Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

One and Only

The winning strategy of being one of one drives value and growth.

Leading law firm. Full service. Client focused. These throw-way platitudes are hallmarks of those who are indistinguishable in the legal services market and, as a result, are doomed to compete.

Be distinct. Stop competing. Own your market.

These are the hallmarks of smart and sustainable business.

Be Distinct

Distinct means being different from something else of a similar type.

According to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, “Canada’s 14 provincial and territorial law societies govern over 136,000 lawyers, Quebec’s 4,200 notaries and Ontario’s 10,600 independent paralegals…” . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

The Happiness of Pursuit – an Invitation for Lawyers to Reframe Their Frame of Mind

As a lawyer who wears many “hats” in my work, I like to relax by watching movies.

Recently I watched a movie called “Hector and the search for happiness”.

The title intrigued me.

As a lawyer, mediator, wellness coach, I am always looking for ways to be happier. In fact, I believe that this has been the human condition for generations, wherein people have been striving to find happiness. I hope that this piece will give you some time to ponder ways in which you can increase your happiness and decrease the stress that is omnipresent within the legal profession. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

If Articling Didn’t Exist, Would We Invent It?

Two more data points in the legal news recently (Canadian Lawyer, to be precise) to support the idea that we’re going about this “articling” thing all wrong.

  • Former Law Society of Ontario governor Peter Wardle criticized the articling system for failing to ensure sufficient, consistent, high-quality experiential training, as well as the law society for again failing to tackle these problems effectively.
  • The Law Society of Alberta is recruiting law firms to join a new program to place articling students who were driven out of their previous firms by discrimination or harassment, a program that’s straining under increased
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Billable Hours Reset Got You Down? Start the Year Strong With a Reframe and a Refresh

Alex said with a sigh, “January is like Groundhog Day with billable hours reset to zero, and it all starts over.”

This wasn’t the first time I had heard this said. For many lawyers, the New Year comes with a sense of fatigue as the billable hour cycle starts anew.

They have a point. The billing cycle is starting again, and the starting point is zero.

And yet, how we think about the world defines our experience.

If you are interested in coaching yourself through this malaise, read on.

Start with a reframe. “The billable hours may reset, but your . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Getting a Non-Marketer to Market

One of those old truisms that floats around, no less accurate for its long tenure: everybody likes buying stuff, nobody likes being sold to.

It’s a seeming paradox – you’d think that buying and selling would be a perfect match. Except that lots of the time, the selling being done is terrible and gets in the way of what would otherwise be a pleasant buying process. See also, buying literally everything online so you don’t have to interact with a salesperson.

Stuff happens in our brains when we shift into sales mode: the other person (the prospect… how’s that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Adding a ‘New’ Voice to Loss Prevention

I’ve been fortunate in my career to be part of new innovative projects and to help expand the scope of longstanding organizations. My most recent role is Policy and Communications Advisor with the Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association (CLIA). Never heard of CLIA? For an organization that has been around for 35 years, we have an image problem. Or perhaps a lack of image problem. Many of the lawyers we insure have never heard of us.

CLIA is a reciprocal insurance exchange formed in 1988 as a direct response to a need for more effective professional liability coverage for Canadian . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law

Gratitude: It’s Not Just for Gift Giving

Hello my dear readers.

I have not as yet had the privilege of writing about wellness on this amazing platform, however, I am not new to the topic.

As lawyers and legal professions, we are not very good at taking time to care for ourselves. We are in the business of helping and caring for others and at the end of the day, there is usually very little time left for us.

My goal is to welcome you all into this space and invite you to give yourselves permission to take a few moments to recharge, breathe and find some . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Courts Can Help Solve the A2J Crisis — by Doing Less

In a recent edition of my Substack newsletter, I made eight predictions about what the legal sector would look like in ten years’ time. The eighth entry on that list was titled “Unfulfilled Justice”:

Universal access to justice is still a distant dream. Regulatory change has made it easier for people to become lawyers and para-professionals, so the supply side of the market is growing. But the demand side still suffers from a lack of civic education around legal rights and remedies, and legal institutions (especially the courts) have held out against change.

That last parenthetical observation about the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

5 Ways Lawyers Can Stop Avoiding Conflict

“You’re a lawyer — you must like arguing!” While this may be true for some lawyers, when it comes to conflict with their closest colleagues, many would rather avoid the pain and discomfort.

Although interpersonal conflict is often thought of as a battle between two people, I have learned that conflict is about tension between people when they differ in beliefs, behaviours, opinions, or values.

Some lawyers will approach the issue with colleagues, senior lawyers, and partners head-on and in doing so deliver what the other person feels as a gut-wrenching blow. Other lawyers are more passive; they either avoid . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Problem With Associate Fee Splits

Compensation is a reflection of value, but also has the purpose of motivating workers. Where compensation is a fee split, make sure that your offer is accomplishing both of these objectives.

I work predominantly with small to medium-sized law firms in Canada, so my comments here reflect that particular marketplace. And within that market, over the past five years, it has become increasingly common for law firms to compensate Associates through a fee split: paying the Associates with a percentage of their collected revenue instead of a salary. This appears to have started due to the challenge in finding and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Making It Work: Finding Opportunities in Project Upheaval

Seth Godin writes in his book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable, “The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.” This is the mantra that keeps me going through every legal information content project I’ve been involved with as a knowledge engineer. But sudden and what often seem like inevitable changes in funding, timelines or resource allotment can be overwhelming. Being told to pivot or be resilient in the face of adversity without practical solutions is only so helpful.

I found myself in such a situation, as briefly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law

Shifting the Balance to Service From Servitude – With a Focus on Meaning

Service is meaningful. Service is motivating. Ask one hundred lawyers what they most enjoy about their work, and most will tell you it is helping clients.

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

What is burning them out is servitude.

In article one of this series, I explored the factors that cause service to slip into servitude and the negative consequences of this. If you haven’t read that article, please start there. https://www.slaw.ca/2023/06/20/balance-the-scales-service-vs-servitude

In this article, I will continue to explore another powerful lever for rebalancing the scales back towards service – meaning.

The

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law