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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

What Is the Future of Courts?

Where are courts heading? Three things are converging that are likely to cause seismic shifts in the way they function. It’s a pity that those shape and run courts don’t seem to be aware.

First, there is a financial crisis; acute and big. Everywhere – the Eurozone, the US, Canada, Australia – government budgets are being cut and court budgets are not being left out. “If you think 2013 was bad, you don’t want to see 2014” a senior official of the Dutch Ministry of Justice recently told me. The message from the ministries of finance: do more with less. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

“This Is Not a Dark Ride”

Is there a reason some lawyers are scared at the idea of Legal Project Management?

Actually, I’ve heard numerous reasons since I wrote the book introducing the subject:

  • It will take away our autonomy.
  • It will introduce too much bureaucracy.
  • Legal work doesn’t follow a formula.
  • I don’t understand it.

To the lawyer who once offered that last explanation, I thank you for your honesty. What we don’t understand can be scary, intimidating even. But in Legal Project Management everything is exposed, shared, open, and available.

As for the other reasons… I’ll get to them in a minute.

Dark Rides . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Secret Is Out – Your Own Personal Business Coach in a Book!

There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to business development for lawyers. The challenge for any writer tackling the subject today is how to add value in a field already saturated with publications. Peter H. Freeman, the author of the ARC Group’s latest publication, Secrets of the Masters – The Business Development Guide for Lawyers, has successfully produced a fresh and practical guide that will make a worthy addition to every law firm’s library.

As a coach of lawyers I immediately appreciated Freeman’s approach to the subject matter. Here is my top ten list of what . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The REAL Initiative in BC – Five Years Later

In March of 2009, the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (CBABC), with funding from the Law Foundation of BC, launched the Rural Education and Access to Lawyers Initiative (REAL). This initiative was the first of its kind in Canada to recognize the importance of ensuring continued access to legal services in small communities and rural areas and to highlight the challenges that these communities were and continue to face. The Initiative was established as a coordinated set of programs to address the current and projected shortage of lawyers in these communities which was brought about by the aging of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Leadership Training for Women Lawyers: Transforming Women and the Places Where They Work

Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book “Lean In” urges women to develop greater confidence by moving past internal barriers and leveraging their strengths to move into positions of greater responsibility. This is easier said than done. How do you increase your self-confidence and capitalize on your strengths to do this? How do you overcome inner barriers or external biases if you are not even aware what they are? The answer is through leadership training.

Leadership training is one of the most under-valued and misunderstood opportunities for lawyers – especially women lawyers – to advance their careers. While lawyers regularly take courses in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Water Damage and Your Home Insurance

The recent floods in Calgary and Toronto have brought considerable attention to the water damage coverage and exclusions of most home insurance policies. Water damage represents approximately 40% of all eligible home insurance claims, and costs the Canadian insurance industry just under $2 billion annually. While most home insurance covers water damage, there are two significant situations excluded in a standard policy: flood and seepage. 

A flood, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, is defined as water flowing overland and entering your home through windows, doors and cracks. This is surface water on what would otherwise be dry . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Competitive Plagiarism

Ask most firm leaders to identify those business CEOs that they most admire and they would probably list a small group of highly entrepreneurial names that would include Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or Warren Buffet. Ask why they admired these particular individuals and you would probably hear about the individual’s self-confidence, decisive boldness, the originality of their strategic direction, and contrarian beliefs. However, if you now inquire into what strategies these leaders were themselves advocating in their own firms, the answers you would receive would be depressingly unlike those of the leaders they admire.

To make this point . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Great Circle Route

If you’ve flown to Europe or Asia, you know that the flight path, viewed on a “normal” map, looks far longer than it should. The plane flies what appears to be thousands unnecessary kilometers on a route that curves up near the North Pole, rather than flying in a straight line.

Appearances are deceiving, as you probably have realized. The earth is not flat, and that so-called normal map, usually a Mercator projection, greatly distorts distances at higher latitudes. Trace a route from Toronto to Tokyo on such a map, and it appears to pass about 700 km south of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Courtroom Two and Courtroom One

(Based on a two-day visit to Nairobi in June 2013)

Malimani Courts, Nairobi. Fate leads us past a sign that says “Courtroom 2”. We decide to walk in and bow to the judge and the national coat of arms on the wall behind her. She does not show that she notices us. All we see is her head behind a high desk that cuts across the whole breadth of the courtroom. A Justice Being separated from the ordinary world. The registrar and the prosecutor are seated at a table in the middle of (and under) the judge’s wall. To the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Fear of Discovery

This past February I came out of the closet! A closet that many many people stay in and are afraid to step out of.

At the Mid-Winter Meeting of the CBA I was to report to Council. Instead I told them a story.

It was a story about a man becoming enraged when cut off while driving on a freeway who then chased after the person that cut them off and was stopped for excessive speeding. When the police officer came to the window of the vehicle the man was shaking. He was going fast enough that his vehicle could . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Low Interest Rates Are Bad for Insurers and That Might Be Bad for You!

Low interest rates are great if you are borrowing money, but not so great for an insurance company trying to make a profit. That might also be bad for you because it leads to higher rates. To understand why lower interest rates are bad for insurers, you need to know how these companies make a profit.

If you own a typical permanent life insurance policy (lifetime coverage) and did a straight present value calculation of the premiums you can expect to pay during your lifetime, the total will be less than the death benefit. If the insurer is not collecting . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Perfectionist or High Performer? Which Are You?

Mark the commercial litigator was constantly writing down his bills because of his “leave no stone unturned” approach to research and preparation of his files.

Krista was always late with her time entry. She would hold off releasing it until the very last minute for fear of missing some small detail.

Trent has a desk piled high with filing because he is always waiting for the right time to tackle it all in one go.

What do Mark, Krista, and Trent have in common? They are all perfectionists.

I had a good discussion today about perfectionism with Derek LaCroix, QC, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law