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Archive for ‘Columns’

Why I Am Still Constantly Shocked by the Way the Justice System Works

As I approach my fifth anniversary working for the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) I find myself feeling reflective.

I could not have anticipated ending up working in the legal sphere, in the world of “access to justice.” Until 5 years ago I’d never heard that phrase, or had any real understanding of the justice system. My background is in libraries, among other things, and I’d never been involved in any kind of legal proceeding. So although I was well-educated and informed in general, and aware of many social justice issues, my knowledge of the legal world was (like the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Navigating the Early Years of Practice

The first years of a lawyer’s career are some of the toughest. These years aren’t only an important time for honing legal skills, they are also essential for navigating into areas of practice and ultimately a firm or organization that is a match for your interests, values, and goals.

In the AMP (Associate Mentoring Plus) program I run, all the mentors have worked at more than one law firm or company. Each of them has a story to tell about making career moves to work in firms, practice areas, and with clients who were the best fit for their interests, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lawyers Addicted to Technology: Cutting the Cord

Not exactly a new subject, is it? And yet the pandemic has brought a new focus to technology addiction as way too many lawyers worked longer hours at home than they ever did at the office, their overtired, burning eyes fixed on their monitors.

As the pandemic receded and lawyers ventured out, we heard a regular theme about technology – “I can’t let go.” Finally, a chance to take a vacation emerged in the summer of 2021 and we proved to be pretty terrible at relaxing sans technology.

Technology Itself Gives You Tools to Cut the Cord

Your phone is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Is Remote Work a Thing Now?

My son recently announced that the small law firm website design company he works for will be giving up their trendy office space in Vancouver’s Gas Town and permanently moving to a remote work environment. He was ecstatic, as he LOVES working from home. But my husband (a school teacher near retirement) insists that most workers prefer the sociability of a traditional face-to-face workplace and that despite expert predictions, remote work won’t be a serious thing after the pandemic. It made me wonder where law firms might fall on the scale. (I learned that the answer has significant marketing, HR, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Legal Technology, Practice of Law

More Canada-U.S. Pipeline Problems – Michigan’s Push to Shutdown Line 5

The state of Michigan has demanded that a Canadian company, Enbridge Energy Company (Enbridge), close the portion permitted by an easement of its oil pipeline—Line 5—that crosses the Straits of Mackinac, which joins Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Line 5 is an interstate, interprovincial, and international pipeline, owned and operated by Enbridge. It is used to transport petroleum products from Wisconsin, through Michigan, to Ontario, Québec, and further locations in Canada.[1]

Michigan’s Notice of Termination of the easement applies to a 4-mile portion of dual lines along the lake floor and ordered Enbridge to cease operation by May 12, . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

A New BC Law for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health

From proteststo scientific analysis, old growth forests have been much in the news in British Columbia in recent months. What does a legal lens bring to this debate?

Past analyses undertaken by West Coast Environmental Law have laid bare the multifaceted ways in which BC’s laws are “hardwired for failure” when it comes to safeguarding the resilience of ecological systems and human communities in the face of cumulative impacts from resource development and climate change. Legal barriers identified include:

  • Historic legal or policy caps on how much land may be protected and/or how great an impact on resource
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

A Progress Report on Licensing Copyright Against Itself

In my coverage of intellectual property issues in scholarly publishing, I have made passing reference in this column to my work with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP). It represents my more practical and applied efforts to address the intellectual property issues that trouble scholarly publishing. From this perspective, what PKP has been doing for more than two decades now is to test various ways in which copyright can better serve research and scholarship. This turns out to be largely about redirecting copyright against itself.

What this has meant in practice is that PKP develops software for online scholarly publishing platforms . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

4L Academy’s Mental Health Play – a Conversation With Founder Aaron Baer

Solving the mental health crisis in law requires invention and transformation.

Lawyer entrepreneurs are turning their minds to the challenge and bringing innovative offerings to the market aimed at making a difference.

Aaron Baer is one such entrepreneur, a corporate commercial lawyer who started his legal training company 4L Academy this year. 4L provides modern legal training for Canadian lawyers and law students.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Baer on June 7, 2021 – the very day 4L launched the summer pilot program.

The launch attracted lots of attention.

The response from law students was phenomenal—the summer program . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

“Noise” and Decision-Making – Why Consistency in Decisions Matters

The divergence between the law on the books and the law as applied — and the uncertainty and unpredictability that result — exacts a price paid in the coin of injustice. ….

R. v. Ferguson, 2008 SCC 6 at paragraph 72

The Rule of Law requires that the law be accessible and “so far as possible intelligible, clear and predictable” (Lord Bingham). Daniel Kahneman, Oliver Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein have written an important book on the unexplained inconsistencies that get in the way of predictability in decision-making: Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement. This is . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Expert Evidence in Patent Cases

Expert evidence is crucial to patent litigation and the timely preparation and exchange of written expert reports prior to trial is one of most important steps of preparing for trial. Expert evidence is typically introduced on patent claim construction, validity, infringement and on remedies. Having expert evidence found inadmissible can significantly change the stakes at trial.

The Federal Courts Rules include deadlines for the delivery of expert reports, but typically a detailed schedule for the exchange of reports is set by the case management judge in consultation with the parties. The more detailed the schedule for expert reports, the less . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Could You Build a Law Library From Nothing?

I have worked in several law libraries, and I can remember the way each one felt when I first saw them; full of beauty and potential, but completely overwhelming. With each new library I would take a tour while someone knowledgeable about the collection explained where various things could be found, and each time I tried to take it all in, knowing full well that it would be months before I would feel confident that I could find anything. A new collection feels like a massive challenge to learn, and while I’m finally feeling more confident in my current position, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Avoid the “Advice Trap” – What Does This Mean for Legal Professionals?

I have an advice monster – there, I said it! I admit that when people share their challenges and problems with me, I feel compelled to jump in and provide advice i.e., “here are some things you could do to fix this”.

I can already hear objections from my legal profession colleagues: “Isn’t that why people come to us, for our advice?” That was certainly my first reaction. I’m asking you to hold that thought and read on. I think there is much more to this.

My mediation training taught me the power of questions and coaching, as well as . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution