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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

How to Build Up Confidence: Start With Courage

I wish I had more confidence.
How can I become more confident?

In coaching conversations with junior lawyers, concerns about lack of confidence and questions about how to build it up come up a lot. This is such a common challenge it is addressed directly in the opening session of AMP (Associate Mentorship Plus) Club in the context of career navigation and what to expect in the early years of practice.

Wouldn’t it be easier if I was confident?

Yes, probably.

Lack of confidence can feel like a unique challenge. Looking around is can seem like other lawyers appear confident. . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Dealing With Toxic Law Partners

Have you got one of these at your firm?

  • A lawyer who likes to work out his stress by getting angry and yelling verbal abuse at junior lawyers and staff members.
  • A lawyer who yells vulgarities at opposing counsel at high volume so that everyone on the floor can hear.
  • A lawyer who takes credit for other people’s ideas or work product.
  • A lawyer who expects everyone else to follow the rules but takes pleasure in breaking them because he’s got seniority.
  • A lawyer who regularly has the legal team working nights and weekends because they are disorganized and only
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

What Law Firms Should Focus on in 2021

Over the years, I’ve had the honour of being invited into many law firms to examine and make recommendations on their strategy, structure, practice areas, compensation, management, leadership, and marketing.

My initial advice is always the same: start with a strategic plan so you understand your long-term goals before you attempt any short-term implementation. But aside from this, my advice tends to move quickly to ensuring the right people are doing the right things. This might require some process or structural re-organization within the firm but the end of the day it all boils down to one thing: establish and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

Introspection and Revelation in Testing Times

It’s been a year of discovery for many of us. Some introspection is called for, so here goes.

1. Silence is best enjoyed in the midst of noise

For years, I have identified myself as an introvert, insofar as personalities can be classified, anyway. I dreamed of owning a cabin in the country, sitting quietly in front of a fireplace, reading a book or surfing the interwebs, looking out into a pristine lake, nothing but nature and me. I gave hundreds of talks to crowds, sure, but returned home exhausted. I hobnobbed, sure, but enjoyed more the company of one . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Answering the Question “How Do I Find the Time”?

The New Year is here, and with it comes the promise of new beginnings and possibilities. It is a time for setting resolutions and crafting ambitious plans for the year ahead.

And what do we all know? Making plans and setting resolutions is swiftly followed by the challenge of implementation when the deluge of day-to-day work resurges.

As one lawyer asked me recently: “How do I find the time?

An excellent question. How do we find the time when we are in a scramble of managing a myriad of emails, client needs, and administrative tasks piling up around us?

The . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Failures of Client Management

Continuing with our theme of learning from failures – ours or others’ – let’s look at how you can make your project fail in ways related to client (mis)-management.

This column is #2 in a series, following up on October’s failures of project leadership. Again, these points of failure are based on excerpts of a book I’m working on, Pass the Blame! And 99 Other Ways to Screw Up Your Projects.

4. Misunderstand the Business Problem

Unless your specialty is criminal law, your clients come to you because they have business problems.

Sure, those problems (usually) have a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How the Law Abandons Those Who Speak Up in the Public Interest

On December 3, my new report titled Whistleblowers Not Protected: How the Law Abandons Those Who Speak Up in the Public Interest in Alberta was published by the Parkland Institute. The report looks at whistleblowing in a broad sense, meaning anyone who either publicly or anonymously discloses information that is in the public interest.

The report considers not only the gross deficiencies of Alberta’s whistleblower protection legislation but also looks at the need for both anti-SLAPP legislation, and a journalist shield law to protect confidential news sources.

The week before the report, a major controversy erupted in Alberta politics over . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

The Paradigm Shift of Regulatory Sandboxes

Earlier this fall, the Law Society of British Columbia made headlines when it announced the creation of an “Innovation Sandbox” that would allow unauthorized providers of legal services to deliver those services in BC on a pilot-project basis while the regulator assesses their reliability and effectiveness. From The Lawyer’s Daily:

Proposals to enter the innovation sandbox must include a summary of the services that the provider is proposing to pilot, who are expected to be clients, how the services will increase access to justice, as well as information about the provider and an assessment of any risks to the

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

Why the “Access to Justice” Activity Should Be Trying to Solve the A2J Problem

[The content of this article is closely related to six of my previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; May 29, 2020; August 6, 2020; October 22, 2020; and October 24, 2020. See also the full text on the SSRN. And, the articles cited below without authors named, are mine.]

The responses being advocated for the access to justice problem (the A2J problem) of unaffordable lawyers’ services, do not involve solving the problem. Instead, they propose using: (1) “lesser legal services providers”—people of lesser qualifications as to education and . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Using Covid to Progress Your Firm

Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter developed the theory of creative destruction to describe how something good, and even much needed, can come out of a tragedy. The theory suggests that some businesses must die and paradigms must be “swept away” in order to make room for new ones that will better survive the future.

This is a concept found in nature. For example, we know that left to their own devices, forests will burn down from time to time to clean out the forest floor and force a renewal. While it might feel heartless to apply the same principle to business, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

An Emerging Ministers of Justice Movement

Since April, we have been calling for justice leaders of the world to get out of their national cubby holes and come together to share fears, failures, successes, and strategies, just like public health minister are doing. The COVID-19 crisis is too big and too unprecedented to deal with on your own national level. On 20 October, 22 ministers of justice did just that at the Justice for All in a Global Emergency meeting convened by Minister of Justice of Canada, David Lametti (see end for participants). It was a significant moment. For 90 minutes, they shared their experiences in . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Is Former SCC Chief Justice McLachlin’s Action Committee and Leadership of the A2J Agencies Avoiding the Major Issues? [Part 2 of 2 Parts]

[The content of this article is closely related to five of my previous posts on Slaw, dated: July 25, 2019; April 9, 2020; May 29, 2020; August 6, 2020; and, October 22, 2020. See also the full text on the SSRN.]

Part 1 presented the proposition that the great amount of “emergency relief-type” activity and literature that has been produced by the many access to justice agencies (A2J agencies) in relation to the “A2J problem” of unaffordable lawyers’ services, is: (1) deflecting attention from the great need to solve it; and, (2) it . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law