Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Achieving a Balance Between Extroversion and Introversion

I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or team-work…for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding.
–Albert Einstein, quoted in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

A new book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking has rocketed to the New York Times bestseller list. The author, Susan Cain, is a former Wall Street corporate lawyer. I got an early taste of Susan’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Never Too Late to Unpack

Life is good. I have two great kids, I have been married to the man of my dreams for almost twenty years and I have a lot of happiness and laughter in my life. Life wasn’t always so peachy and I often feel that I have lived two completely different lives.

I was the black sheep in my family, but not because I was causing trouble or getting into things I shouldn’t have. When I was growing up, I woke up and went to bed to the smell of beer. I use to hide anything valuable and worried that things . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law of the Future in Tunisia

In Tunisia they are working to build the law of the future. Law that does not oppress, that is fair and not applied capriciously, and that is applied even-handedly. The challenges are enormous because the law most people in Tunisia know is not like that.

I was in Sousse, the third largest city in Tunisia, and was being driven up a hill, down an asphalt road that looked slightly nicer than the one we just got off, and not just because it was lined with lights that looked as though they had been taken straight from a centre ville Paris . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Bearing Bad News

How do you best deliver bad news?

A recent article in Salon describes the difficulty some doctors have in delivering bad news to their patients. No news a lawyer or project manager delivers will ever match what doctors occasionally have to impart, so how hard can it be, right?

Of course, it can still be extremely difficult to deliver unglad tidings.

The opening couplet of Doug’s Divorce by the brilliant band Uncle Bonsai puts the dilemma thus: “Do you like to pull the Band-Aid quick or slow? / Do you like to be the first or last to know?”

Quick . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Thought Provoking Management Metrics (Part Two)

In my last posting, I presented a two unusual management metrics, specifically challenging readers to look at the amount of management “time spent exploring new opportunities” and to examine how many “new revenue ideas were launched” by the firm in the past year. In this second column, I want to explore with you some of the other metrics that may make sense for you to consider examining:

Metric #3: Defining Distinctive Attributes That Clients Value

One of the most difficult questions that we all face, that is sometimes articulated but always on a prospect’s mind is: “Why should I . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Who Should Consider Buying More Insurance?

Assume there are 2 lawyers with similar incomes, dependents, savings and debts. The only significant difference between them is their overall health and lifestyle choices.

Lawyer A is a male, 35 years old, exercises every day and plays soccer in the summer, hockey in the winter. His blood pressure, cholesterol and Body Mass Index score are excellent. He’s never smoked, drinks in moderation and looks 10 years younger than his actual age. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this guy’s health is better than average.

Lawyer B is also 35 years old. He wants to exercise, but never finds . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Tips for Surviving the Marathon of a Busy Legal Practice

The Olympics are coming this summer. Imagine the marathoners winding their way through the city of London. As the camera zooms in on the winner crossing the finish line what do you expect to see? Will he be taking a swig of water and saying “I have to run my second marathon now, where’s the starting line for the next event?” Absurd – right? And yet, when it comes to the gruelling demands of intellectual work it is so easy to forget our physical needs and limitations and expect the equivalent of an endless marathon.

Tony Schwartz has founded a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Redefining the Career Plan, Part 1

I have recently had the opportunity to take up a sessional teaching position at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. Anyone who engages in this type of sessional or adjunct teaching in Canada knows that it is not done for the money (of which there is very little) but for the love of teaching and the opportunity to engage with bright young minds. As I have managed to navigate a successful transition away from the strict practice of law an additional benefit I receive from teaching is a steady stream of students who seek my thoughts on career planning . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Part-Time Partners and Associates – It Can Work

One of my closest friends is a senior litigation partner at one of the largest law firms in Australia. She has always worked part-time through an arrangement with her firm where she works more than full-time during hectic trial periods and then will take a few weeks or a month off during the various school holidays. I have always admired her tenacity in making this work despite some pushback from her partners when she first started this arrangement eighteen years ago.

Recently, she remarked to me that flexible work arrangements were now common at the large national and international firms . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Thinking, Fast and Slow: Avoiding Errors of Legal Judgment

Daniel Kahneman’s new book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, synthesizes his life’s work as a psychologist. The book is about the systematic errors that limit human judgment.

The six-chapter section on overconfidence is particularly instructive for lawyers in helping them to assist clients to make better decisions and to make better decisions themselves. It appears that excessive optimism and overconfidence are part of the human condition. In fact, an expert’s subjective degree of confidence in his or her predictions is irrelevant to the performance of the expert.

Research has shown that, while computers are better than humans at solving problems . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Tough Lawyers

Lawyers probably work in one of the most stressful environments that exist. If they are in private practice, they have the stress of working to provide their clients the information, advice and services that the client is looking for when the client wants it. If they are in-house counsel or in the public sector, they have employers, bosses who want information, advice and strategy when they need it, not on the lawyers’ schedule. As well, lawyering is such that sometimes there does not seem to be any clocks and everything else can be put aside including family, friends and one’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Law of the Future

It is perhaps best that I start my first column with a brief introduction about what will feature most visibly in what I write. It will help the reader determine whether to look out for the next one or not.

Our world is more globally volatile than ever; an event in one place quickly has consequences in many other places. It is more connected than ever: people, ideas, and things travel very fast. And it faces a multitude of challenges that are in different ways ‘global’. In such a world good rule systems are important. They enhance stability, trust, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law