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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Enough With “The Law Society of Upper Canada”

Many Ontario lawyers think the “The Law Society of Upper Canada” is still a great name for their governing body. They oppose the suggestion — no, the mere possibility — that the LSUC’s Strategic Communications Steering Group might recommend a name change. Read this article in Law Times for the details, especially the comments at the end in support of the current name — they’re a real treat.

I cannot get my head around lawyers’ continuing support for the term “Upper Canada.” The current year, last I checked, is 2017. There hasn’t been an “Upper Canada” on any reliable map . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Automation, Support Services, and Flat-Fee Billing

The degree of predictability and repetition in legal services determines both their ease of automating and flat-fee billing, as distinguished from hourly billing. See this article by, Erika Winston,[i]Is Your Practice Area a Good Match for Flat-Fee Billing?” (in, Attorney at Work, June 16, 2016).

The benefits of flat-fee billing arrangements are numerous, from predictability to efficiency to increased client satisfaction. But not all legal matters are appropriate for flat fees.

So, how do you know which practice areas are right for a flat-fee structure? The short answer comes down to two words: predictability

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

This Little Measure

Font large upon a central screen, my new hybrid car informs me about my fuel efficiency.

Big numbers. Right in front of me. Hovering around fifty miles a (US) gallon.

Inspiring me to keep it there. To accelerate more slowly. Gentle my Kia Niro up our precipitous hills. Ease off the gas on the flats, letting battery power take over. Even drive – slightly – slower on Seattle’s crumbling, potholed streets.

It is a basic tenet of any measurement science, including project management, that you get what you measure. My quantified efficiency glowing large between the spokes of the steering . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How Do You Marry This?

During a recent drive through crazy Nairobi traffic I learned a few important things about family justice journeys in Kenya. It started with me looking out my window and seeing two women walking uphill, carrying heavy loads on their backs.

“Kenyan women are strong!”, I remarked.

“Yes, that’s true.”, my driver John replied, “They work to make money and when they come home they do all the work in the house and take care of the children.”

“That’s different with us… “ I replied.

“When I come home after work, the children have been washed, I sit down and my . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Stress Well, Rest Well

Lives filled with joy, meaning, and challenge come with stress. The good news? Research has shown that the idea that ‘all stress is bad’ turns out to be wrong. In fact, our bodies are equipped with an adaptive stress response that helps us master the challenges we face as we pursue lives of purpose.

Stressing well is actually essential for supporting our health and vitality. To learn more about this, I had a conversation with the founders of Greystones Health in Toronto, Dr. Joseph Steyr N.D and nutritionist Michelle Heighington. Together they offer an on-line course for lawyers called “Stress . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Is Your Law Firm Fulfilling Its Purpose?

I’m going to take a crack at a list of things that your law practice probably tracks and measures:

  • The number of hours each lawyer works
  • The number of hours each lawyer bills
  • The amount of money the firm receives for the work it bills
  • The percentage of that money that should be allocated to the originating partner
  • The amount of money the firm spends to provide its services
  • The amount of overall profit the firm generates in a given period of time
  • The amount of that profit distributed to each equity partner
  • How that amount compares to profits distributed
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

No Longer Is It Possible to Be Both a Good Lawyer and a Good Bencher

The longstanding massive damage and misery being caused by the unaffordable legal services problem (the “accesses to justice” (A2J) problem) compels this conclusion: the problems of law societies are now such that they need an agency that performs a civil service function—one to serve all of Canada’s law societies. The A2J problem has victimized the majority of society for years. It shows that: (1) law societies are the “lynch pin” of the justice system—when they fail, it fails; and that, (2) law societies’ major problems: (a) will be national; (b) require national solutions; and, (c) will be problems for which . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law


Not only do we need to redesign justice systems, we also need to re-design our justice system design systems. Why? Many users of most justice systems are not getting what they could. Moreover, technology and science are changing societies at such speeds that our current factories for making the rules and mechanisms that get justice to citizens can’t keep up. Doing this is tough. It gets in the way of a lot of vested interests, engrained beliefs, lauded legal concepts, and embedded cultures.

If we look at the innovation capacity now, the main innovations we see are what I call . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

No. Small Word. Big Impact. Focusing on What’s Most Important

No. Two letters. One complete sentence.

No. The word we loved to say as kids and have so much trouble expressing as adults.

No. The important boundary we set to protect our values, priorities, and deepest needs.

The solution to many challenges we face in our personal and professional lives is rooted in something called the Positive No.

The term Positive No originates with international mediator and negotiator, William Ury. One of the most important and regular book recommendations I make is for Ury’s Power of a Positive No. I have written about the Power of a Positive . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

“Counsel, I Demand Justice!” – “Most Definitely! How Much ‘Justice’ Can You Afford?”

Might that majority of society who cannot afford a lawyer’s advice (“the problem”) soon use the social media to demand the abolition of law societies? Indeed; “off with their heads!” Quite fitting for a law society, created during the last years of the French Revolution, which had so taxed the heads of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette but a few years before. Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) was created on July 17, 1797, in Wilson’s Hotel, at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, by 10 of the 15 lawyers in the then British colony of Upper Canada. (See: Christopher Moore, The . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Requiem for a Weekly Newspaper

Fittingly, I first read it in a tweet, which linked out to a brief article online. “Your favourite legal news, delivered daily” was the headline — burying the lede with a corporate cheerfulness that seemed reluctant to actually acknowledge what was happening. Journalists are taught to tell the story in the first paragraph; here, though, you have to scroll down to the last paragraph to learn what was going on:

The Lawyers Weekly will continue to publish each week until March 31, 2017. After that date, the weekly publication will be replaced by daily access to the most relevant legal

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Publishing, Practice of Law

Learning From Failure at the Oscars

By now, you’ve probably heard about the stunning failure at the Oscars ceremony, even if in Canada the Oscars play second fiddle to the Canadian Screen Awards.

To recap, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the award for Best Picture to La La Land. The producers of that film took the stage, celebrated, and made the obligatory endless thank-you speech… until they were interrupted and told that the award actually belonged to Moonlight.


Or as Plattville, Wisconsin library so brilliantly put it:

We can learn a lot about project failure from studying the video of the award . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law