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Archive for ‘Columns’

SmartLaw

We have smartphones and smart cars are on the way, so we should not be surprised that SmartLaw gets added to the tags of BigLaw/SmallLaw, NewLaw/OldLaw, NextLaw and even LessLaw etc. But, like so much of the legal world, the “bleedingly obvious” can take a while to be noticed. While I have talked about smarter lawyers in relation to our Lawyers Workstation approach to IT, Ryan McClead’s blog article “SmartLaw: The firm of the future” was interesting due to its emphasis on the firm, rather than the lawyer.

“Smart” is a neat word: it includes connotations of style, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

License to ILL

Inter-library loan (ILL) is one of the oldest forms of sharing collections in libraries. Cooperative collection development arrangements have existed since time immemorial. As each library has focused on building collections to meet the needs of their primary patrons, they have relied on other libraries for the ad hoc, out-of-scope user requests for books and journal articles.They either initiate ILLs formally via OCLC or another network or informally by calling, emailing, or otherwise contacting librarians at other institutions who own or have access to the needed item. Everyone ILLs. It is expected and needed. Librarians have a license to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Global Legal Publishing – a Bad Idea?

In Canada and elsewhere, we have seen a seemingly endless series of reorganizations in the multinational legal publishing houses. The pattern is one characterized by the acquisition of smaller legal publishing houses, followed by serial changes in their reporting lines, and ending with their disappearance altogether, as old established brands are dropped and replaced by the corporate brand. These changes are attempts to conceal a sad truth – that “global legal publishing” has proven to be a bit of a bust. Was it a bad business idea in the first place, or merely a good idea that was overwhelmed by . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Client Seminars: Please Don’t Wing It

I wasn’t planning on writing about best practices in client seminars this month, but two bits of disparate information made me reconsider. First, BTI’s research summarized in the April 6 Mad Clientist blog indicates that the largest 30 firms in the world are diverting budget from general audience events, seminars and webinars to fund strategic, highly-targeted client development initiatives. These initiatives can and should include customized programming for clients. [1] Second, a legal marketing colleague shared a somewhat surprising client seminar planning experience: on the eve of the seminar, very little lawyer-side preparation had been done, despite his cajoling, stalking . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Cashless but Not Lawless

Pundits have been predicting the cashless society for a long time, perhaps even longer than the paperless office. Nonetheless the evidence is mounting that we are getting closer (at least to the former). The Section of Business Law of the American Bar Association ran a program at its spring meeting in Montreal this year on the possible disappearance of cash and the legal consequences.

Here are some of the highlights of presentations by Ed Morse of Creighton University, who presided, Denis Rice of Arnold and Porter, Jillian Friedman of the National Bank of Canada, and Erin Fonté of Dykema in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Ukraine and Uganda

What do Ukraine and Uganda have in common, besides the U at the beginning of their name? An elaborate justice needs and satisfaction survey was just done in both countries. The Ukraine results were presented on 1 March. The Uganda results on 14 April.

First, some observations to put this in a wider context.

I hope such surveys are a trend. They should be. The UN has announced that it will hold its first ministerial meeting in July to review progress regarding implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are, of course, mostly interested in Justice Goal 16. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Spring Update From Washington, DC

No, I am not going to comment on the amazing circus our U.S. presidential election has become. I want to bring you up to date on the Law Library of Congress’s latest news and their continuing progress in providing free U.S. government information to the world.

David Mao, former Law Librarian of Congress, is still the Acting Librarian of Congress. But Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore Maryland, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to become the first African American and first woman to hold this position. I hope that the U.S. Senate will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

A National Code of Conduct?

I like the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code of Conduct. It’s not perfect. But it represents the culmination of considerable effort and reflection by intelligent and thoughtful lawyers. It provides meaningful guidance on a number of issues that lawyers face, particularly in relation to conflicts of interest. It provides a vehicle for national discussion and for work on emerging issues and on areas requiring reform. The Federation has done some truly great things with the Code, such as having a Standing Committee to update and revise the Code on an ongoing basis, and creating an interactive website . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

“As Smooth as a Grape”: Style in Decision Writing

Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.

Matthew Arnold

Decision makers have to focus on the substance of the dispute before them and do the important and sometimes difficult work of coming to the right decision. But after that, it remains for them to write the decision clearly and concisely. This is where style in writing takes on such a critical role. If the people reading . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Competition and Tech Patents

On March 31st, the Canadian Competition Bureau released new Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines (IPEGs). These guidelines directed to explain the Bureau’s approach to enforcing competition law with respect to intellectual property, particularly patents.

Patents are an exclusionary right; the owner has the right to exclude others from practicing the claimed invention (see Section 42 of the Patent Act) as an incentive for innovation and new technology. This exclusivity can, in some circumstances, run counter to the goals of competition law to maintain vigorous rivalry among firms. The courts have looked to “something more” than merely exercising or . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Current Awareness Services in Law Libraries

One useful service that libraries can provide is current awareness. This service lets lawyers know about new or proposed developments in legislation, case law of interest, and articles relevant to their practice. It can also function as a business development tool by keeping lawyers up-to-date with what is happening in a specific industry or by letting them know if a client (or competitor) has been mentioned in the news.

Journals and newsletters

Traditionally libraries have routed a periodical or a photocopy of its table of contents around the firm. Routing a physical copy has problems: it is fine for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Yet Again the Question Is “Where Were the Lawyers?”

Jasminka Kalajdzic recently highlighted a New York Times column entitled Panama Papers Show How Lawyers Can Turn a Blind Eye. The column reported that Ramón Fonseca, one of the founders of the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, “told The New York Times that the lawyers did nothing wrong in helping their clients set up shell companies”. Mr. Fonseca was quoted as saying:

We are like a car factory who sells its car to a dealer (a lawyer for example), and he sells it to a lady that hits someone. The factory is not responsible for what is done with the

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Ethics