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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Leadership Advice for Lawyers

Based on a SLAW post I wrote in 2017, I was recently asked to speak at a conference for women lawyers on leadership. The article focussed on how to effectively lead practice groups and client teams. The date of the original article serves as evidence that I’ve been encouraging leadership skills development in lawyers for a long time, but it really began in the early 2000’s when I developed my initial processes for practice group management. Back then, I quickly realized that most of my training and support would need to be with the practice group leaders. They set the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

5 Strategies for Boosting Confidence

Samantha has a presentation coming up and wishes she felt more confident. She worries about getting asked questions and not knowing the answers. She is all too aware of how little she knows about the topic.

Tom is heading into a meeting with senior counsel, who has asked him to report on his progress and feels nervous and self-doubting.

In law, it can seem as though confidence is a professional requirement. There is an expectation that you will have the answers. It can also seem like everyone around you feels confident, and you are the odd one out.

Here’s what . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Law Practice Transformation: Ten Fundamental Questions to Ask

Simon is buckling under the pressure of an endless stream of emails, messages, and calls from disgruntled clients. Simon’s thoughts race. He worries about missing something important, and he second-guesses the decisions he made on a recent file. As his anxiety level rises, he wonders, “do I need to leave legal practice?”

Simon is not alone. You likely have experienced this too. The mental health challenges legal professionals face all point to one question: Is there not a better way of practicing law?

And the answer is, yes, there is.

Transforming the practice of law is crucial. It is simply . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Changing the Way Legal Services Are Delivered to Meet Legal Needs

“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some of us are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.” -Damian Barr

Without question, the pandemic has altered the way lawyers practice law. There is increased efficiency in the operation of the courts and both judges and lawyers have skillfully adapted to incredible changes that would have seemed impossible to imagine let alone implement eighteen months ago. The expanded use of technology increased access to justice for many. Emergency orders offered the ability to execute various types of documents safely and remotely. Some . . . [more]

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

Lawyer Competence vs. Lawyer Competitiveness

If you’ve been following my work over at Law21, you’ll know that I’ve been immersed lately in lawyer competence: what its components are, what its less obvious elements include, and how we can go about building it. I’ve been fortunate to work with some Canadian law societies in making recommendations and helping develop frameworks to govern and guide developments in this area.

Whenever we talk about lawyer competence, we need to work out exactly what the threshold or minimum standard of that competence should be. One line of thinking in this regard is that the minimum standard . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How Toxic Is Too Toxic?

I wish some law firms could come with a warning label; associate beware.

John worked at a firm with two partners who controlled every moment of his day. A six day in the office work week was enforced. On a daily basis he had to listen to demeaning comments made about his performance heard through the paper-thin office walls. On the outside the partners were respected, acknowledged as exemplary mentors, and admired. Inside the firm they were cruel, demanding, and controlling.

This is not an isolated incident. The worst offenders often take great pains to manage their professional reputations. They . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What “Protecting the Public” Really Means

Regulators of legal services often say that their most important job is to “protect the public.” If this statement is true, then we need to consider its implications for the future regulation of the legal profession. And that starts by posing a deceptively simple question:

What exactly do we mean by, “the public”?

When you hear that term, does it summon for you the image of a Fortune 500 GC? An assistant deputy minister in the government? An experienced construction company owner? Is that who you think of as “the public”? Probably not.

Instead, you think of ordinary people. Dads, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

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

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

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

Ten Coaching Questions on the Path From Languishing to Flourishing

Languishing.

Thanks to Adam Grant’s May 2020 article in the New York Times, we now have a word to describe this malaise many of us are experiencing:

“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

The opposite of languishing is flourishing.

Martin Seligman, a founding father of the School of Positive Psychology, writes in his book Flourishing that five factors together contribute to flourishing.

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishments

There is also a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Radical Solutions to Lawyer Overwork

A correspondent from Europe wrote me recently to ask if I had any thoughts about unhealthy work schedules and high billing pressures facing young law firm associates. I had assumed this was strictly an Anglo-American problem, but based on what my correspondent told me, it seems that wherever in the world there are sizeable full-service law firms, there are overworked and over-stressed lawyers inside them.

The usual expressions of concern are being made by bar associations and the firms themselves, and there’s been talk of task forces, educational webinars, voluntary programs, and so on. I told my correspondent that I . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law