2013 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2011 Canadian Law Blog Finalist

2010 Canadian Law Blog Finalist

2009 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2008 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2007 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2008 InnovAction Awards



  • Categories
  • Archives
    Archive for the ‘humour’ Category
    The High Note
    Monday, November 3rd, 2014

    ♫ Boy, you’re going to carry that weight,
    Carry that weight a long time
    Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
    Carry that weight a long time…♫

    Lyrics and Music by Lennon & McCartney recorded by The Beatles.

     

    mccartney

     

    This is a guest post from Ann Mehl and originally appeared in her Newsletter and blog under the title “The High Note“. To say that it struck a note is putting it mildly.  I hope you find it to be as moving and reflective as I did.  It is reproduced here with her approval and consent.

    While scanning the radio in my car for a good song, I stumbled upon an interview with Paul McCartney. He was funny and engaging, so I stopped to listen for a while. He was asked about his voice, and if, at age 71, he could still sing all those old Beatles songs. His answer was honest and revealing. “Well,” he said. “I can’t hit all the high notes like I used to, but I’ve probably got better technique now, and you learn ways around that.” Some of those techniques? Changing the melody ever so slightly, letting his back up singers hit the high notes for him, or simply calling upon his audience fill in the blanks. Music legend Sir Paul McCartney has had to learn that even he has musical limitations.

    This got me thinking: How much of our lives are spent trying to chase a high note that we are no longer capable of hitting? And what does this cost us in terms of health and happiness? In my own life, I know I hit a high note when I ran my first marathon at 3:26, a personal record for me. It’s unlikely I will ever do it again, and that’s okay. I’m interested in different goals now. But it can be very hard to let go of who we used to be, or who we imagine we still are. We see it all the time in professional sports: the athlete who retires, only to “unretire” six months later. The boxer who wants “one more fight” when everyone around him knows he should have quit years ago.

    Most of us are not athletes or professional performers, but we do know what it’s like to chase our former glories, and to hunger for that intoxicating high note. Maybe it’s the version of ourselves that is 10 years younger, or 20 pounds lighter. Maybe it’s the earlier excitement of a new job, or the rush of a new romance. Most of us yearn for these peak experiences, and once experienced, seek to recreate them.

    That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to a lot of frustration and heartache in the present. The problem with chasing only these moments, is that they are generally very fleeting, if they exist at all. And we can miss out on some of the really great moments happening in between. Martina Navratilova said it best: “The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.”

    I knew of one serial entrepreneur who made a killing on his first venture, to the tune of almost $10 million. He went on to create several other successful companies after this, but none as big as the first. Measured against this impossible standard, he felt he was constantly failing, even when, by all outward signs he was a massive success. To his family and work colleagues, he had become a bitter pill who could not enjoy his own success. He was enslaved to the high note, in his case, some arbitrary number below which anything spelled failure. He was Sisyphus, compelled to roll an immense boulder uphill, only to become demoralized every time it rolled back down on top of him.

    There are two basic roads that we can travel: one is the road to freedom, and the other is the road to tyranny. The road to tyranny is based on always hitting the high note, and a refusal to accept anything else. It enslaves us to the past, and blinds us to new opportunities in the present. After all, who are we if we can no longer hit the high note? The road to freedom, on the other hand, accepts that all things are in a constant state of flux: our bodies, our minds, our relationships. What we are able to do in our 20s and 30s is very different from what we can do in our 40s, 50s and beyond. And not only is this okay, it is natural.

    At the root of all unhappiness is our refusal to accept that all things eventually must end: our youth, our beauty and eventually even ourselves. What we are really fighting against is our own mortality, and that is one battle we will never win. But like Paul McCartney, maybe we can learn some new techniques. We can accept that while a relationship has changed, it does not necessarily have to end. We can accept that while a job is no longer as exciting as it once was, it may offer its own kind of reward in the people we meet. We can accept that through age or infirmity, a parent is no longer the person we once knew, and try to develop a new connection based on who they are now.

    I’m not suggesting we give up or don’t stretch ourselves, only that we don’t have to be slaves to our past successes (or failures). Graceful surrender to the here and now is always preferable to screeching, or God forbid, ruptured vocal chords. Paul McCartney may not be able to hit the high notes like he used to. All he can do is make friends with the voice he has now, and the many beautiful notes he still can sing. And when the voice cracks, or won’t go where he wants it to go, he invites the audience to sing along.

    Thanks Ann for reminding us that unless we learn to gently acknowledge and adjust to the fact that we may not be able to hit the high notes like we used to, we will be carrying that weight a long time…

    (Hat tip to Stewart Levine for originally drawing my attention to Ann’s article).

    Thought for the Day: “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” – Paul McCartney.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    A Lesson From a Deli?
    Thursday, October 30th, 2014

    ♫ You’re a leftover
    Pastrami on rye
    Succulent and delicious
    Yes, the sandwich of my eye…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Hot Soda Apparatus.

    Katz's Deli.I read an article today in Slate Magazine entitled “The UR-Deli – How Katz’s stays in business against the odds by Jordan Weissmann.”  This article is about how Katz’s deli in New York City has remained in business in the lower east side of New York since 1888 while its competitors have failed.

    The business model is to deliver a hefty pastrami on rye for $19.75.  Believe it or not, that sandwich is not much of a moneymaker.  The old-style delis are facing a conundrum: the very thing that makes them loved..those wonderful stacked pastrami and corned beef sandwiches – is the thing that makes it hardest from an economic standpoint.  They don’t make much money.

    Compare and contrast that with law firms:  the very thing that makes us loved – delivering bespoke legal services – is the very thing that makes it hardest from an economic standpoint.  We can’t seem to deliver legal services at a lower cost. We are facing a basic economic issue similar to these old delis…

    How does Katz’s deli survive?

    The reason Katz’s was able to live on while its competitors disappeared largely boils down to real estate. As Sax writes in Save the Deli, New York’s delicatessens can basically be divided into two groups: those that rent their buildings and those that own. Famous renters, like the Stage Deli and 2nd Avenue Deli, have closed in the face of rent hikes. Famous owners, like Carnegie and Katz’s, have lived on. (And when 2ndAvenue Deli reopened, it bought a building … on New York’s 3rd Avenue). If Katz’s had to deal with a landlord, it would likely have disappeared or moved long ago.

    Is there a lesson here for law firms?  Could – possibly – part of the solution to the access to justice issues be that law firms start owning their own office buildings? There are a number of advantages arising from this model.  The partners of such a firm would be building equity in the property over time; that same equity could be used to retire older partners when newer partners purchase an interest in the business as well as the real estate asset.  Keeping ownership of the office space may reduce the overhead costs that could help the firm render legal services to a broader base of clients.

    Certainly the issue of trying to broaden the ability of existing law firms to deliver legal services economically to a wider group of society does not have any easy solutions.  However, perhaps Katz’s and similar survivors have lessons for us today. Notwithstanding we are a leftover, perhaps we can still be the sandwich in a client’s eye…

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    The Einstein Principle!
    Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

    Albert Einstein
    I got an idea and it’s really bright
    Somebody in my brain just turned on the light…

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Avias.

    albert-einstein-quotes-styles-funny_4908482892923247

    This is another great leadership post from Beth Flynn at the THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY LEADERSHIP CENTER (www.leadershipcenter.osu.edu).

    This post highlights the principles that helped shaped Albert Einstein into a leader and successful scientist. They are taken from Smithson, D. (2014). What managers don’t know: how to be a better manager, leader, and entrepreneur?  Theinformbook.com

    “Many people think that Einstein was just a simple scientist who went about formulating the laws that govern the Universe, but he was so much more than that.

    Apart from being the man who had the greatest single impact on the advancement of our understanding of the laws that govern the physical universe, Einstein was also a philosopher king!  Following are some of his musings (ESP), along with how they can relate to your business.

    ESP 1: ‘The search for truth is more precious than its possession.’ This of course links back into the idea that you should never stop learning, asking questions so that you can learn.

    ESP 2:  ‘Imagination is more important that knowledge.’ This ESP is one of those ideas that has no direct application, but is such a powerful belief to install within your psyche; it can influence everything you do.

    ESP 3: ‘No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.’  In science, nothing is ever 100% true.  Think about that axiom.  True science merely posits a theorem that should be successful tested and validated by other independent scientists, raises up a ranking to being a theory.  This relates to the ideas of leadership.  A leader is often only ever as good as his or her last successful decision.

    ESP 4: ‘Most people say that intellect that makes a great scientist.  They are wrong: it is character.’ Apart from having a brain the size of a planet, Einstein was a man of constant inquisition, determination and almost child-like playfulness.  So whilst you are getting your business qualifications, do so without sacrificing your social and thinking skills.  If you are lacking in some areas, then go outside your comfort zone and learn how to gain those skills.

    ESP 5: ‘It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.’ Einstein was an amazingly humble man, but this typical self-effacing statement reveals much of the secret of his success.  He simply refused to give up.  In everything he did, Einstein took the approach of an outstanding man who wanted to achieve outstanding things.

    ESP 6: ‘You learn the rules of the game.  And then you have to play better than anyone else.’ If you want to become a success you have to first get into the game, and to do that you have to understand what the rules are.  Once you’ve got that locked down, you have to practice and compete constantly – and if necessary, push for a change in the rules!!!

    ESP 7: ‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’

    I have made (and continue to make) mistakes, ranging from minor inconveniences to absolute oh my lord pass me on a gun now! But I never stop trying because I have a very simple philosophy: I never fail, so long as I learn something new (even, as I said, if that something new is a mistake - I won’t ever do that again.

    ESP 8: ‘To stimulate creativity one must develop childlike inclination for play and childlike desire for recognition.’ My outlook on life is simple, I want to experience everything I can before I get to the final destination.

    ESP 9: ‘Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.’ It is said that we go through three stages of development. First it is met with derision.  Then it is confronted with hostility and aggression.  Finally, it is accepted as playfully self-evident.  This is especially true when your great idea is a challenge to the established way of doing things, or contrary to the idea of the one who sits above you (p. 211-291).”

    WANT TO DISCUSS TODAY’S LEADERSHIP MOMENT?
    Go to the Ohio State Leadership’s blog and share your thoughts, ideas, or answer the questions below.

    • Which of these ESP principles had the biggest impact on you?
    • What are some ways  you can integrate these principles into your work life?

    Thanks Beth for helping us all turn on the light in our brains!

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    2014 Predictions!
    Monday, December 30th, 2013

    ♫ One of these things
    Will tell you something.
    Let`s tell the future
    Let`s see how it`s been done.
    How it`s been done…

    Lyrics, Music and Recorded by Serena Ryder.

    2014 gold on black

    (image used per licence from VectorGems)

    I so look forward to this time of the year when so many friends contribute their ideas for what the future will hold for us in the New Year!  This  year we have predictions from:

    • Ross Fishman
    • Richard Granat
    • Nicole Black
    • Sharon Nelson
    • Colin Rule
    • Ann Halkett
    • Brian Mauch
    • Jordan Furlong
    • John Zeleznikow
    • Michael Downey
    • Bob Denney
    • Mitch Kowalski
    • Buzz Bruggerman
    • Andrew Clark
    • UnitedLex
    • David J. Bilinsky

    It is great fun to see what others are thinking in terms of where the legal profession is heading.  So without further ado, let’s see how it’s been done:

    Ross Fishman

    Ross Fishman LAW headshot 2012

    My predictions:

    #1 Post-merger local-firm marketing will increase:

      • Today, more than five years into the legal profession’s Merger Frenzy, the smaller acquired firms are realizing that many of the promised benefits of the mergers, e.g. cross selling new legal services from The Mothership, haven’t materialized — they’re on their own. Further, they’re actually in a negative position regarding visibility in their local markets because they traded their hard-earned local name recognition for a big-firm brand.
      • Unfortunately, although you are now part of a 1000-lawyer national firm’s proud 100-year tradition, it doesn’t help you generate business if no buyers near you have heard of the firm.  Frustrated that The Home Office doesn’t feel their pain (or acknowledge the problem), and tired of waiting, they’re starting to hire their own marketers to build the new brand in their local market.

    #2 Significantly more mid-sized and large firms will build their new websites in open-source technology like WordPress or Drupal than any particular web developer’s proprietary software.

    #3 I predict that nearly every single law firm in an entire geographic region will proudly showcase their “unique culture and differentiation” by rotating a collection of smiling photos of their lawyers on the home page of their new websites.

    The CEO of Fishman Marketing, Ross Fishman has an international reputation as one of the legal profession’s most-effective branding experts, web developers, and marketing strategists. His creative online and traditional marketing campaigns help law firms dominate their markets and drive millions of dollars of additional revenue.Fishman Marketing has designed campaigns for upwards of 200 law firms worldwide, and presented nearly 300 marketing programs, firm retreats, and CLE/Ethics presentations. A former litigator, marketing director, and marketing partner, he has received dozens of marketing awards, including the Legal Marketing Association’s grand prize, the “Best of Show” honor, five times.

    A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, in 2006, Ross was the first marketer inducted into the LMA’s Hall of Fame.

    Richard Granat

    RichardGranat

    Richard’s Predictions:
    • I predict that some, not all, law schools will continue to reinvent legal education by incorporating training in legal technology and legal education.
    • New courses in document automation, legal project management, legal services redesign, legal expert systems, and ediscovery management will infiltrate the law school curriculum to train law students for 21st century law practice.
    Richard developed one of the first virtual law firms in the United States and is the founder, DirectLaw, a company that provides a web service to solos and small law firms that enable them to deliver legal services over the Internet. He is also Co-Director and of the Center for Law Practice TechnologyFlorida Coastal School of Law and Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Division of the American Bar Association.  He is the recipient of the 2013 ABA Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering, the 2010 ABA Louis M. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award for Legal Access, and was named a “Legal Rebel” by the American Bar Association Journal in 2009.  Richard is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management.
    E-mailrich@granat.com

     

    Nicole Black

    ABA Editorial

     

    2013 predictions by Nicole Black:

    1)  Mobile computing will continue to transform the way that lawyers practice law and manage their practices. Of all emerging technologies, mobile computing has been the  one technology that was most quickly embraced by most lawyers. Most lawyers now use mobile phones in their law practices and even federal court judges in their 80s now use iPads while on the bench to conduct legal research and view briefs with hyperlinked case citations. With the increase in the use of mobile devices, more and more attorneys will utilize mobile apps or software with mobile integration, such as PDF annotation apps, law practice management software, and legal research products. Lawyers will use mobile devices to increase their productivity and will be able to practice  law and run their practices no matter where they happen to be. There will also be a continuing tension between the convenience of 24/7 access and finding the right balance between work and home life.

    2)  2014 will be the year that lawyers begin to move to the cloud at rates never before seen. In 2011 I predicted that by mid-2013 the mindset of lawyers regarding the cloud would finally change and lawyers would begin to view the cloud as a secure, more convenient and affordable alternative to traditional server-based systems. Based on results from surveys such as the 2013 ABA Legal Technology Survey and anecdotal evidence, I believe that occurred. But Snowden’s revelations regarding NSA’s spying certainly had a stifling effect on lawyers’ views toward cloud computing. Even so, the proliferation of cloud computing software can’t be denied and lawyers are increasingly realizing that the benefits outweigh the risks. I expect that trend to continue in 2014 and that the legal cloud computing market will really open up and move ahead at a fast pace by the year’s end.

    3)  The need to understand social media and the major platforms will become a much higher priority for many lawyers–especially litigators–as the impact of social media on their cases continues to rise. There will be a push by most law firms–large and small alike–to educate their attorneys about using social media both in their cases and to promote their practices. Lawyers will actively seek out information about social media with the goal of using it as a tool in their cases, both during the discovery phase as a tool to obtain useful evidence to support their clients’ cases and also at trial when researching jurors.

    4)  While practicing lawyers will continue to embrace new technologies and take steps to educate themselves about the ways that new technologies can help their practices, most law schools will, unfortunately, take the opposite tack. Enmeshed in institutional patterns with little to no incentive to change, the majority of law schools will continue to teach law as they’ve always done. Very few will change their curriculums to incorporate teaching law students about new technologies or the practicalities of running a law practice. Preparing students with the skills needed to practice law in the 21st Century will take a back seat to the desires of law school decision-makers to increase short-term monetary gains rather than invest in the future of law students and the legal profession as a whole.

    Nicole Black is a Director at MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is an attorney in Rochester, New York, and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology and can be reached at:

    Email: niki@mycase.com
    URL: http://www.mycase.com

     

     Sharon Nelson 

    sharon nelson

     

    2013 Predictions by Sharon Nelson:

    • Smart entrepreneurs (like those who founded Novus Law)will siphon business that used to belong to large law firms.
    • “Encryption by default” will spread throughout the Internet – a good thing and thank you to the National Security Agency, which provided much of the motivation for the trend!

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq.

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc, a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia.   Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the ABA podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology.”  She is a frequent author (ten books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She is the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014.

     

    Colin Rule

    Colin Rule

     

    Colin’s predictions:

    #1 – The US Affordable Care Act website will finally work seamlessly, and government contracting of web services will shift firmly to outsourcing instead of insourcing.

    #2 – We’ll see the first US law call for Online Dispute Resolution.
    #3 – Five courts around the world will launch wholly online court processes, end to end.
    #4 – The EU ADR and ODR Regulation deadlines will be extended one more year, to 2015 and 2016.
    Colin Rule is COO of Modria.com, an ODR provider based in Silicon Valley.  From 2003 to 2011 he was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. He has worked in the dispute resolution field for more than a decade as a mediator, trainer, and consultant. He is currently 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.
    Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO (2000) and President. In 2002 Colin co-founded the Online Public Disputes Project (now eDeliberation.com) which applies ODR to multiparty, public disputes. Previously, Colin was General Manager of Mediate.com, the largest online resource for the dispute resolution field. Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.
    Colin has presented and trained throughout Europe and North America for organizations including the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Department of State, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution. He has also lectured and taught at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, MIT, Creighton UniversitySouthern Methodist University, the University of Ottawa, and Brandeis University.
    Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has contributed more than 50 articles to prestigious ADR publications such as Consensus, The Fourth R, ACResolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He currently blogs at Novojustice.com, and serves on the boards of RESOLVE and the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.

     

    Ann Halkett

     Ann Halkett

    Ann Halkett‘s Predictions:

    • We will see more education with Canadian content on the eDiscovery process targeted towards lawyers and paralegals. This will likely originate in eastern Canada, but will be available across the country via webinars.
    • More firms will obtain software to assist in dealing with eDiscovery files or update existing software to take on eDiscovery.
    • More firms will recognize that they require best practices, established processes, staff, and lawyers dedicated to the specialized area of eDiscovery to avoid costly mistakes, keep up with competitors, and meet client demands.

    Ms. Halkett is a senior paralegal with 19 years of experience. She is the Litigation Support Coordinator with Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP.  She has a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Victoria, a certificate in Journalism from Langara College, paralegal certificates in Litigation and Conveyancing from Vancouver Community College, is certified in Summation and LAW PreDiscovery and works with a number of litigation support programs. Ms. Halkett is also the past chair of the BC Legal Management Association Litigation Support Subsection and has written and presented at numerous CLEs.

    Emailahalkett@ahbl.ca

     

    Brian Mauch:

    Brian - Linkedin photo

     

    Brian’s Predictions:
    • I predict that more law firms will adopt secure forms of cloud computing.  This will complement the recent trend of lawyers using multiple mobile computing devices to access their data from anywhere.
    • I also predict that more small law firms will implement document management systems, in order to manage the massive quantities of email sent and received by each member of the firm.
    Brian Mauch is President of BMC Networks, a Vancouver-based outsourced IT provider that specializes in law firms.  Brian obtained both law and commerce degrees from the University of British Columbia, and then combined his education with his passion for computers to form BMC Networks in 1997.
    E-mail:       bmauch@bmcnetworks.ca

     

    Jordan Furlong:
    jordan furlong

    Jordan’s Predictions:

    Batter up! Last year in this space, I made five trips to the plate, offering predictions about the Canadian legal market in 2013. Let’s see what the scoresheet shows.

