♫ You can count on me
I’m gonna get it done, get it done…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by Sandwich.
Over on Small Firm Innovation, Gwynne Monahan has posed the following challenge:
Write a post that describes what quick, uncomplicated, untechnological habits or practices make all the difference to your practice, in 100 words or less.
OK…nothing like a challenge. So here goes:
Stop procrastinating. Now. Or as Nike says, “Just Do It!”. Deadlines and to-do’s and such don’t get better with age. Enter them in your Outlook calendar with associated alarms, flags and ‘Due Dates’. Use ‘Categories’ to classify them as “Limitation Dates” and such. Follow up on them regularly or even better, use shared calendars and have one person in the firm designated to review all important dates weekly and ensure that they are all met.
Turn yourself around from a procrastinator to a doer. Let people know that they can count on you.
♫ Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore! ♫
At has become my tradition at this time of year, I would like to pause from the increasing busy lives we all lead and heartily wish each and everyone the Best of the Holiday Season and a Wonderful and Happy New Year. Recent events have only served to remind us yet again that lives can be changed in an instant. Accordingly I believe it is even more important to reach out to friends and all those dear to us and remind them that they are the ones who truly bring meaning to our lives.
To all I wish for Peace, Hope and Happiness. May your dreams become hopes, your hopes become plans and your plans become realities in the New Year.
As in past years, as my gift to you, I offer a few minutes of music and images, a time of solitude, peace and reflection. This slide show combines two of my loves – music and photography. All images have all been taken during the last 12 months principally with a Panasonic DMS-G3 camera with the 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 lens and in some cases using macro extension tubes.
I hope this slide show and music (please turn your speakers on) brings to you a time of calm, joy and peace. The music is: “Of the Father’s Heart Begotten”; a Christmas carol based on the Latin poem Corde natus by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius, from his Liber Cathemerinon (hymn no. IX) beginning “Da puer plectrum,”, and is performed by the Argyle Alumni Choir, Argyle Senior Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, copyright Frances Roberts, Director. Used with permission.
I hope you enjoy the combination of the music and the images. Please be patient – they take a bit of time to load.
Best wishes for a safe holiday filled with warmth, comfort, friendship and good cheer!
(For those interested, the slide show was created originally in PowerPoint, converted to Keynote and converted into a Quicktime file on a MacBook, then uploaded to ScreenCast.com.).
Prior Christmas Greetings can be viewed here:
♫ And then just as sure as one and one is two
I know I’ll take care of you
I’ll take care of you
I’ll take care of you
I’ll take care of you…♫
This is a guest post from my good friends Sharon Nelson and John Simek, from Sharon’s Blog Ride the Lightning. Sharon and John are life partners as well as business partners in Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a computer forensics and legal technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. As such their blog post on taking care of your digital assets following your passing struck a nerve with me. In my view it is typical of Sharon and John’s careful and considerate way of approaching life..and death. So without any further introduction, here is their advice:
For those of you who have wills, it is my guess that virtually none of them reference digital assets. Until recently, lawyers weren’t thinking about digital assets.
Our friend, attorney Deb Matthews, told us a horror story about a client whose husband had passed away without leaving behind his ID and password for their bank account. The bank would not grant his wife access and she had a devil of a time since her husband had gone paperless and was making online payments each month. She had no way of knowing when bills were due to pay them and she began racking up delinquent accounts as a result. (more…)
♫ We’re all following a strange melody
We’re all summoned by a tune
We’re following the piper
And we dance beneath the moon…♫
While attending the Innovating Justice Forum: Towards Basic Justice Care for Everyone in Den Haag, I spoke with Christiane Flaes, Netherlands Council for the Judiciary / Secretariat of ENCJ in The Netherlands; with Peter Van Der Biggelaar, the Director of the Dutch Legal Aid Service and with Alan Paterson of the University of Strathclyde. They all mentioned a procedure that is operative in The Netherlands, in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is a Legal Aid Impact Review.
What is remarkable, at least from an North American standpoint, is the requirement to measure the impact of proposed legislation on both the administration of justice, the judiciary as well as on existing legal aid programs.
Rather than just passing legislation and leaving the courts, court administration and legal aid to pick up the additional costs, the legal aid impact review requires the costs of this proposed legislation, as least on the instruments involved in the administration of justice be determined. For example, Northern Ireland states:
The legal aid impact test - assessing the implications of government proposals on courts and legal aid
If you are working on government policy development within the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service or other government departments, you must consider whether there will be either a potential impact on the workload of the courts or a legal aid cost. This section includes guidance to help you determine this; provides a background to the legal aid scheme in Northern Ireland; and includes the contact details of our legal aid team who you should contact to obtain further guidance and help with costing the impact.
This legal aid impact review ensures (assuming it is complied with each time new legislation is being proposed) that the courts, judges and legal aid will know the financial impact of any proposed legislation on their programs before the legislation becomes law. This allows the legislation to be tweaked to lower its judicial, administrative and legal aid financial impact while still in proposed form and while it is still possible to make adjustments.
It is interesting how this simple idea is so powerful – you determine whether or not you can afford the cost of proposed legislation alongside its proposed utility. In other words, you can do a cost-benefit analysis.
I also understand that in some jurisdictions, there should also be a financial transfer from a Ministry proposing new legislation to the Ministry of Justice to cover the additional marginal costs of new legislation. You have to pay the piper for playing before you are summoned by a tune and have to dance beneath the moon..
♬ Hey, look around it’s all so clear
Hey, wherever we were going, well we’re here
Hey, so many things I never thought I’d see
Happening right in front of me..♬
Lyrics and music by Chris DuBois and Brad Paisley, recorded by Brad Paisley, “Welcome to the Future”.
In this third and final collection of tips and predictions for 2012, we turn first to my good friend and colleague, Steve Gallagher. Steve has been one of those rare individuals who has kept a perspective on where the legal profession is and is going. Accordingly, I though it was appropriate that we start with his views in this final post of 2011 on what will be happening in 2012:
Stephen P Gallagher: “Coping with Change”:
(a) A Law Practice Management Perspective:
My primary business these days is coaching Lawyers in Transition, so from my vantage point, I see large geographic areas throughout Canada and the United States that will have no practicing lawyers within hundreds of miles. At the same time, law school graduates will cluster around metropolitan areas looking for entry-level positions primarily to pay off law school debt. I would like to think that our talented young professionals will start looking for opportunities with baby boomers, particularly in more rural areas of the country to continue the tradition of serving the public.
(b) Legal Technology:
I’ve follow the writing of Sherryl Turkle, a psychologist and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkel is concerned about how we may be losing things that Thoreau thought were essential to discovering an identity. Professor Turkle claims to be teaching the most brilliant students in the world (at MIT). She claims that they have done themselves a disservice by drinking the Kool-Aid and believing that a multitasking learning environment will serve their best purposes.
I too am concerned about this “multitasking learning environment” for lawyers.
For a Frontline interview, Digital Nation, Professor Turkle was quoted as saying, “She thinks that we’re living in a culture where we’re really not sure what kind of attention we owe each other. People put their cell phones on the table now. They don’t turn them off.” She goes on to say that, “One of my students talked about the first time he was walking with friends, and they received a cell phone call, and they took the call. And he said: “What was I, on pause?” I felt I was being put on pause.” Sheryl Turkle thinks that we’re socially negotiating what kind of attention we feel we owe each other.”
This flat out scares me. We owe each other more. (more…)
♬ See your heart will lead you where you want to be, but your head will lead you where you ought to be.
But which will lead you where you’re meant to be? ♬
Lyrics, music and recorded by K’LA.
This is Part 2 in the 2012 Tips and Predictions series where I have asked my good friends and colleagues to contribute their best ideas for the New Year. Accordingly without further ado:
Dr. Frank Fowlie: “Future Shock” predictions:
- Consumers will no longer be forced to call their credit card company to deal with “unknown” charges. No more phone tress, no more wait times…You’ll be able to go to your bank’s credit card website and fill in a form online, the bank will handle it from there.
- When you buy something online and there’s something wrong with the purchase, you’ll be able to go to a single portal for goods sold in Canada, and start a redress process online, at your convenience. This is less Future Shock, as the European Union has already created a regulation which makes this possible across Europe. Like “chip” cards did in the past, the technology will migrate from Europe to Canada.
