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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Practice Management’

The Practical New Face of Summary Judgment Motions

On January 23, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Hryniak v. Mauldin, in which it signaled a fundamental shift in the way that summary judgment motions are to be handled in the Province of Ontario.

A scheduling decision, released last week by Justice Brown of the Commercial List in Toronto, provides the first insight as to how summary judgment motions may be changing on a practical level.

Justice Brown noted, correctly, that it is conceivable that parties may end up having to make up to three appearances in connection with motions . . . [more]

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

Roy Heenan Claims Bean Counters Killed the Firm Culture

I suspect we will all be talking about Heenan Blaikie for a while, on Slaw and elsewhere.

Both Mitch and Gabriel have weighed in on this some more already, so I’d like to add here to my previous post on the subject and my brief interview with Drew Hasselback in the Legal Post.

Much of the commentary has tried to figure out what went “wrong.” Hasselback’s most recent article suggests that it was not strictly financial,

Just a month ago, things were looking good. Billings had hit a near-record $35-million for the month of December. And the full-year financial

. . . [more]

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

Requiem for Heenan Blaikie

Listening to Roy Heenan give his spin on the demise of his law firm, I couldn’t help but hear the strains of Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend” in my head.

It will be some time before the full back story of this debacle will be known. But in my view, Heenan Blaikie died from a combination of greed, poor management and failed leadership wrapped together in an antiquated business structure ill-suited to “more for less” client demands in a marketplace gradually filling with non-traditional competitors.

As I have said repeatedly, the Canadian legal profession is now entering the . . . [more]

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

Heenan Blaikie Winding Up

Following up on Omar’s recent post on an impending announcement from Heenan Blaikie regarding its future, the firm announced last night that it was winding up operations. This announcement has sent sent proverbial shockwaves through the legal community. It’s also made front-page headlines in many major newspaper across the country - something I haven’t seen before.

The Globe & Mail released an article last night and followed up with print articles this morning:

The firm said in a release late on Wednesday that an “orderly wind-up” will span several months and make it possible to “ensure a harmonious transfer” of

. . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime Dangers: A Backup Could Save Your Practice After a Cybercrime Incident

Cybercrime dangers are many, complex and ever-changing. Hardly a day goes by without another news report of a data breach or other cyber-related scam or theft. Cyber criminals have considerable resources and expertise, and can cause significant damage to their targets. Cyber criminals specifically target law firms as law firms regularly have funds in their trust accounts and client data that is often very valuable. This article, from the December 2013 issue of LAWPRO Magazine, reviews the specific cybercrime dangers law firms need to be concerned about, and how they can mitigate their risks.

Every law firm has huge . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Making Rain: Business Development Videos

We haven’t mentioned this previously, and I only just discovered it this weekend: “Making Rain“, the business development practice management coaching video column from Canadian Lawyer Magazine, hosted by certified executive coach Debra Forman of Pinstripe Coaching. Started in March 2010, these brief monthly videos give practical advice on business development for lawyers.

In the latest episode, Forman provides twelve resolutions for the coming year (one for each month). This series is a worth a look.

The full series is available from the Canadian Lawyer video listing. . . . [more]

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

Hryniak v. Mauldin Promotes Access to Justice Through Summary Judgments

The Supreme Court of Canada released a decision this week in Hryniak v. Mauldin which revamps the judicial approach towards summary judgments in Ontario. The decision replaces the previous decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Combined Air Mechanical Services Inc. v. Flesch, a special five-judge panel to hear five appeals over Rule 20 which then created a “full appreciation test” for summary judgment motions.

The reason for the detailed analysis of summary judgment motions in Ontario largely stems from changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure in 2010 which were intended to make civil litigation more affordable . . . [more]

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

Law Schools’ Fear of Social Media Is a Disservice to Students

Spending time at a law school allowed me to see something very disturbing; law students are actively and deliberately told by law schools to expunge all social media activity.

The clear message to students is: Do Not Have Any Web-Presence Whatsoever.

Given this message, it’s no wonder that most Canadian lawyers view social media with fear and take no part in it. It also explains the shocked looks when I asked my class to create Twitter and LinkedIn accounts – then use them for class participation. Oh the horror!

Imagine if I had asked them to create blogs!

In my . . . [more]

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

Measures to Increase Access to Justice and Public Confidence in Quebec

Access to justice is a quasi-constitutional right in Quebec where the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms guarantees “a full and equal, public and fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.” However, numerous stakeholders, including many in the legal community share a growing concern that access to justice is increasingly posing challenges to those who need it, and obstacles such as time, expense and representation stand in the way of securing this right for all Quebec citizens. . . . [more]

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

Ode to the Class of 2014

I’m again teaching at the University of Ottawa Law School during its unique January term in which students take one course for three hours per day. We discuss how the practice of law is irreversably transforming and how they’re going into the worse articling market in history with a pilot LPP program that is being set up for failure by Benchers who delayed the LPP decision far too long.

Layer on top of that, technology that reduces the number of lawyers needed for certain tasks, the conflict between hours targets and the “do more for less” challenge, alternative legal providers, . . . [more]

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

Contingency Fee Lawyers Are Not Venture Capitalists

The Court of Appeal for British Columbia released a scathing judgment in Mide-Wilson v. Hungerford Tomyn Lawrenson and Nichols on New Year’s eve, upholding a Supreme Court decision earlier in the year which had reduced legal fees in a contingency arrangement from nearly $17 million to $5 million, in the interest of maintaining the integrity of the legal profession. The decision has implications for the understanding and application of contingency fee arrangements, which should be reviewed for contingency lawyers when evaluating the monetary worth of work in progress on their files.

The matter dealt with the million dollar estate of . . . [more]

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

Cyber Risk Insurance Options: Do You Have the Coverage You Need?

The prevalence of cyber-related crime has been steadily increasing for a number of years. Many businesses invest heavily in the necessary IT infrastructure to protect their data, but despite best efforts and intentions, the frequent news stories in the press should serve as confirmation that breaches do occur.

The cost implications of having personal or financial information stolen are significant, especially for law firms, because the information they hold can be confidential and even privileged, and is often very sensitive. When you consider all the potential first- and third-party liabilities a major breach could place on a law firm, the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology