Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Re-Engineering Law Schools

Considering that it has the potential to profoundly reshape the nature of American legal education, I’m a little surprised that the Interim Report of the Outcome Measures Committee of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar hasn’t received more attention since its release in June. Aside from brief mentions at the places you’d expect — Best Practices for Legal Education and the Law Professors Blog Network — I haven’t seen the report and its implications discussed in much detail. So I thought I might take a crack at it.

What follows isn’t really a summary of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Rise Up Against the Tyranny of the Urgent

Cough, hack, snort. If you are anywhere near my office these days the sounds can be pretty gruesome. When my body collapsed into illness and exhaustion last week I had several days in bed to contemplate what had gone wrong.

How did I get so run down? The usual suspects were behind it: Over work and long hours in service of the tyranny of the urgent. And I ask you, as a business coach shouldn’t I know better?

The tyranny of the urgent – you likely have experienced it yourself: An email in-box that fills up as soon as it . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Future of Law Firm Branding

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the ascendance of individual lawyer brands. Today, I want to write about the corresponding decline of law firm brands. And there’s no better place to start that discussion than with the fate of Heller Ehrman.

Heller Ehrman, if you’re not familiar with it, is a century-old California law firm that dissolved last week. You can find detailed coverage here, here and here. The lasting impression you take away from these reports is that Heller was neither evil nor incompetent. Its rivals were sad to see it fall, and many . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A September Tune-Up

The most powerful and complex information-processing tool we have sits between our ears. But are we making the most of it? This September, instead of defragging the hard drive, give yourself a mental tune up to ensure you are making the most of your primary information processor.

I turned to three experts for their take on maximizing brain power: John Medina, neuroscientist and author of Brain Rules; David Allen, productivity coach and author of Getting Things Done; and Gina Trapini, lead editor of the blog Lifehacker.

Tip number one: Sleep to excess, I dare you!

Adults do . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The First Annual Blue-Sky Challenge

Okay, so here we are, in the dog days of summer. Canadian readers have just come off the August long weekend, and most probably wouldn’t object if this three-day holiday were suddenly extended to a full week by executive fiat. But no matter where you are (okay, not Australia), you’ve had your fill of daytime heat, evening thunderstorms and the like. You’re ready for a splash of something different.

And here it is: welcome to the first annual Legal Profession Blue-Sky Challenge! It’s time to engage in some serious blue-sky brainstorming, to think way outside the box, to engage bold . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lead With Your Strengths

Want to build a successful career or business? Start with your strengths. We all come into this world with a unique set of talents, and over our lifetime with the addition of experience and learning we establish a foundation of knowledge, skill, and ability. The winning strategy is on maximising your strengths.

Harold Weinstein, Chief Operating Officer of Caliper Corporation, notes that “over the years our research has shown that there’s a strong correlation between performance and motivation. People who are working in roles that are consistent with their personality, values and interpersonal characteristics generally outperform those who are less

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

Private Knowledge Management Teams

The benefits that knowledge management can deliver to a law firm are well documented. They include reducing wasteful duplication, increasing the firm’s intellectual capital, enhancing the firm’s ability to anticipate and meet client needs, improving the firm’s recruitment and retention arsenal, and more besides. Firms that get KM right, like Morrison & Foerster, have every reason to boast about their success.

But the obstacles to successfully implementing a KM program in law firms are equally well-known. They include:

  • Hoarding: lawyers who believe their livelihoods depend on the knowledge tucked away in their files, both print and neural, are
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Show Me You Care

In this crazy world of competing deadlines, priorities, sound bites and instant communication technology it sometimes seems harder than ever to nurture the important relationships in our lives. We are all under such pressure to perform and to achieve there is little time left in the day to reach out and show someone that we care.

The energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, teams, and organizations. Yet, when we think consciously about improving our lives, we put almost all of our effort into self-development. (Tom Rath, Vital Friends)

It’s easy to forget that there . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Major-League Approach to New Lawyer Recruitment

Now that baseball season is (finally) with us again, I’d like you to meet Kevin Ahrens. He’s not a lawyer, judge or law professor – he’s a 19-year-old from Houston who has foregone college to start a career as a professional baseball player. Last June, the Toronto Blue Jays chose him with their first-round pick in major-league baseball’s annual amateur draft (he was the 16th overall selection).

Kevin plays shortstop and has been a very productive hitter throughout his amateur career, which consists of three all-district and two all-state selections during his time at high school. He stands 6’2″, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Networking for Introverts

Do you dread networking events? Wonder about what to say? Do you find there is something uncomfortable or possibly distasteful about the seemingly compulsory exchange of business cards? If so then you probably value sincerity and professionalism. Too often networking is reduced to a numbers game of how many business cards you can pass out in an hour. If you are looking for a different approach, one more in alignment with your own professional values, then read on.

The introvert advantage:

Introverts have the advantage. You don’t have to grandstand, shake fifty hands and talk about yourself. Instead, the name . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Inconvenient Truth About Articling

Last week, the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Licensing and Accreditation task force delivered its Interim Report To Convocation [PDF] on the province’s bar admission scheme. I think it’s a groundbreaking report, brimming with indisputable facts and uncomfortable choices about the state of the current system and the urgent need to reform it. Other reports have come and gone, but I think this one will leave its mark.

The main report is 44 pages long, followed by an additional 152 pages spread out over 10 appendices. This is what the report, to summarize briefly, says:

    1. The task force recommends
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Ditch the Resolutions

Welcome to January, the stern sister to December. While December is about gift giving and celebration, January arrives like the dreaded morning after bearing with it bill payments, back-to-work anxiety and of course the latest batch of New Year’s resolutions: “I will lose weight, build up my Linked-In network, post to my blog twice a week, go to the gym, and meet my billable hours target.”

There has got to be a better way to herald the New Year then marching to the orders of our inner drill sergeant.

I’m a professional business coach, goals and resolutions are the heart . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law