- Small Claims Courts in Canada will move towards Online Dispute Resolution to more effectively and efficiently manage the court processes. There will be a new wave of computer literate judges who hear and settle cases online.
- Courts of equity will look to technology to handle small value claims. Online Dispute Resolution will replace hearings in matters where the value is the same or lower than the Small Claims Court limit.
- Law firms will publish hourly rates on their websites to allow for consumer choices. Consumers will be able to search out legal services in the same way they look for other commodities online.
- Lawyers will begin to sell “Boutique services” allowing consumers to handle some part of their own legal matters. Some lawyers will develop practices which simply “guide” lay litigants, as opposed to forcing the lay litigant into court with representation.
- Legal Zoom, or some like entity, will set up shop in Canada. Legal services outsourcing becomes a market drive out of India and Ireland.
- The public can make complaints against lawyers using an online platform, perhaps to an independent body.
Dr. Frank Fowlie, www.internetombudsman.biz.
Judge Monty Ahalt ( Ret.): “Warp Speed”:
As the year closes out and some say the decade there is always a clamour for the folks to know what is in store for the next year. Some will look at last year and make resolutions. My Life now breaks down into three areas:
- Court centered ADR and case management as a recalled Circuit Court Judge now counting 30 years.
- A Mediator/Arbitrator now counting about 45 years – www.montyahalt.com.
- Founder and CEO of VirtualCourthouse.com – leading ODR provider – now counting 10 years - www.VirtualCourthouse.com
Each area has it’s unique challenges and will experience new horizons in 2012. While I do not pretend to be Carnac the Magnificent of Johnny Carson days there are some new happenings that seem to be clearly presenting themselves for the coming year. (more…)
♬ What’s happenin brothers and sisters?
Welcome to our time…♬
Lyrics, music and recorded by NAS.
Last year on Dec. 31, 2010 I posted a Top 10 Legal Tech Predictions for 2011. This year I asked my very good friends and colleagues to contribute their top Tips and Predictions for 2012 thinking that this would be a great way to get some perspective on the New Year. The response has been overwhelming! Accordingly, here is Part 1 of a three-part blog post containing their top advice and predictions for the coming year. But this isn’t the end – I will add in my own tips and predictions for 2012 at the end of Part 3 (can’t help but go out on a limb as well) and ask that you, good readers, add in your own tips and predictions by way of comments on the three blog posts.
Accordingly, here are Part 1 of the Tips and Predictions for 2012!
Karen MacKay: Change is Neigh…
There will be more change in Canadian law firms in 2012 than we have seen in the last 3 years. In Canada, we will see more mergers and spinoffs. Lots of change happened in the USA in 2011 that was forced on them by the economy. The difference between what happened in the USA and Canada will be: The change in Canada will be created by strategic decisions within firms seeking opportunities rather than the financial change that was forced on the American firms.
Mitch Kowalski: 2012 – A Turning Point for the Canadian Legal Profession?
When I ran for Bencher in Ontario earlier this year (and was utterly thrashed at the polls!) I did so because I believed that the next ten years are critical to the future of the legal profession. Six months later, my view has not changed.
All over Canada, the legal profession faces challenges it has never faced in the past – and the challenges will only become more numerous. Richard Susskind was right on point when he wrote, “Law does not exist to provide a livelihood for lawyers any more than illness exists to provide a livelihood for doctors. Successful legal business may be a by-product of law . . . but it is not the purpose.”
As lawyers we must constantly earn our right to retain a monopoly over the practice of law. It should never be assumed that we will always have the exclusive right to give legal advice, prepare legal documents, close transactions or even appear in court. One just has to look to the U.K.’s Legal Services Act which is dramatically transforming that jurisdiction’s legal profession. Or, take a look to Australia with Slater & Gordon being the only publically-traded law firm in the world – a firm that was once based on a strong litigation practice but is now aggressively moving into commercial practice areas.
Canada cannot remain an island of lawyer-exclusivity for long – particularly if the legal profession shows itself to be incapable of coming up with creative and efficient ways to make legal services better, faster and cheaper. The commercial pressures of the global economy are too great to ignore and lawyers who stick their heads in the sand will become the dodo birds of the 21st century.
