Canada’s online legal magazine.

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 research and writing, practice, and technology.

Research & Writing

Your queries answered
Neil Guthrie

Baffled on Bay Street wonders: What’s with ‘Esquire’? Does it have some special meaning in law? In mediaeval England, an esquire was one rank above a gentleman and one below a knight; hence the variant ‘squire’ for a trainee knight. … . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Legal Business Development: Are You “Networking”… or Building Relationships?

Networking… I hate that term. It conjures up images of “working a room”… smiling, shaking hands and collecting business cards. Business cards that end up on your desk under a pile of papers or left in your suit pocket only to be found the next time you wear that jacket. Sound familiar? What a waste of time and energy, don’t you agree? I think we need to redefine what needs to be done. To build a solid book of business requires strong relationships and that doesn’t happen with the typical networking methodology.

Building relationships: First you have to listen. Then . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Monday’s Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from seventy recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. McElroy Law Blog  2. Alcohol & Advocacy 3.
AvoidaClaim
 4. Canadian Class Actions Monitor  5. Canadian Legal History Blog

McElroy Law Blog
August Criminal Law Round-up

While the courts are typically quieter during the summer months, there was no shortage of interesting criminal law news in the month of . . . [more]

Posted in: Monday’s Mix

Non-Expert Redesign of Justice

We often assume that reforms to the legal system should come from lawyers. After all, who knows and understands the system better than those who have studied and worked within it.

This past week I observed a process which fundamentally challenged that narrative. I served as a “Design Team Mentor” to the Winkler Institute’s Annual Justice Design Project. The program brought together a multidisciplinary team of undergraduate students who received a short primer on problems in the justice system.

The first day they heard about access to justice issues and how design thinking can be used to support . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

PÉNAL (DROIT) : Afin de déterminer s’il s’agit d’un «parc public» tel qu’il est prévu à l’article 161 C.Cr., relatif aux ordonnances d’interdiction rendues à l’encontre de délinquants en matière sexuelle, il faut tenir compte de l’environnement où seraient survenus les prétendus délits et considérer la nature des activités qui . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

The Rise of the Polyamorous Family: New Research Has Implications for Family Law in Canada

On 20 June 2016, the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family began a study on Canadian perceptions of polyamory, advertised with the assistance of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, gathering preliminary data with a public survey. The information gathered thus far, from the 547 people who answered our survey, paints a fascinating picture of polyamorous individuals and their family arrangements, and has important implications for the future of family law in Canada.

The polyamorous families we are looking at are those created by three or more freely consenting adults, in distinction to faith-based, and usually patriarchal, forms . . . [more]

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

Rationality Triumphant

On July 12, 2016, the United States Senate confirmed Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, as the 14th Librarian of Congress. It was a good day for the country, for librarians and for those who remain committed to rationality in the universe.

The confirmation by the Senate was no simple matter. President Barack Obama nominated Ms. Hayden for the position in February of this year. The Senate held a Hearing on the nomination in April. Ms. Hayden, a woman festooned with accomplishment, sailed through the process. But the enthusiasm of the Senate Rules . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Dispute Resolution Professionals – Justice Reform Needs You!!

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” 

Margaret Heffernan

These are exciting times. There is a building momentum towards justice reform to improve access to justice in Canada and abroad. Many people are coming forward to join the movement including skilled members of the legal profession, Judiciary and government. Increasingly, reform efforts are also involving users in recognition of the need to design a user-centred justice system.

I find it curious that so many of the new reformers are also skilled conflict management practitioners, including mediators. Just as one example, the BC Family Justice . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Taking My Own Advice

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. That’s mostly because I’ve been working hard at taking my own advice this summer, focusing on taking real breaks from my work, scheduling time for fun and doing things I love. Not all the time, mind you. Sometimes I forget what I know to be true about how to maintain a sense of balance in my life and fall off the rails awhile.

There’s that trigger word — balance. I know some of you may be about to quit reading. For many lawyers, the concepts of balance and wellness are anathema to what . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

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. Goska J. Nowak Professional Corporation v Robinson, 2016 ABCA 240

[21] This argument mischaracterizes the Agreement. The parties agreed that Dr. Robinson would provide his personal services to a corporate entity, his former professional corporation, RRPC 1. That corporation retained the assets of the practice. Dr. Robinson was to perform his services using office facilities and staff provided by RRPC 1 . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Mined Gems From 2016 SLTS Conference

James Williams, a commentator on the article “Meet ROSS, the bankruptcy robo-lawyer employed by some of the world’s largest law firms”, laments the lack of reference to supporting research, or consultation with the “40 year old research community that has long focused on the use of technology in a legal setting” in Toronto. My SLAW column “The Long Tale of 2 Systems” highlighted the role both Toronto and Sydney played in the development of legal technology.

So while IBM’s Watson was mentioned a few times at the 10th annual Sinch Legal Tech Sydney Conference (#SLTS16), . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Why It’s Hard to Sell Tech to Lawyers

And when I say lawyers, I include the courts, law firm staff, paralegals. Everyone who moves the machinery of law.

So here is why it’s hard to sell tech to lawyers.

Everything your law tech can do is already possible by other means.

Here is a list of other means:

  1. Email
  2. Microsoft Word
  3. Spreadsheets
  4. Phone
  5. Fax (disgusting but true)
  6. Folders and files on your computer
  7. And last but not least: human labour

The above is also tech. At some point it was hot new tech (even human labour—see the history of employment and management science). People who designed the above . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology