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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Putting the Brakes On: The Wisdom of Procrastination

Josh is procrastinating and he knows it. He’s never done one of these applications before and, without knowing exactly how to proceed, he keeps pushing the work to the bottom of the pile.

Alex has been asked to do a piece of research on a question that is so open ended she knows that getting a comprehensive answer is an exercise in hopelessness and will take a mountain of boring hours of work.

Josh and Alex are procrastinating, but not in the way we usually associate with the word.

Procrastination is putting off what needs to get done. We often . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Franchising the Law

Back in mid-August, the UK’s Legal Futures website took note that Edward Hands & Lewis, a Leicester-based law firm with 15 branches, was planning to launch a national network of franchised offices next year. I wish EHL every success with this undertaking, as I’ve wished good fortune to similar efforts over the past several years (and I continue to think that Canada’s Axess Law is closer than anyone to that goal).

But the fact that I first wrote about the franchised future of small law firms almost six years ago suggests that we need a lot more than good fortune . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Presentations and Legal Project Management

If you’re managing legal projects, there will be times you need to present information to your boss(es), your clients, or your team.

I’ve seen many successful projects perceived as troubled simply because the project manager couldn’t “manage” a presentation.

In a project management presentation, PowerPoint (or its equivalent) is good for two things, and two things only:

  • Visuals, and
  • Signposts

It is a very poor tool for the purpose most people use it: transmission of information.

The “Bad” of Slides

Asking people to read a detailed PowerPoint slide will induce a) eyestrain, b) boredom, or c) both. It will rarely . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Seatbelts On

My last column was about Kenya. So is this one. For me, Kenya is currently one of the most interesting countries to follow if you are interested in rule of law development and justice innovation.

“I had just started my working day when I got a call from my sister. She had been taken to the police station or her way to work. The matatu bus on which she was traveling had been stopped and checked for seat belts. The passengers not wearing them where taken. I rushed to where she was but was too late; she had already been . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Smart Contracts Are Not What You Think

It is 2035. The US dollar is not a reserve currency anymore because nobody buys oil or borrows from the IMF or World Bank. IRS, once the biggest US-dollar creditor in the world, is struggling to tax decentralized cryptographically protected businesses freely operating across borders. A lot fewer economic players need US dollars because their debts (taxes, loans, and invoices) are not denominated in US dollars.

What does this have to do with smart contracts and lawyers you ask?

If technology, new energy sources, and rising third-world wealth cause these cataclysmic changes in the financial system, cryptoeconomies (aka blockchains) will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Alternative Business Structures’ “Charity Step” to Ending the General Practitioner

(This is a short version of the FULL ARTICLE posted on the SSRN (pdf.). Articles cited herein without stated authors are those of the author of this article—Ken Chasse.)

The alternative business structures (ABS investors owning law firms)[1] debate is a very live one in Ontario, and will be throughout Canada, depending upon what the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall decides. ABSs could bring about the end of the general practitioner throughout Canada. If they are to be given an exception to the “unauthorized practice of law” (UPL) offence, so . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Improve Results With Mastery Goals

Have you ever noticed the big impact a small adjustment in your thinking and perspectives can have? How a shift in attitude can lead to a change in outcomes?

My coaching practice is all about helping people get the results they want by changing their behaviours. Behaviours change when we shift our thinking and challenge our own deep beliefs.

Setting mastery goals is a simple, effective practice for your own self–coaching.

Mastery goals are long term goals that track learning and progress over time. They are all about getting better – improving.

A mastery goal starts with the statement:

My . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Planning for Succession: Part One

Over half of my clients are focussed on how to survive the transition from a first to a second-generation law firm. This is a critical and difficult business subject to deal with so I will explain the issue and its solutions over two SLAW postings. In this first one, I’ll seek to broaden your perspective of succession, describe why its implementation is so critical to a firm, and set the framework for meeting this business need.

This Shouldn’t Be Emergency Planning

Lawyers are of course human beings, and they age just like the rest of us. That means that they . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Enough With “The Law Society of Upper Canada”

Many Ontario lawyers think the “The Law Society of Upper Canada” is still a great name for their governing body. They oppose the suggestion — no, the mere possibility — that the LSUC’s Strategic Communications Steering Group might recommend a name change. Read this article in Law Times for the details, especially the comments at the end in support of the current name — they’re a real treat.

I cannot get my head around lawyers’ continuing support for the term “Upper Canada.” The current year, last I checked, is 2017. There hasn’t been an “Upper Canada” on any reliable map . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Automation, Support Services, and Flat-Fee Billing

The degree of predictability and repetition in legal services determines both their ease of automating and flat-fee billing, as distinguished from hourly billing. See this article by, Erika Winston,[i]Is Your Practice Area a Good Match for Flat-Fee Billing?” (in, Attorney at Work, June 16, 2016).

The benefits of flat-fee billing arrangements are numerous, from predictability to efficiency to increased client satisfaction. But not all legal matters are appropriate for flat fees.

So, how do you know which practice areas are right for a flat-fee structure? The short answer comes down to two words: predictability

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

This Little Measure

Font large upon a central screen, my new hybrid car informs me about my fuel efficiency.

Big numbers. Right in front of me. Hovering around fifty miles a (US) gallon.

Inspiring me to keep it there. To accelerate more slowly. Gentle my Kia Niro up our precipitous hills. Ease off the gas on the flats, letting battery power take over. Even drive – slightly – slower on Seattle’s crumbling, potholed streets.

It is a basic tenet of any measurement science, including project management, that you get what you measure. My quantified efficiency glowing large between the spokes of the steering . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How Do You Marry This?

During a recent drive through crazy Nairobi traffic I learned a few important things about family justice journeys in Kenya. It started with me looking out my window and seeing two women walking uphill, carrying heavy loads on their backs.

“Kenyan women are strong!”, I remarked.

“Yes, that’s true.”, my driver John replied, “They work to make money and when they come home they do all the work in the house and take care of the children.”

“That’s different with us… “ I replied.

“When I come home after work, the children have been washed, I sit down and my . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law