What changes should be made to family law?

These proposals let family law lawyers discuss and vote on what changes they think should be made to the law or court procedures. The results can be viewed and shared with legislators and the Courts. The proposals put forth are written by member lawyers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or its administrators. You can view more proposals or make a proposal yourself.

Proposal: Keep using videoconferencing for Regular Chambers
Court Procedure - Nov 8, 2021

81% in favour out of 21 votes

Ken Proudman - view Arbitrator profile
   Edmonton, Alberta

I have mixed feelings about this one, I might even vote against my own proposal, but thought I'd put this proposal out there to see how others feel.

I miss discussing resolution at the courthouse steps when lawyers and clients were often all present and the reality of risks on each side set in, the rapport building coming from seeing our colleagues in person, being able to hand proposed forms of orders to judges, the lack of tech problem interruptions, and the effect of the Courthouse's formal setting upon clients.

But videoconferencing means that clients are no longer charged for travel, that small town and otherwise distant distant lawyers aren't disadvantaged, that we don't have to spend a lot of time choosing what documents to print and then organizing those documents, and that we can keep an eye on our emails at the same time. Given that our practice area focuses on individual services and not billion dollar corporations, affordability of legal services may be a paramount consideration.

0 14 months ago

Stephen Harfield
  Queck & Associates
   Sherwood Park, Alberta

I like having the option and leaving it to counsel how they wish to appear on an application. There may be some times I want to be there in the hopes of last minute talks or showing documents in person. Other times it won't matter and/or wasteful to attend. Once the option is there I think we'll find some trends emerging about what actually works better. Like if I can go in person and push myself to the front, get an order, get it filed, and get back to the office, maybe the time I have lost in travel is gained in other efficiencies. So I'd want to have an option and on that basis the courts can see whether that should be maintained or not.

3 14 months ago

Ken Proudman - view Arbitrator profile
   Edmonton, Alberta

Good point, maybe I'll need to modify this system so that we can add more than two options. Want to post that as a separate proposal?

I'm two blocks away from the courthouse, so if it was optional, I'd probably always go there in person just in case there's a slight persuasive advantage to being there in person (by putting a face to the party, and it's probably easier to reject a position when the advocate isn't in front of your face).

I suspect that unless the bar has a strong preference to appear in person, the Court may want to minimize in person appearances to reduce costs by decreasing the number of sheriffs, and to permit judges to work remotely.

1 14 months ago

Christopher King
  CK Family Law
   Edmonton, Alberta

As a whole I greatly prefer the online system. Not needing to travel to the Courthouse and being able to work on other things while waiting for my matter to be called, has greatly increased productivity and reduced client costs. We should have the option to appear in person for ex-parte, (urgent) consent orders, etc., simply as a means of increasing efficiency. Or in general, have the option to appear in person for anything in case technology poses a problem. Negotiation can still occur via the chat function of Webex or by a telephone call (while muted hopefully).

4 14 months ago

Wayne Barkauskas, K.C. - view Arbitrator profile
  Wise Scheible Barkauskas
   Calgary, Alberta

As a student of "communication" and how human beings communicate (verbal and non verbal), there is absolutely something lost with video attendance. It also does nothing to build collegiality amongst the bar. If the appearance was of little consequence (like most docket appearances), virtual is probably fine, but for the important submissions, it should absolutely be in person if at all possible. Efficiency does not trump effectiveness.

1 14 months ago

Doug Moe Q.C. - view Arbitrator profile
  Moe Hannah LLP
   Calgary, Alberta

I am strongly in favour of maintaining video appearances.

The benefits outweigh the negatives in my view. I can walk across the street to go to Court now, but remember the days of driving in from out of town, or from out of down town, fighting to park, etc.,

The ability to do something else while waiting one's turn again reduces the cost for clients, the ability to appear from anywhere (on holiday, etc., from home on a snow day, to not have to worry about physical intimidation by lawyers or unrepresented parties who do it consciously or unconsciously, and to have the Justice focused on one person at a time as it should be, plus other reasons.

The difference that in person makes is just not worth it. If you have a good case and are making an effective argument you can do it on the phone, but video is better so that you can watch the Judge.

Put your camera in front of the screen on a little tripod so that you can look into it as your are looking at the person you are talking to.

2 14 months ago

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