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Archive for February, 2011

The Friday Fillip

There may be times when you’re be tempted to think that science has a lock on who we are and how we work. But just consider that some of the most basic things that make us human, that play important roles in our lives, remain rather mysterious. We don’t really know why we laugh, cry, dream, sleep — or how we smell the scents around us.

Smell is a loaded matter. Gets right to the heart of things, often things that we don’t generally talk about in “polite society” — which might, for that reason, be called “smell-blind” society. (Curious, . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Women and Leadership: How and Why You Want to Become a Partner

Many of us have a book living inside just waiting to get out if only we could find the time, energy and courage to write it. Recently, I discovered that someone else has written my book. The book is titled “Women on Top – The Woman’s Guide to Leadership and Power in Law Firms” by Ida O. Abbott. (Available on the National Association of Law Placement website for $80.00.) 

The American author is a well-known writer on many law practice management issues including “The Lawyer’s Guide to Mentoring”. She is also a co-founder and director of the Hastings Leadership Academy . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

On the Importance of Judicial Independence

by Emir Aly Crowne*

This is a response to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s remarks at the University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law given on February 11, 2011. It is appropriate that the Minister’s initials are j/k, because had I not known better, I would have taken them to be a joke. But his remarks are from it. In fact — and quite ironically — his remarks strike at the very values that we, as Canadians, prize: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Audrey Macklin and Lorne Waldman have already addressed some of these issues in their op-ed . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Parsing the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Kafkaesque CPD Requirements

As of January 1, 2011, Ontario lawyers are now required to complete at least 12 hours of continuing professional development (“CPD”) in “eligible educational activities.” At least three hours must relate to “professional responsibility, ethics and practice management,” and must be obtained from a program that is accredited from the Law Society of Upper Canada. The nine hour balance must relate to “eligible educational activities.” This is on top of the 50 hours of self-study that every Ontario lawyer is expected (but is not required) to fulfill every year.

“No problem,” I thought, “I regularly keep updated on new legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Reference Re Marriage Commissioners: Single-Entry System

In a previous blog post I discussed the recent Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision on whether marriage commissioners—as civil servants—can opt out of performing same-sex marriages. The Court found that legislative amendments, which would have allowed Saskatchewan’s marriage commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex marriages on religious grounds, were discriminatory and unconstitutional. A discussion from the post ensued, and John Gregory’s comments into how civil marriage ceremonies are provided in Ontario required me to delve deeper into the issue.

After some research, I found out that the following statement I made is not quite accurate:

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

CCCT Court Web Site Guidelines – Some Complexities Underlying Court Web Sites – the Administrative Control of Court Web Sites

The administrative control of court web sites can be a sensitive issue, because it often cuts across the independence of the Judiciary and resources of the Executive. In consideration of this issue, we felt that our guidelines had to address the issue. The following text is our draft on topic. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Technology: Internet

Legal IT 5

This year’s Legal IT conference will be held on Monday, April 4 at the Centre Mont-Royal in Montreal. An initiative of the Young Bar Association of Montreal, it’s a do-able single-day affair, and the program is jam-packed with presentations in both English and French on information technology and its impact on law. For example, you’ll hear Richard Granat on “eLawyering for Competitive Advantage: How to Brand Your Law Firm in a Networked World,” David Gold of Spindlelaw on “Crowdsourcing the Law” and Slawyer Omar Ha-Redeye on “Reputation Management Law.”

The full program is available online, of course. . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements

Protecting Your Data And, More Importantly, Your Clients’ Data

Law firms deal with some of the most confidential and sensitive data in society and yet so many of them have such lax policies on information security. There are some simple things you can do to dramatically improve your information security and they don’t require you to purchase expensive gear.

Keep Your Passwords Your Own

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a firm and heard an attorney come out of their office and say “Patty, I’m going to Phoenix for a couple of days to meet with Acme Co. Check my e-mail while I’m away; my . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Watson’s Victory Means for Lawyers

Earlier in the month (the other) Simon alerted us to IBM’s development of a natural language savvy (and trivia stuffed) machine that ran rings around the human competitors in Jeopardy.

But no sooner had the victory occurred when lawyers started thinking … what if.

What if they hadn’t cleared copyright on the encyclopedias they stuffed Watson with?

But the best analysis is contained in a provocative and imaginative piece by IBM GC Robert Weber in the National Law Journal, summarized in the ABA Journal.

“Imagine a new kind of legal research system that can gather much of

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology: Office Technology

Data vs the Blink

The Technology Review published by MIT offers up some great food for thought via Tweets of article headlines. The publication fills my need for a quick review of what is up with science and technology since I rarely read in this area. Occasionally, there is an excellent business oriented article thrown in the mix.

An article titled Trusting Data, Not Intuition is a worthwhile read. The main point of the article is that for technology related business decisions, nothing beats testing.

Studies of the software industry indicate that when ideas people thought would succeed are evaluated through controlled experiments, less

. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading

Landmark Agreement on First Nation Jurisdiction

On Monday an agreement was concluded between the Teslin Tlingit First Nation, the federal government, and the government of Yukon, according the First Nation the power to pass certain laws and to administer justice on its lands. Yukon has signed a number of self-government agreements with First Nations, the Teslin Tlingit among them, but this is the first justice agreement, and the first in Canada. According to the CBC report, the new justice system will apply to the First Nation’s citizens, wherever they may be in Yukon, and also to non-citizens who are on Teslin Tlingit lands.

The text . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Safeguarding Client Information

I attended a webinar today by the CBA entitled Safeguarding your Client’s Confidential Information – Tips and Traps. Presented by David Fraser and Dominic Jaar.

 Here are some of the highlights.

Quote from security expert Bruce Schneier:

“Hardware is easy to protect: lock it in a room, chain it to a desk, or buy a spare. Information poses more of a problem. It can exist in more than one place; be transported halfway across the planet in seconds; and be stolen without your knowledge.”

This is primarily a people issue – requires training and understanding. It’s not just about technology. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology