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Archive for ‘Columns’

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

Legal Publishing and Market Research – Getting It Right

Robert MacKay, the philosopher publisher from New Fetter Lane, recently posted yet another thoughtful piece on a matter of interest to legal publishers and their customers under the title The Customer is Sometimes Right (April 29, 2014).

This time, Robert addresses the subject of the dynamic that exists, or rather should exist, between the publisher and the customer in the development and re-development of major legal information products. Specifically he comments on “the methodologies used to define and understand user needs by way of direct customer contact”.

As Robert says, the next product or service that will astound us will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Law Firm Advertising

I still love advertising. Even with its diminishing popularity, particularly in print form, creating beautiful ads that pack punch for clients makes me happy. We’ve had clients frame our ads, float them around the firm, send home clippings of their announcement ad, and we’ve had several posted to social media sites just for fun. What’s not to love?

My suspicion is that there is more care going into law firm advertising. That’s only an empirical observation, but I do believe there are fewer lawyer-produced (or directed) ads getting published lately. Just as you can spot a contract that was torn . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

External Legal Spend Management – Controlling “Rate Creep”

Background

It would be a safe bet to assume that almost every in-house lawyer and CFO in the country expresses concern about managing external legal spend. A material amount of effort is spent with external legal service providers about managing rising legal costs. However, typically this focuses solely on the current rate structure being offered. This is only one part of a well defined legal services delivery platform. In addition to articulating the current fee structure, an intentional approach to fee reviews is necessary to effectively manage the effect of “rate creep” (the year over year increase of fees without . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Las Vegas System

My criminal law professor was the stuff of nightmares. His name was Christo Lassiter and prior to joining the legal acadme, he was a prosecutor for the United States Marine Corps JAGs. Imagine The Paper Chase’s Prof. Kingsfield with the ability to shoot an M-16. That was our Professor Lassiter.

In the spring of my 1L year, a group of female law students decided to join the university intramural softball league. It seemed like a good way to relieve stress, even if most of us were creaking towards 30 (…ha!) and our opponents were going to be 20 year . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Do Less Marketing

That headline sounds like heresy coming from someone who runs a legal marketing agency for a living, but hear me out.

Try as I might to remain benevolently immature until the end of my days, there are some telltale markers of adulthood (nay, perhaps even middle-age) creeping into my subconscious of late. There are external indicia of course – one’s offspring earnestly advising how fat and bald you are, strangers calling you “sir” straight to your face with nary a hint of sarcasm – but I purposely adopt a stance of willful blindness regarding those. No, what I notice now . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Verdict a Victory for Defamed Professor and Defamed Justice System

In June a jury awarded my uOttawa colleague Professor Joanne St. Lewis a stunning $350,000 verdict in her defamation lawsuit against blogger and former University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt. The jury’s verdict not only vindicated St. Lewis but also the entire justice system because the defendant had impugned the integrity of most of the judges who participated in the proceedings and the integrity of the Canadian justice system.

Let me be transparent in exposing my connections to the dramatis personae and my own biases about the case. Professor St. Lewis is a colleague whom I consider a friend and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Should Children Have a Right to a Healthy Environment?

On June 17, 2014, several environmental groups in New Brunswick circulated for comment a draft environmental bill of rights for children. Called “A Bill of Rights to Protect Children’s Health from Environmental Hazards,” it is the first of its kind in Canada. If passed, the law would confer on every child “the right to protection from environmental hazards,” meaning

a hazard that impairs or damages the environment or changes the environment in a manner that may threaten human health, including physical and mental well-being, and includes a “contaminant” as defined by the Clean Environment Act;

The teeth of the bill . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Become a “Mediation Freak”: Understanding the Role of Incentives in Mediation

In their recently published book Think Like a Freak, Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner offer a simple set of rules to explain the role of incentives in many forms of financial and non-financial interactions.

  1. Figure out what people really care about, not what they say they care about.
  2. Incentivize them on the dimensions that are valuable to them but cheap for you to provide.
  3. Pay attention to how people respond; if their response surprises you or frustrates you, learn from it and try something different.
  4. Whenever possible, create incentives that switch the frame from adversarial to cooperative.
. . . [more]
Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Is Cycling the New Golf?

People are always looking for a way to do business development in the summer that is fun and ensures ample time to get to know your client or potential client better. For decades that has been done on the golf course. It is often said that if you can spend 5 hours on the golf course together then you won’t mind working through the details of a transaction.

But not everyone likes golf and certainly not everyone is good at golf.

The sport of cycling has steadily been growing in popularity for the last number of years. Maybe it was . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

The T-Shaped Lawyer: Does the “T” Stand for Technology?

You’ve probably heard about the T-shaped lawyer. The origin of the term was the “T-shaped person” – a reference which first appeared in a 1991 London newspaper article on the subject of computing jobs. The premise is that a T-shaped person has a depth of knowledge in one discipline (this is the vertical stroke of the T) as well as a breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines that allows for collaboration and innovation (the horizontal stroke of the T).

C-suite executives talk with enthusiasm about seeking T-shaped employees who can successfully collaborate and innovate with our rapidly changing times.

As . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology