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    Archive for December, 2012
    2013 Tips and Predictions – Part Three!
    Monday, December 31st, 2012

    ♬ Stay frozen or face the truth
    Time won’t wait for us to choose…♬

    Lyrics, Music and Recorded by Fountain of Tears.

     

    This is the third and final post in the 2013 Tips and Predictions theme. It has been wonderful to read such informative and insightful thoughts from all around the globe on the future of law. Accordingly, here are the last but certainly not the least of these great ideas:

    Stephanie Kimbro, MA, JD, is the Director of the North Carolina branch of Burton Law, LLC.  Prior to working with Burton Law, Stephanie operated a virtual law office for six years delivering unbundled North Carolina estate planning and small business legal services to clients online. She is the recipient of the 2009 ABA Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering, was named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel in 2010 and won the Wilmington Parent Magazine Family Favorite Attorney Award six years in a row for her virtual law office. Stephanie has published two books, Virtual Law Practice: How to Deliver Legal Services Online, ABA, October, 2010 and Limited Scope Legal Services: Unbundling and theSelf-Help Client, ABA, March 2012. She is also the co-founder of Virtual Law Office Technology, LLC (VLOTech), which was acquired by Total Attorneys in the fall of 2009.

    In addition to practicing law, Stephanie writes about the ethics and technology issues of delivering legal services online and is interested in the use of technology to increase access to justice. She has provided presentations and guest lectured for many state bars, law schools and other organizations interested in legal technology and other law practice management topics.

    Kimbro a member of the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services and serves on the advisory board of the International Legal Technology Standards Organization (ILTSO), the board of the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (NTAP), and is a member of the ABA eLawyering Task Force, Chair of the ABA LPM’s Ethics and Professional Responsibility Task Force, a member of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) Law Practice Management (LPM) Council, and the NCBA Tech Advisory Committee.

    Stephanie has graciously provided us with a very insightful look into how technology is going to change the way that legal services are delivered, marketed and structured.  Here are her thoughts:

    • We will continue to see the number of legal technology start-ups being introduced to the consumer legal marketplace. These companies are going to focus their efforts on consumers, but will also attempt to cultivate strong attorney networks that will provide their services with the value add of licensed legal assistance. Existing legal tech startups may be acquired by larger legal service companies or fail to obtain the funding necessary to scale to the next level. Of the technologies introduced in these platforms we will see two interesting developments that will be a little different than the typical Q&A or forum platforms typically offered to consumers. These companies are adding better matching systems using algorithms, consumer preferences, and online behavior to match the legal needs of the individual with the appropriate legal guidance/forms and potentially with the best lawyer to handle their particular legal need. We will also see the expert systems in some of these platforms increase in sophistication as they learn and improve from user feedback.
    • The focus of these companies’ services will start to shift more from business law and startup legal services to more personal legal services for the average consumer. We may see companies negotiating with other non-legal social media and networking applications for access to user data which may be used to help predict or identify consumer’s legal needs as a way to target advertising for their platforms.
    • Lawyers will become more aware of the need for online marketing that extends beyond the use of social media and focuses more on brand building online using analytical tools that focus on ROI rather than just online reach. As part of this, more lawyers, especially solos and small firms, will consider joining forces with one or more of these legal startups. Navigating those networks and figuring out how to convert any leads generated from them into paying clients will be a learning process for both the lawyers and the companies looking to maintain and develop strong relationships with lawyers. As a result of the increased engagement by lawyers with consumers through these networks, there may be increased scrutiny of the potential ethical issues that might arise from these online interactions.
    • From the consumer perspective, we will continue to see the public turning to the Internet to look for personal legal services. The law suit between Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer may provide us with some interesting information about quality, quantity, and process of massive online delivery as well as some fun conversation over the next year.  More of the public will be aware of virtual law firms as an alternative online option, but the majority will still turn to the larger online brands of Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer when those can be used instead. Accordingly, lawyers with virtual law offices will learn to efficiently automate and sell basic legal documents and focus their energy on marketing their online brand and their bespoke work or niche practices to differentiate themselves online from other virtual practices and the services of the online legal service companies.
    • Even clients of larger law firms by this point have realized that their firms cannot justify the traditional high billable hour and will pressure them to use more cost-effective methods of delivery which will include an emphasis on outsourcing and the use of online management and collaborative systems. More sophisticated clients will also be questioning their firm about the use of expert systems that help not only save on costs, but that can predict potential outcomes (and therefore the effectiveness of different strategies) for the client’s matter and whether the firm employs such systems. Quantitative legal prediction as a resource for basic consumer needs or for use by solos or small firms will not be widely available in the next couple of years. However, larger law firms with sophisticated clients who can afford to invest in the technology may start the process of cumulating data that will build systems to predict legal outcomes and assist in decision making.
    • I think only a small number of law firms will still be forward thinking enough to offer forms of online dispute resolution in their practice areas. As complementary to their traditional services, rather than ODR, some firms may integrate the use of simpler online negotiation and settlement tools, such as the use of the app PictureItSettled, or online game-theoretic bargaining systems, such as those created by FairOutcomes.
    • I also predict that a slow moving and quiet revolution will start this year in the legal services community as the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and state legal aids go through a major shift in thinking about how online and mobile delivery can increase access to justice. (The LSC is holding a second technology summit this January.) The collaboration with legal service companies, private practitioners, and law schools will result in a less fragmented picture of access in our country and push all of these parties out of their bubbles and into reevaluation of how working relationships between themselves and existing resources can be used to increase pro bono and self-help assistance. Limited scope representation handled pro bono or even low bono will become a standard introduced and accepted by most state legal aid organizations as they realize that this will encourage the increased volunteer activity of private practitioners and the donation of technology and resources from legal service companies. Years from now, this revolution and the increase in access from the innovative collaborations that result will provide empirical, results-based proof that we can use to argue for less restrictive rules on non-lawyer ownership of law firms and the removal of lawyer advertising rules that restrict innovations in delivery methods.

