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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Law Firm Managers Need Training in Organizational Behaviour

We often hear that lawyers are trained in the law, not in how to operate a business. One of the most basic management skill lacking though can be found in the field of organizational behaviour (OB).

Dr. Larry Richard recently gave a talk at the CBA conference in Ottawa, where he presented “breakthrough ideas to boost your engagement.” The need for employee engagement is even more important during turbulent economic times, when law firms are facing considerably more instability than in the past. Much of what he had to offer corresponded with the OB skills deficit.

Dr. Richard noted that . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Open a File for Pro Bono Matters Too

Pro bono work is something nearly every lawyer does occasionally. Here’s one practical tip for avoiding some pro bono pitfalls: open a file for every matter you handle.

By “open a file”, we mean treat the work like you would any other work. Run a conflicts check; diarize deadlines; document the client’s instructions, your advice and the steps you take; and docket your time (even if you won’t bill it).

Treating an “off-books” matter like any other case makes it less likely that you will skip steps, overlook conflicts or deadlines, or fail to take the notes that may protect . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Canadian Bar Association Runs a Startup Competition at Its Annual Conference

Imagine the taxi industry investing in Uber. Well, maybe it should have.

Despite the comparisons between lawyers and the taxi industry, the preeminent lawyers’ organization in Canada—the Canadian Bar Association, is running the Pitch—a contest to select the best legal tech startups in the country. The Pitch takes place at the CBA Legal Conference on August 12, 2016. The CBA partnered up with important players from the startup world to reward the winners.

The China Angels Mentorship Program will consider all Pitch finalists for at least a $200,000 investment.

The winners of the Pitch will also get . . . [more]

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

Hassles: Transforming Court Services

When it comes to court services and legal services, there is a huge gap between what customers really want and what they settle for. Those gaps between what people really want and what they settle for represent opportunities for new products.

In Demand Adrian Slywotzky writes that each hassle (a needless step) is a problem and that answers to problems represent possible business ideas. As it currently stands, using court services requires overcoming many hassles. And, like the hassles associated with buying books in stores, the Internet has made many of the steps associated with using court services unnecessary. For . . . [more]

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

Keeping It Real: Implementing a Firm-Wide LPM Program, Part II

Last week, Carl Herstein, Chief Value Partner at Honigman LLP discussed his experience in developing and implementing a firm-wide legal project management (LPM) program at his firm. The conversation continues with a candid discussion of the pricing of legal services, how it relates to project management and what clients really think of firm initiatives in this regard.

Q. How would you describe the relationship between pricing, collections, AFAs and LPM at your firm?

When a client approaches us with a new matter, the first question that every one of our lawyers should ask is “what are your goals?”. . . . [more]

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

Excluding Lawyers From the ESA and LRA

There are over 85 complex exemptions and special rules to the Employment Standards Act, many of them decades old, and others dating back to 1944. The Act is a long and complicated one, adding significant operational expense to employers in implementation, and leaving many workers vulnerable given gaps in protection.

The original ESA was created in 1968, at which point it replaced a number of older statutes, including the Hours of Work and Vacations with Pay Act of 1944. The Act was amended many times over the years, but was only reviewed in 2000, with the new Act taking . . . [more]

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

Keeping It Real: Implementing a Firm-Wide LPM Program, Part 1

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, a law firm with 300 attorneys in five offices throughout the U.S. mid-west launched a comprehensive legal project management (LPM) initiative in 2011. Rather than announce the program with the usual press releases and fanfare, the firm deliberately chose to stay quiet about it – until recently. 

Carl W. Herstein is Honigman’s Detroit-based Chief Value Partner. In this two-part interview, Carl discusses the decision to “keep it real”, what he’s learned along the way, and how LPM fits into firm culture. His experience exemplifies the commitment, forethought and resources required as other firms . . . [more]

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

Open a File for Pro Bono Matters Too

This post is by Nora Rock, corporate writer and policy analyst at LAWPRO

Pro bono work is something nearly every lawyer does occasionally. Here’s one practical tip for avoiding some pro bono pitfalls: open a file for every matter you handle.

By “open a file”, we mean treat the work like you would any other work. Run a conflicts check; diarize deadlines; document the client’s instructions, your advice and the steps you take; and docket your time (even if you won’t bill it).

Treating an “off-books” matter like any other case makes it less likely that you will skip steps, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Stress and Solutions: An Update From the Lawyers Assistance Program of B.C.

Derek Lacroix, QC has been at the helm of the Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia (LAPBC) since December, 1996. LAPBC provides confidential outreach, education, support and referrals to distressed members of the bar. Their clients and volunteers include judges, lawyers, articling students, paralegals, legal assistants, support staff and other members of the legal community.

How have the stresses, issues or crises that LAPBC assists with changed in recent years?

The nature of the issues has changed, as has the range. Take alcohol addiction for example. We saw a lot of severe crises associated with substance abuse and addiction in . . . [more]

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

Title Insurance and Recreational Properties: What You Need to Know

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

Recreational properties present a unique set of challenges. Here are some issues to keep in mind when obtaining title insurance policies for your clients’ purchases of recreational properties, to help ensure your clients’ interests are protected.

Legal description: If the property was created years ago, the thumbnail description on the PIN may be brief, for instance, “as in instrument 123456,” but the actual description in that instrument can be long and complex. It may have multiple elements: “Firstly,” “Secondly” and more. Older descriptions may not refer . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Is Your Purchaser Client Entitled to an HST New Housing Rebate?

Canada’s HST New Housing Rebate program, created under s. 254 of the Excise Tax Act, offers significant economic relief to qualifying purchasers of qualifying properties. However, the eligibility criteria are complicated, and have been strictly applied by courts. To avoid claims based on a client’s non-receipt of the rebate (or on having had it clawed back), a real estate lawyer must understand the rules. Only then will the lawyer be in a position to ask the questions that will establish whether or not the client is eligible for the rebate, and to appropriately manage the client’s expectations.

The rebate . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Peer-to-Peer Rentals: Entering the Sharing Economy

Peer-to-peer rental networking sites, such as Airbnb and VRBO, provide homeowners with the tools with which to rent out all or part of their properties on a short-term basis. Homeowners may wish to rent out their properties occasionally in order to supplement their income, or they may have purchased the property entirely for income purposes. On its face, this seems like a simple way for a homeowner to make additional income. Only it is not that simple.

Although there is an almost infinite variety of types of rentals facilitated by peer-to-peer rental sites (rooms, apartments within homes, entire homes, condominium . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law