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Archive for ‘Miscellaneous’

Of Baked Beans and the Rule of Law

In episode 6 of season 5 of TV’s Mad Men, there’s a scene where the ad agency is trying to sell Heinz a vision for one of its more lacklustre products, oven-baked beans. Peggy, who’s running the pitch, moves through her mock-up cards and at a measured pace a story unfolds. No matter how unglamorous the legume, it’s the advertiser’s job to win her audience over through storytelling. In this case, she describes how the youth lean in towards one another around the campfire. With their backs to the lonely night, Heinz beans brings familiarity. The product is nothing less . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Mental Health and the Legal Workplace

Lawyers may have recently found themselves giving advice to clients about the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. It’s not mandatory, but this new standard is beginning to receive attention as a convenient source of best practices for employers who want to create a psychologically healthy (and lawsuit-resistant) workplace.

It is one of the first of its kind in the world, and has been adopted by several high-profile organizations, including Bell Canada, Rogers, Great West Life Insurance, Manulife Financial, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and some of Toronto’s major hospitals.

But are law firms . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Basic Rules for Summer Networking Etiquette

Each June, business publications offer up an array of professional etiquette do’s and don’ts. The timing seems right, given the golf tournaments, office barbeques and memos reminding us of “appropriate summer office attire”.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between good manners, etiquette and civility, after fielding a few client queries about social norms. According to Judith Martin (otherwise known as Miss Manners) and her son Nicholas Ivor Martin, manners are “the principles of courteous behaviour” and etiquette “the rules that apply to a particular situation.” Civility, according to Johns Hopkins University Professor and Author P.M. Forni, is “a . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

You Can Vote for the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Readers have until June 30 to vote online for the winner of the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. The prize, which is sponsored by ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law, is intended to recognize a work of fiction that best exemplifies the role of lawyers in society. The three finalists this year are:

  • Ronald H. Balson for Once We Were Brothers
  • John Grisham for Sycamore Row
  • Elizabeth Strout for The Burgess Boys

The prize was first handed out in 2011. The winner that year was John Grisham for The Confession.

Michael Connelly  . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Justice Clément Gascon

In five days, Justice Clément Gascon of the Cour d’Appel will assume Justice Fish’s seat on the Supreme Court.

The announcement from the Prime Minister’s office is terse:

« Je suis ravi d’annoncer la nomination de M. le juge Clément Gascon à la Cour suprême du Canada. M. le juge Gascon, qui siège actuellement à la Cour d’appel du Québec, possède un important bagage d’expérience et de connaissances juridiques dont profitera grandement cette importante institution canadienne. Sa nomination survient au terme de vastes consultations menées auprès d’éminents membres du milieu juridique du Québec. » –

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

You Are All Nerds

Mindy Kaling recently spoke at Harvard Law School’s 2014 Class Day ceremony, and the result was humorous, entertaining, and even insightful.

She started with what was probably a staged misunderstanding,

Graduates, parents, faculty, this is really such a remarkable day—obviously for you, but also for me, because after spending a life obsessing over true crime, the impossible happened: I was asked to speak at the Harvard Law commencement and accept an honorary legal degree. Yes, isn’t that the American dream? Me, Mindy Kaling—

[Kaling is interrupted, and informed that she was misinformed.]

OK, um, so apparently there was a little

. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Miscellaneous

Tips for the Beginner Blogger

When I first started blogging here on Slaw, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew all the objective reasons why it would be good for me at a professional level, but some of the personal aspects of the process proved to be a genuine surprise.

A few observations gleaned from my first months of blogging:

  1. It will take longer than you expect to write your first blog posts.
    My first post took 10 hours to write. Really. I even hired an editor to review it. I always thought I was a “good” writer. Until I realized how inefficient
. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

Sleep Deprived and Proud of It

Law firms and sleep deprivation seem to go together. So when The Atlantic needed a real world example to lead off their piece on the topic, guess which profession was front and centre?

And the described daily routine is brutal:

“Missy rises at 5:30 a.m. to run on the Capital Crescent Trail or head downtown to work out with a personal trainer. She’s back home by 7 to make sure the kids are awake and getting ready for school.

… “Arrives at her spacious office by 8:30 or so”

… “gets home between 7:30 and 8”

Then: dinner, which

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

Private Interest Standing for Animals?

A couple of months ago, I wrote about recent animal rights jurisprudence in which plaintiffs instituted actions as owners of animals, to enforce rights under existing laws. Although those cases did involve a certain consideration of the animal’s best interests, the premise nonetheless remained that the animals were property or chattels, as opposed to sentient or rights bearing living things (Nakhuda v. Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, 2013 ONSC 5761; Reece v. City of Edmonton, 2011 ABCA 238). In recent years, animal rights and environmental groups have also sought public interest standing to bring suit as citizens . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Not Myself Today – Looking After Our Mental Health

This is Mental Health Week in Canada. Partners in Mental Health, a national charitable organization that was borne from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, are running a campaign called Not Myself Today. They are focussing on building mentally healthy workplaces and are inviting organizations to participate to support areas of awareness, education and public engagement campaigns. A number of prominent companies have already signed on.

Why is this important? According to information from the Canadian Medical Association, only 23% of employees said they would discuss their mental health with employers. 44% of employees say they . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

A Brush With Debt: Climbing Out of the Financial Wreckage

Tax season brings the financial aspects of our careers into stark focus. Ledgers of our spending habits laid out in black and white. Nice and not-so-nice surprises in discussions with our accountants. Writing cheques to the Receiver General (what fun!).

In this vein, the topic of financial literacy sometimes crops up in the practice management discussions I have with young lawyers. The cost of living in Vancouver being what it is, student loan payments, social pressures to “keep up” with peers…it all adds up. Sometimes, it reaches a breaking point.

I recently sat down with an inspiring young professional who . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law

Three Gleanings From Today’s Web

Here are three rather disparate things of interest that cropped up in my morning stroll through the near web.

1. Internet Explorer has a serious vulnerability

Once again Internet Explorer — every single version of it! — has a vulnerability that “could allow remote code execution” according to Microsoft. Gizmodo has the story. This means that 26% of the browser market is at risk of a “zero day” attack that can corrupt a computer’s data.

Does anyone know what percentage of law firms use (or mandate) IE?

2. New York Times R&D releases Vellum

The New York . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous