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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

Law Schools’ Fear of Social Media Is a Disservice to Students

Spending time at a law school allowed me to see something very disturbing; law students are actively and deliberately told by law schools to expunge all social media activity.

The clear message to students is: Do Not Have Any Web-Presence Whatsoever.

Given this message, it’s no wonder that most Canadian lawyers view social media with fear and take no part in it. It also explains the shocked looks when I asked my class to create Twitter and LinkedIn accounts – then use them for class participation. Oh the horror!

Imagine if I had asked them to create blogs!

In my . . . [more]

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

Measures to Increase Access to Justice and Public Confidence in Quebec

Access to justice is a quasi-constitutional right in Quebec where the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms guarantees “a full and equal, public and fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.” However, numerous stakeholders, including many in the legal community share a growing concern that access to justice is increasingly posing challenges to those who need it, and obstacles such as time, expense and representation stand in the way of securing this right for all Quebec citizens.
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

CBA Futures Chat: The Future of Lawyer Employment

The legal profession is about to start shrinking. That’s the conclusion to be drawn from the United States, anyway, where law firms continue to downsize associates and even partners, and where both law school application and first-year enrollment levels are lower than they’ve been since the 1970s. Canada hasn’t yet experienced such drastic outcomes, but the rising number of graduating law students who can’t find articling positions should be considered a warning alarm of similar trouble.

There’s reason to believe that the total size of the legal profession is shortly going to plateau, and perhaps even reverse. Why? Because work . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Ode to the Class of 2014

I’m again teaching at the University of Ottawa Law School during its unique January term in which students take one course for three hours per day. We discuss how the practice of law is irreversably transforming and how they’re going into the worse articling market in history with a pilot LPP program that is being set up for failure by Benchers who delayed the LPP decision far too long.

Layer on top of that, technology that reduces the number of lawyers needed for certain tasks, the conflict between hours targets and the “do more for less” challenge, alternative legal providers, . . . [more]

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

The High Cost of the NSA: Is Reform Coming?

The NSA has been causing technology providers of all stripes  on-premise hardware vendors, cloud application providers, traditional software vendors  no end of headaches as the Snowden revelations continue to pile up. As a recent article by security expert Bruce Schneier outlines, the scale and impact of the NSA surveillance machine is almost beyond comprehension.

Microsoft’s GC, Brad Smith, went so far as to characterize the NSA as an “advanced persistent threat,a industry term usually reserved to refer to sophisticated and malicious hackers backed by a foreign government. The cost to US technology providers of the NSA . . . [more]

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

Fluxing Straight Out of Law School

I am seeing it increasingly commonly – newly called lawyers who set up their own shingle without working for a law firm as an associate. In part, it’s due to the changes in the market which have left a scarcity of opportunities for young lawyers, or opportunities that are otherwise undesirable. But it’s also becoming a preferred option for a generation which values creativity, personal relationships, empowerment, self-determination and entrepreneurship.

Luz E. Herrera, who launched her own solo practice in 2002, described this phenomenon in the Denver University Law Review,

The Great Recession has caused many new attorneys

. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Small Town Access to Justice

While it’s premature to call it a trend, Winnipeg-based law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP (TDS) has once again merged with a small local law firm based in Western Manitoba, and thereby expanded its reach to Manitoba’s western borders.

Brandon-based Roy Johnston LLP operated for some 30 years, most recently as a six-lawyer firm. Managing partner Paul Roy told the Winnipeg Free Press that the merger is a response to the changing needs of firm clients who are engaged in more complex legal transactions:

“When we started out, we were doing simple farm deals and house deals. The institutions and

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

Key Partner Risk – the Elephant in the Room

By this time of year most law firms have will have prepared their strategic plan for 2014, which should flow from their existing 5- or 10-year overall strategic plan.

Most firms will have also done a risk scan of the environment to determine what factors can adversely impact their strategy and use that information to adjust their plans accordingly.

Most firms will identify compliance-type issues as risk factors.

Others will consider the economic environment and how that will impact revenue and use that to determine hiring practices.

The more thoughtful will analyze where their revenue comes from to determine if . . . [more]

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

Legal Incubators for Innovation and Access to Justice

Last August I mentioned the CBA’s summary report on access to justice, Reaching Equal Justice: An Invitation to Envision and Act. This past week the Access to Justice Committee released the final report.

The report traverses many topics on the reasons why change is needed, including the growth of pro bono and unrepresented litigants, increase in poverty and legal illiteracy and increasing complexity of the legal system. The report also investigates several solutions to the problems, such as innovation in the courts, unbundled services and relying on technology.

There’s one idea in particular which has attracted my attention . . . [more]

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

Bare Minimum Tech Standards for Lawyers

I am dealing with an older lawyer who told me that he won’t be able to review my 3 page agreement until January 6, 2014 because his staff will be gone for the holidays and he needs staff to help him with technology – in this case, with blacklining my agreement, which would be tough since I sent the agreement to him in pdf format. I suggested that he make his comments in pen on the document and then fax it back to me. He did manage to do that.

This is not the first time that I have come . . . [more]

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

Providing Legal Services in a Coaching Model: The What, Why and How

(Ed. note: This is the second of two parts on providing legal services in a coaching model. The first part is available on Slaw.)

Returning to the question of whether, and how, lawyers could provide coaching in self-advocacy for SRL’s, let me first put a few pertinent findings from my 2013 SRL study upfront.

86% of the (n=259) SRLs in told me that they had sought the assistance of a lawyer – via either the private Bar, a pro bono service, or Legal Aid. 53% had originally had counsel representing them; a further 33% sought pro bono legal services . . . [more]

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

Building the Evidence Base for Access to Justice

The final report from the Envisioning Equal Justice initiative has just been released. I’ve only just had a chance to skim it, but in doing so I have noted a continuous thread throughout the report suggesting that it is essential, if we are to move forward effectively on the issue of access to justice, that we know what we know and what we don’t yet know. In other words, we need to establish a solid base of evidence that will support the actions we take to increase access to justice.

The report writers point out that:

We know little about

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