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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Leadership Is an Action, Not a Position

As we move deeper into 2009 one thing I know for sure is that many lawyers, law firm staff members and clients are facing deep uncertainty. So many of us feel we have lost control; that larger forces are at work. At this time more then ever it is important to come to grips with what we can influence and impact.

We all have a leadership role to play in our organizations. When we catch ourselves complaining about the system, about how decisions are made and how things are done it is a good time to come to grips with . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What the Recession Will Bring

“Are we looking at a second Depression? I don’t think so,” said Paul Krugman, NewYork Times columnist and Nobel-Prize-winning economist, during his luncheon address to the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s World Summit [PDF] last week in Vancouver. Then he added: “A month ago, I would’ve said, ‘Absolutely not.’ But today, I’m going to say, ‘I don’t think so.'”

That was the standout quote for me from an economic assessment so pessimistic that at its end, Krugman admitted: “I wish I had some positive things to tell you.” But aside from, as he said, having “people in Washington I can now . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Living the New Plentiful in 2009

Enough doom and gloom already! The New Year had barely started when the business section of my local newspaper offered readers a cynical New Year’s message: “The good news is that 2009 is only 12 months long.”

Many of my friends and colleagues have been remarking that the recession and ensuing panic is only being made worse by the media’s endless barrage of negative messages and news stories.

I have been searching for a positive spin to this negativity and found the answer in a blog post by Marshall Goldsmith, business coach: “We all need to think like entrepreneurs.”

I . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Re-Engineering Law Schools

Considering that it has the potential to profoundly reshape the nature of American legal education, I’m a little surprised that the Interim Report of the Outcome Measures Committee of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar hasn’t received more attention since its release in June. Aside from brief mentions at the places you’d expect — Best Practices for Legal Education and the Law Professors Blog Network — I haven’t seen the report and its implications discussed in much detail. So I thought I might take a crack at it.

What follows isn’t really a summary of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Rise Up Against the Tyranny of the Urgent

Cough, hack, snort. If you are anywhere near my office these days the sounds can be pretty gruesome. When my body collapsed into illness and exhaustion last week I had several days in bed to contemplate what had gone wrong.

How did I get so run down? The usual suspects were behind it: Over work and long hours in service of the tyranny of the urgent. And I ask you, as a business coach shouldn’t I know better?

The tyranny of the urgent – you likely have experienced it yourself: An email in-box that fills up as soon as it . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Future of Law Firm Branding

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the ascendance of individual lawyer brands. Today, I want to write about the corresponding decline of law firm brands. And there’s no better place to start that discussion than with the fate of Heller Ehrman.

Heller Ehrman, if you’re not familiar with it, is a century-old California law firm that dissolved last week. You can find detailed coverage here, here and here. The lasting impression you take away from these reports is that Heller was neither evil nor incompetent. Its rivals were sad to see it fall, and many . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A September Tune-Up

The most powerful and complex information-processing tool we have sits between our ears. But are we making the most of it? This September, instead of defragging the hard drive, give yourself a mental tune up to ensure you are making the most of your primary information processor.

I turned to three experts for their take on maximizing brain power: John Medina, neuroscientist and author of Brain Rules; David Allen, productivity coach and author of Getting Things Done; and Gina Trapini, lead editor of the blog Lifehacker.

Tip number one: Sleep to excess, I dare you!

Adults do . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The First Annual Blue-Sky Challenge

Okay, so here we are, in the dog days of summer. Canadian readers have just come off the August long weekend, and most probably wouldn’t object if this three-day holiday were suddenly extended to a full week by executive fiat. But no matter where you are (okay, not Australia), you’ve had your fill of daytime heat, evening thunderstorms and the like. You’re ready for a splash of something different.

And here it is: welcome to the first annual Legal Profession Blue-Sky Challenge! It’s time to engage in some serious blue-sky brainstorming, to think way outside the box, to engage bold . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Lead With Your Strengths

Want to build a successful career or business? Start with your strengths. We all come into this world with a unique set of talents, and over our lifetime with the addition of experience and learning we establish a foundation of knowledge, skill, and ability. The winning strategy is on maximising your strengths.

Harold Weinstein, Chief Operating Officer of Caliper Corporation, notes that “over the years our research has shown that there’s a strong correlation between performance and motivation. People who are working in roles that are consistent with their personality, values and interpersonal characteristics generally outperform those who are less

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

Private Knowledge Management Teams

The benefits that knowledge management can deliver to a law firm are well documented. They include reducing wasteful duplication, increasing the firm’s intellectual capital, enhancing the firm’s ability to anticipate and meet client needs, improving the firm’s recruitment and retention arsenal, and more besides. Firms that get KM right, like Morrison & Foerster, have every reason to boast about their success.

But the obstacles to successfully implementing a KM program in law firms are equally well-known. They include:

  • Hoarding: lawyers who believe their livelihoods depend on the knowledge tucked away in their files, both print and neural, are
. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law

Show Me You Care

In this crazy world of competing deadlines, priorities, sound bites and instant communication technology it sometimes seems harder than ever to nurture the important relationships in our lives. We are all under such pressure to perform and to achieve there is little time left in the day to reach out and show someone that we care.

The energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, teams, and organizations. Yet, when we think consciously about improving our lives, we put almost all of our effort into self-development. (Tom Rath, Vital Friends)

It’s easy to forget that there . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

A Major-League Approach to New Lawyer Recruitment

Now that baseball season is (finally) with us again, I’d like you to meet Kevin Ahrens. He’s not a lawyer, judge or law professor – he’s a 19-year-old from Houston who has foregone college to start a career as a professional baseball player. Last June, the Toronto Blue Jays chose him with their first-round pick in major-league baseball’s annual amateur draft (he was the 16th overall selection).

Kevin plays shortstop and has been a very productive hitter throughout his amateur career, which consists of three all-district and two all-state selections during his time at high school. He stands 6’2″, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law