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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

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

Too Much Focus on Goals Can Get You Into Trouble

Juliet is a new partner with a corporate finance and securities practice. Over the past seven years she has honed her legal skills and has developed the trust of her partners and clients. She is a perfectionist at heart and has a killer eye for detail. She will do whatever it takes to get the deal done and still regularly pulls all nighters.

She has tried working with juniors but the delegation hasn’t worked well. The work product she gets back is not up to her standards and it seems like it takes more time to fix the mistakes than . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Redefining the Career Plan, Part 2

In part 1 of this series of articles, I set out my view that the world of career planning for young law school graduates has changed significantly and asserted that a change was thus also needed in how we planned for our careers. The changed advocated for is one from the relatively static career planning process of aptitude identification and planning to a more dynamic approach that borrows from the disciplines of strategic and risk management. Finally, in order to expand on this point I discussed three core principles including that work has changed, that the work participants are . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Before You Buy a Car, Compare Insurance Rates

Have you ever thought about how your choice of vehicle impacts your auto insurance rates? Most people assume that expensive cars cost more to insure than budget friendly choices, but is that really true?

How much you pay for your auto insurance relies on a number of factors. This includes your driving record and where you live, but for most people, the biggest factor is the model and year of the vehicle you drive.

Auto insurers use the Canadian Loss Experience Automobile Rating (CLEAR) system to determine the odds that a type of vehicle will be involved in a claim, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lawyers Helping Lawyers — Top 10 Considerations When Referring Someone to Help

I worked for several years as in-house counsel helping develop title insurance in western Canada. When I joined Assist (Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society), an organization whose purpose is to help lawyers with personal problems, a colleague commented, (tongue-in-cheek) that I would still be providing lawyers something they think they don’t need. As Executive Director of Assist, it has been my experience that lawyers are increasingly aware of the importance of seeking help for personal problems and before problems turn into crisis.

Assist has been focussed on increasing awareness in the hope every lawyer knows that there are free, professional and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Judges Do Not Stop Bank Robberies

The 10th anniversary of the entry into force of treaty that set up the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a good moment to look back and ahead. There are now 15 cases from 7 situations before the court. Three are so-called self-referrals – Uganda, DRC, and the Central African Republic – and two cases came via the Security Council: Darfur and Libya. The Prosecutor, with leave from the judges, used his own powers to examine the situation in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. These are great achievements for an institution that is only 10 years old. There is also criticism. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

“Learning the Ropes”: Sailing Into Legal Project Management

A sailboat is an incredibly complex machine made up of other machines. It’s full of expensive parts whose cost seems to run proportionately with the length of their names – e.g., a “fiddle block with ratchet, cam, and becket.” Even something as apparently simple as the sail itself is a complex feat of engineering, with complex curves sown into the fabric. And the “ropes” these days are made of high-tech materials that can run many dollars per meter.

All of those expensive, complex, and absurdly named parts have to work together properly for a sailboat to even approach maximum performance. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

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