     

     

    Nate Russell hails from private practice where he was a civil litigator and family lawyer. Before his legal career he worked in media, including TV and internet. Currently Nate is a legal community liaison at Courthouse Libraries BC, where he brings his legal experience and his interest in emerging information technologies to bear on improving the programs and resources Courthouse Libraries BC offers lawyers in British Columbia.

    Nate’s objective is to help fellow lawyers, especially those in small firms and solo practice, get the best out of our branches and improve their research and practice management skills, so they can best serve the public.

    With Nate’s background, it is not surprising that his predictions lie in the area of continuing legal education and professional development:

    • I would like to predict, though it may be more to hope, that the same good sense that gave rise to the elimination for 2012 of the “audience test” for CPD accredited activities like teaching and writing will continue forward.
    • For 2013, someone will propose (and it will not be strenuously or convincingly argued against) that CPD-accredited writing ought to expand beyond the rigid confines of “law books or articles intended for publication”, to include practice-oriented blogs, and writing for PLEI websites that may or may not result in ink-on-paper-bound-in-cardboard. Other criteria could replace an “intention”  to publish, for example criteria that a law-related web article or blog post of a minimum length must appear on a site controlled by an established provider of public legal education and information and/or information for the legal community (i.e. LSS, Justice Education Society, People’s Law School, Courthouse Libraries BC or Clicklaw).
    • The elimination of the “audience test” has raised the ladder to let CPD out of the ivory tower, but its presence has yet to be felt fully in the streets.
    • That there is a tremendous service-mindedness among the Bar. That is beyond doubt. In a CLE-TV presentation this summer Access Pro Bono shared the statistics that in 2011 alone 600 lawyers donated over 7,000 of volunteer hours. The energy is there, and I predict that with a little enablement (by the Law Society and non-profit legal information institutions in this province), a vast and comprehensive body of online commentary could be produced sooner than we may think. Let’s check back in December 2013!

     

     

    Thomas Spraggs holds a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws degrees. He articled at a personal injury firm in Alberta and continued as an associate at that firm before returning to Coquitlam, BC to lead Spraggs & Co. Thomas has applied innovative approaches to practice management and an progressive approach to technology to lead Spraggs & Co to become a highly respected award-winning firm. Tom is currently undertaking an MBA at the same time as leading his busy firm.

    Tom is also a former competitive swimmer which would  help explain how he manages to carry on his extensive trial practice.  Thomas is a member of the law societies of British Columbia, Yukon and Alberta. He’s a member of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC and the American Association for Justice.

    Tom states that after much thought here are his 2013 predictions in regards to technology and the practice of law:

    • 2013 will be less dynamic from a technology change perspective than in previous years. Management accountants in larger firms will be challenged as to what is traditionally perceived as ‘needed technology vs. desired technology.’ Individually, lawyers will probably ignore the boring technology at the office and opt for cool and innovative products that access data from the cloud. Clients also expect instant access to relevant information from their lawyers outside of the office which bootstraps the cloud based computing model further. The new and highly anticipated Windows 8 tablets, in addition to the ever amazing iPad, will become a catalyst for significant increases in tablet workplace computing as productivity increases. These productivity increases are both perceived and measurable, this will likely result in the conclusion that these tools are highly effective, especially for collaboration. The management accountants realize that ‘needed technology’ which is usually a desktop networked over a LAN is an assumption that is worth challenging.
    • The cloud will continue to evolve as people realize that licensing software on a subscription basis is good value. Renting software that is constantly updated as it is used/needed is far more economical than the old business models. 2013 will also be the year that voice recognition is everywhere and so will awkward misspellings in emails as a result. Forgiveness of such computer generated typos…, I don’t know.
    • Mobile computing is also allowing lawyers to work in more places away from the office, which is facilitating better work/ life integration (not really balance though) and a mini hiring boom for experienced and skillful female lawyers who recognize opportunities for working with progressive firms as a result of these technologies increases. All in all, the future is mobile cloud based computing which is now trending to normalcy. Lawyers are keeping in step.

     

    As the writer of this blog, this is my chance to chime into the discussion.  A little about myself.  I am David J. Bilinsky, the Practice Management Advisor/Consultant and lawyer for the Law Society of British Columbia. I was recently named a Fellow of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution (NCTDR) at the University of Massachusetts.  I am also a Fellow and past Trustee of the College of Law Practice Management and past Editor-in-Chief of ABA’s Law Practice Magazine.

