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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Barreau Du Quebec Position on Hourly Billing Report Long Overdue

On March 24, 2016, the Barreau du Quebec (Quebec Bar Association) released a report « La tarification horaire à l’heure de la réflexion » (in French only and translated to say Hourly Billing: A Time for Reflection) calling for an end to hourly billing by lawyers and law firms in the hope of improving access to justice for the public and a better work-life balance for lawyers. . . . [more]

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

Raising Court Fees and Nudging Litigant Behaviour

The Ontario provincial government will be raising court fees effective July 1, 2016. This increase will be based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index.

Although I welcome the injection of money into the court system, I take issue with the government’s approach to raising fees. The government is squandering a golden opportunity to positively nudge the public’s behaviour.

Scholars Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein explain a “nudge” as something that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing economic incentives. An example of a nudge would be putting fruit at eye level in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lawyers and Audits – the New Joint Policy Statement Effective December 1, 2016

Shareholders, investors, lenders and others have a vital interest in proper financial disclosure by entities in which they have an economic interest. Making sensible business decisions is often difficult. It is impossible without proper information. Audited financial statements play a central role in financial disclosure.

Disclosure is a good thing and a bad thing

Some assets and liabilities are simply reflected in financial statements. Some are not so simple. Contingent assets and liabilities can be tricky. The contingency may or may not arise. Assuming the contingency, the value of the contingent asset or liability is often uncertain. The uncertainties may . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Avoid Problems on Motions for Removal as Lawyer of Record

LAWPRO defence counsel have reported to us they have seen an increase in motions to be removed as lawyers of record and that these motions are not always going as expected or desired. In some cases motion materials do not have the required evidence, providing either too little information, or too much information (i.e., confidential or privileged information is being disclosed). Lawyers are also saying that decisions on these motions have not always been consistent. Follow these steps to ensure you get the desired result by placing the required information before the court.

In Ontario, Rule 15.04 of the Rules . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Ontario Introducing New ORPP Legislation

On April 14, 2016, the Ontario government introduced new legislation to launch the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) legislation. Bill 186, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act (Strengthening Retirement Security for Ontarians), 2016 will ensure that if the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is not enhanced, Ontario can proceed with the ORPP. However, the Ontario government says it remains committed to working with the federal government to enhance the CPP. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Mental Health Is a Professionalism Issue

Michele Hollins, former President of the Canadian Bar Association said “Studies have shown that lawyers may have the highest rates of depression among various occupational categories…many in our profession think that it makes good business sense to keep concerns to themselves.”

About 20% of the legal profession suffers from clinically significant levels of substance abuse, depression, anxiety or some other form of psychopathy. Lawyers suffer from major depressive disorders at a rate 3.6 times higher than non-lawyers who share key socioeconomic traits. In 2010, the Ontario Lawyers’ Assistance Program reported that 42% of their calls were related to mental health . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Practice Management

To Be or Not to Be? Totally Up to Her

There’s nothing quite like streaming clips of our American colleagues pitching for clients. Talk about free entertainment! You’ll see lawyers dragging flaming hammers through the ground or drug dealers thanking their counsel for past services as they move on to the next deal. Above all, you’ll hear screaming. Tons of it. You begin to imagine that the Law Society is on to something about refraining from advertising that brings the profession into disrepute. Indeed, the ads are brash, sassy, cheeky—pick your adjective. The underlying subtext of course is that Joe Smith, or whoever, is tough and aggressive, your . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Marketing

Sabbaticals for the Self-Employed

This mountain gorilla really knows how to take a break.

Many law firms and organizations now offer sabbatical programs as a workplace benefit. As long as employees meet defined criteria and plan carefully, they’re able to take a few months off without much risk.

But given that I’m self-employed and that I work alone most of the time, I didn’t think that a sabbatical was really an option for me. A carefully cultivated – or lucky – opportunity could come knocking at any moment. What if I wasn’t around to answer the door? When you’re self-employed, you need to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology: Office Technology

LAWPRO Student Magazine: What Do Law Firms Look For?

Law students – like all students – are prone to anxiety about their career prospects. High-profile news about the employment challenges faced by new grads in the U.S. and changes in the articling requirements for Ontario have combined to create a climate of worry.

But worrying about trends and generalizations can obscure the fact that the employment relationship is, in essence, an interpersonal relationship. Each successful employer/employee match happens because an individual firm takes a chance on an individual lawyer for reasons that are not only unique, but also personal, and sometimes instinctive.

We spoke with law firms across the . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Practice Management

The Ethics of ‘The Tweeting Lawyer”: Powerful Platform or Risky Undertaking?

Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube) are web-based technologies that enable users to create and share content and to participate in interactive online communications. As the use of social media grows and becomes a powerful and indispensable tool for lawyers, so do the ethical risks facing lawyers.

Why “tweeting” is powerful. It is interactive, easy to reach, fast to use, cost effective, and informative. Social media is an excellent tool that can help lawyers establish broader professional networks, build and develop brands, and enhance professional profiles. While social media can provide powerful marketing tools, lawyer should . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Marketing

Lay Legal Advisers

In the UK in 1970 a husband who could not afford legal representation in his divorce proceedings used an Australian barrister, who was not qualified to appear in an English court, to help him. The judge barred the Australian from sitting next to McKenzie at the hearing. McKenzie appealed this decision on the ground he had been unfairly denied help. The Court of Appeal agreed, and according to an article last week in the UK Guardian newspaper, “broke lawyers’ monopoly on providing legal representation”.

There is a healthy industry of lay legal advisers in the UK today. They are called . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Talk Claims Prevention With Your Articling Students

This article is by Nora Rock, corporate writer & policy analyst at LAWPRO.

While it’s easy to view articling students as a source of extra help, the primary purpose of articling is to provide a valuable apprenticeship to the student, not simply to lighten the lawyer’s load. Today’s law school curriculum has a strongly theoretical focus. Students spend a great deal of time learning to research the law and to “think like lawyers”, and limited time learning about how to operate a law practice.

That’s where articling comes in. As an articling principal, you are charged with teaching students about . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Practice Management