♫ Confusion’s all I see
Frustration surrounds me
Solution, bid farewell…♫
Lyrics and music by Deryck Whibley, recorded by Sum 41.
I had to rent a car today. The reasons are not terribly relevant except to say that I didn’t need any additional stress in my day.
The car that I rented was a 2015 Chrysler 200. Nice car. Peppy, nice bluetooth that connected to my Blackberry without any difficulty and great satellite radio when I was not on the phone. I enjoyed the vehicle.
All that changed when I pulled in to fill the tank before returning it. Now I have been driving for decades and have also rented many rental vehicles. I don’t think much about filling them up with gas. What could be easier, right?
I pulled into the filling station and got out only to find that the gas cap had a door over it that didn’t have a finger dent that allowed you to open it from the outside. OK no worries. Went back into the car and started looking for the release button or lever…and looked and looked…everywhere. All the other cars around me were filling up and driving away while I sat there and went thru the car with a fine-toothed comb. Not on the dash. Not in the glove box. Not on the door. Nothing. Nada. Complete blank. OK then …next step: take out the owners manual. Give it a quick scan..nothing in the Table of Contents. Check the Index…both silent on how to open the gas cap door.
Got out and looked at the door again. Pushed and prodded, tried to pry it open…I even said “Open Sesame.” Nada.
Getting back into the car, I started going thru the owners manual carefully. Being a lawyer I am accustomed to looking closely and trying to find something in a long document. Believe me I covered every page. There was a complete absence of any mention of the fundamental task of how to open the gas cap door.
Third step: grab my Blackberry and start searching. Turns out I am not the only person who has had difficulties in trying to figure out how to open the gas cap door on various Chrysler vehicles. Problem is all their proposed solutions didn’t work. And there were a lot of them. Nice car but in this instance, bad design combined with no explanation.
I finally head home, sans any gas and change into more comfortable clothes only to start searching on the Internet with a bigger screen and a proper keyboard. Finally find a site that says that the gas cap is pressure sensitive and you have to press in just the right area to cause it to pop open.
From that point onwards, driving to a filling station, popping the cap and filling the car and returning it was all straightforward except for all the unnecessary frustration caused by the whole experience. Since this is obviously a vehicle used by many car rental companies, there must be many, many others out there who have or will shortly go thru the same needless experience.
Trying to make lemonade from these lemons, I turned to my usual technique which is to try to learn from the experience and place it in a wider context by writing about it.
Why didn’t Chrysler think to put something in the owners manual to tell people who are unfamiliar with the car how to do a task as simple as fill it with gas? Beats me but it must have been an oversight by someone. You can have the greatest product imaginable but if people can’t figure out how to use it, it is really an expensive paperweight or worse.
As lawyers we can deliver a fabulous service for clients but if they don’t understand what is happening or what is expected, they could experience a great deal of frustration with the process. I once talked to a lawyer who drew a process map (or as I used to call them a flow chart…thank you Darin Thompson for pointing out that this was the term used in the Dark Ages) for his clients. This process map showed graphically what would be happening in his client’s case, what to expect when and in what order.
I thought it was a great idea at the time. I think it is an even better idea today after my experience.
Our services may be well understood by us but for someone not familiar with the legal system, they could find the experience to be baffling, confusing and frustrating. We can help them a lot by outlining graphical ways that explain whatever it is that will be happening to them. We can also streamline the justice system to make it more straightforward from a design perspective to simplify the process.
What we don’t want is these people claiming that the entire legal system is failing them and that the solution is to bid farewell with lawyers and their present way of doing things.
♫ I need to hear from You
Before this night is through
I need to hear from You
So I’m waiting, waiting just to hear from you…♫
Lyrics and music by: Robert Hartman, recorded by Petra.
This week, Garry Wise and I chatted about the possible topics that we could cover in this column (posted at slawtips.ca and on this site) over the next while. Without being exhaustive, I pulled together the following list from our discussions. Now it is up to you. In the comments section, please indicate which topic(s) are of greatest interest to you! We really want to hear from you and to write on the topics that you most wish to hear about.
Here is the (incomplete) list of possible topics:
New ways of working:
- Virtual office examples
- Virtual assistants
- Virtual contract lawyers
- Using Skype and other communication methods to reach out
- Collaboration tools/applications/websites
- Dragon Dictate and VR on the Mac
- IBM’s Watson and AI: What are the implications?
New Software/web tools:
- Emerging Canadian software
- Apps, Apps Apps!
- Websites: Are they relevant anymore?
- Blogs: Are they relevant anymore?
- Vlogs: Are they the way to go?
- Sony paper
- Microsoft’s Matter Center
- Why use Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Other SM ?
- Windows 10
- OS X El Capitan
- Do Process Software
Capturing, Organizing and Using Information
- Evernote and OneNote
- Don’t Forget the Milk
- IFTTT recipes
- Wikis and law firms
- CanLII Connect
- SurveyMonkey and lawyers/law firms
- MindMapping: The New Way of Legal Thinking?
Security and Privacy
- Cryptolocker and other ransomware
- Ethical Hacking?
- How do you handle a security breach?
- Canadian Backup and Storage Services
- Canadian Hosted and Managed Services
Practice Management Software Reviews
- Amicus Attorney
- TimeSolv Legal
- Synergy Legal Suite
Legal Accounting Software and lawyers
- Brief Legal Software
Stages in a Lawyer’s Life
- Entering law school
- Finding Articles
- Life as an Associate
- Life as a junior partner
- Life as a senior partner
- Life as a managing partner
- Life as ‘of counsel’
- Going out on Your own
- Moving Firms
- Finding an Associate
- Office Sharing
- Easing into Retirement
- Moving an Office
- Closing an Office
Using Consultants and Service Providers
- IT providers
- In house IT
- Managed IT services
- Hosted services
- Working with Security professionals
- How to use IT Consultants to Max Advantage
- Apple vs Mac vs Does it Matter Anymore?
- Finding and working with an Office Administrator
Setting up in Practice
- Finding the right location
- Finding the right staff
- Working with staff
- Balancing life and work
- Hiring, firing and managing staff
New Ways of Handling Legal Matters
- Virtual courts and trials
- Setting up a virtual practice/services
- Taking Technology to Court/Mediations/Arbitrations
- Taking Technology to clients
Other Legal Software
- Optinet Systems
- Emergent Solutions
- Triage Data Solutions
- Dye & Durham
- Thomson Reuters
- Lexis Nexis
- SAI Systems Auditing
Innovative ways of Practising:
- Cognition LLP
- Axess Law
- ABS across the world
New Ways of Thinking about Legal Practice
Whatever we have missed.
Please indicate in the Comments (below) the topic(s) that are most important. Or drop me a line at email@example.com. We hope to hear from you!
♫ Cell phone’s dead
Lost in the desert
One by one…♫
Lyrics and music by Beck Hensen.
[Image courtesy of holohololand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
Having just returned from a long tenting camping vacation where my Blackberry was dead for most of the trip, I thought I would pass along some tips on how to avoid the kind of experience that I just went through.
Notwithstanding that we were travelling with both an iPhone and a Blackberry and charging them equally in the vehicle when on the road (courtesy of having USB connectors that allowed us to use the 12 volt ports and plug in the phones to charge while the vehicle was running), the iPhone would have a charge of about 90-95% the next day and the Blackberry would be dead.
Furthermore, the Blackberry kept on stating that it has exceeded its data limit plan (we were in the States for the most part and had data plans that had to be continually renewed) even when it was only ‘alive’ for 1 out of every 3 days (due to the fact that it would only be charged every 3 days due to our travel/camping schedule).
What I found out on my return was that there was a big software update from Blackberry that it kept on trying to download when on the road. If there was a notification of this, I have to say that I didn’t see it. As a result the attempted download ate up the data limit on the plan and also ate up the battery life as well.
So here is a collection of tips to hopefully avoid some of the problems encountered when travelling with a cell phone:
- Get a data roving plan before you leave. It is much better than getting hit with the pay-as-you-go rate in whatever jurisdiction you find yourself.
- Use WIFI whenever possible and turn off the data on your phone. Starbucks is my best friend on the road. For the price of a coffee you can connect to their Wifi network and check your email messages. If you are lucky you can find a table with a power connection too and top up your battery charge.
- If you can, use an unlocked phone or a small tablet that can accommodate a SIM card and purchase a SIM card in the jurisdiction of travel to cut down on your data costs.
- Consider buying a disposable phone in the jurisdiction where you are going. Often these are much cheaper than a roaming plan using a Canadian phone. Furthermore, Canadian cell phones may not work in other jurisdictions.
- Check to ensure that all software updates are installed BEFORE you leave. Or if you find out there is one released while you are travelling, find a WIFI hotspot and do the update there, if possible.
- Make sure you can charge your device wherever you may be. You may need extra plugs and adapters to accommodate the AC power in foreign jurisdictions. See a travel store before you leave.
- Get the apps, music and entertainment files you need before you leave.
- Take photos of your passport, important documents, serial numbers etc and put them in the cloud where you can get at them in the event your device and such are stolen or lost.
- Set up one HTML based email service with an easy to remember password that you can use in the event of an emergency, such as losing your device.
- GPS applications are wonderful when travelling, but remember that they also eat up data at a horrendous rate (at least in my experience).
I hope this helps ease some of the pain when travelling. You don’t want to end up in the middle of the desert with your cell phone dead!
(cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ Snap, what a happy sound
Snap is the happiest sound I’ve found
You may clap, rap, tap, slap but
Snap… makes the world go round…♫
Lyrics and music by Moosebutter.
Continuing with the theme of technology that just works, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500.
This little scanner punches way above its weight. In fact in the years that I have been talking about scanners and going paperless, no one has ever said that they have regretted purchasing one of the ScanSnap line of scanners. They have been a hit with every size firm, with every practice area and every type of lawyer right across North America. Why? They do their job simply, quietly, quickly and very efficiently.
What do they do? Here are the specs:
- 50 page automatic sheet feeder
- full duplex scan
- 25 pages per minute in full colour, faster in B&W
- works with Windows and Mac computers (I use mine with my MacBook Pro)
- works with Android and iOS mobile devices and tablets
- comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat Standard (for Windows PCs only, regrettably for us Mac users) as well as other bundled software
- comes with a ‘carrier sheet’ – a dual layer clear plastic sheet that allows you to scan loose papers and receipts
- can be set to OCR (optical character recognition) files automatically
- detects colour, greyscale and black & white
- you can create a PDF, text-searchable PDF or JPEG file
- using Wi-Fi, you can scan directly to a personal computer, iPhone, iPad or Android device
- if you wish, you can scan directly to your existing Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, SugarSync and Salesforce accounts
The ScanSnap iX500 comes with a set of bundled software:
- ScanSnap Manager (Windows and Mac)
- ScanSnap Organizer (Windows)
- ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap (Windows and Mac)
- Adobe Acrobat X standard (Windows)
- PFU CardMinder (Windows and Mac)
- Rack2-Filer Smart and Magic Desktop (Windows) – Available only with iX500 Deluxe
- ScanSnap Folder (Windows)
- Scan to SharePoint (Windows)
- Scan to Mobile (Windows and Mac)
I have a ScanSnap at home and love it. It has allowed me to take my paper files and digitalize them and eliminate the need for paper files. I also upload my documents into Dropbox and this allows me to have a full cloud-copy as well as a local copy of all my documents. Have a hard drive failure? No worries…get a new PC or Windows, link it to your Dropbox account and ZIP…your documents are now dowloaded on your local computer. I know ..I experienced this. Everything in my Dropbox account was quickly and easily recovered notwithstanding the HD crash (unfortunately I found out to my regret that my photos..that I thought were backed up in iCloud ..were not. Now all my photos are backed up in Dropbox). For important documents and folders, I use third party encryption that creates encrypted volumes within Dropbox for security.
In my world, Snap makes the world go round.
(published concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)
♫ He ain’t no drag
He’s got a brand new bag… ♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by: James Brown.
This post continues the ‘no brainer’ posts about technology. This time it is about a bit of technology that most people don’t put much thought into, I suspect, namely their computer laptop bag.
Now some people will say that a bag is a bag is a bag. I am not one of them. In fact I can say that I am quite particular about my bag. I had a nice laptop bag given to me by our local Continuing Legal Education provider for being a volunteer that fit the bill nicely, but when it finally wore out after many years of hard use, I started looking for a replacement.
I first settled on an Eagle Creek bag – the “Strictly Business” carryall. Prior to this purchase I had had a number of bags from Eagle Creek of various sorts and liked them all. However, I discovered that the handles on the Strictly Business were too long…the bag almost dragged on the ground when carried by the handles rather than the shoulder strap- and I am a fellow who is 6’2″ tall.
But when the zipper blew after only 6 months of owning the bag, I went in search of an alternative bag.
What are the features that one looks for in a laptop bag? To me the important features are:
- Size: Look for a nice padded internal compartment for the laptop that is well-padded and once inside, won’t allow the laptop to slide around much. The compartment should be wide enough to take your laptop without a lot of extra room. The standard is to fit a 15″ laptop…if your laptop is bigger or smaller you may want to consider a larger or smaller bag.
