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Archive for ‘Columns’

Revisiting the Case for Project Management in Legal Practice

I hesitate to write further about project management in legal practice because there has been so much said about it, but I just finished my exam to be a “Project Management Professional” (PMP), and I want to share some thoughts on why it’s a good fit for legal practice and how it fits into legal information work.

There are many “projects” in law offices or libraries—offices get moved, IT systems get upgraded, and new systems generally get rolled out periodically, but those kinds of projects are not the reason I think it’s worth talking about project management in legal practice . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Technology Remains an Afterthought for Many Within the Legal System

Back in late September, the Court of the Future Network, in partnership with the Institut des hautes études sur la justice and the Cyberjustice Laboratory, organised its annual Court tour which – this year – took place in California, home of Silicon Valley and many technological innovators. For this very reason, the tour took a technological turn and focussed on some of the key technological issues confronting courts, such as:

  • The paperless courtroom: digital documents and evidence display
  • Cyber security
  • Immersive video-conferencing
  • Integrated courtroom management
  • Social media for courts
  • Remote interpreting
  • Online Dispute Resolution and Artificial Intelligence

The purpose of . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The ABCs of Client Classification

How can you save time and money marketing your law firm? Drop a few clients.

Yes, drop. Some lawyers are better than others at saying no to taking on certain clients. Some groups can more easily spell out the criteria for their ideal client than others. And some firms are better than others about enforcing client intake policies. But very few lawyers, practice groups, or firms have committed to regularly culling their client lists for The Clients Who Aren’t Worth the Trouble.

But how do you know who those clients are? That’s where client classification comes in. Classifying your clients . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Women Know Who the Predators Are

In the past few years, sexual harassment allegations against several high-profile media executives have generated significant discussion, including on social media. Last week’s New York Times story titled “Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein” is no exception. My Twitter feed was alight with comments and commentary moments after the story was published. A couple of tweets in particular grabbed my attention:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Ethics

Equustek, Blockchain and Uncensorable Search

This summer, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. matter. As you may have read, one of the major concerns with the decision is that it has the potential to open the door for a new type of censorship on the Internet. For instance, this EFF article on the decision is named “Top Canadian Court Permits Worldwide Internet Censorship”.

For the purpose of this post, I don’t need to take a stand and tell you if I think this case was rightly or wrongly decided. That said, it’s fair to assume . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Stand by Me – if You Have Standing

As the old song goes, we all need somebody to lean on. However, we can’t always have somebody to stand with – or against – us. In administrative law matters, there are two aspects of standing. One is the ability of a decision making body to participate in or commence judicial review proceedings. The other, which is the focus of this article, is the ability of individuals or corporation to appear before a tribunal or in judicial review proceedings.

One of the fundamental tenets of natural justice and procedural fairness is the right to a hearing, whatever form that might . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Generalism and Access to Justice: Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

The rise of specialization is among the biggest changes in the practice of law over the past hundred years. Most lawyers and paralegals are increasingly able to focus on a smaller number of legal niches. That is good news, for practitioners and also for clients. However, I will suggest here that generalist legal professionalism has an enduring role in fostering access to justice.

Specialization and Generalism Defined

Consider all of the different types of legal need experienced by Canadian individuals, corporations, and state entities within a year. The list would include everything from drafting a will to structuring a merger . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Non-Horror Vendor Stories: Successful Relationships

My last two posts focussed on tips for vendor demos and vendor horror stories. I promised, though, I would be fair to the many excellent vendors in our ecosystem. In this final vendor-related post, I relay some “above and beyond” stories I’ve collected.

Coming Through with the Business Case

As our clients push us to provide better metrics on our legal services, so too have we turned this focus inwards. It’s hard to get a business case or project approved without some good numbers to back up the ask. This is where vendors can, and do, save the day.

About . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Psychology of Negotiation

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the psychology of negotiation.

In the negotiation course I teach at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies a few times a year, I have consistently seen that the students are quite good at understanding their own negotiation styles, strengths and weaknesses. They understand the difference between their positions and interests. They recognize the importance of empathy in building a negotiating relationship and value the active listing and other negotiating skills we practice.

Where these students – and most negotiators, I think – have trouble is understanding the motivations and interests of their . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Putting the Brakes On: The Wisdom of Procrastination

Josh is procrastinating and he knows it. He’s never done one of these applications before and, without knowing exactly how to proceed, he keeps pushing the work to the bottom of the pile.

Alex has been asked to do a piece of research on a question that is so open ended she knows that getting a comprehensive answer is an exercise in hopelessness and will take a mountain of boring hours of work.

Josh and Alex are procrastinating, but not in the way we usually associate with the word.

Procrastination is putting off what needs to get done. We often . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Better Together: The Virtues of Experiential Learning Partnerships

The University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, is celebrating two important anniversaries this year: the English Common Law Program’s 60th and the French Common Law Program’s 40th anniversary. Reflecting on a law school’s history and development naturally leads one to ponder the changing nature of legal education and the evolving functions law schools serve in Canadian society. If lawyers bear the honorable burden of maintaining the public trust in the administration of justice – a trust they earn through competence and integrity – then the function of law schools must be to equip law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Giving Back

Giving back is when we give and then nothing happens. No benefits for you, no recognition, nothing tangible gets sent your way. The biggest and sole reward is the realization that we have made a difference. However, there is very little in life do we do and “nothing” happens. Gaining skills, knowledge and expertise are common side effects and giving others your time may bring you interesting and challenging opportunities that might not come along otherwise.

Being a good corporate citizen has many different values and is assessed in many ways. One of the key assessments is to be recognized . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing