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Archive for ‘Columns’

‘On Progresse’ in Tunesia

Avenue Bourghiba was closed off. A statute of the founding president of Tunisia on horseback was being reinstated in the square. The current President Essebsi was going to inaugurate it in two days. The taxi dropped me off as close as he could get. Hotel Africa is a high seventies hotel with large wooden panels, brown carpets, and huge chandeliers. As I made my way, urban Tunisia walked by and ordered drinks on the terraces: hip youngsters, women with blond hair, women with headscarves, families, groups of boys, and groups of older men.

Kalthoum picked me up later and we . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Locating Foreign Civil Codes

[from https://www.senat.fr/ – on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Code Napoléon in 2004]

One of the frequently asked foreign and comparative law research questions is how to find a country’s civil code. A researcher might not know they need a civil code, but they often do. A civil code is the key to accessing all types of private law for many civil law jurisdictions. Modeled after the Code Napoléon or Code civil des Français (1804), a civil code usually contains laws relating to personal status, contracts, torts, “delict”, “obligations”, real and personal property, inheritance and succession, marriage, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Long Tale of 2 Systems

The article, “7 Reasons Why European Cities Are Going To Beat U.S. Cities As Hubs For Innovation” reminded me of two cities: Toronto and Sydney. These cities had quite a few legal IT commonalities starting 30 years ago:

  • Both had 5 out of the 10 largest law firms standardise on lawyer-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUI) years before the rest of the legal world got it,
  • By democratising access to computers, a community of lawyers interested in lawyer-enhancing IT bloomed, and cross-pollinated each other from across the world,
  • Toronto was first out of the blocks with Peter Hart’s Legalware
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Technology

5 Questions About Digital Copyright Law

Much has happened with copyright law over the past few years. New amendments to modernize the Copyright Act for the internet age were added in 2012. As well there have been several court cases interpreting the impact of digital technologies on copyright doctrine. It is now possible to speak of “digital copyright” as an area of law. In the newly released book Digital Copyright Law published by Irwin Law, I track and analyze these developments. Below I discuss 5 prominent issues which are raised by these changes and that are elaborated upon in the book:

1. What is a . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Unmet Legal Needs – the Challenge to Legal Practice and to Self-Regulation

Regulation of legal services differs in important ways across the common law world. In Canada, self-regulation is generally[1] the approach. Canadian law societies are authorized by provincial legislatures to decide who can practice law and provide legal services[2]. The substantial majority of the governors of the law societies are lawyers elected by lawyers. In Ontario, paralegal benchers are elected by regulated paralegals.

In England and Wales, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board are the regulators. The majority of the governors of these regulators are not solicitors or barristers.

In the United States, the state . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

The Value Gap

Much of the current discourse and activity in our industry seems to be focused on evolving approaches to fees and pricing, budgeting, project management, better leverage of technology, and insourcing/near-shoring/outsourcing. While these are critically important aspects of modernizing law firm service delivery models, is our focus on value – discretely defined as the monetary worth of something – distracting us from thinking about value in a more holistic or integrated way?

I offer some data points based on my own recent experiences. Earlier this month, I attended a client panel discussion featuring four senior-level in-house lawyers representing different segments of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

From Zen to Chaos and the Long Road Back

People often talk about the intrusion of technology on our lives, particularly in the context of being at work 24/7 as long as you carry a smartphone. For a long time, I took pride in having the discipline to leave work at the office and enjoy my family time. I checked my phone in the evenings, but unless an email was a ‘true” emergency, I didn’t respond to it or think about it until the next morning when I went to the office. I told younger lawyers to train their clients and colleagues not to expect immediate responses from them . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Crucial Patent Experts

Patent cases focus on the expert evidence. In many cases, the key issues of claim construction, the applicability of the prior art and infringement all turn on the evidence provided through the opinions of expert witnesses. There are several interesting issues arising recently in the use of experts in intellectual property cases.

The Federal Court of Appeal has recognized the unique position of expert evidence in patent cases, stating: “the practical reality is that a court nearly always reads a patent through goggles supplied by the experts whom the judge considers to be credible and accurate” and “The skilled reader . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

What Is Blockchain and Why It’s Important for Law Practice

You have probably heard of blockchain. If you didn’t, I am sure you’ve heard of bitcoin. There is a chance you have also heard that blockchain or bitcoin are the next big thing. I believe that blockchain is the next big thing, and the purpose of this essay is to explain why and to show blockchain’s significance for lawyers and law practice.

Blockchain is an escrow of conclusive transaction evidence. That’s it. Don’t worry about hashes, blocks, distributed ledger, encryption and so on for now. Those are implementation details. All you need to know as a lawyer, a banker, a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Mentoring for Adjudicators: The Need for Guidelines

There is no perfect training for any occupation. Guidance from more experienced people is always necessary when developing a new career. This is particularly so for new adjudicators. Training on how to run a hearing is commonly offered to new adjudicators. Even with simulations, that training does not equip adjudicators with everything they need to survive (or, better yet, thrive) in adjudicating.

Mentorship is ideally suited for the development of new adjudicators. A mentor is a more experienced adjudicator who shares his or her perspective with a less experienced adjudicator. Mentor was an Ithacan noble in Homer’s Odyssey. A trusted . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

The Sacred Book – Maybe!

The author Naomi Baron in her book “Words Onscreen: The fate of Reading in a Digital World” includes the following quote at page 198:

“The book as such is sacred. One does not throw books away”.

Naomi Baron states that the Germans and the French “don’t throw out …. bread and books.

But consider that many law libraries are now computer rooms. And some libraries are destroying books. A professor at the UNB law school told me that their library has shredded a series of print law reports. Also an Ontario bookbinding firm told me that Queen’s University is now . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Small Changes Can Make Big Difference

Lawyers practice in a world where technology comes in smaller pieces that are increasingly integrated. Like David Weinberger’s Small Pieces, Loosely Joined, some of the best ways to benefit from technology come from adding incremental improvements. While some software requires you to wait for a feature to be added by the developer, other tools you use every day can be extended thanks to extensions and add-ons created by others.

How to Extend Your Web Browser

Two of the most common law firm software tools are the e-mail client and the Web browser. The predominance of the Microsoft Internet Explorer . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology