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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

What We Lose in the Chase for the Almighty Dollar

My generation, filled with existential angst, suffered in our youth the conceit that we would not sell out as those before us did. If Kurt Cobain was the hero of our time, it was because he was authentic to the end, true to his music but not the business. And for those of us who stumbled into this profession, I ask, how many of us wrote a law school admissions essay filled with lofty ambitions to better the world, and of those, how many are left living true to those ambitions? I have seen, no, even worse, convinced, classmates and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Why LinkedIn Has Lost Its Value for Me

I recently accepted a connection request and added my 3,000th contact on LinkedIn. I’d like to use this notable occasion to describe how I’ve completely failed to derive any real value from LinkedIn over the past few years.

I should start by acknowledging that the fault is largely mine. I began using LinkedIn with the best of intentions and the finest of habits. I would only accept connections from people I had previously encountered (online or in person). I would acknowledge each new connection with a brief note of thanks for the addition. I would curate my network carefully, so . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Value of Delegating Decision-Making

Business decisions – especially those involving marketing and branding – require careful consideration. But they also require timely action. Are law firms hurting themselves by being too slow and cumbersome in making business decisions?

Within administrative and outside provider circles, law firms are notorious for their slow reactions and lengthy decision-making processes. It is for this reason that so many administrators who are hired from outside of law firms fail to last more than two years in this difficult environment. And increasingly, I’m hearing about consultants and suppliers who are opting to steer away from law firms as clients.

Generally, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Alberta’s Whistleblower Legislation

In 2018, Alberta amended its whistleblower protection legislation. It is a modest improvement over previous legislation, and relative to the federal Act. However, in a number of respects, the legislation does not go far enough.

First, a little bit of context. Whistleblowing legislation serves two inter-related purposes: upholding the public interest in exposing serious wrongdoing, while protecting employees who blow the whistle on that wrongdoing. On this last point, the legislation is remedial by protecting the employee from dismissal or reprisal that might otherwise be permitted at common law. In Canada, whistleblowing legislation (which exists in most provinces) . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Mali Leading

In the Hague Declaration on Access to Justice that was adopted on 7 February this year three things stand out (see my previous column). It recognises the need to make justice systems more people-centred. It calls for a more evidence-based way of working. And, finally, it calls for innovation. The question that nobody has really answered is: how does that work? If you are a minister of justice and you wake up one day thinking “I want to do that Hague Declaration thing”, what comes next? How do you know what ‘people-centred’ is? What does “evidence-based working” mean in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Tribute to David W. Scott, OC, QC, LL.B 1960 (1936-2019)

On March 21, 2019, the Canadian legal profession lost a giant of the bar: David Scott passed away in Ottawa after a sudden hospitalization. I regret that I did not get a chance to see David in the hospital or tell him how much he meant to the University of Ottawa law school, to our profession and to me. I can only offer this tribute instead.

David Scott represented the very best of our profession. He was recognized for his accomplishments with the highest honours our profession provides. That he was the first Canadian ever to be elected President of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Practice of Law

Forget Efficiency – Be Effective! Laws 1 and 2 of the Ten Laws of Legal Project Management

This is the second column of a series on the Ten Laws of (Legal) Project Management. I’ll recap the ten laws at the end of this column, but for this month, let’s focus on the first two, which revolve around the misunderstood idea of effectiveness vs. efficiency.

1. First Effectiveness, Then Efficiency

Efficiency is doing things right, but effectiveness is doing the right things.

Efficiency is easy… for a consultant. For every process, there is often a more efficient way to do it – something that will save a little time, offer a slightly better result, create just a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Challenging Electronic Systems’ and Devices’ Ability to Produce Reliable Evidence

This is a short summary of the full text of this article, which has the same title, and which was posted on the SSRN, March 25, 2019, pdf.; 62 pages

The fact that lawyers lack the knowledge to challenge the reliability of technical sources of frequently used kinds of evidence, and the tolerating of its impact upon the ability to “do justice,” is due to the under-performance of a number of institutions within the justice system. As a result, law and the rules of practice and procedure applicable to such evidence are moving in one direction, but the reality . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Tiger Woods and Changing the Game

Tiger Woods won the Masters on April 14, 2019. His fifth Green Jacket at Augusta National, earned 22 years after his first when he demolished world-class competition with a 12-stroke margin of victory in a tournament where first and second place are typically separated by a single, well-placed putt. I vividly remember that 1997 final, as it fell smack in the middle of my 3L final exams and I thought (correctly) that the best use of my time that day was to sit my then-infant daughter on my lap and watch history unfold rather than break the spine on that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing, Practice of Law

On Masks and the Practice of Law

Bob wears masks. As he enters a client meeting he digs into his vast collection and dons his client-facing mask. He straightens up and greets his client with a familiar smile. He speaks in a soothing, rhythmic cadence. He maintains utter composure as his client flails about, in turns lost, angry, and pleading. When the meeting is over Bob takes a deep breath. As he returns to his office it occurs to him that of all his masks, this is the one that never seems to fit quite right. It’s a good time for a coffee and a stroll before . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Moving From Planning to Implementation

Increasingly, law firms are learning to appreciate the value of individual lawyer marketing plans. But paperwork is only the first step. A plan is useless without implementation. Yet how does a firm convince a busy lawyer to implement on those plans?

Too often, in firms that require personal plans, lawyers will begrudgingly prepare them but pay little more than lip service to them thereafter. Some firms put carrots and sticks in place in an effort to ensure implementation. For example, they might tie in part of compensation with successful accomplishment of a lawyer’s personal plan. This has mixed results, as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Permission to Dream

If you’re a lawyer, you probably grew up in socio-economically advantaged circumstances. I submit this to you not as a value judgment or accusation, but as a pretty well-established fact.

In 2011, UCLA Law School Professor Richard Sander published a paper titled “Class in American Legal Education,” which included the finding that “the vast majority of American law students come from relatively elite backgrounds; this is especially true at the most prestigious law schools, where only five percent of all students come from families whose SES is in the bottom half of the national distribution.” The New York . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law