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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

The iFuture

For the record, I don’t intend to buy one. At least, not for a few more years and not until the inevitable upgrades, improvements, fixes, and content distribution changes have run their course. But well before the iPad 3.o arrives, the original version will have had a serious impact on the computer industry, on the production and distribution of content, and yes, on the legal profession.

I won’t recap everything that’s been said about the iPad in the mainstream and legal communities — Reid Trautz and The Wired GC have two solid takes — but it’s worth noting that the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Creating Your Own Stable Financial Future

Rise Up. Creating your own stable financial future

My column this month is dedicated to personal finances. I greeted the New Year like so many other people I know – with a financial hangover that no aspirin was going to cure. Instead of the doctor I called my new neighbor on Salt Spring Island, financial planning guru Karin Mizgala, MBA, CFP, to share her best tips on how to put money woes to rest for good. Karin co-founded the Women’s Financial Learning Centre and has a financial planning column with the Financial Post.

The foundation to a stable financial future

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

The Obsolescence Audit

Just 20 short years ago, if you wanted to buy a book, you had to go to a bookstore. If you wanted music, you had to visit a record store, and if you wanted to read the news, you had to buy a newspaper. Then debuted in 1994, Google was incorporated in 1998 and Napster emerged in 1999. Soon enough, people stopped buying newspapers because news articles were accessible online at no charge, stopped buying records because they could get music from each other freely, and stopped walking into bookstores because they could buy books with one mouse click . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Bring Rain to the Desert

Law firms are deserts of positive feedback. At so many of our law firms no news is good news and critical feedback is the only kind going around.

As a lawyer coach I am a woman with a mission: To help make our law firms better places to work. One of the most powerful tools for accomplishing this is something called positive acknowledgement.

Positive acknowledgement is about giving the gift our attention by recognizing when someone has done something well. Positive acknowledgement works when you notice someone’s strengths or what they have accomplished and you tell them that you have . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Size and the Legal Media

If you happen to subscribe to my Twitter feed, you’ll notice that I regularly post links to stories of interest in the legal press. If you look closely, you’ll notice that a great many of those stories pertain to developments in very large law firms. That’s not because I’m fascinated by BigLaw or because I think my subscriber base is either. It’s because that’s what gets published. The legal press pays a disproportionate amount of attention to large law firms — as do we all.

The best-known legal periodical, The American Lawyer, is so tightly intertwined with large . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Set Your Sights on a Fulfilling Legal Career

Have you ever had a moment in your career where you wanted to run screaming from the building? When you entered the office on a Monday took a look at the work piled on the table and shuddered? I know that all of us at times do work that at best we can tolerate and at worst we despise. While many of us have experienced these moments in our careers, when they become a daily occurrence it is crucial to recognise what they represent: Flashing red lights indicating that action is required to shift your professional practice into more satisfying . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

All Good Things. . .

“Eighty percent of the poor in the United States are unable to afford a lawyer or find pro bono help for their civil legal problems, according to the American Bar Association.” That sentence, from an American Lawyer article last month, is not only embarrassing. It’s also an omen.

The article in question, titled “Unmet Needs,” was part of a special series on pro bono in the United States, including the top 100 pro bono-friendly law firms and a powerful critique of big-firm pro bono by Deborah Rhode. The latter piece highlighted how pro bono at too many . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Tyranny of Performance

Work-life balance. We want it. There’s now a CBABC committee dedicated to it. Yet what does it mean and how exactly do we get it?

The word balance is misleading. It seems to indicate a quantity goal, with a focus on the amount of time being spent on either side of the work-life equation. I hold a different view, that it is not so much a question of quantity but rather the overall quality of our entire life that is important.

What is the quality of our work life? What is the quality of our personal life? When both activities . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Canary in Our Coal Mine

The legal profession is on the verge of an extremely serious problem. If you want to see what it looks like, check out what Chicago-based firm Mayer Brown has just done. According to the Chicago Tribune, the firm has offered its new associates a deal: take a $100,000 pay cut (to $60,000) and go work in-house for one of the firm’s large clients like Kraft or United Airlines. The job is guaranteed for one year and not a day more — after that, if the company doesn’t keep the associate, she’s on her own.

It tells you something about . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Email Survival Tips for the Busy Professional

Lately I have been imagining what it was like to work in those halcyon PMS (Pre Microsoft) days before we were subject to the tyranny of the Outlook chirp – the modern day equivalent of the Mash “incoming” call. What was it like when news arrived in the paper and work came in via in-person meetings, fax, letters and telephone calls?

The Harvard Business Blog in April featured an email-related post from David Silverman “How to Revise an Email So That People Will Read It” that attracted a global outpouring of kudos and an exchange of best email . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

To the Class of 2012

….and so once again, best wishes from all of us on the faculty to you, the class of 2012, as your journey through law school begins.

Before I yield the microphone, I have some news to share both with you and with my colleagues: that little lottery ticket I bought on a lark at the corner store last month turned out to be the sole winner of the $6.7 million jackpot. When the dean returns to her office, she’ll find my graceful letter of retirement on her desk.

And so, as this is my last official function here, and as . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

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