Agents of Change

Your tools are a law degree, and a country bound by the rule of law.

Your obstacles are law school debt; an ever-growing access to justice crisis; an economic downturn that has raised the volume on client demands for more services at a lower cost; and a regulatory system made increasingly complex by the globalization of business and trade.

Your mission – should you choose to accept it, Agent LLB – is to find a way of doing business that uses the tools at hand to overcome the obstacles and create a successful legal practice.

This message will not self-destruct, but it could be self-destructive for lawyers not to accept the mission as offered. If there’s one thing that writers in the future of legal practice discourse agree on, it’s that the status quo has run its course, and that it’s time for traditional law firms to accept the need to adapt to present and coming changes.

No pressure, right?

If you’ve been blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit, an excess of courage, and some start-up cash, blazing your own law firm trail may seem like the natural thing to do. Those not so fortunate can always learn from the experience of others.

The CBA Legal Futures Initiative is gathering individuals who have found new ways to provide traditional and not-so-traditional services for a panel discussion at the 2013 CBA Legal Conference. Domenic Crolla of Gowlings in Ottawa (who is on the Steering Committee for the Futures Initiative); Andy Daws of Riverview LLP; Joe Milstone of Cognition LLP; Rebecca Cowdery of BLG Adroit; and Michelle Crosby of Wevorce will be on hand to discuss what it takes to be an agent of change in a profession that prides itself on tradition. Gary Luftspring of Ricketts Harris LLP, also a Steering Committee member, will moderate the discussion.

“It has been a bit of an uphill battle convincing [the law profession] as an institution to evolve, to try new things, to really start shifting to meet the clients’ expectations rather than answer our own fears and needs as professionals,” Michelle Crosby said in a recent interview with National Magazine about how Wevorce is changing the way lawyers help families experiencing divorce. “But what we have found is that, individually, attorneys are really quite receptive. I mean, most of us know the frightening statistics out there for lawyers. We have the highest rate of depression, alcoholism and drug abuse of any profession out there and divorce lawyers are probably leading a lot of that… And it’s not always easy to assume the role of advocate [in an adversarial practice].

“We’re really asking lawyers to reframe how they look at problems and cultivate conversations of resolution as opposed to adversarial debates.”

The proponents of new forms of law firms emphasize that it is possible to challenge tradition and still run a profitable law practice. Listen in while they discuss how it’s done.


  1. Some people might find it odd that a self-proclaimed prophet of the future is using a label that most current Canadian law students have decided they don’t want in their future. The rest are probably doing something more important this beautiful (at least where I am) August morning.