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Archive for ‘Practice of Law: Practice Management’

Binaries, Triplets and the Use of Gender Neutral Language

How do we assess the social and cultural significance the words we choose? And what is the impact of using gender-neutral language in our communications?

These questions were the subject of a spirited panel discussion at last week’s Manitoba Bar Association Midwinter Conference in Winnipeg. Dr. Jila Ghomeshi, syntactician and author of Grammar Matters and Sandra Petersson, Research Manager of the Alberta Law Reform Institute participated in the discussion moderated by Patricia Lane on how lawyers can reflect gender neutrality in their use of language.

Ms Lane referred to the business and practical reasons for using gender neutral . . . [more]

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

Time for a Canadian-Based Think Tank on Legal Innovation and Competitiveness

I have been thinking for some time on the need for a legal innovation and competitiveness think-tank in Canada; so when a few of my students at University of Ottawa Law School independently suggested that Canada needs something like that, I decided that I was not completely crazy.

Surprisingly no Canadian business school, Rotman is the first to come to mind, has picked up on this obvious green field and neither has something like the Institute of Competitiveness and Prosperity.

What I mean by a legal innovation and competitiveness think-tank is a body that would take a serious look . . . [more]

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

Resolutions to Avoid Fee Disputes (And Make More Money)

Fees disputes commonly lead to unpaid accounts, Law Society complaints and/or malpractice claims. For these reasons you should do your best to avoid fee disputes with your clients. Here are some simple resolutions that will help you accomplish this:

  • I will get a sufficient retainer at the start of a matter: At the start of the matter ask for a retainer that is sufficient to do all of the initial work on the matter. Ask for a retainer that will cover all the work – asking for less gives the client unrealistic expectations about fees and means you are
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Reading: Recommended

Two More Fake Law Firms Discovered – Now 4 in Total (3 in Toronto and 1 in Ghana)

Further to our post on AvoidAClaim yesterday (Fake Toronto law firms tied to an international inheritance collection scam), we have discovered another fake Toronto firm and another fake firm purportedly in Ghana. All four of these firms have websites are all virtually identical. The names and URLs for the fake firms are as follows:

Some of the text on these sites appears to have come from a national Canadian firm and a well-known Atlantic Canada law firm. Some of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Ontario Law Firm Victim of Large Fraud Due to Infection by Trojan Banker Virus

This is the text of an email fraud alert sent by LAWPRO to our insureds on December 21, 2012.

Just this week LAWPRO has dealt with two firms that were the victims of major frauds on their trust accounts. The time just before the holidays should not be a time for bad thoughts and frauds targeting lawyers, but unfortunately the fraudsters aren’t cooperating. We frequently see an increase in fraud attempts around the holidays as the crooks behind these frauds will actually use the distractions of the holidays to help them dupe lawyers and law office staff.

In one case . . . [more]

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

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