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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

The Winds of Change

A strong west wind is blowing across my prairie landscape this week. After weeks of heat and humidity warnings and near-daily thunderstorms, there’s a change in the air. The sun is nearly set by 9 p.m. Small flocks of Canada geese are beginning their flight training. The day lilies in my garden have lost their bloom and summer is passing before my eyes.

The winds of change are blowing across Manitoba’s legal landscape as well. The Law Society of Manitoba’s latest Communique 2.0 newsletter outlines some of the changes in legal governance on the horizon for Manitoba lawyers, including entity . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Motivating Customer Service

Continuous improvement, process improvement, lean, six sigma, kaizen, and all of the other descriptors for changing to be more effective and efficient have the core value of providing the best possible customer service. Customers are external clients and also internal clients, for example users of the network are the clients of the IT department.

In law firms, it is pretty straight forward to be motivated to give excellent customer service to external clients. It may not always easy for everyone to consistently act on the motivation, but that is a separate issue. It is a bit more esoteric to connect . . . [more]

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

Post-Vacation Productivity

Summer vacations give us time to relax, recuperate and reconnect. But eventually we also have to deal with reality.

If you’re back at the office trying to recall what it was like to spend the morning reading a novel instead of an opinion letter, here are a few ways to ease your transition back into work mode.

Before you leave

  • Jot down a to-do list sorted by priority and deadline.
  • Communicate clear expectations about your availability while away. Some lawyers refuse to create vacation alerts, lest clients or colleagues think they’re human. Don’t fall into this trap – you won’t
. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Legal Innovations: A Few of Our Favorite Things

Innovation means different things to different people – to some, it’s about a small tweak that makes a big difference; to others, it’s a complete disruption in the force.

In Canada, the discussion about legal innovation has lately become bogged down in the debate over alternative business structures (ABS). But that’s not where innovation begins or ends.

On July 23, Friedrich Blase of Thomson Reuters and Natalie McFarlane of LawLignment will host a CBAFutureschat to discuss favourite legal innovations – just what do you define as a legal innovation? What tools make your business model possible? What innovations have you . . . [more]

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

Small Claims Court Awards $2,500 in Damages and $5,300 in Costs

The Courts of Justice Act in Ontario contains a provision which limits the award of legal costs in Small Claims Court to 15 per cent of the amount claimed unless “the court considers it necessary in the interests of justice to penalize a party or a party’s representative for unreasonable behavior in the proceeding.”

This provision makes it impossible for many lawyers to litigate cases in Small Claims Court in a cost effective manner. In short, the amount of fees that will be charged to the client will be disproportionate to the amount of the potential overall recovery.

In a . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law

The Cultural Shift Observed Post-Hryniak

The SCC’s decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin last year was expected to foster a cultural shift on the effective use of judicial resources, in particular in areas like Toronto where courts are cluttered with arguably needless motions. Justice Karakatsanis stated,

[2] Increasingly, there is recognition that a culture shift is required in order to create an environment promoting timely and affordable access to the civil justice system… [3] Summary judgment motions provide one such opportunity…

[5] To that end, I conclude that summary judgment rules must be interpreted broadly, favouring proportionality and fair access to the affordable, timely and just

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Therapeutic Interventions and the Alienated Child: Whose Interests Are We Serving, and How Are We Serving Them?

I’ve just finished writing a paper on alienated and estranged children for an recent seminar provided by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, their tenth Biennial Family Law Conference. The paper’s subject matter has lingered with me, in particular certain concerns about the therapeutic options available to the court once alienation has been established.

I will assume that readers have at least a passing familiarity with the concept of parental alienation. Very briefly, a child’s relationship with a parent can be damaged, sometimes severed, as a result of the behaviour of the rejected parent, the behaviour of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Drama at the Quebec Bar Association: Bencher Suspended After Shoplifting Allegations

On July 3, 2015, Quebec lawyers found out that the recently elected (63% of votes) bencher of the Quebec Bar Association, Me Lu Chan Khuong, was suspended with pay from her duties by the board of directors of said association. . . . [more]

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

Keeping Up With the Joneses — or Not

This post is by Ian Hu, Claims Prevention and practicePRO Counsel at LAWPRO.

Lawyers often talk about the stress and burden of debt. If there is one piece of advice worth giving, it is a simple one: spend less than you earn.

As a new lawyer, I was excited when I received my first paycheque. I forgot what I spent it on, but I remember it disappeared as soon as I received it. Soon I was living paycheque to paycheque. How could it be possible to live hand to mouth on Bay Street? . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

LawNow Special Report: Self Represented-Litigants

In the most recent issue of LawNow, a publication of the Centre For Public Legal Education Alberta, there is a “Special Report” on self-represented litigants.

It includes 3 articles:

What Self–Represented Litigants (Actually) Want by Sarah Burton, a lawyer with the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre in Calgary: “Countless reports, working groups, and studies have asked this question, and reached diverse and creative conclusions. However, these papers often share one critical failing: none of them actually ask SRLs what they think. Enter the Self-Represented Litigants Project (Dr. Julie Macfarlane, “The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Be Heard: The Ontario Ministry of Labour Wants to Hear From You!

Public consultations commenced in Toronto on June 16th as part of the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s (“MOL”) implementation of the Changing Workplaces Review, and are expected to continue throughout the summer until mid-September.

The Changing Workplaces Review was announced earlier this year as part of MOL’s mandate to increase protection for workers and create a support environment for businesses to thrive. The review will consist of public consultations in regions across Ontario to address the changing nature of the modern workplace. The consultations will focus on potential amendments to the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (“LRA”) and the Employment . . . [more]

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

Practice Compassion

July 1 and Q3 begin after midnight. I cannot believe that the year is flying by so quickly, again. One strategy that is helping me to maintain focus with my very busy portfolio is to have a theme for the week. These themes are meant as reminders – I guess they are in the spirit of mindfulness – on ways to approach being part of a team/firm/practice/group.

Last month’s theme, it was a good one so it prevailed, was resilience. Picturing Dory from Finding Nemo singing “just keep swimming” was useful and entertaining. As far as resilience goes, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management