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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development & Justice

A few days ago, on 11 August, the co-facilitators of the process that had to produce the successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) sent a letter to the President of the UN General Assembly that their mission had been accomplished. In diplomatic speak: an outcome document containing a draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had been adopted by consensus. In the diplomatic universe this means that the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives will rubberstamp the document when they meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 25-27 September 2015 for the UN’s 70 . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

“Failure Is Not an Option.”

“Failure is not an option.”

Mission Control spoke those famous words in the quest to save the crew of Apollo 13, at least if you believe what you see in the movies. We remember that phrase – and believe in it – because the project team did not fail.

How do we deal with incipient project failure in the world of legal projects, however? It’s instructive to explore some of the difference – and similarities – between our projects and Apollo 13’s return from the moon.

Recognition of Impending Doom

Few project failures are as easy to recognize as Apollo . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Flexibility Isn’t Just for the Yoga Mat – Try It on Your Schedule

I will forever be indebted to the young mother, a senior associate at a big firm, who shared with me one of her secret recipes for handling the challenging tension between mom-time and lawyer time: the early escape.

Here’s how it works: One night a week she stays late at the office, until between eight and ten at night, depending on the week. Then, two days later, she leaves the office in the afternoon to pick her kids up early from daycare for some special time with them.

This wonderful “life hack” checks two important boxes for her. She checks . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Self-Represented Litigants’ Tax Money Provides More Funding for Legal Aid Ontario

Rejoicing over Legal Aid Ontario‘s (LAO’s) recent increased funding from the Government of Ontario, should be tempered by the listed “points of conscience” that follow this next paragraph.

The Government of Ontario’s 2014 budget increased Legal Aid Ontario’s financial eligibility funding of legal services by $95.7 million over the next three years. This commitment was expanded in the April 2015 budget announcement. These recent articles celebrate LAO’s increased funding:

(1) “Expanding access to legal aid for Ontarians, by Nye Thomas, Legal Aid Ontario Blog, June 5, 2015, at: http://blog.legalaid.on.ca/2015/06/05/expanding-access-to-legal-aid-for-ontarians/

(2) “Expanding LAO’s services: the road ahead . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Fifth Tool: Assigning Tasks

In six preceding articles I have described the idea behind becoming a very highly valued five-tools project manager, ready to manage each of the five progress factors:

  • Manage the project, starting with the project charter.
  • Manage the client, starting with the Conditions of Satisfaction.
  • Manage time, starting with the Off Switch.
  • Manage money, starting with budgets.
  • Manage the team, starting with assigning tasks accurately.

The fifth tool deals with the most important asset on your team. It’s an asset that goes home at night, an asset that defines the biggest difference between project success and failure.

And it’s the asset . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Practice for Handling Difficult Emotions and Thoughts: RAIN

It’s been raining a lot in my office recently. And by this I don’t mean that I have a leaky roof, or the sprinkler system is malfunctioning. Rather, I have been trying out a helpful practice for handling challenging emotions that come up during the workday that goes by the acronym RAIN.

For you agnostics and atheists out there, don’t cringe. Yes, RAIN has its origins in Buddhism. That said, as far as recent developments in neuroscience go, it is a great tool for getting out of what I call the back alley of the brain (amygdala) and returning to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Records Management Law — a Necessary Major Field of the Practice of Law — a Summary

“Records management law” will be a necessary area of specialization because electronic records are as important to daily living as are motor vehicles, and are now the most frequently used kind of evidence. Electronic records management is a complex technology, which makes current legal infrastructure of statutes, guidelines, and case law that controls the use of electronic records as evidence very inadequate because it ignores these facts: (1) electronic records technology, and pre-electronic paper records technology are very different technologies—each requires its own unique legal infrastructure; (2) the many serious defects frequently found in electronic records management systems (ERMS’s), and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Power of Invoking

I just came back from Uganda and Kenya, two countries fighting two wars: one with the odds against ‘getting to Denmark’ (to borrow a Fukuyama phrase), and the other with terrorism. I left Uganda as prosecutor Joan Kagezi, who was leading the prosecution of suspected Al Shabab terrorists, was shot dead. The murder was claimed by Al Shabab. I left Kenya at the end of the day that saw the murder of almost 150 students at the Garissa University by that same Al Shabab. On the one hand both states are dealing with a very acute and direct threat against . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Control

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.

– Kahlil Gibran

As I looked at quotes about the word “control”, I was struck by the variety of themes that emerged. My intention with this article was to talk about the effect of trying too hard to have control. But many people struggle with the need to take control. Where is the happy line between taking control of your life, and letting control overwhelm your life?

I’ve been told many times over the years, by various people, that I have “control issues”. This . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Fourth Tool: The Budget

In five preceding articles I have described the idea behind becoming a very highly valued five-tools project manager, ready to manage each of the five progress factors:

  • Manage the project, starting with the project charter (discussed in the previous article).
  • Manage the client, starting with the Conditions of Satisfaction.
  • Manage time, starting with the Off Switch.
  • Manage money, starting with budgets.
  • Manage the team, starting with assigning tasks accurately.

Of these, the budget is by far the hardest tool to write about, because it is highly individualistic. It varies in form and approach by project manager, by practice, by type . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Cautionary Handmaiden’s Tale

Margaret started working with senior partner Lawrence right out of her articles. In her first years of call she worked with many lawyers at the firm, but slowly Lawrence commandeered more and more of her time until he provided the majority of her billable work. Lawrence had churned through many associates before Margaret. She was the first one who was good enough to meet his exacting standards and the only one who would put up with his daily criticisms of her work. Lawrence kept her apart from his clients. Even as Margaret increased in seniority he held tightly to his . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Protecting Lawyers From Sexual Harassment and Assault

Sexual harassment is much in the news in Canada these days. Most harassment policies define sexual harassment as including acts such as sexist jokes, suggestive or obscene comments, demands for sexual favors or unwanted touching. Rarely do policies include sexual assault as this is may be seen as a crime beyond the scope of a workplace policy with its own remedies under the law.

Sexual harassment is not just a woman’s issue. Men can be subject to pressure to enter into sexual relations with more senior women or from more senior men, if they are gay. The feelings of helplessness . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law