    I am an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University teaching a totally online, graduate level course in the Masters of Arts in Applied Legal Studies program.  This MA program received the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education. I have also  designed and will be teaching a course on legal technology for the University of Toronto Law School in 2012-13 as well as a course for the law school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg Virginia.

    My mission in life is to empower lawyers to anticipate the changes, realize the opportunities, face the challenges and embrace the expanding possibilities of the application of practice management concepts to the practice of law in innovative ways that provide service excellence.

    I am fortunate to be the founder and Chair of the Pacific Legal Technology Conference (next conference October 2013!)  and a past Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s TECHSHOW.  I have a background in Mathematics and Computer Science (BSc) as well as a law degree from the University of Manitoba and an MBA from UBC.

    Last year I did a Top 10 list of predictions (the success or lack there of to be determined by you the humble reader at the end of this post!).

    Following that tradition, here is my Top 10 List of Predictions for 2013:

    #10 Law Schools will embrace distance education as a way to expand their market and to bring in sessional lecturers that ordinarily would be cost-prohibitive:

    These new lecturers will expand the traditional curriculum to offer much more practical legal training to allow newly graduates to launch into practice to overcome the difficulty in securing articling and associate positions in traditional firms.

    #9 Education in Law Schools will incorporate greater MBA-related training:

    This follows prediction #10 in expanding the range of courses offered by law schools to law students to better prepare them for a career of law practice by grounding them in business concepts and entrepreneurial outlooks.  Related to this will be the explicit recognition by legal regulators that knowledge of legal practice concepts (management, technology, marketing and finance) is as integral to the practice of law as is knowledge of ‘black letter law’. This was affirmed in part by the ABA in August 2012 recognizing that knowledge of technology is a facet of competent representation and revised their model rules accordingly.

    #8 Non-lawyers involved in the delivery of legal services:

    Ontario and BC are currently expanding the ability of paralegals to render legal services.  I believe this will be matched in other Canadian and American jurisdictions.  I believe other near-legal professions will call for greater powers to render legal-type services in order to match the increasing need for affordable access-to-justice (such as Notary Publics in BC).

    #7 Lawyers as Leaders:

    The profession will call for greater emphasis for lawyers to assume leadership roles in many facets of society  in order to create new opportunities for law graduates and lawyers and to expand the influence that lawyers have on society (and to prevent the fleeing of lawyers from the profession).

    #6 Effect on Judiciary / Court services:

    Courts have been among the last institutions to be affected by the reforms created by the Internet.  Either courts will restructure and  incorporate the potential cost/benefit advantages offered by Online Dispute Resolution or Alternative Dispute Resolution – or – new tribunals will be established to take certain types of cases away from the courts and place them in new tribunals that will incorporate ODR reforms.

    #5 Access to Justice:

    Legal service organizations (“Legal Aid”) will be looking for ways to increase access to justice via reforms as their budgets become increasingly squeezed and the calls for them to service more clients increase.  I would look for Legal Aid  to move beyond ‘bespoke’ legal services and more of a commodity-based delivery structure.

    #4 Globalization Effects will continue to be felt:

    Large law firms in Canada will be chomping at the bit to join in the globalization movement that is happening across the world.  This will place new pressures on legal regulators in Canada to loosen how lawyers are regulated in Canada to match reforms in other parts of the world.

    #3 Alternative Business Structures:

    In order to get around the rigidity of the Multi-disciplinary Partnership concept, there will be an increasingly-louder call for lawyers to be able to enter into looser business structures that do not call for complete lawyer control of the business entity.  This will be due to the reforms happening in other parts of the world lapping on our shores.

    #2 Greater Uniformity across Jurisdictions:

    Canadian law societies will be adopting a common model code (for example, The new Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia which comes into effect on Jan 1, 2013 and which is based on the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code of Professional Conduct).  Globalization efforts will call for increasing uniformity across jurisdictions for laws and regulations in order to allow for ease of commerce.

    #1 Technology will continue to reform Law and Legal Practice:

    The relentless march of Moore’s Law and the breathtaking application of technology to all types of problems will mean that those who deliver legal services will continue to be under pressure.  Not only must lawyers understand technology (see the ABA reforms in #2 above) but consumers of legal services understand technology  - and will be waiting for lawyers to latch onto the advantages that are offered and reform how they render legal services as a result.  If lawyers do not – then there are any number of organizations (see LegalZoom supra in #2 below from 2012) that are only too willing to try to apply technology to the practice of law.  This will result in such aspects as the unbundled practice of law, the continued emergence of the e-lawyering movement  and the continued growth of Online Dispute Resolution.  While the “technological singularity” may yet be in the future, there is no denying that technology is the most disruptive force working on the legal profession at this time.

    Now:

    One thing about being a crystal-ball gazer, you should look back and check your accuracy!  Accordingly, I wanted to look at Last Year’s Predictions to see what progress (if any!) was made along my (predicted) lines:

    #10: Mobile/Tablets will Invade the Enterprise:

    Accordingly to the 2012 LTRC (the Legal Technology Resource Center of the American Bar Association) Survey on the use of Legal Technology by lawyers, 33% of lawyers use a tablet computer (and of those, 91% are iPads).

