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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Law Society of BC Recommendations May Have Significant Implications

On December 6, 2013, the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia unanimously approved in principle, three recommendations that, if implemented, have the potential to significantly alter the future legal services landscape in the province.

The recommendations were contained in the final report of the Legal Service Providers Task Force, a group formed by the Law Society in the fall of 2012. The mandate of the task force was to examine issues relating to the question of whether the Law Society of BC should regulate only lawyers, or whether they should regulate all legal service providers in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

An Effective (And Maybe Even Useful) Recurring Status Report

In my previous article, I detailed a series of reasons why traditional, scheduled (e.g., weekly or fortnightly) status/progress reports provide low value to clients. Project managers, of course, already know that they’re a royal pain to produce.

Today, I’ll describe an effective status-report format that’s easy to produce, valuable to the project manager as well as the client, and useful to (most of) your clients. Clients might even read it. [1]

It’s called the 3×3 (“three-by-three”).

It consists of three headings, each with no more than three bullet points:

  1. Progress This Period
  2. To-Do Next Period
  3. Action Needed/Alerts

For some . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Smelling the Roses

A few days ago, my forty-five-year-old sister-in-law died at 3:52 am, with cancer ravaging her body. She and my brother-in-law were best friends, boon companions and soul mates. My sister-in-law leaves behind a bewildered husband and three children. Twelve weeks ago, she was a happy woman with no cares, a great family and a wonderful husband. Today she is dead.

This is not an uncommon story, as one in three of us in Canada will be affected by cancer in some form or another in our lives. What is uncommon is that by and large we do not seem, as . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Polycentric Conversations and Rules to Keep Them Going

Four weeks ago I was in Abu Dhabi, at the annual meeting of the Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum. The Council on Rule of Law, which I chair, issued a report on the fast increase of governance outside purely state structures that is aimed at dealing with complex transnational issues such as human rights, labour standards, the environment, cybercrime, health, and corruption. Situations where the state is not enough. There’s a lot of that kind of governance around when you start looking for it and it will increase. Many examples of transnational, multi-stakeholder governance flounder. Why? At . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Protecting Privacy in Your Legal Practice

In April I wrote a column in which I posed the question “Are lawyers paying enough attention to privacy?”. Based on some high profile privacy breaches and extensive discussions with practitioners that I have met and worked with in the past, my unfortunate conclusion to the question was, no. As I mentioned in the previous post, I believe that this state of affairs largely arises from the deep history of protection of confidentiality within the legal profession and the mistaken notion that protection of confidentiality equals protection of privacy and ensures compliance with the relevant legal requirements that surround the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Biggest Time Waster – Procrastination! Why Do We Do It? and What Can We Do About It?

It’s a Tuesday afternoon at a law firm somewhere in Toronto. John is reading the Huffington Post on-line. He feels stuck. Unmotivated. With no pounding deadlines this week he just can’t get around to doing the important but not urgent work on his desk.

Tina in Vancouver is also stuck. She’s so stressed out and anxious about the deadlines she has to meet that she is frozen. Her inner dialogue is about how hopeless she is, and useless, and the worst lawyer ever, and under this harsh litany of criticism she is immobilized.

Frank in Calgary has some urgent client . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

7 Tips for Paying Less for Your Life Insurance

If you’ve never given much thought to your life insurance, there’s a chance you’re paying too much. Here are 7 tips that could help you save thousands on your life insurance costs.

1. Your excellent health could qualify you for discounted rates

Most insurers can offer discounted life insurance rates to applicants with a combination of much better than average medical test results, no family history of serious diseases, and healthy lifestyle choices. Commonly referred to as Preferred or Elite, these lower rates are subject to strict underwriting rules. As a result, most people can’t qualify; but if you do, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Practicing Law With Joy

A recent article in Forbes magazine reported that a survey conducted by found that the unhappiest workers in America were associate attorneys. Legal assistants ranked seventh. Law partners weren’t mentioned.

This same survey stated that the happiest workers in the United States were real estate agents! Given the state of the American real estate market recently this doesn’t lend much credibility to the previous claim.

Regardless of the accuracy of the survey findings, anyone who has ever been an associate lawyer in private practice knows the stresses of learning the law, building a practice, grappling with more senior aggressive . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Unbearable Uselessness of Progress Reports

No one loves progress (status) reports. They take time to write. The writers believe they’re unread.[1] And as one wag put it, they mostly demonstrate the lack of progress.

The problem with these reports is twofold. One aspect, of course, is that the intended recipients are busy. The other is that the reports contain little to no information the recipient can act on, other than perhaps taking frustrations out on the project team.

Consider the sign pictured here, on one of the floating bridges across the lake into Seattle. It tells me what I’m about to be charged for . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Little Story

It is a beautiful day in Winnipeg this morning. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The flowers are as beautiful as they can be before the frost finds them.

I was walking across the Osborne Street Bridge at about 7:30 a.m. and saw a woman standing on the wrong side of the railing, about half way across. At first I thought I must be seeing it wrong. A couple of people seemed to just walk past her. And then there was only me.

The woman’s back was to me. She was holding onto the railing with one hand,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

7 Tips for the Time-Crunched

Have you ever felt like there aren’t enough hours in the day? In professional life it just seems like a given.

Whether you are a working parent with kids at home, or have aging parents to care for, or even an energetic dog who requires long walks daily, or a combination of all three (lucky you!), or a whole different set of responsibilities, chances are you feel stretched a lot of the time.

The truth is that our prosperous professional lives are full to overflowing. This is a good problem to have. And it is also a kind of suffering. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Competition Isn’t Coming, It’s Already Here

In June of 2013, the CBA Legal Futures Initiative issued a report entitled “The Future of Legal Services in Canada: Trends and Issues” (the “Report”). For those who have not read the Report I highly recommend a reading. The report breaks down a wide variety of trends and issues that are important for all those within the profession to be aware of. While there are many important discussion points raised in the Report, the one issue that stands out to me however, is that of competition within the legal marketplace.

The issue stands out for me as one requiring further . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law