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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Society’s Income-Inequality Unrest and Law Society Access to Justice Failure

[See the full text of this article on the SSRN. This one is related to my two previous Slaw posts dated: July 25, 2019, and April 9, 2020]

Law society bencher-based[i] management structure: (1) has caused and perpetuates the very destructive access to justice problem (the A2J problem) of unaffordable lawyers’ services for middle- and lower-income people; which has a cause-and-effect relationship with, (2) increasing the negative consequences of society’s equally destructive income-inequality problem. Law societies are thereby abandoning that majority of society such that those many millions of people will have no choice but to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Dealing With the Death of a Lawyer

I had another article ready to go but in these unusual times, talking about marketing plans felt a little like ignoring the elephant in the room. So today I’ll post what I’ve been dreading but what is inevitable -and potentially very valid these days. It is also an important and necessary skill for anyone assisting with Law Firm Marketing: dealing with the death of a lawyer.

Throughout my career, I’ve had to deal with the death of a Partner, and advise clients on how to deal with the death of lawyers in their firm. It’s not surprising, really. Like taxes, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

The Year of Distancing Physically: Six Tips for Online Learning in Law Schools

Already here in May, it seems inevitable that the new law school year in September will not be carried out entirely in person. Universities ranging from McGill in Canada to Cambridge in the UK have already announced that their Fall 2020 classes will begin online, and while most American universities have delayed making similar announcements, it’s hard to see how campuses can be retrofitted over the summer to accommodate the physical distancing demands that the pandemic has created. Even if some schools insist on starting in person, will that continue through an expected second wave of infections in Autumn?

Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Practice of Law

Mismanaging Team and Client Time: How Not to Manage Projects, Part 3

This is the third article in a series about mismanaging projects, or throwing away the bad stuff to leave only the good – or at least better – stuff.

There are five aspects you have to manage to move projects forward effectively:

  1. The project itself, discussed in the January column.
  2. Time, which we covered in part in March. We’ll get to the rest here.
  3. Money
  4. The client.
  5. The team.

The Matrix of Project Times

The table below flags time-related issues on three different scales for various aspects of a project or team, the first of which is the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Golden Milk: A Golden Remedy

Southeast Asian mothers around the world rave about the spice turmeric, not only as an essential ingredient in traditional cooking, but also for its health benefits. Growing up, my mom’s remedy to solve many ailments was to drink turmeric in milk, traditionally known as Haldi Ka Doodh. To my mom, a teaspoon of turmeric in warm milk could cure most health issues.

Cough or runny nose? Haldi Ka Doodh.

Muscle or joint pain? Haldi Ka Doodh.

Deep cuts? Haldi Ka Doodh.

And today, I can still envision her telling me…

Stressed about COVID-19? Haldi Ka Doodh. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Am I Essential?

The Covid-crisis lays bare things that were always there but not that visible. Inequality. Vulnerability. The amount we travel. How marketized our societies have become. What it also shows is how the justice sector in most countries is caught up in itself. Four structural vulnerabilities are laid bare.

Firstly, the self-image. When the presidents or prime ministers of the world declared lockdowns – except for ‘essential services’ – courts generally closed. That conveyed a self-image of not being an essential service. Most citizens (and some judges) see that differently. If you are a doctor with a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Digital Decorum and Respect for the Administration of Justice

Everyone is talking about the “new normal”: working from home; self-isolation and even quarantine; kids running around the house; dogs barking; cats acting as paper weights; spouses carving out their own work spaces and sharing space; unstable internet connections; and even cabin fever.

Just because we are working from home and can walk around in our jammies, t-shirts, track pants or even bathrobes (a’ la JJ) does not mean we should. Maintaining consistency and routine will help you through the pandemic and make you more efficient.

Even in the best of non-pandemic times, our clients are worried and scared. This . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law Society Policy for Access to Justice Failure, Part Two

[see the full text on the SSRN (updated in March, 2020)]

The comment of the Treasurer of the Law Society of Ontario (Malcolm Mercer, its CEO) responding to my first article having the above same title, published in Slaw, on July 25, 2019, contains the following objections:

1. That I am wrong to say that law societies should be defending lawyers’ markets. He states:

Rather, the principal role of the Law Society under the Law Society Act (Ontario) is to (i) determine what legal services should appropriately only be delivered by licensees and the appropriate scope of practice

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

Lawyering in a Time of Corona

IT WAS INEVITABLE: as the courts shut down and the work-from-home edict spread, I was reminded of Luddite lawyers sitting in their offices. It would be a gargantuan undertaking to take files to and fro between home and office, and impossible to convert to a paperless office in the blink of an eye. Not surprisingly discoveries and mediations were cancelled, revealing those behind the curve. What we have preached as best practice for decades is now the only practice: paperless remote work is the one game in town.

Speaking of behind the curve, the conservative-to-a-fault Law Society of Ontario relaxed . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Managing Remote Professionals

We interrupt this program, as they say. Life has intervened, and many of us are working remotely.

Remotely, in this case, is a synonym for “home.”

For many lawyers, managing professionals who are not in the office – who are not in any office – is new, and may feel like one of those old maps whose edge bears the legend There be dragons here.

Let’s try to slay a few of those dragons, or at least encourage them to find other prey.

Treat Them as You Want to Be Treated

This tenet should apply at all times, of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lessons Learned From a Firm Breakdown

The line between bad strategy and a law firm collapse is as thin as a noose. Yet law firms practise bad strategy on a regular basis. Take heed from the lessons of a very public breakdown.

A client recently gave me a copy of Norman Bacal’s book “Breakdown, the Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of Heenan Blaikie”. I was familiar with the story, having lived through it as a horrified observer in 2013. I also met Norm a few years ago when we were both speakers at the same conference in Toronto: him on how a firm implodes, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

It Kind of Works

You can’t really miss it: a huge square concrete wall full of graffiti. In the middle, a dignified sign in UN blue & white. Casa Justitia Cuidad Bolivar. This is not a chique neighbourhood. Small taxi’s, old trucks, and most people take the bus. There’s also the cable car to get to the higher parts of the barrio. The building is attached to the municipal offices. Local justice and administration, hand in hand. Around them, the small shops and café’s that form the livelihood of some and a critical service for others. This is down-town, everyday life.

Houses of Justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law