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Archive for ‘Columns’

Everyone Is Talking Collaboration

The idea of collaboration has been around forever. This of course means that the idea of collaboration is included in all varieties of sales pitches including document sharing, social intranets and knowledge bases, and even conferencing solutions. In professional services, they know our primary asset is the combined experience and knowledge that we can offer as a firm – it is why we have firms and not just individuals practicing. The pitch is that collaboration will make you more efficient, which will make clients and staff happier and in turn help generate revenue.

And they are right. The more efficient . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

The End of ODR

Regular readers of our column may find it ironic that two individuals who have been writing about online dispute resolution (ODR) for years now would announce the death of ODR. Some would find an extra dose of irony in the fact that, in doing so, we took inspiration from the tittle of one of Richard Susskind’s most famous books, in which he heralds ODR as a saving grace for conflict resolution.

We’re obviously not claiming that using online platforms to aid in the resolution of disputes is already a thing of the past, it would go against everything we’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The Volkswagen Scandal: When We Ask, “Where Were the Lawyers?” Do We Ask the Wrong Question?

Every institutional ethics scandal – Watergate, the 2008 Financial Crisis, Enron, the Savings and Loan Scandal, the Daily Mail hacking scandal – prompts the question: where were the lawyers?

In its asking, “the question” expresses both faith and disappointment – faith that lawyers help ensure lawful conduct; disappointment that in this case (whichever case it is) they appear not to have done so. “The question” is, in short, fundamentally optimistic. While it acknowledges that here the lawyers failed, it rests on the premise – or at least maintains the hope – that, somehow, lawyers can do . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Boost Your Immunity to Stress With the What-Went-Well Exercise

Anne couldn’t sleep. She lay in bed thinking about a mistake she made, the pile of work on her desk, and the infinite number of things that could go wrong.

Sound familiar?

I had a night like that last night, lying awake at two am pondering a variety of worst-case scenarios.

If you find yourself experiencing stress attacks in the middle of the night, you are not alone. Most of us have experienced nights like that, and for a good reason: Our brains have adapted to do two things very well – make predictions, and focus on what could go . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Style Makes the … Contract?

Why do lawyers write so badly? Save and except, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, writers and their heirs, successors, and assigns whose right, title, and interest in and to the aforesaid subject matter is or may be, with the giving of notice or the lapse of time, … Sorry, that sentence got away from me!

The push towards plain language drafting is, of course, nothing new. Joseph Kimble, Emeritus professor at WMU–Cooley Law School, has been writing on the topic for more than 30 years. He has written two books, including Lifting the Fog of Legalese and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

A2J: Preventing the Abolition of Law Societies by Curing Their Management Structure Defects

1. The Defects of the Management Structure of Law Societies

Law societies in Canada have ignored the unaffordable legal services problem (“the problem”), because of the obsolescence of their management structure. Its major defects are:

(1) management by part-time amateurs (benchers), whose work is mostly charity–“amateurs” because they don’t have the expertise necessary for solving difficult problems such as the unaffordability of legal services (and they don’t try to get it);

(2) an unwillingness to attack the causes of difficult problems such as the unaffordability of legal services because their main duties are to their clients and institutional employers, who . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Legal Problems and the Poor

The Legal problems of Canadians are not evenly distributed. Data from the 2014 CFCJ survey – Everyday Legal Problems in Canada – indicates that a disproportionate percentage of persons who experience legal problems bear the burden of a significant amount of all legal problems— 10% of persons who have at least one legal problem experience 1/3 of all legal problems. Additionally, data indicates that a large cross-section of persons who experience legal problems are among the poorest in Canadian society. The CFCJ survey also confirms that overall, there is a high prevalence of everyday legal problems within Canadian society, with . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Ashley Madison and the Deep (And Sometimes Dark) Web

There are lawyers – mostly family and criminal defense lawyers – who know at least a little about the Deep Web and the Dark Web. But the average lawyer? Not so much. In fact, after the Ashley Madison breach, a lot of family law colleagues began asking us questions about the Deep Web and the Dark Web – where the full steamy contents of the Ashley Madison breach were published in many places. Most had no clue that there was any distinction between the Deep Web and the Dark Web.

So what is the Deep Web? Think of the Web . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Law School by Design

I am pleased to participate in this regular series of posts from the Council of Canadian Law Deans (CCLD) sharing insights and ideas on Canadian legal education. This past summer, I explored the impact of design principles on the justice system and since then, I have been reflecting more on the impact of design principles on Law Schools.

Has our legal education system developed as a series of ad hoc measures, policies and programs or has it been designed according to a plan? This question is being asked more broadly in Law Schools as legal academics and lawyers bring design . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

A Judge’s Place Is on the Bench . . . Not in the Political Arena

Judges and politics don’t mix. Political involvement by sitting judges is an accepted taboo. Political involvement by former judges is a relatively recent development. But as the political candidacy of former Chief Judge of the B.C. Provincial Court Carol Baird Ellan is showing, there is a serious danger of political blowback against the bench as an institution when one exchanges her black judicial robes for the Blue, Red or Orange colours of a political party.

The Progressive Conservative Party is running an attack ad targeting the NDP’s so-called “star candidate”. The ad is found at and says:

Carol Baird

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Ethics

Thomson Reuters Labs in Waterloo Research Partnership

Cloaked in several “cliches and meaningless metaphors” (in the words of a colleague) is an announcement of a research partnership intended to improve access to “Thomson Reuters vast and unique datasets”. This could lead to significant developments in legal research. Then again maybe just cliches and….

Thomson Reuters to launch data and innovation lab in Waterloo, Ontario
By GlobeNewswire, September 16, 2015, 11:00:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK, September 16, 2015- Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today announced the establishment of Thomson Reuters Labs – Waterloo Region, in Ontario, Canada. The Lab will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

A Time to Learn: Lawyers and Mental Health

Dealing with mental health issues like depression, stress and anxiety is fraught with age-old taboos, stigmas and obstacles to openness – and none of it gets any easier when your job is to be the calm voice of logic and reason in an argument. It might make good business sense to keep your concerns to yourself, but ignoring the issue – for example, depression, anxiety or stress – won’t make it go away.

They say acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to recovery, but how do you know whether you have the kind of problem that needs . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law