Breaking News: How to Learn New or Emerging Law in a Pinch

  • September 28, 2021
  • Mark Asfar

Many lawyers in the profession have recently had to take a crash course in employment and human rights law as clients across the province and Canada scramble to understand and develop workplace vaccination policies for the latest stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the most recent in a long line of critical emerging moments in law, including (from the personal experiences of the author) the invention and proliferation of cryptocurrencies, and the legalization and commercialization of cannabis across Canada. Of course, there have been many other industry and practice-specific developments, emerging with new legislation or with the release of critical court decisions.

However these developments present in law, they can represent a few different things for young lawyers. Firstly, they can represent another potential nerve-wracking moment in your day when a client asks for your urgent opinion on an unfamiliar topic or area of law. They can represent another research topic on a long and never-ending list of to-dos and items to look into. But they can also represent an opportunity for young lawyers to explore new and underdeveloped areas of law or practice with abundant client need and potentially few established experts. A great example of this was the legalization of cannabis in 2019, which generated new challenges and opportunities for lawyers across numerous practice areas: real estate lawyers who were asked to advise landlords on cannabis restrictions; employment lawyers asked to advise employers and employees on cannabis in the workplace; criminal lawyers asked to review drug possession charges and appeals; and of course the many business and regulatory lawyers asked to apply their skills to an unprecedented national regulatory and business framework rollout.