ontario Bar Association is the latest organization to join the fight against the stigma surrounding mental illness. The president of the organization, Orlando Da Silva, who took on the role in the summer, spoke publicly about his own struggles with mental illness, and has just shared his story on the Association’s website as a part of their Mindful Lawyer Series.

The OBA hopes the series will open the conversation about something that plagues a lot of professionals in the industry and normalize it. Da Silva, and the whole Association, knows that a lot of lawyers suffer from mental illness in silence, and they have created a mental-health brief to help those sufferers identify what is going on and how to cope.

While they will not be acting as therapists, per se, they will be creating an environment that is conducive to talking about mental health at regular networking events, and they hope the leadership Da Silva has demonstrated will encourage this.

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Understanding Legal Ethics

With a view to explore and explain legal ethical questions, the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics has created a series of educational videos. In each of the seven-minute videos, an issue is explained in three to 20 minutes.

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New Website for Law Students Aims to Alleviate Stress

Getting through law school is no easy feat, and the stress associated with it can take a toll on a student’s mental health. In recognition of this, Osgoode Hall Law School launched JustBalance, a well-being resource that gives law students extra support through their studies.

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