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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

The State of Play in Legal Innovation

Several weeks ago I spoke at the Sinch Online Legal Services Conference in Sydney. My topic was the state of play in legal innovation and I covered what I thought were the most significant events of the past year (and of the near future). This column addresses some of those events. Special thanks goes to Jordan Furlong and Stephanie Kimbro for their input and, as always, to Simon Lewis for organizing the conference.

Disruptive Business Models

In November, 2010, Thomson Reuters acquired legal process outsourcing company Pangea3 and at the same time put bar examination preparation course provider BAR-BRI up . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa

With the globalization of world markets, competition is consequently rampant. The emergence of the new global village means that nations around the world are looking for ways to be more competitive and more open to foreign investments. It creates a denationalisation of economic conflicts. Alternative dispute resolution and supranational organizations became the two legal solutions to the new economic needs. Nations began coupling the two and many trade treaties have been signed. The most well-known system is the European Union, which promotes a unified continent. As in Europa, several African countries, most of them being former French colonies, joined forces . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law



Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are four bars – about eight seconds – into a song during a concert when The Boss yells out, “Trainwreck!”

It’s a song they haven’t played often, perhaps never even played at all. (They do that at times.) They’re close, but something’s off. It’s obvious to Springsteen and probably to the other band members as well – and he wants to fix it before it becomes obvious to the audience.

So he yells out “Trainwreck!” You can hear the smile in his voice; if he weren’t playing in front of 20,000 people, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Importance of Being Nice

After speaking at the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in Orlando earlier this month, but before flying home, I managed to catch the event’s keynote presentation. It was delivered by Jeff Williford, a facilitator with the Disney Institute, which manages the Disney Corporation’s professional development and corporate culture. He described Disney’s disciplined approach to creating a business culture and applying it throughout the company’s 60,000-strong workforce. Law firms could stand to adopt a few of Disney’s philosophies in this regard (though maybe not the company’s custom of referring to its employees as “cast members”).

One of Jeff’s observations stood out . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Women Lawyers as Rainmakers

The only job security any lawyer has whether as a partner or as a sole practitioner is the ability to generate clients. Leadership and power in a law firm of any size attaches to the lawyer who brings in the most business and keeps herself and other more junior lawyers supplied with work. Yet typically, the major rainmakers in law firms are primarily men. 

The National Association of Women Lawyers in the US in their 2009 annual National Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms (www. found that half of the larger law firms in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Work-Life Balance and Volunteering

Research suggests that to be Canadian is to be a volunteer. A 2003 national survey found that 19 million Canadians do volunteer work every year. This is estimated to be 2 billion hours of volunteer time per year. That’s equivalent to 1 million full time jobs. The same survey found that only 7% of volunteer time consists of sitting on board, while the other 93% finds people helping to deliver programs and services or fundraising. Another national survey found that Canadian volunteers contributed, on average, an astonishing 166 hours each in 2007.

If Canadians are serial volunteers then Canada’s lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lessons From the Oil Patch

Michelle is a colleague of mine – an executive coach working in the oil patch. Michelle’s workdays start early. By 7 am she is in the cab of a pick up truck with a client at the wheel. Instead of business suits she wears jeans, work boots and a parka. The coaching sessions don’t take place in boardrooms but rather as her clients drive to and from the various work sites. Most days this winter it was minus thirty degrees and the trucks never warm up because of the frequent road side stops to roll down the window and conduct . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

6 Myths (Or Excuses) Why People Don’t Buy Enough Life Insurance

Myth #1: I don’t need life insurance because I’m single and have no dependents.

Fact: Everyone leaves behind expenses when they die. In addition to funeral costs, there may be medical bills and personal debts that have to be paid. While your estate could be liquidated to cover some of these costs, it takes time and may not be enough. Life insurance relieves the financial burden of your death on your family or executor by creating instant tax-free cash. 

Myth #2: I have enough life insurance through my employee benefits.

Fact: Most employee life insurance benefits are designed to provide . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Toughest Challenge for Lawyers: Learning to Be an Entrepreneur

Most lawyers would agree that there are three qualities needed to run a successful practice: excellent legal skills, great client service and the ability to find and retain clients. In other words: ability, hard work and an entrepreneurial mind-set. It is the latter that can be the most challenging for younger lawyers as they receive little or no training in business development.

Most law schools and bar admission programs provide no business training as this is seen as outside the scope of educating students about the law. Nor is it typically part of the articling experience at law firms. Once . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Consider a Strategic Planning Premortem

You are at the stage of having worked with the members of your Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) for a number of months to finally come to the point where you have a draft strategic plan that has been approved by the partners and now needs some attention directed toward how certain components will actually be implemented. There are a number of actions contemplated that your fellow Committee members feel are critical and definitely need to be properly executed in order to make a significant difference. As an example, one such action item states:

Develop and codify in writing, a set

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

‘In-House Counsel, They Have It So Easy’

Almost a year ago, I closed my private practice and accepted a position as in-house counsel. It was an intriguing challenge: I had acted as a kind of “outsourced” in-house counsel to a number of companies, and I now had the opportunity to do that work full time. I was swapping all of my clients for one, and giving up being my own boss in exchange for having one (accompanied by a regular paycheque and a number of extra benefits).

I don’t regret the decision at all. It’s been a fascinating challenge, and I’m relishing all of the new opportunities. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Vacations Are Productive

Over the years many in our profession have come to assume that part of the compromise we must make in order to have a robust practice includes sacrificing holidays, leisure time, and family time.

The longer I practice the more I question this way of thinking. I am far more productive when I am rested and rejuvenated. You likely would be also.

On a regular basis one should keep in mind that you need to maintain your soul and mind as well as your body. So, in addition to exercising, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to a healthy diet . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law