The stress of passing the Bar is present in every student’s mind from the very beginning of their legal studies. In Quebec, the ideal time to apply and find an internship in one of the top prominent law firms is during the second or third year of law school, during what is referred to as the ‘’course aux stages’’ (i.e. the race to find an internship). Not every student participates in the event and only a select few who take part have the privilege of landing an internship. Some students with connections find a spot in midsize firms, . . . [more]
Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns
Wanted: Legal project manager.
Reports to: Every lawyer in the place, and some of the paralegals as well
- Herding cats
- Finding the words in alphabet soup without the noodles
- Singing that song from Man of La Mancha with a straight face (though not necessarily on key)
- Able to leap at least small buildings in a single bound (trampoline permitted as accessory, but candidate must supply the trampoline)
Duties and Responsibilities:
- Babysitting harried grown-ups
- Saying “no” to professional negotiators who carry Getting to Yes in their pockets
- Plate spinning and chain-saw juggling
- Doing more with less
- Getting dual-optimal results
Many of us have a book living inside just waiting to get out if only we could find the time, energy and courage to write it. Recently, I discovered that someone else has written my book. The book is titled “Women on Top – The Woman’s Guide to Leadership and Power in Law Firms” by Ida O. Abbott. (Available on the National Association of Law Placement website for $80.00.)
The American author is a well-known writer on many law practice management issues including “The Lawyer’s Guide to Mentoring”. She is also a co-founder and director of the Hastings Leadership Academy . . . [more]
We’ve spent the last few decades building up a series of myths about legal education. I’d like to take a moment to deconstruct a few of them.
1. The law school from which a lawyer graduated is a relevant and reliable indicator of his or her quality.
This is the pedigree myth. Law firms for years have used “law school reputation” as a handy shortcut to avoid the hassle and expense of actual hard-nosed assessments of a candidate’s qualifications and potential. I’ve met lawyers from schools at the “top” and the “bottom” of the traditional rankings, and I’ve not . . . [more]
The next and most important area for innovation in law firms is not in the way we bill time, structure compensation or in the technology we employ. It is in turning our attention to maximising the output of – in the words of Hercule Poirot – our little grey cells.
Achieving and sustaining excellence takes strategic and practiced use of our biological resources. Work life in the modern law firm is a marathon not a sprint. Developing practices to sustain our energy and maximise our mental effectiveness means we will get more value out of every hour at the office . . . [more]
Many years ago I took an excellent time management course for lawyers that was put on by our local Continuing Legal Education Society. The instructor had many good tips on how to manage a busy lawyer’s day. I went back to my office filled with enthusiasm that finally I was going to feel a sense of control over my life. I diligently experimented with many of the suggestions from the course. However, despite my best efforts, I did not manage to successfully implement a single one of the instructor’s recommendations.
My assistant was less than pleased when I tried to . . . [more]
One of the more profound things I’ve learned, that I try to pass along to new leaders, be they managing partners or practice heads, is to “act like you are on stage at all times, because you are!” Everything you do and say will send messages, set tone, establish expectations, and communicate direction about what is of priority to you. With that in mind, you need to carefully orchestrate what symbolic acts you may want to execute to create a lasting impression and convey what you stand for. In other words, you need to always think through:
Where You Spend . . . [more]
One issue that comes up when you’re starting (or developing) your own practice is the question of how – or indeed, whether – to advertise. We’ve all seen our American colleagues’ ads on television (and laughed, or groaned, or gasped), and everyone always checks out their own colleagues’ ads in the Yellow Pages every time the new book comes out. But how do you decide what it is that you’re going to do when it comes to letting the public know that you have an office and would be more than happy to have them come and see it?
Our . . . [more]
Nothing marks the beginning of the year like RRSP season and a plethora of mutual fund ads boasting performance with imagery that suggests you could be sailing a fancy yacht as a youthful retiree.
Don’t get me wrong, the possibility of excellent investment performance and becoming the captain of your own expensive yacht sounds great, but many of these ads overlook the significance of the fees associated with mutual fund investments. It suggests to me that companies that don’t emphasize the competitiveness of their fees have something to hide.
You may have heard a few years ago that a study . . . [more]
As an active participant in the eLawyering task force of the American Bar Association, I have volunteered to compile a list of the types of regulations that inhibit the growth of virtual law practice. In a world plagued by access to justice issues, these regulations add to the cost of operating a virtual law practice and can make it economically unfeasible to do so, particularly for solos. I am not advocating the wholesale demolition of ethical rules but I would like to point out areas of regulation that need to be rethought in the modern context, as they are impeding . . . [more]
It is widely recognized by educational institutions that associations provide a very positive influence in the lives of students. Other than making students feel as though they are not alone in what can be a stressful environment, being a member of an association has many advantages, such as making valuable contacts and meeting other people who obviously share the same interests.
The Black Law Student Association of Canada (BLSAC) is an association that is committed to supporting and enhancing the academic, professional and networking opportunities for Black law students. As Omar Ha-Redeye, a fellow Slaw member, once said in a . . . [more]
Last month I wrote about the recent birth of my second son as being a happy reminder to keep things in perspective and to maintain balance in my life. With the winter solstice approaching later this month, this is perhaps the most important time of year to make balance a priority. Darkness is depressing. Going to and from work in the dark makes us feel as though we’re living in a cave. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a clinically recognized phenomenon, particularly for those of us living far from the equator. Added to that are the complexities of the holiday . . . [more]