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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Drafting a Non-Engagement Letter

Phantom clients, those who believe they are represented by you, though the individual has not formally hired or retained you, can lead to a potential claim down the road. If you decline an engagement for legal services or the client chooses not to retain you, the non-engagement should immediately be confirmed in writing by way of a non-engagment letter. Here are three resources to help you draft one: . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Proposed Ontario Changes to Accessibility Regulations

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure has proposed changes to the Customer Service Standard and Integrated Accessibility Standards regulations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If approved, the changes will be enacted on July 1, 2016, and take immediate effect.

This proposal includes incorporating the Customer Service Standard into the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation and making changes to requirements of the Customer Service Standard (see details below). . . . [more]

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

When Does Preparing a Witness Turn Into Distorting Evidence?

The Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Upper Canada state that: “The lawyer must not …knowingly attempt to deceive a tribunal or influence the course of justice by offering false evidence…suppressing what ought to be disclosed…”

Lawyers may be offering false evidence without even knowing it. Lawyers frequently refresh witnesses’ memories in preparation for discovery or trial. However, refreshing a witness’s memory is not a neutral activity. In Witness Preparation: A Practical Guide, Bryan Finlay et al state that “the process of memory is not a simple matter of resurrecting fixed traces, but instead a process . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How to Master Complex, Unfamiliar Tasks

If you’re about to tackle a complex matter or task in an unfamiliar area, how should you prioritize your first steps? New research shows that you’ll be off to a better start if you focus on learning rather than results. This is especially true if the matter context is unpredictable or dynamic.

I interviewed Dr. Meredith Woodwark – whose research uncovered these findings – to learn more. Woodwark teaches organizational behavior and leadership at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research focuses on motivation, learning goals and employee engagement.

Q. How is your research . . . [more]

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

Win Clients With This Simple Question

This post is by Ian Hu, claims prevention and practicePRO counsel at LAWPRO

I vividly remember losing one of my first potential clients. He was shopping for lawyers and had whittled his list down to three or four. I had dealt with legal issues exactly like his before and resolved them successfully. I felt I knew the law as well as anyone. I would help him and impress him with my knowledge and experience. I put on my best suit and tie. As I walked down to meet him I figured I had the advantage.

During the meeting I gushed . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

The Future of Automation in Litigation: Plotting Obsolescence to Survive

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

I predict that the first components of a litigation file to be completely automated are the drafting of:

  • Common Pleadings (e.g. Statement of Claim for “slip and fall”);
  • Affidavit of Documents; and
  • Discovery Plans for common actions.


These documents are rule based, and computer programs love rules. I envision a computer program asking questions at the beginning of the file . . . [more]

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

A Duty to Be Tech-Savvy?

Bob Ambrogi blogged this morning that two more U.S. states have adopted amendments to their legal profession rules of conduct that include technological competence as part of a lawyer’s overall duty of competence, bringing the total number of states having adopted this duty to 17. The duty first appeared in the ABA Model Rules in 2012, as Comment 8 to Rule 1.1, as follows:

To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and

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

What Does It Really Mean to “Free the Law”? Part 2

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


Attributed to Nelson Mandela, that quote fits the experience of groups around the world that sought over much of the past 20 years to make the law freely accessible on the internet. Beginning today (November 9th), dozens of members of the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM), along with other supporters, are meeting in Sydney, Australia where AustLII is hosting the 2015 Law via the Internet conference. Some countries attending are currently at the “impossible” stage and look to achievements in Canada and elsewhere for inspiration of what is possible. . . . [more]

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

Smart Lawyers Who Feel They Know Less

What is a good lawyer? What is a smarter lawyer, for that matter?

How we evaluate ourselves, and our colleagues, may have historically been based on outdated notions of an encyclopedic knowledge of the law. But in the era of search engines and legal databases, the utility of such skill sets are not nearly as useful as in the past.

Harvey Schachter of The Globe interviewed Edward Hess on how workers can improve in an era balancing on the precipice of machine learning:

…start to change your mental model of what “smart” looks like. We have been trained to believe

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

What Does It Really Mean to “Free the Law”? Part 1

A fantastic development out of the United States last week – Harvard Law School and Ravel Law plan to make access to the school’s entire library of reported U.S. case law available for free on Ravel’s website. In a multi-year effort and at a cost said to be in the millions (exact details not known), some “40,000 books containing approximately forty million pages of court decisions” are being digitized and uploaded to Ravel’s platform, where anybody will be able to search, read and use the material at no cost. This is an incredible advance in open access to law and . . . [more]

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

More Than Meets the Eye

When speaking or writing about diversity in the legal profession, the conversation usually focuses on gender, sexual orientation or race and ethnicity. We know that the legal profession does not visibly reflect the makeup of Canada’s general population. This was in fact a conclusion of the Canadian Bar Association’s 2013 Demographic Trends report:

According to the localized statistics available, progress on increasing diversity in the legal profession is not consistent with the make-up of the general population.

We also know that multiple barriers remain for racialized members of the legal profession. The 2014 LSUC report, Challenges Facing Racialized Licensees . . . [more]

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

Crowd Funding for Justice

Over the summer a non-practising UK solicitor launched “CrowdJustice“. It is a funding platform through which people can combine to build support for and share costs of taking legal action for issues that effect their community.

It is run by a team of lawyers and volunteers based in London.

The Case Owner sets a deadline and funding target for the amount needed to offset the costs. Only when the target is met are the pledges collected and paid to the lawyer’s trust account.Crowd Justice charges a fee if a case is successfully funded.

Cases recently funded or currently . . . [more]

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