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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

3 Introductory Steps for Small Firm Succession

The issue of succession for small firms and solo practitioners has received a significant amount of attention of late in Canada. The attention stems from a demographic reality that sees the majority of lawyers in many provinces in the country in excess of 50 years old and a general recognition that a substantial amount of these lawyers have not adequately planned for succession. Concerns regarding succession are especially poignant for small firms and solo practitioners who often suffer from a lack of resources to address succession issues but who are the most at risk for negative consequences due to an . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Does a Practice Group Leader Actually Do?

Now this could be seen as a pretty strange question for one to ask . . . if it weren’t for the fact that so few law firms seem to have effectively answered this question.

Twice a year I have the privilege of conducting a one-day master class for new practice group leaders, usually held at the University of Chicago and hosted by the Ark Group. Over the years I have now conducted about a dozen of these sessions and in all cases the participants comprise firms of over 100 attorneys in size including the likes of Jones Day, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Reclaiming Time to Think

I am a big believer in lawn chair thinking. The expansive, blue sky imagining that can take place on summer holiday sitting by the lake, by the pool, or simply somewhere nice. For a moment a space is opened up in life and there is time to contemplate.

I also greatly appreciate the thinking that takes place under the conscious surface of the mind when we are otherwise occupied with other tasks and which announces itself with a “eureka” splash and at other times with a gentle slide into awareness “ahh”.

Margaret Wheatley, a leading writer and thinker about . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Women Lawyers: At the Edge of Change

The on-going debate on whether women lawyers can hold demanding jobs, especially at senior levels while also raising children, has exploded with this month’s article in The Atlantic magazine, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”. 

This well-written, lengthy article by a lawyer and professor at Princeton who gave up her dream job working with Hilary Clinton at the State Department in Washington, DC to return to Boston to be more present with her teenage sons, has sparked debates from the New York Times to the Globe and Mail. The Atlantic reports the article has broken readership records . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Premium Ratings and Policy Exclusions

Have you applied for insurance and been told there will be a contractual exclusion or increased premium?

It’s more common than you might think.

When a broker provides you with a life, disability or health insurance proposal, the price and contractual benefits assume that you are eligible as quoted.

Insurers will not make you an offer of insurance unless the odds of making a profit are in their favour and most people will receive an insurance offer exactly as quoted. However, there are times when an insurance applicant represents a financial risk that exceeds the insurer’s assumptions due to a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

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