    #9:  Regulators will Start Putting some Governing Principles around The Cloud:

    The Law Society of British Columbia in 2012 released its Cloud Computing Working Group Report and will be shortly releasing their Cloud Computing Checklist for use by lawyers and law firms considering going to the cloud.

    #8:  Web-based Collaboration with Clients will Emerge as Clients Reject Email as too Insecure:

    Well I was a bit overly optimistic here.  Again the 2012 LTRC survey found that secure portal use was up to 25% from 20%.  A modest increase but by no means a home run.  What was interesting is that solo/small firm adoption of secure portals accounted for most of this increase as their use of this technology grew from 1% to 11%

    #7:  Social Media Impacts will continue to be Felt in Litigation, Employment and Family Law in Particular.

    Social media evidence is growing and shows no signs of abating.  Social media evidence has become a lightening rod of sorts; in some jurisdictions, steps are being taken to limit a prospective employer’s ability to gain access to a potential employee’s private social media pages.

    #6:  Security and Privacy will Emerge as a Concern for Clients of Law Firms.

    I think the fact that encryption use by law firms has grown from 23% to 33% of reporting firms according to the 2012 LTRC study shows that law firms and their clients are increasingly concerned about the security of their communications.

    #5:  Law Schools will Have to Prepare Students to actually Practice Law.

    According to an August 4, 2012 article in the ABA Journal:

    “Law schools have dramatically increased all aspects of skills instruction–including clinical, simulation and externships–in the wake of a 2004 change in law school accreditation standards requiring that students receive “substantial instruction” in skills generally regarded as necessary for effective and responsible participation in the legal profession, according to the survey, conducted by the curriculum committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.”

    If American law schools are changing then it won’t be long before Canadian law schools follow suit.

    #4:  Self-Regulation of Lawyers will come under Increasing Scrutiny, not for Ethical Reasons but for Economic Ones.

    An article published in the 80 Fordham Law Review 2761 (2011-2012) entitled “Comparative Perspectives on Lawyer Regulation: An Agenda for Reform in the United States and Canada” by Deborah L. Rhode and Alice Woolley  identifies the problems in American and Canadian legal regulation and proposes reform strategies based on initiatives being taken in Australia, England and Wales.

    #3:  Innovations being tried in the UK and elsewhere will be felt in North America. Lexpert reported on June 29, 2012 as follows:

    [P]artners at London-based Herbert Smith LLP and the Australian firm Freehills agreed to a merger that creates Herbert Smith Freehills, the eighth-largest firm in the world, with 2,800 lawyers.

    The global behemoth will be led by joint CEOs and managing partners David Willis and Gavin Bell, who in their press release alluded to the growing importance of global firms, and the advantages of international structures.

    “This merger,” said Willis “will therefore put us in a strong position to provide clients with the single global offering they increasingly demand.”

    “The merger,” said Bell, “will give Herbert Smith Freehills the platform to become the leading global law firm across Asia Pacific, a region likely to see continued substantial growth and to become an increasingly important part of the global legal services market.

    The full-equity continues to exploit reforms in the UK and Australia that allow firms to create alternative business structures (ABSs), raise equity internationally from non-lawyers and (in Australia, at least) list shares for public trading — advancements toward legal corporatization that are prohibited in Canada and the US.

    #2:  LegalZoom and other Online Providers will emerge as a Major Competitive Threat to Main-Street Lawyers

    LegalZoom.ca is now here.    How much of a threat is it at the current time?  Regarding the parent company, LegalZoom.com, according to Techcrunch.com in an article dated May 11, 2012:

    LegalZoom offers documents and subscription services to make it easier for individuals and businesses to accomplish basic legal tasks. As evidence of the company’s traction and impact, the S-1 says LegalZoom has served about 2 million customers in the past 10 years. It also says that in 2011, those customers placed 490,000 orders on the site, and during that period, more than 20 percent of limited liability companies formed in California did so through LegalZoom.

    The company’s revenue has been growing steadily, if not dramatically, in the past couple of years — it was $156 million in 2011, up from $121 million in 2010 and $103 million in 2009. LegalZoom also became profitable for the first time last year, with $12.1 million in net income.

    So it appears that as far as being a major competitive threat in Canada, that is not (yet) true.  But I am hedging my bets on this one.

    #1:  ODR and other Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods will be Embraced by Cash-Strapped Governments

    The Ministry of Justice in British Columbia announced the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act that subsequently received Royal Assent on May 31, 2012.

    According to the news release from the BC Government:

     [T]he Civil Resolution Tribunal Act will create an independent tribunal offering 24/7 online dispute resolution tools to families and small business owners as a speedy and cost-effective alternative to going to court. The tribunal would address disputes by providing parties with information that may prevent disputes from growing and resolve disputes by consent or, where necessary, by an independent tribunal hearing. Resolving a dispute through the tribunal is expected to take about 60 days, compared to 12 to 18 months for small claims court.

    Giving families alternatives to seeking solutions in court is among the B.C. government’s justice reform initiatives to achieve efficiencies and deal with growing resource pressures. The February 2012 Green Paper, Modernizing British Columbia’s Justice System, identified tribunals as a simple and less expensive solution to easing delays in the court system.

