Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Unbundle the Courts

It’s been a long time since I did an analysis of the constitutional give-and-take between the courts and the legislature when it comes to Charter decisions, so I’m not going to opine on Justice Minister David Lametti’s remarkable musings last month that the government might legislate a solution to court backlogs caused by enforcement of the Jordan decision during the pandemic.

As the defence lawyer states in the linked article, the Supreme Court’s ruling already allows for flexibility around “illness or extraordinary circumstances,” and COVID-19 certainly qualifies as both. There’s no need to legislate a solution to Jordan backlogs . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Silence and Other Weapons of the Weathered Lawyer

Experience has taught me silence and like weapons can be effective. Here were five lessons for me, and perhaps for you.

  1. As plaintiff counsel I met a potential new client, a woman who was catastrophically injured. Liability was a slam-dunk, damages were huge, and I was sure to improve my standard of living a thousand-fold when I was done with her file. An hour into the meeting she was hanging on to my every word. All that was left was to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. As I reached into my bag searching for my pen, a younger
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Law Societies’ “Bencher Burden” Causes the Access to Justice Problem

[See the full text of this article on the SSRN. It is related to my three previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; and, May 29, 2020.]

Bigger law firms are now providing an example of the solution to the access to justice problem (the A2J problem) that is the unaffordability of legal services for the majority of society that is middle- and lower-income people. Richard Susskind, (with son Daniel), in, The Future of the Professions (Oxford University Press, 2015) states (at p. 68): [1]

More generally, larger firms are responding

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

Justice for Resilience

There are many reasons why well-functioning justice systems are important. The Corona crisis made me more aware of its importance for resilience. Louise Vet, a widely distinguished ecologist from the Netherlands, said in a recent interview that our economies are aimed at reducing diversity. That makes us vulnerable, she said. Ecosystems can teach us how to do better. Resilient ecosystems are made up of many small connections. Each individual connection may not matter that much, but together they matter a lot. They create a fine web of resilience. A lot of diversity allows you to spread risk. If something goes . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Mismanaging Money, Clients, and Teams: How Not to Manage Projects, Part 4 of 4

This is the fourth article in a series about mismanaging projects. If you stop doing some not-good things, you’ll be left with better approaches to managing projects… or at least will be more likely to get out of your own way. (Believe me, this comes from experience. I’m quite the expert at getting in my own way.)

There are five aspects you have to manage to move projects forward effectively, the last three the focus of this article:

  1. The project itself, discussed in the January column.
  2. Time, which we covered in March and May.
  3. Money
  4. The client.
  5. The
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Coffee in the Times of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. However, new and innovative strategies have emerged to help lawyers reduce stress and improve mental health in these uncertain times of the global crisis. Technology has been a key enabler in supporting people to connect, socialize and engage in dialogue about the impact of the virus in our lives and reminding people that “you are not alone.” A simple gathering for some DIY coffee in a positive virtual environment can stimulate a profound impact on one’s well-being.

One such innovative initiative was launched in May 2020 by the Canadian . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

On Memories Lived and Living

“One cannot, in reality, suffer from memories all the time; one can rest and enjoy oneself in the intervals” – The Eternal Husband, Dostoevsky

Siobhan woke up, soaked in sweat in the darkness of her apartment. City lights snuck in under her curtains, flickering shadows across her dresser. It was another hot summer night, and she had turned her air conditioning up so high it was, as her father would say, cold as an ice box, and by that he meant the huge ice lockers that stored the day’s catch. As a child her brother had locked her in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Society’s Income-Inequality Unrest and Law Society Access to Justice Failure

[See the full text of this article on the SSRN. This one is related to my two previous Slaw posts dated: July 25, 2019, and April 9, 2020]

Law society bencher-based[i] management structure: (1) has caused and perpetuates the very destructive access to justice problem (the A2J problem) of unaffordable lawyers’ services for middle- and lower-income people; which has a cause-and-effect relationship with, (2) increasing the negative consequences of society’s equally destructive income-inequality problem. Law societies are thereby abandoning that majority of society such that those many millions of people will have no choice but to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Dealing With the Death of a Lawyer

I had another article ready to go but in these unusual times, talking about marketing plans felt a little like ignoring the elephant in the room. So today I’ll post what I’ve been dreading but what is inevitable -and potentially very valid these days. It is also an important and necessary skill for anyone assisting with Law Firm Marketing: dealing with the death of a lawyer.

Throughout my career, I’ve had to deal with the death of a Partner, and advise clients on how to deal with the death of lawyers in their firm. It’s not surprising, really. Like taxes, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

The Year of Distancing Physically: Six Tips for Online Learning in Law Schools

Already here in May, it seems inevitable that the new law school year in September will not be carried out entirely in person. Universities ranging from McGill in Canada to Cambridge in the UK have already announced that their Fall 2020 classes will begin online, and while most American universities have delayed making similar announcements, it’s hard to see how campuses can be retrofitted over the summer to accommodate the physical distancing demands that the pandemic has created. Even if some schools insist on starting in person, will that continue through an expected second wave of infections in Autumn?

Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Practice of Law

Mismanaging Team and Client Time: How Not to Manage Projects, Part 3

This is the third article in a series about mismanaging projects, or throwing away the bad stuff to leave only the good – or at least better – stuff.

There are five aspects you have to manage to move projects forward effectively:

  1. The project itself, discussed in the January column.
  2. Time, which we covered in part in March. We’ll get to the rest here.
  3. Money
  4. The client.
  5. The team.

The Matrix of Project Times

The table below flags time-related issues on three different scales for various aspects of a project or team, the first of which is the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Golden Milk: A Golden Remedy

Southeast Asian mothers around the world rave about the spice turmeric, not only as an essential ingredient in traditional cooking, but also for its health benefits. Growing up, my mom’s remedy to solve many ailments was to drink turmeric in milk, traditionally known as Haldi Ka Doodh. To my mom, a teaspoon of turmeric in warm milk could cure most health issues.

Cough or runny nose? Haldi Ka Doodh.

Muscle or joint pain? Haldi Ka Doodh.

Deep cuts? Haldi Ka Doodh.

And today, I can still envision her telling me…

Stressed about COVID-19? Haldi Ka Doodh. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law