    1. Two more Canadian firms will join global law firms through merger. In the event, one did: Fraser Milner Casgrain joined Dentons in March 2013. Double.
    2. Ontario’s introduction of a Law Practice Program to complement articling will lead two other provinces to follow suit. Nothing at all happened here. Strikeout.
    3. The Canadian economy will start really slowing, leading to retrenchment and cuts at big firms. I’m hearing reports and seeing evidence of this retrenchment all over the place, although no major firm announcements have come yet. Single.
    4. Canadian firms will accelerate lateral hiring efforts. The latest import from the U.S., overpaying free-agent partners to produce quick revenue fixes, is still growing, but not as dramatically as I expected. Call this a Walk.
    5. Quality Solicitors will expand its operations from the UK to Canada, offering franchise business support to solo and small-firm lawyers. I swung for the fences here, and came up empty. Strikeout.

    So in the result: no runs scored, but the bases are loaded with two outs. Let’s see if I can get something across the plate in 2014.

    1. At least one law society will announce plans to relax restrictions against non-lawyer ownership of law firms. I’d be pleasantly surprised if a law society went so far as to approve full-scale Alternative Business Structures — that would be a Shot Heard ‘Round The Country — but at the least, I do think we’ll see the first serious crack in lawyers’ monopoly on law firm equity ownership.
    2. New lawyer employment will fall off drastically. A slowdown in business, a squeeze in profits, and a growing unwillingness of clients to pay for unskilled lawyer talent, will all combine to drive articling and associate hireback numbers to their lowest levels in recent memory. Combined with huge challenges encountered by new graduates trying to hang out their own shingles, this will help accelerate the next trend:
    3. Canadian law schools will be galvanized to provide skills training and legal career preparation. Led by forward-looking schools like Calgary and Queen’s, clinical legal education programs at several other faculties, and the new Integrated Practice Curriculum at Lakehead, law schools under huge pressure from students to counteract diminishing job prospects will start adding new credit courses that provide a “practical” element to their curriculum.
    4. A second provincial law society will follow Ontario’s lead and prepare to formally license independent paralegals. The actual process of approving and setting up a paralegal licensing and education system will take some time, as Ontario has demonstrated; but one law society will signal its intention to expand access to justice by granting at least partial autonomy to non-lawyer paralegals.
    5. And finally, my annual long shot: LegalZoom or RocketLawyer will launch full-scale Canadian operations, either in B.C. or Ontario, offering online interactive legal document services and throwing down the gauntlet to both regulators and the solo and small-firm lawyers they intend to either co-opt as partners or take on as competitors.

    Change is unquestionably accelerating in the Canadian legal marketplace. The question is no longer whether we’ll see shifts in the structure and behaviour of the market for legal services here. The questions are when, how fast, and how far.

    Jordan Furlong is a principal with Edge International and a Senior Consultant with Stem Legal Web Services. He has delivered dozens of dynamic and provocative presentations on the future of the legal market to law firms, law societies, state bars, legal organizations, law schools, judges, and a wide range of legal professionals in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. His blog, Law21, has been named six straight years as one of the best 100 law blogs by the ABA Journal, the only Canadian entry to be so honoured. A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, he is a guest lecturer at Queen’s University Faculty of Law in Kingston, Ontario, and the Legal Innovation Strategist in Residence at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

    Email: jordan@law21.ca 

    Blog:  Law21

     

    John Zeleznikow

    john zeleznikow

    John’s Predictions:
    • Rather than concentrate upon developing new technology, our efforts will be focused upon governance, ensuring our children are secure and happy and use the technology appropriately

     

    Michael Downey
    Michael Downey photo 2

     

    Michael’s Predictions:
    • One US law school will announce a masters (LLM?) in Legal Process Management
    • Some insurer will announce that it is automating its process for obtaining an initial offer to settle claims, using a virtual server
    • The largest law firm in the world will surpass 4500 lawyers (a 10% increase in one year), and probably 5000 lawyers
    • Law firm mergers will continue to increase, and at least three major US law firms will fail
    • One large law firm will suffer a major data breach
    • Five more jurisdictions will adopt the Uniform Bar Exam, effective by mid-2015
    • By this time next year, I will be removed from the chair position of the Law Practice Division . . . .” At least then I know that one of my predictions will be accurate.
    Michael Downey is a legal ethics lawyer and litigation partner at Armstrong Teasdale LLP in St. Louis, Missouri. He teaches legal ethics at Washington University and St. Louis University, and chairs the ABA Law Practice Division.
     Michael Downey | Attorney at Law | Armstrong Teasdale LLP

     

    Robert Denney
    Bob Denney

     

    Bob’s Predictions:
    • The over-supply of lawyers, at least in the United States, will work its way down.
    • Big firms will continue to discuss mergers, including more international ones, but some of these will not happen and a few of the completed mergers of the last few years will fail.
    • While the number of lawyers may not increase, the total market for legal services will continue to grow because new laws and regulations will be passed and there will be more non-lawyers and entities that can and will provide them.

    President Bob Denney is the founder of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., a firm that has provided management, marketing, and strategic planning expertise to over 900 law firms, offices and legal organizations throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and the Caribbean. Twice a year his firm publishes the highly regarded reports on “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” around the world.

    Email: bob@robertdenney.com

    URL:   http://www.robertdenney.com

     

    Mitch Kowalski

    mitch kowalski

    Kowalski’s Predictions for 2014:

    I have learned many things over the past 24 months, one of which is that I’m terrible at making predictions! Check that, I’m terrible at making short-term predictions. Because all of the things that I have predicted in the past on this blog will come true, just not as quickly as I had hoped. So, what to do for 2014? Keep on predicting….

    1. Cognition LLP and Conduit Law will continue to expand in the marketplace at a growth rate significantly higher than that of any other firm in the country. By 2025, both firms will be among the top 5 Canadian law firms by number of lawyers.
    2. I still believe that one well-known mid-sized or large-sized Canadian law firm will disband. Note that I say “disband”, rather than “explode”. Disbanding will occur when enough key partners at the firm decide there are greener pastures elsewhere and the firm disintegrates thereafter.
    3. The forward-thinking remainder of the disbanded firm in number 2 above, will rise from the ashes in the form of a new model law firm.
    4. No Canadian law firm will merge with a US or other international law firm.
    5. I am still calling for one law society to approve the adoption of Alternative Business Structures (“ABS”) for law firms. Look to Nova Scotia as the leading light in this matter.
    6. Benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada will receive the report of its committee on ABS and will vote that more study needs to be undertaken.
    7. The 2014 Law Practice Program in Ontario will flop badly at both schools offering it. This is due mostly to the last minute nature of how it was sourced by the Law Society of Upper Canada which does not give the successful proponents enough time to create a coherent and well-run program for 2014.

    Mitch Kowalski is an innovative thinker, writer, speaker and lawyer. 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 Magazine, The National, The Advocate, The Hong Kong Law Journal, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post. He teaches innovation in law at the University of Calgary 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. Follow him on Twitter @mekowalski for information about innovation and law.

    Email: mekowalski@rogers.com

    URL: http://kowalski.ca/

     

     

    Buzz Bruggerman:

    Buzz Bruggeman bio pic

    Buzz’s Prediction:s

    • Within 5 years, big screen TVs will be free. They will be sponsored by advertisers and will include chips that will make it impossible to change channels during commercials.
    • The ROI is very simple, say a set costs get driven down to say $400 for a 42” set. Assuming say a 4 year useful life, then cost per year is $100, or $.27 per day. This cost of acquisition for a commercial sponsor will be peanuts, and something that the advert world will be all over.

    Buzz Bruggeman is one of the co-founders of ActiveWords. He graduated with honors from Coe College and from Duke University Law School. He runs all of the outward facing aspects of ActiveWords, including marketing and partnering, and as such is responsible for evangelizing ActiveWords to everyone he meets. Buzz has spoken at many tech industry events, has been on the advisory board of the Demo Conference, won a Demo god award, and has been featured in books by Dan Gillmor and Robert Scoble. Buzz has been a long time participant in the startup and blogging community, and routinely speaks and consults on using new media tools to market and evangelize software. Buzz is an active mentor in the Techstars program.

    Email: buzz.bruggeman@activewords.com

    URL:  http://www.activewords.com/company.html

     

    Andrew Clark:

     

    andrew clark 2

     

    Andrew’s Predictions:

    • Could this be the year that enough lawyers want to do e-trails (not just electronic evidence presentation) that the judiciary and the courts really embrace technology in the courtroom? Here’s hoping.
    • This is the year – wireless access in courthouses.
    • Uptake of civil e-filing to BC courts tops 40%.
    • Why not – lawyers and judges embrace a new assignment court model in 2014 and make it a success for the courts.

    Andrew Clark is an independent consultant specializing in management consulting and project management in the Justice Sector. Andrew has spent the last nine years providing management consulting for a number of clients worldwide. Andrew started his career over 20 years ago in software engineering as a specialist in user interface design.

    Andrew worked as an IT Director for the BC Ministry of Attorney General where he was the project director for the JUSTIN project, BC’s criminal case management system. After managing a software company for 8 years, Andrew started his own consulting company.

    Throughout his career, Andrew has focused on Project Management and Team Building within an organization. He is a UVIC graduate with a B.Sc. and an MBA. Andrew is also a Project Management Professional certified by the Project Management Institute and an associate faculty at Royal Roads University where he has taught project management education within the MBA program for 6 years.

    For the past eight years, most of Andrew’s work has been in the Courts, highlighted by his work in the British Columbia as well as work in the Vietnam Courts. Andrew has been the Project Manager for the British Columbia eCourt program, a portfolio of projects co-sponsored by the Judiciary and Court Services Branch. He also worked on the JUDGE Project – a CIDA funded project working with the courts in Vietnam – where he was responsible in overseeing the design, procurement and implementation of Digital Audio Recording in 3 courtrooms. A highlight in this project for Andrew was the establishment of a users group, without any senior officials, and creating a culture of users able to express their views in order to improve the solution for audio recording in the courtroom.

    He is currently working with the Yukon Courts as well. Andrew has been and continues to be a member of several national committees and working groups for the Canadian Centre for Court Technology and the Association for Canadian Court Administrators. He has spoken at several conferences including the Court Technology Conference (CTC), the Canadian Forum on Court Technology and the Center for Legal and Court Technology Affiliates Conference.Email

    Email: andrewclark.willowtree@gmail.com

    URL:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andrew-clark/4/247/937

     

    UnitedLex:

    Unitedlex

    UnitedLex Market 2014 Predictions:

    UnitedLex predicts an increase in outsourcing as law firms recognize its intrinsic value and cost-cutting capabilities and as corporations begin to implement fixed fee budgets for law firm services.

    They include insight on:

    1. Outsourcing on the rise and the need for managed services
    2. Law firm innovation
    3. Law school innovation
    4. Cybersecurity
    5. GC priorities and the budgeting process

    Detail:

    Law Firm Innovation

    Law firms increase their partnership with Outsourcing providers. With GCs moving to a fixed-fee model for law firm services, we see law firms giving up the specialized services that they used to perform – such as eDiscovery, document review, legal research, etc. — and relying on LPOs to perform these functions. They are consolidating these services vs. having these services in-house. In the age of bigger cases, heavier workloads and demand for faster outcomes, law firms are beginning to realize that they cannot possibly meet the desired client service levels while maintaining profitability. Further, more and more case studies are demonstrating the ability of LPO/LSO to revamp business models resulting in cost savings of 50%. In 2014, they will pursue more long-term, strategic engagements – as opposed to using different vendors on a case-by-case basis for tactical, transactional work. This pay-as-you go consumption model will help firms control costs, improve quality and efficiencies, and increase profitability.

    Attitudes change towards lower-level associates or non-practicing lawyers. Due to increased costs and declining billability, firms are cutting non-practicing lawyers, such as litigation support personnel, who are typically under-utilized and under-qualified. In addition, job functions typically held by lower-level associates (which include doc review, contract management, legal research, etc) at law firms will be outsourced to managed services providers.
    Law firms slash IT budgets. As part of this trend, we’ll continue to see more and more law firms slash their IT budgets as they realize that increased overhead costs (high rents, salaries) and inaccurate risk/exposure forecasting is leading to lower revenue per hour. We are seeing law firm CIOs are faced with two critical tasks: How to reduce spend while increasing security. This is driving law firms to adopt cloud-based services that can be managed more efficiently and cost-effectively by outside providers as if they were managed internally.

    Law firms begin to focus just on offering core services. As corporations look to reign in legal costs, there will be a focus on law firms who just practice law and offer subject matter experts. We’ll also see some innovative firms take steps to eliminate unnecessary spending by proactively reducing the amount of data being processed for e-discovery, resulting in a six- to seven-figure cost reduction per case which will help firms more accurately forecast total legal costs after e-discovery.

    Cybersecurity and the legal industry

    Increasing attacks on the corporate “soft underbelly”: More corporations will follow Google’s lead in 2014 and beef up their internal and network security protocols to prevent external attacks (e.g., hacking, social engineering), but also to prevent internal compromise (e.g., disgruntled employee leaving a firm and taking info with them). This increased focus on corporate security will cause hackers to seek out a corporation’s “soft underbelly” – including service providers like law firms – and concentrate attacks there. In 2014, UnitedLex predicts more law firms will increase security spending – both at the IT level and on employee training – to better detect and protect against an increase in attacks.

    BYOD attacks will increase: As personal mobile devices proliferate within the workplace, 2014 will see an increased number of attacks on iOS and Android devices, which are used by lawyers to access secure corporate email and data networks, and which could have valuable information stored on them by note-taking or voice-recording apps. We saw numerous attacks in 2013 affecting law firms and corporations. BYOD-specific security software has been created to address this problem, however hacker attacks evolve faster than security. Law firms will have to develop and implement strict BYOD policies and procedures, setting aside convenience for better security.

