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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Don’t Warn – Fix!

I saw a bumper sticker last week on an old Volkswagen Beetle: “Warning. Manual Transmission. May Roll Backwards.”

It made me want to put my car within inches of his back bumper, facing uphill. Well, no. I’m not really that passive-aggressive. But I owned only stick-shifts for over forty years, including a succession of well-used VW Beetles when I lived along the steep hills keeping the Hudson River in her banks. And I never once rolled backwards from a stop.

(Set the emergency brake. Put the car in first. Then put your hand on the brake release and slowly lower . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Advocating for a Mentally Healthy Attitude Toward Mental Health

A couple of things you may not know about heart surgery: patients are given “cough pillows.” They use them the first few weeks after surgery, hugging them to their bodies to lessen the pain that comes with coughing, sneezing or even laughing after your sternum has been cut open.

And did you know that severe depression is often a side-effect of open-heart surgery?

Two years ago, CBA President Ray Adlington was recovering from surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, clutching his heart pillow and too depressed to do much more than go from his recliner to his bed, where he . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Speak to the Street

I was walking down the street with Nelson, one of the regional finalists of our 2018 Innovating Justice Award. He’s co-founder of Gavel (and, more visible: @citizen_gavel on Twitter). A social enterprise that calls itself “a civic tech organisation aimed at improving the pace of justice delivery through tech”. As part of the entrepreneurship training we give the finalists we ask the justice entrepreneurs to speak to the street. Find and talk to justice customers. Learn what they need. How they need it. When they need it. What they do when they need it. This was a busy street . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Challenging Technology’s Ability to Produce Reliable Evidence

Access to Justice (A2J): for our work as lawyers, we don’t know enough about the technology that produces much of the evidence we have to deal with. So how to be educated affordably? This is an outline of three articles that I have recently posted on the SSRN. (Click on each of the three hyperlinked headings below to download a pdf. copy of each.)

1. Technology, Evidence, and its Procedural Rules (SSRN, October 1, 2018, pdf., 64 pages)

The rules of procedure that govern proceedings concerning discovery, disclosure, and admissibility of evidence have to be flexibly applied . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Procrastination Breakthrough – Tips From a Lawyer Coach for Getting Into Action

Hello, my name is Allison, and I am a procrastinator. I procrastinate and so does everyone I know. Not only do we all procrastinate, but we beat ourselves up about it too.

I’m such a loser – but I just can’t handle doing that right now

I know I’m not getting to it – I’m a failure as a lawyer

What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just do it?!!

I am going to let you in on a little secret from my coaching practice: I have learned that procrastination isn’t stupid, it’s smart.

We procrastinate for good reason.

Surprisingly, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Risk-Aversion Really Means

I’ve heard many times, and I’m sure you have too, that lawyers are ”risk-averse.” That description alone isn’t very helpful — after all, most people are risk-averse, which is why much of the population lives safe and sedate lives while a very small number of people create billion-dollar companies or break their legs while cliff-diving.

What I think we mean is that lawyers are unusually risk-averse. And when we say this about ourselves, we usually say it in tone of self-mocking resignation or gentle exasperation: “Well, what are you gonna do? Lawyers are risk-averse, after all. We won’t try anything . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Simple Way to Increase Productivity

Lawyers are intelligent, capable human beings who sometimes find it almost impossible to manage their time well. The reason could be that too much is expected of them; that they like to do things very well before moving on and that takes time; that they under-estimated how long an activity will take; that when activities involve dealing with others, time becomes a variable; that they have to spend valuable time cleaning up someone else’s work; that they have other people’s work dumped on them…the list goes on.

These are reasons but not excuses. Productivity is usually tied to efficiency and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Public Interest Regulation: Governance Reform at the Law Society of Ontario

The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) has launched a call for comments on potential governance reforms. Reform is long overdue. The governance of the LSO is archaic and in no way approximates the structure of a modern, effective board. To its credit, the LSO appears to recognize the problem and is attempting to move towards modernizing its governance.

There are currently 90 members of “Convocation” – the archaic name for what is supposed to be a Board of Directors at the LSO. These 90 consist of 45 elected licensees (40 lawyers and five paralegals), 8 lay benchers appointed by the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Making Your Dream a Reality – Starts Here

This article is for you if you have a dream about your career that you think may not be possible.

Some dreams are worth pursuing, even if they take a while to achieve. I know this for sure because this summer, after more than a decade of step-by-step progress, I am living mine.

I have a home on Salt Spring Island, and my dream has been to live and work from there full time. This summer I am spending two full months on the island working from my home office,

It all began back in November 2003 when my wife . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How Old Belief Systems Can Cripple a Career

Precedent figures heavily in most law practises, so it’s understandable that lawyers would rely heavily on past experiences and belief systems in the running of their lives. Life experience can create wisdom. It can also lead to our greatest weak spots. In over twenty years of coaching lawyers, my primary goal has been to help them to identify and overcome old belief systems that are no longer working for them but that they continue to use to the detriment of their careers.

For example:

  • A lawyer who is held back from partnership because of a lack of delegation, but can’t
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Consequences to Innovation Canada and IP of a Badly Drafted National Standard of Canada

The federal government’s “Budget 2017,” Innovation Canada project has led to the badly drafted National Standard of Canada, Electronic Records as Documentary Evidence CAN/CGSB-72.34-2017 (“72.34-2017”). It should not be relied upon to conduct any business, government or other transaction based upon the reliability and integrity of electronically-produced records. And so, on July 11, 2018, I, Ken Chasse, notified: (1) the Standards Council of Canada, being the agency that declared it to be a national standard; and, (2) the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. On, July 20, 2018, I received the Standards Council’s reply, and on July . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Simple Measurement of Client Value

If you’ve been grappling with the practical, real-world meaning of “value” in legal services delivery — and many of us have been — then I want to start this post by recommending a recently released paper from Prof. Noel Semple of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. “Measuring Legal Service Value” is available for download at SSRN. A lengthy except is available here at Slaw (Part 1 and Part 2), and it is worth your time and consideration.

The core of Noel’s article, although by no means the entirety of his thesis, is expressed in . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law