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    Archive for the ‘30 Questions for Busy Lawyers’ Category
    Simon Chester of Heenan Blaikie Answers 30 Questions
    Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

    Simon Chester, a partner at Heenan Blaikie since 2004, is a member of their Toronto Litigation and Business Law groups. His practice focuses on knowledge management, research and legal opinions specifically. He has been a pioneer over the past 25 five years in the application of technology to the practice of law.

    Simon Chester

    Simon studied Jurisprudence at University College, Oxford, and on winning the Canadian Rhodes Trust Scholarship did post-graduate work at Osgoode Hall Law School. After a decade in the Ontario government, he joined another major Toronto law firm as research partner. His earlier career included work as a faculty member at Osgoode Hall, on the research staff of the Ontario Law Reform Commission, and as Executive Counsel to the Attorney General of Ontario.

    He has extensive experience in privacy and e-commerce.

    Simon has held leadership positions in professional organizations and was the first non-American to chair the American Bar Association’s Tech Show. He chairs the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s Editorial Advisory Board. He served as President of the College of Law Practice Management and as President of the Oxford University Society in Toronto; he is a director of the Canadian Rhodes Scholars’ Foundation.

    Simon has often testified before House of Commons and Senate Committees and is a frequent speaker at American, Canadian, Asian and European conferences on technology, international law and law practice management issues. He has contributed articles to the American Lawyer, International Business Lawyer, International Financial Law Review, Law Practice Management, CAMagazine, CBA National, Business Law International and the ABA Journal. He has written chapters for Winning with Technology, The Quality Pursuit, Environmental Rights in Canada and Canadian Legal Practice.

    We welcome this opportunity for Simon, a perennial speaker at The Pacific Legal Technology Conference (including the upcoming 2009 version on Oct 2 in Vancouver) to answer 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology:

    1. Could you briefly describe your firm (number of lawyers, staff, areas of practice etc):

    Heenan Blaikie is one of the ten largest law firms in Canada, although it is likely the youngest, since the firm was only formed in 1973. Practicing in four provinces, we currently have 495 lawyers, 6 Patent Agents, 67 Paralegals and 519 Support Staff : (which includes legal assistants and administrative staff (Accounting, Human Resources, IT, etc.). The firm’s historic strengths have been in labour relations, film, media and communications, public law litigation, pharmaceutical litigation and business law, but we have lawyers specializing in a vast number of areas from aboriginal land claims, mining project development, to atomic energy to minority language rights litigation. With the exception of the occasional white collar/regulatory defence, we eschew criminal work, and will refer out all family law work. The firm also has an active pro bono practice, and has been involved in a number of high profile recent constitutional challenges. In addition, the firm has an extensive international consulting practice, although this is generally conducted using advanced telecommunications and fly-ins. (more…)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Nils Jensen, Crown Counsel, answers 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology
    Sunday, August 30th, 2009

    Nils B. Jensen B.A.Sc., LL.B., LL.M. answers 30 questions for busy lawyers who use technology:

    Nils Jensen

    Nils Jensen is a senior litigator at the Victoria Crown Counsel Office. His innovative use of technology in the courtroom has gained him a reputation as a leader in the field.   He has used technology before judges and juries in cases ranging from murder to impaired driving.

    While seconded to the Court Services Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General he led the award winning expansion of the video conference network now used widely in British Columbia courts and correctional centres. He was also the driving force behind the ground-breaking adjudication system used to resolve municipal bylaw disputes. The project received a Premier’s Award.

    He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law where he has developed inventive new ways for teaching advocacy skills.

    He holds law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School and London School of Economics and an Engineering degree from the University of Ottawa.

    Nils looks at using technology from the perspective of a Crown Counsel:

    1. Could you briefly describe your firm (number of lawyers, staff, areas of practice etc)

    I work at the Crown Counsel Victoria Office which is composed of 25 lawyers. Our practice is restricted to criminal prosecutions and appeal.

    2. When was your firm established?

    Early 1970s.

    3. Where do you practice (one office, multiple offices, virtual offices, regional, national, international)?

    The Crown has offices throughout BC – there are approximately 400 lawyers.

    4. What are the demographic backgrounds of the lawyers and staff in your firm?

    We span the whole spectrum of ages and backgrounds: from right out of law school to 30+ years experience.

    5. What prior degrees and/or experience do the lawyers and staff bring to your firm?

    Some have LLMs – some come from the private sector to join us.

    6. How would you describe the culture of the Crown?

    We pride ourselves on striving for excellence and conducting our prosecutions impartially, effectively and respectfully, on behalf of the whole community. (more…)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 3 Comments »
    Sharon Nelson answers 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology
    Saturday, August 15th, 2009

    Sharon Nelson, Esq. of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a boutique computer forensics and information technology consultancy service, who practices law associated with Sensei, a past Chair of ABA TECHSHOW and many times published author, and 2007 and 2009 Pacific Legal Technology Conference presenter, answers 30 Questions for busy lawyers who use technology:

    Sharon Nelson picture

    1. Could you briefly describe your firm (number of lawyers, staff, areas of practice, etc.)

    In the law practice side of my business, I am currently a solo practitioner and accept only cases involving electronic evidence. The consultancy service employs many IT as well as computer forensics people along with the typical office staff found in any business. I would be neglectful if I didn’t mention my life and business partner John Simek who not only maintains my inner balance but keeps the business side of our lives in order as well.

    2. When was your firm established?

    The law office was established in 1979 and Sensei in 1997.

    3. Where do you practice (one office, multiple offices, virtual offices, regional, national, international)?

    We have one office in Virginia.

    4. What are the demographic backgrounds of the lawyers and staff in your firm?

    I was pretty much your average WASP, I grew up in New England and migrated to Virginia when Georgetown accepted me.

    5. What prior degrees and/or experience do the lawyers bring to your firm?

    I have a J.D. from Georgetown and a B.A, in English from Tufts.

    6. How would you describe the culture of your firm?

    My solo practice operates in the same “space” as my corporation, Sensei Enterprises, Inc. We are very high tech with most employees being on the young side. This gives us a very fresh and young approach in how we approach business. (more…)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    Paul Hergott – Solo – Answers 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology
    Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

    ♬ It won’t be long yeh, yeh,
    It won’t be long yeh, yeh…♬

    Music and lyrics by Lennon & McCartney.

    This interview is with Paul Hergott of Hergott Law, a solo practitioner in West Kelowna, BC. This interview forms part of the “30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology” thread on this blog in advance of The Pacific Legal Technology Conference, to be held in Vancouver on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 at the Vancouver Trade & Convention Center:

    2007-paul-hergott-cropped.jpg

    1.    Could you briefly describe your firm (number of lawyers, staff, areas of practice etc):

    We have one lawyer – doing real estate and personal injury. In the personal injury area, we have 4 staff. Conveyancing has 1 staff member.

    2.    When was your firm established?

    In Sept 2007.

    3.    Where do you practice (one office, multiple offices, virtual offices, regional, national, international)?

    Regarding the conveyancing side of the practice, the admin is done in an electronically linked home office. Everything else is done in the main office.

    4.    What are the demographic backgrounds of the lawyers and staff in your firm?

    Most senior staff been at it for 30 years…probably early 40 legal assistant and mid 30’s secretary and receptionist is early 50’s.  Wife mid 40’s.  I am a very old dog!

    5.    What prior degrees and/or experience do the lawyers and staff bring to your firm?

    Staff has long standing legal experience.  I have a business admin degree  where I took high level programming (C++ and Pascal), quantitative analysis, and 400 level business admin courses. My wife entered the legal world with a computer programming course and started in the area of real estate conveyancing. She was a programmer of Blue Screen, a word perfect based conveyancing package.  3-4 months ago she took training in HotDocs and uses MS Word and HotDocs. (more…)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Budgeting, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Mark Tamminga Answers 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology
    Sunday, July 12th, 2009

    ♬ I think to myself living is a winning school
    Winning on your feet, winning on the street
    Winning as a golden rule
    It’s seems there’s always a test
    And I’m doing my best
    But there still seems a long way to go
    I try myself
    Trying everything I know
    Pushing me so

    One step ahead
    One more step ahead just to get me through♬

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Nik Kershaw.

