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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

The Winter of Our Discontent?

Canada is a high latititude country. Even those who live in Ontario’s “Southwest” are awfully far north compared to our American friends who live south of the Mason-Dixon line. Being a Nordic country has many charms but it also means that for many weeks of the year on either side of the winter solstice (December 21) it’s cold and dark everywhere in Canada. In the morning, kids go to school and parents go to work in the dark. In the late afternoon or early evening when everyone returns home it’s dark again. During this period, from November until January, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Take the Ten Minute Challenge

Sherry’s desk is covered with stacks of paper. Her in-tray is overflowing. She has a pile of filing that she can’t seem to get around to giving to her assistant. John next door is fighting fires on his files again. He is delivering a CLE next week and hasn’t even prepared the outline yet. He’s already told his wife that he is going to be in the office again all weekend working on the darned presentation.

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me, I have been in both Sherry and John’s shoes, but these days I keep . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Women Lawyers: Embracing Power

When we examine the glass ceiling that keeps so many women lawyers out of partnership and managing partner roles, we usually look at all the external factors that can impede a woman’s career – lack of mentoring, challenges with business development, family responsibilities, unconscious bias – to name just a few.

Chief amongst these external factors is how society defines power in very male terms. A powerful person is often seen as demanding, aggressive, decisive, self-confident, solitary and not collaborative. If a women exhibits many of these characteristics she risks being judged unfavourably and not someone whom many people, male . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Insurance Policies From the Strange Files

If you have an insurable risk, there’s a good chance someone is willing to sell you a policy for it. We’ve all heard stories of celebrities insuring their body parts, but how about someone buying insurance protection just in case they are molested by a ghost or probed by aliens? Here are a few of the strangest insurance policies ever sold. You be the judge if people need them.

Alien Abduction Insurance

Now you can sleep at night knowing that you and your family will be protected against the financially devastating effects of an alien abduction for as little as . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Six Factors That Can Impede Effective Firm Leader-COO Relationships

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to participate in presenting at a Webinar entitled The Firm Leader-COO Team: A Sensitive Balancing Act in Shared Responsibility. One of the questions that was asked by the registrants was this one:

What are the danger signs and which factors greatly impede the development of an effective Firm Leader-COO working relationship?

Here was my response.

One needs to keep in mind that the Firm Leader-COO team, in a sense, is two people who have been forced to work together – rather than having chosen the arrangement voluntarily. That is not intended to be . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Value of Scenario Planning

With the clean up from Hurricane Sandy now underway in the eastern United States, it is a good time to once again reflect on the discipline of risk management. Though I have not heard any first hand accounts as of yet, those firms in Sandy’s path that had engaged in some form of risk management planning were likely much better prepared for the effects of the storm and likely reestablished their business operations in a much shorter timeframe than those caught unprepared. While a full risk management program is multi faceted and includes a wide range of planning activities, there . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Wisdom From Consultants

Over the past seven months, I’ve attended several presentations made by consultants to small law firms. Three things that were spoken have stayed with me.

The first was at the launch of the Small Practice Portal of the Law Society of New South Wales, where a speaker addressed a sea of faces from small law firms and said that the number of new solo practices being launched every year in New South Wales was unsustainable. It was one of those “look to your right, look to your left, soon one of you won’t be here” moments.

The second was a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Celebrate Numeracy Day

November 10, 2012 is approaching. Tomorrow, in fact.

So? (No, it’s not my birthday.)

In Canada, tomorrow’s date is written 10/11/12.

That’s too good a coincidence to ignore.

Therefore, with no authority to do so whatsoever, I hereby proclaim November 10, 2012 Numeracy Day in Canada.

Behold the power of numbers.

Behold the power of bad statistics to lead us astray. Behold the awesome grip upon us created by throwing around numbers, even when those numbers are cut from whole cloth and do not add up.

Behold the power of metrics. He or she who can wave metrics around truly . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law


A couple of weeks ago, The Economist carried a leading article and a special report on inequality. In The Economist terms: “inequality has reached a stage where it can be inefficient and bad for growth”. The recently published 2012 Global Risks Insight Report of the World Economic Forum features “severe income disparity” amongst the most likely global risks (at p. 11). It is also described as a “critical connector”, linking to other key risks like failing global governance, chronic fiscal imbalances, critical systems failure, and unsustainable population growth (p. 14). A 2011 OECD Report entitled Why Inequality Keeps Rising also . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Read This Now

“Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.” – Author Unknown.

If your legal practice or life are anything like mine, you have too many things you need to do and too little time to get them done. I often wake in the morning and think of what I need to get done at work that day. Frequently, at the end of the day I realize that I only accomplished a portion of what . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Delicate Art of Facilitation

I had an interesting experience that reinforced something that I knew but forgot to apply and consequently allowed a situation to drift sideways.

Here’s the scenario. You have an elected Board of a dozen partners who are faced with making an important decision. They have known for some months that this matter was on the table and have had some informal discussions amongst themselves and even amongst other partners in the firm. Each came to the table declaring to the others that they were unbiased and remained open to making their decision in the best interests of the firm.

The . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Learning to Be an Entrepreneur: One Step at a Time.

If you ask many lawyers why they went to law school, the answer is often “Because I got in.” In other words, armed with a shiny bachelor’s degree in English Lit, Physics or Anthropology, they need another professional designation to make them employable. I was one of those grads many decades ago with a passion for medieval history. I knew, that sadly, I was likely the only person interested in the life of Charles The Bold.

Bachelor degrees, especially in the Arts, equip us well to be successful law students. My history degree taught me excellent research and writing skills . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law