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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

Building Good Practice Management Habits

It’s that time of year again – articling students in Manitoba are wrapping up their year and looking ahead to their Call to the Bar and beginning their careers as lawyers. Some will continue to practice in the firms where they received their articles, while others will move to new firms or set out on their own. Regardless the setting, all will need to develop good practice and time management habits.

I’ve spoken with articling students in the past about the relevance of learning time management techniques at a point in their career when they have so little control over . . . [more]

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

We Are All Worrying About the Wrong Thing

While lawyers in Canada were debating whether licensed paralegals should have a limited role in family law, and before that contemplating entity-based regulation, alternative business structures, and the articling crisis, change was already happening without them.

This week the century-old American law firm, BakerHostetler, announced they have hired their first digital lawyer, ROSS, the artificial intelligence system based on IBM’s Watson. What can ROSS do for this firm, one of the largest in the country?

According to the ROSS website, it can provide a highly relevant answer to a question posed in natural language. You don’t get thousands . . . [more]

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

Imposing Quotas on the Legal Profession

Perhaps it didn’t make as many waves in the rest of the country, but the Quebec legal community has been buzzing about a report on the employment situation among young lawyers in Quebec published by the Young Bar Association of Montreal (YBAM) earlier this year. This organization, which represents close to 5,000 members, compiled impressive amounts of data to establish trends about young lawyers’ job prospects.

Essentially, things are bad for young lawyers in Montreal and they are getting worse. The issue has now made its way into mainstream media, with La Presse running a few articles last week about . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Diversify Without Dabbling: Before Expanding Your Practice, Expand Your Competence

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

Think you have the confidence to bluff your way through a file that’s outside your normal scope of practice? It might work if you were playing a lawyer on TV… but that’s only because your opponent (and the judge, if it’s a litigation file) would be actors, too. In the real world, trying to “fake it to make it” in an unfamiliar area of law is unfair to the client, dangerous to the lawyer’s reputation, and risks a potential legal malpractice claim.

In a challenging economy, many . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Reading: Recommended

More Than a Google Search: 4 Ways to Assess Your Reputation

When I ask lawyers how they plan on building their reputations, the answers that I usually hear range from “do whatever I’m told” to “don’t screw up” to “execute my stellar marketing plan”. Of course, there’s more to it than that.

A reputation rests on:

  1. The esteem in which you are held
  2. The respect people have for you
  3. Your perceived level of trustworthiness
  4. The admiration that stakeholders have for your character

Having a “good” reputation means knowing what matters to those whose opinions affect your career. It doesn’t just result in referrals and job offers. It’s also about getting . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Marketing

Barreau Du Quebec Position on Hourly Billing Report Long Overdue

On March 24, 2016, the Barreau du Quebec (Quebec Bar Association) released a report « La tarification horaire à l’heure de la réflexion » (in French only and translated to say Hourly Billing: A Time for Reflection) calling for an end to hourly billing by lawyers and law firms in the hope of improving access to justice for the public and a better work-life balance for lawyers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Raising Court Fees and Nudging Litigant Behaviour

The Ontario provincial government will be raising court fees effective July 1, 2016. This increase will be based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index.

Although I welcome the injection of money into the court system, I take issue with the government’s approach to raising fees. The government is squandering a golden opportunity to positively nudge the public’s behaviour.

Scholars Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein explain a “nudge” as something that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing economic incentives. An example of a nudge would be putting fruit at eye level in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lawyers and Audits – the New Joint Policy Statement Effective December 1, 2016

Shareholders, investors, lenders and others have a vital interest in proper financial disclosure by entities in which they have an economic interest. Making sensible business decisions is often difficult. It is impossible without proper information. Audited financial statements play a central role in financial disclosure.

Disclosure is a good thing and a bad thing

Some assets and liabilities are simply reflected in financial statements. Some are not so simple. Contingent assets and liabilities can be tricky. The contingency may or may not arise. Assuming the contingency, the value of the contingent asset or liability is often uncertain. The uncertainties may . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Avoid Problems on Motions for Removal as Lawyer of Record

LAWPRO defence counsel have reported to us they have seen an increase in motions to be removed as lawyers of record and that these motions are not always going as expected or desired. In some cases motion materials do not have the required evidence, providing either too little information, or too much information (i.e., confidential or privileged information is being disclosed). Lawyers are also saying that decisions on these motions have not always been consistent. Follow these steps to ensure you get the desired result by placing the required information before the court.

In Ontario, Rule 15.04 of the Rules . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Ontario Introducing New ORPP Legislation

On April 14, 2016, the Ontario government introduced new legislation to launch the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) legislation. Bill 186, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act (Strengthening Retirement Security for Ontarians), 2016 will ensure that if the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is not enhanced, Ontario can proceed with the ORPP. However, the Ontario government says it remains committed to working with the federal government to enhance the CPP. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

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