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Archive for ‘Columns’

It’s a Law Firm, Not a Love Song: It Can Carry on Without You (For a Week or Two)

“(T)o build my career is to make myself indispensable, demonstrating indispensability means burying myself in the work, and the upshot of successfully demonstrating my indispensability is the need to continue working tirelessly.”

That’s journalist Ryan Avent talking about why he’s reluctant to do something that would help his personal life even though it would have a minimal effect on his professional one.

His circular argument will sound very familiar to lawyers. In a business where success is measured by the billable hour, busy-ness is the key to upward mobility. No one wants to miss a step on the career path . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Scholarly Publishing Has Its Napster Moment

It has become widely known that scholarly publishing has been hit by its own version of Napster, with Alexandra Elbakyan’s creation of Sci-Hub, which offers up to 48 million pirated journal articles and, as we have more recently learned, hundreds of university press books through its dark-web companion site LibGen. Elbakyan’s site, which she initiated in 2011 when she was a graduate student in Kazakhstan, has since been sued for infringing and other causing “irreparable harm” to Elsevier’s copyright. The suit heard by the Southern District of New York Court has resulted in a preliminary injunction that managed to close . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Third US National Symposium on Experiential Learning in Law Coming in June

I first became aware of the movement in US law schools towards experiential learning with the publication of the Carnegie Report in 2007. The Carnegie Report recommended that law school should integrate “the three apprenticeships”: theory, practical skills, and ethics.

A few years later, New York Law School and Harvard Law School joined forces, with each hosting a conference on this topic.

Building on this momentum, in 2012 Northeastern Law School in Boston hosted the first ever National Symposium on Experiential Learning in Law. I was fortunate to attend, and it was an eye-opener for me. I learned how diverse . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Dispute Resolution – Why Early Planning Makes Sense

When our family is planning a vacation we usually figure out our desires and needs, research the options, consider factors such as time, cost and availability and then map out our adventure. In case something goes wrong, we also make sure our travel and medical insurance are up to date and make sure our loved ones know our itinerary. Our recent trip to Mexico made me wonder why it isn’t more common for lawyers and business people to take the same approach to planning for business relationships and contracts.

Based on my informal discussions with lawyers and the business community . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

A Failure of the EDRM Model

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model has become something between a standard and an idée fixe in the e-discovery world.

One of the models the EDRM organization propagates is the EDRM Project Management Framework (courtesy EDRM.net):

Superficially, this looks terrific, hitting all the right buttons. Project management itself, wonderful. Communication, check. Plan before you execute, great. Change management, woo-hoo!

But… how does it measure up against the real world?

The main problem with diagrams of this sort is that they attempt to map that real world by eliminating complexity and complications rather than by providing patterns or techniques that support beneficial . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

“The Fall of the Priests and the Rise of the Lawyers”

Not so long ago I had the great pleasure of being invited by the eminent lawyer, Professor Philip R. Wood, to discuss a book that he had nearly completed at that time, specifically as to which publisher might be most appropriate for what he had in mind. I was fascinated by what he described and was delighted to be able to point him in the direction of Hart Publishing, part of Bloomsbury Professional and in turn Bloomsbury Publishing. He was kind enough to include a reference to me in the book’s acknowledgements page.

Philip Wood CBE, QC (Hon) is head . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

You Can’t Modernize the Courts on a Shoestring

With technology investments, approved budgets quickly become historical artifacts as changing project requirements and unexpected turns lay waste to the best laid plans. While the answer isn’t to close your eyes and keep your wallet open, it surely can’t be the opposite – to limit funding to such an extent that viable paths to improvement or success are foreclosed before the first dollar is spent. Yet in a 2016 federal budget that forecasts a $30 billion deficit, a mere $1 million has been allocated to investment “in information technology infrastructure upgrades to safeguard the efficiency of the federal court system”. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Do It Your Way

Almost every time I sit down with a law firm for the first time, someone around the table asks me what “really works” when it comes to legal marketing. Is it Google AdWords? Blogging? This new “content marketing” stuff someone’s heard about? Maybe marketing to our referral sources instead of directly to clients. What about social media – is there anything to that? Videos – do we really need those? Or maybe we should focus on our annual client event and do that up on a larger scale?

Fair questions all. And I can almost hear the plaintive longing in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Orphaned Again? the Place of Government Lawyers Within New Regulatory Paths

In an article published in 2010, my colleague Adam Dodek smartly observes that “government lawyers and the work that they do are largely ignored…[t]hey are barely acknowledged in codes of conduct, underrepresented in many law societies and undertheorized in academic scholarship.” Adam also approvingly cites from Allan Hutchinson who characterized government lawyers as “the orphans of legal ethics” because so “little energy has been directed towards defining and defending the role and duties of government lawyers.”

It is unclear how much has changed since Adam made the above observations in 2010. Undoubtedly, the Edgar Schmidt case has recently brought greater . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

UNCITRAL Adopts Technical Notes on ODR

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) met for one last time between February 29th to March 4th 2016 to put the finishing touches to UNCITRAL’s Technical Notes on Dispute Resolution, and, in the same breath, complete the mandate – or should we say revised mandate – it had been given by the commission.

As regular readers will remember, the working group was originally given a very broad mandate back in 2010. As stated in document A/CN.9/WG.III/WP.105:

“After discussion, the Commission established a working group to undertake work

. . . [more]
Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Be Careful What You Wish for – the Pitfalls of Electronic Legal Deposit

Legal deposit

‘We all start out with hope and end with experience’

I wrote in the past about our role as a legal deposit library, and the joys and frustrations this brings. Things have moved on a lot since then, and the changes that have come about have created a whole new range of issues for us to consider.

For a law library the downside of paper legal deposit was that not all publishers deposited as a matter of course; that parts of loose leaf services often were missed and unable to be claimed; and the law report and journal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Revitalizing Environmental Governance in Canada

Massive shifts in Canadian environmental law occurred over the past four years, most notably through two omnibus budget bills in 2012 that repealed or amended most of Canada’s most significant environmental laws. The legal and practical impacts of federal deregulation, however, have had an important counterpoint in the dynamic revitalization process that another area of law has been undergoing in Canada today: the legal traditions of Indigenous peoples.

Stepping into the void of inaction or deregulation by other levels of government, in recent years First Nations have banned proposed heavy oil pipelines from their territories, denied consent to . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues