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Archive for ‘Reading: Recommended’

Spring Clean Your Practice!

Nora Rock, corporate writer & policy anylist at LAWPRO, has some good advice for lawyers now that the weather is getting warmer. While this article was initially aimed at Ontario lawyers, all lawyers in Canada could stand to do some ‘spring cleaning’

We had flurries last night here in Ontario – but we’re not fooled: spring is around the corner. Time to roll up the slush mats and slide in the bug screens.

We challenge you, in the next month or two, to bring a little of the spirit of spring cleaning to your legal practice. What do we mean? . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Don’t Miss Family Law Issues When Drafting Wills!

We at LAWPRO have occasionally cautioned lawyers who specialize in one area of law about the dangers of dabbling in another, unfamiliar area. As a refreshing twist on that general advice, we’re reminding lawyers that while dabbling can be dangerous, KNOWING the law in another area is never a bad idea. When it comes to the intersection between wills and family law, it is essential that wills and estates practitioners maintain a basic working familiarity with family law issues so that certain drafting pitfalls can be avoided.

From a family law perspective, the greatest potential risk for a will-drafting lawyer . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

The Lender Client: Not Just a Third Wheel in a Purchase Transaction

It isn’t uncommon for real estate lawyers to be retained to act for both the purchaser of a property and the mortgage lender that is financing the purchase. However, a review of lender claims against lawyers for negligence suggests a misconception by some lawyers who believe that their only obligation to the lender client is to register the mortgage. The reality is that unless the lawyer’s retainer is explicitly limited to registering the mortgage (which should be confirmed in writing where possible), the solicitor should always be mindful of the additional responsibilities that are owed to the lender leading up . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Access to Justice Reports Released

Earlier this month, Kirk Makin of the Globe and Mail scooped an announcement of a major set of Reports on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, an inititaitive that started with the Chief Justice’s challenge to the Canadian Bar Association last summer.

The four Reports from Working Groups chaired by Justice Thomas Cromwell were officially released this morning:
Report of the Court Processes Simplification Working Group
Report of the Access to Legal Services Working Group
Report of the Prevention, Triage and Referral Working Group
Report of the Family Justice Working Group

And a background literature review: Family . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Reading: Recommended, Technology: Internet

Be the Messenger (And Don’t Get Shot)

The #1 cause of claims against Ontario lawyers practising in most areas of law is problems with lawyer-client communication.

Considering lawyers’ reputation for verbosity, this statistic seems counterintuitive, at least until you consider that some things are easier and more fun to talk about than others.

Fun to communicate with clients about: success (and our role in it); progress; winning; good news. NOT fun to communicate: failure (and our role in it); setbacks; losing; increase legal costs; bad news.

The risk: Failing to promptly and appropriately communicate bad news (and therefore, failing to take steps to mitigate setbacks) exposes lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Unbundled Legal Services: Pitfalls to Avoid

Unbundled legal services are one solution to the complex issue of access to justice and are likely to become more commonplace. Being aware of the risks of unbundled legal services will help you reduce your exposure to a malpractice claim. Here are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure to a claim when providing legal services on a limited scope basis. This was excerpted from an article in the January 2012 edition of LAWPRO Magazine, and so often refers to the Ontario Rules of Professional Conduct, but the advice could apply to any lawyer looking to . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

A Checklist for Avoiding Conflicts on Lateral Lawyer Transfers

Lateral hiring of partners or associates occurs at firms of every size, and is becoming far more common. In addition to reviewing the transferring lawyer’s credentials and suitability, the transferring lawyer and firm will need to identify and deal with potential conflicts of interest that may arise with respect to clients at the transferring lawyer’s previous firm, and in particular, clients for whom the transferring lawyer worked.

This critical task is not as easy as it might seem on first thought. The hiring firm must have sufficient information to complete an internal conflicts check, while at the same time making . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Lawyers on Client Boards: Handle With Care!

It is easy to understand why a corporate client might ask her lawyer to sit on the board of directors. The lawyer may have worked closely with the corporation’s founders to create the company, and will have a solid understanding of the corporation’s objectives, its relationships with industry partners, suppliers, customers and others, and the challenges it faces in the marketplace. It is also easy to understand why a lawyer might be honoured by, and readily accept, such an invitation.

However, sitting on a client’s board can be problematic for a number of reasons – from both the lawyer’s and . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Stumped by “Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument”? What ABQB Chief Justice Rooke Wants From You

Among the top ten cases (decided in ANY year) accessed on CanLII in 2012 was an Alberta Queen’s Bench decision granting a routine motion to appoint a case management justice in a family proceeding. The written reasons in Meads v. Meads (2012 ABQB 571 (CanLII)), however, took 736 paragraphs, and the decision seems destined to become a Canadian classic.

In his reasons appointing himself as the case manager, Chief Justice J.D. Rooke undertook a meticulous categorization and analysis of several iterations of what he labeled “organized pseudolegal commercial argument” (OPCA). Apparently, litigants who favour these litigation strategies have plagued Canadian . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Managing Risk in Family Law

Clients with unrealistic expectations, complaints about legal costs and dissatisfaction with results achieved are just a few of the issues addressed in the recent report from the Legal Ombudsman of the United Kingdom, The Price of Separation: Divorce related legal complaints and their causes. While the concerns raised are not new to most lawyers in family practice, the Ombudsman takes a solution-focused approach that makes this report a valuable manual on client services in family law.  

The report is based upon complaints received by the Legal Ombudsman’s office in 2011-12, of which some 18% related to family law matters. . . . [more]

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

Incivility: Practical Consequences for You and Your Client

Debate about lawyers’ incivility – whether it’s on the increase, whether it’s worthy of concern, how it should be handled – caught the attention of many of us in 2012. The subject continues to be discussed, and we can expect to hear more about it in the coming months and years.

But high-profile cases aside, when does a lawyer’s conduct cross the line into unprofessional conduct, and what are the costs and other implications?

These questions are answered in a paper by Daniel Naymark of Lax O’Sullivan Scott Lisus LLP and LAWPRO’s litigation unit director and counsel Jennifer Ip. It . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Sitting on a Non-Profit Board: A Risk Management Checklist

Serving as a director of a charitable or not-for-profit corporation can be a rewarding but potentially risky experience. A director can be held personally liable for his or her own actions or failures to act, as well as jointly and severally liable with the other members of the board of directors. Directors with specialized knowledge and expertise, such as lawyers, are held to a higher standard of care.

Ontario lawyers should note that LAWPRO’s standard professional liability insurance policy provides coverage only for the “professional services” that a lawyer provides as a lawyer. It does not provide coverage for liability . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended