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Archive for ‘Practice of Law’

The Screen Door Slamming

It is finally summer on the prairies. I am savouring long, sunny days, lush, green lawns and thunderclouds on the horizon at dusk, but my paradise is not free from troubles.

There are pests in my world – ants, flies, wasps, giant hungry mosquitoes and more – and I find myself becoming irritated by their incessant buzzing and humming, until I hear the distinct whack of a screen door slamming. The sound immediately reminds me that my summertime serenity is secure.

This simple device allows the fresh morning breezes and cool night air to pass freely through my home, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Strategies for the Modern Age: Dealing With the New Reality

We’re halfway through 2014. How’s your practice strategy coming along?

If you’re feeling stuck, you might find inspiration in “The End of Competitive Advantage” by Columbia Business School’s Rita Gunther McGrath. McGrath’s framework makes a lot of sense for firms dealing with rapidly changing environments.

The new “playbook for strategy” outlined in McGrath’s latest research is premised on creating transient advantages versus exploiting business-as-usual to sustain historical performance. Her logic will resonate with anyone preparing firms for new realities:

“The presumption of stability creates all the wrong reflexes. It allows for inertia and power to build up

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Reading: Recommended

Spring (Or Summer) Clean Your Practice

When work gets busy, many of us put certain non-mission-critical tasks on hold. But it’s important to remember that “on hold” should not be allowed to turn into “lost in the mists of time”. Lawyers must develop the discipline of regularly returning to and addressing the non-urgent details of their practice when opportunities present themselves.

You will know best what needs addressing in the course of your spring cleaning, but if you need some inspiration, here are our suggestions:

  • Bill your files, and send reporting letters for matters that you’ve completed.
  • Identify languishing files, and take the next step in
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Summer School Anyone?: Legal Informatics at Stanford

As reported by Robert Richards on the Legal Informatics Research Network, Roland Vogl and Michael Genesereth have released their spring 2014 lectures for the Legal Informatics course at Stanford Law School. The course intends to provide an “overview of how technology is used in today’s legal practice and how it will be changing the landscape of the legal profession and the law more broadly in the foreseeable future.”

The course is organized into three modules with eight video lectures ranging from an hour and a half to two hours in length:

  1. Legal Document Management (including electronic legal research,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

Legal Aid Is Funding Separation Agreements

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is funding 10 hours for the negotiation and creation of separation agreements as of July 3, 2014. The move is intended to reduce the number of unrepresented parties in family law, as well as promote non-adversarial dispute resolution.

The advantage of this initiative is that it provides avenues to resolve family disputes without resorting to litigation, which is often the only way that many eligible for legal aid can receive funds. The downside may be that 10 hours may not be nearly enough to cover all the areas of assistance covered by the funding:

  • obtaining and
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Getting Started With Legal Knowledge Management

How do you get started with Knowledge Management (KM) in the legal profession?

I get approached on a regular basis with this question by small law firms that want to have the advantages of the larger firms, by lawyers or librarians who want to become part of an existing KM team in a larger firm, or by individuals hired into firms to lead KM initiatives. There are programs specific to Knowledge Management that exist, but there is not a lot of introductory material specific to the legal industry.

I recently sat down with Garry Wise of Wise Law so he . . . [more]

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

Of Wickr and the Crypto-Ephemeral Anti-Social Revolution

Years before Edward Snowden obliterated digital innocence, showed us what the “Five Eyes” are really up to, and pulled stakes for the unlikely safe harbour of Moscow’s airport transit zone, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger released his 2009 book Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. In it he urged caution for the “Digital Panopticon”, and warned against the growing trend towards mass surveillance. The Internet, as we now know, never forgets. He made the case for why it should.

Throughout human history, forgetting has been the norm and remembering the exception. Technology, as Mayer-Schönberger, a . . . [more]

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

The Promising Fallout From Hryniak v. Mauldin

Following the release of the SCC decision in Hryniak in January of this year, the widely held view was that the decision would deal a death blow to trials in Canada and would open the floodgates to summary judgment motions.

The Advocates’ Journal Summer 2014 has run an interesting piece by Jonathan Lisus which suggests that, on the contrary, Canadian courts and creative counsel are using the Hryniak to craft procedures that bring cases to trial in a more efficient and cost effective way, than has any other access to justice initiative.

After reviewing the treatment of the SCC decision . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

The Value of Collaborative Networks

I’ve sung the praises of inter and cross-sectoral collaboration here and here in terms of addressing the gaps that exist in access to justice across the country. But recently I was reminded again of the value of collaborating within my networks of legal colleagues across the country.

Wearing my Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association risk management hat, I met last week with legal malpractice insurance program directors and staff from across Canada. This group meets in person at least once per year and I always leave that meeting with pages of notes and numerous good ideas. Our in-person meetings provide opportunity . . . [more]

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

How to Run a Productive Project Meeting and Stop Wasting Time

I am usually the first person to start fidgeting in any meeting. I blame it on my short attention span and my impatience. But sometimes I blame it on the meeting leader’s poor facilitation skills.

Apparently, I’m not alone in my frustration. According to a May 2014 Harvard Business Review article:

  • 15% of collective organizational time is spent in meetings. This percentage has only increased since 2008.
  • Executives consider 56% of these meetings to be unproductive
  • 49% of attendees admit to doing other, unrelated work during meetings

Meeting facilitation skills will become increasingly important as firms try to become . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Avoiding Confusion (And Claims) When Making Charitable Bequests

Many wills include one or more bequests to charitable or religious institutions. In spite of the testator’s good intentions, these bequests often lead to claims when there is confusion over which institution was to receive the bequest. These mistakes often come to light only when the estate is being distributed – and they can lead to costly and time-consuming litigation when charities fight over the bequest.

Many of the claims reported in this area could be avoided if lawyers took steps to confirm that the information given by the testator is correct when the will is being drafted. Often testators . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

#Cbafutureschat Recap: Law & Design

What if every law firm and court had a basement lab where developers and designers hung out and built solutions?

That was a question posed by host Margaret Hagan during Tuesday’s CBA Twitterchat on the topic of law and design.

Hagan, who works at Stanford’s d.school and will soon work at the university’s law school, focuses on bringing user-centred design to legal services.

One of the key findings of the CBA’s Legal Futures Initiative is that the client needs to become the centre of the legal universe if the profession is to maintain its relevance in the face of transformative . . . [more]

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