     

    So there you have it…the tips and predictions for 2013 from thought leaders all over the globe.  There is one certainty – as lawyers either we stay frozen or face the truth - Time won’t wait for us to choose.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    2013 Tips and Predictions – Part Two!
    Sunday, December 30th, 2012

    ♫ But I see your eyes at night
    And you know what’s wrong
    And you know what’s right.

    The future…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by The Drums.

    Further to my prior post, here is Part Two of the tips and predictions from around the world for 2013!!

     

    Richard Granat is a lawyer and a recognized expert on the delivery of legal services over the Internet.  He is also the Founder of Granat Legal Services, P.C., in Washington, D.C., one of the first virtual law firms in the United States. Richard also serves as Co-Chair of the ELawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association and serves on the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services of the ABA.

    In 2009, the ABA Journal recognized Richard as one of 50 Legal Rebels  throughout the Unites States – individuals who are engaged in changing the legal profession. In 2010, Richard received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Bar Association in recognition of his innovations in the delivery of legal services,

    Richard has been involved in developing innovative legal services delivery systems for over 30 years, first as part of the initial working group that created the National Legal Services Program, and then later as Director of the Center for Legal Studies at Antioch Law School in Washington, D.C., the nation’s first clinical law school, and later President and Dean of the Philadelphia Institute for Paralegal Training, the nation’s first paralegal school. He is an Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management.

    Richard’s involvement in the emerging area of e-lawyering is indicative of where his predictions lie:

    • We will see more venture capital flowing into legal start-ups and more launches of new companies in the legal industry. Watch for http://www.judicata.com , http://www.ravellaw.comhttp://www.lawpal.com , and http://www.lawgives.com to launch and have an impact on various sectors of the legal industry.
    • Watch for more online dispute resolution web sites.
    • LegalZoom will settle their law suit against RocketLawyer.
    • Watch for the emergence of branded networks of law firms such as http://www.legalforce.com and Jacoby & Meyers serving consumers.
    • Watch for disruptive web sites like http://www.attorneyfee.com to offer outcome-based evaluations of individual law firms leading toward more transparency in lawyer selection.

     

    Jean-François De Rico  is a member of the board of directors of Langlois Kronstrom Desjardins, one of the largest law firms in Quebec, with nearly 100 professionals working in its offices in Montréal and Québec City. He works with the other members of Lexing, the first international network of lawyers dedicated to technology law. He is a member of the steering committee of Sedona Canada, and of the executive committee of the Law Practice Management and Technology Section of the Canadian Bar Association He frequently speaks at conferences on the legal framework of information technology, and on issues related to e-discovery, social media and their impacts on the practice of law.

    Jean-François’ prédictions lie in the area of privacy and the law:

    • Data breach notification obligation will be enacted (PIPEDA modification bill);
    • Creative lawyers will introduce intrusion upon seclusion cases in other provinces;
    • B.C. Courts will clarify what media should be accredited for tweeting in the Courtroom;
    • Cybersecurity will yield even more discussions….
    • And on a more personal note, I will finally decide which tablet is right for me…
    • RIM’ blackberry 10 will [I really don’t know anymore]….
    • And in the no kidding category : The Canadian Anti Spam act will come into force;
    • There will be provincial elections for the second year in a row in Quebec;

     

    Mitch Kowalski is an innovative thinker, writer, speaker and lawyer from Toronto, Ontario. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, ABA best-seller, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century. He speaks regularly on legal service innovation as well as blogging on legal matters for the National Post’s blog, The Legal Post and on innovation in legal services for Slaw.ca. Mitch’s print articles have appeared in Lexpert MagazineThe NationalThe AdvocateThe Hong Kong Law JournalThe Globe and Mail, and the National Post. He teaches innovation in law at Western University Law School and at the University of Ottawa Law School. Mitch is one of the co-founders of lawTechcamp Toronto, a co-ordinator of LawSync and was selected as one of the Fastcase Top 50 Global Legal Innovators in 2012.

    2013 – Change is Hard:

    Last year I made 8 predictions of which 4 came true: another large firm merger; many law societies looking at Alternative Business Structures; more aggressive GCs; and a law school (kind-of, sort-of, maybe) looking at a type of practical training element to its classes.

    Unfortunately, I see 2013 as a flat year in terms of legal innovation and so I have limited my predictions to 5.

    Prediction #1

    The articling crisis in Ontario will continue to worsen. Ontario’s Law Practice Program run by a third party won’t come into force until 2014, but 2013 will see a number of players step-up to offer to run the program, including at least one law school. My long term prediction is that one of these players will eventually make the LPP so much better than articling (which, quite frankly, would not be that hard to do), that articling will eventually die a natural death. And twenty years from now, lawyers will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

    Prediction #2

    This is perhaps the most obvious prediction for 2013 – another major Canadian/UK law firm merger will occur. With the recent formation of Dentons and yet another Norton Rose merger, Canadian law firms outside of the Seven Sisters will be furiously searching for a dance partner before the music stops. The key however will be integration. Merging is easy – making it all work is the hard part. And the last thing the Canadian legal industry needs is “two or three rocks tied together in an effort to make themselves float.”

    Prediction #3

    Some national firm will finally wake up to the benefits of putting on-shoring services in a low cost centre within Canada; for example creating such a centre in St John or Moncton, cities well-suited for bilingual work. I understand that McCarthys has created, or is creating a Legal Process Outsourcer within its hugely expensive downtown Toronto office space – a move which, if true, demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what on-shoring is all about.

