Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Tiger Woods and Changing the Game

Tiger Woods won the Masters on April 14, 2019. His fifth Green Jacket at Augusta National, earned 22 years after his first when he demolished world-class competition with a 12-stroke margin of victory in a tournament where first and second place are typically separated by a single, well-placed putt. I vividly remember that 1997 final, as it fell smack in the middle of my 3L final exams and I thought (correctly) that the best use of my time that day was to sit my then-infant daughter on my lap and watch history unfold rather than break the spine on that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Practice of Law

On Masks and the Practice of Law

Bob wears masks. As he enters a client meeting he digs into his vast collection and dons his client-facing mask. He straightens up and greets his client with a familiar smile. He speaks in a soothing, rhythmic cadence. He maintains utter composure as his client flails about, in turns lost, angry, and pleading. When the meeting is over Bob takes a deep breath. As he returns to his office it occurs to him that of all his masks, this is the one that never seems to fit quite right. It’s a good time for a coffee and a stroll before . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Moving From Planning to Implementation

Increasingly, law firms are learning to appreciate the value of individual lawyer marketing plans. But paperwork is only the first step. A plan is useless without implementation. Yet how does a firm convince a busy lawyer to implement on those plans?

Too often, in firms that require personal plans, lawyers will begrudgingly prepare them but pay little more than lip service to them thereafter. Some firms put carrots and sticks in place in an effort to ensure implementation. For example, they might tie in part of compensation with successful accomplishment of a lawyer’s personal plan. This has mixed results, as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Permission to Dream

If you’re a lawyer, you probably grew up in socio-economically advantaged circumstances. I submit this to you not as a value judgment or accusation, but as a pretty well-established fact.

In 2011, UCLA Law School Professor Richard Sander published a paper titled “Class in American Legal Education,” which included the finding that “the vast majority of American law students come from relatively elite backgrounds; this is especially true at the most prestigious law schools, where only five percent of all students come from families whose SES is in the bottom half of the national distribution.” The New York . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Wrong Again: The PRISM Report’s Prediction of Too Many Practising Lawyers Again Collides With Reality

In this submission we will again demonstrate that the PRISM Report’s prediction of too many practising lawyers in Ontario badly missed the mark in the first few years that it studied and that it can be expected that it will continue to do so going forward. Indeed, new years of data confirm our view that not only was the PRISM Report incorrect, but it now appears more likely that the number of new practising positions will at least match the number of new lawyers than it is that there will be a surplus of lawyers during the forecasted period of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Ten Laws of Legal Project Management

Over the next few articles, I’ll introduce the Ten Laws of (Legal) Project Management and then go into some of them in practical, how-do-I-apply-this detail.

Why ten? It feels like about the right number, a manageable number that sums up basic project management maxims and guidelines. (I hear one of you saying, That’s as high as he can count without taking off his shoes. I know who you are, too.)

1. First Effectiveness, Then Efficiency

Efficiency is doing things right, but effectiveness is doing the right things.

If you’re headed in the wrong direction, marching off course ever more efficiently . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Should LSBC’s Futures Task Force and LSO’s Technology Task Force Do?

The Law Society of British Columbia’s E-Brief for January 2019 states that LSBC has established a Futures Task Force:

“… to look at the future of the legal profession and legal regulation in British Columbia. The task force is expected to identify anticipated changes that may improve or disrupt the future market for legal services, consider and evaluate the factors and forces driving those changes, as well as make recommendations to the Benchers regarding the implications and how the Law Society and the legal profession might respond to the anticipated changes. … Send your comments or questions to communications@lsbc.org.”

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Things You Didn’t Learn in Law School: Dealing With Vicarious Trauma and Other Issues

It’s common knowledge that lawyers suffer from disproportionately high rates of depression and addiction, while at the same time there’s the sense that they can’t really talk about what’s bothering them without breaching solicitor-client privilege, or raising questions about their own suitability for the job.

We blame it on various factors: the length and stress of the working day, and on the particular personalities lawyers tend to bring to the table. But for many lawyers the depression and addiction may also be a sign of vicarious trauma – lawyers traumatized by dealing with the traumatized, and by not always being . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

“The Most Significant Access to Justice Gathering in a Decade”

David Steven, the head of the secretariat of the Task Force on Justice, wrapped up three days of meetings in the Peace Palace on the challenge of delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 16.3. He looked at a fulfilled and tired audience at the end of the 9th edition of the Innovating Justice Forum, the Justice Partnership Forum, and a ministerial meeting.

The gathering produced an important political document that can now be invoked and used to guide strategy making and implementation: the Hague Declaration on Equal Access to Justice for All by 2030. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

No Going Back, So Why Aren’t We Moving Forward?

When Dorothy realized she wasn’t in Kansas anymore, she stopped acting as if she were. As far as she knew, there was no going back.

In 2012, the American Bar Association amended its Model Rules of Professional Conduct to confirm that a lawyer’s duty of competence includes awareness of “benefits and risks and associated with relevant technology” to legal practice. 35 states (including Kansas!) have since adopted the requirement into their own rules of professional conduct. Meanwhile, in Canada, our law societies aren’t moving with any sense of urgency. Consultations on the question began in 2017, but don’t expect guidance . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Three-Step Strategy for Getting Heard

Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to get people to listen?

Have you ever had a challenge getting your point across, even when it was about something of critical import?

In conversations with lawyers in private practice and in-house counsel I frequently hear about the difficulties they run into advising clients and colleagues on alternative courses of action, or risk prevention measures to take.

It is so easy for important advice to be discounted because the lawyer is seen as not getting the big vision, or being too risk averse, or creating unnecessary roadblocks.

Next . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Coming End of Lawyer Control Over Legal Regulation

At the end of last year, as John-Paul Boyd ably chronicled on this website, members of the Law Society of BC voted on three resolutions regarding access to justice. The second of these resolutions — directing the law society to bar paralegals from providing family law services under new provincial legislation and to postpone any other enlargement of paralegals’ scope of practice — received overwhelming approval.

While this was a disappointing outcome from an access standpoint, as John-Paul explains, it was hardly a surprising one, given lawyers’ entrenched opposition to expanding the scope of “law practice” beyond the legal profession. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law