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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Practice Management’

Could Capping Billables Force Work-Life Balance?

Before the pandemic, many lawyers may have longed for more flexible time, and the ability to work more from home.

The past year and a half may have challenged those professed goals, especially for those who have other responsibilities or distractions in the home. Working from home does not necessarily mean more personal time, and it does not necessarily mean that there will be less work.

As lawyers slowly make their way back to the office, they’re also revisiting the perpetual struggle to find enough time for self-care and care of others. One of the ideas that has started to . . . [more]

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

Civil Procedure and Practice in Ontario: A New, Comprehensive and Free Guide

Noel Semple, General Editor

The free access to law movement has made impressive strides in 30 years. It is now taken for granted that all primary law and most reasons for decision are freely available online. In Canada, CanLII has been at the forefront of this movement. Funded by Canadian lawyers, CanLII first developed a thorough and free database of statutes, regulations, and decisions. More recently it has expanded into the realm of legal commentary.

Plenty of lawyers are willing to write first-rate content for free — as Slaw has proved. Assuming that the resources necessary for editing and . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Practice of Law: Practice Management

A Specialized Lawyer Does Not Need to Be Certified

Lawyers are distinct from other professionals like medicine in that the license provided is inherently broad, and limited only by the restrictions the lawyer places upon themselves.

For example, the Model Code states at 3.1-1 that a competent lawyer “means a lawyer who has and applies relevant knowledge, skills and attributes in a manner appropriate to each matter undertaken on behalf of a client and the nature and terms of the lawyer’s engagement…” Those knowledge, skills, and attributes can be defined or applied in many different ways, especially where a lawyer is working with other lawyers who have different or . . . [more]

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

Facing Problems, Employer Buries Head in Sand

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

Many readers will remember the Bugs Bunny cartoons that featured an ostrich who would bury its head in the sand to avoid a predator or some other form of imminent danger. It turns out that ostriches do not really bury their heads in the sand to avoid problems, but the cartoon offers a nice analogy to the way the employer in Cybulsky v Hamilton Health Sciences, 2021 HRTO 213 (CanLII) handled one of its employees’ allegations of discrimination. In this case, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario considered the plight . . . [more]

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

After the Report: What Comes Next?

The Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19 studied the issues, wrote a report, and presented it at the February 17, 2021, annual general meeting.

The risk with reports, however, is that they can become static documents, a snapshot of an issue. Reports gather dust as a collection of information if no one pulls up their sleeves to do the actual work to carry out their recommendations – and by the time the report comes out the political will to act may have subsided.

In our case, the ongoing pandemic is keeping these issues current . . . [more]

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

Justice System Needs a Champion to Move Modernization Project

Don’t turn back, but don’t stand still. Work with justice system partners to share best practices, figure out how to make the system work better for the people who need it to work for them, and how to mitigate the unintended side-effects of change.

That sums up – very briefly – the recommendations in the final report from the Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Justice Issues Arising from COVID-19, presented to the Association’s annual general meeting on Feb. 17

The task force, established in April 2020, drew together representatives from CBA Sections and committees, its partners in the justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Toughen-Up Buttercup: Flight of Women Lawyers From Private Practice

In the article, “Toughen Up, Buttercup” versus #TimesUp: Initial Findings of the ABA Women in Criminal Justice Task Force, Professor Maryam Ahranjani writes about the flight of women lawyers. In her article, Professor Ahranjani cites a Canadian study by Dr. Madon. In the study, titled “The Retention of Women in the Private Practice of Criminal Law (2016)”, it is revealed that women are 141% more likely to leave private practice than women in other private practice areas.

The reasons given for the flight of women include:

  • caretaking commitments,
  • level of stress at work,
  • emphasis on marketing and originating business,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Square Pegs: Changing the Courts to Fit the Technology

When discussing the modernization of the justice system the conversation can often be about how we adapt the technology to replicate the bricks-and-mortar experience.

But how might the institutions and decision-makers themselves adapt to work with the emerging technology?

Legal scholar Tania Sourdin talks about three primary kinds of technology in the context of the justice system:

  • Supportive – things like online legal applications that support and advise people using the justice system
  • Replacement – things that replace the role of people, such as e-filing technologies and online dispute resolution
  • Disruptive – things that fundamentally alter the way legal professionals
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

What Does a Human-Centric Justice System Look Like?

Observers of the justice system and the legal profession, as well as writers of myriad reports by the Canadian Bar Association and others seeking to improve access to justice, all come to the same conclusion: to be successful, the system must be human-centred – arranged around and for the people it serves.

This should be a given – to be successful any enterprise has to think about what the people using its services need. Successful enterprises remove as many obstacles for users as possible, in order to provide a friction-free experience.

One of the frequent complaints from those who need . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Effective Triage a Cornerstone of a Modernized Justice System

The Statement of Principles guiding the Canadian Bar Association’s COVID-19 task force puts the focus on innovation, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability as the justice systems and legal profession move from prioritizing safety at the height of a pandemic to institutionalizing change.

One word at the heart of it all is triage.

Innovation is needed to establish the kind of triage necessary to make the justice systems effective and efficient. If it’s done properly, it will also be sustainable well into the future, in bad times and good.

In a hospital emergency room triage means to sort by priority – urgent . . . [more]

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

Scales of Justice: Balancing Privacy Rights With Surveillance Economy

“Minds have been opened and changed over the past few months,” legal author and commentator Richard Susskind wrote in a 2020 article titled The Future of Courts. “Many assumptions have been swept aside.”

The global pandemic has forced lawyers and justice system stakeholders out of their normal physical environments and into what on the surface appears to be the safe harbour of the virtual world. Remote hearings may protect us all from a virus; the platforms that make them possible may, however, have their own issues.

An internet truism is that if you’re not paying for the product, you are . . . [more]

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

Modernizing the Justice System Requires a Tailored Approach

One size does not fit all.

A simple survey of the measures put in place so that the justice system may continue operating in spite of restrictive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will bear that out.

Virtual hearings have been a lifesaver for some proceedings. But while they may have increased opportunities for some individuals – making it easier to attend court, for example, by reducing travel time, costs and need for childcare – for others they presented more challenges.

When the pandemic was declared and physical-distancing measures instituted, Canadian courts, administrative tribunals and other dispute resolution bodies . . . [more]

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