Canada’s online legal magazine.
Rogers OutRank
Canadian Bar Association

Archive for ‘Columns’

Dave Winer’s Outliner, Fargo

With his latest project Fargo, Dave Winer puts outliners where they belong: everywhere. Fargo runs in your web browser and stores your data in your Dropbox folder. This combination of browser and cloud puts the outliner everywhere making it a good choice for anyone looking for ubiquitous note taking and writing capabilities.

Why an outliner?

The short answer is that you can reduce most writing to an outline, a series of expandable points or topics. If you think about it for a minute it is easy to see most legal writing as an outline. Many of those course outlines . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

What Will a Trinity Western University Law Degree Be Worth?

The Law Society of BC recently voted in favour of approving Trinity Western University’s law school. The private Christian school, located in Langley and about an hour’s drive from Vancouver, has an anti-gay covenant that, essentially, discriminates against anyone who isn’t heterosexual. There is plenty of ink spilled and many keyboards pounded on the subject of the LSBC’s decision and the distaste for TWU’s exclusivity that’s worthy of reading. What strikes me though, is the question about the value of a TWU law degree.

When the first crop of law students begin looking for summer articles will they be met . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Administrative Justice and Earth Day: The Path to “Green” Fairness

Yesterday was Earth Day — an opportunity to reflect on the impact of administrative justice on our environment and how tribunals can balance fairness, efficiency and environmentally-friendly practices. It’s obvious that the environment is an inter-related system that needs to be looked at holistically. However, the administrative justice system is rarely looked at holistically. The actions of a tribunal have an impact on all the users of a tribunal services (parties and representatives). A tribunal’s rules and procedures create its own “ecosystem” that has the potential to impose both environmental costs and benefits.

Two small examples will serve to illustrate: . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Behind the Blue Box: Culture Clash and the Cost of Recycling

Across Canada, municipalities run Blue Box programs to collect recyclable materials and to divert them from landfill. The Blue Box is a popular and important environmental initiative, but Blue Box systems have become surprisingly expensive. Early hopes were that Blue Box programs could be funded by selling the recaptured material, but that turns out to cover perhaps a third of the cost. Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) reported verified net Blue Box costs of about $237 million for 2012 in Ontario alone, after all revenue but before prior year adjustments.

So, who should pay that $237 million? Municipalities and their taxpayers? . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

6 Steps for Small Firm Spring Cleaning

As I sit and write this column it is a warm 11 degrees in Victoria and the flowers are starting to bloom. While I realize that my colleagues in many parts of the country are still buried in snow, our thoughts on the west coast are starting to turn to spring. At this time of year I engage in an annual exercise that began when I ran my small law office and continues to this day with my consulting firm. That practice is spring-cleaning and it is a simple process that I recommend to all of my clients. While each . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Teaching ODR… Whose Job Is It?

A few months ago, a subscriber to John Gregory’s listserv (which every IT law enthusiast should subscribe to) sent a message regarding how the impact of IT on the legal profession was being taught (or rather wasn’t being taught) in Universities across the country.

Of course, that very question has preoccupied lawyers and legal scholars alike for two decades with regard to IT law, i.e. whether it should be treated as a subject in and of itself (in which case it usually isn’t a mandatory class, meaning that students can go through law school without hearing the word “Internet” . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

One Simple Ingredient for a Happier Workplace

Sandra asked the team of legal support staff she manages what would contribute to their motivation at work. They all told her “appreciation – being thanked when we do a good job.”

Mark , a young associate, is unhappy at his firm. One of the things bothering him about the culture is the lack of appreciation for people’s efforts.

Chelsea and her close colleagues laugh at themselves for being foolish: after all their years of practice they still hanker after an appreciative word from their partners for taking on some of the essential but non-billable work critical to the firm’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Redefining Social Media Success Through a Closer Look at the Stats

Organizations pursuing civil justice objectives need a website. On this point, there can be no doubt. Often operating with constrained budgets, these organizations need an efficient and appealing means to inform stakeholders and attract supporters and, in this regard, nothing can be more cost effective than a website. It’s now an article of faith that promotion of that website and engagement of those stakeholders also requires an active social media presence. But do the facts support that view?

Based on analysis[i] of social media engagement with CanLII (a free-to-access legal information site containing nearly 1.3 million court and tribunal . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

When Lawyers Leave: Client Retention Strategies

One of my more popular columns last year dealt with introducing a new lawyer to your firm. I said the arrival of a new lawyer or group of lawyers was a marketing opportunity both inside and outside the firm. As the dust settles on the collapse of Heenan Blaikie, it’s time to look at the other end of the spectrum—the departure of a lawyer or group of lawyers from a firm. Not many firms go the way of Heenan Blaikie, but individual lawyers or groups jump ship all the time. 

It’s a bit of a stretch to say that the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Dealing With Link Rot – Are DOIs the Cure?

Over the past decades the publishing industry has developed standards to provide unique identifiers to text products. The most well known is the ISBN, the International Standard Book Number, which now comprises 13 digits, and ensures the same titles published in different parts of the world can be identified separately. The version used for periodicals is the 8 digit ISSN – International Serial Serial Number. Then there is the International Standard Text Code (ISTC), a numbering system for the unique identification of text-based works, which links different text works within books, audio books, etc. All of these standards ensure . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Open and Legal Education

There is no shortage of topics to write about when it comes to Legal Education in the 21st Century. Most of them encompass a huge amount of changes that are in process or on the horizon, which, depending on your outlook, can be taken as good news or bad. I think everyone can agree that it is a bit overwhelming to contemplate – especially since most of the changes such as governing body regulations, legal job markets and technological innovations are completely out of our hands and still be decided. Even the most pro-change reformer who would love to “skate . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

The Speed of Change (Spoiler Alert: It’s Slow)

The buzzword bingo I played during LegalTech NY and ReInvent Law was won by the word “change”. It was an amazing firehose-of-information week, and getting off the plane I was committed to picking up Kotter’s Leading Change book (again), plus I ordered Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations book. But the February blues of a Toronto winter got the best of me and I ended up reading Switch instead. (It was an easier and happier read as it turned out.)

I came away from New York with the (rather obvious) thought that: change will be slower if solutions don’t make things easier, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology