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Archive for May, 2010

Rules of Engagement

Whether working with a practice group, an executive team or the members of some firm’s strategic planning committee, I continue to be struck by the dysfunctional behavior that is often present in group meetings. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised. Working together in groups in not a natural, comfortable or easy thing for many of us to do.

What I have come to learn is that the very best market-performing groups, in the best firms, have established for themselves some written guidelines by which all members have agreed to abide – and often, each partner in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Discretion to Stay a Prosecution

Today’s announcement by the Crown Attorney’s office in Ontario that charges have been stayed against the former Attorney General Michael Bryant is accompanied by an 11 page analysis of the facts and the applicable law, that should be noted by those who follow the role of the Law Officers of the Crown and the discretion to stay charges.

This will add to the academic literature such as the works of John Edwards, The law officers of the Crown : a study of the offices of Attorney-General and Solicitor-General of England, and The Attorney General, Politics and the Public . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Make Marketing a Habit

Running a business (and make no mistake, a law practice is a business) is a marathon, rather than a sprint. That is especially true when it comes to marketing. I see many lawyers who make the mistake of giving up too easily because they don’t see immediate results from their efforts. 

Marketing is about building relationships. In the same way that you can’t expect to have immediate results when you enter the dating pool, you can’t expect to have immediate results with marketing. It takes time to get known within the community where your target market ‘hangs out’ and to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Crime in Inuit Nunangat

Statistics Canada has released a difficult study, “Police-reported Crime in Inuit Nunangat” by Mathieu Charron, Christopher Penney and Sacha Senécal. Difficult because it shows us something about our country, our society, that we commonly prefer to ignore, and difficult too because the problem revealed is amenable to no easy solution.

The term Inuit Nunangat, I learn (I’m ashamed to say), refers collectively to the four settled regions at the top of Canada in which forty of the fifty thousand Inuit live. See the map below (click on it to enlarge it):

I should point out that, as the . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended, Substantive Law

Illustrated Judgments

[An Unhappy Fisherman’s Exhibit. Picture from a Cour du Québec’s judgment illustrating that the roof bought by the plaintiff was too low for comfortable fishing. Source : 2003 CanLII 42894 (QC C.Q.) (juge Raoul P. Barbe) at para. 8.]

Earlier this year, SCC’s judges cited a CTV news video clip in Canada (Prime Minister) v. Khadr, 2010 SCC 3, (at para. 7.). In that case, the government policy — its refusal to request M. Khadr’s repatriation — was established through a reference to a press conference given by the Prime Minister and available in CTV’s archives (see at . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

and, in the IP world, maybe soon coming to Canada. But this message isn’t about the upcoming Canadian version of the US DMCA.

Instead, it’s about American ingenuity, the “if at first you don’t succeed motto” and Warner Bros. ongoing attempts to control as much as it can of the profit-making capacity of the Superman character. Read about it here. The caption of the article is “Warner Bros. So Distraught Over Losing Superman Rights, It Personally Sues The Lawyer Who Won”, subtitled “from the getting-a-bit-personal dept”. The background is that WB was recently forced to return some of . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

How to Make a Law Practice More Manageable

I am speaking today to the CBA BC Branch Civil Litigation and Young Lawyers Sections in Victoria on “how to make a law practice more manageable.” A “manageable” law practice is akin to “work-life balance” – one of those lovely theoretical concepts which is invariably noted by a perceived lack of achievement thereof. With that proviso in mind, here are some humble thoughts in this regard:

1. Money

One of our lawyers is fond of stating the truism that “charity starts at home,” meaning that if we aren’t taking the right steps to stay financially afloat, then we will be . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management

Stikeman’s Tech & IP Blog

I had occasion recently to take a look at Canadian Technology & IP Law, a blog put out by Stikeman Elliott. Their IP practice area page says the blog is new, but I was surprised to see that it’s been in existence since March of 2008: in all the time between then and now there have been a total of 40 posts, which is an average of something less than one entry every two weeks. There have been bursts of activity, from time to time; but dry spells have persisted as well, right up to the present: one . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Practice of Law

Information Work Versus Knowledge Work

How can we reduce our workloads, and do the more interesting knowledge work? In his April 15th presentation “The Nature of Knowledge Work” Keith D. Swenson, VP of R & D for Fujistu America defined knowledge work as:

  • Non-repeated
  • Unpredictable
  • Emergent
  • Robust in the face of variable conditions

Presumably, then, all other work done by knowledge workers is information work. It is work that is repeated, predictable, routine or otherwise fairly straight-forward.

This is not a new consideration. We have been good at ensuring the repetitive or predictable work is given to people at more junior levels so . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

A Small Test for Slaw’s Lawyer / Judge Readership

(And anybody else who cares to participate)

The assumption around here is that Slaw is the most widely read, or at least one of the most widely read law blogs, amongst lawyers (academic and practicing), judges, and others associated with the profession. I’m going to (try to) put that to the test.

As some of you know, my particular (legal) research interest is factual causation in tort, particularly negligence. I’ve described that interest, on occasion, as the search for the “f” in actual cause.

I pose this question for those of you involved in civil litigation.

Are you prepared to . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law