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Archive for ‘Columns’

3D Printing and Intellectual Property

Last month, Home Depot announced they would start selling 3D printers in some of their stores. This seems like the next step in the consumerization of technology that began as exclusively for high end users such as automotive manufacturers and architects but is now becoming useable for almost anyone. Even the Toronto Public Library has 3D printers “even for beginners to use.” What effect will the increasing use of 3D printing technology by consumers have on intellectual property and what effect will intellectual property have on the technology?

3D printing is generally a term for additive printing where material is . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

A Crisis of International Law

My columns are largely about international trends and innovation around justice delivery at the national level. But I am an international lawyer. On holiday in Tuscany I am able to digest (as opposed to take in) the news about the tsunami of peace & security crises the world is now facing: Russia, Ukraine and the tragedy of MH17, the Israel-Gaza war, the war in Syria, and the conquests by ISIS. A propos: we have an economic and global-warming crisis as well. All this has me deeply worried about the very idea of international law.

Mark Mazower’s impressive book Governing the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Legal and Professional Publishing: Has It Become Desperately Dull?

I’m pretty certain that most people, partly under delusion, at some time express the view that things aren’t as good as they were in the past. It’s usually wrong, of course. However, looking at the world of legal and professionally publishing, I wonder if I’m correct in thinking that it used to be enormously pleasurable, rewarding and creative but now appears, with some exceptions, to be desperately dull?

Its dullness is reflected in its lack of innovation, its shift away from new product development and its failure to excite and engage with its customers and with its . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Ghostwriting of Law Firm Blogs – Unethical? Maybe. Bad Marketing? Definitely.

Recently, I’ve heard from more and more clients that they’ve been contacted by a website and digital services provider offering to not only build them a new website but to provide content for the blogs on their site. Now, I could write a whole article on their websites, pricing model, quality of usability and practice of “re-renting” websites (including the content), but that will need to wait for another day. What’s really on my mind is the trend towards the “ghostwriting” of lawyer blog posts that we’re starting to see here in Canada.

In this instance, “ghostwriting” is whereby a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Take Good Notes

Tablets are for information consumption. Voice options may be changing that a bit – for example, if you need help on where to bury a body – but it is challenging to create with a bare tablet. A keyboard will help but then you are straddling the laptop fence. There is one key productivity app that lawyers can use with little effort and no keyboard and that is the notebook. Some interesting notebook and journal apps have appeared recently that can make you feel as though you’re writing on a paper pad.

Writing on a tablet isn’t for everyone and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Should eBooks Mimic Books?

Skeuomorphism is a word that describes when a digital object incorporates elements of the equivalent physical object even though it is not necessary to do so. For example the calculator on an iPhone is mimicking a physical calculator in its use of the “C” button. One advantage of skeuomorphism is that it gives users some kind of reference point when switching from a physical to a digital object.

eBooks and e-libraries frequently employ skeuomorphism. eBooks may incorporate elements of physical books such as layout, bookmarks, and page numbers, even though the page numbers may change based on the device used . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Learning to Be an Adjudicator: The Importance of Time

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest,” Confucius

An important aspect of access to justice is the skill of adjudicators in both managing hearings and issuing decisions. How do we ensure that we have the right adjudicators to efficiently and fairly manage the hearing process as well as issue timely and fair decisions?

The appointment process is critical for selecting people with the right aptitudes and work ethic. However, the appointment process is not within the control of tribunals and . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Project Charters and the Five-Tools Project Manager

In the last article I described the idea behind becoming a very highly valued five-tools project manager. This time, let’s look at the first tool, the project charter.

Charter Basics

To start, recognize that all projects have a charter.

I’m not suggesting all projects have a written or even a conscious charter, however. Too many project teams fail to formulate a charter intentionally but rather drift – or blunder – into various facts they’ll later wish they’d known at the start.

Because when projects go south, they usually do so from the very beginning. The team doesn’t realize it, of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Moral Relativism and the Gaza Crisis: Whither Canada’s Voice for Human Rights?

This summer’s conflict in Gaza and southern Israel was wrenching. Day after day it did not let up. Rockets launched from Gaza. Relentless aerial bombardment by Israeli forces in Gaza. More rockets from Gaza. Missiles and ground assaults by Israeli forces. All of that in a wider context of serious and longstanding human rights violations, including the collective punishment of the Gaza blockade; and very legitimate security concerns. Against this loud and angry backdrop the toll on civilians, overwhelmingly Palestinian civilians, was heartbreaking. In a corner of the world that has been enmeshed in decades of repression, terrorism, reprisal, defence . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Why English Revisited

In September 2013 I wrote a column titled Why English? The column canvassed the popularity and future of the use of English worldwide.

One reason for the popularity of English is that the USA is a world leader in higher education and in research and development. Tens of thousands of foreign students attend Canadian and US universities. Some foreign students intending to apply to a North American university attend high schools in North America. These students obtain a high school graduation certificate and at the same time they learn English.

For example, I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick where we . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Best of Breed v. Integrated v. Piecemeal v. Outsider

Just as the business of law is at the start of a revolution, the platforms supporting firms, Practice Management Systems (PMS), are facing similar challenges. There are the traditional PMS brands that have been around for decades, and others that seem to have sprung up almost overnight.

Some with many thousands of users, and a maturity that deserves more attention than a feature checklist comparison typically provides. Just this week I received a phone call from a firm that has tried/used 4 PMS’s in the last few years. Experience ranged from “awful” and “incomplete” for two local under-capitalized products, to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Conflict Resolution Practitioner of the Future

I am writing this post from our boat in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia – a welcome break from the usual flurry of activity and a time for deeper reflection than is usually available.

The feeling that we are living in a bubble of safety and tranquility was amplified when we picked up a major newspaper at our last port of call. It contained a full frontal onslaught of horrendous news from around the globe: the Gaza Strip, the Ukraine, Iraq, ongoing conflict in Syria, Somalia, the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the environmental disaster in BC’s interior, . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution