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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

The Lawyer Licensing System in Ontario

A vital part of the Law Society’s legislated mandate is to ensure that all lawyers called to the Bar in Ontario have the demonstrated competency to practise law at an entry level.

There are many stakeholders across the legal profession in Ontario who believe that the current licensing process is unfair and unsustainable over the long term, and needs to continue to evolve. There is no consensus, however, on the shape or scope of that change.

The Law Society understands that any change in the fundamental components of lawyer licensing must be supported by the profession.

In this article, I . . . [more]

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

The Future Is Bright

As I wrapped up my last class at Robson Hall last week, I remarked to that whip-smart group of 1Ls that I hoped they had learned at least half as much in their two terms of Legal Methods as I did in the teaching of the course. This was my first experience teaching in a law school setting and looking back, I know for certain that I learned more than I likely imparted.

You may recall that last fall, my stated intention as I went back to law school as a sessional instructor was to keep a record of my . . . [more]

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

Tweaking Mediation

Civil justice resources should be deployed so that there is a gravity-assisted, downhill run to the courtroom where disputes will promptly be judicially determined, if mediation fails. Unless the parties decide otherwise, failed mediation and the judicial determination step should be linked.

There can be no doubt that promotion of the settlement of civil disputes through mediation, is a wise policy. But it must not effectively be the final step in the civil justice process.

If parties are at the point of emotional and financial exhaustion by the time they reach mediation, it will not be practical for them to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Introducing the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project

Much of the research and writing on access to justice issues in the last five years, including that of the Canadian Bar Association and Julie Macfarlane’s National Self-Represented Litigants Project, has discussed unbundling as a potential, albeit partial, remedy.

The idea here is that the usual full-service retainer, ever so commonplace in civil litigation, makes lawyers’ services unaffordable and prevents many litigants from accessing justice. (Professor Macfarlane’s landmark 2013 study on the issue of self-representation found that “inability to afford to retain, or to continue to retain, legal counsel” was the overwhelming reason why the litigants she spoke to . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Why Face Time Matters More Than Ever

No, not the Face Time app on your iPhone, “face time” as in one-on-one meetings with direct reports and others in your firm.

As organizations pursue efficiency by automating processes, collecting loads of data and creating “lean” teams, more of us are deliberately disengaging from our work.

And we often blame management when things don’t improve. Bad management, to be exact. A 2014 Gallup poll showed that companies fail to hire proper management 82% of the time. Ouch.

What exactly makes a “good” manager? Harvard Business Review recently published a summary of research done in studies of knowledge-based . . . [more]

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

How Black Is the AI Black Box?

It’s always interesting to me how things can sometimes coalesce and synchronize around an idea. For example, I’ve been thinking about a comment that Nicole Shanahan made in a recent collection of presentations delivered at Codex, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. She was talking about “lawyering in the AI age” and touched on “predictive policing” where the computer is used to predict human behaviour. Based on her experience with how algorithms and data work Shanahan characterizes this as “not really a rational goal.”

However, she notes, there are products on the market today and, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Fear and Machine Learning: AI and Legal Practice

In late September leaders from legal, business and technology gathered in New Orleans at Clio Con, also know as the Clio Cloud Conference.* Andrew Arruda, ‎CEO and Co-Founder of ROSS Intelligence, delivered a talk called, “Artificial Intelligence and the Law: Science Fiction or Science Fact?

Arruda sets out to clarify some of the misconceptions that surround artificial intelligence and demonstrate how AI is currently being used. He provides examples of AI inside and outside of the legal environment and concludes that if it’s working elsewhere it can work for law too. He then talks . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

“The First Thing We Do, Let’s Poll All the Lawyers”

Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC) just launched its #CLBClawyersurvey2016. Now we’re looking for sweet, precious survey fuel to reach the moon-like destination of 350 respondents—our statistically significant sample. By “survey fuel” I mean, of course, human lawyers in BC capable of clicking through a 10-minute survey. Eligible takers can start the online survey now.

CLBC has a long history in BC. We have served lawyers and the public for over 40 years in (and beyond) dozens of branches in courthouses throughout the province. This survey is the first of its kind for us, and it should help CLBC evolve  . . . [more]

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

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

I’m looking forward to reading Gillian Hadfield’s new book, “Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy,” which was released at the beginning of this month. As reported in a recent article in The Lawyers Weekly, Hadfield has been exploring the relationship between law and technology and how it impacts access to justice.

At a conference on civil justice and economics sponsored by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ) she described it like this:

“We need to attract some of the capital

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

‘If Not Us, Who? if Not Now, When?’: Reflections on the Law Society’s Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group Report

The Law Society debate, set for December 2, 2016, is the most significant acknowledgment of the obligation to address issues of systemic racism within the Ontario legal profession to date. It is a call to action. The Law Society’s commitment is anchored in its 1997 Bicentennial Report and the Report of the Bicentennial Working Group. Much has changed since the Law Society’s largely unimplemented response of 1999 to the Canadian Bar Association Recommendations flowing from the Report on Racial Equality and my own complementary Virtual Justice Systemic Racism in the Canadian Legal Profession Report. In the intervening two . . . [more]

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

Should Lawyers Learn to Code?

There have been many articles written suggesting that lawyers should learn how to code software. This Wolfram Alpha article is a good one, although many of the articles are far more adamant that every lawyer needs to learn how to code. The rationale is that because software will have an increasing effect on how lawyers practice, and who will be competing with us to provide our services, we should learn to code.

So should we learn how to code? For most lawyers, probably not.

I knew how to code before law school, and for me it has been very useful. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

New Legal Trends Report Provides Data Insights for Small- to Medium-Sized Law Firms

In the 4,000-year history of the legal profession, unbiased information sharing has never been the norm. Instead, insights have remained siloed in large institutions—or traded anecdotally among groups at networking events.

That changes with today’s release of the Legal Trends Report. The Legal Trends Report is being published by Clio, the world’s most widely-used legal practice management platform (disclosure: I am the founder and CEO of Clio). By leveraging anonymized, aggregate data from 40,000 active Clio users and over $60 billion in billing volume, the Legal Trends Report provides new insights into topics including average billing rates by state, . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Legal Information, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Reading: Recommended, Technology, Technology: Internet