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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

When Are Witnesses Allowed to Testify via Video-Conference?

A recent Superior Court decision canvassed the existing law pertaining to permitting witnesses to testify via telephone or video as opposed to in person, and appears to have set out a template of the procedure by which such requests should be made and, if granted, carried out.

A few days before the commencement of trial, the defendants requested that five of their witnesses be permitted to testify via video-conference at the trial. Four of these witnesses live in the U.K. and the other witness lives in the United States. The plaintiff opposed the request which led to argument. The court . . . [more]

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

Five Ways to Make a Fast Decision

Time and money almost always need to be balanced with quality in legal projects. When you’re faced with increasing project constraints, the ability to make good decisions quickly becomes especially important.

Decisiveness requires the type of confidence that comes from taking action, rather than accumulating theoretical knowledge. You might not make the best choice. You might even offend. But you’ll move things forward.

  1. Seek disconfirmation of assumptions. Ask “Is this wrong?” instead of “Am I right? Talk to someone with relevant experience.
  2. If you’re working in a team, understand your role and the decisions you are expected to make.
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Independent Legal Advice Checklist

When providing independent legal advice, a checklist provides you with a handy tool to ensure that you are covering all the bases when discussing the underlying transaction and your client’s relationship to that transaction. Using this checklist, created by Phil Epstein Q.C., will allow you to be in a better position to successfully defend a negligence claim in relation to the provision of independent legal advice. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Welcome the Flipped Lawyer

Time and tide wait for no man” (Geoffrey Chaucer). Or for no lawyer [male or female]. 

Change is afoot in the legal profession, and lawyers are trying to figure out how to react to it. But the legal industry isn’t the only profession facing change.

Jonathan Reese of Colorado State University-Pueblo recently wrote about changes in the education sector on The Kernel. He describes the introduction of MOOCs and flipped classrooms as a form of “professional suicide.” The premise behind both of these is the responsibility for learning shifts to the students, who watch video lectures on . . . [more]

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

The Rights and Responsibilities of Self-Represented Litigants

A few years ago I was doing some work for a professional association on guidelines for dealing with litigants without counsel and I was struck by the extent to which some legal professionals regard litigants without counsel as interlopers who gum up the finely tuned, well-oiled machine that is their justice system. Some of the same attitudes are evident in the research on lawyers’ and judges’ perceptions done by Nicholas Bala and Rachel Birnbaum in 2012 and by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family in 2013. By way of illustration, respondents to a follow-up national survey of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Practice of Law

Claims for Damage Caused by Tenants Fall Under Exclusive Jurisdiction of Landlord Board

A recent Ontario decision has affirmed the principle that all claims for damage caused by a tenant during a tenancy must proceed before the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “Board”) and not in the Superior or Small Claims courts.

After about a six year tenancy, the tenant fell behind on rent. The landlord brought an application to evict the tenant. The tenant vacated the unit shortly after being served with the application materials and did not attend the eviction hearing.

As part of the eviction hearing the landlord sought arrears of rent, including hydro arrears. The Board terminated the tenancy . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law

Litigation Malpractice Claims Fact Sheet

Created to coincide with the release of our Rule 48.14 Transition Toolkit, the litigation claims fact sheet is the latest in practicePRO’s series of fact sheets. They includes quick claims facts, the main causes of claims against lawyers, hot topics in the particular areas of law, tips for avoiding claims and links to practicePRO resources. The sheets can also be used as program inserts in their own right.

The other fact sheets released so far are for criminal law, wills & estates and real estate. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Building a Culture of Wellness

I am always somewhat pessimistic about the response of any group of lawyers to a presentation on the subject of wellness. Though I’ve spoken more than a few times on what lawyers can do to increase their sense of personal wellbeing and maintain a greater sense of balance while doing the work they do, my expectation remains that there will be at least a little eye rolling and more likely, significant disengagement with a topic that both touches on the personal and sometimes tends towards good parental advice.

Last week I joined fellow Slaw-yer Dan Pinnington and lawyer therapist Doron . . . [more]

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

Life Beyond the Law Firm: An Interview With Tech Entrepreneur Greg Smith

Greg Smith, co-founder of

When lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Greg Smith quit practicing law to start tech company Thinkific, he quickly learned that following his dream was going to take more hard work and a lot more risk than anything he’d encountered before.

Many lawyers find the business world beyond their law firm more enticing than the business of law. I recently asked Greg to share how his legal experience has influenced his foray into the entrepreneurial realm.

Q. What spurred you to leave the comforts of a big law firm and start a tech company?

I loved practicing law at . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law

Do More With Less – CBALC

Last week I had the pleasure of attending part of the Canadian Bar Association Legal Conference in Calgary. In addition to connecting with friends and colleagues, exploring the other vendors in the marketplace and chatting with people about law librarians and the value we bring to the legal community, I attended some of the excellent programming offered.

With my personal focus on process improvement, the session that caught my eye on August 14 was:

FRIDAY AUGUST 14 — 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Whether you are in a private practice,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law

Directive for Change, Straight From the Chief

This past weekend Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin addressed CBA members at the legal conference in Calgary, Alberta. A complete copy of the speech is available here via National Magazine, and my live broadcast via Periscope is available here.

She addressed her continuing concerns about access to justice, but focused on the change already underway in the profession. She told a lawyer joke, which she admittedly refrains from doing,

“How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?”, it goes. The answer, “What’s change?”

I prefer the response to the question, “How many psychiatrists does it take

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

Is It Safe to Serve on a Client’s Board of Directors?

It can be very rewarding, both personally and financially, to be asked to serve on a client’s board of directors. It’s also easy to understand why a client might make the request: the lawyer may have worked closely with the corporation’s founders to establish the company, and will likely have a solid understanding of the corporation’s objectives, the marketplace challenges it faces, and its relationships with industry partners, suppliers, customers and others. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law