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    Archive for the ‘personal focus and renewal’ Category
    Surveys and Law Firms
    Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

    ♫ I got something that will sure ’nuff set your stuff on fire

    Tell me something good (tell me, tell me, tell me)…♫

    Lyrics and music by Stevie Wonder, recorded by Rufus and Chaka Khan,


    Lawyers are sensitive souls. No lawyer wants to receive a complaint from a client.  However, what you don’t know can, in this case, actually hurt you.  The failure to complain by a dissatisfied client may result in the client leaving quietly but then causing maximal damage to the law firm’s reputation by talking to others about their bad experience.

    When given a rational choice between hearing from a dissatisfied client 1-1 or having that client go out and speak to many others about their negative experience with a firm or lawyer, virtually everyone would choose to speak to the client and at least try to remedy their feelings.  Yet how many lawyers and law firms seek to find those unhappy clients and find out what went wrong before they cause damage?  We all know that word of mouth endorsements are worth their weight in gold; similarly negative word of mouth experiences can sink a firm’s reputation.

    Yet few lawyers conduct client feedback surveys.  According to Joel Rose, a management consultant to law offices:

    Information obtained from client surveys may be the most important marketing activity a law firm can undertake. Most firms that initiate client surveys have found their clients to be impressed that the firm cares about their opinions. Also, as the result of surveys, law firms may detect certain misunderstandings which, if not clarified, could fester and result in dissatisfied clients.

    There are many ways to conduct a survey. It can be a Word or PDF document mailed or emailed to clients; it can be conducted using an online tool such as SurveyMonkey. It can be a telephone interview with the client by a firm member. It could be done by inviting a small select group of clients one evening to come and talk confidentially with a few of the partners.

    The approach used can be reflective of the resources of the firm, the number of clients to be surveyed, the ability of the clients to navigate an online survey, the desire to meet with people face to face and the like.  However done, it does have the ability to learn more about how the firm and its services are perceived and more importantly, how you can change to better meet your desired client’s needs.

    I once read (unfortunately I can’t find the reference) that there are three essential questions to ask your clients.  These are:

    • What did we do right?
    • What did we do wrong?
    • How can we do it better next time?

    You can nuance these how you wish but the essence is to find out what clients liked about your services, what didn’t they like and how you can improve on the client experience.

    There are many other possible questions such as “How likely is it that you would recommend our services to others?” and “How do you compare the value we provide against other law firms you may have used?” and “How did you find out about our services?”

    In terms of general design, I believe a shorter survey is better and more respecting of your client’s time.  Many writers state that providing a reward for completing the survey could be useful (but ensure that the cost doesn’t balloon out of control).

    However you do it, you are sure to get some very valuable feedback and information.  If you can manage it, inviting clients to provide feedback immediately after closing a matter allows you to also repair any possible dissatisfaction before it is too late.

    Once you get that information and feedback, the onus then shifts to you to do something with it.  Asking clients for feedback and failing to implement change is only going to create an impression that you are going thru the motions without really desiring change.

    In fact the survey is an underused tool in most law firms. According to Quantisoft, there are many surveys that law firms can use to identify their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities such as:

    • Partner Evaluation Feedback Survey (Associate Attorneys evaluate Partners)
    • Associate Attorney Evaluation Feedback Survey (Partners evaluate Associate Attorneys)
    • Associate Attorney Development Survey (Associates provide feedback on their career goals and development, and workplace issues)
    • Administrative Staff Feedback Surveys (Providing feedback to Administrative Staff)
    • Opinion/Engagement/Satisfaction Surveys
    • Risk Assessment Surveys
    • IT customer satisfaction surveys
    • Other surveys designed to meet your Firm’s special needs.

    Whether you do surveys of clients or of people internal to the firm, you are sure to learn something that will sure ’nuff set your stuff on fire.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    We Need to Hear from You
    Thursday, October 8th, 2015

    ♫  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
    • Portals
    • 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?
    • Smartphones
    • Tablets
    • 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
    • Wunderlist
    • IFTTT recipes
    • Wikis and law firms
    • CanLII Connect
    • SurveyMonkey and lawyers/law firms
    • MindMapping: The New Way of Legal Thinking?

    Security and Privacy

    • Portals
    • Encryption
    • 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

    • CLIO
    • Amicus Attorney
    • MyCase
    • RocketMatter
    • PracticePanther
    • HoudiniESQ
    • LegalFiles
    • PCLaw
    • ProLaw
    • TimeSolv Legal
    • Synergy Legal Suite

    Legal Accounting Software and lawyers

    • PCLaw
    • ESILAW
    • Brief Legal Software
    • Quickbooks
    • Sage50
    • XERO
    • BillQuick
    • CosmoLex

    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

    • Bookkeepers
    • 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

    • ADR
    • ODR
    • 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
    • Tracument
    • Triage Data Solutions
    • Dye & Durham
    • Thomson Reuters
    • Lexis Nexis
    • Econveyance
    • Esentire
    • Worldox
    • Primafact
    • SAI Systems Auditing
    • LexBox
    • WordRake
    • SimplyFile

    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 slawtips1@gmail.com. We hope to hear from you!

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, 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 »
    Thursday, June 4th, 2015

    ♫ 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)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Fitbit is Here!
    Thursday, May 7th, 2015

    ♫ wheeeeeeeeeefit

    Lyrics and music by Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family).

    Who knew that keeping track of your fitness could be addictive – and fun? Welcome to the world of wearable technology and in particular, the Fitbit.


    The FitBit Flex is a wearable fitness wristband that helps you track your daily activity in terms of steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes.

    It tracks how long you slept and the quality of your sleep. It buzzes when you have achieved 10,000 steps in a day (the first time mine did this I almost jumped out of my skin!).

    It synchs wirelessly to your computer and smartphones. You can log additional activities such as biking, skiing, running and more.

    As you achieve your fitness goals, you get email reminders and badges that reinforce your progress. You can also track drinks of water and calories eaten in the food log section.

    If what gets measured gets done, the FitBit is a fun and novel way to keep on top of your fitness goals and see how you are doing.

    There are different devices ranging from the Flex (above) to the Surge that incorporates a heart monitor and is classified as a ‘Fitness Super Watch’ with GPS, notifications, music, Auto Sleep monitoring and alarms.

    Since keeping fit is something that all of us need to do more of, it is good to know that the Fitbit can be a great little way to get that little bit of motivation to achieve your goals with a tiny bit of wheeeeeeeeee….

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Change Management, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    The Death of the Liberal Arts Lawyer?
    Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

    ♫ To boldly go where no one has gone before…♫

    Narration to the music by Alexander Courage.

    Senior Photographer


    In Chicago for ABA TECHSHOW I heard a presentation to my fellow Practice Management Advisors from Daniel Martin Katz on the future of law and legal eduction.  Daniel’s thesis, as I understood it,  is that law schools should no longer be liberal arts oriented.  Rather they should be Polytechnic Law Schools.  The reason for this change is that the future of lawyers is to combine analytics (i.e. computer reasoning) with a lawyer to produce better outcomes. And you can’t apply something that you really don’t understand.  Lawyers need to have a solid grounding in legal technology, analytics and computer modelling to be better lawyers.

    For example:

    According to Daniel Katz, an associate professor of law at Michigan State University, computer modeling has proven “able to predict 70 to 75 percent of the cases correctly” in a given year. That compares to a 60 percent rating for legal experts who also predict outcomes.

    We all know that IBM is working on Watson, which is “a cognitive system that enables a new partnership between people and computers that enhances and scales human expertise.”

    But what you may not know is that IBM’s Watson is not alone.  Microsoft and Amazon are undertaking similar research.  Pretty soon every  Tom, Bill and Jeff will have their own in-house cognitive learning system.

    Furthering these ideas will be an exciting event held in conjunction with ABA TECHSHOW:

    There will be a Legal Technology and Innovation Meet-up at Sadden Arps being held concurrently during  TECHSHOW week.  I expect to hear mind-expanding ideas from such speakers as:

    • Jeffrey Carr, former GC at FMC Technologies (and one of the innovators in alternative billing systems for lawyers),
    • Casey Flaherty, former in-house counsel (Kia Motors America) and creator of the Legal Technology Audit who will be speaking on: A Piece in the Metrics Puzzle: How Well do we Utilize Technology to Deliver Value and Quality?
    • Ron Dolin, of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, legal technology consultant and investor  and legal technology and informatics instructor speaking on The Importance of Measuring Quality

    and many others.

    Daniel is not alone in thinking that information technology is changing the face of law.  Human enterprise and machine learning is taking the legal profession where no one has gone before.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    How I Broke the Cycle of Pain and Addiction
    Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

    ♫ I’m gonna kick tomorrow
    I’m gonna kick tomorrow…♫

    Lyrics and Music by Eric AveryPerry Farrell, recorded by Jane’s Addiction.



    This is a guest post from an anonymous author that was published in the March 2015 Newsletter In Sight by the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.  It is reprinted here with the kind permission of OAAP and the author. The most powerful messages are personal ones and this one struck a nerve.  It takes a special kind of honesty to face up to a personal issue, look at it critically in the harsh reality of day and eventually stare it down through personal strength and persistence.  I hope it resonates with you.

    I could start my story about my addiction to prescription drugs with the day I was fired from my job. Or I could begin with the day several months later when the clerk at the posh store where I was shopping called the police because she thought I was too impaired to drive. Or should I begin with the worst day – the day my husband told me if I didn’t go to rehab, he would take my 12-year-old daughter and leave?

    My addiction was fueled by physical pain and fear of pain. The event that sticks out in my mind as “the beginning” is struggling in pain through a client’s daylong deposition. An MRI two days later showed I had a herniated cervical disk. Neurosurgeons recommended I get a fusion immediately due to spinal cord compression, but I waited for six months because of fear and uncertainty. The cloud of pain and anxiety that descended over me was ripe for addiction. I catastrophized – and started taking prescription Vicodin. At first I took it only occasionally, as needed, but soon it seemed like I needed it three times a day, every day, like clockwork.

    The spinal fusion surgery I eventually underwent did not seem to stop the pain. The surgeon theorized that the injury had been there so long that a pain pathway had been established. Even though the offending disk was repaired, the tissues and nerves were still sending pain signals. The neurosurgeon referred me to a pain specialist.

    My experience under the care of a “pain specialist” was the beginning of a nightmare roller-coaster ride. I became trapped in a web of prescriptions, appointments, and tests. I felt chained to the doctor and the pharmacy. The doctor put me on a permanent narcotics maintenance program. Soon I graduated from Vicodin to Percocet, and then to Morphine, Oxycontin, and Fentanyl. When I became depressed, they added an antidepressant. When I couldn’t sleep, they added Ambien. Every morning I had to take an antinausea drug to keep it all down. The doctor told me I should accept that I would be on medications for the rest of my life. I felt I had two terrible choices – addiction or constant pain.

    I kept trying to work, but I constantly felt sick, tired, and depressed. I imagined I had a giant raptor perched on my back, its claws embedded in my shoulder blades. Sometimes I shut the door for a few moments and lay on the floor, praying for the physical and emotional pain to go away. I was frequently late to work and used all my sick time. I became increasingly fragile, and I could not handle any criticism. I was deeply ashamed, and at the same time I blamed everyone else for my problems.

    I tried to care for my 12-year-old daughter, my husband, and my 80-year-old mother, but I had nothing left for them. After work I would come home and lay on the couch. Usually, I would fall asleep there. My daughter didn’t invite friends over for a year. I felt like an embarrassment to my family. I thought I was a terrible mother, wife, daughter, friend, and employee. I wanted to disappear.