    Efforts to minimize risk and exposure from third-party vendors: We see a consolidation in the number of third-parties with whom law firms contract to provide services. In order to minimize the risk of a breach, we believe that more firms will strategically partner with end-to-end solutions providers, as opposed to using multiple-point solutions on a tactical, per-case basis, so they can limit who can access, store or otherwise manipulate sensitive data.

    How firms can protect themselves and ensure strict vendor security compliance

    · Vendor contract: Ensure contract has protections and assurances firms need regarding information access, what happens if there’s an incident, what access the firm would have to the vendor’s network to conduct its own investigation, etc.

    · Hire consultant to physically inspect physical and IT security controls, evaluate policies and procedures, conduct frequent audits before sharing data

    · Be aware of what information is actually being shared with third parties before it is shared

    · Ensure that a vendor’s security protocols equally address people (training, internal security), processes and technology

    GC Budgeting and Spend

    GCs begin to maximize ROI from e-discovery projects. In 2014, we’ll begin to see organizations start to understand how to maximize ROI from their e-discovery projects as they understand the financial risk and potential exposure of e-discovery, and take proactive measures to manage spend. Already, GCs are realizing that the key to managing spend is enterprise data management, which starts at the corporate level and with inside counsel, and working with providers who can help reduce data volumes and more accurately predict TCO of e-discovery.

    GCs keep a more watchful eye on costs to optimize their legal budgets. We’ll begin to see GCs look at internal spend vs. what they outsource as budgets tighten. They will focus on optimizing spend with outside counsel—only spending for counsel while outsourcing more and more lower level associate work to LPOs. GCs more than ever are looking at the internal vs. outsourcing perspective.

    The shift from per-gig model to a fixed-fee model for e-discovery services. From a budgeting perspective, per-gig pricing will still play a heavy role in purchasing decisions in 2013, but will begin to move to a fixed-fee model in 2014. GCs are beginning to realize that this type of pricing model is a short-term fix (12 months) and does not address larger issue of enterprise data management. There is little cost savings for GCs because the large data volumes negate any potential savings from low per-gigabyte costs. In 2014, we’ll see GCs look at ways to strategically manage data volume and larger data management issues, which will greatly lower costs, and communicate this to procurement.

    In the past, GCs focused just on legal strategy and litigation management but in 2012 and 2013, we began to see GCs focus on compliance, security, information governance, strategy areas that GCs had less responsibility a few years ago. There are now a multitude of issues in a GCs budget that a GC focuses on and we’ll continue to see this into 2014.

    The rise of the LSO. We’ll begin to see more GCs outsource more and more services to legal services outsourcing providers vs. firms who just do legal processing. GCs are not just outsourcing their processing to today’s legal services providers. They are outsourcing a variety of functions including eDiscovery, document review, legal research, etc. that would normally be reserved for law firms to providers that can perform these functions. As GCs look to optimize spend, we’ll begin to see a shift towards services directed to these managed services providers (LSOs), as GCs begin to realize the strategic value that these LSOs have.

    Law School Trends

    Consolidation of law schools. LSAT applications will continue to decline in 2014. This will have a significant financial impact on law schools who must continue to pay for tenured professors and adhere to ABA requirements for a large, resource intensive library. As 80-85% of the law schools in the US are operating at a deficit, we’ll begin to see a consolidation of law schools that are not able to make their numbers.

    Externships decline. Because Law schools are operating at a deficit, we’ll begin to see fewer and fewer externships as law firms strapped by corporations tightening their budgets begin to refuse to pay for these externships.

    We’ll continue to see fewer jobs available for graduates. Corporations will refuse to pay the high rates that law firms charge for low to mid-level legal work normally handled by junior associates. This will force law firms to find a more cost-effective way of doing the work, such as outsourcing, which leaves fewer entry-level law firm jobs for graduates. Those that do get hired will not benefit from having learned these tasks, and therefore will have limited understanding on how they are done – creating inefficiencies.

    Law Schools partner with services providers to help with job skills for after law school. In 2013 we saw law schools partnering with services providers to expand training for students in skills and technologies they would not normally learn on the job. We’ll continue to see this in 2014. Like a medical residency program, this gives law students real-world practical experience, exposure to actual legal matters, and hands-on experience of working in their field.

    UnitedLex is a global company with a singular mission to improve the performance of law departments, law firms and academic institutions. We provide unparalleled solutions to address the risk, efficiency and effectiveness goals of our clients in North America, Europe and Asia. Our more than 1,500 attorneys, engineers and consultants drive economies of scale and knowledge in the areas of litigation, contracting, intellectual property, general legal and operations to deliver seven and eight figure benefit to our clients. Founded in 2006 and with more than $250 million in assets, UnitedLex deploys the right blend of service and technology in supporting the world’s leading corporations and law firms. UnitedLex is the only full service LSO recognized by Chambers & Partners as a Tier One/Band One legal service provider.

    Email: information@unitedlex.com

    URL: http://www.unitedlex.com

     

     

    David J. Bilinsky

    2013 20 years with bartalk

     

    Like Jordan, I am going back to my predictions for 2013 to see how well I did …so here goes. Here is a short list of last’s year’s predictions with comments (Came True, Coming True, Still Waiting or Strikeout):

    #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:

    Still Waiting: I haven’t seen a big uptake in distance education in 2013 with perhaps the University of Toronto Law School being a positive exception.  However, I think that this will come true in time.

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

    Coming true: I think with the new Law Practice Program in Ontario we are moving to more of a skills-oriented legal education that will incorporate more of an emphasis on practising law including required business management skills.

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

    Coming true: 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 also believer that 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).

    For example, the Benchers of the Law Society of BC in December, 2013 approved the following task force recommendations:

    • The Law Society and the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia seek to merge regulatory operations.
    • That a program be created by which the legal regulator provide paralegals who have met specific, prescribed education and/or training standards with a certificate that would allow them to be held out as “certified paralegals.”
    • That the Law Society develop a regulatory framework by which other providers of legal services could provide credentialed and regulated legal services in the public interest.

    See more at: http://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/page.cfm?cid=3845&t=Law-Society-governors-approve-joint-task-force-recommendations-on-the-future-of-legal-service-regulation#sthash.tbvH1w8t.dpuf

    #7 Lawyers as Leaders:

    Coming True: The CBA with its Future’s Initiative is starting the dialogue on having the profession consider its role in society including a greater emphasis for lawyers to take on a future interest in leadership.

    #6 Effect on Judiciary / Court services:

    Coming True: The new Online Dispute Resolution / Alternative Dispute Resolution Model is working its way to becoming reality in BC  in the new Dispute Resolution Tribunal as an alternative to Small Claims Court.   I think other provinces are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach before implementing their own versions of this initiative.

    #5 Access to Justice:

    Still Waiting: While there are increasing calls for better access to justice, there is still no clear path forward.

    #4 Globalization Effects will continue to be felt:

    Fail:  At least for the moment, we haven’t really felt any of the big effects of globalization (yet) in the Canadian legal market.  Time may change this…

    #3 Alternative Business Structures:

    Still Waiting: ABS’s are still not a reality in Canada with some very limited exceptions in BC and Ontario.  However, I think this is just a matter of time before this dyke breaks and we see greater innovation in terms of how legal services can and will be delivered in Canada.

