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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Stress Well, Rest Well

Lives filled with joy, meaning, and challenge come with stress. The good news? Research has shown that the idea that ‘all stress is bad’ turns out to be wrong. In fact, our bodies are equipped with an adaptive stress response that helps us master the challenges we face as we pursue lives of purpose.

Stressing well is actually essential for supporting our health and vitality. To learn more about this, I had a conversation with the founders of Greystones Health in Toronto, Dr. Joseph Steyr N.D and nutritionist Michelle Heighington. Together they offer an on-line course for lawyers called “Stress . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Is Your Law Firm Fulfilling Its Purpose?

I’m going to take a crack at a list of things that your law practice probably tracks and measures:

  • The number of hours each lawyer works
  • The number of hours each lawyer bills
  • The amount of money the firm receives for the work it bills
  • The percentage of that money that should be allocated to the originating partner
  • The amount of money the firm spends to provide its services
  • The amount of overall profit the firm generates in a given period of time
  • The amount of that profit distributed to each equity partner
  • How that amount compares to profits distributed
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

No Longer Is It Possible to Be Both a Good Lawyer and a Good Bencher

The longstanding massive damage and misery being caused by the unaffordable legal services problem (the “accesses to justice” (A2J) problem) compels this conclusion: the problems of law societies are now such that they need an agency that performs a civil service function—one to serve all of Canada’s law societies. The A2J problem has victimized the majority of society for years. It shows that: (1) law societies are the “lynch pin” of the justice system—when they fail, it fails; and that, (2) law societies’ major problems: (a) will be national; (b) require national solutions; and, (c) will be problems for which . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Redesign

Not only do we need to redesign justice systems, we also need to re-design our justice system design systems. Why? Many users of most justice systems are not getting what they could. Moreover, technology and science are changing societies at such speeds that our current factories for making the rules and mechanisms that get justice to citizens can’t keep up. Doing this is tough. It gets in the way of a lot of vested interests, engrained beliefs, lauded legal concepts, and embedded cultures.

If we look at the innovation capacity now, the main innovations we see are what I call . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

No. Small Word. Big Impact. Focusing on What’s Most Important

No. Two letters. One complete sentence.

No. The word we loved to say as kids and have so much trouble expressing as adults.

No. The important boundary we set to protect our values, priorities, and deepest needs.

The solution to many challenges we face in our personal and professional lives is rooted in something called the Positive No.

The term Positive No originates with international mediator and negotiator, William Ury. One of the most important and regular book recommendations I make is for Ury’s Power of a Positive No. I have written about the Power of a Positive . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

“Counsel, I Demand Justice!” – “Most Definitely! How Much ‘Justice’ Can You Afford?”

Might that majority of society who cannot afford a lawyer’s advice (“the problem”) soon use the social media to demand the abolition of law societies? Indeed; “off with their heads!” Quite fitting for a law society, created during the last years of the French Revolution, which had so taxed the heads of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette but a few years before. Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) was created on July 17, 1797, in Wilson’s Hotel, at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, by 10 of the 15 lawyers in the then British colony of Upper Canada. (See: Christopher Moore, The . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Requiem for a Weekly Newspaper

Fittingly, I first read it in a tweet, which linked out to a brief article online. “Your favourite legal news, delivered daily” was the headline — burying the lede with a corporate cheerfulness that seemed reluctant to actually acknowledge what was happening. Journalists are taught to tell the story in the first paragraph; here, though, you have to scroll down to the last paragraph to learn what was going on:

The Lawyers Weekly will continue to publish each week until March 31, 2017. After that date, the weekly publication will be replaced by daily access to the most relevant legal

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing, Practice of Law

Learning From Failure at the Oscars

By now, you’ve probably heard about the stunning failure at the Oscars ceremony, even if in Canada the Oscars play second fiddle to the Canadian Screen Awards.

To recap, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the award for Best Picture to La La Land. The producers of that film took the stage, celebrated, and made the obligatory endless thank-you speech… until they were interrupted and told that the award actually belonged to Moonlight.

Oops.

Or as Plattville, Wisconsin library so brilliantly put it:

We can learn a lot about project failure from studying the video of the award . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Vicarious Trauma

In July of 2015, a family lawyer in Winnipeg suffered severe injuries when a bomb was delivered to her office and was detonated. This incident hit our legal community hard. Sessions were offered to identify suspicious packages; a Personal Safety Handbook was developed and many lawyers became hyper vigilant. While many in our legal community were horrified, incredibly empathetic and wanted to help; others reacted differently. The impact on some involved very real trauma and the true fear that this could/would happen to them. A similar reaction occurred in 2007 when a Senior Crown Attorney was subject to an attempted . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Future of Access to Justice in Civil Disputes

Every lawyer probably got that phone call. Someone owes me a thousand dollars. Can you help me? Someone cut a branch on my tree without my permission. Can we sue them? Or the toughest question of all when random strangers call you for advice: do I have a case? No, you don’t. Well, wait: you’re frustrated because no responsible lawyer can answer this question on the spot, and you’re frustrated because you know that even if they have a case, they probably should not hire you because of your fees. It’s a simple cost/benefit analysis.

Let’s focus on the second . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Up Productivity. Root Out Procrastination.

Gretta has been slammed by a sudden flurry of work and has several critical deadlines looming. On Monday she was feeling anxious about one tough factum but instead of spending the morning hammering it out she wasted 20 minutes surfing the net and then a couple of hours on email.

Sound familiar?

Gretta is not alone. Many if not most lawyers struggle with procrastination at some point in their practice and Dr. Piers Steel, reports in “The Procrastination Equation” that about 95% of people admit to procrastinating.

There is one important thing to know about procrastination – the goal isn’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Evidence Based Upon National Standards Might Thereby Be Unreliable

I’ve endured a very worrisome and incompetent drafting of an intended second edition of this National Standard of Canada (an NSC): Electronic Records as Documentary Evidence CAN/CGSB-72.34-2005 (“72.34,” developed by the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB)). Its intended purpose is, to be Canada’s most authoritative standard as to the proper operation and maintenance of electronic records management systems (ERMSs). Therefore it can be used to test the “integrity” that provisions such as, s. 31.2(1)(a) of the Canada Evidence Act (CEA), and s. 34.1(5),(5.1) of the Ontario Evidence Act (OEA), require of ERMSs, for the purpose of determining the admissibility of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law