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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

No Going Back, So Why Aren’t We Moving Forward?

When Dorothy realized she wasn’t in Kansas anymore, she stopped acting as if she were. As far as she knew, there was no going back.

In 2012, the American Bar Association amended its Model Rules of Professional Conduct to confirm that a lawyer’s duty of competence includes awareness of “benefits and risks and associated with relevant technology” to legal practice. 35 states (including Kansas!) have since adopted the requirement into their own rules of professional conduct. Meanwhile, in Canada, our law societies aren’t moving with any sense of urgency. Consultations on the question began in 2017, but don’t expect guidance . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Three-Step Strategy for Getting Heard

Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to get people to listen?

Have you ever had a challenge getting your point across, even when it was about something of critical import?

In conversations with lawyers in private practice and in-house counsel I frequently hear about the difficulties they run into advising clients and colleagues on alternative courses of action, or risk prevention measures to take.

It is so easy for important advice to be discounted because the lawyer is seen as not getting the big vision, or being too risk averse, or creating unnecessary roadblocks.

Next . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Coming End of Lawyer Control Over Legal Regulation

At the end of last year, as John-Paul Boyd ably chronicled on this website, members of the Law Society of BC voted on three resolutions regarding access to justice. The second of these resolutions — directing the law society to bar paralegals from providing family law services under new provincial legislation and to postpone any other enlargement of paralegals’ scope of practice — received overwhelming approval.

While this was a disappointing outcome from an access standpoint, as John-Paul explains, it was hardly a surprising one, given lawyers’ entrenched opposition to expanding the scope of “law practice” beyond the legal profession. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Canada’s Law Societies Need a National Civil Service

This post summarizes a full-text article with the same title on the SSRN, and refers to Fasken InHouse.

The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) is to have a bencher[1] election on April 30, 2019. We should vote only for those candidates that present solutions to the access to justice-unaffordable legal services problem (the “A2J problem”). Governments are now reacting without law societies.

Benchers have to be something more than the present part-time amateurs who bring to the job only the expertise of a lawyer to deal with major problems that are not legal problems, e.g., the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Don’t Be That Guy

The ex-CEO of General Electric for a time had an empty corporate jet follow his own corporate jet “just in case.”

But it was a paragraph in his explanation letter that I found most instructive:

“Given my responsibilities as C.E.O. of a 300,000-employee global company, I just did not have time to personally direct the day-to-day operations of the corporate air team. I had every right to expect that it was professionally run. Other than to say ‘Hello,’ I never spoke to the leader of corporate air in 16 years.” [emphasis mine]

Now GE has lots of money invested . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Good Way to End the Year

The Washington Post reported on 19 December that justice was the word of the year 2018, based on data about searches on the online dictionary Merriam-Webster. Interesting. It seems there was a constant need for this word. The writer of the piece adds: “[w]hat we saw with justice in 2018 was more like a continuous sequence of bumps in the data rather than a single outstanding spike.”

A movement is under way. No, not populism or Islamic extremism. A movement to get justice systems to produce better value. To be more precise: to get ministries of justice, bar associations, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Ten Strategies for Thriving Amid Challenge

Are stress and worry a regular part of your life? Do you often find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you’ve got to do?

For many of us in the workforce the answer is yes. And the good news is this doesn’t mean that something is terribly wrong. It can indicate you are leading a life filled with meaning and purpose.

A 2013 study held by University of Florida and Stanford University tracked adults between ages of 18 and 78. Participants were asked to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statement: Taking all things together, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Crushed

In Britain earlier this fall, three solicitors lost their careers. The High Court of England & Wales, overturning a decision by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, ruled that the three lawyers, who had each committed acts of dishonesty, should be struck off (disbarred) in order to maintain public confidence in the justice system.

The SDT had previously found that although the solicitors had acted dishonestly, “exceptional circumstances” warranted replacing the usual order of disbarment with a suspended suspension with conditions of their practising certificates. These circumstances involved “unbearable pressure” placed on the lawyers by their firms and workplaces. Some examples . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Planning for Business Cycles and Rhythms

Planning – any planning – is better than doing none at all. For this reason, I encourage lawyers to engage in whatever level of complexity of planning they can muster. If that means spending a lunch hour talking about business goals with your partners, or writing down a few goals on a napkin, so be it. But for those who truly understand the value of focussed planning, I encourage you to go a step further to begin to truly manage your resources and take control of your business operations. You can do this by evolving, over time, the type of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Law Society Accountability for the Access to Justice Problem

[See the full text article for this summary on the SSRN, using the same title]

Law societies are not trying to solve the A2J problem, but instead provide “alternative legal services”[1] that merely help that majority of the population that cannot afford legal services learn to live with the problem. That is inevitable because of the operative concept of a bencher[2] and the institutional culture of our law societies, i.e., they do only that which is compatible with that concept and with what they have always done, which does not include the affordability of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Artificial Intelligence: Will It Help the Delivery of Legal Services but Hurt the Legal Profession?

On March 23, 2018, I attended a competition among “startup” applications of artificial intelligence (AI) applied to the delivery of legal services. Here are the results by way of quotations from the website of the development institute LIZ (the Legal Innovation Zone), and my comments.

Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University” in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

About Us: “The Legal Innovation Zone is a business incubator designed to build and support ideas that will change the status quo of Canada’s legal system.”

“Entrepreneurs, lawyers, students, tech experts, government members and industry leaders converge in the Legal Innovation Zone . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Bitcoin, Not Blockchain for Governments Everywhere

Governments are among the biggest consumers of technology. Amazon has a whole separate AWS cloud for governments. I would not be surprised if very, very few corporations approach, for example, US government’s database transaction volume. Imagine hundreds of millions of tax filings, border crossings, purchases, sales, emails, surveillance records, court files, and highway traffic data stored, processed and retrieved every year. Wait, strike court files. Those are probably still handled in paper form or through private databases, at least in North America.

If the government is so tech hungry, will it eventually become the biggest user of blockchain? The answer . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law