Legal ethics explored at conference

Legal ethics

Western Law Professors Stephen Pitel and Randal Graham

Scholars, regulators, judges and graduate students gathered at Western Law on October 23 to 25 for the 8th annual Canadian Association for Legal Ethics (CALE) conference.   

The CALE conference provides a forum for Canadian ethics scholars and regulators to disseminate their current research into the regulation of ethics and professionalism, and to share ideas about "best practices" in the teaching of legal ethics in a law school environment.

This was the first CALE conference hosted by Western Law and it attracted participants from all parts of Canada.

The conference featured presentations on a wide array of ethics-related topics, including "Lawyer Geography and Legal Ethics", the "Good Character" requirement, Ontario's new Law Society Tribunal, and ethical issues surrounding defence lawyers' advertisements relating to the defence of accused persons charged with sexual assault.

Conference delegates also participated in Western Law's first-year ethics course where they (together with Western Law's entire first- year cohort) were treated to two debates between leaders in the field of legal ethics. The first featured Professor Alice Woolley of the University of Calgary and Dalhousie Professor Richard Devlin, addressing Law Society regulation of lawyers' civility. The second debate featured Western Law Professor Stephen Pitel and the Honourable Stephen Goudge (recently retired from Ontario's Court of Appeal) debating ethical issues that arise when retired judges return to practice.

View video of “Should Law Societies Regulate Civility?” and “Should Retired Judges Be Allowed To Practice” below.

One particularly important aspect of the conference is the involvement of regulators from across the country. Law Society representatives from several provinces, as well as regulators from Canada's Federation of Law Societies, made a point of attending this year's conference, where they shared their own ideas about the future of regulating legal ethics while also seeking the input of some of Canada's top legal ethics scholars.

“Western Law was delighted to host the 2014 CALE Conference, organized by our own Professor Stephen Pitel. Not only did the conference provide a forum for the discussion of ethical issues and research, but it also gave us a chance to showcase Western’s top-notch ethics program,” said Professor Randal Graham.

“One of the most gratifying aspects of the CALE conference was that it allowed our students to see, firsthand, the close, collegial nature of the legal ethics community,” Graham said.

The CALE conference was sponsored with the generous support of: Emond Montgomery Publications; Federation of Law Societies of Canada; Goodmans LLP; Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP; and Erin Rankin Nash and David Nash.