    This is the latest in a series of interviews of busy lawyers who use technology in advance of The Pacific Legal Technology Conference, to be held in Vancouver on Friday, October 2, 2009 at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Center. In this interview, we pose our 30 questions for Mark Tamminga of Gowlings:

    Mark Tamminga Photo

    1.                  Could you briefly describe your firm (number of lawyers, staff, areas of practice etc)

    Gowling Lafleur  Henderson LLP is one of Canada’s largest national firms with an emphasis in business law, intellectual property and advocacy.

    2.                  When was your firm established?

    The firm traces its roots back to the 19th century…

    3.                  Where do you practice (one office, multiple offices, virtual offices, regional, national, international)?

    Gowlings is an International firm with 8 offices across Canada as well as offices in London and Moscow.

    4.                  What are the demographic backgrounds of the lawyers and staff in your firm?

    Varied – we have just under 700 lawyers and a proportionate number of staff. With that size comes a tremendous range in people. We have been listed as one of the 50 Best Employers in Canada by the Globe and Mail (2009).

    5.                  What prior degrees and/or experience do the lawyers and staff bring to your firm?

    Again this is very differentiated.  For example, we have the Honourable Martin Cauchon who was the Minister of National Revenue

    6.                  How would you describe the culture of your firm?

    Result of the coming together of a whole bunch of smaller firms.  Each firm brought their own flavour.   I would say it is scrappy – willing to try new things.   Open to innovation.

    7.                  Can you describe the firm’s management style?

    Consensual.  We have a three person executive, a Board of Trustees and an Internal and External Management Committee.  The different office managing partners are on the internal committee.  The external one is made up of key hitters in the firm.

    8.                  Does technology assist you in the management of your firm? If so, how?

    My interest is practice modeling software, which is aimed at production of legal work.  In terms of management, we have most of the back office accounting stuff…giving us the firm’s financial performance.  GowLINKS is the internal web site for sharing information – the office’s intranet. (more…)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology – Post #2
    Sunday, July 5th, 2009

    Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
    It’s home from work we go…

    Music by Frank Churchill, Paul Smith, Leigh Harline, from Snow White.

    This is the second in a series of posts in advance of the The Pacific Legal Technology Conference to be held in Vancouver, BC on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 (www.pacificlegaltech.com) under the category “30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology”. In this post we are interviewing Nicole Garton-Jones, a solicitor in West Vancouver, British Columbia, who leads a unique high-tech virtual law firm entitled: “Heritage Law”. Here is Nicole’s interview on how she and her firm, use technology:

    Nicole Garton-Jones

    1.    Could you briefly describe your firm:

    Heritage Law is a boutique law firm with four lawyers and six support staff that specializes in wills and estates, family law and mediation.

    2.    When was your firm established?

    In 2005.

    3.    Where do you practice?

    Our main office is in West Vancouver, BC.  We have a satellite office in Vancouver, BC for meeting with clients.  We are also virtual in that all staff log into one remote, secure server over the Internet, which is a repository for all firm data and software applications. Many of the staff work as independent contractors from their home offices.

    4.    What are the demographic backgrounds of the lawyers and staff in your firm?

    We are all women and most of us are working mothers.

    5.    What prior degrees and/or experience do the lawyers and staff bring to your firm?

    Various. Nicole Garton-Jones was formerly an associate in two large law firms.  Karen Redmond is a former teacher and business owner.  Tanya Murray practiced corporate, securities and commercial law for 12 years.  Myrle Lawrence was a solo wills and estates solicitor for 27 years prior to Heritage Law purchasing her practice.  Our paralegal Elizabeth Markus has a Master’s Degree in medieval art.

