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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Think Again – Improved Productivity Starts Here

Have you ever noticed how your thoughts can really trip you up?

There are all kinds of tricky thoughts that can get us into trouble. Here are five versions of one simple I’ll get around to it later thinking trap that has major implications for our productivity:

I need a dedicated block of time for this task.

There’s not enough time for it now.

I will find time for it when I am not so busy.

That’s too big a project to start right now, and it’s not due right away anyway.

I just don’t have the capacity to deal . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A New Way to Oppose the Admissibility of Records

Soon, the very procedures used to produce a National Standard of Canada (an NSC) upon which the electronic records provisions of the Evidence Acts depend, will create another way of opposing the admissibility of records. That will undermine litigation based upon records, particularly criminal prosecutions. So you’d think the federal Department of Justice would be rushing to protect the Crown’s case. Well read on, then think again.

In regard to best evidence rule issues, admissibility of electronic records requires proof of the “systems integrity” of the electronic records management systems (ERMSs) in which the records are recorded or stored; see . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Talk With the Prime Minister

One of my highlights at Davos this year was a closed meeting with the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. We were with a small group of international civil society organisations from the field of human rights, rule of law and peace. The meeting was held under the Chatham House rule so I will not disclose what others or the PM said. Nothing in that rule however prevents me from telling you what I contributed.

Each time I am at Davos I marvel about how many great ideas for solving global and national challenges I come across. Poverty, education, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

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