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Archive for ‘Columns’

Creating the Conditions for Justice Innovation: How (NOT) to Solve Complex Problems

‘…now is not a good time for control freaks” – Eric Young

In my last post for Slaw I wrote about the importance of creating the conditions for justice innovation by building the skills needed to work in multidisciplinary teams and collaborate rather than “consult” with justice system users. In this post I want to focus on another important part of creating the conditions for justice innovation, in particular how we might support innovators by rethinking our problem solving approaches and the methods we use to evaluate justice innovation initiatives.

How we evaluate the success (or failure) of a project . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Be Clear and Know Your Audience

I have spent the last few months presenting to colleagues all over Canada about marketing professional services and the benefits of clear communication. After the sessions there is always a lot of conversation where I do a lot more listening than speaking.

One story that was shared resonated so clearly with me that I have been sharing it ever since.

A client told my colleague that he needed a dictionary to figure out what he was trying to say in an email. This got a good chuckle out our group but it showed that by trying to impress a client . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Encryption: Its Time Has Come

Lawyers tend to cringe when they hear the word “encryption.” To most lawyers, encryption is a dark art, full of mathematical jargon and incomprehensible to the average human being.

When South Carolina suffered a major data breach of taxpayer data, what did Governor Nikki Halley say? “A lot of banks don’t encrypt. It’s very complicated. It’s very cumbersome. There’s a lot of numbers involved with it.”

Leaving aside the laughable notion that a lot of banks don’t encrypt data, the rest of her quote is in keeping with what we hear from lawyers. What we hear always translates into the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The More That Law Society Committees Change, the More Things Stay the Same

As an exception to the universally accepted view that law society committees are “all form and no substance” in regard to the “unaffordable legal services problem” (“the problem”), there is one Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) committee that has produced a Discussion Paper that has great substance, although some ingrates are so inconsiderate as to say that it’s not “the right stuff”; see: Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper. It was released by LSUC on September 24th, asking for comments by December 31st.[i] It proposes “alternative business structures” (ABS’s). They have . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law Libraries, Data, Value, and Story Telling

Among the discussions about transforming the legal industry many librarians are considering ways to express the value of what they do and to explore ways to contribute. One of the elements that has been discussed is to provide more data to libraries’ parent organizations to quantify impacts of various interventions. This is a worthy goal, but it has been my observation that people often respond better to stories than they do to data, and that data, even when presented in a visually compelling way, doesn’t always generate the best stories.

Improved data collection is an excellent tool to accomplish many . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Familiar Complaints: The State of the Legal Profession in Israel

There are too many lawyers. Too many law schools. The bar exam is too easy. The Law Society should fail more applicants. Such statements are familiar in Canada but they are also heard in Israel where I am spending part of the year as a Visiting Scholar at the David Weiner Centre for Lawyers’ Ethics and Professional Responsibility and as a Visiting Professor at the Halbert Center for Canadian Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

When I was much younger, I worked for a year in the Israeli court system as a law clerk so I know something about . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

“And the Winner Is….” What Place Should Award Nominations Have in Your Marketing Efforts?

As I write, awards season is in full swing: gala dinners at glitzy venues, grip ‘n’ grin photographs, grateful recipients thanking their mothers. Is this annual ritual just an ego boost for a few and a waste of time—and money—for many? Or can it produce results beyond those fleeting 15 minutes of fame?

Law firms receive many solicitations for award nominations. Legal publishers create awards events to augment dwindling advertising revenues, exhorting you to nominate clients or colleagues. Charitable organizations want you to help them acknowledge the contributions of volunteers and donors as part of their fundraising efforts. Local institutions . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Who Is the Inventor?

Enthusiastic entrepreneurs consult with patent agents about the protection of their new product. Often a successful team for an entrepreneurial business includes someone with technical skills, someone with marketing skills, someone providing business direction as well, of course, with one of more persons providing financial backing. Often all want to be named as inventors on a patent application. A key question which comes up is to identify who are the inventors.

That question was answered by the Federal Court in Drexan Energy Systems Inc. v. Canada (Commissioner of Patents) 2014 FC 887, a case where four people worked together on . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

To Tenure, or to Not Tenure – That Is the Question

Tenure is one of those sticky academic topics. Those on the outside of the acadame wonder why anyone would or should be granted a “job for life.” On the inside, the question was not “if” we should have tenure, but “who.” Throughout the entirety of my career as an Academic Law Librarian and Legal Research Professor, my colleagues and I debated with the question of whether or not we should be (1) tenure track and, if so, (2) considered part of the law school faculty and invited to participate in the governance of the school.

At the time, I held . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Legal Citation: Beyond the McGill Guide

This past summer, the Canadian legal profession was presented with yet another edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation/Manuel canadien de la référence juridique, aka the McGill Guide. This new edition, the 8th in 28 years (an average of one edition every 4 years since its first publication in 1986) was expected, though not anticipated with any enthusiasm. Fellow Slaw columnist Susannah Treadwell has recently posted a review of the work. It seems to me that the changes to the previous edition are few, inconsistent, and not obviously necessary (Another colleague has told me that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

UNCITRAL’s WGIII on Online Dispute Resolution… a Seemingly Perpetual Tug of War

Between October 20th and 24th, as it does every Autumn, UNCITRAL’s Working group III on Online dispute resolution met to try and finally draft procedural rules for ODR providers. Unlike previous sessions, this year’s was rumoured to be a “make it or break it” meeting. This could be gleaned from the restatement of the directives given to participants in July of 2012 by UNCITRAL:

(a) the Working Group should consider and report back at a future session of the Commission on how the draft rules would respond to the need of developing countries and those facing post-conflict . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Advice for the Reluctant Delegator

Are you a reluctant delegator?

  • You have tried delegating and have been let down time and time again.
  • You have found that no one does the work as well as you, or the way you want it done.
  • You have concluded that it is just faster and easier to do it yourself.
  • Or by the time you figure out that something could have been delegated it is too late.

On a scale of one to ten, one being you have never delegated a thing in your life, and ten being you are a star delegator, how would you rate yourself? . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law