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Archive for ‘Columns’

What Do You Get When You Cross a Puppy Video With Downton Abbey? a Champion.

As a small business owner, I seek out and use tools to help with efficiencies – one of which is an online invoicing system, FreshBooks. I’m nothing more than a happy customer with a story to tell about how they engaged with and dazzled me.

Like many lawyers, billing is my least favourite activity. After much belly-aching, whining and sniveling with a colleague, I was referred to an online invoicing system that made this dreaded time-consuming task a little easier, and I’m now well underway.

On one particular recent evening, I settled in to start billing. All my billable time . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

The Future of Legal Publishing

My opinion stands that it is not always wise to try and predict the future, certainly for the longer-term, however necessary it is to seek to do so. Unpredictable risk for companies is everywhere and the impact of getting things wrong can be huge, perhaps in some cases immeasurably high. So perhaps rather than use prediction, it is preferable to identify a few key factors and examine the evidence surrounding them in order to anticipate trends in legal and professional publishing.

I believe that, without doubt, legal publishers, particularly the larger ones, face a broad range of challenges. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Digitization of Print Materials: A Solution in Search of a Problem?

Over the past few years “But can’t you digitize this [and throw away the original]?” has joined “but isn’t it available electronically?” as a justification for getting rid of print library materials.

While there are advantages to having materials in digital format, the digitization process should not be treated as an easy way of reducing a library’s physical holdings. University libraries have been carrying out interesting digitization projects for some while now, but smaller libraries may find digitizing material more challenging since they do not have the same resources to call upon.

Before starting a library digitization project, there are . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Style in Decision Writing: Guidance for Adjudicators

“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”

Oscar Wilde

“Originality in the law is viewed with scepticism. It is only the arrogant fool or the truly gifted who will depart entirely from the established template and reformulate an existing idea in the belief that in doing so they will improve it. While over time incremental changes occur, the wholesale abandonment of established expression is generally considered foolhardy.”

Duncan Webb, ‘Plagiarism: A Threat to Lawyers’ Integrity?’ (2009), International Bar Association

Reasons for decisions are the windows into the decision making process. Reasons should ensure . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada

Last month, as part of a five-year SSHRC funded research project exploring the costs of justice, the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice released the first data from its national legal problems survey, “Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada”. Completed in 2014 with over 3000 respondents, the survey finds that everyday legal problems are ubiquitous in the lives of adult Canadians. Over any given three-year period almost 50% of adult Canadians will experience at least one legal problem that they find series and difficult to resolve.

What Are Everyday Legal Problems?

Everyday legal problems are the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Will Canada Be Prepared for Drought in a Changing Climate?

Have you noticed the growing reports about drought? Cities like Sao Paolo, Atlanta and Austin are nearly out of water. Utah may be entering a 1000 year drought. Australia is struggling. California has only one year of water left in its reservoirs. And so on around the world.

An Op Ed by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory senior water cycle scientist Jay Famiglietti calls for immediate water rationing, groundwater management legislation, long-term water management strategies, and public ownership of the issue. He emphasizes the need for an honest, transparent and forward-looking process, concluding: “Most important, we must make sure that there . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

In Praise of Judicial Empathy, Humility and Simplicity

It takes a big person to admit they have made a mistake; it takes an even bigger judge. Justice Shaun Nakatsuru of the Ontario Court of Justice is such a judge.

In a remarkable judgment that has attracted significant media attention from the likes of the Toronto Star, the CBC and CTV, Judge Nakatsuru issued a personal and collective judicial mea culpa. While Justice Nakatsuru did not actually make a mistake per se, he admitted that as a judge he had “sinned” in terms of writing less than user-friendly judgments over the course of his ten years on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Rethinking Success in a Modern Legal Career

In the summer of 1998 I was a freshly called lawyer working in the regulatory policy shop of a national phone company. As we gathered in the boardroom to celebrate a colleague’s 25th anniversary, I leaned over and whispered to a co-worker “wow, I’m not sure I’ve even been toilet trained for 25 years.” To that point, five and a half years delivering the local newspaper to my own house was the longest I had ever done a single job. A personal longevity record that stands unbroken today.

Point of fact, I eventually did spend over 10 years with . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

A Cautionary Handmaiden’s Tale

Margaret started working with senior partner Lawrence right out of her articles. In her first years of call she worked with many lawyers at the firm, but slowly Lawrence commandeered more and more of her time until he provided the majority of her billable work. Lawrence had churned through many associates before Margaret. She was the first one who was good enough to meet his exacting standards and the only one who would put up with his daily criticisms of her work. Lawrence kept her apart from his clients. Even as Margaret increased in seniority he held tightly to his . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Divide to Conquer: Content Strategy for a Distracted Digital Age

There are two somewhat related media consumption patterns happening right now that most law firms haven’t given much thought to yet – mobility and distraction. You can use these developments to your advantage by building modular content that can be sliced and diced in a variety of ways to help you get more mileage out of your lawyers’ substantive writing and create a more unique online presence for your firm. Let me explain. . .

The first pattern is the ongoing shift to consuming content on mobile devices – by which I mean phones and tablets (and by all that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

UNCITRAL’s Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution Is All but Done

Between February 9th and 13th, 2015, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Working Group III held its 31st session, the 10th session devoted to “the preparation of legal standards on online dispute resolution” (ODR) and, most probably, the last. After close to fifty days of negotiations (over five years), United States and European delegates proposed that the Working Group cease its work on ODR and redirect its resources to projects that had a better chance at reaching a successful outcome since discussions had been at a stalemate for a few sessions. . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Protecting Lawyers From Sexual Harassment and Assault

Sexual harassment is much in the news in Canada these days. Most harassment policies define sexual harassment as including acts such as sexist jokes, suggestive or obscene comments, demands for sexual favors or unwanted touching. Rarely do policies include sexual assault as this is may be seen as a crime beyond the scope of a workplace policy with its own remedies under the law.

Sexual harassment is not just a woman’s issue. Men can be subject to pressure to enter into sexual relations with more senior women or from more senior men, if they are gay. The feelings of helplessness . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law