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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Sad and Nervous or Depressed and Anxious: Is There a Difference?

I am one of a growing number of Canadians who find winters difficult. I don’t enjoy outdoor activities in the snow, I don’t like being cold, and the lessened daylight leaves me wanting to wrap up in a blanket and wait for Spring to arrive. Throughout January, February and March I grit my teeth, turn on my light therapy lamp, pop my Vitamin D, and remind myself it will all be better when Spring arrives.

Well, it’s Spring now (or at least that’s what the calendar says… mother nature seems to be hitting the snooze button). We are still waiting . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Legal Project Management in Thirty Seconds

Can I teach Legal Project Management in thirty seconds? Of course not.

But I can teach the single most important question a project manager must ask: What does success look like?

In the book that defined this field (titled, for some reason, Legal Project Management), I focused a critical chapter on the need to define “Done.” Having spent much of the past decade teaching lawyers around the world to manage their projects, I’ve come ‘round to a different – and I believe clearer – way to frame that definitional issue: What does success look like?

For a certain subset . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Underwear Gnomes of Law

Depending on your age and preferred cultural touchstones, the title of this column is ether instantly recognizable or a complete mystery. If it’s the latter, the video below, excerpted from a 1998 episode of South Park, should shed some light.

The underwear gnomes’ profit strategy has become a widely cited meme in the intervening years, owing to its effective illustration of the shortcomings of many strategic plans. The premise sounds interesting; the outcome sounds great; but the opaque middle step, whereby the interesting premise is somehow converted into bags of money through mysterious processes, is entirely glossed over.

I’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Measuring Legal Service Value, Part 1

If you work at a law firm, how good is that firm? If you’re a client or potential client, how good are the different legal services providers that you might choose to patronize?

It’s too difficult, at present, to answer these questions in an objective and reliable way. This is most obviously true for individual people with legal needs. They generally confront a mysterious landscape populated with apparently indistinguishable law firms, as well as proliferating alternative sources of legal services.

However, even experienced corporate clients, and lawyers themselves, lack solid information about the respective merits of different legal service providers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics, Practice of Law

Seeking Success in All the Wrong Places

Last year, a friend asked me in all seriousness how I defined success. She confessed that she was feeling unhappy and almost obsessed by her own lack of success.

Her confession took me aback.

She is the most successful person I know. She is an entrepreneur who sold a business for seven figures. She now runs another profitable business doing work she greatly enjoys while also having the time to engage in high impact pro bono investments in the community. She is wealthy enough that she could retire tomorrow with all the comforts she could ever want.

If she wasn’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Innovation Canada, IP, and Dependence Upon the Standards Council of Canada

[Note: this is but a short summary of the full text posted on the SSRN, February 2, 2018, (pdf.)-Ken Chasse.]

Canada’s federal government will be looking to gain political points and praise in the next federal election, for its “Budget 2017” declaration last March, as to creating Innovation Canada. Its purpose, among others, is to promote and support business innovation, including educating organizations in regard to recognizing what is intellectual property (IP), and preserving, governing, and otherwise dealing with it as valuable property, e.g., teaching that databanks and information can be IP, essential . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Blockchain Nerds May One Day Need Legal Skills

Cold sweat. I think this is a fair description of your reaction when you find out that you sent money to a wrong email address. Maybe hot flashes. But it’s bound to be some form of physical stress. And for what? All of the conventional payment platforms are reversible. Your money goes through so many intermediaries and layers of abstraction that it’s not usually a problem to reverse a mistaken payment. At worst, you can sue and claim some form of restitution.

But if you send cryptocurrency to a wrong address, you’re done. No bank to give your money back, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Access to Justice Alarm

I want to raise an SDG 16.3 alarm and appeal for Canada to lead. Let me explain. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) constitute the 2030 development agenda of the world, adopted by the UN’s heads of state and government in September 2015. All efforts on development are coalescing around these goals. Goal 16 is to promote “peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development”, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels”. Which is huge. So it’s broken up into 13 targets. My focus is on access to justice. This is target 16.3, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Falling Short on Legal Ethics

I was speaking with someone the other day about whether and to what extent there were any ethical implications of lawyers’ use of artificial intelligence.

Those implications could theoretically range from minimum application (in what situations is it effectively malpractice not to use AI) to maximum application (where does a lawyer’s use of AI cross the line by substituting algorithmic outcomes for human judgment). It was all very interesting, and I plan to touch on some of these topics when I join a panel on March 2 in Toronto at the Canadian Bar Association-Federation of Law Societies of Canada Ethics . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

China’s Judicial Independence and Modern Art, and LSUC Becomes LSO

China is making slow but steady progress toward what western countries consider to be judicial independence (see authorities listed below). I asked a judge in Beijing (my wife assisting as interpreter) his views of the judiciary’s state of independence. He said that they have considerable independence but some cases involve other authorities.

Paralleling that, but apparently at a faster pace is the liberalization as to what is permitted in modern art. A few years ago we went to the 798 Photo Gallery of modern art in Beijing’s fashionable 798 Art Zone, located in Dashanzi, Chaoyang District of Beijing . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Lawyers Need to Know About Blockchain

As I am writing this, one bitcoin is traded at about USD$17,600. In 2013, bitcoin traded at about USD$100. I thought it was a scam at the time and did not buy any. Since then I’ve changed my mind and started thinking, writing, and building about and around bitcoin and other blockchain technologies. It helped that I am both a computer programmer and a lawyer and that I had economics training. So if you are a lawyer and you missed the bitcoin rush but interested in catching up in your knowledge, read on.

Bitcoin is one way of using a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Justice Innovation Lessons of 2017

What did 2017 bring? Lots of hard work, but was the dial on justice innovation moved?

Let me briefly beat my drum again why I we must ask this question every year; ministers of justice, chief justices, MPs, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, justice NGOs, tax payers, voters, and revolutionaries.

The past few months, the organisation I run, HiiL, put all the data that it has collected on justice needs and experiences the past four years together. Almost 70.000 voices. Twelve countries. Africa, the Arab world, and Europe. A new Trend Report based on this data will come out in the first . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law