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Archive for November, 2013

Regulating Law Practices as Entities: Is the Whole Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts?

In Canada, law is largely a self-regulating profession: our Law Societies create and administer standards of lawyer conduct as means of guarding our professional independence and promoting lawyers’ professionalism. But as the legal profession absorbs shockwaves from increasing globalization, technology, and liberalization, it’s worth asking whether the public interest continues to be served by traditional means of regulating lawyers’ conduct. As the practice of law changes and innovates, what’s the best way to ensure standards are met amongst lawyers – and how do we ensure any standards at all for non-lawyers involved in new models of legal practice?

For the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Practicing Law With Joy

A recent article in Forbes magazine reported that a survey conducted by Careerbliss.com found that the unhappiest workers in America were associate attorneys. Legal assistants ranked seventh. Law partners weren’t mentioned.

This same survey stated that the happiest workers in the United States were real estate agents! Given the state of the American real estate market recently this doesn’t lend much credibility to the previous claim.

Regardless of the accuracy of the survey findings, anyone who has ever been an associate lawyer in private practice knows the stresses of learning the law, building a practice, grappling with more senior aggressive . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Friday Fillip: Peevishness

I have pet peeves, though why I keep them as pets I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps we all need bits of special grit that irritate us usefully about unimportant things, opening small vents for some the pressure that builds up thanks to civilization so that our lids don’t blow right off — rather in the way that humour might be seen as a relatively safe form of aggression. I think of this as the snuff theory of peevishness: carry your irritants in a pouch with you at all times; administer a dose when tension rises too high; release the stress . . . [more]

Posted in: The Friday Fillip

Australia Points the Way Toward a Bright Future for Legal IT Professionals

Having spent the last 3 weeks in Australia and Hong Kong, I will be using Slaw to discuss some of the ideas and the firms that I met while out in the Wild East. *** Listen for the audible sigh of relief from everyone at the Law Society of Upper Canada as they learn that I won’t be throwing any more daggers at them – this year ***.

Australia is a beautiful country with a legal market not that dissimilar to Canada. Although with a population of about 20 million people and about 37 law schools, Australia is ripe for . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

Law Library of Congress Report on Adjudication of Sexual Offenses in Military Justice Systems

The Law Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has published a new comparative report on the handling and adjudication of sexual offenses in the military.

The report examines how the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom deal with alleged sexual offending by service members.

The Library occasionally publishes reports that compare the laws on a given theme in a number of countries.

Earlier comparative law reports from the Law Library of Congress have covered topics such as:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Access to Justice in Canada

If ideas and discussion about access to justice in Canada interest you, consider setting aside your next fifteen-minute break (or 13:35 of it) to hear a good presentation. Andrew Pilliar,a PhD student at UBC Law, recently delivered a TEDx talk on “why you should care about access to justice.” Andrew addresses the widespread unaffordability of legal services—including for people who would not qualify for legal aid but whose circumstances might turn dire were we to find ourselves in need of legal help.

He directs the talk to the general public, to the profession, and also specifically to law . . . [more]

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

Is Technology the Revolution?

Nearly 30 legal professionals – and who knows how many lurkers – participated in Tuesday night’s Twitterchat about legal technology and access to justice.

What if it were this easy, wondered Casey Hall from Thomson Reuters Legal, to pool time to answer those in need?

That strikes straight to the heart of the access to justice conundrum: everyone has lots of ideas about what the basic problems are and what could be done to fix them, but there appears to be more eagerness to discuss the issue than to deal with it.

That there are areas of overlap in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

Quebec Government Tables Bill to Give Regulatory Bodies Power to Suspend Members Facing Criminal Charges

Quebec’s Charbonneau commission into corruption in the construction industry has revealed numerous failings in the province’s regulatory regime, which the government is attempting to address with new laws. For instance, professional regulatory bodies have found they have little or no power to discipline members (e.g., engineers, lawyers) who have been charged with or have confessed to corruption in relation to construction projects in Quebec. These regulatory bodies have to wait until a disciplinary board (syndic) investigates and the disciplinary committee decides the individuals should be punished
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Thursday Thinkpiece: Goudkamp on Contributory Negligence

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

“Rethinking Contributory Negligence,” in Tort Law: Challenging Orthodoxy, Stephen GA Pitel, Jason W Neyers and Erika Chamberlain Eds.
James Goudkamp
Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013

Note: The book is based on papers that were presented at the Sixth Biennial Conference on the Law of Obligations at Western University in London, Ontario in July 2012. . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Enhance Your Legal Marketing in 2014

Yes, it’s that time again. For 2014 I’ve decided to give you a head start by providing you a shopping list of tactics you can use to give your marketing efforts a boost in the year ahead. To make it easier still, I have broken them down by difficulty level. Can barely lift your head off your desk after the soul-destroying race to the finish line to meet your year-end billing target? Dip a toe into the shallow end by Googling your own name. As long as you’ve still got a pulse, you can manage that one. Or — if . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Good Reasons for Giving Reasons

Administrative tribunals, in making decisions, are sometimes required by legislation to provide reasons for their decisions. Even where there is no legislative requirement to give reasons, principles of procedural fairness may require that a written explanation be provided for the decision reached (see Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 1999 CanLII 699 (SCC).)

While one might presume the question of when reasons are required would have been well-settled since addressed by the Supreme Court in Baker, Manitoba’s Court of Appeal has twice this year addressed that question, in both cases, in appeals from decisions of The . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Encrypt the Web

It will be no surprise to anyone that one of the reactions to the NSA/Snowden revelations would be attempts to evade spying. Many organizations have looked at their systems to determine where the vulnerable weak points are. For example, even if certain internet communications are encrypted, there may be points along the chain where it becomes unencrypted and vulnerable.

This article talks about efforts by Microsoft and others to encrypt more than they have before. Those interested in this topic can learn more by following Bruce Schneier and the EFF.

The EFF, for example, recently published a chart that . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Internet