Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

The Law and Business

A recent article on Above the Law came into inbox titled, “Law Schools Are Not Exposing Students To Real World Business.” Hooray, I thought, recognition, even if from an imperfect source with more than one axe to grind, that the law is both a profession and a business.

I was only slightly disappointed to discover that the last word had been cut off. Business Development. Rainmaking, in other words. (Click here for the actual article.)

Biz Dev is important – pay the bills and all that – though I’m not convinced it needs to be taught in law school. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Shiny, Happy People

Early in January my spouse and I went on a winter vacation to the Caribbean. The charming island nation of Barbados was our destination for two weeks followed by a meeting in Quebec and a family visit in Ontario. Almost three weeks in total. Travelling from our home in Yukon made for a long journey that saw us pass through seven airports in six different cities: Whitehorse, Vancouver, Toronto, Quebec City, Windsor and Bridgetown (Barbados). The highlight of our trip was certainly the place where it was light by 6 am with shorts and t-shirt weather right off the bat  . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Happily Stressed Out in 2016

2016 has the potential to be an absolute game changer year for all of us in one important area our lives – stress.

Show me a person in the legal industry who does not experience stress and I will show you a retired person. (Although in all likelihood they are probably still stressed!)

I used to think that reducing stress was a vitally important goal. Now I know there is something else we need to do with it – embrace it.

Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk and the research detailed in her book The Upside Of Stress: Why Stress Is . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The SCC and Lawyers Need Better Researchers Than “Clerking” and Law Students

“Clerking” is courts using law students to perform legal research duties. Obsolete, because: (1) it uses the least experienced of legally-trained people as the basis of the most important legal service—legal advice and opinions—and, (2) because it is too cost-inefficient. A webpage of the Supreme Court of Canada states, inter alia: “Law Clerk Program: “Qualifications – Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor from a recognized Canadian university or its equivalent.” But that is not adequate for what’s coming.

An equally important reason for creating a much more sophisticated and competent legal research facility for the legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Sometimes Laws Are Too Important to Be Left to Lawyers — Lawyers Without Technical Support

This article explains how to prevent the very damaging ignorance and avoidance of the technology that underlies widely used important laws. For example, the probability of wrongful decisions, in both civil and criminal cases, has been raised to what should be considered to be an unacceptably high level by the very false and unanalyzed (blind) assumption that electronic records technology is just a speeded-up and more convenient version of paper records technology. In fact the wordings of the electronic records provisions of the Evidence Acts declare the law to be that they are very different technologies.

As examples of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Looking Through the Rear View Mirror

We are reaching end of the year. My column is about the practice of law, so why don’t I take you through quick tour of where the end of 2015 brought me?

Much movement on measuring. Once, not all that long ago, the very idea of asking users of the justice system how they experienced its performance was considered daft. I still have workshops every now and then in which judges and ministry officials hint that asking the customers and making their views public could infringe judicial independence or the democratic process. Measuring justice has not been mainstreamed on . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Grit and Growth for Embracing a Life of Learning and Challenge

What if there was one personality attribute that made all the difference to your success as a lawyer? And it was something that you could develop in yourself?

That attribute is Grit. Grit is a by-product of a Growth mindset. And a Growth mindset is something you can actively develop in yourself.

Last month I moderated a Grit and Growth Panel with three partners and one associate from large law firms in Vancouver at the Canadian Bar Association’s Leadership Conference for Women Professionals held the weekend of November 19 and 20 in Vancouver.

Grit and Growth… truth be told, when . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A2J: “Let Them Eat Cake,” So, Let Them Use Alternative Legal Services

The cynical phrase, “Let Them Eat Cake,” is more appropriately attributed to Marie-Thérèse, the wife of Louis XIV, 100 years before Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI of France, about whom such royal indifference to starving peasants pleading, “bread, bread,” is alleged most frequently. If they were begging for bread, they certainly didn’t have cake. So to prevent a law society from appearing to be equally indifferent to the suffering of people who cannot afford lawyers, how should law society benchers explain their intense promotion of alternative legal services, and the resulting cynical phrase: “let them . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Make Legal Careers Great Again

In case you hadn’t heard, Donald J. Trump wants to make America great again. How? Well, according the man himself, by doing smart things, having a great plan and getting the best and most capable people to do smart things, all while working with, around or straight through those who would stand in the way. It will be fantastic. It will be amazing. Very classy and really, really great.

I’m going to offer some thoughts on legal careers. Taking a page from Trump’s playbook, what I won’t offer are links, references or any verifiable support or justification for what I . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Holiday Season, Reinvented

As I write this, the holiday season is almost upon us and I’m just returning from a lunchtime trip to the local shops. It’s not necessary to be terribly observant to see that customers and store clerks are beginning to lose their patience, drivers are behaving more aggressively (especially in parking lots!), and a general feeling of anxiety is descending upon the populace.

Sometimes I think the expression “holiday season” is a misnomer. For many of us it’s a time when we’re pulled in multiple directions simultaneously. Social obligations, family obligations and end-of-year deadlines coupled with long days, late nights, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Innovating Tribunals & Being Open

Two recent situations have led to calls for international accountability mechanisms. The responses to these calls differ widely. Why is this interesting? They show the potential of a more open justice innovation approach. And the costs of not doing so.

The first situation is the tragic downing of flight Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine on 17 July 2014, which led to 298 deaths. Politicians from the counties that suffered most losses – The Netherlands, Australia, and Malaysia – where quick to capture the public sentiment and announced: those responsible will be held to account. This was given international force . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

We Learn More From Our Failures

Do you celebrate your successes? (Or are you too busy?)

Celebrating success – and doing simple things such as saying “thank you” to the team – is one of the best ways to strengthen teamwork, and to build your reputation as someone good to work with.

Okay. What about failures? Do you celebrate them as well?

You should – albeit not in quite the same way.

The thank-you/end-of-project party remains worthwhile, maybe even more important than after a successful project. The people on a project with a less-than-desirable outcome – e.g., a lost case, or a judgment against your client . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law