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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

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

Hurdles to Executing Your Strategic Plan

Whenever I think about the effort that is required to go into implementing your firm’s strategic plan, I’m reminded of a particular business book title that grabbed my attention when I first saw it . . . Hope Is Not A Strategy! To effectively transform your best intentions into best practices, there are several common hurdles that you need to overcome. Thinking through the following will help you make the leap.

1. Move seamlessly from strategizing to implementing.

This is, from my experience, the most significant hurdle. Planning is not doing. Unfortunately, some partners believe that implementing the strategy and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Rise Up: Taming Your Inner Critic

Sandra works three times as long as she needs to on her files, checking and re-checking and going through countless drafts. She is driven by her fear of making an error. Sandra works long hours in the office but rarely meets her billable target because she consistently edits down her time.

Mary is unhappy. While she enjoys commercial litigation files she is stressed all the time. The partners provide her with positive feedback as do her clients but every time she makes any kind of error she takes it as a sign of failure.

Do any of these scenarios sound . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Insurance Purchases Most People Should Avoid

It’s my opinion that too many people buy insurance policies that should be avoided. I’m not talking about auto, home, health, life and long-term disability insurance policies. Ignore these at your peril. I’m talking about insurance policies that offer questionable value for most people because they are over-priced or offer unnecessary protection.

Here are five examples of insurance policies that I believe most people should avoid.

Mortgage Life Insurance

Banks love to offer life insurance policies that pay off the mortgage if you kick the bucket. But before you sign up, ask yourself, “Who do I want my money to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

B.C. Orienteering – Thoughts on Orientation Programs for New Lawyers

I must start this post with a confession that the title above is borrowed from a song by Vancouver artists “Said the Whale”. It is not only a great song but also a great topic statement for a subject that has been consuming my attention of late; that of orientation programs for new lawyers in British Columbia. Although the context in which this topic arises for me is province-specific, I know from conversations with young lawyers and law students from across Canada that law firm orientation programs, or rather oftentimes the lack thereof, should be a topic of significant interest . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The State of Play in Legal Innovation

Several weeks ago I spoke at the Sinch Online Legal Services Conference in Sydney. My topic was the state of play in legal innovation and I covered what I thought were the most significant events of the past year (and of the near future). This column addresses some of those events. Special thanks goes to Jordan Furlong and Stephanie Kimbro for their input and, as always, to Simon Lewis for organizing the conference.

Disruptive Business Models

In November, 2010, Thomson Reuters acquired legal process outsourcing company Pangea3 and at the same time put bar examination preparation course provider BAR-BRI up . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa

With the globalization of world markets, competition is consequently rampant. The emergence of the new global village means that nations around the world are looking for ways to be more competitive and more open to foreign investments. It creates a denationalisation of economic conflicts. Alternative dispute resolution and supranational organizations became the two legal solutions to the new economic needs. Nations began coupling the two and many trade treaties have been signed. The most well-known system is the European Union, which promotes a unified continent. As in Europa, several African countries, most of them being former French colonies, joined forces . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Trainwreck

“Trainwreck!”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are four bars – about eight seconds – into a song during a concert when The Boss yells out, “Trainwreck!”

It’s a song they haven’t played often, perhaps never even played at all. (They do that at times.) They’re close, but something’s off. It’s obvious to Springsteen and probably to the other band members as well – and he wants to fix it before it becomes obvious to the audience.

So he yells out “Trainwreck!” You can hear the smile in his voice; if he weren’t playing in front of 20,000 people, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Importance of Being Nice

After speaking at the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in Orlando earlier this month, but before flying home, I managed to catch the event’s keynote presentation. It was delivered by Jeff Williford, a facilitator with the Disney Institute, which manages the Disney Corporation’s professional development and corporate culture. He described Disney’s disciplined approach to creating a business culture and applying it throughout the company’s 60,000-strong workforce. Law firms could stand to adopt a few of Disney’s philosophies in this regard (though maybe not the company’s custom of referring to its employees as “cast members”).

One of Jeff’s observations stood out . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Women Lawyers as Rainmakers

The only job security any lawyer has whether as a partner or as a sole practitioner is the ability to generate clients. Leadership and power in a law firm of any size attaches to the lawyer who brings in the most business and keeps herself and other more junior lawyers supplied with work. Yet typically, the major rainmakers in law firms are primarily men. 

The National Association of Women Lawyers in the US in their 2009 annual National Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms (www. nawl.org) found that half of the larger law firms in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Work-Life Balance and Volunteering

Research suggests that to be Canadian is to be a volunteer. A 2003 national survey found that 19 million Canadians do volunteer work every year. This is estimated to be 2 billion hours of volunteer time per year. That’s equivalent to 1 million full time jobs. The same survey found that only 7% of volunteer time consists of sitting on board, while the other 93% finds people helping to deliver programs and services or fundraising. Another national survey found that Canadian volunteers contributed, on average, an astonishing 166 hours each in 2007.

If Canadians are serial volunteers then Canada’s lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law