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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

What Do You Do for Fun?

A few years ago I decided to test drive a question when I found myself in a social situation with people I didn’t know. Instead of asking “what do you do?” I asked “what do you do for fun?” And I did this for a time at cocktail parties, meetings, wedding showers – wherever there were new faces and friends to meet.

Some people were startled, and had to really think before they could answer. Fun? Do I actually have any fun in my life after I get through working, looking after the kids, getting in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Admissibility of Records Dependent Upon a Poorly Drafted National Standard

This article is about the poorly drafted proposed 2nd edition of a National Standard of Canada, which the Evidence Acts make necessary for discovery and admissibility proceedings concerning the use of electronic records as evidence. The admissibility of an electronic record requires proof of its records management “system integrity”; e.g.: Canada Evidence Act (CEA) s. 31.2(1)(a); and, Ontario Evidence Act (OEA) s. 34.1(5),(5.1). As shown by the case law, that is ignored, which is a failure to acknowledge the fundamental nature of an electronic record. Like a drop of water in a pool of water, it is dependent . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Boost Your Immunity to Stress With the What-Went-Well Exercise

Anne couldn’t sleep. She lay in bed thinking about a mistake she made, the pile of work on her desk, and the infinite number of things that could go wrong.

Sound familiar?

I had a night like that last night, lying awake at two am pondering a variety of worst-case scenarios.

If you find yourself experiencing stress attacks in the middle of the night, you are not alone. Most of us have experienced nights like that, and for a good reason: Our brains have adapted to do two things very well – make predictions, and focus on what could go . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A2J: Preventing the Abolition of Law Societies by Curing Their Management Structure Defects

1. The Defects of the Management Structure of Law Societies

Law societies in Canada have ignored the unaffordable legal services problem (“the problem”), because of the obsolescence of their management structure. Its major defects are:

(1) management by part-time amateurs (benchers), whose work is mostly charity–“amateurs” because they don’t have the expertise necessary for solving difficult problems such as the unaffordability of legal services (and they don’t try to get it);

(2) an unwillingness to attack the causes of difficult problems such as the unaffordability of legal services because their main duties are to their clients and institutional employers, who . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Time to Learn: Lawyers and Mental Health

Dealing with mental health issues like depression, stress and anxiety is fraught with age-old taboos, stigmas and obstacles to openness – and none of it gets any easier when your job is to be the calm voice of logic and reason in an argument. It might make good business sense to keep your concerns to yourself, but ignoring the issue – for example, depression, anxiety or stress – won’t make it go away.

They say acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to recovery, but how do you know whether you have the kind of problem that needs . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development & Justice

A few days ago, on 11 August, the co-facilitators of the process that had to produce the successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) sent a letter to the President of the UN General Assembly that their mission had been accomplished. In diplomatic speak: an outcome document containing a draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had been adopted by consensus. In the diplomatic universe this means that the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives will rubberstamp the document when they meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 25-27 September 2015 for the UN’s 70 . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

“Failure Is Not an Option.”

“Failure is not an option.”

Mission Control spoke those famous words in the quest to save the crew of Apollo 13, at least if you believe what you see in the movies. We remember that phrase – and believe in it – because the project team did not fail.

How do we deal with incipient project failure in the world of legal projects, however? It’s instructive to explore some of the difference – and similarities – between our projects and Apollo 13’s return from the moon.

Recognition of Impending Doom

Few project failures are as easy to recognize as Apollo . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Flexibility Isn’t Just for the Yoga Mat – Try It on Your Schedule

I will forever be indebted to the young mother, a senior associate at a big firm, who shared with me one of her secret recipes for handling the challenging tension between mom-time and lawyer time: the early escape.

Here’s how it works: One night a week she stays late at the office, until between eight and ten at night, depending on the week. Then, two days later, she leaves the office in the afternoon to pick her kids up early from daycare for some special time with them.

This wonderful “life hack” checks two important boxes for her. She checks . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Self-Represented Litigants’ Tax Money Provides More Funding for Legal Aid Ontario

Rejoicing over Legal Aid Ontario‘s (LAO’s) recent increased funding from the Government of Ontario, should be tempered by the listed “points of conscience” that follow this next paragraph.

The Government of Ontario’s 2014 budget increased Legal Aid Ontario’s financial eligibility funding of legal services by $95.7 million over the next three years. This commitment was expanded in the April 2015 budget announcement. These recent articles celebrate LAO’s increased funding:

(1) “Expanding access to legal aid for Ontarians, by Nye Thomas, Legal Aid Ontario Blog, June 5, 2015, at: http://blog.legalaid.on.ca/2015/06/05/expanding-access-to-legal-aid-for-ontarians/

(2) “Expanding LAO’s services: the road ahead . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Fifth Tool: Assigning Tasks

In six preceding articles I have described the idea behind becoming a very highly valued five-tools project manager, ready to manage each of the five progress factors:

  • Manage the project, starting with the project charter.
  • Manage the client, starting with the Conditions of Satisfaction.
  • Manage time, starting with the Off Switch.
  • Manage money, starting with budgets.
  • Manage the team, starting with assigning tasks accurately.

The fifth tool deals with the most important asset on your team. It’s an asset that goes home at night, an asset that defines the biggest difference between project success and failure.

And it’s the asset . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Practice for Handling Difficult Emotions and Thoughts: RAIN

It’s been raining a lot in my office recently. And by this I don’t mean that I have a leaky roof, or the sprinkler system is malfunctioning. Rather, I have been trying out a helpful practice for handling challenging emotions that come up during the workday that goes by the acronym RAIN.

For you agnostics and atheists out there, don’t cringe. Yes, RAIN has its origins in Buddhism. That said, as far as recent developments in neuroscience go, it is a great tool for getting out of what I call the back alley of the brain (amygdala) and returning to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Records Management Law — a Necessary Major Field of the Practice of Law — a Summary

“Records management law” will be a necessary area of specialization because electronic records are as important to daily living as are motor vehicles, and are now the most frequently used kind of evidence. Electronic records management is a complex technology, which makes current legal infrastructure of statutes, guidelines, and case law that controls the use of electronic records as evidence very inadequate because it ignores these facts: (1) electronic records technology, and pre-electronic paper records technology are very different technologies—each requires its own unique legal infrastructure; (2) the many serious defects frequently found in electronic records management systems (ERMS’s), and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law