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Archive for ‘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

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