- Durable construction. The bag that I received from CLE-BC lasted years of heavy use. That was my measure of durability. Look for good padding, stout seams and good hardware, especially the zippers. If you live in an area of significant rainfall or other harsh weather, ensure that the laptop will stay clean and dry inside. I prefer a soft-sided laptop bag but some may prefer a harder case. Personal preference. Velcro should close easily and be secure. Magnetic fastenings should stay closed. Seams should be well-sewn.
- Style: You are going to be taking this laptop bag to business meetings, on airplanes, checking into hotels and generally having it with you most days. Accordingly the bag should match your style.
- Weight: Leather may be a good choice in terms of durability and style; personally while I like the look and feel of a great leather bag, weight was also a consideration. I carry a great deal of ‘stuff’ and the extra weight of a leather bag was too much for me since I walk to and from the office. Accordingly, a fabric bag that is largely waterproof is high on my list of requirements.
- Size: As I mentioned, I carry a lot of ‘stuff’ from the laptop power cord to various other cords, papers, USB drives, my chequebook etc…so I want a bag that has lots of compartments, pockets, internal zipped pouches etc to organize things such as your cell phone, business cards, pens, a chocolate bar or two, your wallet and passport and even your toothbrush and toothpaste. Ensure that your laptop bag meets the new restricted size limits if you plan to use it on airplanes.
- Color: I am not referring to the color of the outside of the bag…that is a matter of personal preference. But the new bag that I acquired..the Solo Urban 17.3″ Ultracase, while black (with orange trim) on the outside is bright orange on the inside. If you are accustomed to ferreting around trying to find something inside a black bag you will totally appreciate the difference a bright orange lining makes. Finding something is now effortless. Plus the bag is perhaps one of the sharpest I have seen for looks. It it is a joy to carry and easily organizes and stores all my ‘stuff’.
A laptop bag can be one of the most important overlooked items in your business life. When it works well it is practically invisible since it performs its duties effortlessly and in a way that matches your lifestyle. I am quite pleased with my Solo Urban Ultracase…Daddy’s got a brand new bag!!!
(published concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)
♫ I just want the simple things..♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by Miguel.
This post continues the theme of innovative technology for lawyers. John Heckman, a legal technology consultant for whom I have a great deal of respect recently wrote in his blog “Does it Compute” a piece entitled:
Technophobe and Proud Of It — the Consequences. He states that there are “attorneys whose willful refusal to become conversant with their firm’s technology will drag down its productivity and ability to respond to client needs.” John then quotes Sharon Nelson, another good friend and legal technologist who is a co-author of the annual American Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide (for which the write is a contributing author) put it bluntly: “The raw choice is that lawyers must choose between adaption and extinction.”
Well, fortunately there are technologies that are simple, effective and easy to use even for technophobes. SimplyFile is one of them.
This application which is a toolbar add-on for MS Outlook on the PC (not Mac..sigh!). It does one thing very very well. It is an adaptive program that learns from you where you like to file emails in your Outlook folders.
If you set up your Outlook folders to match your client files, then SimplyFile will help you quickly and easily move both incoming and outgoing emails into their proper file in Outlook. It learns from you and correctly guesses the correct folder 80-90% of the time. Moving the email to the right folder once Simplyfile guesses the folder is just a mouse click.
No longer will you end up with all your outgoing emails in the ‘Sent’ folder in Outlook.
No longer do you ‘drag and drop’ emails to organize them.
I have been using SimplyFile for years now and love it. There are companion applications that speed up other tasks and for those I refer you to Techhit’s web page.
If you use a Document Management System (we use OpenText) Simplyfile helps you move your emails into your profiled folders in Outlook and from there they are indexed into the DMS system. I understand it is equally effective with Worldox and other DMS platforms that work with MS Outlook (but you should check with your DMS provider first).
When it comes to legal technology there is no question that for maximum adoption by lawyers on all points on the legal technology spectrum, the applications should keep it simple.
(cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ Good lookin’, so refined
Say wouldn’t you like to know whats going on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey Big Spender
Spend, a little time with me…♫
This column starts what I hope will be a series of columns on new and innovative technologies for lawyers.
The kickoff column in this series deals with WordRake.
WordRake is editing software for lawyers.
Most of us have to write for a living. Contracts, pleadings, documents, memorandums – even blog posts – our ideas are as clear as the words, grammar, syntax and tone that we use to communicate our thoughts.
Other than hiring an editor to go over your work, we are pretty much on our own to do our own editing and proofreading.
That is, until WordRake. As Gary Kinder, the developer states, the secret to writing well is rewriting. WordRake will take your writing and suggest edits to remove unnecessary words, improve phrasing, improve your grammar and make dull sentences sparkle.
It allows you to write clearly, be understood and make things happen with your written communications.
If nothing else, you can improve your writing by subscribing to Gary Kinder’s Wednesday Writing Tips.
WordRake works in Windows and with MS Word and Outlook. Alas, it doesn’t work on a Mac or I would be using it to help tighten this column. There is a 7 day free trial at www.wordrake.com. So let me get right to the point, spend a little time with WordRake; it may be the best $199 (Word and Outlook for 1 year) that you spend this year.
(cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ Just a short note
You’ll find the key inside…♫
Music, lyrics and recorded by Matt Finish.
Having just returned from ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago my mind is buzzing with everything that I has seen and heard. One of the more interesting sessions was on how to use Evernote (https://evernote.com). Now I have been using Evernote for some time but it seems that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
I became curious about how to use Evernote to not just capture web sites, recipes, legal research and such, but to try to capture the tweets that I was creating while at Techshow.
So with a little research, here is how to craft a note in Evernote that captures all your tweets going forward…without your having to do anything more.
I only wish I knew how to do this *before* Techshow ..that way my Tweets could be a record that I could easily use to write a column…the next step is to figure out how to capture all the tweets that use a certain hashtag like #ABATECHSHOW!
Here is how to create a note to log all your tweets going forward:
1. Go to IFTTT to create an account. IFTTT is a service that allows you to create chains of commands..it stands for IF This Then That.
2. Once your account is created, go to: https://ifttt.com/recipes/114761-twitter-will-automatically-archive-to-evernote and install the ‘recipe’ that will automatically send your tweets to your Evernote account.
Voila! Your tweets will now be logged into Evernote. Just a short note with a key inside!
♫ Walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel? ♫
Lyrics and music by Marc Cohen.
The New York Times on Wednesday Jan 21 published an article “The Benefits of a Lunch Hour Walk” by Gretchen Reynolds. It has important implications for those feeling stressed, out of shape and suffering from a less-than-optimal mood. She states:
“A new study finds that even gentle lunchtime strolls can perceptibly — and immediately — buoy people’s moods and ability to handle stress at work.”
What is different about this study is that it doesn’t focus on long term results – it looks at the short term results of walking just 30 mins at lunch.
