Employment Contracts (whether you like them or not)

At the end of August, our new law firm will be half a year old.  After a decade of practicing law in other peoples’ firms, I have to say, being the owner of the business is even better than I had expected.  It’s not fewer hours, has just as many (but different) headaches, and the day to day law is no less challenging than being at a big global law firm.

But the difference is, the hours, headaches and challenges are mine to own, and mine to prioritize according to client needs rather than according to big infrastructure timelines and priorities. 

But then there’s all the administrative work.

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Human Rights During the Job Interview

Most companies know which are some of the obviously dangerous questions to ask during a job interview.  Are you planning to have children (i.e. many expensive parental leaves)?  Do you have a happy (i.e. stable) marriage? Are you religious (i.e. a different religion than me)?

What about the less obvious questions?  Focusing on any characteristic protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”) is inviting trouble.  If a job candidate can then establish that they did not get a job even in part because of discrimination, the employer may be facing a claim.  The Code is crystal clear that the human rights regime applies throughout the entire employment relationship, from the interview and pre-employment stage, right through to termination.

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Coworking Part 4: Managing Employees

In my recent blog posts, I discussed the emerging importance of coworking spaces in the post-industrial workforce and some of the risks around data security and privacy, as well as interpersonal employment law risks.  In this next part of the series, I set out strategies to consider when managing employees in the coworking space.

Nobody likes to be a joy-killer with draconian policies and 20 page employment contracts.  But having nothing in place is asking for unnecessary headaches.  Here are a few lean strategies that you can consider, and to ramp up and expand as you grow:

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Legal Services in the Modern Workplace

March 2014 was one heck of a month for me.  On March 1, my friend and colleague, Inna Koldorf, and I launched our new law firm, Koldorf Stam LLP. 

After 10 years of practice, nearly 7 years at Baker & McKenzie, one of the planet’s largest law firms, I knew I needed to jump in to the new way of practicing law.  We really are at a cross-road in how we deliver legal services – but more importantly, how we consume legal services.  The internet has changed everything.  You can look up statutes on CanLii, note up cases online, read blog posts full of legal ‘information’, or go to the Ministry of Labour website for labour standards – all for free.  So where do lawyers fit in with all of this?

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Coworking Part 3: Interpersonal Employment Law Risks

In my last blog posts (here and here), I discussed the emerging importance of coworking spaces in the post-industrial workforce and some of the risks around data security and privacy.  In this part three of the series, I set out some of the employment law issues related to human interactions in coworking spaces:  booze, sexual harassment and discrimination.

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Coworking Part 2: Data & Privacy Risks

In my last blog post, I discussed the emerging importance of coworking spaces in the post-industrial workforce.  In this part two of the series, at the risk of bursting this utopian post-industrial bubble, I set out some of the more pressing employment law issues with coworking spaces:  confidential information, data security, privacy and ownership of content.

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Coworking Part 1: Turning the Workplace Upside Down

For the last many centuries, workers have gathered together in the same workplace because they were paid and employed by the same employer, and because that’s where the work was.  It didn’t really matter if you had anything personally in common with your co-workers, and you certainly didn’t have to be inspired or motivated by them.  But you did have to show up at the bricks and mortar workspace to do the work and get your paycheque.@85KingEast insTED Talk on Jan 28 2014 with founder Roger Brennikmeyer and speaker Nick van Weerdenburg from Ranglio.io

Technology and the explosion of the entrepreneurial economy have changed all that.  Work for many is where our computer can hook up to a signal and get access to documents in the cloud.  That means work can be anywhere for many pockets of our post-industrial workforce.

This is the first part of a 4 part series looking at the coworking world:  (1) what it is; (2) what are the data & privacy risks; (3) what are the human risks; and (4) how to manage your employees who may be working out of a coworking space. 

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Canadian Law Blogs to Check Out

The 2013 Clawbies winners were announced on December 31, and I am humbled and so very grateful to the readers that nominated my blog.  I am happy to write that this blog was selected for a Best Practitioner Blog in Canada award.

More importantly, however, is the chance to explore what blogs are out there.  I subscribe to many blogs through my Feedly, but there are new ones popping up every day.  The Clawbies Awards are such a great opportunity to check out blogs that may have missed my radar. 

A huge thanks to the adjudicators that volunteered their time to organize and review this year’s Clawbies Awards.

Here’s a summary of Canadian law blogs you may want to check out.  A full description of each blog is at www.clawbies.ca.

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Top 2013 Canadian Employment & Labour Cases

Looking for a bootcamp on important cases from 2013?  Here are a few of my favourite Canadian bloggers and their top 5-10 cases from 2013.  There is some overlap, but also a good range of cases to highlights how law can be much more of an art than a science.

Feel free to comment if you think an important case was overlooked in any of the above lists.


Other great top 10 type lists to check out:


Happy Reading - and may 2014 treat you all well.



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2013 Clawbies Nominations

It’s Clawbies Season again!  

When I started my blog in 2009, I could count on one hand my employment law blogging compatriots in Canada.  There are some excellent marketing departments now pushing out all kinds of content, but I remain sentimental for the independent blogger blogging for the love it, for the opportunity to connect with colleagues and clients, and yes, to raise profile within the growing audience of blog readers.

When reflecting on which blogs are deserving of a Clawbie, I have arbitrarily, unscientifically and completely subjectively based my decisions on the following criteria:

  • I prefer independent bloggers writing with their own voice, sweat and tears (not a series of posts ghost written by a marketing department or articling student);
  • I am an employment lawyer, so will have a natural bias for bloggers in my area of practice; and
  • I love passionate writing – I tend to write more neutrally in the otherwise polarized employment world, and appreciate the courage in others to rage against the system/worker/institution/judge/The Man/the jerk on the bus, etc.

My 2013 Clawbies Nominations

Based on my above criteria, here are my nominations:

1.     Law of Work – You can’t get more passionate then Professor Doorey’s lefty legal rants.  There is no ambiguity around his politics, he’s a colourful writer, always engaging, and full of useful, interesting, helpful commentary on the law.  I may not always agree with him, but still love reading his posts.  (I feel like this is a wasted nomination, since everyone else will also vote for him.)

2.     MacLeod Law Firm -  Doug MacLeod and his new associate Nicole Sims write in a succinct, practical manner that cuts to the point and provides useful day-to-day information for the real world.   He skips all the legal theory, keeps his post short, regular and topical.  I hope to be as disciplined with my posts when I grow up.

3.     Employment Law Blog for the Suddenly Unemployed - I don’t know how he does it, but Sean manages to push out all kinds of useful content, is topical, opinionated, passionate and colourful – everything I love in a blogger.  He popped onto the scene in 2012 and has continued to deliver top quality content throughout. 

4.     South of the Border Choice:  Molly DiBianca at the Delaware Employment Law Blog is the real deal.  She’s an original legal blogger and set the tone for many of us in the early years.  She writes with a unique flare and always keeps it always engaging.

Runner’s Up:

1.     First Reference – I nominate them every year, but Yosie Saint-Cyr and her team are always putting out such high quality analysis.  I have focused on individuals for my top three, but there is no doubt that Yosie’s writing and legal talent should keep her at the top of the list.

2.    Canadian Privacy Law Blog – David Fraser is a national expert in his area, and blogs with an impressive, high quality frequency that puts most of us to shame.

Good luck to all my colleagues, friends and fellow bloggers.  I look forward to learning about a new list of blogs I should subscribe to.

Happy reading to everyone!

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