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Good Intentions and Rhetoric Won’t Suffice

Why is it so hard for the legal profession to act on what we know about the benefits of working in an environment that reflects the diversity of those we provide services to?

As a member of numerous volunteer committees, both inside and outside the legal profession, I’m often struck by the extent to which diversity challenges pervade most every sector. In the social and community services sector where I work and volunteer, I often find myself involved in committees made up largely of women and often failing to reflect the diversity of the service users in that sector. In . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

October Is Cyber Security Awareness Month

The goal of Cyber Security Awareness Month is to remind us to guard against cyber threats. The Canadian Government getcybersafe website has resources to describe the risks and suggest ways to protect against things such as cyberbullying, scams and fraud. It covers both personal and corporate risks for smartphones, social networking, online banking, online shopping, and more. It also explains the differences between common threats such as pharming, phishing, and spoofing.

If you’ve ever wondered how many people actually fall for what appear to be blatant phishing attempts, take a look at this infographic that shows that even a very . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2014 SCC 59

[1] The issue in this case is whether court hearing fees imposed by the Province of British Columbia that deny some people access to the courts are constitutional. The trial judge, upheld on appeal, held that the legislation imposing the fees was unconstitutional. I agree.

[2] In . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Finally, a Tablet That Can Replace a Laptop!

Finally, a tablet that can replace a laptop. Much as lawyers love their iPads – and they are great for surfing, e-mailing and presenting evidence in court – they are not true laptop replacements when it comes to business productivity. This is the next true war – consumer tablets have reached a saturation point and consumers are not replacing them as fast as manufacturers had hoped.

Always in search of profits, the major manufacturers have finally come to recognize that the enterprise table market is hot hot hot for any company that can get the technology and the security right. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Stop Doing That

I have too many RSS feeds. I receive and send too many emails. My calendar is too full. My project list is too lengthy. I am a totally average person working in a law firm. What to do?

  1. Figure out what in your world is waste
  2. Stop doing it

Simple, right? Perhaps one thing I should stop is asking redundant questions.

One way to consider your actions with the goal of stopping waste is use the 5 Whys method for your daily work. What is the root cause for why you are doing what you are doing?

Here is a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law

Warning Re: Claims Exposure Where Private Mortgage Advance Goes to Third Party

[The following is the text of a LAWPRO alert sent October 7, 2014. This post mirrors the alert, but includes samples of the new exemption clauses we have seen in claims files.]

LAWPRO has become aware of a new exception to coverage in certain title insurance policies which could expose real estate practitioners to claims from their private lender clients.

The issue has recently arisen in connection with private residential mortgage transactions, and in particular where the lender and borrower are separately represented, as required, because the loan is more than $50,000. This is the basic scenario: After the lender’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements

How to Boost Your Referrals

Most lawyers say they receive the majority of their business through “word of mouth” or referrals, even in the internet age. But how can you improve your referral rate?

Be a Good Networker

Networking and building your system of contacts is the obvious first step in boosting your referrals. To get business, you first need to build your reputation and get to know people so they can develop trust in you and your work.

If you want to boost your referrals, focus more on building relationships with other professionals, strategic alliances and referral sources and strengthening your relationships with existing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Should Self-Represented Litigants Be Entitled to Costs?

A recent family law decision applied the existing legal principles relating to the awarding of legal costs to self-represented litigants. These principles were first set out by the Court of Appeal over 15 years ago.

In short:

– a self-represented litigant does not have an automatic right to costs;

– the matter remains fully within the discretion of the trial judge;

– to be considered eligible for costs, the self-represented litigant must demonstrate that they devoted time and effort to do work ordinarily done by a lawyer retained to conduct the litigation and in doing so incurred an opportunity cost . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Tips Tuesday

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.

Technology

Dim Your Smartphone Screen for Longer Battery Life
Dan Pinnington

All of us have experienced the frustration of a dying smartphone battery. While battery life has greatly improved over the years, a dead smartphone is something most of us see more often than we would like. Of course, turning of Bluetooth and WiFi when you aren’t using them will help extend your battery life, but dimming the brightness of . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Of the Vilardell Case and a Victory for BC’s Middle Class

The thing about writing for a blog (especially one that commits you to weekly posts) is that often times you can only barely introduce a topic or idea.

And undoubtedly one of the best things about blogs is that cursory introductions are totally fine. Want popcorn commentary on a landmark decision from the country’s highest court? Bam. Here you go.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s October 2, 2014 majority decision regarding the (non) constitutionality of pricey court fees in Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2014 SCC 59, is big news here in BC. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Law Society of Upper Canada’s Alternative Business Structures Discussion Paper Posted – Comments Wanted

The Law Society’s Alternative Business Structures Working Group has now posted its Alternative Business Structures Discussion Paper on the Law Society’s dedicated web page at www.lsuc.on.ca/ABS/

This Discussion Paper was released on September 24, 2014, to seek input from lawyers, paralegals, stakeholders and the public about Alternative Business Structures (ABS). The Law Society’s ABS Working Group has been reviewing extensive research on the topic and communicating about it with key representatives of the legal professions and other experts since 2012. The discussion paper provides context and background to help everyone understand ABS and describes a series of considerations and ethical . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements

Making Enterprise Search Work

The biggest question I’ve been getting lately from clients and potential clients is why they need to bother with things like organizing documents or content, and why taxonomy and metadata needs to be applied. Why can’t they just drop in a search tool like Google to work its magic instead? Why bother spending time cleaning out irrelevant stuff and getting the useful material into good order?

I tell them essentially it is things like the structure, organization, and metadata such as keywords, taxonomy, author names, dates created and modified, that help the search engines do their job. The better things . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Technology, Technology: Office Technology