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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Blockchain Liability

This is a general and quick review of who should or can be responsible if something goes wrong on blockchain. I am brainstorming, not educating. Don’t take this essay as legal advice.

I can think of two categories of potential defendants in blockchains: developers and users. But first of all, what is liability?

Black’s, tenth edition, defines liability as “The quality, state, or condition of being legally obligated or accountable; legal responsibility to another or to society, enforceable by civil remedy or criminal punishment.” I am interested only in civil liability here.

The key element of liability is that it . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Global Access to Justice Goal

We all need relationships with others to love, to be safe, to earn a living, to learn, to plan, and to be healthy and happy. Because we are human, these relationships can sometimes deteriorate or even break down. That’s when we need a good relationship management system. Which is what a good justice system should be and that’s why access to justice is so terribly important. We must therefore be thankful that 193 heads of government adopted Sustainable Development Target 16.3 in 2015: to ensure equal access to justice for all.

My past lamentations on these pages have been . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

10 Things Thriving Lawyers Do

1. Ask for help

The best time to seek help is as soon as you get stuck. Just like the nose on our face, it is incredibly difficult for us to see the thinking traps and habits that slow us down much less do anything about them. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Going it alone is just going to make your life tougher.

2. Get involved in their communities

The thriving lawyers I know are involved in their communities. This can be such activities as coaching soccer, singing in a choir, or sitting on the board of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Leadership and the Sole Practitioner

I was asked recently to speak (via webinar) to a group of lawyers in Christchurch, New Zealand, as part of the New Zealand Law Society’s “Stepping Up” course. This program, which other legal regulators should emulate, requires any lawyer wishing to practise law as the equity owner of a law practice to learn about business fundamentals, client care, trust accounting, and so forth.

On this particular occasion, the theme of the Stepping Up course was “leadership,” and so I prepared some remarks on that topic. But one thing I was especially asked to think about was how “leadership” . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Election Politics, Innovation Canada, IP, and Dependence Upon the Standards Council of Canada

Some in-depth investigative journalism is needed because there has been a further danger-augmenting development in regard to the creation of National Standards of Canada (NSCs) as that behavior relates to the federal government’s high profile, Budget 2017 declaration of the creation of Innovation Canada. Its Fact Sheet, Skills, Innovation and Middle Class Jobs, states inter alia, “Budget 2017’s Innovation and Skills Plan advances an agenda to make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation, to help create more good, well-paying jobs, and help strengthen and grow the middle class.”

I say “further development,” because I described that behavior . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Need for Blockchain Evidence Legislation

Nobody wanted to die. The life extension project raised millions with names of famous scientists and promises of ground-breaking research. Trustees earmarked the bulk of the money as a prize to the first researcher who solved the telomerase enzyme problem.

On the morning of January 2, 2020, two independent groups announced successful telomerase enhancement formulas. One was from Atlanta, and the other one from Singapore. The group that proved it was the first to record the formula would get $50 million to continue its research. Peer-reviewed publication was not relevant as both completed it at the same time. The only . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Sad and Nervous or Depressed and Anxious: Is There a Difference?

I am one of a growing number of Canadians who find winters difficult. I don’t enjoy outdoor activities in the snow, I don’t like being cold, and the lessened daylight leaves me wanting to wrap up in a blanket and wait for Spring to arrive. Throughout January, February and March I grit my teeth, turn on my light therapy lamp, pop my Vitamin D, and remind myself it will all be better when Spring arrives.

Well, it’s Spring now (or at least that’s what the calendar says… mother nature seems to be hitting the snooze button). We are still waiting . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Legal Project Management in Thirty Seconds

Can I teach Legal Project Management in thirty seconds? Of course not.

But I can teach the single most important question a project manager must ask: What does success look like?

In the book that defined this field (titled, for some reason, Legal Project Management), I focused a critical chapter on the need to define “Done.” Having spent much of the past decade teaching lawyers around the world to manage their projects, I’ve come ‘round to a different – and I believe clearer – way to frame that definitional issue: What does success look like?

For a certain subset . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Underwear Gnomes of Law

Depending on your age and preferred cultural touchstones, the title of this column is ether instantly recognizable or a complete mystery. If it’s the latter, the video below, excerpted from a 1998 episode of South Park, should shed some light.

The underwear gnomes’ profit strategy has become a widely cited meme in the intervening years, owing to its effective illustration of the shortcomings of many strategic plans. The premise sounds interesting; the outcome sounds great; but the opaque middle step, whereby the interesting premise is somehow converted into bags of money through mysterious processes, is entirely glossed over.

I’ve . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Measuring Legal Service Value, Part 1

If you work at a law firm, how good is that firm? If you’re a client or potential client, how good are the different legal services providers that you might choose to patronize?

It’s too difficult, at present, to answer these questions in an objective and reliable way. This is most obviously true for individual people with legal needs. They generally confront a mysterious landscape populated with apparently indistinguishable law firms, as well as proliferating alternative sources of legal services.

However, even experienced corporate clients, and lawyers themselves, lack solid information about the respective merits of different legal service providers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics, Practice of Law

Seeking Success in All the Wrong Places

Last year, a friend asked me in all seriousness how I defined success. She confessed that she was feeling unhappy and almost obsessed by her own lack of success.

Her confession took me aback.

She is the most successful person I know. She is an entrepreneur who sold a business for seven figures. She now runs another profitable business doing work she greatly enjoys while also having the time to engage in high impact pro bono investments in the community. She is wealthy enough that she could retire tomorrow with all the comforts she could ever want.

If she wasn’t . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Innovation Canada, IP, and Dependence Upon the Standards Council of Canada

[Note: this is but a short summary of the full text posted on the SSRN, February 2, 2018, (pdf.)-Ken Chasse.]

Canada’s federal government will be looking to gain political points and praise in the next federal election, for its “Budget 2017” declaration last March, as to creating Innovation Canada. Its purpose, among others, is to promote and support business innovation, including educating organizations in regard to recognizing what is intellectual property (IP), and preserving, governing, and otherwise dealing with it as valuable property, e.g., teaching that databanks and information can be IP, essential . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law