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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

6 Myths (Or Excuses) Why People Don’t Buy Enough Life Insurance

Myth #1: I don’t need life insurance because I’m single and have no dependents.

Fact: Everyone leaves behind expenses when they die. In addition to funeral costs, there may be medical bills and personal debts that have to be paid. While your estate could be liquidated to cover some of these costs, it takes time and may not be enough. Life insurance relieves the financial burden of your death on your family or executor by creating instant tax-free cash. 

Myth #2: I have enough life insurance through my employee benefits.

Fact: Most employee life insurance benefits are designed to provide . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Toughest Challenge for Lawyers: Learning to Be an Entrepreneur

Most lawyers would agree that there are three qualities needed to run a successful practice: excellent legal skills, great client service and the ability to find and retain clients. In other words: ability, hard work and an entrepreneurial mind-set. It is the latter that can be the most challenging for younger lawyers as they receive little or no training in business development.

Most law schools and bar admission programs provide no business training as this is seen as outside the scope of educating students about the law. Nor is it typically part of the articling experience at law firms. Once . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Consider a Strategic Planning Premortem

You are at the stage of having worked with the members of your Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) for a number of months to finally come to the point where you have a draft strategic plan that has been approved by the partners and now needs some attention directed toward how certain components will actually be implemented. There are a number of actions contemplated that your fellow Committee members feel are critical and definitely need to be properly executed in order to make a significant difference. As an example, one such action item states:

Develop and codify in writing, a set

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

‘In-House Counsel, They Have It So Easy’

Almost a year ago, I closed my private practice and accepted a position as in-house counsel. It was an intriguing challenge: I had acted as a kind of “outsourced” in-house counsel to a number of companies, and I now had the opportunity to do that work full time. I was swapping all of my clients for one, and giving up being my own boss in exchange for having one (accompanied by a regular paycheque and a number of extra benefits).

I don’t regret the decision at all. It’s been a fascinating challenge, and I’m relishing all of the new opportunities. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Vacations Are Productive

Over the years many in our profession have come to assume that part of the compromise we must make in order to have a robust practice includes sacrificing holidays, leisure time, and family time.

The longer I practice the more I question this way of thinking. I am far more productive when I am rested and rejuvenated. You likely would be also.

On a regular basis one should keep in mind that you need to maintain your soul and mind as well as your body. So, in addition to exercising, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to a healthy diet . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law Day Highlights Access to Justice

Springtime is almost here and for those interested in spreading the word about access to justice this means planning for Law Day 2011 on April 14th.

Law Day is an annual event organized by the Canadian Bar Association that is made possible through the volunteer efforts of hundreds of individuals across the country who donate their time to this worthwhile event. Law Day takes various forms in different provinces and locations across the country however each event shares the common goal of engaging the public and educating them about the law and legal system.

Events this year are slated for . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Internship Revised

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]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Job Description: Legal Project Manager

Wanted: Legal project manager.

Reports to: Every lawyer in the place, and some of the paralegals as well

Required Skills: 

  • 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
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Women and Leadership: How and Why You Want to Become a Partner

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]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Exploding Some Law School Myths

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]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Recipe for Law Firm Innovation in 2011

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]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Single Step

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]

Posted in: Practice of Law