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    Archive for December, 2008
    2008 Season’s Greetings!
    Thursday, December 18th, 2008

    ♫ Dashing through the snow
    In a one horse open sleigh
    O’er the fields we go
    Laughing all the way…♫

    Words and music by James Lord Pierpont.

    At this time of the year I would like to wish each and everyone the Best of the Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.  This upcoming year will be a challenging one and as such I hope for Peace, Hope and Happiness for all.

    As has become my tradition, at this time as my gift to you I offer a few minutes of reflection.  I hope this slide show and music (please turn your speakers on!) brings to you a time of calm and joy.  The music is of course, Jingle Bells by James Lord Pierpont and is performed by the Argyle Alumni Choir, Argyle Senior Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Frances Roberts, Director.  Used with permission.

    This is also a bit of an experiment in hosted slide shows. You can select two different versions – one is on SlideShare  – the other is on YouTube.

    I find the images much sharper on SlideShare – but the music/picture synchronization is a bit jerky and odd.  YouTube doesn’t have the sync problem, but the images are much less sharp.

    2008 Xmas Slide Show2

    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: bilinsky roberts)

    Best wishes for a safe holiday filled with warmth, comfort and good cheer!

    (Thanks to Steve Matthews for technical assistance in hosting the slide show).

    Posted in humour, personal focus and renewal, Trends | Permalink | 4 Comments »
    This Time it’s a Fraud by a Lawyer…
    Friday, December 12th, 2008

    ♫ Hey honey-you’ve got lots of cash
    Bring us round a bottle
    And we’ll have some laughs
    Gin’s what I’m drinking
    I was raised on robbery…♫

    Written and performed by Joni Mitchell.

    The ABA  Journal website per Martha Neil reported on Dec. 11, 2008 that New York City attorney Marc Dreier has allegedly stolen $380 million dollars from hedge funds and investors (it looks like the amount in question keeps going up…).

    In an earlier article this week, (How Marc Dreier Allegedly Sold Worthless Forged Paper) Martha Neil stated:

    “Federal prosecutors and securities regulators contend that Dreier has stolen $113 million since October by falsely claiming that a real estate developer—apparently former client Solow Realty, in at least one attempted transaction, according to the New York Times—wanted to sell debt at a deep discount. Then he allegedly closed the fraudulent deals by charming his way into the offices and conference rooms of unwitting accounting, pension fund and real estate offices linked to the transactions by faked documents, recounts the newspaper’s DealBook blog.”

    There is a Canadian connection to this story:

    “People familiar with the matter say Mr. Dreier attempted to secure money from Fortress, a New York asset-management firm, by impersonating an Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan attorney. When Fortress wanted to meet with Ontario Teachers’ representatives in person, Mr. Dreier flew to Canada, the people say, and posed as an in-house counsel for Ontario Teachers’ in a meeting with a Fortress executive.”

    Of course there is the usual hallmark of a fraud: he is reported to have had ‘a lavish lifestyle’ and spent substantial sums as well on his New York City-based firm’s Park Avenue headquarters.

    Now compare and contrast this to the sub-prime mortgage crises. Wikipedia states:

    “The New York State Comptroller’s Office has said that in 2006, Wall Street executives took home bonuses totaling $23.9 billion. “Wall Street traders were thinking of the bonus at the end of the year, not the long-term health of their firm. The whole system—from mortgage brokers to Wall Street risk managers—seemed tilted toward taking short-term risks while ignoring long-term obligations. The most damning evidence is that most of the people at the top of the banks didn’t really understand how those [investments] worked.”[38]

    In both the sub-prime crises and in the Dreier case, innocent people ended up losing money on worthless paper. Could it be that the major distinction is that certain people at the banks didn’t understand – or care – how their investments worked (willful blindness?) but Mr. Dreier did (intention?)

    Mr. Dreier has been charged with wire and security fraud and is facing civil litigation suits.

    One could speculate that perhaps Joni Mitchell’s lyrics were taken a little too much to heart?

    Posted in Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Melding Leadership and Management for Star Performance
    Thursday, December 11th, 2008

    ♫ Do the right thing baby do the right thing
    Go with your heart and do the right thing..♫

    Words and music by Jim Lauderdale, Gary Nicholson, performed by George Strait.

    The Oct/Nov 2008 issue of Law Practice Magazine is now out and the Profitability column that I co-write with my colleague and fellow Practice Management Advisor Laura Calloway is  now on the web:

    Business guru Peter Drucker offered this brilliantly succinct description of the difference between managing and leading: Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Makes sense—but can you measure the cost-benefit tradeoff of one against the other in a law firm, in both qualitative and quantitative ways?

    The authors have dealt with hundreds of lawyers and law firms in our years as practice management advisors. When asked to perform confidential evaluations, it becomes apparent fairly quickly when we’re working with a firm that falls into one of four areas in terms of leadership and management. We fancy those four areas as being like elements of the cosmos, so indulge us while we spin that metaphor to explore leadership in qualitative terms. Then, we’ll pitch some benchmarking data for a more quantitative perspective.

    A Law Firm Cosmology in Four Parts

    In the universe of law firms, management and leadership—be they strong or weak—intersect to produce the following types of firms.

    To read the rest of the article, go here: http://www.abanet.org/lpm/magazine/articles/v34/is7/pg50.shtml.

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Practice Talk – Strategies for Surviving a Recession
    Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

    ♫  We’re in the money, we’re in the money;
    We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!
    We’re in the money, that sky is sunny,
    Old Man Depression you are through, you done us wrong…♫

    Lyrics by Al Dubin, music by Harry Warren, from the film Gold Diggers of 1933.

    The signs are clear. The world is definitely in a recession even if the tsunami has not yet washed over B.C.’s shores. Forestry, high tech, manufacturing – all will be affected as the waves crash through B.C. law firms.

    So what can law firms do – now – to prepare for the hard times? Here is a list of steps that you can take: (you can read the rest of the article that was published in the December 2008 issue of BarTalk here.)

    Posted in Budgeting, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Slaw.ca posting on McGuinty and Web 2.0
    Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

    ♬ Singing power to the people
    Power to the people
    Power to the people
    Power to the people, right on.. ♬

    Written and recorded by John Lennon.

    I have decided from here on in to cross-reference my posts to www.slaw.ca on this blog.  Slaw.ca is a cooperative Canadian blog developed, nurtured and maintained by Simon Foster, Professor Emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. Slaw.ca has distinguished itself as being named one of the “100 best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers, as chosen by the editors of the ABA Journal“.

    So – today – I posted on Dalton McGuinty and how he has been impacted by the power of web 2.0.  You can read the complete post here.  I hope you, humble reader, will also follow all the bright minds at Slaw.ca – I think (notwithstanding that your humble scribe is a contributor) that they are right on!

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    My Three CLawBie Nominations…
    Sunday, December 7th, 2008

    ♬ Three is a magic number
    Ya it is, it’s a magic number
    Somewhere in that ancient mystic trinity
    You’ll get three
    As a magic number…♬

    Written and performed by Bob Dorough

    Steve Matthews, the creator of the Canadian Legal Blog Awards, has just announced the 2008 Clawbie Nomination process.  True to Steve’s creative and delightfully quirky mind, rather than just submitting a nomination, he has invited people to nominate three Canadian Legal blogs via a blog post.

    Never being one to turn down a creative challenge, here are my three choices to kick things off:

    1.  Slaw.ca: Hardly day goes by where I don’t look at Slaw and see what is on people’s minds.  The cooperative weblog idea is a powerful one – here we see web 2.0 concepts in action  – and the resulting dialogue between posts and comments makes the blog totally fresh and intriguing. The points of view come from all across Canada.  The topics are driven by what the Slaw community feels is important.  It is like being part of a great big respectful conversation that never stops – and never stops being interesting.  This is my nomination for Simon Fodden and the rest of the crew for crafting, nurturing and growing this ever so Canadian social legal blog.

    2.   Twitter.  OK, now I know Steve will say this isn’t a blog per se.  Nor is it a Canadian blog per se. But it is a micro-blog – and there is a community of Canadians twittering – and tweating and listening to each other and to others – on Twitter.  I think these Canadians have crafted their own collective micro-blog on Twitter – and it is fascinating! Where Slaw is about a big, deep,  thoughtful community, Twitter is about being part of a different, dynamic, ‘flow of consciousness’ community.  The Canadians in the Twitter community know who they are – but that doesn’t get in the way of anything. This is really about having a dialogue with people. Kevin O’Keefe (an American, if that matters)  just posted to Twitter on the Clawbies while I was writing this. Twitter is everything about breaking legal and technology news and being involved – or part – of the story at the same time.  So my nomination is for all the Canadians who are on Twitter and crafting their own micro-blogging community within a community!

    3.   law21.ca: Jordan Furlong is doing great things on his blog that deals with what my old mathematics professors would call inflection points.  These are points where a function changes curve and interesting things are happening.  Jordan is extraordinarily skilled in picking up on those inflection points in the legal community’s function and providing insightful commentary thereon.  Well thought, well done and well received.  Keep up the good work Jordan – my third nomination.

    And so I encourage you to visit www.clawbies.ca and read the nominations and nominate a blog or two yourself! Oh – and Vote too!  That makes three – nominate, read and vote – an ancient magical trinity!

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    The 2008 ABA Journal Blawg 100
    Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

    ♫ Vote, baby vote
    Vote, baby vote…♫

    Words, music and recorded by Deee-Lite.

    The ABA Journal’s editors has selected the 100 Best Web Sites by lawyers, for lawyers. I am delighted that www.slaw.ca, a Canadian co-operative blog started and nurtured by Simon Fodden, Professor Emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and which includes many notable Canadian bloggers (Simon ChesterConnie Crosby, Steve Matthews, Dan Pinnington and many others (to which, ahem, your humble scribe is also a core contributor) has been listed in the Top 100!

    Readers can go to the ABA Journal site and vote for the best blawg in each category. www.slaw.ca is in the Technology category. You can vote for your choice by visiting: http://www.abajournal.com/blawgs/blawg100_2008/technology. (note that you don’t have to be an ABA member to vote!).

    Voting ends Jan. 2, 2009.  Either way, this list is a great resource of some of the best legal blogs out there! It would be dee-lightful if you would come out and vote baby, vote!

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »