Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

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

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