    Prediction #4

    One or two large Canadian law firms will, in an effort to appear innovative to their clients, create a Director of Innovation role, but that person will not be given the resources or top down buy-in/support necessary to effect change. Yes, I took my angry pills today.

    Prediction # 5

    Now for the pie-in-the-sky moment which I daily pray will come true. Saskatchewan will become the Delaware of Canada by being the first province to permit Alternative Business Structures that are controlled by non-lawyers. The rush of Canadian and international firms to take advantage of this structure will not only generate additional income for that province’s law society, but make it the envy of the country.

     

    John Zeleznikow, Professor of Information Systems, Laboratory of Decision Support and Dispute Management, School of Management and Information Systems, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University.Professor Zeleznikow is an internationally recognised expert, with over 30 years research experience including the last 15 years working on negotiation decision support and machine learning in law.  His publications include three books, 50 refereed journal articles (including the Harvard Negotiation Law Review) and 150 refereed conference articles.Professor Zeleznikow has worked in the university sector for 38 years, with extended experience in USA, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Poland and Israel.  He has also worked with Victoria Legal Aid, Relationships Australia, the New Zealand government and the Victorian Institute of Sport.He has appeared on: ABC Radio and TV, A Current Affair, Economist,  Boston Globe, London Daily Telegraph,Times of London, CNN, The Age, Australian Financial Review and El Periodico in Barcelona:
    John’s prediction from an academic viewpoint:
    • My guess is within the next decade, Canadian and US law schools will require their full-time staff to have PhDs.  Definitely less important for sessional staff. (Editor:  Whew !  As a sessional lecturer I can continue to lecture without a PHD!)

    We will continue to look to the future and see what is right in the third and final post in this series!

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    2013 Tips and Predictions – Part One!
    Saturday, December 29th, 2012

    ♫ Tomorrow’s what we’re on about
    Tomorrow’s what we’re on about
    Not yesterday
    It’s up to man to understand
    To have success upon this land…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Steel Pulse.

     

    (This is a revised blog post: My apologies to both Steven Matthews and Noric Dilanchian – I inadvertently placed some of Steve’s predictions under Noric’s name. My apologies to both! I have corrected these errors in this version)

    Two years ago I posted Tips and Predictions for 2011.  Last year I invited colleagues, friends and readers to contribute their tips and predictions for 2012.  I had so much fun reading their predictions (and jumping in with a few of my own) that I thought I would repeat the exercise again this year.  So without further ado here are the tips and predictions for 2013!

    Andrew Clark, Project Director, BC Court Services, Independent IT consultant in Victoria, BC with Willowtree Consulting, Inc.  and associated with the School of Business at Royal Roads University:

    Well – here are my thoughts on 2013 (specific to BC):

    • we will see more judges using technology!!!  In all 3 courts (appeal, supreme, provincial).
    • we will still see very little use of the technology in the courtroom though – just a few true eTrials but they will be the exception.
    • as a result of the election in BC, there will be delays in funding and little will get done in terms of new initiatives or projects with government and the Courts.
    • as a result, we will see more innovation coming from individuals (judges, court staff, lawyers) – bottom up initiatives rather than top down.  The key for leaders will be to let that innovation foster and gather momentum – and not shut it down.

     

     

    Colin Rule, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Modria Inc., of San Jose, California and the Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School:

    Here is my prediction for 2013:

    • UNCITRAL will release guidelines for a global ODR system in 2013, and the EU will pass the regulation requiring ODR in all member states by 2015, which will spark a huge upswell in European interest in ODR (“Online Dispute Resolution”).

     

     

    Robert Denney, the founder of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., of Wayne, Pennsylvania, a firm that has specialized in providing management, marketing and strategic planning expertise to professional firms, companies and non-profit organizations.  Rob is also a member of the American Bar Association and also a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, Bob is a past Director of the Legal Marketing Association and was elected to the LMA’s Hall of Fame.

    Bob is famous for his ‘What’s Hot and What’s Not” publications, so it is not surprising that his prediction is a hot one:

    • Non-lawyer ownership of or at least investment in U.S. Law firms will become a Red Hot issue.  It will eventually be approved but not until 2014 or 2015.

     

     

    Ross Fishman, the Chief Executive Officer of Fishman Marketing, Chicago, Illinois, a former litigator, marketing director, and marketing partner, Ross has written more than 250 articles and received dozens of marketing awards, including the Legal Marketing Association’s “Best of Show” grand prize five times. A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, Ross was the very first marketer inducted into the LMA’s Hall of Fame.

    Ross is an expert on legal marketing so it isn’t too surprising that his predictions off insight in the future of legal marketing:

    • I think 2013 will mark the first major move away from the proprietary website software platforms that law firms have historically used in favor of open-source platforms like WordPress and Drupal.
    • When law firms were first getting online in the mid-90s, the earliest sites were handmade from scratch.  There was no ready-made software and little precedent.  I laid out our first website in 1994 or 1995 when I was Marketing Partner at Coffield Ungaretti & Harris, and I remember trying to figure out what information visitors to a law firm website would want to see, and how to structure the internal organization and navigation for ease of use.
    • We got a lot of things right, and an equal number of things wrong.  (Remember “Helpful Links” sections?)
    • In the mid- and late-90s, some smart IT professionals saw the opportunity and built software companies to develop law firm websites.  These created more competitors, and the field is now full of private law firm website developers, each with their own proprietary software.  Open-source software like WordPress has become so powerful and easy to use, that it no longer makes sense to get locked into any particular company’s proprietary software.
    • We’ve largely stopped working with those outside companies and have built the last couple dozen websites we’ve developed using WordPress.  The CMS is simple and powerful and requires very little training.  Smaller firms have been increasingly using WordPress, and we are having equal success with 100-lawyer and larger firms.
    • The recession’s tight marketing dollars have meant that many law firms haven’t updated their websites recently, and there are countless firms with 3-7 year old websites that are in desperate need of an update, upgrade, or overhaul.  As the economy continues gaining steam and more dollars are freed up this next year, I think 2013 will be the year that larger law and other professional-service firms realize the value of open-source platforms and will increasingly use them in their next-generation websites.
    • So, with a technologically level playing field, it means that great design and a strong brand will be important.   That is, if everyone is using the same technology, the differentiator will have to be the message and how it’s conveyed.

     

    Noric Dilanchian, Managing Partner, DILANCHIAN, Lawyers & Consultants – Intellectual Property & Innovation Professionals, Sydney Australia. Noric is a former president of AIMIA – the Australian national industry association for e-commerce, internet, and interactive media developers. Since 2000 he has served as a member of the Business Law Committee of the Law Society of New South Wales, chairing its Intellectual Property Sub-committee.

    Noric’s background in intellectual property and e-commerce highlight his predictions in the area of mobility and the practice of law:

    • In 2013 it will be more apparent as to what’s needed to reform on the job training and tools for business lawyers and people in business who do legal or related work. Two decades and more of R&D will jell. More specifically, insights will grow about disparate experiments and ventures for online - practical post-graduation legal courses, template agreements and related documents, and legal Q&A forums. They will accelerate reform of on the job training, whether you include or associate that topic with business and commercial know-how, continuing professional education or, more narrowly, continuing legal education. Critically, understanding will grow about the user interfaces and look and feel helpful for individual or collaborative computing for legal services on networks.

    Steve Matthews is the President and Founder of Stem Legal Web Enterprises, a web development, publishing and strategy company for the legal profession in Vancouver, BC. Steve is recognized as one of the leading authorities on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for lawyers and law firms. Steve has been an editorial board member for the ABA’s Law Practice magazine, co-founded the award-winning group blog Slaw, and is frequently quoted throughout North America on topics and trends related to legal web technology. In 2011, Steve was inducted as a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management.

    Steve’s predictions lie towards the true application of  knowledge management…or rather knowledge application..within law firms:

    • The multi-device law firm employee.  I have little doubt that we will look back on 2013 as the year we mobilized legal information. Firms will bring in more iPads and Android tablets and will work feverishly to make consumable content available to lawyers and employees outside the office. I expect firms to go beyond the provision of basic IT support for tablets, and move into the realm of purchasing and providing dedicated mobile work devices. Implementations will be optimized to limit data exposure, and effectively rebuff the concept of BYOD.
    • Why? Because the cost of tablets isn’t all that prohibitive, and because mobile security will be a huge topic of discussion in 2013. The rise of private enterprise apps, and even enterprise app stores, will only push firms to further control the mobile environment they provide.
    • Firms know how important local search is and will obviously need to keep on fighting through this. But in 2013, I hope and expect that Google will get its local search services fixed. My prediction is for a universal company dashboard that would centralize control over brand information across all Google services. Many smaller firms and solos are terribly confused by how these services are currently operating, and would be grateful if Google could deliver a clearer picture going forward.

     

    Jordan Furlong, of Ottawa, Ontario is a partner with the global consulting firm Edge International and a senior consultant with legal web development company Stem Legal Web Enterprises. Jordan has been the award-winning editor of three top Canadian legal periodicals: the Canadian Bar Association’s National magazine, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s CCCA Magazine, and The Lawyers Weekly newspaper.

    Jordan is also an Honourary Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and served as editor of its 2006 Innovaction e-zine on innovation in law practice and is the Past Chair of the College’s InnovAction Awards, which recognize and reward creativity and innovation in legal services delivery. In 2012, I was named one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

    Jordan’s blog: Law21: Dispatches from a Legal Profession on the Brink, has been named four straight years by the ABA Journal as one of the 100 best law blogs in North America.

    Jordan provides us with insights as to what will be happening structurally in the Canadian legal market:

    • Two more midsize or large Canadian firms will join global law firm groups, either through merger or Swiss Verein hookup.
    • Ontario’s introduction of a Law Practice Program to supplement (and perhaps eventually replace) articling will lead at least two other law societies to commission task forces to consider similar measures in their own jurisdictions.
    • The first signs of a serious slowdown in the Canadian economy will mark the beginning of retrenchment efforts by the existing partnerships of midsize and large Canadian firms: fewer associates made partner, more current partners asked to leave.
    • Similarly, Canadian firms will accelerate their lateral hiring efforts, seeking quick fixes to revenue slowdowns by acquiring established “free agent” partners — just as this same trend starts to wind down in the US and UK as delivering too few results with too many risks.
    • And my long shot: Quality Solicitors will expand its operations from the UK to Canada, offering franchise business support to solo and small-firm lawyers and beginning the transformation of the Canadian consumer law sector.