I hope that 2012 will be a watershed year in which meaningful change will finally commence to surface throughout Canada’s legal profession. The following are eight predictions of what can (and should) occur over the next 12 months. (more…)
♫ You have stolen
You have stolen
You have stolen my heart…♫
There are many news stories about identities and personal information being compromised on the web, but in many cases there are not many ways to verify if your online identity has been breached. For example a friend of mine had several charges appear monthly on her iTunes account that were not hers – it seemed that someone has compromised the account and was charging small amounts every month…small enough that most times, it wouldn’t be noticed…
Fortunately there is Pwned List (pwnedlist.com), a free way to check if your user name or email address matches one that is on Pwned’s list of compromised accounts.
What is the story behind Pwned?
The site started out as small research project with a rather simple premise. To discover how many compromised accounts can be harvested programatically in just a couple of hours. Well, needless to say, the results were astonishing. In just under 2 hours we had close to 30,000 accounts, complete with logins and passwords. The truly scary part, however, was the quality of data we were able to collect in such a short amount of time. The accounts we were able to retrieve consisted of email services, social media sites, merchants and even financial institutions. It was clear that something had to be done. (more…)
♬ Ain’t no pill for this pain
So please, please come to my rescue baby
Make it right away…♬
If you are like me, you are facing the prospect of aging parents…or in my case, an aging parent (my dad having passed on 5 years ago). If you happen to live in a different geographical area from your parent, you are facing the additional prospect of trying to help them from a distance with the various challenges that life throws their way. When it comes to helping them with their technology, the distance aspect can become a real barrier…trying to talk them through “click on this” and “do you see that..” while on a telephone call with them seated in front of their computer trying to solve the latest crises gives you a whole new respect for anyone who works in IT support.
How can you solve this problem? For me, LogMeIn has come to the rescue (https://secure.logmein.com/).
This application allows me to log into my mom’s computer from thousands of miles away – and see her desktop. I can install software, update the applications, create bookmarks, run utilities – do virtually anything from a distance that I could do sitting down in front of the computer.
Of course, lawyers and others have been using LogMeIn or GoToMyPC for years to connect to their office computer remotely in order to work from the road. This is the same idea but with a twist – since I am logging into someone else’s computer.
In terms of security – you have to log into the LogMeIn site first. Once connected to LogMeIn, you connect to the remote computer and then log into that computer using a user name and password. Double security.
You are looking at the desktop of the remote computer…you can move the mouse, click on applications etc.
One proviso – the remote computer has to be on and connected to the Internet to work. If you require a reboot of the remote computer (to install or update software, for example) then it is useful to have your parent at home to ensure that the computer restores its internet connection so you can log back in again and check if the updates etc. installed properly.
How much does all this cost, you say? In the case of LogMeIn – I am using the free version. So far it is able to do anything that I need of it to keep my mom’s computer (a Mac Mini) working just fine by using my MacBook.
Since there isn’t any pill for the pain of an incomprehensible computer, LogMeIn allows me to come to the rescue – right away!
♬ …I care for you… I’m there
… I’m there for you…I care… ♬
Lyrics, music and recorded by Wolfsheim.
Jay Fleischman in a blog post entitled: “Is the Virtual Law Firm Model Coming up Short?” opines that lawyers practising in a virtual practice are ‘missing an ingredient’. Mr. Fleischman continues:
Those who offer the virtual law firm are selling something most people don’t want. People want to be able to make a personal connection with other people, to build trust in a lawyer’s expertise. They don’t want to be met with a password-encrypted firewall and triple-redundant backup systems.
Mr. Fleischman and I agree on at least one point thou: it isn’t about the technology. Most certainly!
But with respect, we differ on where to take it from there. In Mr. Fleischman’s view:
You need to figure out how to connect with people who are not necessarily in front of you. In fact, you’ve got to determine when being face-to-face is best for the client.
Yes, but … that is only part of the picture. In my view, Mr. Fleischman fails to take his argument to its logical conclusion. Why would face-to-face be best for (some) clients? Not because “people want to make a personal connection” (per Mr. Fleischman) but because they have to know – trust – feel – that you care. (more…)