DeGrandis v. 1123951 Ontario Limited, 2016 ONSC 4335 (Ont. S.C.J.)
RE: the 'culture shift' in the practice of law that has been called for by the Supreme Court of Canada
In this case we represented an underpinning contractor who had been sued by an owner. To assist in managing legal costs, the spouse of our contractor's president had agreed to work as an unpaid law clerk on the file, in the preparation and review of documents and summaries. When we attended at discoveries, the plaintiff's counsel refused to proceed while she was in attendance, and we were forced to obtain the Court's approval to our approach.
The Court held that our approach was "a sensible way to reduce expenses and the overall cost of litigation". The Court also stated:
"I also agree with the submissions of counsel for the defendant with respect to a litigation “culture shift”. The Supreme Court of Canada has made it abundantly clear that there needs to be a culture shift in how the parties, the bar and the courts approach the resolution of civil disputes. ... These principles are certainly applicable to the issue involving the attendance of the non-party at discovery. As indicated above, I view that request as a cost-saver."
The case is important as it provides guidance as to how law firms can engage the culture shift and find new ways to meet client needs and keep legal costs down.