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Archive for ‘Columns’

Is the Law Society of Ontario Still Donating to Political Parties?

One benefit of being a regular Slaw columnist is the ability to revisit previous columns. Roughly four years ago, I wrote a column titled “Why Is the Law Society Donating to Political Parties?: Some Answers and Questions” where I explored and questioned the fact that the LSO (then LSUC) made donations totalling $21,000 in 2013 to the provincial Liberal, Conservative and NDP parties, as reported in a Law Times article.

At the time, the Law Society explained, in part, that “[c]ontributions are only made through the purchase of tickets to attend events hosted by the parties and/or elected politicians” and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

The Unrealized Potential of Courthouse Libraries

I’ve never had anything but the highest respect, admiration and regard for my colleagues in courthouse libraries; and, if I have any regrets about my career, one of them is that I never had the opportunity to work in a courthouse or law society library. Of all librarians, it is they who, through a network of almost 200 county courthouse libraries in Canada, remain closest to the practising legal profession. Private law librarians (ie, law firm librarians) are closely attuned to the practice in their firms, often specialized in one area of law (eg, labour or criminal or business law) . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Cyber Security – Spear Phishing Covered Under Insurance Policy Where Code Manipulated

Increasingly insureds faced with cyber fraud losses are going to the courts to interpret their policies. In The Brick Warehouse LP v. Chubb Insurance Company of Canada, 2017 ABQB 413, and in Taylor & Lieberman v. Federal Insurance Company, 2017 WL 929211 (March 9, 2017 9th Cir.), fraudulent emails, as part of a social engineering attack, were sent to company employees who acted on them transferring money from the insured’s account. In both cases courts held that coverage under the Fund Transfer Fraud policy was denied as the victim knew or consented to the instructions given to its bank . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Making the Best Better

In a recent article on legal practice Ken Grady offered this thought:

As we often hear today, lawyers need to become fans of data. The age of talking to a lawyer who gives an opinion based on the 10 or 15 cases she has handled is past (or it should be). Clients should recognize that advice based on such weak datasets is meaningless and should call out their lawyers for basing opinions on it. Excellence means knowing more than the average player. It means having that depth and breadth of knowledge that is hard to match. Law firms need to

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing

Working With Lawyers – Tech Adoption

You can’t talk about legal technology without talking about, and to, lawyers. Also vodka. Kidding.

Anyone who has spent more than an hour trying to get lawyers to use pretty much anything other than Word and Outlook will know that adoption is a Sisyphean task. Lawyers have a general negative reaction to anything you show them. They expect perfection and ease of use, and hate any disruption to their normal (though admittedly imperfect) workflow.

I don’t pretend I’m a change expert (except on my resume, obviously), but I have had some success in (1) convincing lawyers to just try the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Who Is Your Ideal Client?

It’s easy to define your ideal client—someone who needs your services and pays their bills, right? When you’re building your practice, that’s a good place to start. Any client looks like an ideal client at first, but after a few years in practice you begin to recognize the clients you want—and those you don’t. Better to have that recognition sooner rather than later, because then you can build the practice you want, rather than have it built for you by whoever comes in the door.

There are plenty of clients who need your services and pay their bills, but some . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

The Underwear Gnomes of Law

Depending on your age and preferred cultural touchstones, the title of this column is ether instantly recognizable or a complete mystery. If it’s the latter, the video below, excerpted from a 1998 episode of South Park, should shed some light.

The underwear gnomes’ profit strategy has become a widely cited meme in the intervening years, owing to its effective illustration of the shortcomings of many strategic plans. The premise sounds interesting; the outcome sounds great; but the opaque middle step, whereby the interesting premise is somehow converted into bags of money through mysterious processes, is entirely glossed over.

I’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Can You Hear Me Now?

It is not just cellphone mascots who desire to be heard. Many people who have matters before administrative decision makers expect to be heard; often that expectation is that they will be able to make oral submissions. In my personal experience, I find that many people believe that they can present their case better orally than in writing. The reasons may vary: they might not believe themselves capable of presenting a strong written case; they might not have the level of schooling that makes it easy for them to make written presentations; there might be language issues; or they might . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Towards Cyberjustice Retrospective Part 2: a Tale of Cyberjustice

As announced in our October 17th column, this is the second of a series of blogs highlighting the various papers, studies, and pilot projects conducted by the Cyberjustice Laboratory under the auspices of the “Towards Cyberjustice” Project. Funded by a Major Collaborative Research Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, this seven-year long project has finally drawn to a close and will be the subject of a detailed report to be released later this year. In anticipation of this upcoming report, its first chapter – entitled “A Tale of Cyberjustice” – will be . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Lawyers Should Not Abuse Their Perceived Legal Authority in Public Debate

Professor Bruce Pardy is not a constitutional law expert. His scholarship in peer-reviewed journals is largely on environmental law. Yet, over the past several months, the Queen’s Law professor has commented in the lay media on constitutional law issues.

In one instance, on October 3, 2017, the National Post published Pardy’s opposition to the Law Society’s new Statement of Principles requirement, citing selected Charter free speech jurisprudence as his underlying support. A policy that compels lawyers to privately acknowledge equality-related obligations, Pardy argues, is compelled speech and akin to authoritarian rule.

Publicly sharing opinions in the Post is not . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Looking at Women’s Contribution to Computing to Learn How to Fix the Internet

As you may be aware, something was brewing at CanLII in recent weeks (and months) so I skipped my last turn as columnist. This means my last post here was the one I wrote before the holidays.

When I write something and (finally) ship it, the mere fact of reading it “in production” makes me see new flaws that I didn’t even come close to seeing while I was in the thick of drafting. I’m sure many of us are like that. The flaw I saw with my last post when live on Slaw was that while the multiplication . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Measuring Legal Service Value, Part 1

If you work at a law firm, how good is that firm? If you’re a client or potential client, how good are the different legal services providers that you might choose to patronize?

It’s too difficult, at present, to answer these questions in an objective and reliable way. This is most obviously true for individual people with legal needs. They generally confront a mysterious landscape populated with apparently indistinguishable law firms, as well as proliferating alternative sources of legal services.

However, even experienced corporate clients, and lawyers themselves, lack solid information about the respective merits of different legal service providers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics, Practice of Law