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Archive for ‘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

Halsbury’s Laws Completed

Congratulations to Lexis-Nexis Canada and a squadron of Canadian legal authors for achieving what many of us doubted that we would ever see, a contemporary Canadian legal encyclopaedia. Halsbury’s Laws of Canada has reached its seventy-seventh volume as a statement of common-law Canadian law in English.

Lexis took over the ground floor bar at Toronto’s Trump Hotel and flew in from the sunny California campus of Pepperdine University, the grand old man of Canadian tort law, Allen Martin Linden. And of course a Butterworths author and latterly a Lexis-Nexis author.

While AML delivered the one-liners, Halsburys is testament to the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Reading: Recommended

Resolutions for Better Matter and File Management

Effective file management provides the foundation for timely, valuable client service and appropriate management of client matters. Here are some resolutions to help you complete the critical steps in file management:

  • I will complete a conflicts check before opening a file: Conflicts of interest can lead to ugly and expensive malpractice claims. The best time to catch and avoid a conflicts claim is during a thorough conflicts search before a file is opened. A thorough search looks for conflicts involving both the client(s) and others connected with a matter.
  • I will open a file for every matter I handle
. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Resolutions to Better Set and Control Client Expectations

Clients can be demanding and will sometimes have expectations that will be unreasonable. Unmet expectations, even if they are totally unreasonable, are a recipe for unhappy clients. Setting and controlling client expectations is one of the best things you can do to ensure that you have a happy and satisfied client at each stage and the conclusion of a matter. Follow these resolutions to better set and control your clients’ expectations:

  • I will carefully explain how the matter will proceed: While you may have handled a particular type of matter hundreds of times before, remember that your client is
. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Resolutions to Avoid Real Estate Claims

  • I will ensure I meet with my clients in person at least once: In most real estate practices the staff handle many aspects of the client’s matter. However, ultimate responsibility still lies with the supervising lawyer. Take the time to meet with the client in person to review the transaction and understand the client instructions, particularly with respect to the client’s intended uses of the property. Not every matter is straightforward, and you don’t want to have to be addressing a problem that was only noticed the day the deal is to be closed, or never noticed at all.
. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Resolutions to Better Document Your Files

You can still find yourself being sued for malpractice, even if you have done everything correctly. A well-documented file can help to explain what work was done or to justify an account and can be a lifesaver when it comes to defending a malpractice claim. A good paper trail can help show what work was done on a file long after your direct and specific memories of the file have faded. Here are some resolutions you can make to help you keep a better-documented file:

  • I will document the important conversations and communications on my files: It is just
. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Resolutions to Avoid Corporate/commercial Claims

  • I will carefully document instructions, advice and steps taken: Sometimes claims against corporate lawyers are a result of an incomplete or improperly drafted document or other mistake by the lawyer, but in many cases there is simply a dispute over what was said and done or not said and done, or confusion over who was to look after which tasks. Taking detailed notes and documenting conversations with the client helps avoid this, as does using LAWPRO’s new “Checklist for Commercial Transactions”.
  • I will not dabble in areas outside my expertise: Corporate and commercial law is complex
  • . . . [more]
    Posted in: Reading: Recommended

    Resolutions to Avoid Doing Things That Annoy Clients the Most

    Clients will, understandably, get upset if they are treated badly or confronted with surprises. Make sure you appreciate how your words, actions, or inactions can annoy or even distress your clients. Here are some resolutions you can make to avoid doing the most common things lawyers do that annoy clients:

    • I will promptly return phone calls: Unacknowledged or unreturned phone calls are some of the most common complaints about lawyers. To avoid these problems, set and control client expectations at the very start of the relationship. Establish a reasonable policy on how quickly calls will be returned (e.g., within
    . . . [more]
    Posted in: Reading: Recommended

    Resolutions to Avoid Family Law Claims

    • I will make better use of checklists and reporting letters: Family law involves complex documents that deal with complicated issues involving emotional clients. There are many risks of errors by the lawyer, and misunderstandings by the client. LAWPRO’s new Domestic Contracts Matter Toolkit has checklists and forms that contain points and questions lawyers should systematically consider as they conduct the initial interview on a domestic contract matter and when they meet with the client to review and sign the document. And a final reporting letter detailing what you did and what advice you gave can be a lifesaver in
    . . . [more]
    Posted in: Reading: Recommended

    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

    Resolutions to Avoid Wills and Estates Claims

  • I will ask more probing questions when meeting with a client to prepare a will: Too many lawyers are not asking the questions that could uncover facts that could cause problems later, or making clear to the client what information they need to provide. Was there a prior will? Are all the beneficiaries identified correctly? What about gift-overs? Were all assets identified, and how are they registered? Was there a previous marriage? Ask, ask, ask. And then do a reporting letter to confirm everything that was discussed.
  • I will not act for family members or friends: We see
  • . . . [more]
    Posted in: Reading: Recommended