Canada’s online legal magazine.
Rogers OutRank
Canadian Bar Association

Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Practice Management’

When I Stopped Vomiting, I Learned to Hate Teraview

Technology, particularly legal technology is supposed to make the delivery of legal services more convenient. However, sometimes lawyers get in the way and muck things up. Teraview is a perfect example.

Back in the day, anyone could walk into the local registry office and register any document they wanted. Since the mid-1980s registration documents were not witnessed, nor were signatures checked. The system was one of openness and accessibility.

Then along came Teraview – which allowed registration from anywhere in Canada via the internet. A seemingly great idea that would make real estate transactions faster and smoother. However, everyone forgot . . . [more]

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

Solving the High Cost of the “Review” Stage of Electronic Discovery

This article provides more details on the following comment that I posted (April 10th) to Dan Pinnington’s article of April 8th, “Ontario Judge Strongly Pushes for Greater Use of Technology in Courts and Orders E-Trial”:

My Comment, excerpted:
Make the preparation work of a lawyer making production comparable to that of an accountant. The client doesn’t give the accountant 100,000+ records and say, ‘here, you make up our financial records and then do the audit.’ The litigation lawyer should be able to work the same way, by combining the searching and reviewing into one act.

. . . [more]

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

10 Tips for Safe Pro Bono

Access to justice is an ongoing problem across Canada and the call is out for lawyers to contribute to the solution.

Late last fall, the Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Access to Justice issued a final report, Envisioning Equal Justice. The Task Force set targets to bridge the growing gap between those who can afford legal services and those who are eligible for publically funded legal services (i.e. legal aid). One of those targets is that by 2020, all lawyers will volunteer legal services at some point in their career.

Around the same time, the Action Committee on . . . [more]

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

Red Bean Buns and Law

I was in my wife’s favourite Chinese bakery the other day searching for red bean buns. The décor is nothing special, but the baked goods are exceptionally well done and insanely fresh! It’s no wonder then that we’re willing to travel a little bit out of our way to go there. And judging by the line-ups, many others feel the same way.

There are other places we can go to in Chinatown for baked goods, but we choose this one because of the quality of their goods. And they can compete against other bakers on quality because none of the . . . [more]

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

Identifying and Addressing Reputational Risk in a Law Firm

How well do most law firms understand and address reputational risks? Last week, I referenced the extreme example of Dewey & LeBoeuf, a bankrupt global firm that ignored reputational risk to the point where it now serves as the profession’s poster child for what-not-to-do.

This week, I’ll be more constructive.

Why pay attention to reputational risk?
It’s said that we’re now operating in a reputation economy where “who you are” matters more than “what you sell”. Research shows that across all sectors of society, transparency is now valued more than tradition, sharing more than showmanship and security more than . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Of Risk and Reputation

Law firm governance is rarely considered a topic worthy of a “60 Minutes” investigation. This might not be the case for long.

I’ve been tracking the fallout from the demise of Dewey & Leboeuf, a legendary (and bankrupt) global law firm that allegedly veered so far away from sound governance that several members of its executive team are now facing criminal charges and civil suits.

It’s a fascinating and sad story from so many angles. But the one that most intrigues me is how blind the firm’s leaders were to reputational risk.

Reputational risks threaten a firm’s ability to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

From Perogies to Law Trucks – With Love

Maybe it’s something that happens to your brain at 5,000 feet above sea level. Maybe it’s the fresh mountain air. Or maybe it’s the frontier, no-one’s-gonna-help-me-so-I-just-gotta-do-it-myself, spirit of the West. Whatever it is, some of the most entrepreneurial Canadian lawyers I’ve met to date, are from Calgary.

Over and over again I’ve heard that if you have a great idea in Calgary, you can find partners to help make it happen.

We live in an age of cloud computing, greying of the bar, and underserved populations living on mobile devices, and many of us have also been commenting on the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Internet, Technology: Office Technology

A Quieter Kind of Change: One Lawyer’s Story

Amidst appeals for “disruptive innovation” and dire predictions for the future of the profession, some lawyers are quietly changing the way they practice. They’re not doing this as part of a movement – they’re just doing what is best for themselves. There are more of them than you might think.

I recently chatted with a former client who exemplifies this situation perfectly. The interview illustrates how and why one litigator modified his practice – and realigned his definitions of personal and professional success in the process.

When lawyer Ronald J. Smith, QC quit practicing law to focus exclusively on mediation, . . . [more]

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

Victim Compensation Reexamined in Ontario

In the aftermath of the disappearance and death of a high profile Toronto lawyer, the legal community has expressed a greater interest in the victim compensation fund in place for clients of lawyers and paralegals practicing in Ontario.

At the February Convocation, new guidelines were put in place for the victim Compensation Fund, which has been in place since 1953. The fund serves to protect the public per s. 51(5) of the Law Society Act, and is administered by a Compensation Fund Committee established under By-Law 12. The Guidelines created by this Committee was recently upheld by the Divisional . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Frenemy Mine: Building Trust Between Colleagues

I’ve been feeling somewhat guilty about my post last week regarding the Edelman Trust Barometer and perceptions about the legal profession. Several lawyers have since asked if I have any advice on how to build trusting relationships within their own firms, never mind on behalf of the profession. I’ve heard laments bemoaning the loss of collegiality, too.

The real expert in this regard is Robert F. Hurley, a professor at Fordham University in New York. Hurley leads the Consortium for Trustworthy Organizations housed at Fordham’s School of Business and is the author of a bestselling book, “The Decision to . . . [more]

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

NSA Dragnet Ensnares Law Firms

The most recent Snowden revelation, as reported by the New York Times, has revealed that even law firms have become ensnared in the NSA’s ever-growing communications dragnet.

The top secret document, leaked by Edward Snowden, reveals that a US-based firm was targeted by the NSA over the period of time it represented Indonesia in trade talks with the US government. Controversial FISC court rulings grant the NSA permission to monitor the communications of Americans, even communications within the scope of attorney-client privilege, provided those communications are deemed to have intelligence value and are with foreigners.

Given these revelations, US-based . . . [more]

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

In Heenan’s Wake – Lessons?

From my discussions with insiders, it appears that the carnage from the dissolution of Heenan Blaikie continues as professional administrative staff (IT, HR, marketing, support staff, etc. ) are left in limbo as to what will happen to those not moving with the mass exodus of lawyers to other law firms.

There have been allegations that the dissolution was not managed well by the firm’s executive team. From the descriptions I have heard, it very much seems like an “every man/woman for his/herself” situation with panicked lawyers desperately calling around for a job while support staff were left to watch . . . [more]

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