Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Mediation in the Caribbean

As lawyers know, between the lengthy process and the various complexities that are inevitable within the traditional legal system, many people become discouraged with their attempts to obtain justice. As others have suggested, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, specifically mediation, may offer the needed solution to for this lack of efficient access to justice. Rather than aiming to replace the established system, however, these mechanisms work in parallel with it.

Many non-governmental organisations here and abroad have realized the overwhelming inefficiency of the existing traditional legal system in the countries in which they are based. This is the reason many projects . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Women Lawyers Bring to Teams: EQ Plus IQ

A lot has been written about the positive impact to the bottom line when corporations include more women on their boards. At it’s most simplistic, corporations recognize the value of a woman’s different life experiences in corporate decision making, along with a greater understanding of what types of services or products would interest female clients. However, the research goes much further than this to include the different and complimentary ways that women process information and make decisions. A recent Harvard Business Review article “ Defend Your Research: What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women” examines the impact that including . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Articling: Back to Basics

You might have read last month that the Law Society of Upper Canada is worried about the newest articling crisis in Ontario. So worried, in fact, that it’s going to set up a working group to examine the problem. 

I don’t mean to belittle this effort, which is surely well-intentioned. But few subjects have been studied, task-forced and working-grouped more than articling (Ontario’s last kick at this can was in 2008), so it’s difficult to believe this new version will deliver different results.

What’s the nature of the latest crisis? According to Law Times:

  • The number of registrants
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Accessing Australian Law Legal Resources Using Foolkit

Foolkit, which stands for Free Legal Toolkit, provides free comprehensive access to legal resources in every Australian state except Western Australia. Produced by an Adelaide lawyer named Andrew Rogers, it is a collection of resources for lawyers, support staff, law students and the general public. By some measures, Foolkit is one of the largest access to law websites in Australia. Foolkit gets over 2 million hits per month and Rogers estimates that it is used by about 20 percent of lawyers in Australia.

Foolkit’s goal for lawyers is to improve the efficiency and quality of practice and professional life. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Giving Back

by Elke Churchman*

Giving back is a way of life for me. It is fulfilling and has made me a much better lawyer, a better family member and a better member of society.

It has not always been that way. I was very narrow and grasping in my focus and cut off from the world. I lived in a nightmare of my own mind. Never feeling good enough but at the same time feeling I must pretend that I was better than, an egomaniac with an inferiority complex! I never fit in and felt I had nothing of value . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Cats, Horses, and “Legal” Project Management

There’s been recent discussion about whether Legal Project Management is different from just regular plain ol’ project management.

It depends on how deep you want to look. Are a cat and a horse the same? They’re both mammals, right? Hair, four legs, warm-blooded…. But imagine if your sweet pet cat were the size of a horse. Her name for you would be “dinner.”

Likewise, at a superficial level Legal Project Management and traditional project management are the same. They have the same principles. They both seek to deliver work efficiently and effectively. They both are based on a combination of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Developing Resiliency: The Key to Law Firm Success

Research on the high degree of lawyer burnout, depression, substance abuse, divorce and suicide make for discouraging reading. Lawyers consistently score much higher than either the general population or other professions when it comes to managing the impact of stress on our lives. (Susan Daicoff “Lawyer Know Thyself: A Psychological Analysis of Personal Strengths and Weaknesses”.) It is one of the reasons that so many younger lawyers entering the profession are pushing back against what they experience as a highly stressful work environment that is dangerous to their health. It is not just the long hours that are . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Dancing With Yourself

I was interviewed recently on the topic of opening my own office. I had run a solo practice for years until mid-2010 when I accepted a position as in-house counsel, and had spoken and written about the advantages and disadvantages of running one’s own shop many times in the past.

In the interview, I mentioned that (more or less) many lawyers feel the need to have an assistant out of sense of ego, and that they feel that a lot of clerical-type work is either an inefficient use of their time or, quite simply, beneath them. I took a (justifiable) . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Hurdles to Executing Your Strategic Plan

Whenever I think about the effort that is required to go into implementing your firm’s strategic plan, I’m reminded of a particular business book title that grabbed my attention when I first saw it . . . Hope Is Not A Strategy! To effectively transform your best intentions into best practices, there are several common hurdles that you need to overcome. Thinking through the following will help you make the leap.

1. Move seamlessly from strategizing to implementing.

This is, from my experience, the most significant hurdle. Planning is not doing. Unfortunately, some partners believe that implementing the strategy and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Rise Up: Taming Your Inner Critic

Sandra works three times as long as she needs to on her files, checking and re-checking and going through countless drafts. She is driven by her fear of making an error. Sandra works long hours in the office but rarely meets her billable target because she consistently edits down her time.

Mary is unhappy. While she enjoys commercial litigation files she is stressed all the time. The partners provide her with positive feedback as do her clients but every time she makes any kind of error she takes it as a sign of failure.

Do any of these scenarios sound . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Insurance Purchases Most People Should Avoid

It’s my opinion that too many people buy insurance policies that should be avoided. I’m not talking about auto, home, health, life and long-term disability insurance policies. Ignore these at your peril. I’m talking about insurance policies that offer questionable value for most people because they are over-priced or offer unnecessary protection.

Here are five examples of insurance policies that I believe most people should avoid.

Mortgage Life Insurance

Banks love to offer life insurance policies that pay off the mortgage if you kick the bucket. But before you sign up, ask yourself, “Who do I want my money to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

B.C. Orienteering – Thoughts on Orientation Programs for New Lawyers

I must start this post with a confession that the title above is borrowed from a song by Vancouver artists “Said the Whale”. It is not only a great song but also a great topic statement for a subject that has been consuming my attention of late; that of orientation programs for new lawyers in British Columbia. Although the context in which this topic arises for me is province-specific, I know from conversations with young lawyers and law students from across Canada that law firm orientation programs, or rather oftentimes the lack thereof, should be a topic of significant interest . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law