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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

5 Things Everyone Should Know About Employee Insurance Benefits

I recently met a new neighbour who told me he was the corporate counsel for a large company. When I explained my insurance connection to the legal profession, he quickly responded with “I have all the insurance I need through my benefits at work.”

Before he could turn and run, I assured him I would not preach the virtues of buying insurance (unless he wanted to listen), but let him know I thought it was extremely important to have his coverage reviewed by an insurance expert to ensure he is adequately protected. In my experience, most people who rely on . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Rules of Engagement

Whether working with a practice group, an executive team or the members of some firm’s strategic planning committee, I continue to be struck by the dysfunctional behavior that is often present in group meetings. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised. Working together in groups in not a natural, comfortable or easy thing for many of us to do.

What I have come to learn is that the very best market-performing groups, in the best firms, have established for themselves some written guidelines by which all members have agreed to abide – and often, each partner in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Four Principles for Mastering the Demands of Work

Sandra’s office was piled high with files, her work-life was spent putting out fires and her dog was feeling so neglected it had taken to chewing the couch.

Jeremy felt like it had been a long time since he had a life. Days and weekends were spent at the office, he’d gained 20 pounds in a year, and his wife had gone on vacation to Mexico with her best friend Gary the hairdresser – again.

Sandra and Jeremy are not alone. These days it seems like the standard answer to “hi, how are you?” has become “busy, and you?” Having . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Blind Side

I have to admit, when I started a recent series of trips to make presentations in the U.S. and Canada, I’d been questioning whether my recent assessments of and predictions for the legal profession had maybe become too radical. Having now returned from speaking with and listening to some of the sharpest and most engaged minds in the business, I’m coming to think I haven’t been radical enough.

Certainly, there was encouraging news. Delivering serious and perhaps discomfiting messages to state bar leaders in Chicago and law society executives in Toronto, I was heartened by the openness to these ideas . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Your Dreams Lead the Way

Watching Canada win gold in men’s hockey and landing our nation the Olympic record for most gold medals won by any country in winter sports was an unforgettable experience. The national celebration and the pride and the joy we are all experiencing at being Canadian is something to savor.

“Own the Podium” – never liked it. Seemed so un-Canadian, so boastful, so competitive, and yet… how effective. As a brand “Own the Podium” named the dream and captured the aspirations of our athletes and fans.

As we return to life as usual what else can we take from these games? . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The iFuture

For the record, I don’t intend to buy one. At least, not for a few more years and not until the inevitable upgrades, improvements, fixes, and content distribution changes have run their course. But well before the iPad 3.o arrives, the original version will have had a serious impact on the computer industry, on the production and distribution of content, and yes, on the legal profession.

I won’t recap everything that’s been said about the iPad in the mainstream and legal communities — Reid Trautz and The Wired GC have two solid takes — but it’s worth noting that the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Creating Your Own Stable Financial Future

Rise Up. Creating your own stable financial future

My column this month is dedicated to personal finances. I greeted the New Year like so many other people I know – with a financial hangover that no aspirin was going to cure. Instead of the doctor I called my new neighbor on Salt Spring Island, financial planning guru Karin Mizgala, MBA, CFP, to share her best tips on how to put money woes to rest for good. Karin co-founded the Women’s Financial Learning Centre and has a financial planning column with the Financial Post.

The foundation to a stable financial future

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

The Obsolescence Audit

Just 20 short years ago, if you wanted to buy a book, you had to go to a bookstore. If you wanted music, you had to visit a record store, and if you wanted to read the news, you had to buy a newspaper. Then Amazon.com debuted in 1994, Google was incorporated in 1998 and Napster emerged in 1999. Soon enough, people stopped buying newspapers because news articles were accessible online at no charge, stopped buying records because they could get music from each other freely, and stopped walking into bookstores because they could buy books with one mouse click . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Bring Rain to the Desert

Law firms are deserts of positive feedback. At so many of our law firms no news is good news and critical feedback is the only kind going around.

As a lawyer coach I am a woman with a mission: To help make our law firms better places to work. One of the most powerful tools for accomplishing this is something called positive acknowledgement.

Positive acknowledgement is about giving the gift our attention by recognizing when someone has done something well. Positive acknowledgement works when you notice someone’s strengths or what they have accomplished and you tell them that you have . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Size and the Legal Media

If you happen to subscribe to my Twitter feed, you’ll notice that I regularly post links to stories of interest in the legal press. If you look closely, you’ll notice that a great many of those stories pertain to developments in very large law firms. That’s not because I’m fascinated by BigLaw or because I think my subscriber base is either. It’s because that’s what gets published. The legal press pays a disproportionate amount of attention to large law firms — as do we all.

The best-known legal periodical, The American Lawyer, is so tightly intertwined with large . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Set Your Sights on a Fulfilling Legal Career

Have you ever had a moment in your career where you wanted to run screaming from the building? When you entered the office on a Monday took a look at the work piled on the table and shuddered? I know that all of us at times do work that at best we can tolerate and at worst we despise. While many of us have experienced these moments in our careers, when they become a daily occurrence it is crucial to recognise what they represent: Flashing red lights indicating that action is required to shift your professional practice into more satisfying . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

All Good Things. . .

“Eighty percent of the poor in the United States are unable to afford a lawyer or find pro bono help for their civil legal problems, according to the American Bar Association.” That sentence, from an American Lawyer article last month, is not only embarrassing. It’s also an omen.

The article in question, titled “Unmet Needs,” was part of a special series on pro bono in the United States, including the top 100 pro bono-friendly law firms and a powerful critique of big-firm pro bono by Deborah Rhode. The latter piece highlighted how pro bono at too many . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law