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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

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

Don’t Warn – Fix!

I saw a bumper sticker last week on an old Volkswagen Beetle: “Warning. Manual Transmission. May Roll Backwards.”

It made me want to put my car within inches of his back bumper, facing uphill. Well, no. I’m not really that passive-aggressive. But I owned only stick-shifts for over forty years, including a succession of well-used VW Beetles when I lived along the steep hills keeping the Hudson River in her banks. And I never once rolled backwards from a stop.

(Set the emergency brake. Put the car in first. Then put your hand on the brake release and slowly lower . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Advocating for a Mentally Healthy Attitude Toward Mental Health

A couple of things you may not know about heart surgery: patients are given “cough pillows.” They use them the first few weeks after surgery, hugging them to their bodies to lessen the pain that comes with coughing, sneezing or even laughing after your sternum has been cut open.

And did you know that severe depression is often a side-effect of open-heart surgery?

Two years ago, CBA President Ray Adlington was recovering from surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, clutching his heart pillow and too depressed to do much more than go from his recliner to his bed, where he . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Speak to the Street

I was walking down the street with Nelson, one of the regional finalists of our 2018 Innovating Justice Award. He’s co-founder of Gavel (and, more visible: @citizen_gavel on Twitter). A social enterprise that calls itself “a civic tech organisation aimed at improving the pace of justice delivery through tech”. As part of the entrepreneurship training we give the finalists we ask the justice entrepreneurs to speak to the street. Find and talk to justice customers. Learn what they need. How they need it. When they need it. What they do when they need it. This was a busy street . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Challenging Technology’s Ability to Produce Reliable Evidence

Access to Justice (A2J): for our work as lawyers, we don’t know enough about the technology that produces much of the evidence we have to deal with. So how to be educated affordably? This is an outline of three articles that I have recently posted on the SSRN. (Click on each of the three hyperlinked headings below to download a pdf. copy of each.)

1. Technology, Evidence, and its Procedural Rules (SSRN, October 1, 2018, pdf., 64 pages)

The rules of procedure that govern proceedings concerning discovery, disclosure, and admissibility of evidence have to be flexibly applied . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Procrastination Breakthrough – Tips From a Lawyer Coach for Getting Into Action

Hello, my name is Allison, and I am a procrastinator. I procrastinate and so does everyone I know. Not only do we all procrastinate, but we beat ourselves up about it too.

I’m such a loser – but I just can’t handle doing that right now

I know I’m not getting to it – I’m a failure as a lawyer

What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just do it?!!

I am going to let you in on a little secret from my coaching practice: I have learned that procrastination isn’t stupid, it’s smart.

We procrastinate for good reason.

Surprisingly, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Risk-Aversion Really Means

I’ve heard many times, and I’m sure you have too, that lawyers are ”risk-averse.” That description alone isn’t very helpful — after all, most people are risk-averse, which is why much of the population lives safe and sedate lives while a very small number of people create billion-dollar companies or break their legs while cliff-diving.

What I think we mean is that lawyers are unusually risk-averse. And when we say this about ourselves, we usually say it in tone of self-mocking resignation or gentle exasperation: “Well, what are you gonna do? Lawyers are risk-averse, after all. We won’t try anything . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Simple Way to Increase Productivity

Lawyers are intelligent, capable human beings who sometimes find it almost impossible to manage their time well. The reason could be that too much is expected of them; that they like to do things very well before moving on and that takes time; that they under-estimated how long an activity will take; that when activities involve dealing with others, time becomes a variable; that they have to spend valuable time cleaning up someone else’s work; that they have other people’s work dumped on them…the list goes on.

These are reasons but not excuses. Productivity is usually tied to efficiency and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law