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Archive for the ‘Practice of Law’ Columns

Partnership – Is It for You?

Sandy, a seven-year call, just had her annual review. The partners are thrilled with her performance and are starting to discuss partnership. But Sandy is wondering, is this something she wants?

For many associates partnership is no longer an attractive goal.

Many young lawyers look at partners’ lives and don’t see the appeal. The long hours, the burden of administrative tasks, and the high-stress levels don’t have much of a draw.

What if partnership offered more than this?

What if stepping into partnership meant greater agency over your career and a way to help create a better work environment for . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

There are humans, I am told, whose lives don’t revolve around to do lists, completion of tasks, and productivity systems like Getting Things Done or Atomic Habits. Humans who don’t wake up clutching a bullet journal or begin tapping on Todoist before they leave bed. Humans who more or less go with the flow, who live in the moment, and who don’t spend their life energy building and tweaking a set of byzantine systems to make sure they’re doing the right things at the right time.

These humans are called normal people. It is not a category that includes . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The Cost of Success

It has struck me more than once – a shock, I admit, to my naivete – to find in a looming figure in our profession – a lawyer whose fame, power, and wealth I would never approach – an Achilles heel, a human folly, a single blow so powerful to the pedestal offering no return, as to bring me to my senses, a la Nietzsche in Ecce Homo: I would rather be a satyr than a saint! What was this discovery? A moral judgment of an inferred vulnerable trait: to step into the office elevator doors on a Monday morning . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Public Trust, Legitimacy, and the Rule of Law

I’d like to bring to the attention of Canada’s law societies — and courts, Attorneys-General, and everyone else who wields power in the legal system — five reports from each of the past five months about declining trust in government competence and institutional legitimacy, in Canada and elsewhere.

  • In March 2022, the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan assessed the national economic impact of the trucker convoy occupation of Ottawa the previous month, finding that “in the absence of effective and forward-thinking action by government, there will be less business investment, less foreign investment,
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Don’t Alienate Your Firm With Your Decisions

I’m not sure if people truly understand the ultimate impact of the Roe vs. Wade reversal by the US Supreme Court – regardless of where you live. Like the potential alienation of 51% of the population who – let’s face it – only became “persons” within the past century and are now already having some of those rights reversed. Or the eventual impact of a sitting US President announcing that the Supreme Court does not speak to the will of the people, and then signing executive orders to allow for work-arounds to new legislation. It questions the very relevance of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Freedom and the Dog

There is a story about a dog leashed to a pole. Seeking freedom from the pole, it pulled against its leash. It bit its leash. It barked at everyone passing by. It yelped and it cried unceasingly. Finally its owner came and unleashed the dog. Did it then pounce away, as quickly as it could, away from the pole? It did not. Rather, it sat in the same place, quietly and contentedly. The lesson here is, supposedly, that we crave freedom as an ideology. We may continue to live the same way we did when we were leashed, but this . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Strategy for the Times: Grounded Hope

Bad news and tragedy surround us. The challenges appear to be enormous. Daunting. How do we hold ourselves up and make a difference in these times?

I believe that hope, grounded hope, is a necessary starting point.

Grounded hope emerges when we look at reality straight on, stand firm, and determine to believe that a better future is a possibility worth striving for.

This form of hope is an expression of “liberatory consciousness,” the framework developed by Barbara Love:

“Liberatory consciousness is a framework used to maintain an awareness of the dynamics of oppression characterizing society without giving

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

Don’t Let These Ten Stumbling Blocks Push You Out of Law

Ever wondered, “why did I become a lawyer? Maybe a career in law isn’t for me?”

You aren’t alone. We all question our decisions from time to time.

A career in law isn’t one thing. It’s not one skill set. It’s not one specialization. This diversity of options and trajectories can make it such a valuable career choice and a challenging one.

Finding the legal career that fits you may take some effort. It can mean making several transitions. What’s important to know is that this is a process of learning about yourself and, in turn, learning about what will . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

The FIRE Lawyer (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

This for you who don’t love the law. You often wonder if you should do something else, if you chose the right career path, if you have wasted a big chunk of your life as a mercenary of justice. If you divvy up your time the way you want to, your priorities would be ordered from highest to lowest: family, travel, exercise, beach, reading, work, Netflix. But an accounting of how you actually spend your time shows your priorities are backwards, starting with work and work-friends, then moving on to Netflix and sports-watching, and last and least, family. Reflecting on . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

How to Survive the Next Five Years

I provide a wide range of services to law firms, so I can always tell what’s happening in the industry by the run on certain types of services.

Sometimes I seem to do nothing but coaching; lawyers wanting to improve their personal skills in a range of business areas. Other times, it seems that everyone wants to sell their firm. We’re sort of in the middle of that right now. But the real push this year so far has been for strategic plans. Normally, each plan looks completely different because each law firm is different. They are in different stages . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing, Practice of Law

We Are All Impostors

An interesting article in a US legal periodical last month discussed the rising incidence of an already widespread problem for new lawyers. Impostor syndrome — “the internal experience of doubting your abilities or feeling like a fraud” — has afflicted junior lawyers for a long time. But the pandemic has made it worse:

“Many [new lawyers] have spent very little time in physical offices, which means they have less opportunity to commiserate with peers and may feel as if they are somehow ‘uniquely deficient’ when they are not…. For many lawyers, a lot of confidence is instilled by being immersed

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

Making the Shift From People-Pleasing to Altruism

Are you a people pleaser?

Do you agree to things before you’ve had a chance even to think it over?

Do you find yourself overcommitted and taking care of so much business for others that you have no time left for yourself?

Altruism is the instinct to help others and is a significant value. When I ask lawyers what they like most about their work, the answer will often touch on how they help. Helping people out can be intrinsically rewarding. It feels good.

People-pleasing is the dark side of altruism. It is saying ‘yes’ and doing things out of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law