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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Pattern Seekers: Identifying Neurodiversity in the Law

Are you a systemizer? In Patter Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention, Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen (Professor and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University) discusses the significance of systemizing to inventions. He posits that humans have a special kind of engine in the brain. They seek out if-and-then patterns. This way of thinking developed about 70,000 to 100,000 years ago, when the first humans began to make complex tools.

Dr. Baron-Cohen categorizes the brain into 5 different types based on their balance between empathy and systemizing. Empathizers are very comfortable with people, chat easily, easily tune into . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

5 Kind of Litigators That Might Exist

*These characters are fictional. Any resemblance is purely accidental. This is humour.

1. The pick’m-up-truck-driving small town litigator

Small’s number is written on the local jail cell wall. Besides the odd vacation and discovery, Small’s only ever known this little town with one traffic light. Small pulled some strings to get the county judge’s kid a try-out on the hockey team. The court registrar, bailiff, trial coordinator, and, heck, all the staff, know Small on a first name basis. Small doesn’t go through security because Small has a key to the side door into the library. At the hearing Small . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law

Lawyers and Computers 25 Years Ago

I recently looked at a book on my shelf called “The Internet Handbook for Canadian Lawyers” published in 1996. It’s rather amusing to look at it from today’s lens and see how much has changed in the last 25 years. It explains in detail topics that at the time were cutting edge, but today are second nature to children, or are long obsolete.

Section headings include: “What Exactly is the Internet?”, “Can the Internet do Something for my Practice?”, “Finding Good Stuff with Archie”, “The Mother Protocol – TCP/IP”, “Using Encryption Programs to Stop Snoopers”, and “Navigating Gopherspace”.

It says . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

The Alarming Privatization of Our Judicial System

Some law firms last year experienced record profits, despite the pandemic. Part of the growth in revenue was due to the increase in private arbitration. As courts struggled to adapt, more litigants turned to private solutions, like mediation and arbitration.

In the article “As Trials Stalled, Shook Hardy Found Other Ways to Drive Revenue, Profits“, author Dylan Jackson explains that the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon saw their profits increase by 3.2% last year. The firm’s gross revenue increased to $364,776,000. Profits per partner increased to $995,000. The increase was attributed to a 50% increase in arbitrations . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

After the Report: What Comes Next?

The Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19 studied the issues, wrote a report, and presented it at the February 17, 2021, annual general meeting.

The risk with reports, however, is that they can become static documents, a snapshot of an issue. Reports gather dust as a collection of information if no one pulls up their sleeves to do the actual work to carry out their recommendations – and by the time the report comes out the political will to act may have subsided.

In our case, the ongoing pandemic is keeping these issues current . . . [more]

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

Undercutting “Imposter Syndrome”: Bragging Better

In the recent Harvard Business Review article “Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome“, authors Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey discuss how imposter syndrome is rooted in systemic racism, classism, xenophobia, and other biases. They encourage us to overcome it by creating an environment that fosters different leadership styles and views diversity of racial, ethnic, and gender identities as just as professional.

While we continue to work on changing our environments to dismantle barriers, Meredith Fineman discusses in the book Brag Better how to use bragging to overcome the feeling of being a fraud. Meredith Fineman writes that . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Justice System Needs a Champion to Move Modernization Project

Don’t turn back, but don’t stand still. Work with justice system partners to share best practices, figure out how to make the system work better for the people who need it to work for them, and how to mitigate the unintended side-effects of change.

That sums up – very briefly – the recommendations in the final report from the Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19, presented to the Association’s annual general meeting on Feb. 17

The task force, established in April 2020, drew together representatives from CBA Sections and committees, its partners in the justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Toughen-Up Buttercup: Flight of Women Lawyers From Private Practice

In the article, “Toughen Up, Buttercup” versus #TimesUp: Initial Findings of the ABA Women in Criminal Justice Task Force, Professor Maryam Ahranjani writes about the flight of women lawyers. In her article, Professor Ahranjani cites a Canadian study by Dr. Madon. In the study, titled “The Retention of Women in the Private Practice of Criminal Law (2016)”, it is revealed that women are 141% more likely to leave private practice than women in other private practice areas.

The reasons given for the flight of women include:

  • caretaking commitments,
  • level of stress at work,
  • emphasis on marketing and originating business,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Square Pegs: Changing the Courts to Fit the Technology

When discussing the modernization of the justice system the conversation can often be about how we adapt the technology to replicate the bricks-and-mortar experience.

But how might the institutions and decision-makers themselves adapt to work with the emerging technology?

Legal scholar Tania Sourdin talks about three primary kinds of technology in the context of the justice system:

  • Supportive – things like online legal applications that support and advise people using the justice system
  • Replacement – things that replace the role of people, such as e-filing technologies and online dispute resolution
  • Disruptive – things that fundamentally alter the way legal professionals
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

The Stakeholder Law Firm

I’ll be writing about law firms less frequently in future, for reasons outlined here. But given how critical I’ve been about the way in which lawyers run their firms, I thought I’d share with you news of a growing movement in the business world that could bring about monumental change for law firms.

My fundamental critique of law firms isn’t the billable hour or rampant inefficiency or the resistance to innovation — it’s the apparent absence of any real purpose to the firm beyond the enrichment of its partners.

I’ve been telling audiences for a while now that a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Showing Vulnerability as a Lawyer: One Mistake at a Time

Recently “Zoom Cat-lawyer” revealed a lot about the legal profession. Its seriousness. Its humour (or lack thereof). Its low tolerance for mistakes.

In the Zoom call, the lawyer was unable to quickly remove the filter by himself. The judge and opposing counsel seemed to have little patience for his technological incompetence.

In “Think Again”, Professor Adam Grant writes “Sharing our imperfections can be risky if we haven’t yet established our competence. In studies, lawyers and teachers searching for jobs, expressing themselves authentically increased the odds of getting job offers if they were rated in the 90th percentile or above for . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Does a Human-Centric Justice System Look Like?

Observers of the justice system and the legal profession, as well as writers of myriad reports by the Canadian Bar Association and others seeking to improve access to justice, all come to the same conclusion: to be successful, the system must be human-centred – arranged around and for the people it serves.

This should be a given – to be successful any enterprise has to think about what the people using its services need. Successful enterprises remove as many obstacles for users as possible, in order to provide a friction-free experience.

One of the frequent complaints from those who need . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management