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Archive for ‘Columns’

A Risky Appetite for Apps: Can Best Practices Help?

Apps are everywhere. A 2014 study found that there are roughly 18 million apps users in Canada and that Canada’s apps enterprises generate $1.7 billion annually. These numbers have presumably only increased in the last two years.

The market for legal apps, in particular, is significant and growing. Research that I’ve done along with colleagues at the University of Ottawa estimates that there are now several dozen apps available in Canada that purport to help with law-related issues. This number is continually growing. In the United States, the numbers are exponentially larger: hundreds of legal apps are available.

The developers . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Six Strategies for Dealing With Fear, Worry, and Self-Doubt

As we journey through our professional careers, one valuable tool to acquire is a personal formula for overcoming the inner obstacles that often hold us back from taking on vital challenges, rich with learning and opportunity.

Fear and self-doubt don’t just come up for newly called lawyers, they also vex seasoned lawyers as well.

When I think back on this past year I remember of couple of my own brushes with these inner obstacles and the sinking, heavy, feeling that comes with them.

Oh no, I am not up for this.
I am going to fail this.
I am not
. . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How Branding Works (And Why Law Firms Should Care)

In the olden days we weren’t allowed to say the M word (marketing) within 50 meters of a law firm because it was considered too unprofessional and trendy. Now, Partners throw around the B word (branding) like there’s no tomorrow! Yet in my experience, very few lawyers understand what branding is, why it works, and how to use it to their advantage. So here’s a primer on branding for lawyers and those who support them marketing-wise.

If you’ve seen Mad Men then you know about the ad agency business in the fifties. That was the advent of strategic marketing. At . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Finding and Effectively Using an Expert Witness

In the summer of 2016, author Simek had the pleasure of joining a Pennsylvania Bar Association panel comprised of both testifying experts and judges to explore how to find and effectively use a good expert.

It seemed to author Nelson, sitting in the audience, that she was hearing a series of rapid-fire tips so she endeavored to jot them down, in no particular order, to offer the collective wisdom of the panel. Here are some of the many valuable tips she heard:

  • It’s important to find an expert who will be cool under fire, as they must survive cross-examination with
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

Reforming the Judicial Discipline Process: Putting the Public in the Public Interest

Over the summer, Justice Canada engaged in a low-key consultation on “Judicial Discipline Process Reform”, releasing a bland discussion paper appropriately-titled “Possibilities for Further Reform of the Federal Judicial Discipline Process”. The title is at once both misleading and accurate. It is in part misleading because there have been no significant changes to the federal judicial discipline process as set out in the Judges Act since that statute was enacted in 1971. It is accurate because the Justice Canada consultation comes on the heels of reforms enacted by the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) in 2015 after . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Sailboats and Project Management

I love to race sailboats.

(To an outsider, a sailboat race usually falls somewhere between incomprehensible and watching-paint-dry boring. Trust me – it’s very, very different when you’re on the boat!)

I’ve raced everything from one-person dinghies to a 45-footer (14 meters) we owned until my wife noted she preferred adventures that didn’t involve frigid Pacific Northwest water. Currently, three buddies and I share a couple of Etchells-class boats – fast, fun, cheap, and easily sailed with two to four people per boat. We race them Thursday nights against other Etchells’ and similarly sized boats.


An Etchells – not ours . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Smart Contracts?

Click to view full-sized image. Image source: pricewaterhousecoopers

People have long used technology to help them make and carry out their contracts. Even an old-fashioned vending machine offers goods to the public, understands an order for particular goods, recognizes execution by the buyer through the deposit of the appropriate payment, and delivers the goods.

However, we do not usually think of the vending machine as smart or its implied contract of sale to be a smart contract. Apparently we need to see a computer to attach that label. A smart contract these days is generally considered a contract the performance . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Is File History Estoppel Coming to Canada?

The use of patent prosecution history is a standard part of analysing patents in the United States but the courts in Canada have resisted using the prosecution history for parsing the words of patent claims. A recent decision highlights a situation where the use of the patent prosecution history would have resulted in a different analysis in Canada and the trial judge asks whether it is time to consider the prosecution history and imposing consequences on parties that argue differently at court than before the patent office.

During the patent filing process, the applicant, through their patent agent, often makes . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

The Devil’s Advocate

Gavin MacKenzie, Amy Salyzyn and I participated in August in the Ethics Debate at the Canadian Bar Association Legal Conference. Amy moderated the debate. Gavin and I were the debaters. The topic was Should lawyers have a monopoly on the provision of legal services? I argued for the proposition. Gavin argued against.

The general topic was broken up into three separate propositions, each of which was separately debated. My role was to support the first two propositions and to argue against the third.

  • There is no good reason to allow anyone other than lawyers to provide legal services.
  • Professional
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Ethics

Canadian Student Clinics Take the International Stage

Over 225 persons from 18 countries attended the annual conference of the Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE) held in conjunction with the conference of the International Journal for Clinical Legal Education (IJCLE) at the University of Toronto from July 10-12, 2016. This was the first time that IJCLE had held its conference in North America, and the first time ACCLE had an international aspect to its conference.

Papers and presentations came from all over the globe – Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, Kenya, and the usual suspects in Canada, the UK, and the US. The program was broad, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

“Success Doesn’t Just Happen. It’s Planned For.”

According to a recent video post by BTI’s Mad Clientist, Big Law is winning new work and new clients, due in part to the adoption of an aggressive mindset and the strategic allocation its business development and marketing resources. Having worked in Big Law for the last six years, this was one of two recent posts that validates my experience in Big Law amid a lot of noise about its decline (the other was a great article by Josh Kubicki of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, which appeared in the OBA’s JUST ‘Debatable’ column in June). Both articles underscore the importance . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Do Not Fear Robot Lawyers—Fear Robot Clients

Tech is famous for its shorter and shorter hype cycles. Robot lawyers were all over the twitters only a few months ago and now people actually yell at you for even mentioning the thing. Of course, robot lawyers should not even have surfaced in the first place because no one is remotely close to building them. Lawyers should not fear for their livelihoods.

But there is something that is much more important than robot lawyers. It’s robot clients. Or at least the proliferation of machines, automated transactions, and standardized processes where lawyers once controlled the terrain.

Let’s start with an . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology