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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Practice Management’

Lawyers as Low-Hanging Political Fruit

It seems funny to me that lawyers believe that we are complete masters of our own fate. We aren’t. Each province’s Law Society Act, which creates a monopoly for lawyers and allows us to be self-governing, was created and passed by the local legislature – and it can also be changed by the local legislature.

Now, if one looks at the current political environment across Canada we see a few interesting things.

British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia will all likely go to the polls in 2013.

The Ontario Liberal party is in the midst of a leadership campaign that . . . [more]

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

Three Real Life Examples That Our Civil Justice System Is Broken

I’ve written a few posts recently about access to justice and the current flaws in our system. In the past month those flaws have reared their ugly head in my practice.

1. Where are your Documents?

I act for the plaintiff. In mid-August I sent my client’s productions to opposing counsel and requested his client’s productions and discovery dates. Between mid-August and mid-November I followed up on eight separate occasions. I was given a variety of excuses that “the documents were coming” / “meeting with my client next week” / “should have them for you next week”. Alas, they never . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Every Lawyer Needs a Guardian Angel

The Ottawa Citizen reported last week that a lawyer who posted confidential information about his own client online was caught in a police sting operation. The Ottawa criminal defence lawyer posted a PDF of disclosure that he received from the Crown in a criminal case against his client. The PDF contained blacked-out information and the lawyer used the web to seek someone to help him read the blacked out portions of the disclosure document. A man in Australia saw the post and contacted the Ottawa police who then caught the Ottawa lawyer in a sting operation. Read the Citizen . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Reading: Recommended

Plea for a New Law Society Governance Model

Much like Bronte sisters, French hens and celebrity deaths, my comments about the Law Society of Upper Canada come in threes. And in an effort to pull Malcolm Mercer away from the dark side and bring him into the light, my comments today will focus on solutions. : )

When LSUC was formed in 1797 it was a model for the Commonwealth. More than 200 years later, the governance structure has failed to evolve (ignoring the fact that Upper Canada itself was tiny and ceased to exist in 1841 before eventually evolving into the exponentially larger province of Ontario).

In . . . [more]

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

Judge Awards Costs Against Lawyer Who Requires Adjournment Due to Illness

Justice D.M. Brown has awarded costs against a lawyer who sought (and obtained) an adjournment as a result of falling ill the day before an application.

It sounds crazy, until you discover that the real reason that costs were awarded was as a result of the lawyer’s office failing to properly inform the court about the adjournment.

On the day before the application, at 9:52 a.m., an email was sent by Mr. Cosgriffe’s office to opposing counsel advising them that Mr. Cosgriffe had fallen ill and the need to adjourn the hearing.

At 12:20 p.m. opposing counsel responded and indicated . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Fines Against Lawyers for Delay?

♫ But I know I had it comin’,
I know I can’t be free,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine,
Since, I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom Prison,
And time keeps draggin’ on…♫

Lyrics, music and recorded by Johnny Cash.


Delays in the courts is not news…unless, that is, where the Judges have decided that they will issue fines against lawyers for failing to keep the cases on schedule. In this case it is the judges in Cowlitz County Superior Court in Washington State, USA who will be issuing the fines.

There the Superior Court . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Legal Thoughts Induced by the Dentist’s Chair

Today I went to the dentist – an experience that most people loathe as much as going to a lawyer.

As I lounged in discomfort, I had several thoughts:

First, I knew exactly how much I was going to pay for the professional services being rendered. Most dental work is done on a fixed fee basis, no matter how long, or how little time, the procedure may take. Some work, could, as my dentist explained to me take longer, but it all balances out in the end by other quicker work.

Small legal practitioners like myself understand the concept of . . . [more]

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

Selling Your Home? You and Your Agent Better Be Careful of What You Say… or Don’t Say

Last week the Divisional Court upheld a trial decision in which the purchasers of a home were awarded $25,000 in damages from the seller.

The purchasers entered into an agreement of purchase and sale with the vendor and, smartly, made the deal conditional on the purchasers receiving a Seller Property Information Statement (“SPIS”).

The SPIS is a standard form document that was drafted by the Ontario Real Estate Association. The SPIS will contain information relating to defects, renovations and other pertinent property information based on the seller’s knowledge and experience. You can find a copy of the SPIS here.

Sellers . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Growth Is Dead, the Must-Read Series

Adam Smith, Esq. is on a roll. Or at least, Bruce MacEwen, author of the Adam Smith, Esq. blog is. His blog posts, “Growth is Dead” have been an on-going series looking at the changes to “BigLaw” since the economic problems of 2008.

Revenues of firms have significantly dropped since that time. One pressure is coming from clients with respect to pricing. From Part 1 of the blog:

Simply put, clients are pushing back as never before. Among other things, they are:

  • serious, for the first time, about alternative fee arrangements, caps and blended rates, rate freezes, and so on
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Reading: Recommended

Importing the Latte Method Into Legal Services

There’s a smug feeling in our profession. A sense of entitlement and accomplishment, and inevitably for some, an assumption of superiority.

It’s true, most lawyers have undergone extensive education and training, often in high-stress environments, and presumably have developed some technical skills as it relates to their practice. But despite all of this, a lawyer simply may not be as intelligent as their local barista.

I will pause here for a minute to define intelligence as proposed by Howard Gardner, along various modalities often overlooked in legal practice:

  1. Spatial
  2. Linguistic
  3. Logical-mathematical
  4. Bodily-kinesthetic
  5. Musical
  6. Interpersonal
  7. Intrapersonal
  8. Naturalistic

Arguably some of these . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Fee-Earner/Fee-Burner Divide Widens at McCague Borlack

I’m in Saskatoon today so this is a short blog – but an important one nonetheless.

Today’s Toronto Star breaks the story of Toronto law firm, McCague Borlack (which recently entered into a two-year alliance with British firm DAC Beachcroft which may eventually lead to a merger) and its attempt to stop what name partner Howard Borlack claims is abuse by some clerical or secretarial staff at his firm. The Star quotes Borlack “Some people were abusing the system….We had people taking two to three hours for lunch and we had no way of knowing. . . . Some people . . . [more]

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

Square Comes to Canada

Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth (yes, the truth) ..

Lyrics and Music by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, recorded by Hot Chocolate.


Square dongle and iPhone


Back in January 2011 I blogged about the new payment service available in the USA called Square. Unfortunately at that time it was only available in the States. Well, as of Monday Oct 29, 2012 that has changed. Now it is available in Canada.

If you have an iPhone or Android smart phone, you can install the Canadian Square register application and receive the credit card . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management