    There you have the first batch of predictions for 2013.  Tomorrow we are on about the next batch of predictions!

     

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    2012 Clawbies!
    Friday, December 21st, 2012

    ♫ Shine a light shine a light
    Shine a light won’t you shine a light…

    Lyrics by Bernie Taupin, music and recorded by Elton John.

    I have been remiss in not posting my nominations for the 2012 Clawbie awards.

    It gets harder each year, with so many good blogs starting and existing blogs continuing their wonderful work.

    My absolute favourite legal blog (and one that, in my opinion, should be on each Canadian lawyer’s *must read* list each day) is Slaw.ca.  Simon Fodden has created something that is totally without comparison in my humble opinion.   The aggregation of regular and guest contributors, the columns, the thoughtful postings are simply wonderful, insightful and extremely interesting.  Simon keeps us on the pulse of what is happening in the legal world in a way that is entertaining as well as informative.  Slaw is the high-water mark not only for blogs in Canada but across the world – he shows us what can be achieved by aiming higher, by collaborating and by sharing.  Slaw is the best of what we can do as a community, in helping each of us keep current and not least of all, what we as lawyers who are interested in leadership and  positive change can do to increase awareness and work towards the positive growth of the law.

    My next nomination is the same as one of mine last year.  Erik Magraken’s BC Injury LAW blog  is a wonderful example of great content combined with an astute use of social media.   Erik is not just a past Clawbie award winner ( and deservedly so), his was The Fodden Award for Best Canadian Law Blog  in 2011.  Erik sets the standard for all other blogs.

    My next nomination is a three-way tie (not sure if this is allowed by the rules..but here goes).  My tie is between:

    OK ..my reasons.  BC Law Watch is a wonderful aggregation of what is happening in BC.  Dye & Durham is doing a great job in keeping the lawyers in BC in touch with what is happening in the Province.  This is an example of what other legal providers could be doing to assist their lawyers in keeping on top of developments in the Province and clearly demonstrates how Dye & Durham is seeking to be a partner with their clients in terms of meeting their legal service needs.

    Regarding The Rule of Law – not only is this a clever name from Stanley Rule, this is an example of a blog confined to a relatively narrow area that is being produced by a lawyer in a smaller urban area. Stanley is doing great work and showing that you don’t have to be in a big firm, you don’t have to be in a big urban area and you can narrow your practice to a focused area and still be successful.

    Jordan Furlong has long been a friend. But long before that he has been someone who is a shining light and being an early-warning system – showing the forces of change affecting the legal profession even before they have been felt by any others.  Law21 has given Jordan the voice that he needed and the freedom to exercise it as he wished.

    So these are my shining lights this year.  All the best to all the nominees…I know that by not mentioning so many deserving blogs that I am doing a great disservice to those that deserve mention.  All I can hope is that better voices than mine sing their praises so that all deserving blogs receive the attention that is their due.

    Happy New Year to all.

    Posted in Adding Value, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 3 Comments »
    2012 Season’s Greetings!
    Monday, December 17th, 2012

     ♫ Of the Father’s love begotten,
    Ere the worlds began to be,
    He is Alpha and Omega,
    He the source, the ending He,
    Of the things that are, that have been,
    And that future years shall see,
    Evermore and evermore!  ♫

     

    At has become my tradition at this time of year, I would like to pause from the increasing busy lives we all lead and heartily wish each and everyone the Best of the Holiday Season and a Wonderful and Happy New Year. Recent events have only served to remind us yet again that lives can be changed in an instant.  Accordingly I believe it is even more important to reach out to friends and all those dear to us and remind them that they are the ones who truly bring meaning to our lives.

    To all I wish for Peace, Hope and Happiness. May your dreams become hopes, your hopes become plans and your plans become realities in the New Year.

    As in past years, as my gift to you, I offer a few minutes of music and images, a time of solitude, peace and reflection. This slide show combines two of my loves – music and photography. All images have all been taken during the last 12 months principally with a Panasonic DMS-G3 camera with the 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 lens and in some cases using macro extension tubes.

    I hope this slide show and music (please turn your speakers on) brings to you a time of calm, joy and peace. The music is: “Of the Father’s Heart Begotten”;  a Christmas carol based on the Latin poem Corde natus by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius, from his Liber Cathemerinon (hymn no. IX) beginning “Da puer plectrum,”, and is performed by the Argyle Alumni Choir, Argyle Senior Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, copyright Frances Roberts, Director. Used with permission.

    I hope you enjoy the combination of the music and the images. Please be patient – they take a bit of time to load.

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

    (For those interested, the slide show was created originally in PowerPoint, converted to Keynote and converted into a Quicktime file on a MacBook, then uploaded to ScreenCast.com.).

    Prior Christmas Greetings can be viewed here:

    2011 Christmas Greeting

    2010 Christmas Greeting

    2009 Christmas Greeting

    2008 Christmas Greeting

    2007 Christmas Greeting

    Posted in Adding Value, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 10 Comments »