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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

Change Now

By Richard Susskind

In her introduction to ‘A Guide to Strategy for Lawyers’, a booklet that I have written for CBA members, Michele Hollins, the CBA President, quotes Jack Welch, the former CEO and Chairman of General Electric, who advises organizations to ‘change before you have to’. I had not heard this phrase before, but will undoubtedly use it again, because it so succinctly sets the agenda for practising lawyers in Canada and advanced jurisdictions around the world.

The legal marketplace, in my view, is in the middle of a period of unprecedented upheaval. Indeed I believe we . . . [more]

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

Keeping an Eye on the Horizon

The most used app on my phone, after the camera, is probably the weather app. It’s the farm girl in me, I think, that remains a little obsessed with what’s on the way.

Growing up on a prairie farm, we learned to watch weather patterns closely. To keep abreast of what was coming, we monitored:

  • A thermometer for temperature
  • A weather vane for wind direction
  • A rain gauge for rainfall
  • The Farmer’s Almanac for long range forecasts
  • Fog (we counted 100 days after fog and expected rain)
  • Radar for approaching storms
  • And of course, weather forecasts from local and regional
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

MaRS LegalX Launch

I was at the spectacular MaRS space at College/University tonight for the launch of the Legal X “industry cluster” dedicated to stoking entrepreneurship in the world of legal services.

Before the presentations even began I was inspired by the physical plant. The vast light-filled glass and stone entrance. An enormous main floor auditorium. Airbnb’s offices are just outside its stunning high glass walls. Delicious food and wine circulated briskly among the 200 strong crowd. The whole place throbbed with energy.

Law Scout – a MaRS based legal tech start up demonstrated how they deliver fixed fee legal services to small . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Of Learning to Re-Think the CBA

We have 11 days left to re-think the Canadian Bar Association. No pressure at all. But if you want to help, put on your rethinking cap.

I don’t represent or speak for the CBA in any way, but last Friday I did take part in a “Re-Think” session held at a Richmond airport hotel. I at least feel sufficiently authorized to draw attention to the work being done—which is nothing less than a stem-to-stern review and, if necessary, a redefinition of what the CBA does.

The room was filled with a few dozen people: dedicated members of our . . . [more]

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

Merit in Diversity

Does merit trump diversity? Can’t both coexist and in fact, isn’t it possible that an individual’s merit is enhanced by that individual’s background, skills and experience?

These questions rolled through my brain as I read yesterday’s Financial Post article, Firms adopting diversity policies but few commit to targets for women on boards. The suggestion is that increasing diversity in membership of corporate boards may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of those boards. Some corporations are hesitant to set targets for gender diversity on their boards, the lawyers interviewed explained:

…the most common reason given by companies for

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

Settlement Counsel

It is often said in discussions on the future of the practice of law that the days of the general practitioner are numbered. Lawyers in the future must specialize.

One emerging specialty in Canadian civil litigation is that of settlement counsel.

A party to litigation retains two lawyers – one performs the standard role of litigation counsel whose objective is to successfully prosecute or defend the action. The goal of the other is to negotiate a settlement out of court.

The two lawyers work as a team. They share all of the same information. They communicate fully with each other . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

All the Ways Your Legal Skills Can Be Used

A law degree opens doors. One of those doors is the internal reigns of a company or large corporation, the role we often refer to as general counsel (also known as in-house counsel).

The increased importance of general counsel in the business world is worth emphasizing. The sheer numbers of general counsel between the 60’s and 80’s quadrupled in America, and a moved from a middle management role to one directly involved in strategic management.

Mary Daly suggests that this shift occurred due to rising legal costs, and for this reason, this trend is unlikely to reverse. Lawyers found the . . . [more]

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

Data-Rich {LAB} Report

There’s plenty of rich data on new lawyers in Canada to be found final report from Law and Beyond (“LAB”), a study of Canadian lawyers called to the bar in 2010. The key findings of the study, released last week by Ronit Dinovitzer, provide a glimpse into the kinds of information researchers gleaned about this cohort; for example:

  • Twenty-two percent (22%) of the LAB sample are non-white, 56% are women, and 16.4% are immigrants.
  • Women remain more likely than men to work in the public sector, even in their early careers, with more than one quarter of women
. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Driving Change in Access to Justice

Why is the idea of asking service users what they need in terms of access to justice so challenging to those working in the justice system?

This is the question that I was asking myself as I participated a recent workshop on enhancing access to justice in the area of family law, coordinated by the Manitoba Law Foundation and facilitated by John Paul Boyd.

Participants represented a range of justice system service providers and included some community voices as well. Working in small groups, we brainstormed the obstacles to access to justice and ways to provide better supports to those . . . [more]

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

Bencher Election? What Bencher Election?

The dust has settled on another Ontario Bencher election, but it seems that most lawyers in Ontario barely noticed.

Only 34% of eligible voters exercised their franchise in the easiest, most convenient Bencher election in history; log into the website, then click on candidate names – done in 90 seconds.

Even so, 66 percent of voters thumbed their noses at the entire process – they couldn’t be bothered to vote for even one candidate.

To anyone paying attention, the message is clear:

The vast majority of Ontario lawyers don’t care who is elected as a Bencher.

And the vast majority . . . [more]

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

Manitoba’s Legal Landscape Is Changing

The prairie landscape is notorious for its endless horizons, enabling the traveller to see far ahead. This long view is evident in recent changes proposed to regulation of the legal profession in Manitoba, changes that are clearly oriented toward the future.

As reported on Canadian Lawyer’s Legal Feeds blog last week, the Manitoba government on May 7, 2015 introduced a number of amendments to The Legal Profession Act.

The proposed amendments included in Bill 19 include:

  • Altering the composition of the governing body of benchers
  • Amending the definition of a law firm
  • Permitting the regulation of law firms
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law: Legislation

ABS v ABS+ for A2J

This post is authored by David Wiseman, Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Faculty.

A noteworthy aspect of the Canadian debate on whether to introduce alternative business structures into the legal services sector is the emphasis being given to the potential of ABS to improve access to justice. Instead of just assuming it will happen, I think we need to integrate specific measures into the regulatory framework to make sure that it does. We need to create what I’m calling ABS+.

I have argued that while the middle class may benefit from gains in access to justice . . . [more]

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