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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Practice Management’

Doing Nothing Is Not an Option

It has been estimated that a staggering 1.4 million Canadians will have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias by 2031. Lawyers of course are not immune to the effects of aging. Whether presented with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment or dementia, law firm managers need to be alert to the changes that may occur as firm members age.

Diminishing cognitive ability is something that comes naturally with aging. Normal age-related cognitive decline means that each of us will, over time:

  • Rely more on prior knowledge in decision making and less on analytical thinking;
  • Learn more slowly and need more repetition to acquire
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Back to (Business) School

Ah, September. The leaves are falling, the air is crisp and most of us feel motivated to learn something new.

Stanford University offers several online learning options for lawyers and legal professionals* interested in sharpening their business skills, especially in the areas of entrepreneurialism and innovation. The videos and podcasts in their Entrepreneurship Corner are professionally produced, available for view at any time and presented by top faculty from several departments. I’ve especially enjoyed the interviews with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs such as Mitch Kapor who talk about lessons learned, developing “people skills” and learning to be comfortable with business risk. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Experience: A Young Lawyer Carves Her Own Path

When Carli van Maurik shares her practice philosophy with other lawyers, she’s usually met with one of two responses: raised eyebrows or enthusiastic support.

Carli van Maurik

Thankfully, most colleagues fall into the latter category.

Ms. van Maurik is a lawyer with the British Columbia business law firm Whiteboard Law. She’s based in Victoria, where she honed her legal skills at one of the city’s well known firms before branching out to follow her entrepreneurial instincts.

Most lawyers eventually narrow the focus of their practice or notice that clients could be better served by a different approach. But not . . . [more]

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

Of Snowden’s Call to Encrypt and the Role of Our Law Societies

Slaw Columnist Simon Chester recently tipped us off about another fascinating interview with Edward Snowden. Building on earlier interviews with the enigmatic NSA and CIA rogue, the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, and its intelligence correspondent, Ewen MacAskill, talked to Snowden a little over a year since his defection. The earnest 29 year-old is now an earnest 30 year-old, only seemingly much older and seemingly aging at an accelerated rate. A partway time-lapse to Noam Chomsky.

I’d watch the interview if for no other reason than to hear Snowden’s caution about the challenges facing the legal profession in this era that . . . [more]

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

Litigation Coaching by Judges

We often speak of litigation coaching for clients as a form of unbundled services, as one of the new frontiers for providing cost-effective legal services. But I’ve also identified the challenges that young lawyers have in developing the practical skills in litigation, especially given the strong emphasis in the system to resolve issues outside of the courtroom.

At the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Canadian Legal Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland this weekend, I had the opportunity to speak in greater depth with some vendors and discovered a product of interest.

Taran Virtual Associations, a domestic legal outsourcing company who . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Competence for the Low-Tech Lawyer

Is saying no to technology even an option for lawyers in modern practice? The Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Model Code of Professional Content defines competence as follows:

3.1-1 1 “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, including:

(j) pursuing appropriate professional development to maintain and enhance legal knowledge and skills; and (k) otherwise adapting to changing professional requirements, standards, techniques and practices.

If lawyers do not have certain . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Aligning Employees Behind Firm Strategy: Getting Started

When firm leaders agree on strategic objectives, it’s time to align employees towards achieving them. As with anything with multiple moving parts, adjustments can help the system work at its best.

Last week, I discussed the difference between employee engagement and employee alignment. Engagement is what motivates people to arrive at work each morning. Alignment is what they do when they get there.

Why focus on alignment?

  • It gives everyone a purpose beyond their individual roles
  • It’s an opportunity to break down silos between groups
  • It strengthens your firm’s reputation as performance becomes more consistent and profitable

Signs of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

No Thanks

Ask any lawyer “How are you doing?” and invariably the response includes a comment to the effect of “I’m too busy.”

Being overly busy seems to be a kind of occupational hazard for lawyers. Many of us possess a “can do” kind of attitude that leads us to agree to take on tasks whenever we’re asked to do so. While this makes lawyers desirable as volunteers for many non-profit organizations, it also results in many lawyers feeling overburdened and sometimes, overwhelmed by all that they need to accomplish.

One obvious solution to this problem is to develop and implement a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Employee Engagement vs. Employee Alignment

Have you noticed how many law firms have won awards for their workplace strategy? In the quest to attract and retain talent, many law firms build an “employer brand” through the pursuit of third-party recognition.

This seems like a no-brainer for any organization. What firm wouldn’t want to be known for having satisfied employees? And who wouldn’t want to work for one?

A lot – not all, but a lot – of these rankings measure how engaged your workforce is.

Employee engagement focuses on attitudes. Do people feel good about working for your firm? Are they happy with their . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Wondering Whether Your Practice Structure Could Expose You to Liability for Other Lawyers’ Work?

Lawyers working “in association” need to consider how they may be perceived by clients and the public, since those who hold themselves out as a law firm risk being treated as such by the courts and can expect to be held to the same conflict requirements as a law firm partnership.
That’s according to a recent decision by Justice Stinson, in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice [2014 ONSC 3411 (CanLII)]

The facts
The defendant brought a motion to remove the plaintiff’s lawyer from the record on the basis that the lawyer worked in association with another lawyer with whom . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

When a Key Partner Leaves: What It Takes to Keep Clients

When a key partner in a large law firm moves to a competitor, do his or her institutional clients tend to leave too? The answer might depend on how much internal conflict there is at the firm left behind.

Michelle Rogan of INSEAD recently published ground-breaking research of the relationships between large, multi-unit advertising agencies and client firms. These relationships are very similar in structure to those between law firms and institutional clients, where services in several areas of professional expertise are provided through personal connections developed over time.

Most of us believe that the more ties between people at . . . [more]

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

#Cbafutureschat Recap: Lawyers Learning to Play With Others

No matter the sport – from soccer to debate club – a team will get nowhere if all its players are specialists in the same position.

But just as there’s no “I” in team, there’s no team in a law firm – not one that can, to stretch that sporting analogy just a little bit further, cover all the bases, so to speak. That is in part due to the regulatory framework under which lawyers work, of course.

Still, there is growing recognition that it might be helpful for lawyers to work in tandem with professionals such as accountants, real . . . [more]

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