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Archive for ‘Columns’

Robots and the Law

In my previous posting, Automation in the Legal Market, I discussed the issue of automation vs. augmentation, where I touched upon the issue of the potential changes that might flow from the entry of IBM Watson into the legal sphere with the ROSS search engine. While the issue of automation is one that has been discussed from time to time over the last few years, there has been an explosion of articles in the last while that have addressed the automation and artificial intelligence (AI) robots, either directly or tangentially.

On LinkedIn, Patrick DiDomenico published a posting entitled . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Law Firm Succession Planning – Is the Client Too Often the Forgotten Variable?

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time with clients helping them with Succession Planning. To put it bluntly, it appears that succession planning is an “issue” for the industry. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since the youngest of the Baby Boomers will be passing the age of 50 in 2015 (and the oldest will turn 69). The pressures of succession planning can be felt on the shoulders of law firm senior management and they are trying to find solutions – fast.

But are they looking for solutions in all the rights places? I’ve been included in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Transgender Rights in Canada: Another Letdown Looms

In Canada, in fact all around the world, transgender individuals face some of the highest risks of human rights violations of any sector of society. By any measure, the levels of violence, discrimination and other abuses they face are shockingly high.

It is a grave human rights problem in need of attention. More needs to be done to assure and uphold the equality rights of transgender individuals, and protect them from discrimination. More also needs to be done to keep them safe from hateful acts of violence.

For ten years there have been efforts in Parliament to do just that; . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Partnership Has Its Limitations

Perhaps because most law firms are partnerships, we don’t pay much attention to the practical implications of the partnership structure. This is understandable as there isn’t much of an alternative in our existing system at least so far as private practice is concerned.

A law firm partnership is very different than most ordinary businesses. In most businesses, the owners of the business are not involved in the business whether as workers or as managers. In contrast, law firms are owned and managed by people who provide services to customers (often with the assistance of others). In a law firm, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

May the Repo Man Work From Home?

The Internet of Things involves the connection of many things to the Internet that did not use to be networked. The numbers of such interconnected things is growing rapidly; the estimates vary greatly but are always counted in the billions over the next few years. The interconnection allows those things to communicate with the world, and vice versa. We have considered some of the legal issues raised by such communications, whether with the ‘world’ intended by the designer of the interconnection or with someone with unforeseen capacity or intention.

This column focuses on one communication: an ‘off’ switch, used by . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

The Power of Invoking

I just came back from Uganda and Kenya, two countries fighting two wars: one with the odds against ‘getting to Denmark’ (to borrow a Fukuyama phrase), and the other with terrorism. I left Uganda as prosecutor Joan Kagezi, who was leading the prosecution of suspected Al Shabab terrorists, was shot dead. The murder was claimed by Al Shabab. I left Kenya at the end of the day that saw the murder of almost 150 students at the Garissa University by that same Al Shabab. On the one hand both states are dealing with a very acute and direct threat against . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Patent Utility Update in Canada – Clarity May Not Be Explicitly Promised

In the past five years, the Canadian Federal Court has invalidated several patents based on an arguably “technical” deficiency – the “Promise/utility” requirement.

The most recent trend however suggests an increasing reluctance to both find an “elevated Promise”, and require a patentee to meet such a Promise. Instead the Federal Court of Appeal in late 2014 reinforced a “pro-patentee” approach by applying the “rule in favour of saving an invention rather than invalidating it” and is now consistently holding that Promises must be “explicit” ie. supported by clear and unambiguous . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Prosperity

Not all countries prosper … Why?

There are over 190 countries in the world today. Some prosper, some do not. Why?

Some answers to such a question is the subject of a book by Francis Fukuyama in 2014 titled Political Order and Political Decay.

Some elements of prosperity include the free market ideas of Adam Smith plus an honest and effective government. Apparently democracy is not required for a country to prosper, even though a majority of countries (over 115) are today democracies.

An effective government provides an array of public goods, such as clean air, defense, public safety, public . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Control

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.

– Kahlil Gibran

As I looked at quotes about the word “control”, I was struck by the variety of themes that emerged. My intention with this article was to talk about the effect of trying too hard to have control. But many people struggle with the need to take control. Where is the happy line between taking control of your life, and letting control overwhelm your life?

I’ve been told many times over the years, by various people, that I have “control issues”. This . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Decision Time

Ten years ago Marc Lauritsen spoke at one of our conferences on the future of law. He projected ahead to 2015, and threw in a prediction as to who would be the US President. While the name was unknown to the Australian audience, the absurdity of his suggestion was highlighted by a supporting photo. Yes, the world was changing, but not THAT much, that soon.

Anything that Marc says has my instant attention. His development of choice boxing is a concept that definitely warrants serious exploration. This is a pioneering decision-support tool that results from 30 years of insight. Marc . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Continuing Legal Education and the Self-Representing Litigant

How should CLE providers approach the issue of self-representing litigants?

I’m sure all Slaw readers are aware of the phenomenon of the rise of the self-represented litigant. Over the past 20 years there has been a vast increase in the number of people coming to court or interacting with the justice system without legal representation. In British Columbia, this change correlates with the decline in legal aid, although this is only one reason for the increase.

You could take the view that this development should have little impact on education of the legal profession. But if you’re invested in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

The Fourth Tool: The Budget

In five preceding articles I have described the idea behind becoming a very highly valued five-tools project manager, ready to manage each of the five progress factors:

  • Manage the project, starting with the project charter (discussed in the previous article).
  • Manage the client, starting with the Conditions of Satisfaction.
  • Manage time, starting with the Off Switch.
  • Manage money, starting with budgets.
  • Manage the team, starting with assigning tasks accurately.

Of these, the budget is by far the hardest tool to write about, because it is highly individualistic. It varies in form and approach by project manager, by practice, by type . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law