Canada’s online legal magazine.

A2J DIY 5: Provide Some Services on a Flat-Rate Basis

This post continues my discussion of remunerative practice models that improve access to justice. I spent a good bit of space in my post on unbundled services, also known as limited-scope retainers, dumping on the comprehensive service, billable-hour model of legal practise and explaining why I believe it is unaffordable and unpalatable to clients. In this post, I’m going to talk about another alternative to the billable hour, flat-rate billing.

The idea of adopting a flat-rate approach to work makes most lawyers pretty twitchy. The fundamental genius of the the billable-hour approach is that you are covered, no . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Promoting Better Practices – a Proactive Approach to Lawyer and Paralegal Regulation

Among regulators across Canada, and internationally, there is increasing interest in proactive regulatory initiatives that focus on better practice management to achieve improved client service and professional conduct. Traditionally, law societies have worked to ensure proper professional conduct by establishing rules and by discipline. This is primarily a reactive, complaints-driven process.

The Law Society of British Columbia, Prairie Law Societies and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society are all considering proactive regulation. Other regulators in Ontario have implemented forms of proactive regulation, as have legal regulators in Australia and in England and Wales.

Last June, the Law Society of Upper . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

“The Franchise”

Almost two years ago, I asked here on Slaw “Is It Time For A National Retail Law Firm?”. I argued that some twenty plus years on from the dawn of the national firm model in the business law context, there was a growing opportunity – at least to my mind – for the emergence of a similarly scaled venture focused on consumer-oriented legal services: family law, personal injury, simple wills, basic contracts and other legal services required by individuals and small businesses.

I left off that earlier column as follows:

The gradual loosening of inter-jurisdictional practice rules, the twenty-year . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan: It’s Coming!

With the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act, 2015 now in force, the Ontario government is moving ahead to establish the ORPP by January 1, 2017. The ORPP is a made-in-Ontario alternative to a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) enhancement.

The plan is needed according to the government because many Ontarians, including middle- and higher-income earners, may not be saving enough to ensure comparable standards of living in retirement.

The ORPP is mandatory for employers without a comparable workplace pension plan. Employers who already offer a comparable workplace pension plan will not be required to participate in the ORPP. All workers must . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Happily Stressed Out in 2016

2016 has the potential to be an absolute game changer year for all of us in one important area our lives – stress.

Show me a person in the legal industry who does not experience stress and I will show you a retired person. (Although in all likelihood they are probably still stressed!)

I used to think that reducing stress was a vitally important goal. Now I know there is something else we need to do with it – embrace it.

Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk and the research detailed in her book The Upside Of Stress: Why Stress Is . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Documentary Discovery: How It Should Look

A litigation culture has arisen in this province over the last three decades which extols creating and litigating peripheral procedural disputes, instead of moving towards the timely adjudication of disputes on their merits. That culture now lauds, as the skilled barrister, the motions specialist, not the final hearing expert.

The culture of creating and litigating peripheral . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Podcasting as Commentary

Up to a few months ago, I didn’t know much about WWI. I did certainly know more than the characters in Friends, but, like most, I knew considerably less on this conflict than on the other world war. To be fair to me, I had a reasonable idea of the convoluted causes of the conflict from reading Margaret MacMillan’s “The War That Ended Peace” (still, that was only a couple of years ago), but not much about the actual fighting. Then I listened, over the summer, to a 20+ hour series of podcasts by Dan Carlin entitled “Blueprint . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Stuart Budd & Sons Limited v. IFS Vehicle Distributors ULC, 2016 ONCA 60

[88] I have no doubt that the motion judge was well-intentioned. I have no doubt that he put a great deal of effort into resolving the jurisdiction issue. However, my review of the three endorsements leads me to conclude that the motion judge’s actions gave rise to a . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

“Thank You”: The Two Most Important Keywords in Business Development

The friendly folks at SLAW remind us regularly when columns are due. On receiving one such reminder when I was at a family gathering, I asked everyone what I should write about next (my family happens to include five young lawyers). The youngest of them responded instantly: “Courtesy—and how little of it young lawyers have.”

This, from a first-year associate? It’s the kind of comment I expect from a grizzled veteran, accompanied by the inevitable “I dunno, kids today….” rant. When I asked her to elaborate, she noted that communications quickly become personal, as in: “If you had read my . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Tips Tuesday

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on research and writing, practice, and technology.

Research & Writing

Advice for Associates and Students
Neil Guthrie

You feel nervous about publishing something, right? You should be, a bit – but don’t let it put you off. Some things to bear in mind: get a partner to vet your idea and your draft, for technical accuracy; defer to the senior person on points of law (unless you can show you’re right), but not always on . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Dealing With a Self-Represented Litigant Who Really Needs Legal Advice

Self-represented litigants are a challenging reality in today’s legal landscape. In addition to the extra time and effort that can make dealing with a self-rep more expensive for your client and more frustrating for you, it seems there is a greater potential for a malpractice claim. This is highlighted by the number of claims LAWPRO is seeing where the opposing party was a self-rep. In 2014, there were 162 such claims, almost double the 86 we saw a decade earlier, in 2004.

As you work to resolve a matter, you may find yourself negotiating directly with a self-represented litigant. In . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Reading: Recommended

Debt Money, Banking Profits and Canadian Sovereignty

I happened upon an interesting story on a website called Collective Evolution entitled, “Canadians Sued The Bank Of Canada & Won. Mainstream Media & Government Blacks Out Story.” The report stated:

“The truth is, The Bank of Canada used to issue debt free loans to the government, which meant that the nation would not go into debt to private banking institutions. When that changed, private bankers/corporations essentially gained control and ownership of the country.”

This struck me as a potentially conspiratorial piece on a sketchy website but certainly intriguing enough that I wanted to know more. So I’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment