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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Mental Health Is a Professionalism Issue

Michele Hollins, former President of the Canadian Bar Association said “Studies have shown that lawyers may have the highest rates of depression among various occupational categories…many in our profession think that it makes good business sense to keep concerns to themselves.”

About 20% of the legal profession suffers from clinically significant levels of substance abuse, depression, anxiety or some other form of psychopathy. Lawyers suffer from major depressive disorders at a rate 3.6 times higher than non-lawyers who share key socioeconomic traits. In 2010, the Ontario Lawyers’ Assistance Program reported that 42% of their calls were related to mental health . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Practice Management

To Be or Not to Be? Totally Up to Her

There’s nothing quite like streaming clips of our American colleagues pitching for clients. Talk about free entertainment! You’ll see lawyers dragging flaming hammers through the ground or drug dealers thanking their counsel for past services as they move on to the next deal. Above all, you’ll hear screaming. Tons of it. You begin to imagine that the Law Society is on to something about refraining from advertising that brings the profession into disrepute. Indeed, the ads are brash, sassy, cheeky—pick your adjective. The underlying subtext of course is that Joe Smith, or whoever, is tough and aggressive, your . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Marketing

Sabbaticals for the Self-Employed

This mountain gorilla really knows how to take a break.

Many law firms and organizations now offer sabbatical programs as a workplace benefit. As long as employees meet defined criteria and plan carefully, they’re able to take a few months off without much risk.

But given that I’m self-employed and that I work alone most of the time, I didn’t think that a sabbatical was really an option for me. A carefully cultivated – or lucky – opportunity could come knocking at any moment. What if I wasn’t around to answer the door? When you’re self-employed, you need to . . . [more]

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

LAWPRO Student Magazine: What Do Law Firms Look For?

Law students – like all students – are prone to anxiety about their career prospects. High-profile news about the employment challenges faced by new grads in the U.S. and changes in the articling requirements for Ontario have combined to create a climate of worry.

But worrying about trends and generalizations can obscure the fact that the employment relationship is, in essence, an interpersonal relationship. Each successful employer/employee match happens because an individual firm takes a chance on an individual lawyer for reasons that are not only unique, but also personal, and sometimes instinctive.

We spoke with law firms across the . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Practice Management

The Ethics of ‘The Tweeting Lawyer”: Powerful Platform or Risky Undertaking?

Social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube) are web-based technologies that enable users to create and share content and to participate in interactive online communications. As the use of social media grows and becomes a powerful and indispensable tool for lawyers, so do the ethical risks facing lawyers.

Why “tweeting” is powerful. It is interactive, easy to reach, fast to use, cost effective, and informative. Social media is an excellent tool that can help lawyers establish broader professional networks, build and develop brands, and enhance professional profiles. While social media can provide powerful marketing tools, lawyer should . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Marketing

Lay Legal Advisers

In the UK in 1970 a husband who could not afford legal representation in his divorce proceedings used an Australian barrister, who was not qualified to appear in an English court, to help him. The judge barred the Australian from sitting next to McKenzie at the hearing. McKenzie appealed this decision on the ground he had been unfairly denied help. The Court of Appeal agreed, and according to an article last week in the UK Guardian newspaper, “broke lawyers’ monopoly on providing legal representation”.

There is a healthy industry of lay legal advisers in the UK today. They are called . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Talk Claims Prevention With Your Articling Students

This article is by Nora Rock, corporate writer & policy analyst at LAWPRO.

While it’s easy to view articling students as a source of extra help, the primary purpose of articling is to provide a valuable apprenticeship to the student, not simply to lighten the lawyer’s load. Today’s law school curriculum has a strongly theoretical focus. Students spend a great deal of time learning to research the law and to “think like lawyers”, and limited time learning about how to operate a law practice.

That’s where articling comes in. As an articling principal, you are charged with teaching students about . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Practice of Law: Practice Management

More Than Just Rhetorical Questions

I am a professional working woman. My mother was, until her retirement, a professional working woman. My daughter will, I expect, be a professional working woman when she completes her education.

Issues related to the (in)equality of working women therefore are of particular significance to me.

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day in the U.S. This is a day that marks the point in time each year when women in the workforce will have earned enough to catch up to the earnings of men in the previous year. Did you get that?

In the U.S., women need to work for more . . . [more]

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

Training in the Business of the Law

Two and a half years ago, I embarked upon the exciting adventure of starting up a new firm in Ottawa, McBride Bond Christian LPP. Though I had been in private practice for well over ten years at the time, I learned a lot about starting a new business ‘‘sur le terrain’’. None of my law school courses included training in business development, marketing or management. Luckily, I was fortunate to benefit from the guidance and advice of my colleagues throughout this process and we are proud to say that our firm has now blossomed into a mid-sized firm which . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

What Do We Do With All This Data?

It is said that we measure what we value and that we value what we measure. If the adage holds true, law firms’ emphasis on measurement of billable hours points ultimately to their focus on making a profit. This is hardly surprising.

Heather Douglas’ post Metrics: Beyond the Billable Hour, suggests that law firms should measure more than just billable hours and could make use of the valuable data gleaned or already in their possession. Those are good ideas that could support the profit motivation, but may require a different approach to measurement and data gathering, relying on research methodologies . . . [more]

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

Panama Papers – Points to Ponder

The Panama papers revelations are worth pondering on many levels. (This Wired article is a good summary.)

My first reaction to the high level tax evasion and corruption allegations was to blanch at the thought that someone had basically given the entire contents of a law firm’s document management system to a third party.

As a lawyer, the fact that law firm files were leaked causes me to wince. After all, solicitor-client privilege is a fundamental tenet of democratic society. Law firms take the security of their files very seriously, and getting access to this information would not be an . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

The Susskinds on the End of Tomorrow’s Professions

Lawyers like to think they’re unique.

This exceptionalism can explain in part our resistance to change, and our inability to adopt best practices from other industries. Sometimes it limits our ability to recognize that our challenges are part of larger societal trends which everyone is facing.

In The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the nature of legal services, Richard Susskind explored alternative methods of providing legal services, while pointing to some of the many failings of the existing models of delivery. In Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, he goes further, and describes the types of new jobs . . . [more]

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