law, lawyers, wills & estates

Why Lawyers hair turns grey – Part 3 of a series

Every lawyer has done it and every lawyer hates it: trundling off to the hospital or nursing home to do a deathbed will.

Why is it that some people seem to feel that the only time to make a will is when they are fighting for their last breath? Continue reading “Why Lawyers hair turns grey – Part 3 of a series”

courts, divorce, family law, law

Why lawyers hair turns gray -Part two of a series

Well the gang around the water cooler certainly has their fair share of pet peeves.

This week’s edition of “Why lawyers hair turns grey” comes from our up-and-coming family litigator Francis Lepp, whose comment was” I hate it when people keep asking how long will this take, and how much will it cost?

Every lawyer deals with these inquiries in their own fashion. Senior partner Rebecca keeps a crystal ball on her desk which she displays to the inquiring  client along with suitable hand gestures, mysterious incantations, and an evil cackle.

For myself, I usually just burst into song in a rich baritone, belting out a few bars of that Irving Berlin classic “How deep is the ocean, how high as the sky ?” (I have been told more than once that Ella Fitzgerald did it better)

I have visited lawyers offices where a sign is displayed saying:

“We offer three types of service,-





The simple truth is that, unlike say, a garage mechanic who can consult a shop manual which will tell him that on average it should take 4.5 hours to change a head gasket, we have no corresponding playbook that we can use as a guide to how long it might take to obtain custody of children, or to wrestle an adequate financial settlement from a recalcitrant spouse, or generally to grind the forces of darkness into submission.

Most of the time in law we are engaged in a ‘zero-sum game’ , where our victory results in a corresponding loss to the other party, a loss which our opponent is driving mightily to prevent, and might even be prepared to play dirty to avoid. Since we cannot predict how viciously or effectively our objectives will be opposed, we cannot offer anything but a guess as to how long a resolution might take or how many hours of our time will be consumed in obtaining a result.

To a lawyer, time is money. I did some scribbling on the back of a bar napkin one time in an attempt to set a fair hourly rate for my services, and discovered to my horror that the small office I was then running was costing me $200 an hour  just to maintain, after paying rent, staff wages insurance, computer costs and the like. So, trying to give an answer to the “how much will this cost” question without knowing how much time we will have to put into the file is very, very difficult.

As to the “how long” question, that really depends upon the willingness of both sides to meet, to negotiate in good faith, and to resolve matters. Typically, that willingness is totally absent, and the parties have to be dragged along kicking and screaming to a resolution. Our Rules of Court have some fairly generous waiting periods built into them (three weeks to respond to a claim and a further month to begin supplying documents, for example) Then we are at the mercy of the courts, where there are significant wait times involved to obtain a trial date, and the availability of all counsel parties and witnesses have to be factored in as well

In the result, the length of time taken to get to trial is measured in years.

So if you want to know how long your case is going to take and how much is going to cost, just sing along with me:

“How deep is the ocean -how high as the sky?” (or borrow Rebecca’s crystal ball!)

divorce, family law, law, real estate

Why lawyers’ hair turns gray – Part one of a series

The search for ‘blog fodder’ – content to fill the pages of this blog – is relentless.

This week, while waiting for the Muse to slap me in the face with a brilliant blog topic, I had a thought: why not simply re-purpose some of the daily chatter that fills our lunchroom, Continue reading “Why lawyers’ hair turns gray – Part one of a series”

folklore, nature

Of Green Beer and Civil Rights

I confess to being a wee bit discouraged.  St. Patrick’s Day is upon us once again, and while for most it is a day of pretending to be Irish, for me it is a day of deep reflection upon the plight of our wee forest folk

It is a topic I have blogged about before, including a piece last year proposing the establishment of sanctuary cities for undocumented leprechauns. Alas, our world has completed a full orbit around its sun since I penned that post, and nowhere has the plight of leprechauns been alleviated in even the smallest of measures.

To this day leprechauns, elves and other assorted wee forest folk have absolutely no civil rights in this great Dominion called Canada. They cannot vote, they are excluded from the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they can’t claim Pogey, or welfare, and can’t  even belly up to the trough for refugee funding

I had hoped that the Truth and Reconciliation commission report, released in the past  year, might have some kind words, but not a single sentence in that weighty tome was devoted to the topic. South of the border, I had my fingers crossed that our wee green deamers might obtain some relief under the DREAM Act, but sadly, even there their dreams were shattered.

The future does indeed look bleak for leprechauns in North America. Unless we act decisively and soon, I fear they may well become extinct;  remembered only in gaudy cartoons every March 17. Now, their only real hope is rested with the bureaucrats of the European union.

It’s a little-known fact that within the vast bureaucracy of the EU in Brussels exists a European Habitats Commission, which in 2009, issued a European Habitats Directive to protect the biodiversity of Ireland’s Cooley Mountains, and particularly the Sliabh Foy loop, declaring it a protected area for”Flora, fauna, wild animals, and leprechauns”. Although census figures are difficult to verify, it is estimated that as many as  237 leprechauns live within the E.U protected biosphere.

Still I worry. As we know from other endangers species, protected areas are only a partial solution: the species themselves frequently wander away from their protected spaces, and into danger.  The Cooley mountains are only a ramble away from the  border with Northern Ireland, where Brexit will put a quick end  to any habitat directive issued by the EU !

Stay safe, and be vigilant, my little friends.




courts, First Nations, jury trials, law

Jury Selection

There has been a lot of commentary in recent days about jury selection, much of it focused on the use by Gerald Stanley’s defense counsel’s of his peremptory challenges to exclude indigenous people from the jury deliberating culpability for the death of Colten Boushie. Most of those commenting have never been involved in the selection of a jury. I have. Let me tell you what it’s like. Continue reading “Jury Selection”