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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

If a Disability Prevents You From Working, What Happens to Your Business?

As a self-employed lawyer, you are directly responsible for your business expenses. So what would happen if a serious accident or illness prevented you from working?

Just because you can’t work doesn’t mean your business expenses suddenly stop. You’ll still owe rent, equipment lease payments, and utilities. In addition, you probably have employees with families who depend on your ability to pay a salary on time. 

You’ll need money to keep the doors open and the lights on so you have something to go back to when you recover. If it looks like you can’t return, you’ll need to cover . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Taking a Summer Vacation Will Make You a Better Lawyer (Yes, Really)

If you were planning on working through the summer without taking a holiday, think again. Vacations aren’t just for fun, relaxation and time with the family, they can provide crucial recuperation for your mental muscle. When you don’t take vacation, you lose important recovery time, and over the long term your work (and you) may well suffer.

Here’s why: Our bodies work in rhythms. Our brain does too. Throughout the day we cycle through longer periods of energy exertion and shorter periods of recuperation. Our minds can maintain optimal focus for 60 to 90 minutes before needing a 10 minute . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Thinking Like an Owner

The magic words that every associate wants to hear from a partner is that the associate is now “thinking like an owner”. These words mean that the junior lawyer realizes the difference between being an employee and becoming a partner in a professional services firm. It means that the associate has grasped the difference between a partnership structure and a corporation. 

Many young lawyers starting out believe that being smart, skilled and working hard will naturally lead to partnership. While this may lead to promotions within a corporate structure, in a professional services firm such as law, accounting or consulting, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Advice to a Leadership Successor

Early in July I launched Law Firm Leaders – the ONLY group on Linkedin exclusively for and populated by firm chairs, managing partners, and a few qualified executive committee members of (primarily U.S.) firms with over 100 lawyers in size. With an initial membership of over 60 law firm leaders, this question from my colleague, Brian Burke, quickly became one of the most popular, generating numerous responses:

As you think back over your years of service as a managing partner, as you think about some of the leadership lessons that you’ve learned (perhaps some through trials of fire), what one . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

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