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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Guilt by Mobile Phone Tracking Shouldn’t Make ‘Evidence to the Contrary’ Impossible

This is a brief outline of an article that I have posted on the SSRN, using the same title (pdf download). Mobile phone (cellphone) evidence will be among the most frequently used electronically-produced evidence of location. How does a defendant produce “evidence to the contrary” for purposes of challenging its reliability? Rare and very difficult it will be that one might get access to the complex electronic systems involved, to search for such suspected “evidence to the contrary.”

A mobile phone can be located at the time of a particular call by finding the mobile phone tower that directed . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Six Strategies for Dealing With Fear, Worry, and Self-Doubt

As we journey through our professional careers, one valuable tool to acquire is a personal formula for overcoming the inner obstacles that often hold us back from taking on vital challenges, rich with learning and opportunity.

Fear and self-doubt don’t just come up for newly called lawyers, they also vex seasoned lawyers as well.

When I think back on this past year I remember of couple of my own brushes with these inner obstacles and the sinking, heavy, feeling that comes with them.

Oh no, I am not up for this.
I am going to fail this.
I am not
. . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Sailboats and Project Management

I love to race sailboats.

(To an outsider, a sailboat race usually falls somewhere between incomprehensible and watching-paint-dry boring. Trust me – it’s very, very different when you’re on the boat!)

I’ve raced everything from one-person dinghies to a 45-footer (14 meters) we owned until my wife noted she preferred adventures that didn’t involve frigid Pacific Northwest water. Currently, three buddies and I share a couple of Etchells-class boats – fast, fun, cheap, and easily sailed with two to four people per boat. We race them Thursday nights against other Etchells’ and similarly sized boats.

An Etchells – not ours . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Scarcity and Justice

Close your eyes. Imagine living in a small apartment, with your partner and your two children. You bought it because four years ago a salesman told you it was cheaper to buy than to rent. You feel cheated because there’s so much to the deal that you feel he did not tell you. But you signed so you’re stuck, the bank says. You have a job as a foreman in construction – a flex-contract on which you’ve worked for more than five years. It asks long hours, regular work in the weekend, and provides limited long-term security. You think that’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A2J: Unaffordable Legal Services’ Concepts and Solutions

I’ve posted this article on the SSRN: “Access to Justice—Unaffordable Legal Services’ Concepts and Solutions,” for download (pdf). It provides a solution to the unaffordable legal services problem in Canada (“the problem”), so as to: (1) maintain law society management structures as they are; (2) fulfilling their duties in law to make legal services adequately available; and thus, (3) law societies can avoid being abolished. What is needed is to convert the way the work is done to provide legal services from a handcraftman’s method to a support services method. There are parts of the work done . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

When Crisis Hits – Nine Tips for Getting Through

I have numerous friends dealing with crises this summer. Two have mothers who have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. Their lives have been turned upside down. They are worried, stressed out, and deeply sad about what is happening with their moms. They are dealing with doctors and lawyers and trying to keep daily family life together while dedicating a big chuck of each day to helping their mothers.

This was the situation I found myself in last year when I received a phone call from my mother’s landlord telling me she had been found disoriented in the basement of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

‘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

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

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

No Votes in Justice — Plea Bargaining and Wrongful Convictions

At the expense of justice, governments improve the cost-efficiency of the criminal justice system but thereby weaken the safeguards against wrongful convictions. Doing so makes more money available to be spent on more politically profitable areas because there are no votes to be gained by improving the criminal justice system. This is a summary of part of a published article that develops this theme: that poor resources given the criminal justice system, increases the probability of wrongful convictions in these ways:

  1. Prosecutors’ method of plea bargaining changes so as to produce more guilty pleas which increases the probability of wrongful
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Think Again – Avoiding Communication Pitfalls

Nothing causes trouble in legal practice quite like communication failures. As Ian Hu from LAWPRO reminded us in his Slaw post last month, communication are the number one source of malpractice claims.

Honing proactive and effective communication skills has significant positive implications for everything from delegation, to the quality of your legal work, to your marketing and business development efforts.

With this in mind, focusing on improving your communication practices at work is probably one of the best investments you can make in your career. Where to start is quite simple, with your thoughts.

I work with many lawyers on . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Ukraine and Uganda

What do Ukraine and Uganda have in common, besides the U at the beginning of their name? An elaborate justice needs and satisfaction survey was just done in both countries. The Ukraine results were presented on 1 March. The Uganda results on 14 April.

First, some observations to put this in a wider context.

I hope such surveys are a trend. They should be. The UN has announced that it will hold its first ministerial meeting in July to review progress regarding implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are, of course, mostly interested in Justice Goal 16. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law