This study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and involved researchers at the University of Birmingham and other universities.
According to the abstract of the study:
“During the intervention period, participants partook in three weekly 30-min lunchtime group-led walks for 10 weeks. They completed twice daily affective reports at work (morning and afternoon) using mobile phones on two randomly chosen days per week.”
This is not getting out and running 6 miles at noon. It is simply walking – getting out of the office, hitting the sidewalks and taking in some (hopefully) fresher air, sunshine and conversation.
What did they find?
“Lunchtime walks improved enthusiasm, relaxation, and nervousness at work, although the pattern of results differed depending on whether between-group or within-person analyses were conducted. The intervention was effective in changing some affective states and may have broader implications for public health and workplace performance.”
Gretchen Reynolds stated:
“To allow them to assess people’s moods, the scientists helped their volunteers to set up a specialized app on their phones that included a list of questions about their emotions. The questions were designed to measure the volunteers’ feelings, at that moment, about stress, tension, enthusiasm, workload, motivation, physical fatigue and other issues related to how they were feeling about life and work at that immediate time.”
And what did they find from those who went for a walk?
“On the afternoons after a lunchtime stroll, walkers said they felt considerably more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope than on afternoons when they hadn’t walked and even compared with their own moods from a morning before a walk.”
All the volunteers showed gains in their aerobic fitness from the exercise. Unfortunately many could not continue with their exercise as they felt pressured by management to work through their lunch. Just a suggestion, but when it comes to improving people’s performance at work, perhaps management needs to take a walk…
-cross posted to tips.slaw.ca.
♫ They got alien technology to make the rainbow tables with,
then in an afternoon of glancing at ‘em, secrets don’t resist
the loving coax of the mathematical calculation,
heart of your mystery sent free-fall into palpitations.
Computron will rise up in the dawn, a free agent.
Nobody knows the future now; gonna find out — be patient…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by: MC Frontalot.
This is part 2 of the predictions for 2015! In this second part we have predictions from yet another 16 thought leaders and with the 8 in Part I (and my humble contribution) that totals 25 exciting glimpses into the future!
In this post we have:
- Jordan Furlong
- Andrea Cannavina
- Garry Wise
- John Tyrrell
- Mitch Kowalski
- Stephen Gallagher
- Joseph Kashi
- Roger Smith OBE
- Andrew Clark
- Richard Granat
- Darin Thompson
- Colin Rule
- Zbyněk Loebl
- Euan Sinclair
- Bob Denney
- Shanon Salter
- …and yours truly!
- The CBA’s Governing Council approves those recommendations of the association’s Futures Report related to non-lawyer firm ownership or sharing fees with non-lawyers.
- Law society benchers in Nova Scotia or Ontario (or maybe a western province) endorse changes in lawyer regulation and possibly in rules surrounding equity ownership of firms.
- The Supreme Court of the United States rules in favour of the Federal Trade Commission in a case involving regulation of dental services, calling into question US lawyer regulation systems.
- Wal-Mart follows the lead of its Canadian arm and starts leasing kiosk space to low-cost law firms in outlets across the US, making basic legal services more affordable and convenient.
1. The Cloud will be more than just about the cloud. The shiny object syndrome will wear off and users of technology will truly care about the location, access and duplication of their data.
2. Strong growth for windows based tablets/convertibles. All my laptops have been touchscreens –so I get why non computer people “get” tablets – I just don’t think they understand just how fast/useful a touchscreen is … when you have the power of a computer behind it. (Fingers crossed Santa brings me a Surface Pro 3!!!) 😉
3. Office365 will dominate email – especially small business/corporate – easily keeping email/calendar/contacts sync’d … (without scanning/indexing) – across all manner of devices.
For over 13 years Andrea has been helping practicing attorneys, law firm administrators, consultants and business owners with the selection and integration of processes, systems and technologies to get the paying work done. She answers questions regarding telephone/reception, client, file and email administration, time and billing; achieving and maintaining a professional web presence; getting paid; and setting up/maintaining many web based services and technologies aimed at attorneys and “legal”. Andrea is recognized as the CEO of LegalTypist, Inc. a NY based legal transcription and secretarial service and founder of The Legal Connection Community. You can learn more about Andrea at: http://www.andreacannavina.com and the Community at: http://www.thelegalconnection.com
2015 is bound to be a very interesting and busy year for Canada’s courts.
After the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Hryniak, we can expect to see increased reliance by Canada’s litigants on summary judgment procedures, and increased willingness by the courts to make final determinations on such motions. The civil trial may well be on its last legs, in most circumstances, in our nation.
We can also expect to see increasing openness in our courts to electronic filings and digital evidence. In Ontario, this week’s appointment of Mr. Justice David Brown to the Court of Appeal marks the ascendance of the Province’s most outspoken judicial champion of technological advance in the courts. We can expect genuine progress and continuing demand from the bench for technological modernization of Court administration and procedures.
Access to justice and the influx of self-represented litigants will continue to be themes of ongoing debate by the bench, bar and public.
Our courts will tackle a number of key policy concerns, from the constitutionality of assisted suicide and the nation’s new prostitution legislation to concerns regarding citizen’s privacy and the protection of the environment.
Our Law Societies will have their hands full in 2015, as the continuation of self-governance and the transparency of disciplinary proceedings become increasingly controversial issues in the media.
The slow drive toward alternative business structures will pick up speed in Ontario and elsewhere, but the time may not yet have arrived for non-lawyer ownership of law firms in the nation.
Our law societies may also find themselves busy with litigation of their own, as the status of the proposed Trinity Western University law school begins its long wind through the courts.
The legal profession will continue to find itself under serious competitive pressures in 2015.
Technologies will continue to emerge that automate services historically provided by lawyers. Large firms will continue to suffer from disruptive changes and we may see a few additional large firms implode unexpectedly.
Lawyers will continue to use social media with increasing effectiveness and the role of the Internet in facilitating legal research, delivering legal information, and providing a platform for online legal services will see a further spike in growth.
We will see more new lawyers starting their own solo practices, and the profession will find it necessary to provide increasingly formal mentorship programs and services to facilitate their transition to practice.
Garry J. Wise was called to the Ontario Bar in 1986, and practices with Wise Law Office (www.wiselaw.net), a Toronto litigation firm with focus on Employment Law, Family Law and Civil Litigation.
He is primary contributor to the award-winning Wise Law Blog, and is also developer of WISELII, Canada’s Mobile Legal Research Tool, a free iPhone application enabling users to research Canadian case law, statutes and regulations via CanLii.
Garry has contributed to Bar-eX News, SlawTips, Huffington Post, CCH Labour & Law Newsletter, Canadian Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Addendum, Divorce Magazine and CCH Canadian Family Law Guide.
He has been a Continuing Legal Education presenter for organizations including the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Bar Association on social media, legal ethics, Web 2.0, cloud-related security issues and legal innovation.
Garry has been featured in the National Post, Toronto Star, LawPro Magazine, Lawyer’s Weekly, Canadian Lawyer Magazine, CCH Student E-Monthly and Toronto’s Now Magazine.
In addition to his professional and blogging activities, Garry dabbles as a writer and musician.
Garry can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Garry J. Wise on Twitter: @wiselaw
#1 Continued economic and geo-political uncertainty will be the business story of 2015 resulting in businesses coming under increasing pressure to review the costs of doing business, and … OMG even the costs of legal services, both internal and external.
#2 Another shoe (NOT the “other shoe”, this is more like a centipede) will drop and another large Canadian law firm will go the way of Black and White TV, perhaps fondly remembered but gone none the less.
#3 The Canadian legal market place will see the expansion of existing “new law” alternatives and the addition of a number new players and different models in the market.
#4 This time next year we will still be waiting for the governing bodies of the profession to decide whether or not allowing law firms to seek “investors” or adopt more “business” oriented structures is a “good thing”.
#5 About September 1 I will be pulling out this list, shaking my head and wondering where I can take my crystal ball for a tune up.
These are interesting times … enjoy the ride. All the best in 2015.
John is a Corporate Commercial lawyer who has ridden the rollercoaster of energy prices and the Calgary legal market for over 30 years. He currently practices in association with Cognition LLP. jtyrrell@Cognitionllp.com
How does one even begin to make predictions in a legal industry that has continually defied prediction – in a bad way? Nonetheless, here goes:
1. The Law Society of Upper Canada will continue to dither on Alternative Business Structures and will make no decision on this creature in 2015;
2. One Canadian law school will create a Centre for Legal Innovation, similar to the Centre for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University, and will start collecting data on the state of the Canadian legal industry;
3. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada will float a proposal for one regulator across all common law provinces – Benchers across Canada will be furious;
4. Trinity Western University Law School will be successful in its court challenges – Benchers across Canada will be furious;
5. One Toronto law firm will fail – lawyers will lament the passing of a “great firm” and completely forget about the support staff;
6. IBM will work with a law firm somewhere in the world to further enhance Watson’s capabilities gained from the University of Toronto experiment. This will reduce the need for law firms to scale up through the ancient practice of hiring more lawyers;
7. Canadian undergraduate students will continue failing to undertake any due diligence on job prospects in the legal profession before applying to law school;
8. The bar outside of Canada’s urban centres will continue to “grey” and many practices will simply close down for due to inflated valuations and lack of purchasers;
9. Clio will go public; and
10. Loblaw will seek to replicate Axess Law by creating PC Lawyers.
Mitch was recognized as a Fastcase 50 Global Legal Innovator in 2012, and he is the author of the critically acclaimed American Bar Association best-seller, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century. The American Bar Association will be publishing his forthcoming book, The Great Legal Reformation, in the Summer of 2015. Mitch is a principal of Cross Pollen Advisory which redesigns how in-house counsel deliver and buy legal services. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Calgary Law School where he teaches worldwide trends in the legal services market, and what they mean for lawyers and clients.
Since I left the New York State Bar Association ten years ago, I have been trying to hold conversations with senior lawyers about how the aging of the workforce is something that the legal profession can no longer ignore. According to Census Bureau estimates, nearly 80 percent of the baby boomers say they want to do some kind of work in retirement. So, instead of viewing retirement as an end-point in itself, law firms and their senior partners will be far better served by treating retirement as a series of developmental steps taken by individuals over an extended period of time. Put differently, retirement today needs to be seen as more a journey than a destination.
I am beginning to see results from these conversations. Law firms everywhere are slowly beginning to focus on finding the balance to keep key people at every stage of development. This will include discussing how the years leading up to retirement should be a period of time when senior lawyers can experience new growth opportunities for themselves—and properly handled, this process should benefit the broader law firm community in many other ways. The senior lawyers that many law firms are now looking to sunset may be the untapped resources firms need to lead the talent pool of the future.
I hope these conversations will continue.
Stephen P. Gallagher, is a principal at LeadershipCoach.us, an executive coaching consultancy that works with senior lawyers, practice group leaders, and other “high potential” individuals. Stephen is an Organizational Development professional that provides lawyers and law firms with a broad range of coaching services directed at facilitating positive change.
Stephen holds a Master of Science degree in Organizational Dynamics (MSOD) from the University of Pennsylvania. He has more than 30 years of experience in working exclusively with lawyers.
Stephen is also certified as a Retirement Options coach, and as such, he helps individuals focus on the critical aspects of non-financial retirement planning.
Based in Philadelphia, PA, Stephen’s practice is committed to partnering with clients in a creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential and at the same time enhancing professional and personal satisfaction in achieving a more balanced life.
Stephen has conducted strategic planning programs with the American Bar Association, state and local bar associations, as well as The Law Society of England and Wales, and The Law Society of Scotland. In addition to coaching lawyers, Stephen is an adjunct faculty member in the Marketing department at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
Stephen has written extensively in areas as diverse as The High Performance Lawyer, Yesterday’s Strategies Rarely Answer Tomorrow’s Problems, and Winding Down the Law Practice, Planning for Retirement He has designed and facilitated numerous bar association and law firm retreats dealing with the changing nature of law practice. The National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) published Stephen’s two part articles, LPM Programs: an Inside Look and Bar Associations in Transition II. In December 2014, Bar Leaders, a publication of ABA Division for Bar Services published another of his articles, The rise of the laptop lawyer? Senior members, lonely bowlers, and a way forward.
Stephen P. Gallagher: email@example.com
Roger Smith OBE
2015 is likely to prove a significant tipping point in the development of web-based assistance on law. We are likely to move decisively beyond the notion that the internet is like an electronic book and to start to mine its interactive potential. Investment will be facilitated by government ministries seeking to save on running costs of conventional legal aid schemes and, in the private sector, from consolidation among providers allowing greater capital investment plus – in those jurisdictions. like England and Wales, that allow it – external cash associated with external ownership. Specific predictions associated with different elements of the process are as follows. Notice how well British Columbia fares in the vanguard of change.
Diagnosis, referral, triage and information
Various jurisdictions will seek to hit the bar raised by the Dutch Rechtwijzer 1.0 and re-engineer websites so that they are interactive and user-focused. Among the leaders will be the transformation planned for the MyLawBC.com and trailed in its accompanying blog. Back home, our own citizens advice bureau are following a similar path in revamping their adviceguide.org site, also happily followed by a blog at alphablog.citizensadvice.org.uk. These sites will set off a virtuous competition among similar providers in which various US jurisdictions will also participate, no doubt with many funded through the Legal Services Corporation’s Technology Initiatives Grant programme (tig.lsc.gov) for which the provision of initial sites of this kind was agreed as a priority at a technology summit in 2013. The most ambitious sites will be in jurisdictions, like my own, where the profession exerts no restriction on the provision of legal advice by non-lawyers. These will take the lead in developing the various different pathways through which a user may be directed to resolve their problem. By the end of the year, initial advice websites that simply give information in linear form will begin to look old fashioned. Users will be well on the way to expecting legal advice tailored to their needs just as they now do in relation to queries about a flight with their favourite airline.
Virtual legal practice
Private practitioners in all developed jurisdictions will explore ways of delivering services over the net. This will facilitate jursdiction-wide brands and lead to further wastage among what we in England would call the ‘High Street practitioner’. Some will fight back with distinctive, niche or personalised service but there will be a move towards what future guru Richard Susskind has called the ‘latent legal market’ ie those who will pay for legal services if they are cheap enough.
Look for developments such as more loss-leading advice on websites; more use of video and visual; more integration of video communication between lawyer and client; more use of fixed fee ‘unbundled’ services; more integration of discussion communities with legal practices; and some possibly questionable referral arrangements between what are presented as not for profit organisations and associated for profit providers. Again in jurisdictions that allow it, look for third party legal advice providers in mass areas like will-writing, probate and conveyancing. They will use centrally located lawyers using a combination of document assembly software and video to undercut private providers – as they already do in the field of legal expenses insurance.
Interest in online dispute resolution (largely forms of mediation) and determination (actual binding court decision-making) will continue to expand. Any number of jurisdictions, like my own in the form of a sub-committee of the Civil Justice Council, will set up committees to study how courts and tribunals might save money by moving online. They will all think that it is a good idea but wonder how the capital start-up costs might be met. A few brave jurisdictions will get started – notably British Columbia and its Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) and the Dutch Rechtwijzer 2.0 programme (see below). A lot more will wait to see how well they do.
End to end services
Both the CRT and Rechtwijzer 2.0 promise end to end services that will commence in 2015. Users will contact the system with a query and end by being taken through to determination – in the CRT’s case in small claims (and strata disputes) and in the Dutch case divorce. These are immensely ambitious programmes that are paradigm-busters in the sense that they transfer a search for legal advice on a problem to a search for determination of that problem. There will be problems along the way in terms of getting the pathways right; operating a workable fee structure; dealing with opposition from lawyers and judges; integrating independent legal advice; and handling the changing relationship that a user has with the system as their case progresses. So, the year may be dominated by consequent rows but the possibilities are really exciting.
The use of internet-provided skills training to help users proceed through difficult processes will expand. Assistance in advocacy by self represented litigants is an obvious area and examples like lawassist.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/lawassist/lawassist_index.html or the Alaskan assistance in family cases at aklawselfhelp.org will be built upon. Other jurisdictions will follow the BC’s Justice Education Society in providing online parenting after separation classes and in devising interesting ‘gamifications’ of assistance to those affected by litigation who are not themselves litigants such as children of a divorcing couple. JES’s ‘Changeville” has already been bought by the California Courts to join their suite of provision.
Co-operation and convergence
One of the features of 2015 will be the growing convergence one separate worlds with an interest in assisting people with legal problems. Legal aid will meet the advice sector in jurisdictions where these are traditionally separate. Court libraries will meet both in places like BC where they have a public role. Public Legal Education folks will work more closely with legal aid providers in jurisdictions like those in Canada where they have a strong presence. Profit and not for profit providers will fit co-operate in patterns of access to justice provision. The courts will link with anyone willing to help out with what they will see as a crisis of self representation.
Not only will there be convergence, there will be co-operation (or, in some cases, simple theft of ideas) as people realise that law may be supremely national but technology is global and knows no boundaries. So, you can (actually, you have) developed programmes in BC which show the way for England and Australia. And, at least for the moment, the Dutch have a moment in the sunlight as their commitment to legal aid and technology puts them in a lead position. They are also inveterately entrepreneurial. If you are interested in this field, 2015 could be the year when you could not go to a conference without meeting a Dutch salesperson. Good for them. It should also be a similarly good year for those behind innovation in BC – which, in my view, rightly shares top spot in the field.
Roger Smith is a London-based researcher, journalist, activist and consultant on access to justice and human rights. Editor bimonthly newsletter on latest developments for International Legal Aid Group. Author of the global survey, ’Digital Delivery of Legal Services to People on Low Incomes (thelef.org). Former director of JUSTICE and the Legal Action Group. Visiting Professor, London South Bank University. Awarded an OBE in 2009.
- Courts Move to Electronic Court files for criminal file:
- As a result of continued budget constraints in the Justice sector, there will be an accelerated push to use electronic court files in court. The focus will be in criminal court as most criminal court files are now electronic. There will be a mixture of response from the bar and the judiciary – some kicking and screaming while others will say it’s about time.
- Mandatory eFilng
- The BC Courts will once again consider mandating eFiling, at least for counsel in Supreme Court civil matters as well as the Court of Appeal. BC used to be the leader when they started eFiling in 2005. Many courts in Canada and the US have now surpassed BC in terms of uptake and several implemented mandatory eFiling in 2014. Time for the BC Courts to get back to a leadership position.
- Hyper sensitivity to cyber security in the Court
- While there are many opportunities in using technology to create a more effective and efficient justice system that can result in better access to justice, sensitivities around security will continue to hamper the pace at which these technologies can be deployed. While some of the sensitivity is definitely warranted, there are many instances of where it is unwarranted and the bar for electronic security is significantly higher than it ever was for paper files. As a result, the justice system will continue to lag behind many other sectors in their use of technology.
- Well, I keep predicting this and hope one year it is actually going to come true. While electronic evidence presentation has occurred in the BC Courts since the late 90’s, we have yet to embrace the current technology that is available for eTrials, that starts with eDisclosure, eFiling, electronic evidence presentation, the ability for the court to receive and store evidence electronically and ending with eJudgments. It will happen! Maybe 2015 is the year.
Andrew Clark is an independent consultant specializing in management consulting and project management in the Justice Sector. Andrew has spent the last ten 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 nine years, most of Andrew’s work has been in the Courts, highlighted by his work in British Columbia. He’s also had the opportunity to work with the Courts in Vietnam, Rwanda and the Yukon. Currently Andrew is managing the BC Provincial Court Scheduling Project.
Andrew has spoken at several conferences including the Court Technology Conference (CTC), the Canadian Forum on Court Technology, the Center for Legal and Court Technology Affiliates Conference and the Pacific Legal Technology Conference.
