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Archive for ‘Reading: Recommended’

Simple Questions in Complex Situations

How many lawyers consistently use a checklist of questions to ask clients at the beginning of a personal legal matter? Many customize the checklists published by provincial Law Societies for a particular practice area, client service style or matter management process. The focus is often on quality assurance, risk mitigation and scope of work. Is there a way to include the human element too?

I attended a lecture by Atul Gawande in New York a few weeks ago. Gawande is a surgeon who teaches at Harvard Medical School, writes for The New Yorker and leads two health care organizations. He . . . [more]

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

Paths to Success: As Varied as the Lawyers Who Follow Them

“Diversity” describes the characteristics of a group. When we examine how diversity influences the profession as a whole, it’s easy to lose sight of the experience of being an individual lawyer, with specific identity characteristics, practising law in Ontario. While cultural sensitivity benefits all lawyers, what is it like to practice law when, at least with respect to some aspect of your identity, you are in the minority?

We posed that question to the four lawyers profiled in the in the newest issue of LAWPRO Magazine. While their stories are very different, all four agreed that success depends on . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Cultural Competence: An Essential Skill in an Increasingly Diverse World

With each passing day, the legal profession becomes ever more diverse. That diversity brings challenges and opportunities. LAWPRO turned to diversity specialist Ritu Bhasin, Founder and President of bhasin consulting inc., for practical advice about the steps that lawyers and firms can take to welcome lawyers regardless of their personal and cultural identity characteristics, and to foster productive and creative collaboration.

What is cultural competence?
Bhasin defines cultural competence as “how we connect with people who are different from us.” Cultural competence is the ability to relate to others comfortably, respectfully and productively. Being able to effectively connect with people . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

LPM Initiatives at Large Law Firms: The Road Ahead

Many large law firms in Canada and the U.S. have begun to implement legal project management initiatives, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Jim Hassett’s latest book – Client Value and Law Firm Profitability – provides new insights into why some firms have had much more success than others. Over the last eighteen months, Jim conducted confidential interviews with law firm leaders from 50 AmLaw 200 firms. Forty-two percent were chairs or managing partners, and the balance were senior partners and executives.

Study participants were promised that they would not be quoted by name, which led to some unusually frank . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Reading: Recommended

The Trust Imperative: Part I

Do you trust the leaders in your organization to make decisions in the best interest of the entire firm? Do you trust them to proactively deal with important issues or prevent crises? Studies such as the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer would indicate that your answer is likely “no”.

Some of the current notions regarding trust are based on the times in which we live – a legal market that is changing as well as shrinking, record numbers of unemployed law school graduates saddled with record amounts of student debt, daily news of trust violations between business, government and society.

Some . . . [more]

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

Ten Specific Strategies for Avoiding Communication-Based Claims

Problems with lawyer-client communication are the number-one cause of claims reported to LAWPRO. The way to prevent these claims sounds simple enough: Remind lawyers to communicate better with their clients.

However, appeals to “communicate better” can seem vague − or even a little “touchy-feely”. Need specifics? Consider the following list of practical strategies. These ten tips were chosen from Tim Lemieux’s article “Is anyone listening? Preventing communications claims” which appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of LAWPRO Magazine.

To communicate better:

  1. Meet with the client yourself (don’t just rely on a clerk’s intake meeting notes).
  2. Remember that the
. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Too Experienced to Use a Checklist? Quite the Opposite

LAWPRO’s practicePRO program maintains an impressive online collection of law practice management resources, including precedents, sample retainers, business plan templates, and yes – checklists.

Our most popular checklists include:

These tools help lawyers organize, prioritize and track the steps they have taken and the issues they have covered when dealing with a matter, whether it be a client file or an office management task. They are designed to be saved separately for each use, and filled out . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Of JP Boyd’s Prolificity and A2J Burn-Out

The legal profession has many noble archetypes: dedicated advocates pro bono publico, champions of significant (not always popular) causes, and unswerving guardians of the court whose instincts shine bright as a sword against much larger opponents.

John-Paul Boyd broke the mould he was casted in quite early on. He’s not so much a noble archetype as a force of unnatural origins who continues to drop jaws with his superhuman ability to drop knowledge.

To say he is one of a kind, is not enough. The best I can do is describe him like this: 

Hawaiian creation myth relates that

. . . [more]
Posted in: Announcements, Justice Issues, Legal Information: Publishing, Reading: Recommended

Conflicts Rules Leave Room for (Careful) Collegiality

Consulting with more experienced colleagues to confirm that you’re on the right track in resolving a problem is natural and commendable in any profession. Working in isolation is inefficient, and leads to preventable errors. Without access to information about others’ experience, we’re forced to make our own mistakes. For this reason, sole practitioners are routinely encouraged to seek out mentors and advisers from among the broader bar.

But what if every time a colleague outside your firm asked for your opinion on a legal issue, you became conflicted out of representing any party whose interests were opposed to those of . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Edward Snowden Tells the Legal Profession That Protecting Client Confidentiality Now Requires Encryption

From Saturday’s Guardian – here is the complete transcript.

The NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations.

Snowden said professionals were failing in their obligations to their clients, sources, patients and parishioners in what he described as a new and challenging world.

No matter how careful you are from that point on, no matter how sophisticated your source, journalists have to be sure that they make no mistakes at all in the very beginning to the

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Reading: Recommended, Technology: Office Technology

Simultaneously Acting for Members of Same Family Is More Risky

Many lawyers assume that simultaneously acting for members of the same family and their business or corporate entities is relatively safe from fraud and conflicts issues. After all, the parties all know each other and everyone is on good terms.

Unfortunately, this is just not the case. An analysis of LAWPRO claims files tell us that there is actually a greater likelihood of a fraud or conflicts of interest issue when clients are related to or know each other.

Understanding when and why malpractice claims arise when work is done for related clients can help you avoid a claim.

When . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Strategies for the Modern Age: Dealing With the New Reality

We’re halfway through 2014. How’s your practice strategy coming along?

If you’re feeling stuck, you might find inspiration in “The End of Competitive Advantage” by Columbia Business School’s Rita Gunther McGrath. McGrath’s framework makes a lot of sense for firms dealing with rapidly changing environments.

The new “playbook for strategy” outlined in McGrath’s latest research is premised on creating transient advantages versus exploiting business-as-usual to sustain historical performance. Her logic will resonate with anyone preparing firms for new realities:

“The presumption of stability creates all the wrong reflexes. It allows for inertia and power to build up

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Reading: Recommended