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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

In Celebration of All the Other Lawyers

While attending the latest fête of yet another elderly, past-his-due-date lawyer, I was drawn into a hateful, envious reverie of what this passing generation benefited from: big game clients hunted down by golfing foursomes, cases settled over scotch, reputations defined by progeny than by proficiency, minorities oppressed, women suppressed, and partnerships by fiat and fealty but not effort and effect. Gazing warily into my sparkling glass, a thought slapped my face awake from reverie to reality: it is not so different now, than it was then.

As my attention fades in and out from the drone of the acceptance speech, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law School Gets This Right. Law Practice Gets It Wrong.

Earlier this month, I was kindly invited by Jason Morris to speak (via Skype) to his “Coding The Law” class at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. We had a great chat on a range of topics, but one in particular stood out for me and I wanted to share it with a wider audience.

We were talking about the transition from law school into the legal profession, and yes, we did spend quite some time talking about all the ways in which law school does a poor job of preparing students for practice. But I pointed out one . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Practice of Law

How to Recover Gracefully From a Bad (Admin/Marketing/Client) Decision

In my experience, lawyers hate to be wrong. And they keep track of when anyone else is. Attending a lawyer meeting, you can almost see the chalk board above each head keeping track. Power is won or lost on those points and for a moment, they become almost more important than legal knowledge, business wisdom, and marketplace reputation. So, lawyers tend to withhold opinions until they know they can defend them. And once an opinion is set, it can be hard to change it because that would be admitting that the previous opinion is no longer right (and therefore, must . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Evidentiary Vulnerabilities of Bad Electronic Records and Information Management

This article is based upon my several decades of experience working with experts in electronic records management systems (ERMSs), servicing institutional clients, and drafting related national standards-see the list of articles at the end of this one. In Canada, the requirements of good e-records management and the legal consequences of its absence are still not recognized as being a distinct area, field, or division of law. It is part of a larger problem concerning the lack of knowledge by which to challenge the ability of all electronic systems and devices to produce reliable evidence. The nature and substantial vulnerability to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

One of the Poorest Countries Can Be the Most Innovative

Not many of my friends knew much about Niger. Most assumed I mispronounced. “You mean Nigeria?”. Those that had heard of it had wondered why I was going to a place full of jihadis, weapon smugglers, and human traffickers. They had not seen the nation’s capital Niamey’s Diori Hamani airport. It is brand new and reflects determination. The first customers were the African Union heads of state at their summit in July.

Now it served me. Liman, the protocol officer, stood behind the customs with a sign bearing my name. “Welcome to Niger!”, he smiled, and talked me through customs. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Change, Hard Truths, and Project Management

This is the fourth and final column of a series on the Ten Laws of (Legal) Project Management. This column covers the last four laws, followed by a recap of all ten.

7. The Only Constant Is Change, So Plan on It

In some ways, this law gets to the heart of project management. As General Eisenhower once said, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.” (Different sources offer slightly different phrasings for this quotation… which I suppose is a type of change, too.)

Another project maxim suggests, “You can have it good, you can have it fast, you . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law Society Is Right About Virtual Commissioning

I want to start this column by reiterating how damaging the Law Society of Ontario web linking agreement is. It’s part of the terms of use of the Law Society’s website and it prohibits links to the entire website (except to http://www.lso.ca) without the Law Society’s prior written consent. Google this legal notice because I am not linking to it. (By the way, did Google get LSO’s written consent before indexing its website?) I am not even going to post a screenshot here because of restrictions that the Law Society purports to assert in its terms of use. Find all . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Perfect Ministry of Justice

I have just come back from the opening week of the United Nations General Assembly, when heads of state and government flanked by ministers flock in Manhattan for meetings, summits, informals, lunches and dinners. At this year’s UNGA week the leaders took stock of the first 5 years of progress regarding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. What we saw most in the media was the stock taking of climate. What also took place was stock taking on SDG16, the justice Goal.

We are not doing well. A staggering 5,1 billion people lack access to meaningful justice, according to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

An Ode to Bedside Manner

We lawyers rarely sit beside a client’s bed. The mere thought sends some to shrink into a little ball. But what irks the oaf should gird the loins. Intimate secrets, more often reserved for the bed than the table, are the lawyer’s jewels: the illicit affair; the child spurned; pain suffered otherwise in silence; wealth sought and lost; crimes in thought and deed – no duration suffices to list the prodigious confidences confessed. Wielding power in vulnerable moments, the lawyer most admired is more feared than loved. And why is this?

The client is a ground best dug for facts. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Legal Regulatory Reform in Britain and the US: Will History Repeat?

A reporter called me the other day with a perfectly simple question about the potentially enormous changes to legal regulation on the way in California, Utah, and Arizona.

Specifically, she noted that England & Wales brought about significant changes to its legal regulatory system eight years ago, yet not much has changed in those jurisdictions. Why do I think that these possible US reforms would yield a different outcome, especially with regard to access to justice and innovation?

As other reporters have learned to their chagrin, I’m incapable of giving a nice concise answer to perfectly simple . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Maximizing Your Non-Billable Client Meetings

Lawyer time is valuable… and so is client time. When a lawyer has decided to meet with a client in a non-billable capacity, they are well-served by taking the time to ensure both parties receive maximum value in the exchange.

Contrary to popular belief, this value isn’t achieved by just showing up. By way of example, I worked with a lawyer who had been asked by their firm to create an annual business plan. The plan was filled with various action items under goals (or just headings, really) like “education” and “client service”. Under the heading of “business development”, they . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Mr. Attorney General, Please Help Lawyers Short of Clients

On March 20, 2918, I received an email message about Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO’s) increases in financial eligibility for legal services.[1] But the majority of the taxpayers who fund Legal Aid Ontario, cannot afford legal services for themselves (except for very routine, simple legal services). Any legal service that takes any significant amount of a lawyer’s time is unaffordable to that majority of the population. And so, the majority of lawyers is short of clients.

Legal Aid’s funding is indeed very poor (see the tables of figures in that email message). In R. v. Moodie, 2016 ONSC 3469, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law