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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

Baby Lawyers and First Steps

What sort of skills would you like to see besides “traditional lawyer skills” included in new lawyer training? That was the first question asked in the CBA Futures Initiative’s afternoon Twitterchat Wednesday, hosted by Sarah Glassmeyer, Director of Content for CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, in Chicago, in a wide-ranging discussion on how, what, and where to train new lawyers.

One of the first responses came from Karen Dyck, a freelance lawyer in Winnipeg and member of the Legal Futures Initiative’s Steering Committee. “Essential is communications, i.e., listening, restating, clear writing and speech, avoiding miscommunications.

“Interesting that you . . . [more]

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

A Matter of Trust

What distinguishes a licensed, practising lawyer from another unlicensed legal professional?

Many will say that the answer is trust. The lawyer has duties and obligations to their client pursuant to a professional code of ethics and the profession’s regulatory scheme. A regulated lawyer has professional liability insurance coverage (mandatory in Canada) and is also “covered” for theft by their local compensation fund.

Clients can rely on those structures to protect them from lawyer’s mistakes, misdeeds and misappropriations. They can place their trust in their lawyer, and failing that, the lawyer’s regulator, liability insurer and compensation fund.

I was reminded of . . . [more]

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

LSUC’s Professional Regulation Committee Reports on Alternative Business Structures

The Professional Regulation Committee, in the form of the Alternative Business Structures Working Group, of the Law Society of Upper Canada has just submitted a Report to Convocation on the subject of alternative business structures. In all, though I’ve not had time to fully review the report, it’s quite positive about new business structures and recommends that Convocation explore various models and the rules necessary to implement and control them. This from the executive summary:

Conclusion and Recommendation: The Working Group concluded that there are negative consequences inherent in current regulatory limitations on the delivery of legal services in

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

Let’s Chat About New Lawyer Training

It’s a standard trope in any discussion of legal education that law students are not prepared to practice law immediately after graduation. While efforts are being made by some law schools to change their curriculums to graduate “practice ready” students, the great majority of “lawyer training” (as opposed to “legal education”) occurs in an attorney’s first few years of practice. Formal, informal, in-house and external…new lawyer training takes many forms and has many contributors. This month’s CBA Futures twitter chat is going to talk about them all.

As an American, I’ve been fascinated with the Canadian articling system. A common . . . [more]

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

CBA Legal Futures Initiative Consultation Report Available

The Canadian Bar Association has today released its Legal Futures Initiative Report on the Consultation. The Initiatives project began consulting with the various stakeholders in June of last year, and the resulting report:

describes what the Legal Futures Initiative heard from stakeholders about the experience of being a lawyer in a changing environment, evolving client relationships, and views on the future. This is all synthesized to provide the key themes and novel ideas that emerged.

The final report of the Legal Futures Initiative is expected in August of 2014.

As might have been expected from a profession so diverse . . . [more]

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

NSA Dragnet Ensnares Law Firms

The most recent Snowden revelation, as reported by the New York Times, has revealed that even law firms have become ensnared in the NSA’s ever-growing communications dragnet.

The top secret document, leaked by Edward Snowden, reveals that a US-based firm was targeted by the NSA over the period of time it represented Indonesia in trade talks with the US government. Controversial FISC court rulings grant the NSA permission to monitor the communications of Americans, even communications within the scope of attorney-client privilege, provided those communications are deemed to have intelligence value and are with foreigners.

Given these revelations, US-based . . . [more]

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

Employment Law Updates for 2014

The employment law landscape is expected to change over a number of key issues through 2014. Some of these changes provincially in Ontario follow changes initiated at the Federal level.

Changes to the Employment Insurance Act under Bill C-44 to s. 12 of the Act which now provides up to 35 weeks of EI benefits for parents who have taken time off work to provide support or care for critically injured or ill children.

These provisions were mirrored in the Canada Labour Code for Federally regulated employees through a coordinating amendment under the Bill to s. 206.1.

Changes were . . . [more]

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

In Heenan’s Wake – Lessons?

From my discussions with insiders, it appears that the carnage from the dissolution of Heenan Blaikie continues as professional administrative staff (IT, HR, marketing, support staff, etc. ) are left in limbo as to what will happen to those not moving with the mass exodus of lawyers to other law firms.

There have been allegations that the dissolution was not managed well by the firm’s executive team. From the descriptions I have heard, it very much seems like an “every man/woman for his/herself” situation with panicked lawyers desperately calling around for a job while support staff were left to watch . . . [more]

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

Lawyers, Law Firms and Exceptionalism

Commiserating on the demise of giant Canadian law firm Heenan Blaikie in a Letter to the Editor to The Globe and Mail of February 7, 2014, retired lawyer Stephen Barker took issue with referring to the legal profession as the “law industry.” He adds that most “industries” have low standards of public service. 

This is not new news. The law industry, is in fact, an industry; every industry has its own peculiarities.

More importantly, every industry is subject to the laws of economics (laws of supply and demand, market cycles), competition (and competitiveness), and the 4-stage marketing cycle. The fourth . . . [more]

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

The Future of Expert Shopping

There has been quite a bit of controversy in the past few years about the use of experts in court, the appropriate role of experts in assisting judges, the subject matters upon which experts may testify and the ever-present problem of experts being hired by parties yet having to remain neutral in the search for the truth.

Recently, this issue has been debated outside legal circles. In the wake of high profile crimes such as that of Guy Turcotte who killed his two young children in 2009, the media has grabbed hold of these questions and asked how it is . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

The Practical New Face of Summary Judgment Motions

On January 23, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Hryniak v. Mauldin, in which it signaled a fundamental shift in the way that summary judgment motions are to be handled in the Province of Ontario.

A scheduling decision, released last week by Justice Brown of the Commercial List in Toronto, provides the first insight as to how summary judgment motions may be changing on a practical level.

Justice Brown noted, correctly, that it is conceivable that parties may end up having to make up to three appearances in connection with motions . . . [more]

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

Do We Need “Meet and Confer” Rules?

One of the ideas that surfaced in the lively discussions at the OBA’s Civil Litigation program which I co-chaired last week, was the importance of “face time” between counsel, as a means of improving communication, reducing hostility and keeping lawyers focused on the efficient and economical resolution of disputes.

The view was expressed that counsel sometimes adopt a tone in emails that they would not use in person. Someone has described this as “courage from a distance”.

At the break I was introduced to a California practitioner in the audience who informed me that the rules of procedure in that . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice