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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Alternative Business Structures and Access to Justice … for Whom?

The Canadian legal profession is currently engaged in a much-needed debate about the future of legal services in general and whether to allow the use of so-called alternative business structures (ABSs) more particularly. Thankfully, the issue of access to justice is figuring prominently in the general debate, as evidenced by the recently released CBA Legal Futures report and the ongoing work of the Action Committee on Access to Justice. Beyond that, the potential for ABSs to improve access to justice is being put forward as a key reason for allowing them, as can be seen in Slaw columns of . . . [more]

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

Misquoted in the Media? Set the Record Straight.

Being interviewed for a news item or feature story on your area of expertise is a great way to build a professional reputation. It looks good in a Google search. It associates your esteem with that of the publication. And you can refer to the coverage in marketing materials without sounding self-aggrandizing.

But what if you’re misquoted?

As reporters rush to meet deadlines and editorial departments dwindle, your erudite articulation might come across as an arcane patois.

Communications expert Marsha D’Angelo has some advice on options to set the record straight. D’Angelo has worked with an impressive list of clients . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Marketing

A Step Closer to IBM Watson in the Law?

Are we getting closer to machines in the practice of law? In his blog post “Meet your new lawyer, IBM Watson,” Ron Friedmann describes a meeting between IBM senior management and top-tier law firm CIOs at last week’s ILTA conference. He says:

It sounds like IBM intends Legal Watson to replace junior associates or at least perform much of their work (see also The Future of LawAmerican Lawyer, Aug 2014). Legal Watson’s success depends on the answers to three questions:

  1. What information – and how much – does Watson need to ingest and, to the extent necessary,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Diagramming for Statutory Interpretation

Juana Summers of NPR detailed this week the use of sentence diagramming, a grammar technique once widely used in America,

Burns Florey and other experts trace the origin of diagramming sentences back to 1877 and two professors at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. In their book, Higher Lessons in English,Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg made the case that students would learn better how to structure sentences if they could see them drawn as graphic structures.

After Reed and Kellogg published their book, the practice of diagramming sentences had something of a Golden Age in American schools.

The practice fell into disuse . . . [more]

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

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Experience: A Young Lawyer Carves Her Own Path

When Carli van Maurik shares her practice philosophy with other lawyers, she’s usually met with one of two responses: raised eyebrows or enthusiastic support.

Carli van Maurik

Thankfully, most colleagues fall into the latter category.

Ms. van Maurik is a lawyer with the British Columbia business law firm Whiteboard Law. She’s based in Victoria, where she honed her legal skills at one of the city’s well known firms before branching out to follow her entrepreneurial instincts.

Most lawyers eventually narrow the focus of their practice or notice that clients could be better served by a different approach. But not . . . [more]

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

Habits and Shortcuts

My Dad, a big old gruff softie farmer from central Alberta hates (is terribly afraid of) mice. Squeeks like one when he sees them indoors, the sweetheart. I dislike the mouse that is attached to my computer when I have to take my hands off of the keyboard to use it to engage functions in software. This personality quirk is so well known in my firm that people will send me keyboard shortcuts, bless them.

Josette McEachern, Field Law’s Library Manager sent me this MS Excel tip today:

To insert a row Cntrl Shft =
To delete a row

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

Of Snowden’s Call to Encrypt and the Role of Our Law Societies

Slaw Columnist Simon Chester recently tipped us off about another fascinating interview with Edward Snowden. Building on earlier interviews with the enigmatic NSA and CIA rogue, the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, and its intelligence correspondent, Ewen MacAskill, talked to Snowden a little over a year since his defection. The earnest 29 year-old is now an earnest 30 year-old, only seemingly much older and seemingly aging at an accelerated rate. A partway time-lapse to Noam Chomsky.

I’d watch the interview if for no other reason than to hear Snowden’s caution about the challenges facing the legal profession in this era that . . . [more]

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

Litigation Coaching by Judges

We often speak of litigation coaching for clients as a form of unbundled services, as one of the new frontiers for providing cost-effective legal services. But I’ve also identified the challenges that young lawyers have in developing the practical skills in litigation, especially given the strong emphasis in the system to resolve issues outside of the courtroom.

At the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Canadian Legal Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland this weekend, I had the opportunity to speak in greater depth with some vendors and discovered a product of interest.

Taran Virtual Associations, a domestic legal outsourcing company who . . . [more]

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

Final CBA Futures Report Is Now Available

2 years in the making.

7 key findings.

22 recommended actions.

Those are the numbers behind the CBA’s Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada report, released today.

The initiative was established in 2012 to “examine the fundamental changes facing the Canadian legal profession and to help lawyers understand and respond to those changes.”

The 106-page report identifies seven key findings, the result of thousands of hours of work through commissioned research and extensive online and in-person consultations with “a broad cross-section of lawyers, clients, law students, and other legal stakeholders,” and in-depth interviews with selected innovators. . . . [more]

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

Want a Challenge-Proof Will? Think Like a (Wannabe) Beneficiary

As a lawyer, you have likely been trained to maintain a laser focus on your client’s interests and how to express and defend them. Being a fierce advocate is usually a good thing.

But when preparing a will for a client, it can be a useful exercise, once you have a good first draft, to intentionally play devil’s advocate.

At the Law Society of Upper Canada Solo and Small Firm Practice Conference in June 2014, estates lawyer Lisa Barazzutti suggested that when reviewing a newly-drafted will, it’s useful to read the will from the perspective of the beneficiaries. “Ask yourself,” . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Competence for the Low-Tech Lawyer

Is saying no to technology even an option for lawyers in modern practice? The Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Model Code of Professional Content defines competence as follows:

3.1-1 1 “Competent lawyer” means a lawyer who has and applies relevant knowledge, skills and attributes in a manner appropriate to each matter undertaken on behalf of a client and the nature and terms of the lawyer’s engagement, including:

(j) pursuing appropriate professional development to maintain and enhance legal knowledge and skills; and (k) otherwise adapting to changing professional requirements, standards, techniques and practices.

If lawyers do not have certain . . . [more]

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

Aligning Employees Behind Firm Strategy: Getting Started

When firm leaders agree on strategic objectives, it’s time to align employees towards achieving them. As with anything with multiple moving parts, adjustments can help the system work at its best.

Last week, I discussed the difference between employee engagement and employee alignment. Engagement is what motivates people to arrive at work each morning. Alignment is what they do when they get there.

Why focus on alignment?

  • It gives everyone a purpose beyond their individual roles
  • It’s an opportunity to break down silos between groups
  • It strengthens your firm’s reputation as performance becomes more consistent and profitable

Signs of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management