    At some point I started abusing the medications. I would take too much and run out before my prescription was due. Many months I made up excuses about why I needed to fill the prescriptions early. I would wait for the hour, the minute, my prescriptions could be filled, and would rush to the pharmacy to pick them up. The anxiety and shame created by dependence on narcotics were crippling.

    One Saturday I woke up in the hospital. The doctor said I had overdosed and was down to three or four respirations per minute. That afternoon my husband called a treatment center and arranged for my 30-day in-patient admission. I did not want to go, but I had hit bottom. Of all the terrible choices I had, treatment seemed like the least horrible option.

    Of course, the first few days of treatment were tough. The back pain initially increased, but not as much as I feared it would. I couldn’t sleep for a few days, and the anxiety from withdrawal was very uncomfortable. But I was in the company of people going through the same thing, and that helped a lot. It also helped that I was free to collapse, cry, and sweat without fear of disappointing anyone. I no longer had to pretend everything was okay. It took a lot of energy to keep everything going when I was addicted to painkillers, but finally I could just stop and let all the balls in the air crash to the floor. There were a lot of things I disliked about treatment, but it saved my life, my family, and my career.

    Within a couple of days, I was grateful that my husband had given me the ultimatum that forced me into treatment. At first, he held me at arm’s length and did not promise that he would be there when I got out. My daughter also kept her distance. I was so sorry for all the pain I had caused them, but I tried to be hopeful they would trust me again.

    I was placed in the chronic pain group, and we read a book that argued that pain and suffering are two separate things. Maybe you can’t control the pain, but you can control your response to it. That concept was revolutionary to me. For the first time, I recognized that I was not actually trapped and that I did have choices. Instead of worrying that the pain was only going to get worse, I chose to think it would get better. This choice helped me break the cycle of pain – fear – pain – fear. When I assumed the pain was temporary, I was able to ignore it and think about something else. My shoulders relaxed, and the pain decreased. Within a couple of weeks, I could go for hours without thinking about pain. I began to apply this newfound power to choose my thoughts to other areas of my life. If I woke in the middle of the night, instead of darkness, I chose a more positive option from the thought menu. It was liberating to learn that I could choose what I spent my time thinking about.

    Also key were the daily lectures about addiction and neurochemistry from scientists and doctors. I learned that drugs and alcohol alter the brain’s neurochemistry and inhibit the body’s natural ability to respond to pain and stress. I learned that if I could hold on long enough to get the chemicals out of my system, my own endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine would kick in. Eventually I found out that my own body handled pain as well as or better than narcotics had.

    I accepted, and eventually embraced, the idea that in order to be healthy and sane, I had to completely eliminate narcotics and other addictive substances from my life. Instead of wondering if I am having too much, I simply have none. I followed the recommendations of my support group, and I tried to apply the principles in all my affairs. I also started making healthier choices in other areas of my life – I started jogging again and changed my diet.

    Today I have been clean and sober for more than seven years. My life is so much easier to manage. I am responsible, organized, and reliable. If I say I am going to be somewhere or do something, I do it! I don’t have to worry that I may feel too sick or that I will forget. I have my old job back, and I have regained the trust of my husband, daughter, friends, and coworkers. I am nearly pain-free, except for normal temporary aches and pains. I practice choosing how I respond to situations and people, and I try to take responsibility for my own emotions. Fortunately, the legal profession and life in general provide many opportunities to practice. Sometimes I do not succeed at first, but I keep trying and eventually I can steer my thoughts in a positive direction.

    I regularly attend community support meetings to maintain my sobriety. I welcome the authenticity that I find in these meetings. People talk about real things in a genuine way. It is refreshing to connect with people in this way. It is comforting to know that anything I say or feel is acceptable and will be understood. And it is good to see newcomers, have the opportunity to share my experiences, and be grateful for how far I have come.

    Choosing Positive Thoughts

    Thank you to the author, Barbara Fishleader and the others at the OAAP for sharing this story of how all of us can kick tomorrow.

    Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Ethical vs Effective Marketing?
    Thursday, April 9th, 2015

    ♫  What’s left to lose?
    I painted all these pictures but you couldn’t choose,
    All of your company.
    But is this distance, calling my name?
    I think persistence is this price that we pay in the end…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by State Champs.

    thanks Danthanks Dan

    This is an image taken from a YouTube marketing video created by a  Pittsburgh lawyer named Daniel Muessig.  This particular video has been described as “clever, effective, legally ethical and thoroughly despicable” by ethicsalarms.com.  They state:

    Is this an ethical ad? According to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct, it is within the conduct permitted by the state’s legal ethics rules. The ad isn’t misleading. It doesn’t make promises the lawyer cannot keep. It doesn’t represent dramatic recreations as fact, or use broad metaphors and exaggerations. (Lawyer ads are held to a standard of literalness that presumes the public has never see any other kinds of advertising in their entire lives.) Once upon a time the various state bar advertising regulations included prohibitions on “undignified” communications, or those that undermined public trust in the profession, but those days are long past: the standards were necessarily vague, and breached free speech principles.

    So we have this: a lawyer who appeals to his future criminal clients by saying that he thinks like a criminal, believes laws are arbitrary, that other lawyers will “blow them off” and that he visits jails frequently because that’s where his friends are. He attacks his own colleagues and profession, denigrates the rule of law he is sworn to uphold, and seeks the trust of criminals not because of his duty as a professional, but because he’s just like them. Muessig is willing to undermine the law-abiding public’s belief in the justice system and the reputation of his profession and his colleagues in order to acquire clients. I’m sure his strategy will work, too.

    This YouTube video has received over 282,000 hits at the time of writing this column.

    Daniel Muessig has no disciplinary history according to my colleague Nancy Carruthers, of the Law Society of Alberta, who incorporated this into her paper “Ethics and the Business of Law” and displayed the full video to The Business of Law conference by the Legal Education Society of Alberta where I am honoured to be a speaker.

    What do you think?  Is is over the top and beyond the bounds of ethically allowed marketing by lawyers in Canada?  It is certainly creative and ‘in your face’ as Nancy has noted in her paper/presentation. Is it a sign of lawyers engaging in advertising that while  undoubtedly effective and distasteful to some, is too close (or perhaps even over) the ethical line? Or is it a sign of lawyers saying, when it comes to the legal battlefield, what’s left to lose?

    Cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    What Are You Going to Do in Your Retirement?
    Thursday, February 12th, 2015

    ♫  Look at that sky, life’s begun
    Nights are warm and the days are young
    Come get up my baby

    Golden years, gold, whop whop whop
    Golden years, gold, whop whop whop…♫

    Lyrics, Music and recorded by David Bowie.


    So many  articles on retirement all deal with the issue of finances and how to plan so you are not caught off guard on the money side.  Since that aspect has been explored in detail, this article is going to take us in a totally different direction. As lawyers, we get so much of our personal identity from simply being lawyers that the idea of hanging up our robes and walking out the office wearing the title “Retired Lawyer” causes us panic and a sense of dread.  Just *what* would we do with all that….time?

    Furthermore there is the fact that as a lawyer, you are accustomed to spending large amounts of time at the office. After retirement, you are now faced with spending the rest of your life with someone that you may have only been seeing on a limited basis for the last while. You now need to start living life together and not in parallel.

    Not surprisingly, according to A Satisfying Retirement Blog “[F]or married people over 50, the divorce rate has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Some lawyers report up to 25% of their clients are men and women over 65.”

    Accordingly, I think that a good place to start is by asking ourselves “What is the vision that we (you and your spouse or loved one) have for our retirement?”  Do you see lots of travel ahead?  Spending time with family and grandchildren?  Playing sports and being active? Getting to know one another…again?

    Another aspect to think about (and sorry for the dark undertones): What would you want people to say at your funeral about you?  Have you spent time on the activities for which you wish to be remembered? Now is the best time to start working on the legacy that you wish to leave.

