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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

It’s Time to Create Your 2023 Personal Plan

Typically, lawyers work from 40 – 80 hours per week. If they are able to bill out 2/3rds of that time, they are lucky (or organized). But it could be better. The difference between billed work and the rest of that time is often wasted or at least under-utilized time. That’s because most lawyers don’t have a clear sense of what they want to achieve in a year, a month, a weak, a day. They might know generally, but wishes don’t move mountains. Plans do.

As a lawyer coach, I NEVER forget that time a lawyer spends working, learning, marketing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

When Is Perfect Not Actually Perfect?

When it comes to initial consultations for your firm. The ideal conversion rate for turning initial client consultations into clients is not 100%. It’s counterintuitive, I know. It seems like if a potential client shows up in your office who needs the kind of legal help you provide, that it is some kind of failure if they don’t hire you. It feels bad. Like you’ve been rejected.

That’s the wrong way of looking at it. It’s prioritizing an emotional frame over an analytical one. You’d think we, as lawyers, wouldn’t often prioritize emotions over analysis, but when it comes to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Law School Gatekeepers

Every law society in Canada places one key condition on candidates for law licensure: Unless you are an internationally trained candidate, you must hold a three-year degree from an accredited law school before you can begin the bar admission process.

As a result, virtually every domestically trained lawyer in Canada has a law degree, and most of us who entered the profession this way have never questioned that. We assume that, well, naturally you need a law degree to become a lawyer — even though it’s not “natural” at all, but the result of a decision by the profession’s regulators. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Life’s Fragility

A personal injury lawyer knows, perhaps better than most, of life’s fragility. I represented a woman who lost her baby boy in a car accident. When I met her at the hospital she was beyond distraught – not in the sense of becoming more and more frantic, but of a person who had entered another phase of life, a life lived in silent tragedy. She held a worn look, her wrinkled clothes betraying days of use, the smell of dried sweat and tears emanating so much sadness. As I held her hand, she recounted what had happened, second by second, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Dealing With Law Firm Bullies

This post is for law firm leaders as well as for senior managers. My last submission to SLAW focussed on ensuring you don’t alienate your law firm with your decision process. This one focusses on another barrier to firm success: bullies.

Cutting my teeth as a law firm marketer, I was very aware of law firm bullies. Managers (like a Marketing Manager or Director but really, anyone in a senior but non-lawyer position in a law firm) have lots of responsibility and there are high-expectations for our ability to get things done. But we have very little power. This makes . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Partnership – Is It for You?

Sandy, a seven-year call, just had her annual review. The partners are thrilled with her performance and are starting to discuss partnership. But Sandy is wondering, is this something she wants?

For many associates partnership is no longer an attractive goal.

Many young lawyers look at partners’ lives and don’t see the appeal. The long hours, the burden of administrative tasks, and the high-stress levels don’t have much of a draw.

What if partnership offered more than this?

What if stepping into partnership meant greater agency over your career and a way to help create a better work environment for . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

There are humans, I am told, whose lives don’t revolve around to do lists, completion of tasks, and productivity systems like Getting Things Done or Atomic Habits. Humans who don’t wake up clutching a bullet journal or begin tapping on Todoist before they leave bed. Humans who more or less go with the flow, who live in the moment, and who don’t spend their life energy building and tweaking a set of byzantine systems to make sure they’re doing the right things at the right time.

These humans are called normal people. It is not a category that includes . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Cost of Success

It has struck me more than once – a shock, I admit, to my naivete – to find in a looming figure in our profession – a lawyer whose fame, power, and wealth I would never approach – an Achilles heel, a human folly, a single blow so powerful to the pedestal offering no return, as to bring me to my senses, a la Nietzsche in Ecce Homo: I would rather be a satyr than a saint! What was this discovery? A moral judgment of an inferred vulnerable trait: to step into the office elevator doors on a Monday morning . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Public Trust, Legitimacy, and the Rule of Law

I’d like to bring to the attention of Canada’s law societies — and courts, Attorneys-General, and everyone else who wields power in the legal system — five reports from each of the past five months about declining trust in government competence and institutional legitimacy, in Canada and elsewhere.

  • In March 2022, the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan assessed the national economic impact of the trucker convoy occupation of Ottawa the previous month, finding that “in the absence of effective and forward-thinking action by government, there will be less business investment, less foreign investment,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Don’t Alienate Your Firm With Your Decisions

I’m not sure if people truly understand the ultimate impact of the Roe vs. Wade reversal by the US Supreme Court – regardless of where you live. Like the potential alienation of 51% of the population who – let’s face it – only became “persons” within the past century and are now already having some of those rights reversed. Or the eventual impact of a sitting US President announcing that the Supreme Court does not speak to the will of the people, and then signing executive orders to allow for work-arounds to new legislation. It questions the very relevance of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Freedom and the Dog

There is a story about a dog leashed to a pole. Seeking freedom from the pole, it pulled against its leash. It bit its leash. It barked at everyone passing by. It yelped and it cried unceasingly. Finally its owner came and unleashed the dog. Did it then pounce away, as quickly as it could, away from the pole? It did not. Rather, it sat in the same place, quietly and contentedly. The lesson here is, supposedly, that we crave freedom as an ideology. We may continue to live the same way we did when we were leashed, but this . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Strategy for the Times: Grounded Hope

Bad news and tragedy surround us. The challenges appear to be enormous. Daunting. How do we hold ourselves up and make a difference in these times?

I believe that hope, grounded hope, is a necessary starting point.

Grounded hope emerges when we look at reality straight on, stand firm, and determine to believe that a better future is a possibility worth striving for.

This form of hope is an expression of “liberatory consciousness,” the framework developed by Barbara Love:

“Liberatory consciousness is a framework used to maintain an awareness of the dynamics of oppression characterizing society without giving

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