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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Idiot Lights

I’m old enough to recall cars that had useful gauges – the cooling-system temperature gauge, for example.

Nowadays they have on/off indicators, referred to as “idiot lights.” Such as the check-engine light. The idiot light that this morning is illuminated in my car. I’m writing this article while sitting in the dealer’s waiting room until they attach a computer to my vehicle to diagnose the problem. (And then charge me a bunch of money to fix it.)

The car’s computer system stores a diagnostic code that the dealership’s computer will retrieve, at least as I understand it. What I don’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Delaying Justice Is Denying Justice – a Senate Committee Report

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Eight Report: Delaying Justice is Denying Justice: An Urgent Need to Address Lengthy Court Delays in Canada (published, August, 2016), must produce a final report by March 31, 2017.

1. The Major Shortcomings of the Committee’s Report

Appendix A to the Report is this List of Recommendations (p. 16):

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories as well as with the judiciary to examine and implement best practices in case and case flow management across Canada to reduce the number of unnecessary appearances and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Divorced From Reality

Gillian Hadfield just came out with a fabulous book: Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy. In it, she argues that the design machine we have for making rules that work for people in the world of today is broken. What it produces is of inferior quality: often out-dated, too complex, and it does not always solve the problem.

No wonder: the fast-moving, internationalized world of today with its technological developments and daily outpours of new, profound knowledge about our very being as humans is a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

CBA Online Mental Health Course Celebrates a Successful First Year

Last year the CBA took an important step in a direction it seems a lot of its members had wanted it to go – providing information and guidance in the area of mental health.

Since Mental Health and Wellness in the Legal Profession, developed in association with Bell Let’s Talk and the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, was launched online almost exactly a year ago more than 1,500 people have participated in the course, which was designed to help people in the legal profession understand mental health and addiction issues and to point them in the direction of available . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Guilt by Mobile Phone Tracking Shouldn’t Make ‘Evidence to the Contrary’ Impossible

This is a brief outline of an article that I have posted on the SSRN, using the same title (pdf download). Mobile phone (cellphone) evidence will be among the most frequently used electronically-produced evidence of location. How does a defendant produce “evidence to the contrary” for purposes of challenging its reliability? Rare and very difficult it will be that one might get access to the complex electronic systems involved, to search for such suspected “evidence to the contrary.”

A mobile phone can be located at the time of a particular call by finding the mobile phone tower that directed . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Six Strategies for Dealing With Fear, Worry, and Self-Doubt

As we journey through our professional careers, one valuable tool to acquire is a personal formula for overcoming the inner obstacles that often hold us back from taking on vital challenges, rich with learning and opportunity.

Fear and self-doubt don’t just come up for newly called lawyers, they also vex seasoned lawyers as well.

When I think back on this past year I remember of couple of my own brushes with these inner obstacles and the sinking, heavy, feeling that comes with them.

Oh no, I am not up for this.
I am going to fail this.
I am not
. . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Sailboats and Project Management

I love to race sailboats.

(To an outsider, a sailboat race usually falls somewhere between incomprehensible and watching-paint-dry boring. Trust me – it’s very, very different when you’re on the boat!)

I’ve raced everything from one-person dinghies to a 45-footer (14 meters) we owned until my wife noted she preferred adventures that didn’t involve frigid Pacific Northwest water. Currently, three buddies and I share a couple of Etchells-class boats – fast, fun, cheap, and easily sailed with two to four people per boat. We race them Thursday nights against other Etchells’ and similarly sized boats.


An Etchells – not ours . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Scarcity and Justice

Close your eyes. Imagine living in a small apartment, with your partner and your two children. You bought it because four years ago a salesman told you it was cheaper to buy than to rent. You feel cheated because there’s so much to the deal that you feel he did not tell you. But you signed so you’re stuck, the bank says. You have a job as a foreman in construction – a flex-contract on which you’ve worked for more than five years. It asks long hours, regular work in the weekend, and provides limited long-term security. You think that’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A2J: Unaffordable Legal Services’ Concepts and Solutions

I’ve posted this article on the SSRN: “Access to Justice—Unaffordable Legal Services’ Concepts and Solutions,” for download (pdf). It provides a solution to the unaffordable legal services problem in Canada (“the problem”), so as to: (1) maintain law society management structures as they are; (2) fulfilling their duties in law to make legal services adequately available; and thus, (3) law societies can avoid being abolished. What is needed is to convert the way the work is done to provide legal services from a handcraftman’s method to a support services method. There are parts of the work done . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

When Crisis Hits – Nine Tips for Getting Through

I have numerous friends dealing with crises this summer. Two have mothers who have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. Their lives have been turned upside down. They are worried, stressed out, and deeply sad about what is happening with their moms. They are dealing with doctors and lawyers and trying to keep daily family life together while dedicating a big chuck of each day to helping their mothers.

This was the situation I found myself in last year when I received a phone call from my mother’s landlord telling me she had been found disoriented in the basement of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

‘On Progresse’ in Tunesia

Avenue Bourghiba was closed off. A statute of the founding president of Tunisia on horseback was being reinstated in the square. The current President Essebsi was going to inaugurate it in two days. The taxi dropped me off as close as he could get. Hotel Africa is a high seventies hotel with large wooden panels, brown carpets, and huge chandeliers. As I made my way, urban Tunisia walked by and ordered drinks on the terraces: hip youngsters, women with blond hair, women with headscarves, families, groups of boys, and groups of older men.

Kalthoum picked me up later and we . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

From Zen to Chaos and the Long Road Back

People often talk about the intrusion of technology on our lives, particularly in the context of being at work 24/7 as long as you carry a smartphone. For a long time, I took pride in having the discipline to leave work at the office and enjoy my family time. I checked my phone in the evenings, but unless an email was a ‘true” emergency, I didn’t respond to it or think about it until the next morning when I went to the office. I told younger lawyers to train their clients and colleagues not to expect immediate responses from them . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law