    6.    How would you describe the culture of your firm?

    We have an innovative model of legal practice, centered on the concept of how to enable both work life balance for our staff and maintain top service levels for our clients. (more…)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 3 Comments »
    30 Questions for Busy Lawyers Who Use Technology – post #1
    Sunday, June 28th, 2009

    So you can see
    We’re friends in need
    And friends in need
    Are friends indeed
    We’ll keep you safe
    In the jungle forevermore
    That’s what friends are for!

    Music and lyrics by George Bruns, from Disney’s “The Jungle Book”.

    Thomas Spraggs

    We all know that it is a jungle out there.  Accordingly, this is the first in a series of posts in advance of the The Pacific Legal Technology Conference to be held in Vancouver, BC on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 (www.pacificlegaltech.com) under  the category “30 Questions for Busy Lawyers who use Technology”.  They are to illustrate how all types of lawyers, from all types of practices, from urban, suburban and rural geographical locations, from the largest firms to solos, who range from newly called lawyers all the way to senior lawyers, with different backgrounds and experiences, have embraced technology, brought it into their firms and their practices and made it work for them. More importantly, they illustrate the theme of the conference which is lawyers and other legal professionals reachng out and helping others.

    They use PCs with Windows (and in rare cases, Linux) and Macs with OSX or a combo of these.  They use off-the-shelf software and custom-designed applications.  They use electronic filing, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Access, Word, Excel, Outlook, Amicus Attorney, TimeMatters, LawStream, Google and Firefox among other applications.  They have set up secure intranets, extranets and collaborative spaces using such products as Microsoft’s SharePoint. They have gone paperless, use Dragon’s voice recognition, desktops, laptops, netbooks, MacBooks, smartphones and iPhones and Blackberrys.  Some are past and present speakers at ABA TECHSHOW, The Pacific Legal Technology Conference and other legal CLEs. But the common thread running through each of their stories is how their strong vision for where they wanted technology to take them, their perseverance in searching for answers and their determination in continually striving for further efficiency and effectiveness gains resulted in strong benefits for their clients, their staff and their practices.

    Their message is that if they can do it, there is a way for the rest of us to follow their lead and do it too.  Their stories indicate that ‘one size definitely does not fit all’, for their solutions are all unique, varied and interesting.  I have enjoyed meeting with each of them and I hope the posts accurately reflect their passion for, and the depth of, their desire to not just accept the ‘status quo’.  Of course, any inaccuracies are wholly those of the writer.

    This first interview is with Thomas Spraggs, Jr. of  Spraggs & Associates of Coquitlam British Columbia, who is one of the speakers at the 2009 Pacific Legal Technology Conference.  Here is his story:

    1.    Could you briefly describe your firm (number of lawyers, staff, areas of practice etc):

    Tom: The firm is, by definition, a small firm.  We currently have seven lawyers and approximately 23 full time staff.  We also have very close relationships with a number of consultants in the area of communications, advertising, investigations, information technology, and business consulting.  Our practice is currently restricted to assisting plaintiffs in motor vehicle accident cases.  Occasionally, we will also assist current clients with small criminal matters and the occasional business transaction.

    2.    When was your firm established?

    Tom: The firm was established in 1971 with Thomas L. Spraggs Sr.

    3.    Where do you practice (one office, multiple offices, virtual offices, regional, national, international)?

    Tom: Our office location has been in Coquitlam since 1971.  Since 2000 the firm has established a presence in Edmonton Alberta where there is collaboration with another Edmonton law firm to assist clients with Alberta and Yukon injury claims.  We also use the features that Microsoft small business server provides to login remotely to desktops from home and when traveling.

    Robert M. Spraggs, (Thomas L. Spraggs brother) is a solicitor in Australia, and is working on becoming a foreign legal consultant to Spraggs & Co. for the purposes of better assisting clientele. The firm has had several clients who reside in Australia. (more…)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »