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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Getting Ideas Into Action – One Lawyer’s Story

Having a new idea or insight form in our mind feels great. Each “aha” comes with a release of dopamine that gives us a sensation of pleasure.

Unfortunately, most good ideas don’t progress beyond the initial insight. Goals, no matter how worthy, take a lot of time and resources to implement.

It can be a long and tedious process to put plans into action. It is one thing to have an idea for a book and quite another to undertake the arduous effort to write and publish it.

That is why I was excited this month to speak with lawyer . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Disability, Diversity, and Empathy in the Legal Profession

We are already working with more people with disabilities than we think,” says Ben Lumicao, an in-house counsel in Chicago with a visible disability (cerebral palsy). More than a quarter of Americans have a disability of some kind, but only 30% of those fall into the “visible” spectrum Lumicao describes.

That’s an arresting thought for those of us currently without disabilities, and especially so in the legal profession. Many lawyers with invisible or less visible disabilities keep them hidden — in part, the article suggests, because of our profession’s cultural obsession with strength and fear of appearing weak. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Law Firms Can Learn From Plagues

You might have heard of the online game, World of Warcraft. It has 8 million players in any given month. On September 13, 2005, the game became infected with a blood plague. It was started intentionally by the game designers and was to have been restricted to a particular area of the game. But somehow, it got out and in no time, was killing off everything in site, including characters that players might have spent years building up.

The game developers and members of the community attempted to slow the spread by warning other players to avoid certain areas of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

The Markers of Progress Are Doubt and Faith

As I paddled in the middle of the Bay of Fundy I looked into the distance and saw the outline of Campobello Island’s shore. The shimmer of warm air hovered over the land, creating a beautiful haze. Land!, I thought. Tired, hungry, and thirsty, I figured it wouldn’t be long and picked up my pace, hopping onto my knees to engage my butterfly stroke. My spirits rose but it was short-lived. An hour later I looked up and to my dismay and the shore didn’t look any closer. It felt like the wind had picked up and the currents were . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Don’t Sacrifice Health for Wealth

“Zeus granted Tithonus immortality but not youth. When hateful old age was pressing hard on him, with all its might, and he couldn’t move his limbs, much less lift them up, then she thought up this plan, a very good one indeed – she put him in her chamber, and she closed the shining doors over him.”

– Hymn to Aphrodite, Homer

Many of us have traded away our health for wealth. The consequence is an early death and, perhaps worse, painful old age. I have noticed, now in my second decade of dastardly discourse, how my colleagues and I . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Balance the Scales: Service vs Servitude™

The law is a helping profession. Outsiders might scoff, but all of us in the industry know this to be so.

Ask a thousand lawyers what they value about their work, and most will draw a connection to helping. One bankruptcy lawyer told me that what motivates him is helping people to make a fresh start. Business lawyers have spoken with passion about helping their entrepreneurial clients. Personal injury lawyers have told me how much they care about helping injured persons recover and rebuild their lives.

What is meaningful to lawyers about their work is, in a word, service.

What . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Fundamental Problem With “the Rule of Law”

Keep your eye on a fascinating project underway in England & Wales, where the Legal Services Board (overseer of all legal regulators there) has launched a “programme of work” devoted to ethics, professionalism, and the rule of law. These are subjects overdue for a critical reconsideration, given how much the world has changed in the last 15-20 years, and other countries certainly will benefit from the LSB’s work here.

It’s worth taking note, however, of the tone of the LSB’s early forays into this topic. A blog post from the Board’s regulatory policy manager, which makes several excellent . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How Law Firms Create (And Should Deal With) Difficult Partners

Recently, I became addicted to watching episodes of “Super Nanny”. It’s not because I wanted to learn how to manage my own children – they’ve long since grown up and are very good contributors to society thank you very much. And it’s wasn’t for variety. The episodes are formulaic: they all contain little hellions that, in the course of the show, go from Tasmanian devils to relatively decent human beings.

After some contemplation, I realized that I was drawn to the program as one coach watching another, and an expert one at that. I was learning from her style, choice . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Attending Law School in a Global Pandemic: Reflections on Competency in the “Pandemic Class”

In the 2020-2021 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced law schools to shift from deeply traditional in-person pedagogical methods to fully online learning. To say the least, students entering law school in 2020 (the “pandemic class”) had a markedly different law school experience than their pre-pandemic counterparts. From a lack of in-person learning to the challenge of blended work-life spaces, how did attending law school in a global pandemic affect the competencies of students in the pandemic class? Researchers will likely explore this complex question in the years to come. In the meantime, here are some reflections from one soon-to-be . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Legal Education, Practice of Law

A Letter From the Daughter of an Over-Stimulated Immigrant

“What does it say? I don’t understand”. Children of immigrants are no stranger to this expression. Especially in circumstances where their parents are scrunching their foreheads to understand legal documents laced with technical complexities. Often, these children are the primary point of contact between their parents and professionals, which ultimately makes them responsible for translating and relaying technical information on behalf of their parents who lack native fluency. It is not uncommon to hear of children as early as six years old reading and translating demand letters, financial statements and court documents for their parents who do not understand the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Law Student Week, Practice of Law

Re-Imagining the Notion of “Pride” in the Legal Profession

The Path to Pride

The year is 2001. The legal profession in Ontario is in disarray after several law students at the University of Toronto’s law school were caught fraudulently altering their grades to secure prestigious Bay Street summer positions. Many of these students were disciplined. Yet, in the eyes of the legal priesthood, this also necessitated a macro-level response.

Accordingly, some of the profession’s best and brightest were corralled together under the leadership of the then-Chief Justice of Ontario, Roy McMurtry, to define the elements of professionalism for lawyers. Understandably, the Advisory Committee on Professionalism, as it was . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Legal Ethics, Practice of Law

From “a History of Exclusion” to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”: What May Have Gone Wrong in the Pursuit of the New Notion of Professionalism

Today, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) practices have become indispensable in almost every legal workplace. DEI practices aim to promote a new notion of professionalism, one where individuals from all walks of life enjoy fair treatment and full participation. “Merry Christmas” has become “Happy Holidays”. Profiles of Black and Asian-looking lawyers surge during Black History Month and Asian Heritage Month. Rainbows are slapped onto logos before the pride parades. Land recognitions are performed before major events.

However, do these actions mean this new notion of professionalism is working well?

Where It Starts: DEI as a Departure from a “History of

. . . [more]
Posted in: Law Student Week, Legal Ethics, Practice of Law