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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Time for Wonder Woman and Superman to Take Off the Cape

In her legal career Charlene had never encountered a challenge that stoic hard work and determination couldn’t beat. After severe abdominal pain forced her to the hospital’s emergency ward she returned to her office to finish an assignment despite the blindingly brutal pain. Months later she discovers that during this time the partner she reports to had found numerous flaws, typos and weaknesses in her work and had told her colleagues that she had grave concerns about Charlene’s legal abilities.

Charlene’s legal career as a solicitor was in ascendency before her car accident. The head injury caused her some setbacks . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

XC Skiing

by Tom Ullyett*

Cross country skiing is Canada’s sport. This is almost sacrilegious to say within living memory of the recent national celebration of hockey known as “Hockey Day in Canada”. Don Cherry would beg to differ and probably label me a wimp (until he found out that I was the penalty leader in my 9-team hockey league). But folks, really, “xc” skiing has been with us for over 100 years. Consider Exhibit A: The Montreal Ski Club started to offer xc ski trips into the Laurentians as early as 1905. To top it all off, any Canadian with Scandinavian . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Changing Face of Maternity Leave

The Law Society of Upper Canada has just announced a program that will provide up to six hours of coaching to assist women leaving and then returning from maternity or compassionate leave. The coaching will be available only to sole practitioners and to women working in law firms of five or fewer lawyers. It is estimated that 35 women will access this program in the first year.

This program is similar to one offered in Manitoba since 2008 where female or male lawyers and their spouses or life partners can receive six confidential sessions with the Law Society Equity Ombudsperson. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Networking Through the Internet – Key to Business Development

Relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation are how lawyers get their work. Always has been. Always will be.

Ask the best lawyers in your firm. Ask the lawyers in your community who have the best business. Ask the managing partners leading successful law firms. Ask the chief marketing officers of major firms.

All of them will tell you that a lawyer’s best work comes from relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation. All of them will tell also tell you that relationships and a strong word of mouth reputation are the result of networking.

The Internet doesn’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How Words With Friends Is Killing Scrabble… and Why It Matters to Lawyers

Everyone is playing Words With Friends on their smartphones these days.

When even my 11-year old son and my 16-year-old daughter (and my no-way-will-I-reveal-her-age wife) became addicted, I thought it time to look into the phenomenon – that, and the fact that my son whispered to his Scrabble-loving father that he needed help in a game against his mom.

Let me lay out a fact pattern:

  1. Words With Friends is similar to Scrabble – seven tiles at a time, points assigned to letters in inverse relation to their frequency in English words, a board with double- and triple-letter and double-
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Simple Steps to Support Women Lawyers Returning From Maternity Leave

Most Canadian law firms of any significant size have written parental leave policies. What many firms lack are written guidelines to assist women lawyers leaving and returning from maternity leave. As these leaves can be lengthy (up to 12 months) reintegrating back into law firm life and ramping work back up is a very daunting prospect for most women lawyers. There is often a feeling that you must figure this out on your own with no clear understanding of the firm’s expectations. This feeling of isolation can make returning from maternity leave one of the most difficult times in a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Tips for Reducing Procrastination in Your Practice

John is bored. His firm just hasn’t been busy this month and instead of the usual big transaction work all he has are small bits and pieces of corporate matters. Even though none of it is complicated he just can’t get down to doing any of it and is wasting time surfing the net instead.

Terry is deadline driven. Every day is about putting out fires and meeting last minute deadlines. He knows he should plan ahead and get to his projects done before the last minute but he has gotten use to the adrenaline rush and just can’t get . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Myth of the Visionary Managing Partner

The Strategic Planning Society recently posted on their Linkedin site the seemingly straight-forward question: “What is a good definition for vision?”

Now please keep in mind that this question is being posed within the fraternity of those who have fostered and perpetrated the belief that every organization should have a vision and that the organization’s leader should be a “visionary” – the originator of such a vision. A flurry of responses came from a community who hold titles like Strategic Planning Manager, Senior Resource Planning Manager, Head of Planning and Control, Senior Manager Strategy Solutions, Strategy Execution Advisor, Managing Partner, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Are Legal Clinics the Answer? Part 1

Before I embark on a brief exploration of whether clinical legal education can provide a solution to two difficulties facing the legal profession in Canada today, I must first make a disclosure. I am a big proponent of clinical legal education and as the incoming director of an excellent clinical program at the University of Victoria I have witnessed first hand the numerous benefits that this manner of education can have to students, the profession and the community as a whole. This experience allows me to approach this discussion not only from the perspective of a lawyer and consultant who . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Your Dog May Be Too Dangerous for Your Home Insurer

In recent years, many Canadian home insurers have begun asking questions about dog ownership and, depending on the breed, impose policy exclusions, charge extra premiums, or decline home insurance applicants. These insurers maintain lists of breeds they consider problematic. These are not dogs that have already bitten someone (although that would be a problem) or lack training, they are breeds that are believed to have an above-average probability of inflicting a serious bite injury.

At the top of the list is the American Pit Bull Terrier and related breeds such as the American Staffordshire. These dogs are banned in Ontario . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law School as Vocational School

My fellow slaw columnist Jordan Furlong has written a number of articles over the past few years about the shortcomings of legal education (the latest of which is here). The New York Times has also added to the debate with a recent article entitled “What They Don’t teach Law Students: Lawyering”. One of the themes floating around has been to partially return law school to its roots as a vocational school.

I had the occasion to think about some of these ideas recently when a move to Australia led me to requalify as a lawyer in a different system. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Training the Stressed Lawyer

by Cheryl Canning*

I was recently engaged in a discussion about the importance of resiliency in the workplace. The topic intrigued me. I had never really thought of resiliency as something that would be a necessity in the workplace. In my mind it was more about the ability to cope with personal crises. Through a series of recent events however, I came to appreciate its importance in all aspects of life, and I have developed my own theory as to how to build up one’s resiliency. My theory has not been tested or proven through scientific study. It is . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law