    #2 Greater Uniformity across Jurisdictions:

    Coming True: Canadian law societies are moving towards adopting a common model code (for example, The new Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia which came into effect on Jan 1, 2013 and which is based on the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code of Professional Conduct). Furthermore all provincial law societies are moving towards adoption of the new National Mobility Agreement with the northern territories expected to follow in 2014.

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

    Coming True:  The fact that iPads are carried to court by approximately 1/3 of lawyers today (per the latest ABA LTRC survey) shows that technology is on a perhaps slow but steady pace to reform how we practice law.  The bigger change is yet to occur: namely not just using technology to practice faster and more efficiently but looking at how technology can rework how to deliver justice and legal services, such as adopting Online Dispute Resolution.

    So with my past history as a backdrop, here are my predictions for 2014:

    #1  There will be continued calls for greater pro-bono work by lawyers to try to address the access to justice problem.  The problem is, as I see it, that to achieve real change and real access to justice we have to change the structure of how justice is delivered. This would mean looking at one big sacred cow in the Canadian legal establishment, and that is to access justice you have to go to court.  My prediction is that cash-strapped governments across Canada will be looking at lower cost ways to provide justice such as through Alternative Dispute Resolution and in particular, using Online Dispute Resolution methods that will leave judges (and perhaps lawyers) out of the process.

    #2  At least one Law Society in Canada will start the dialogue on truly implementing Alternative Business Structures in the legal profession.  This will not be done for any other reason but out of a realization that near-legal service providers (such as LegalZoom) are much more competitive than initially thought and ABS’s are seen as a way to allow law firms to innovate and access capital markets that are presently unavailable to them in order to be able to mount a real competitive response to the LegalZooms of the world.

    #3  Security and Privacy will assume a much greater importance in law firms.  Lawyers will be under greater pressures from corporate clients to step up their security and privacy policies and communication technology to ensure that client confidences are as fully protected as possible.   Corporate clients will be calling on their legal providers to move to secure webmail, secure client portals and other methods of secure and perhaps encrypted communication aside from unencrypted and insecure email.

    #4 The Snowden revelations will renew calls by law firms to use only on-line backups and cloud services that are fully hosted and protected in Canada.  As a result we will see a move away from USA and other foreign-based cloud services.

    #5  We will reach a tipping-point where a critical mass of lawyers realize that the legal profession needs to seriously examine how the profession is  regulated in order to ensure its continued relevance.  While the profession is very conservative and careful in making any changes, the environment in which it operates is increasingly volatile and changing.  These two factors will come increasingly into conflict, forcing the profession to confront that it needs a much more flexible method to really implement change.

    #6  Application numbers for law school will start to fall. With the difficulties for new grads to find articling positions and new lawyers to find jobs, students that may have looked to law as a career will look elsewhere.    This will be a major shakeup for law schools and a wake-up call for the profession.

    #7   The retiring of the XP operating system by Microsoft in April 2014 will cause law firms across Canada to scramble to update their software and hardware.  There will be a hue and cry as lawyers will have to increase their tech spending and learn how to use the new systems.

    #8  Mobile  devices will become increasingly integrated into the legal enterprise.  Lawyers will want to take their iPads, phablets, and other mobile devices to court, to the ski cabin, to the cottage and to home to work on their files – seamlessly.  This will only increase the demand for secure Canadian-based cloud services to support these mobile devices.

    #9  Document Management will (finally) come front and centre in law firms.  No longer will law firms have their files and documents strewn across email, webmail, email attachments, cloud services, laptops and home computers and portable devices.  IT departments will implement enterprise-wide document management applications  to ensure that all information on a client and their file can be found in one place – easily, securely and in a way that can be backed up and protected against disasters.

    #10  Lawyers will (finally) realize that they need to develop skills to deal with change.  No longer will it be able for a skilled and competent lawyer to be able to say that they are a luddite when it comes to technology.  Our client’s matters are so increasingly entwined with technology that it will be an increasingly important skill to be able to understand technology and its interplay in our client’s issues in order to deliver competent legal advice.  But dealing with technology is only part of the situation.  Change is happening so fast that law firm leaders must be increasingly able to lead change in their environments in order to remain competitive.  New challenges demand new skills – and dealing with change will be front and center.

     

    David J. Bilinsky is a Practice Management Consultant and lawyer for the Law Society of British Columbia. He has recently been named a Fellow of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution (NCTDR) at the University of Massachusetts.  He is also a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and past Editor-in-Chief of ABA’s Law Practice Magazine.

    David is 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. He has designed and is presently  teaching a course on legal technology for the University of Toronto Law School.

    Dave’s 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.

    Dave is the founder and Chair of the Pacific Legal Technology Conference and a past Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s TECHSHOW.

    Dave writes regularly for many publications in the USA and Canada including being a contributor to the award-winning blog www.slaw.ca and  tips.slaw.ca as well as his own blog: www.thoughtfullaw.com.  His articles have been translated into several languages and republished across the globe.

    Email:  daveb@thoughtfullaw.com

    URL: www.thoughtfullaw.com

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and should not be inferred as those of the Law Society of British Columbia.

    Well there you have it!  We have had a huge response to the call for predictions for 2014.  One of these things will surely tell you something about what 2014 will hold in store!

     

    Posted in humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips | Permalink | No Comments »
    2014 Season’s Greetings!
    Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

    ♫ Silent night, Holy night
    All is calm, all is bright..

    Music by Franz Xaver Gruber, lyrics by Joseph Mohr, recorded by the Argyle Alumni Choir.


    As in seasons past, I would like to pause from the hustle and bustle of our  busy lives we all lead and warmly wish each and everyone the Best of the Holiday Season, Merry Christmas and a Wonderful and Happy New Year.  With each passing year I feel 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. For now and always, may your dreams become hopes, your hopes become plans and your plans become realities in the New Year.

    My gift to you again this year is a few minutes of music and images, a time of joy and reflection in looking back at the year’s past events. This musical slide show combines two of my loves: photography and music. With some exceptions, most images have all been taken during the last 12 months with a Panasonic DMS-G3 camera with the 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 lens or an Olympus TOUGH with an Olympus  4.5-15 mm f/2.0-4.9 lens.

    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 course perhaps the most well-known Christmas hymn: “Silent Night”;  from Wikipedia: “(German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011.”  It 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 do take a bit of time to load.  The time between slides has been extended just a wee bit since last year some people said there wasn’t enough time per slide to really see the image.   I hope this works better!

    Best wishes for a safe holiday!

