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Archive for April, 2012

End of Days for Law Firm Partnerships?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “end of days” for the traditional legal services provider – partnership law firms.

And I can already hear you grumbling. “How can there be an “end of days” for the current model of law firms? And don’t give us any of that, ‘UK Legal Services Act will change the world,’ crap. Kowalski, you’re crazy.”

Perhaps, but hear me out.

The partnership model of law firms is doomed to fail because of what Mancur Olson calls the collective action dilemma. Collective action dilemma occurs when you have a group of people all acting in . . . [more]

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

Marketing Spin of Academic Research

Legal marketers must have a little common ground with those who do public relations in Universities — taking important (yet questionably dry) material, and making it both understandable and interesting. And perhaps more important, fine tuning the message presentation for each intended audience.

Case in point, a recent study that came out of Wake Forest comparing pupil dilation response on left-side vs right-side photos (for those interested — your left side is always golden according to the research).

Let’s start with the PubMed link above, and look at the title: Emotive hemispheric differences measured in real-life portraits using pupil diameter . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Marketing

Privacy Management Program Guide Will Hopefully Help With Accountability

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), and the Offices of the Information and Privacy Commissioners (OIPCs) of Alberta and British Columbia have developed a guide titled Getting Accountability Right with a Privacy Management Program. The guide aims to help organizations implement an effective privacy management program that meets private-sector privacy legislation and to provide consistent direction on what it means to be an accountable organization when dealing with individuals’ personal information, accountability being the first and foremost obligation under privacy legislation.

These guidelines will help businesses take data protection from policy to practice, explained BC Information

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

Legal Business Development: The Profession Is Changing – Will You Be on the Cutting Edge… or Will You Be Left Behind?

Innovation… lawyers seldom operate on the cutting edge and certainly not the bleeding edge! That’s a given. It’s likely in your DNA. Risk averse. But how long will you stay in what once was a perfect business model that is now past its prime? That is the question.

Seth Godin points to the music industry…

The music business was perfect. Radio, record chains, Rolling Stone magazine, the senior prom, limited access to recording studios, the replaceable nature of the LP, the baby boomers… it all added up to a business that seemed perfect, one that could run for ever and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Marketing

Hot on CanLII This Week

Here are the three most-consulted English-language cases on CanLII for the week of April 18 – 23.

1. Club Resorts Ltd. v. Van Breda 2012 SCC 17

[1] Tourism has grown into one of the most personal forms of globalization in the modern world. Canadians look elsewhere for the sun, or to see new sights or seek new experiences. Trips are planned and taken with great expectations. But personal tragedies do happen. Happiness gives way to grief, as in the situations that resulted in these appeals. A young woman, Morgan Van Breda, suffered catastrophic injuries on a beach in

. . . [more]
Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Legal Hackathon

A hackathon (hack + marathon) is an event where computer programers, often in conjunction with graphic designers or other related disciplines, get together for marathon sessions to collaborate intensly on a project. There is a specific goal in mind, such as coding specific software or solving a specific problem.

Brooklyn Law School’s Incubator and Policy Clinic recently held its first legal hackathon, a day long event for law students, lawyers and entrepreneurs to help lawyers think more like hackers. One of the organizers said “What I’m hoping to get at today is to figure out how we as lawyers stop . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law, Technology

Unlocking the Potential of Commercial Mediation (Part II)

In my last post, I promised to explore how the current commercial mediation model might be “tweaked” to unlock the full potential of mediation. There seemed to be a divide between “interest-based” or “facilitative” mediation (which is the focus of most mediation training programs) and the commercial mediation model.

Is there a way to preserve the foundational principles of interest-based negotiation and mediation while venturing into the world of commercial mediation?

Experienced litigators and some mediators have remarked that commercial mediation is really a purely distributive exercise which is only about the money. Is that ever really true? I . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Resignation and Bonuses… in Quebec… in English!

As an Anglophone employment and labour lawyer from Quebec, I don’t often get to read decisions in my native language. Recently, Justice David Collier, also a Quebec Anglophone jurist from my ex-firm Norton Rose Canada LLP, rendered an employment law decision which merits some attention in the “Rest of Canada” – both because it’s well-written and sound but also because it is a rare English-language decision from La Belle Province which summarizes civil law employment law concepts in English.

In Gilman c. Fieldturf Tarkett Inc., 2012 QCCS 1429 (CanLII), Justice Collier deals with applications from several disgruntled field . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Scout Bills Before the US Congress

The Sunlight Foundation launched a beta version of Scout today, a free service which compiles information from a variety of sources to let you search through bills and speeches before Congress, State bills, and Federal regulations. The site allows the creation of custom alerts when a specific issue is going before Congress, as well as tracking these issues over time.

The Sunlight Foundation is a a non-profit who “uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.” Sounds like powerful stuff. You can see more . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Windows 8

I predict that Windows 8 will not catch on for mid-sized and large law firms. Windows 8 Enterprise is offered and has some interesting features, but the change is so huge that I see little potential for adoption by law firms.

Today our IT Manager showed me his iPad running a virtual instance of Windows 8 sourced from his home Mac. The interface has radical and interesting new flavour that sources apps and reminds me of my iPhone.

Among many others, BBC News has a preview article today. Microsoft also offers a consumer preview that links to a video for . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Office Technology

Alberta Queen’s Bench Upholds Whatcott Decision

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta released the decision today in R. v. Whatcott, upholding the decision by the Provincial Court of Alberta, which held that William Whatcott’s s. 2(b) Charter rights were violated when the University of Calgary prevented him from distributing what was characterized as “anti-gay literature.”

Although the Crown appealed on the basis that the Charter did not apply to the enforcement of a university policy prohibiting the distribution of all printed material on campus without permission, regardless of content, the court focused on the use of provincial trespass legislation to respond to an . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions