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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Experience: A Young Lawyer Carves Her Own Path

When Carli van Maurik shares her practice philosophy with other lawyers, she’s usually met with one of two responses: raised eyebrows or enthusiastic support.

Carli van Maurik

Thankfully, most colleagues fall into the latter category.

Ms. van Maurik is a lawyer with the British Columbia business law firm Whiteboard Law. She’s based in Victoria, where she honed her legal skills at one of the city’s well known firms before branching out to follow her entrepreneurial instincts.

Most lawyers eventually narrow the focus of their practice or notice that clients could be better served by a different approach. But not . . . [more]

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

Habits and Shortcuts

My Dad, a big old gruff softie farmer from central Alberta hates (is terribly afraid of) mice. Squeeks like one when he sees them indoors, the sweetheart. I dislike the mouse that is attached to my computer when I have to take my hands off of the keyboard to use it to engage functions in software. This personality quirk is so well known in my firm that people will send me keyboard shortcuts, bless them.

Josette McEachern, Field Law’s Library Manager sent me this MS Excel tip today:

To insert a row Cntrl Shft =
To delete a row

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

Of Snowden’s Call to Encrypt and the Role of Our Law Societies

Slaw Columnist Simon Chester recently tipped us off about another fascinating interview with Edward Snowden. Building on earlier interviews with the enigmatic NSA and CIA rogue, the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, and its intelligence correspondent, Ewen MacAskill, talked to Snowden a little over a year since his defection. The earnest 29 year-old is now an earnest 30 year-old, only seemingly much older and seemingly aging at an accelerated rate. A partway time-lapse to Noam Chomsky.

I’d watch the interview if for no other reason than to hear Snowden’s caution about the challenges facing the legal profession in this era that . . . [more]

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

Litigation Coaching by Judges

We often speak of litigation coaching for clients as a form of unbundled services, as one of the new frontiers for providing cost-effective legal services. But I’ve also identified the challenges that young lawyers have in developing the practical skills in litigation, especially given the strong emphasis in the system to resolve issues outside of the courtroom.

At the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Canadian Legal Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland this weekend, I had the opportunity to speak in greater depth with some vendors and discovered a product of interest.

Taran Virtual Associations, a domestic legal outsourcing company who . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Final CBA Futures Report Is Now Available

2 years in the making.

7 key findings.

22 recommended actions.

Those are the numbers behind the CBA’s Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada report, released today.

The initiative was established in 2012 to “examine the fundamental changes facing the Canadian legal profession and to help lawyers understand and respond to those changes.”

The 106-page report identifies seven key findings, the result of thousands of hours of work through commissioned research and extensive online and in-person consultations with “a broad cross-section of lawyers, clients, law students, and other legal stakeholders,” and in-depth interviews with selected innovators. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Want a Challenge-Proof Will? Think Like a (Wannabe) Beneficiary

As a lawyer, you have likely been trained to maintain a laser focus on your client’s interests and how to express and defend them. Being a fierce advocate is usually a good thing.

But when preparing a will for a client, it can be a useful exercise, once you have a good first draft, to intentionally play devil’s advocate.

At the Law Society of Upper Canada Solo and Small Firm Practice Conference in June 2014, estates lawyer Lisa Barazzutti suggested that when reviewing a newly-drafted will, it’s useful to read the will from the perspective of the beneficiaries. “Ask yourself,” . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Competence for the Low-Tech Lawyer

Is saying no to technology even an option for lawyers in modern practice? The Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Model Code of Professional Content defines competence as follows:

3.1-1 1 “Competent lawyer” means a lawyer who has and applies relevant knowledge, skills and attributes in a manner appropriate to each matter undertaken on behalf of a client and the nature and terms of the lawyer’s engagement, including:

(j) pursuing appropriate professional development to maintain and enhance legal knowledge and skills; and (k) otherwise adapting to changing professional requirements, standards, techniques and practices.

If lawyers do not have certain . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Aligning Employees Behind Firm Strategy: Getting Started

When firm leaders agree on strategic objectives, it’s time to align employees towards achieving them. As with anything with multiple moving parts, adjustments can help the system work at its best.

Last week, I discussed the difference between employee engagement and employee alignment. Engagement is what motivates people to arrive at work each morning. Alignment is what they do when they get there.

Why focus on alignment?

  • It gives everyone a purpose beyond their individual roles
  • It’s an opportunity to break down silos between groups
  • It strengthens your firm’s reputation as performance becomes more consistent and profitable

Signs of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Do You Analyze Win-Loss?

A post on the Strategic Librarians LinkedIn Group led me to the Cooperative Intelligence blog where Ellen Naylor (CEO of The Business Intelligence Source, Inc.) posted about templates for win loss analysis.

As more and more legal work filters to law firms through procurement groups, RFPs, and RFIs, I wonder about the use of sales methods in law firms. As a librarian, I worked with legal information suppliers selling information to my organization. I also sold the services of the library department to my internal clients. In my new role of process improvement, I will likely use techniques . . . [more]

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

CBA Futures Chat: Spotlight on Innovation

Next week, the CBA will release Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, our report on the future of legal practice in Canada. Over the past two years we have heard from the legal community in Canada –and abroad – and the clients we serve. Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada sets out our vision for how we might educate and regulate the profession differently. Our objective: to ensure that Canadians benefit from a vibrant and relevant legal profession. Our recommendation: innovation.

The report calls for some significant change. We hope that the CBA . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Independent but Engaged: Support Networks for Solos

There are plenty of good reasons for choosing sole practice, or for transitioning into sole practice after practising with a firm. You may have chosen to practise in a small community; you may have opened a sole practice because you couldn’t find the right fit with a firm in your chosen area of practice; or you may be a person with a naturally independent work style and a desire to be your own boss. Whatever a lawyer’s reasons, sole practice is a choice that can be profitable and personally rewarding.

Practising solo, however, presents special challenges. From a risk management . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

No Thanks

Ask any lawyer “How are you doing?” and invariably the response includes a comment to the effect of “I’m too busy.”

Being overly busy seems to be a kind of occupational hazard for lawyers. Many of us possess a “can do” kind of attitude that leads us to agree to take on tasks whenever we’re asked to do so. While this makes lawyers desirable as volunteers for many non-profit organizations, it also results in many lawyers feeling overburdened and sometimes, overwhelmed by all that they need to accomplish.

One obvious solution to this problem is to develop and implement a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management