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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

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

Lawyers Coaching SRLs in “Self-Advocacy”? Why This Paradoxical Proposition Deserves Your Serious Consideration

Much of what I heard from self-represented litigants in my 2011-12 study – and continue to hear in the mail we receive daily at the National Self-Represented Litigants Project – centred on what type of assistance they really wanted and felt that they needed.

How SRLs want help

SRLs want help – that is loud and clear. On-line resources get them part of the way – sometimes. But they want face-to-face help too.

Almost all of them say that they want lawyers. But they cannot afford to use a lawyer for every step of their case.

They want help to . . . [more]

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

#CBAFutureschat Wrap-Up

“Is it just me,” asks a regular CBA FuturesChat participant, “or is there greater discussion and interest on ABS and technology than ethics and regulation?”

It’s not just him.

Since the CBA’s Legal Futures Initiative began conducting its Tuesday night Twitter chats in October, the greatest engagement and participation came during discussions about innovating within the legal profession with new kinds of business structures, many of them made possible by technological advances.

“Ethics” seems an immutable concept, something for philosophical debate late into the evening rather than an action item – as Joshua Lenon, in-house-lawyer for Clio, said in the . . . [more]

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

Embedded Counsel Criss-Cross the Globe

As part of my recent tour of Australia – well, the south-eastern part any way – George Beaton invited me to speak at a few of his live and taped events. One of the many points that interested me was his modelling on Axiom. As many know, Axiom provides embedded counsel to companies needing to fill gaps in its skill sets on short term bases. It has grown rapidly and profitably over the past 10 years.

According to George, Axiom, grew its revenue at a 72% compound annual growth rate from 2002 to 2011 while at the same time, . . . [more]

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

Law Society of B.C. Approves Major Changes in Regulation of Legal Services

In a news release dated today, the Law Society of British Columbia has announced approval in principal of three recommendations made in the final report of the Legal Service Providers Task Force, to wit:

  • The Law Society and the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia seek to merge regulatory operations.
  • That a program be created by which the legal regulator provide paralegals who have met specific, prescribed education and/or training standards with a certificate that would allow them to be held out as “certified paralegals.”
  • That the Law Society develop a regulatory framework by which other providers of
. . . [more]
Posted in: Announcements, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Oz Leads the Way in Open Office Concept Law Firms

They laughed at me when I suggested that law firms should move to open concept offices for all lawyers with fun amenities like rooftop terraces.

Not possible! they yelled.

We could never get any work done! they sneered.

We need our offices! they pompously carolled.

We’re not techies working for Google! they laughed.

Now Australian law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, with offices across Australia employing over 500 lawyers has proven them all wrong.

Walking into Corrs’ new Sydney office at state-of-the-art new office tower, 8 Chifley Place was like walking into a dream.

Click on image to

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

Lawyers and Their Clients: Who’s in Charge?

Lawyers who practice family law in Winnipeg are familiar with the Tuesday morning motions court, known as the “zoo” for reasons that will soon be obvious. For those unfamiliar with this docket court, the recent decision of Associate Chief Justice Rivoalen in Skinner v. Skinner is instructive:

[10] There is a lot going on as the Family Motions Coordinator, parties and their lawyers navigate their way through the typical Family Uncontested Motions melée, and not only because there are so many matters on the List. Moreover, the Court’s registry staff, clerks, sheriffs, stand-by master and judges are fully engaged….


. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Future of Legal Writing: Online and Short Form

In 1936, Yale law professor Fred Rodell wrote “[t]here are two things wrong with almost all legal writing. One is its style. The other is its content.”

Some things never change, but the growth of legal blogging over the past decade would give hope to even Professor Rodell that not all legal writing must suffer from these twin deficiencies. In fact, the good professor might even be persuaded to accept that short form legal writing through blogs serves as a valuable source of legal scholarship.

In the context of a for-credit tech law internship overseen by the University of Ottawa . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Miscellaneous, Practice of Law: Future of Practice