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Archive for ‘Columns’

Law and Morality: Reflections on the Angela Cardinal Case

What constrains lawyer conduct? I don’t mean in terms of positive law – i.e., the codes of conduct or the decisions of the court. I mean at its source – what is the bottom line restriction on a lawyer’s professional role? I’ve been thinking about this question a great deal following the story of Angela Cardinal– the sexual assault victim who was incarcerated for 5 nights to ensure her testimony in a preliminary inquiry (trial judgment here; media reports here and here). If what happened to Angela Cardinal was wrong (and I think it’s hard to argue that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Is Your Law Firm Brand Reflected in All the Right Places and Spaces?

So you’ve hired an external consultant to help you with your law firm brand. If they are any good, they’ll have worked with you not just to build a great visual brand that involves your brand identity (logo, colours and fonts), website and marketing collateral but they’ll have taken a more holistic approach ensuring that the visual brand supports a verbal brand that included the key messaging of the firm. These days prospects find their lawyers online, or if by word of mouth, verified online. If all they see and read meet their needs and expectations then often you have . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Are Lawyers “Hijacking” Mediation and Arbitration?

Having recently left the practice of law to devote my time exclusively to mediation and arbitration (with some teaching and writing on the side), I was intrigued when my ADR friend and colleague Colm Brannigan posted a link to a recent LinkedIn blog that asks: “Have Lawyers Hijacked the Promise of Mediation?”

Author Max Kimber, an Australian mediator and barrister, says it’s time to re-visit the the role of lawyers in mediation, both as representatives of the parties in that process and as mediators.

The same may be said of arbitration, I think.

Kimber talks about the “promise of mediation” . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

A Pedagogic Paradigm Shift in Clinical Legal Education: Towards Placing Practical and Theoretical Knowledge on an Equal Footing?

In recent years the role of clinical experiential learning has become increasingly relevant within law schools as questions arise regarding the most appropriate method of delivering legal education and training lawyers. Should it focus on classroom-driven theoretical knowledge? Should it focus on apprentice-style internships in the field? Or, is preparing lawyers for practice best achieved through a combination of both classroom theory and clinical work experience? Despite varying views on these positions, one thing seems certain, legal education is in transition. Federations, law firms, and students alike are calling for more training in core competencies that go beyond theoretical knowledge, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

WanaCry as a Reason Why Courts Should Invest More NOT Less in Technology

In the aftermath of the first wave of “attacks” using WanaCrypt0r 2.0, a variant of the WanaCry ransomware that started infecting systems around the world, most notably the British National Health Service, on May 12th, 2017, comment boards and blogs have been abuzz with statements regarding the risks of a overly digitalized world. For those who caution against the implementation of technological solutions within the legal system, this attack only serves as another example as to why, in their minds, our paper-based system is still the safest way to manage legal files.

As reports show, they might . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution, Legal Technology

Bill 202 –New Alberta Tort for Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images

Alberta joins those provinces and the Federal government who have enacted protection for intimate images to provide a legal framework to protect those who have such images wrongfully distributed.

Under the Act, Protecting Victims of Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images Act, SA 2017, cP-26.9, which comes into force August 4, 2017, a person distributes an intimate image if that person knowingly publishes, transmits, sells, advertises or otherwise makes the image available to a person other than the person depicted in the image.

Once in force it will be a tort for a person who distributes an intimate image of . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Building Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Research shows that about 80% of buying decisions, from cars to legal services, are made on recommendation from someone else. It’s that elusive ‘word of mouth’ that everyone says is the best way to promote a law practice, but few know how to generate.

The place to start is with your referral sources.

Do you know who referred your firm’s top 25 clients to you? Does it matter? If your firm is doing well, you may not think so. But successful firms look ahead: if your biggest source of referrals has just been taken over by an international conglomerate with . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Dispute Resolution of the Future: 24 Hour Access, No Set Dress Code

Forget the business attire, forget the hearing room, and forget regular business hours. The future may even be dispute resolution in your pyjamas. Necessity being the mother of invention, an increasing need for better access to justice and the means for delivering it means that your home computer, laptop, or mobile device can serve as the place where disputes are resolved.

In Cooper v. Canada (Human Rights Commission), [1996] 3 SCR 854 at para. 10, Lamer CJ noted that the rise of the administrative state has been marked by the creation of institutions other than the courts. While Lamer . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law, Dispute Resolution

Stress Well, Rest Well

Lives filled with joy, meaning, and challenge come with stress. The good news? Research has shown that the idea that ‘all stress is bad’ turns out to be wrong. In fact, our bodies are equipped with an adaptive stress response that helps us master the challenges we face as we pursue lives of purpose.

Stressing well is actually essential for supporting our health and vitality. To learn more about this, I had a conversation with the founders of Greystones Health in Toronto, Dr. Joseph Steyr N.D and nutritionist Michelle Heighington. Together they offer an on-line course for lawyers called “Stress . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Letter to a Future Lawyer . . .

Spring is upon us. Law school exams are over but students are still in law libraries, studying for the bar exam. These students are looking forward to becoming articled students and then lawyers. Others have received acceptance letters and are looking forward to starting law school in the fall. It is the circle of law.

I recently met a future law student, full of enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of soon beginning law school. He was kind enough to write to me after the brief meeting and seek my advice on what to read to prepare for law school; . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Vendor Horror Stories – Second in a Series of Vendor Relationship Posts

Thanks to everyone who re-tweeted and gave other shout-outs to my last Slaw post on vendor demos and webinars. Considering the feedback, I thought I’d continue on with a vendor theme in a few more posts.

In this post, I’ll relate a few vendor horror stories and explain why vendors should never ever ever repeat them. Of course, a caveat: I gathered these from a variety of sources/firms, who shall remain nameless.

But – I’d like to repeat that vendors are absolutely integral to our legal technology ecosystems, and note that most of my interactions, and those of my colleagues, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Is Your Law Firm Fulfilling Its Purpose?

I’m going to take a crack at a list of things that your law practice probably tracks and measures:

  • The number of hours each lawyer works
  • The number of hours each lawyer bills
  • The amount of money the firm receives for the work it bills
  • The percentage of that money that should be allocated to the originating partner
  • The amount of money the firm spends to provide its services
  • The amount of overall profit the firm generates in a given period of time
  • The amount of that profit distributed to each equity partner
  • How that amount compares to profits distributed
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law