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Archive for September, 2011

Legal Document Assembly Using Google Docs

Thanks to a post on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog we learn that Kingsley Martin has developed a simple means of producing, via a Google Docs form, non-disclosure agreement minimally adjusted to your clients’ circumstances.

Martin runs a business that analyses legal agreements and develops software tools to help lawyers facilitate the production of contracts. He also publishes a blog and, as a service, Contracts Standards, that:

openly share[s] contract standards–transaction analysis, checklists, and clause libraries–in an effort to establish global contract norms.

Based on his Non-Disclosure Agreement Checklist, the form asks for a few inputs . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

LexisNexis Canada Adds Court Docket Services

I see that LexisNexis Canada has announced a new court docket service in Canada for dockets at the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada:

From one intuitive online interface, LexisNexis CaseConnection Dockets enables fast access to key case information for ongoing and new proceedings filed with the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada. This information helps law firm, government and corporate professionals stay on top of emerging legal issues and cases quickly, cost-effectively and securely.

The press release was not clear on cost of the service, although registration here was . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Ontario Superior Court Practice Direction on Using Online Versions of Court Decisions

In what is very welcome news, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has released a practice direction, effective 1 October 2011, authorizing the use of reliable online versions of court decisions for filing in books of authorities and providing for special citation rules:

Practice Direction Regarding Filing of Judicial Decisions from Electronic Databases, and Regarding Citation of All Judicial Decisions

Practice Direction

Judicial Decisions from Electronic Databases

Effective October 1, 2011, copies of judicial decisions obtained from approved electronic databases are acceptable for filing provided the report of the judicial decision contains paragraph numeration consistent with the numbering of

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology: Internet

Confronting the Underperforming Partner

I witness this same scenario play itself out, time after time, and we never seem to learn.

Imagine this: The practice group leader or managing partner has their attention drawn to the fact that one of our beloved partners is underperforming. This leader knew that the particular partner was underperforming. It didn’t come as a shock. But they were content to let the situation drift without resolution, rather than have to confront the ugly reality of the circumstances. But today we have the facts thrust before us and now something must be done.

Our devoted leader, unaccustomed to having to . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Google Plus: One Network to Rule Them All


Quite a few of us in Canada have been on Google+, but we’ve found there are far more American lawyers trying it out. Let’s hope that changes fast.

Vic Gundotra of Google announced today a number of changes. Google claims it made 91 improvements to the platform during the 90 days of operation. Today they add 9 more improvements, largely related to the Hangouts feature (including mobile video chats), as well as a much-needed search function. But the 9th new “feature” is that they are opening it up to the public. It was previously in beta testing . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Marketing

The “Dark Side” of Maternity Leave

Jasmine Budak wrote an interesting article about the “dark side” of maternity leave in this month’s edition of Canadian Business magazine (the original article can be found here). In it, she addresses the operational difficulties caused to employers by statutory maternity leave protections. Ms. Budak explains the predicament as follows:

Today, the year-long mat leave is standard practice, while parental perks such as salary top-ups, extra health benefits and flextime options have become commonplace expectations, especially among the generation Y. Yet even as employers accommodate parents, particularly in fields that fiercely compete for talent, their concerns haven’t changed much

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law

Barratry, Champerty, Maintenance, Oh My!

Texas, it seems, has a problem with barratry. What, you may ask, is barratry? It is — or once was — a crime, a tort, and an act of professional misconduct. And if you were unclear about all that, you’re in good company. The former Associate Chief Justice of Ontario confessed in McIntyre Estate v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2001 CanLII 7972 (ON CA) that, “I include myself among those who had never heard of the tort of barratry until I read the material on this motion.” He went on to explain:

    [23] Barratry is related to, but clearly

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

Get Out From Behind Your Desk

Everyone is talking about how to stay connected on-line and how social media is changing the way we do business. And you know what? It is. Just think of the hundreds of thousands of tweets and fans there were of Pippa Middleton’s bum at the Royal Wedding.

That said, one to one communication is still key. And meeting people face to face has never been as important as it is this day and age.

So with that in mind, here are few tips to remember the next time you step out from behind your desk.

  • Have business cards with you.
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Marketing

PACER to Increase Fees 25%

PACER fees will be going up 25% effective November 1st.

A a press release on the U.S. Courts website explains:

The increase in the electronic public access (EPA) fee, from $.08 to $.10 per page, is needed to continue to support and improve the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, and to develop and implement the next generation of the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Filing system.

PACER fees are set by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The electronic public access fee has not changed since 2005. If my memory is correct, in 2005 the price rose . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Is Anyone Listening? a Look at How Communications Errors Are Resulting in More (And More Costly) LAWPRO Claims

The following article by Tim Lemieux is from the latest Fall 2011 issue of LAWPRO Magazine. It looks at communications-related claims at LAWPRO in different areas of law and asks claims counsel how these mistakes can be prevented.

No matter what the area of practice, the number one source of claims at LAWPRO is a breakdown in communication between the lawyer and client. And those numbers are increasing.

Between 2005 and 2010, more than 4,200 communications claims — an average of 711 a year – have been reported to LAWPRO. The total cost of these claims to date is about . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Modern Advocacy

Two galloping horses. A single rider, with one foot on each. The three are approaching a fork in the road.

Call me melodramatic, but this is the image that bubbled up in my mind as I examined the material I received from the Advocates Society this week.

The Advocates Journal contained an article by Sheila Block entitled “Advocacy Lessons from the Past”. It is an engaging piece sprinkled with references to the succinct styles of Maloney, Dubin and Robinette. The author reminds us of advice from Orwell on writing, relishes ‘beautiful, simple language’, and questions whether today lawyers focus enough . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Social Media Influencers? SLAW’s Got ’Em

The September 23 issue of The Lawyers Weekly includes a list of the 24 top social media influencers in Canadian law. A remarkable number of the names will be familiar, because they are also contributors to SLAW (with some well deserved special mention going to Simon Fodden).

For me, the most interesting part of the article is where Jordan Furlong and Warren Smith describe the selection process. Their observations should be given serious attention by firms looking to market via social media, or individuals trying to build credibility in their area of expertise.

I think it would also be interesting . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information