    Start a list of all the things that you (and your spouse or loved one) would like to do with the rest of your lives together.  Use that to start a conversation on how to plan to check off as many of these as you can together.  It is much better knowing that both of you are working in the right direction than to find yourselves at cross-purposes and disappointed about the turn of events in your ‘golden years’.

    Retirement can have a very stressful effect on a relationship and when you add in possible health-related issues related to aging and the diminishment of income, you can see that you have the potential for a perfect storm. Like most challenges, dialogue and preparation can help you deal with complications if, and when, they arise.  You want to craft a life together that meets each partner’s physical, emotional and other needs and that allows you to take each partner’s feelings, desires and dreams into account.

    The other factor to consider is the activities that you plan on enjoying in retirement.  You don’t just start doing them on day 1. You need to ease into them by taking the time ..now..to build a base and look forward to getting better at them in retirement. Whether it is golf, tennis, playing a musical instrument, pursuing photography, travel – you need to start enjoying them while you are working in order to really get the benefits of them in retirement.  After all you don’t want to look forward to playing the guitar only to find out that your hands are just not working the way you wished at this point in your life.

    You also need to establish boundaries – there are still activities that you will want to enjoy with a group of friends that may not include your spouse….and visa versa.  Respecting that each of you need and desire this ‘apart’ time makes the situations more bearable when one person goes off to have lunch with the girls or a golf game with the guys.

    One final issue for this column (but certainly not the final issue you will face in retirement) is the readjustment of tasks around the home.  If one spouse has been working full-time and the other perhaps has been taking a bigger share of the home chores to accommodate, this allotment of chores needs to be adjusted after retirement.  Set up ‘blue jobs’ and ‘pink jobs’ (our designation around our home) with expectations of how and when these will be done.  To keep the magic happening, if you are the one who does the ‘blue’ jobs, do a pink job occasionally in addition.  Believe me, it will be noticed..and appreciated in your golden years. Of further note, “blue” and “pink” jobs depend on your individual circumstance, background and understandings. The underlying understanding is that we support our spouse in whatever ways we can when we are looking up at the sky and saying life has begun.

    (jointly posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in 30 Questions for Busy Lawyers, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    One Man, Two Guvnors
    Friday, February 6th, 2015

    ♫ Ah, she’s gonna love you
    She gonna leave you with a smile
    Ah, she’s gonna love you
    She gonna leave you with a smile..♫

    Lyrics and music by: Odie Blackmon and Jay Knowles, recorded by George Strait.

    one man

    The comedy “One Man, Two Guvnors” is playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until Feb 22, 2015, hosted by the Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver, BC.

    This is a delightfully different play.  For one, there is wonderful live music throughout.  Two, it breaks the barrier of separation between audience and actors and evokes delightful memories of Woody Allen in Annie Hall, where Woody Allen, standing in line to get into a movie, gets into a discussion with an academically officious film professor who cites Marshall McLuhan. Woody, of course disagrees with the professor and his views regarding Marshall and to prove his point, famously reaches outside of the cinematic window to bring Marshall himself into the scene to confront the professor. Marshall of course states to the professor: “You know nothing of my work!”.  Woody Allen concludes with: “Boy, if life were only like this.”

    Well if only other theatre was like this we would do a whole lot more laughing.  This is a bit of British irreverent humour involving food and love mixed with improvise lines and served with a dash of nostalgia and a twist of saucy undertones. The acting is wonderful and the fast-paced entries and exits only heighten the long-anticipated collision of paths at the end.  The scene changes and intermission will leave you dancing in your seat.

    Andrew McNee as Francis and the rest of the talented troupe of actors and musicians will leave you smiling and wishing for more.

    Posted in humour, personal focus and renewal | Permalink | No Comments »
    When the Going Gets Tough..the Tough Go for a Walk
    Thursday, January 29th, 2015

    ♫ 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.

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »