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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Reminder: Mandatory Training on the New Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for Quebec Lawyers

On March 26, 2015, the new Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (nouveau Code de déontologie des avocats) for Quebec lawyers came into force. All lawyer members of the Quebec Bar are required to complete a three-hour training session by December 31, 2015. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

Get Out and Vote

I don’t have a horse in this race — I’m not eligible to vote in the Law Society of Upper Canada (aka Ontario) Bencher election. Nonetheless, I know who I’d be voting for if I could.

Bencher elections are notorious for low participation rates across the country. I don’t understand this. Lawyers are typically engaged with politics in general, but for reasons I’m not privy to, fail to demonstrate the same level of engagement in respect of their own professional governance.

That’s a shame, but also an opportunity. Law society elections create an opening for the voices of lawyers from . . . [more]

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

Plot for Thought

I am old enough that I have both observed and given presentations on clear film with an old school overhead projector. I was thinking about time and visualizing time and studying statistical process control and using charts to help with decision making. Suddenly, I had a perfectly clear visual of a stack of overhead film with run chart plots overlaid with each other for comparing data.

Statistical Process Control, specifically Run Charts (a line graph where a measure is plotted over time), are useful tools that allow us to:

  • Display data to make process performance visible
  • Determine if a change
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Requiring Diversity in Law Society Structures

The Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher Elections are currently underway, with voting concluding on April 30, 2015.

As with elections in society generally, bencher elections matter, and help determine the course and future of the legal profession. But lawyers, who fully understand the relationship between representatives and policies undertaken, have a lower voter turnout than the general public.

In 2014, the provincial elections in Ontario enjoyed a 52.1 per cent turnout, an increase following five successive drops in turnout and even a record low. Similarly, in the 2011 LSUC Bencher Election, voter turnout increased and reversed a long-term . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Is the Goal of the Future to Catch Up With the Past?

Yes. Sort of. But only if by “the past”, we mean some idealized period when things were easier, cheaper, simpler and better. Apply those same adjectives to the future, and you will forever be chasing the horizon or the end of the rainbow.

In discussions of access to justice issues or legal service markets, the present is the problem and the future looks even worse. For lawyers and the public we serve, everything is already too complex, too time or labour intensive, too expensive, too unjust, or just too hard. Accordingly, process improvement proposals or tech-driven solutions are not offered . . . [more]

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

An Ontario Benchers’ Candidates’ Word Cloud

The candidates for the forthcoming elections have all – save one – drafted statements or manifestos to garner support.

What these documents frame is what’s on the minds of the candidates as they try and anticipate the issues that most concern the lawyer members of the legal profession who will shortly be voting.

The picture speaks volumes. The size of the text reflects how frequently the concept occurs in all of the candidate statements.

. . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law

Why the 2015 LSUC Bencher Election Deserves Your Attention

I recently spoke with Henry J. Chang, one of the Toronto candidates in this year’s Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) bencher election. I asked him why members should pay particular attention to the elections this year and what issues are most important to voters. A summary of our conversation appears below. . . . [more]

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

Tax Season Reveals Opportunities for Improvement

Tax season often illuminates financial management philosophies we could – and should – revisit. For me, reviewing revenue and expenses has illustrated a year’s worth of daily activities that really added up. Here are some considerations to check on a regular basis.

Start with structure
Many professionals still practice without a clear financial goal for the year. My wise accountant once distilled the goal-setting process down to these questions:

  1. How much revenue do you want to earn and why?
  2. What percentage of that revenue will you invest in your practice and why?
  3. How much money do you need to manage
. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law: Practice Management

An Alternative ABS Structure for Better Legal Business

Alternative Business Structures (ABS) is all the debate right now in Ontario, with a current discussion paper released by the law society. Over 40 responses were received from various organizations and stakeholders. The interim report presented to convocation in February included a wide range of views on ABS, from strongly for it to staunchly opposed.

The incentives for adopting ABS appears to primarily be for the purposes of attracting capital and promoting access to justice. The report references an alternative to plain ABS called ABS+, to focus specifically on how this capital could be harnessed to address those . . . [more]

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

Connecting the Dots Just Got Easier

It’s tempting (and fun!) to dismiss futurists and trend spotters as people who see connections and consequences where none exist. It is equally tempting (and fun!) to assume the role of the clairvoyant because, in the words of Future Babble author Dan Garder, the soothsayer can never lose: “Heads I win, tails you forget we had a bet.” Sometimes, however, it can be quite easy for everyone to see the future.

Last week, many of us were reading and sharing the latest “future of law” warning. The fine folks over at The Economist offered a sobering look at just . . . [more]

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

Time to Say Goodbye to an Employee?

You’ve tried clarification, reminders, warnings, patience and tolerance, maybe even retraining. But it isn’t working, and you both know it. Firing employees is not likely a task you took into consideration when you thought about becoming a lawyer; but here you are, an employer, in the position of having to fire an employee.

It will never be pleasant; but there’s a right way and a wrong way. The wrong way can lead to lawsuits, reputational damage, maybe even stolen clients or breaches of confidentiality. The right way can lead to the same things, of course; but the odds are . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Delegation Communication: Questions Lawyers (Sometimes) Forget to Ask

If you’ve worked in a law firm long enough, you’ve probably been assigned work in a way that left you confused (if not annoyed). When it’s time to delegate your own work, it can be a mistake to default to the delegation style that you’ve become used to, assuming that it’s effective.

That assumption might be wrong if you’re working with new people, clients and/or matters. Try asking the following questions when you need to enlist help with a task. They involve people in taking responsibility for their work and they show respect for others’ expertise.

  1. What is the best
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management