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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

Requiem for Heenan Blaikie

Listening to Roy Heenan give his spin on the demise of his law firm, I couldn’t help but hear the strains of Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend” in my head.

It will be some time before the full back story of this debacle will be known. But in my view, Heenan Blaikie died from a combination of greed, poor management and failed leadership wrapped together in an antiquated business structure ill-suited to “more for less” client demands in a marketplace gradually filling with non-traditional competitors.

As I have said repeatedly, the Canadian legal profession is now entering the . . . [more]

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

Heenan Blaikie May Be Toronto’s Canary

The national law firm of Heenan Blaikie is expected to make a huge announcement this week. We’re not quite sure what the details of the announcement it, but it will likely involve some form of restructuring, merger or dissolution of the firm.

Although we have several Slaw contributors who are this firm I expect they are unable to comment on this publicly. Yet it’s a big enough event that it will invariably lead to further discussions about the legal market in Toronto in years to come.

The rumours started on Thursday with the departure of several partners to other Bay . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

What Will Tomorrow’s Lawyers Do?

There are lots of ways to stop being a dinosaur – there’s no need to wait for the meteorite.

Corinne Mucilli made the point in the latest CBA Futures Twitterchat on the topic of new forms of lawyer employment for the emerging legal market.

Host Jordan Furlong of Stem Legal encouraged participants to discuss whether the dominance of “lawyer jobs” is coming to a close, and to provide examples of future lawyer employment before offering up this mind-blowing opinion: “As far as I know, there’s no richer potential resource for new lawyer employment than the latent legal market. Create a . . . [more]

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

A Full and Equal Voice

Why is it still so common to see a panel predominantly made up of middle-aged white male lawyers on the dais at a legal conference or CPD session? I noted this again at a legal conference I attended last week. Of course, there were exceptions – the panel of women in corporate counsel positions and the Aboriginal law panel, for example – but shouldn’t a gender balanced, diverse panel of speakers now be the rule, rather than the exception?

These questions have been roiling about my mind since last fall, when I read the numerous, thoughtful comments to my Slaw . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Marketing

Stunting the Common Law

Always nice to see comments from blog readers. They are the voice at the other end of the telephone line, the question from the Bench. They reassure you that you are not talking to yourself.

Even if the comment you elicit is only that you are being “tiresome”, as my post did last week, at least someone has gone to the trouble of putting fingers to key board.

My posts are not really “rants against mediation” but rants in support of the preservation of affordable judicial ajudication, as an option.

I stress the word “option”. I am not calling for . . . [more]

Posted in: 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