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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Simple Questions in Complex Situations

How many lawyers consistently use a checklist of questions to ask clients at the beginning of a personal legal matter? Many customize the checklists published by provincial Law Societies for a particular practice area, client service style or matter management process. The focus is often on quality assurance, risk mitigation and scope of work. Is there a way to include the human element too?

I attended a lecture by Atul Gawande in New York a few weeks ago. Gawande is a surgeon who teaches at Harvard Medical School, writes for The New Yorker and leads two health care organizations. He . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Reading, Reading: Recommended

No Agreement on Legal Aid Funding

Justice ministers from across Canada met in Alberta this week to discuss funding for legal aid, but no agreement was reached.

According to provincial justice ministers, legal aid used to be shared equally with the federal government. However, since 2003 there has been no new funding from the federal government, meaning any shortfall is left to the province. What that means is that in some provinces like Alberta, federal contributions to legal aid have dropped to 16 per cent.

Andrew Swan, Manitoba Justice Minister, said,

I don’t understand how a government in Ottawa that claims to be in support

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

Elementary My Dear Watson …?

Paul Lippe and Daniel Martin Katz offer “10 predictions about how IBM’s Watson will impact the legal profession.”

They note in part:

Many imagine Watson might displace lawyers for legal reasoning. We believe that systems like Watson are very unlikely to displace the reasoning processes of lawyers. But it’s equally true Watson may illuminate how rare it is that lawyers have to solve “bespoke” reasoning problems, and how common it is to apply “proven” approaches in slightly different contexts. But Watson doesn’t have to displace legal reasoning to have an impact.”

Which made me think of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Surge of Requests to Be “Forgotten” Online

Following the European Court of Justice decision earlier this year in Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja González, Google has had a flood of requests to have webpages deleted from their index. More than a third of these requests, or over 60,000 links, come from the U.K.

Google released data today demonstrating where the requests originate from:

To date, Google has evaluated nearly 500,000 links for removal. More than half of all urls reviewed by Google are removed, meaning that there are still many others that they do not.

This data also reveals that the vast majority of . . . [more]

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

Legal Advice Services Cannot Be Automated by Alternative Business Structures

The fact that legal advice services cannot be automated is of critical importance in determining whether the legal profession should accept proposals for “alternative business structures” (ABS’s). They are being promoted by a Committee of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) as a means of lowering the cost of legal services.[i] The “unaffordable legal services problem” afflicts both kinds of legal services: (1) legal advice services; and, (2) routine legal services that don’t require legal advice. ABS proposals have three parts: (1) law firms can be invested in (owned—up to 49% or 100%) by non-lawyer people and entities; . . . [more]

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

Good Intentions and Rhetoric Won’t Suffice

Why is it so hard for the legal profession to act on what we know about the benefits of working in an environment that reflects the diversity of those we provide services to?

As a member of numerous volunteer committees, both inside and outside the legal profession, I’m often struck by the extent to which diversity challenges pervade most every sector. In the social and community services sector where I work and volunteer, I often find myself involved in committees made up largely of women and often failing to reflect the diversity of the service users in that sector. In . . . [more]

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

Stop Doing That

I have too many RSS feeds. I receive and send too many emails. My calendar is too full. My project list is too lengthy. I am a totally average person working in a law firm. What to do?

  1. Figure out what in your world is waste
  2. Stop doing it

Simple, right? Perhaps one thing I should stop is asking redundant questions.

One way to consider your actions with the goal of stopping waste is use the 5 Whys method for your daily work. What is the root cause for why you are doing what you are doing?

Here is a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law

Should Self-Represented Litigants Be Entitled to Costs?

A recent family law decision applied the existing legal principles relating to the awarding of legal costs to self-represented litigants. These principles were first set out by the Court of Appeal over 15 years ago.

In short:

– a self-represented litigant does not have an automatic right to costs;

– the matter remains fully within the discretion of the trial judge;

– to be considered eligible for costs, the self-represented litigant must demonstrate that they devoted time and effort to do work ordinarily done by a lawyer retained to conduct the litigation and in doing so incurred an opportunity cost . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Substantive Law

It’s the 6 D’s Not the ‘60’s: Machine Processing and the Legal Profession

The legal profession should be on notice: the computers are coming.”

Ryan McClead, over on the 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, has just finished up a great series of posts called, “The Exponential Law Firm.”* He’s also gathered these posts into a single paper with the added subtitle, “An Exploration of the Technological in Law Practice.”

He begins by attempting to answer the question, “What do we sell?” He frames this question in terms of what lawyers and law firms think they sell and what their clients expect when they seek . . . [more]

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

LPM Initiatives at Large Law Firms: The Road Ahead

Many large law firms in Canada and the U.S. have begun to implement legal project management initiatives, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Jim Hassett’s latest book – Client Value and Law Firm Profitability – provides new insights into why some firms have had much more success than others. Over the last eighteen months, Jim conducted confidential interviews with law firm leaders from 50 AmLaw 200 firms. Forty-two percent were chairs or managing partners, and the balance were senior partners and executives.

Study participants were promised that they would not be quoted by name, which led to some unusually frank . . . [more]

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

Robot Lawyers

Since 1998 when I worked with a whiz named Russell, I have been a proponent of automation. Pushing information to myself with RSS, using autotext and macros in Word, subtotaling in Excel, and Outlook Rules have all made it possible for me to automate bits of my own work. As a law firm KMer, I build and advocate for tools that automate, or at least reduce steps, to work done in my organization. I am certain that many Slawyers have similar stories about how the way they use computers (or phones, or tablets, or other devices) in their work has . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

When Waiving a Search Comes Back to Haunt You

How a client perceives a lawyer’s role in a transaction often depends on the client’s experience. At one end of the spectrum, a new homebuyer may believe that the lawyer will not only navigate the process, but will also personally shield the client from all risks. At the other extreme, a sophisticated businessperson may urge a lawyer to “rubber stamp” a deal the client has brokered. The wise lawyer will, however, refuse to be either insurer or pawn.

When it comes to doing due diligence − and specifically, making decisions about searches − the safest approach is follow the client’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management