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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Failures of Client Management

Continuing with our theme of learning from failures – ours or others’ – let’s look at how you can make your project fail in ways related to client (mis)-management.

This column is #2 in a series, following up on October’s failures of project leadership. Again, these points of failure are based on excerpts of a book I’m working on, Pass the Blame! And 99 Other Ways to Screw Up Your Projects.

4. Misunderstand the Business Problem

Unless your specialty is criminal law, your clients come to you because they have business problems.

Sure, those problems (usually) have a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How the Law Abandons Those Who Speak Up in the Public Interest

On December 3, my new report titled Whistleblowers Not Protected: How the Law Abandons Those Who Speak Up in the Public Interest in Alberta was published by the Parkland Institute. The report looks at whistleblowing in a broad sense, meaning anyone who either publicly or anonymously discloses information that is in the public interest.

The report considers not only the gross deficiencies of Alberta’s whistleblower protection legislation but also looks at the need for both anti-SLAPP legislation, and a journalist shield law to protect confidential news sources.

The week before the report, a major controversy erupted in Alberta politics over . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

The Paradigm Shift of Regulatory Sandboxes

Earlier this fall, the Law Society of British Columbia made headlines when it announced the creation of an “Innovation Sandbox” that would allow unauthorized providers of legal services to deliver those services in BC on a pilot-project basis while the regulator assesses their reliability and effectiveness. From The Lawyer’s Daily:

Proposals to enter the innovation sandbox must include a summary of the services that the provider is proposing to pilot, who are expected to be clients, how the services will increase access to justice, as well as information about the provider and an assessment of any risks to the

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

Why the “Access to Justice” Activity Should Be Trying to Solve the A2J Problem

[The content of this article is closely related to six of my previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; May 29, 2020; August 6, 2020; October 22, 2020; and October 24, 2020. See also the full text on the SSRN. And, the articles cited below without authors named, are mine.]

The responses being advocated for the access to justice problem (the A2J problem) of unaffordable lawyers’ services, do not involve solving the problem. Instead, they propose using: (1) “lesser legal services providers”—people of lesser qualifications as to education and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Using Covid to Progress Your Firm

Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter developed the theory of creative destruction to describe how something good, and even much needed, can come out of a tragedy. The theory suggests that some businesses must die and paradigms must be “swept away” in order to make room for new ones that will better survive the future.

This is a concept found in nature. For example, we know that left to their own devices, forests will burn down from time to time to clean out the forest floor and force a renewal. While it might feel heartless to apply the same principle to business, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

An Emerging Ministers of Justice Movement

Since April, we have been calling for justice leaders of the world to get out of their national cubby holes and come together to share fears, failures, successes, and strategies, just like public health minister are doing. The COVID-19 crisis is too big and too unprecedented to deal with on your own national level. On 20 October, 22 ministers of justice did just that at the Justice for All in a Global Emergency meeting convened by Minister of Justice of Canada, David Lametti (see end for participants). It was a significant moment. For 90 minutes, they shared their experiences in . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Is Former SCC Chief Justice McLachlin’s Action Committee and Leadership of the A2J Agencies Avoiding the Major Issues? [Part 2 of 2 Parts]

[The content of this article is closely related to five of my previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; May 29, 2020; August 6, 2020; and, October 22, 2020. See also the full text on the SSRN.]

Part 1 presented the proposition that the great amount of “emergency relief-type” activity and literature that has been produced by the many access to justice agencies (A2J agencies) in relation to the “A2J problem” of unaffordable lawyers’ services, is: (1) deflecting attention from the great need to solve it; and, (2) it . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Is Former SCC Chief Justice McLachlin’s Action Committee and Leadership of the A2J Agencies Avoiding the Major Issues? [Part 1 of 2 Parts]

[The content of this article is closely related to four of my previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; May 29, 2020; and, August 6, 2020. See also the full text on the SSRN.]

The recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in, R. v. Thanabalasingham 2020 SCC 18 (July 17, 2020; by a full Court of 9 Justices), demonstrates why the access to justice problem exists, i.e. the A2J problem of unaffordable legal services for middle- and lower-income people (they being the majority of society), is caused by . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Failures of Project Leadership

I’m fascinated by project failure.

First, I believe we learn more from our failures than our successes. Success usually has an element of chance, of circumstances cohering… or at least not pulling out the rug. Yet in looking back (e.g., at after-action reviews/project debriefs), we rarely recognize the extent to which what-didn’t-happen played a part in our success.

Second, failure stories are often mesmerizing, especially big failures. They frequently read like thrillers, with plot twist after plot twist conspiring against the heroic project manager. Actually, at least half of them read more like lampoons, with the project manager anything but . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Access to Justice Is Not (Just) About Lawyers and Judges

Imagine for a moment that starting tomorrow, every lawyer in the world could be hired at no charge. They’re not working for free — maybe Jeff Bezos has decided to subsidize every lawyer’s income for some unfathomable reason. Basically, anyone can hire a lawyer for whatever they need at no cost.

Consider this, and then ask yourself: Would this make access to justice better, or worse?

Are we likely to see more cases filed, or fewer? Court backlogs grow, or shrink? Go a little further and ask: Do you think you’d be able to hire a lawyer at all? Or . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Hopping Ministers and Crossing Canyons

At the end of July, after months of lockdown, my first trip outside The Netherlands was to Tunisia. Just before I flew over, the prime minister tendered the resignation of his government. That meant possibly another minister of justice; the fourth in a little over two years. Much as I believe in democracy, it felt a bit much. With a deep sigh I reconciled myself with the fact that we needed to start developing our ministerial relationship all over again. In most post-revolution and post-conflict reconstruction environments frequent changes of ministers of justice and, with that, senior civil servants, are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Harnessing the Power of Practice Groups

Most firms have come to appreciate the value of practice groups in their management and marketing; but not everyone knows why they are more powerful than operating without them, which may result in their under-utilization. In this post I’ll explain the evolution of practice groups, what they look like today, and how you can use them to more effectively drive the business objectives of the firm.

The Evolution of Practice Groups

Initially, law practices were based on the personal reputation of the principal. In time, lawyers realized that if they pooled their resources, they could split costs while still maintain . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law