- The New ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services will have little impact on the present structure of the legal profession in the United States.
- The American Bar Association will continue to defer any serious consideration of alternative business structures in the United States.
- The number of solos and small law firms that use a client portal to serve clients online will remain a relatively small percentage of the 600,000 solos and small law firms in the U.S.
- There will be continued resistance in the U.S. by state bar associations to non-lawyers providing direct services to U.S. consumers, despite the fact that 80% of consumers remain unserved by the legal profession.
- The majority of U.S. law schools will continue to prepare law students for large law firm practice, despite the fact that most of their graduates will end up in solo and small law firm practice. Despite the impact of legal technology on the delivery of legal services, most law schools will not teach this subject. As a result, law school enrollments will continue to decline.
Richard Granat is a lawyer and a recognized expert on the delivery of legal services over the Internet. He is also the Founder of Granat Legal Services, P.C., in Baltimore, Maryland, one of the first virtual law firms in the United States. He is also the founder and CEO of DirectLaw, Inc., a virtual law firm platform provider and Co-Director of the Center for Law Practice Technology. Florida Coastal School of Law.
Richard also had served as Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association and is a member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. In 2009, the ABA Journal recognized Richard as one of 50 Legal Rebels, throughout the Unites States – individuals who are engaged in changing the legal profession. In 2010, Richard received the Louis Brown Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Bar Association in recognition of his innovations in the delivery of legal services and in 2013, the ABA James Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering.
- Law students at the University of Victoria and Osgoode Hall will have access to new Legal Information Technology courses. Taught by a team of instructors that include an ODR expert, an electrical engineer / legal software entrepreneur and a legally trained Google software engineer, the courses will include broad introductions to technologies for use in the legal services, dispute resolution and justice administration sectors. Some coursework will include hands-on experiential learning with some existing products and applications. Students will also have a chance to engage in an application design exercise that will encourage them to imagine a new legal technology application to address an existing problem or an improvement to justice and legal services.
- Member States in the European Union will be required to implement Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) rules to give effect to the legislated ADR / ODR scheme for EU consumers.
- We should see a report on the suitability of ODR for civil disputes from the UK Civil Justice Council Advisory Group led by Richard Susskind. My own reflections on this subject can be reviewed in a series of articles published by the UK Society for Computers & Law linked from this page.
- The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) ODR project will continue to struggle with seemingly intractable disagreements between some delegations over law and policy-related aspects of the ODR Working Group’s attempt to create a set of rules for low value, high volume disputes. These problems have been outlined well in a series of Slaw posts by Karim Benyekhlev and Nicolas Vermeys.
Darin Thompson is a lawyer with the Ministry of Justice in British Columbia, Canada. He has helped to initiate multiple projects using online dispute resolution (ODR) and is a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Working Group on ODR.
In 2014/15, Darin will be co-instructing new Legal Information Technology courses at two law schools.
Darin also sits on the board of the Vancouver-based Justice Education Society.
Darin has BA and JD degrees from the University of Victoria and an LLM (Innovation, Technology & Law) from the University of Edinburgh.
I work at the intersection of conflict resolution and technology.
I am the Chairman and COO of modria.com, an online dispute resolution service provider in Silicon Valley, building ODR tools like the Mediation Room and the Gebruikersjury. From 2003 to 2011 I was Director of Online Dispute Resolution at eBay and PayPal. I am a Fellow at the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution at Stanford Law School and I work closely with the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst.
I’ve written a book on the subject: Online Dispute Resolution for Business.
I am @crule on Twitter, on Facebook and LinkedIn, and I blog at novojustice.com. Some of my writing and recent presentations are available at colinrule.com/writing/.
Here is my prediction:
In 2015 there will be a breakthrough in Internet in relation to empowering customers. Customers will receive first mass-market tool which will start becoming popular in 2015 and will start a new industry. It will change completely the current ways of doing business on the net by making customers free and decisive in defining terms regarding privacy, customer dispute resolution etc. The tool will be extremely simple, very different from the current theoretic discussions on VRM (vendor relation management), yet implementing the ideas of VRM.
Next year will be extremely exciting, I feel it in the air, sg. like a year when the impressionists started to sell their paintings to the galleries…
Have a great Christmas time and best personal wishes for the next year, we will have fun.
I founded Youstice as a globally available tool for buyers and sellers to resolve their shopping issues easily and efficiently.
Previously, I was a member of Rowan Legal, a regional law firm in Central and Eastern European region, where I specialized in advising clients in technology-related projects. Prior to that, I managed an international team which prepared and implemented a new ADR Center for .eu related disputes attached to the Czech Arbitration Court. This ADR Center has become a sole ADR Provider approved by the European Commission. The ADR Center started its operations in February 2006 and so far has received over 1,000 complaints. The ADR Center is capable of administering .eu related disputes in all but one official languages of the EU (the exception being Maltese).
Predictions for 2015:
- Ross Watson, associabot, will continue to cause equal measure of intrigue and concern within different parts of the legal profession. However, the commercial deployment of legal artificial intelligence (or LAI, as it will become known) will still be a decade away.
- To anticipate LAI, however, progressive law firms will begin thinking of legal processes as a critical path or decision tree (rather than something that is instinctive to lawyers) building on their work on Legal Project Management (LPM). Only law firms with a number of years’ experience of LPM will have sufficiently granular datasets to take advantage of LAI in the next decade.
- Client-facing LPM became table stakes for winning new work in Canada in 2014. But now progressive law firms’ own internal processes will become better managed by adopting Lean principles or Six Sigma, or a mash up of both. Implementation of these disciplines require strong law firm leadership and therefore we will see the rise of the professional law firm CEO.
- 2014 was a bad year for cybersecurity. More people than ever depended on the cloud and the “internet of things” became smarter, with all sorts of devices now sending and receiving data from the cloud. Also hackers’ sophistication became more fully appreciated, particularly after the Sony hack. Law firms will therefore consider using encrypted emails or secure portals on a private cloud to communicate with clients. Whether Blackberry succeeds or fails in the handset market will be a sideshow. The company will retrench and grow with its expertise of secure software and servers, leading to it being acquired by Microsoft in 2015 or 2016.
- On the macroeconomic front, Canada will experience severe headwinds in the economy. It is sad to see Canada falling into the same trap as the UK, whose economy was very successful before 2009 but heavily dependent on financial services and real estate. At the same time, the UK allowed its manufacturing base to erode. Canada today is just as dependent on resource extraction and real estate and is unable fully to take advantage of the battered loonie. The recent depreciation in commodity futures will continue to take its toll in 2015. We will see a rise in interest rates towards historic norms–perhaps sooner and sharper than most people expect.
- There will be a “grey swan” financial shock in 2015 (choose from any of the ten known potential flash points). Maxed-out Canadians are almost uniquely badly positioned to weather any economic storm, far less a maelstrom. There will inevitably be a real estate correction in 2015, but it will take some time to percolate as sellers hold on to their anchor prices, leading a glut on the supply side before prices slide precipitously. Oversupply of commercial real estate will also cause a problem. Consumers will start to shift their shopping habits towards online shopping or clicks ‘n mortar fulfillment centres, exacerbating the decline.
- The “more-for-less” demands from clients will increase and finally penetrate, when some large firms lose lucrative and long-standing clients to more agile rivals. Smart clients will appoint panels of law firms by competitive tender and get them to collaborate for the client’s benefit, while maintaining competitive tension amongst them. Law firm selection will be handed to procurement officers, who don’t have buddies from law school.
- In this unhappy climate, some law firms may seek a defensive merger to paper over the cracks of their inefficiencies, but the heyday of law firm mega-mergers is over.
- If Heenan Blaikie’s demise taught us anything, it’s that a drop by as little as 15% of profit per partner can put the bonds of partnership under strain. Another lesson from Heenan Blaikie and also Bingham McCutcheon is that leading law firms are ready and willing to adopt a vulturistic approach and cherry pick the practice units they want without having to deal with legacy issues that arise in a merger.
- With a weakened loonie and some firms in financial distress, there will be increased International interest in the Canadian market for US and UK law firms. Those firms are five years ahead in adapting to the new economic reality and therefore they will make considerable inroads into the market. UK-based law firms will find the Canadian market especially of interest, as Canadian markets open up to the European Union when the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is ratified towards the end of 2015 or in 2016.
- At the other end of the spectrum, 2015 will be the year of innovative start-up law firms. These agile firms will start offering à la carte legal services for new areas such as M&As. “Wal-Mart” law, introduced by Axess Law will gather pace as those firms anticipate being able to attract outside investment in the near future–and perhaps float on the TSX-V.
- I will complete the manuscript of my new book on how lawyers can create value in the digital economy.
Euan Sinclair was a lawyer for 15 years in Scotland before moving to BC in 2011 to become Director, Knowledge Management at Lawson Lundell LLP. He also holds an MBA from Edinburgh University and a LLM in IT law from Strathclyde University, where he was taught by, amongst others, Professor Richard Susskind. Euan called at the BC bar in September and specializes in technology law.
- Two of the hottest practice areas will be Energy – all forms including “clean” – and Elder Law because we’re all getting older.
- Big firms will continue to discuss mergers with smaller firms but some of these will not happen and some of the recent mergers will fail. A repeat of my prediction for this year..
- The continued growth of technology will mean more non-lawyers and entities will provide efficient and reasonably priced legal services.
- Cybersecurity will become the number one concern for all firms, regardless of size.
- Mid-size and smaller firms, as well as solos, will capture more of the legal market because of: 1) Technology and 2) Lower rates than the large firms.
- Corporations and large non-profits will continue to expand their legal departments and keep more work in house.
- Non-lawyer ownership of, or at least investment in, U.S. law firms will continue to be a hot issue and will eventually be approved. A repeat of my prediction two years ago.
- Applications to law schools will continue to decline.
- More women lawyers will be selected for firm leadership positions and the overall income of women lawyers will increase substantially.
Shannon Salter is the Chair of the Civil Resolution Tribunal. She earned her BA (2001) and LLB (2005) from the University of British Columbia, and her LLM from the University of Toronto (2011). Ms. Salter clerked with the British Columbia Supreme Court, practiced litigation at a large Vancouver law firm for several years, and has served as a vice chair of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal . Ms. Salter is also a commissioner of the Financial Institutions Commission, vice president of the British Columbia Council of Administrative Tribunals, and a past board member of the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. She teaches administrative law at the UBC Faculty of Law as an adjunct professor and has been actively involved in providing pro bono legal advice and representation throughout her career.
David J. Bilinsky
With everyone’s great predictions, coming at the end of the post is a bit of a challenge! However, there is a theme to my predictions and they are breaking barriers. Here goes:
- The courts and judges will further appreciate the change that technology hath wrought and is continuing to make in the legal arena and that they will not be immune to these changes. This is only enhanced by the powerful voices calling for increased access to justice and affordable justice for all. By way of breaking barriers, there will be an ever-growing realization that part of this solution will be for greater implementation of technology at all points in the court process from e-filing all the way to seeing Online Dispute Resolution as an alternative method to resolving matters in court. Certain members of the judiciary will oppose these changes while other members will see this as a necessary first step or series of steps that need to be taken to modernize and bring the civil and criminal dispute resolution process into the present and provide more affordable justice to all.
- That law school application numbers across North America will continue to decline as increasing numbers of bright young minds realize that better opportunities lie elsewhere. Some law schools will resist any changes to how they educate while more enlightened schools will break out of the black letter law barrier and start addressing the growing voices that law schools incorporate technology, business, entrepreneurship and innovation into their programs.
- A Law Society or two in Canada will break the barrier on non-lawyer ownership of law firms and allow Alternative Business Structures in Canada. The UK experiment will flourish here in Canada and as a result, there will be the emergence of new entities that provide legal services on different points on the price/demand curve.
- The biggest law firms in Canada realize that the playing field has dramatically changed and that there has been a gradual power shift in favour of the clients that will rework the economic model of these firms. Furthermore the latest generation of lawyers will increasingly reject climbing the pyramid hierarchy with its uncertain path from associate to partner and venture out into smaller more nimble niche practices (and into ABSs).
- Watson will not only be a barrier-smasher, the reverberations will reach deep within the legal profession. “Disruptive innovations are innovations that transform products that are complicated and expensive into things that are affordable and accessible” per Clayton M. Christensen at Harvard Business School has stated. Once Watson has emulated lawyers and can do what we do better than we can (computer can already play chess better than the best of the best) then whomever owns that technology will forever change the legal landscape.
- Online Dispute Resolution will continue to expand into new tribunals and forums, both private and public. ODR’s ability to resolve disputes quickly, easily and inexpensively will keep breaking down barriers once different entities realize that eBay’s ability to resolve millions of disputes using ODR techniques can be replicated in different settings.
- In another barrier-smashing exercise, in order to address access to justice issues, the proposed merger of the Society of Notaries Public of British with the Law Society of British Columbia will occur and the joint entity will create new niche providers of discrete legal services with qualifying examinations and designations. This will be looked at carefully by other jurisdictions seeking to promote access to justice.
Thanks to everyone for chipping in and providing their best predictions for 2015 and beyond. However as well all know no one knows the future…we just have to be patient and live it!
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Part 1 of the Predictions can be found here.