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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Future of Practice’

The Profession of the Privileged

Last week my Facebook feed lit up after the article by Eric Girard, “What I learned at law school: The poor need not apply”, was published in the Globe. Mr. Girard, a 3rd year student at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, was on the verge of leaving school due to his financial circumstances until a friend stepped in and, at the last minute, offered to co-sign a loan. Mr. Girard’s story ends well but it highlights some significant problems with legal education in Canada. The high cost of a legal education puts it out of reach from . . . [more]

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

Logic Models and Legal Education

Over the weekend, I had opportunity to speak with a high school student about the path to law school and into the legal profession. We spoke at some length about the importance of her pre-law education, in terms of ensuring her grades were high enough to get into law school but even more in terms of ensuring she has a strong background in relevant skills, e.g. business administration, project management, accounting or engineering. I urged her to be practical in terms of making her under-graduate choices so as to position herself well for a future in a changing profession.

The . . . [more]

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

Innovating Regulation on the Prairies

Several years ago on this site, Mitch Kowalski posed a question that merits another look. In his post “What if the western provinces saved the profession?”, Mitch asked:

What would happen if a group of western provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for example) decided to strike out on their own and allow ABS-type structures in their jurisdictions?

His conclusion was that “…once the snowball starts rolling in any province it will be unstoppable.”

Well, it’s winter on the prairies and guess what? It’s snowing.

The law societies in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have recently released a discussion paper on . . . [more]

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

The Lord Chief Justice’s Report 2015

Last week the UK’s most senior judge delivered his annual report to Parliament. It echoes many of the concerns being discussed in Ontario.

The report describes the UK judicial system as now “unaffordable to most”, and the current court system as “not really designed” for the increased number of self represented litigants.

Two areas where the judiciary has pressed its views concerning civil justice are: the need for proportionality between the costs of a case in relation to the value of the claim; and the succession of significant court fee increases.

To address the costs proportionality issue, the judiciary is . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Is Doc Review Legal Work?

It has been said that over 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone.

The proliferation of documents has changed the way legal work is done. Litigation files with thousands or even millions of documents have spawned an entire industry devoted to document review. Wikipedia defines document review as “the process whereby each party to a case sorts through and analyzes the documents and data they possess … to determine which are sensitive [privileged] or otherwise relevant to the case.”

In Ontario, Deloitte has a department devoted to document review. It is filled with . . . [more]

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

Drum Machines and the Legal Profession

An interesting post by lawyer and cognitive scientist Peter Macmillan, was captured in part by comments in the LinkedIn Legal Innovation and Technology group, caught my attention last week. In his post, “Robot Lawyers are Not the Future,” Macmillan begins by noting that “industry outsiders are pushing technologies that many believe will transform the legal profession from a technological backwater to a shining example of cognitive computing.”

And, although he knows that advances in technology will not stop happening, he contends that, “Robot Lawyers are not the future, at least not in the sense that they’ll rule . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

May 2016 Be the Year of Collaboration

“Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon.” – Adam Grant, Give and Take 

In each jurisdiction, the same issues frequently arise, causing counsel to duplicate work. For example, let’s say you are litigating a case where informed consent plays a central role. As competent defence counsel, you research the law on informed consent and draft a corresponding memo on the case law. Down the street, defence counsel on a separate case has the same central issue. They also research the law on informed consent and draft a memo. Both are medical . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

The Case Against Disruptive Innovation in Large Practice

Change is needed in the legal industry. But change simply for the sake of changing isn’t always a good thing.

There’s plenty of buzz about McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s “radical” transformation, and rightly so. They’re ridding offices for communal work spaces, finally moving away from the billable hour, and slashing redundant support staff. The effort is to be applauded, but the transition is likely to be bumpy.

Although I’ve advocated for importing the Latte Method into legal services, I’m not sure all lawyers want or need to feel like they’re working in a Starbucks. For many small and independent lawyers, . . . [more]

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

From the King’s Court to Online Dispute Resolution

On such an afternoon some score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be … engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities, running their goat-hair and horse-hair warded heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might…between the registrar’s red table and the silk gowns, with bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters’ reports, mountains of costly nonsense, piled before them… This is the Court of Chancery, which

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

Successful Settlements

An excellent Osgoode Professional Development program took place on 26 November- Successful Settlements: Strategies & Tactics for Civil Litigators.

To my mind it highlighted the divergence developing within the legal profession in Ontario.

Several of the speakers addressed settlement methods including mediation, second pre-trials and strategies for getting to yes. They emphasized the psychology of settlement discussions, and the therapeutic value in giving the parties the opportunity to vent their feelings on the issues. One speaker reported how she was thanked by a party who said until that point, “I spent thousands of dollars and no one had heard what . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

How to Master Complex, Unfamiliar Tasks

If you’re about to tackle a complex matter or task in an unfamiliar area, how should you prioritize your first steps? New research shows that you’ll be off to a better start if you focus on learning rather than results. This is especially true if the matter context is unpredictable or dynamic.

I interviewed Dr. Meredith Woodwark – whose research uncovered these findings – to learn more. Woodwark teaches organizational behavior and leadership at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research focuses on motivation, learning goals and employee engagement.

Q. How is your research . . . [more]

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

The Future of Automation in Litigation: Plotting Obsolescence to Survive

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

I predict that the first components of a litigation file to be completely automated are the drafting of:

  • Common Pleadings (e.g. Statement of Claim for “slip and fall”);
  • Affidavit of Documents; and
  • Discovery Plans for common actions.

Why?

These documents are rule based, and computer programs love rules. I envision a computer program asking questions at the beginning of the file . . . [more]

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