    (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 Seasons Greetings slide shows can be viewed here:

    2012 Christmas Greeting

    2011 Christmas Greeting

    2010 Christmas Greeting

    2009 Christmas Greeting

    2008 Christmas Greeting

    2007 Christmas Greeting

     

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    A Mary Poppins Moment
    Friday, November 29th, 2013

    ♫  If you reach for the heavens
    You get the stars thrown in
    Anthing can happen
    … go and chase your dreams
    you won’t regret it
    Anything can happen
    Anything can happen…♫

    Music and Lyrics by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman.

    mary poppins

     

    Mary Poppins!  Now just what does she have to do with law practice management?  The Broadway Musical version is currently playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver and if you are looking for an absolutely charming show this holiday season that will sweep you and everyone that you bring along into its magic that is practically perfect in every way, this is it.  The acting is simply superb – the challenge for the actors on in taking such a well-known production to the stage is for them to place their own stamp on the characters and make them distinct enough from the 1964 movie which starred Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews to make it come alive and take you along with them. This production excels in that regard and the story unfolds before your eyes, assisted by clever sets, imaginative moving backdrops and some incredible special effects.  The Stanley doesn’t have an orchestra pit yet the musical director has managed to fit the musicians somewhere backstage and have the story flow to their wonderful score.

    So how does all this relate to law practice management?  Managing a law practice is all about leadership, vision and change.  As Bill Millerd, the Artistic Managing Director of the Arts Club says in his message about the production:

    “Theatre can effect change …..and although we often go to the theatre for its ability to entertain us, the incredible history of theatrical writing has given us works that transform the way we look at life.  Great works of art do that, and theatre, because of the special nature of the live medium, can transform us in more provocative ways.”

    The message is a strong one – reach for the heavens and go and chase your dreams.  Anything can happen!

    Just remember to look for the Hidden Mickey!

    Posted in Change Management, humour, personal focus and renewal, Tips | Permalink | No Comments »
    2014 Predictions!
    Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

    ♫  Let’s tell the future
    Let’s see how it’s been done
    By numbers, by mirrors, by water
    By dots made at random on paper…♫

    Lyrics, Music and recorded by Susan Vega.

    2014

    (images: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fire_craker.jpg and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:San_Diego_Fireworks.jpg – creative commons licence)

    The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it” has been variously attributed to many authors, particularly Dennis Gabor.

    Accordingly this is a call for all gentle readers to contribute their tips and predictions for 2014!  Last year we heard from Stephanie Kimbro, Nate Russell, Tom Spraggs, Richard Granat, Jean Francois De Rico, Mitch Kowalski, John Zeleznikow, Andrew Clark, Colin Rule, Robert Denney, Ross Fishman, Noric Dilanchian, Steve Matthews and of course, Jordan Furlong.

    I think that this is the most interested series of posts in the year and so I invite everyone to submit a post and we all can see what everyone thinks the future of law and legal practice will be like!

    Let’s tell the future!

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 4 Comments »
    Dealing with Difficult People
    Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

    Making good choices in a bad situation

    When people run in circles

    It’s a very very
    Mad world, mad world  … ♫

    Music and Lyrics by Tears for Fears, recorded by: Michael Andrews & Gary Jules.

    CB049359

     

    All of us are DNA hardwired for ‘fight or flight’.  Being lawyers, the fight option has been honed to a fine edge.  However, there are times when the other option may be the better option.  It is inevitable that we are going to encounter people who attack us, counter us, oppose our ideas or simply do not like us. Our immediate impulse is to react and attack.  It is not easy but ultimately fighting is not the best reaction – it turns a one-sided reaction into a battle of two egos.  We end up responding to a tussle of who is right?

    As a practice advisor I see this scenario played out all the time. Giving objective advice when one is on the outside is completely different from being on the inside. Having had a recent personal encounter in such a situation, I can say that it is much harder to make the right decisions when you are the one involved.  I went searching for answers. So here are some tips that I have found for helping to make the right choice:

    • Anger feeds anger:  This is a downward spiral that causes us to feel more compelled to defend ourselves the angrier our thoughts become.
    • It is about them: Most times negativity is a reflection of the other person’s inner state. It isn’t about you – you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are frustrated, angry and in conflict and they are looking for someone to take down with them.
    • It is a waste of energy: Do we really want to invest all that time and emotional energy in responding?
    • It is going to affect you:  If the fight response emerges, you are going to drag that negativity into other parts of your life when you get home.  Do you really want to poison your positive home life this way?
    • You can choose:  Ultimately you can’t control what people do and say; what you can decide is how you react.  You can choose a better way.
    • Wait it out: Draft the response letter and lock it away in a drawer for Monday.  Chances are by then you will have different – more rational – options to deal with this person.
    • Forgive: Yes forgive.  If you don’t then the negativity takes hold inside you.
    • Go for a Run:  Get away from the situation and expend some physical energy. You will feel better for it.
    • Best/Worst case analysis:  Negotiation theory speaks of BATNAs: The Best Alternative to a Negotiated Situation.  What is the best and worse case scenarios if you do and do not respond.
    • Evaluate from Your Perspective: Recall that this person is trying to draw you into their game plan.  Ask yourself: Will responding to this person advance the things that are most important to me?
    • Look for the Lesson: Inside each difficult situation is something that will help you grow as a person. Don’t lose the opportunity.
    • Let Go: Write out all your thoughts about this situation – roll the paper into a ball and throw it away. Now – carry on with your life!

    Responding to mad people is not easy.  If it was, then the world wouldn’t have negative people running in circles making life difficult for others.

    This article originally appeared in the Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia branch’s publication BarTalk.

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Legal Technology – Gangham Style!
    Monday, January 14th, 2013

    ♬ Na je nun ta sa ro un in gan jo gin yo ja 
    Ko pi han ja ne yo yu rul a neun pum gyo gi nun yo ja 
    Ba mi o myon shim ja ngi tu go wo ji nun yo ja 
    Gu ron ban jon i nun yo ja 

    Oppan Gangnam Style 
    Gangnam Style 
    Op op op op oppan Gangnam Style 
    Gangnam Style 
    Op op op op oppan Gangnam Style…♬

    Lyrics and Music by: Jai Sang Park and Keon Hyung Yoo, recorded by Psy.

     

    My good friend, lawyer and entrepreneur John Treddinck has done it again.  John is the CEO and founder of Catalyst Repository Systems.  Catalyst is no ordinary company – it has been inducted into the Smithsonian Institute as a recipient of the prestigious Computerworld/Smithsonian Innovator Medal (not bad for a legal technology startup!). It has been repeatedly named a top e-discovery provider by Socha-Gelbmann, and its products have won multiple awards for innovation. John has been named a top 100 global technology leader and one of the law’s leading innovators.

    Catalyst is now expanding to South Korea.  Now most companies would do a simple press release.  Not Catalyst. Not John.  Not *their* kind of marketing!!

    John turned to JibJab and Catalyst did their announcement in Gangham style.

    Clever, humorous and  catchy.

    Here it is  (turn up your speakers! …and read John’s translation of Psy’s lyrics…):

    That’s it John..do it Gangham Style!

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    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 »