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    Simplyfile
    Thursday, June 4th, 2015

    ♫ I just want the simple things..♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Miguel.

    simplyfile

    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
    whoafit
    holy$#*!fit
    findyourfit..♫

    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.

    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.

    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.

    retirement-to-sun

    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.

    Liiketoiminta_06

    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 »
    What one thing (or two) that we all know we should be doing in 2015 but aren’t?
    Monday, January 19th, 2015

    ♫ If I could do it all again I’d take it a little slower
    make a few more memories I could keep
    crawl in bed beside my child, just lay down and watch her
    soaking up the beauty while she sleeps

    I’d work less hours
    buy more flowers
    make more love on rainy afternoons
    I might make less money
    but I’d make a better friend
    if I could do it all again…

    Music and lyrics by Rivers Rutherford and George Teren, recorded by Gretchen Wilson.

    Flowers

    I thought that, rather than do a New Year’s Resolution-type post, that I would reach out to my friends and colleagues and pull together a collection of  ideas all on the theme of: “What one thing (or two) that we all know we should be doing in 2015 but aren’t?”  

    We all know that there are things that we should be doing but always we don’t seem to find the time to do them.  Like exercising more, eating less and laughing…like getting out and enjoying the company of friends, reading a good book or playing that guitar.  But this also applies to our law practices as well.  Turn on encryption!  Be attentive to security concerns.  So here goes – the best advice for making the most of 2015:

     

    Roger Smith OBE:

    roger smith

    What one thing (or two) that we all know we should be doing in 2015 but aren’t?

    Look up as well as down

    Here is what a Brit would recommend to a Canadian – make of that what you will. Resist the pull of the provincial – with a big P and a small one. Remember that law is supremely national but that technology is international – and values are eternal. Of course, everyone sees life through the eyes of their home jurisdiction and circumstances. Here in London, this is just downright depressing. Cuts to legal aid are as big as BC faced a decade or so ago. Practitioners and activists are exhausted by the fight to maintain any level of effective legal aid. Few – particularly in the traditional legal aid community – have the energy to lift their eyes to the horizon. As a result, innovation is slow, scattered and even somewhat disparaged.  So, what should we be doing that we might not? Combining an excitement about the new approaches developed in other jurisdictions (like BC) with a commitment old values – like a commitment to access to justice for all (even those currently excluded from the new digital world) and the right to appropriate independent legal advice (which must not be fudged in the rush to mediated and mechanised approaches).

    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.

     

    Andrea Cannavina:

    andrea-cannavina

    I think the one thing we ALL should be doing more of and are not is MOVE.  Get up at least once per hour and move around – get the blood flowing.  Don’t forget about proper posture while computing – feet flat on floor, monitor eye level, arms perpendicular to work surface and wrists resting.

    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

     

    Michael McCubbin:

    michael mccubbin

    All great objectives to aspire to – I have a hard time choosing one, but I think that the #1 thing we should focus on is digitizing information and building our practices around that as “the file” as opposed to just a complement to “the file” or something we need to do before emailing/uploading a document from “the file”.

    The reason? It is just the most basic thing underlying so many of our progressive legal technology practices. I am seeing fewer and fewer email attachments show up with a default scanner-assigned file name that it suggests to me that more users are getting organized.

    Of course, many of your readers will be here already, but I do not think that we have crossed the chasm in the adoption curve yet, which some writers suggest only happens after about 16% of consumers adopt a new technology or practice (although I have no idea how such general stats might apply to the legal profession).

    Michael draws on a broad variety of life experience that allows him to understand and relate to most clients that walk in the door.

    He opened his office with the view that there was a better way to practice law, one that avoids the needless expense of conventional law firms and focusses on client outcomes. Today, his clients value things like not being charged for printing and file storage fees, as well as the responsive, efficient service associated with a digital practice that still has a bricks & mortar office in a Vancouver heritage building.

    Michael frequently speaks on legal technology issues and participated in one of the first paperless Court of Appeal hearings in British Columbia. He is an active member of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC and sits on its Legal Aid Action Committee.

     

    Sharon Nelson:

    Sharon Nelson 2

     

    1. Moving to an encryption by default world with the client data we hold.
    2. Making sure that all third party vendors that hold our sensitive data are also encrypting it.

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq. Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc, a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.” She is a frequent author (twelve books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014. She may be reached at snelson@senseient.com.

     

    Mitch Kowalski:

    Mitch Kowalski

    I was recently told the story of Lord Hailsham’s response to a question from a young law student.

    “My Lord, what is the best advice to a young lawyer starting out?”

    There was a moment of contemplation before Lord Hailsham responded.

    “Take lots of baths.”

    At first blush, he could have been referring to the general lack of hygiene among students, but Lord Hailsham went on to explain that everyone, young and old, should take time out from practice to look ahead and plan your future – one musn’t get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.

    So this year, I will take lots of baths.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    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.

     

    Nikki Black:
    ABA Editorial
    1) In 2015, lawyers should make an effort to selectively use technology tools to streamline their work processes, thus saving time and leading to a happier, less stressful law practice.
    2) Lawyers should also ensure that they use two-factor authentication as much as possible in order to secure their online presence and any web-based software platforms that they use in their law practices.

    Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase.com, a law practice management software company. She is the author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a weekly column for The Daily Record and has authored numerous articles and has spoken at many conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing and Internet-based technology. 

     

    Garry J. Wise:

    Garry Wise

    Get a digital checkup.

    Like it or not, law firms are increasingly vulnerable to malicious actors online; we are also perpetually vulnerable to the consequences of our own neglect within.

    One solution to these very real threats is to institute an Annual Digital Checkup for your firm.

    Have a qualified professional inspect your systems to identify any potential vulnerabilities, and to provide recommendations as to any necessary steps your firm should be taking to protect its data.

    In an era where it has become predictable that hackings and security breaches will regularly affect even the largest and most secure of our nation’s institutions and enterprises, lawyers need to become more proactive in fulfilling our basic ethical duty to protect our digital data through appropriate security safeguards, backup procedures and in-house computer-use policies.

    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 gwise@wiselaw.net. Follow Garry J. Wise on Twitter: @wiselaw

     

    Andrew Clark:

    Andrew Clark

    I went to a World Religions Conference on the weekend that had representation from the Buddhist, Christian, Islam, Jewish and Sikh faiths addressing the world wide problem of radicalism.  One of the key take aways for me, and that all speakers appeared to agree with, is that it starts with us as individuals.  How do we change our own thinking about other people, other beliefs, other cultures?  Let’s stop our own thinking that goes down the wrong path of how we think of others who are different or think differently.  Then maybe we can influence others to do the same.  I can apply that same concept to technology projects that introduce change.  Many of us resist change ourselves, and we are critical of others who resist change.  So the one thing I need to be doing in 2015?  I need to start with myself, to be more adaptable to change, and more understanding and acceptable of others who resist change.

    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.

    Email:  andrewclark.willowtree@gmail.com

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

     

    Karen Dunn Skinner:

    Karen Skinner

    Here are our top three things lawyers should do in 2015 but probably won’t.

    1. Overcome improvement inertia. More and more firms are talking about process improvement and project management. But they need to do more than just talk. Firms should be working hard to improve their legal and business processes so they can deliver better value to their clients (and become more competitive and profitable at the same time). We suspect most will talk and few will do.
    2. Stop jumping to solutions. Firms large and small often look for quick fixes and new technologies to solve problems, without looking for the root causes of those problems. It’s a Ready, Fire, Aim approach that risks wasting time and money on the wrong things.
    …and finally:
    3. Floss more. Because everybody should, and most people won’t.
    Karen Dunn Skinner is a certified Lean Six Sigma Sensei with over 18 years of practical legal experience in Canada and Europe. Working with large and small clients in law firms, as a solo practitioner and a legal process outsourcer, Karen has been part of the new legal landscape. Her diverse experience includes major privatization work and development of regulatory frameworks for the energy industry in Eastern Europe, as well as doctoral studies on corporate governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London, England. She combines this experience with her training in Lean Six Sigma to provide practical solutions to the competitive and budgetary pressures on practitioners and clients alike.

     

    Brian Mauch:

    Brian - Linkedin photo

    Passwords are our main protection for our online life, but most people use simple passwords with minimal variations and keep the same password forever.  We should all be using strong passwords (at least 8 characters long, including mixed case, numbers and symbols) and change them on a regular basis.

    Brian Mauch is President of BMC Networks, a Vancouver-based outsourced IT provider that specializes in law firms.  Brian obtained both law and commerce degrees from the University of British Columbia, and then combined his education with his passion for computers to form BMC Networks in 1997.
    E-mail:       bmauch@bmcnetworks.ca

     

    Ross Fishman:

    Ross Fishman LAW headshot 2012

    Drink more water!  Get more exercise!  Walk 10,000 steps daily!

    Or, wait, was that drink 10,000 glasses of water?  Exercise in the water?

    Aw heck, I can’t remember.  I guess I’ll just go sit back down on the couch.
    Ross Fishman, JD, is the CEO of Fishman Marketing, one of the legal profession’s leading branding and website-development firms.

     

    Joe Kashi:

    Joe Kashi
    1.  Encrypting everything from office server to cloud data
    2.  Using more audio/still photo/video evidence
    3.  Returning critical data from “nebulous” cloud vendors to our own control and
    protection.

    Joe Kashi received his BS and MS degrees from MIT in 1973 and his law degree from Georgetown University in 1976.  He has been a full-time litigator since 1977.  Since 1990, he has published in excess of 200 articles and made dozens of presentations about legal technology on behalf of various bar associations and private publishers. Between 1990 and 2000, he also owned and operated a small computer store.

     

    Bjorn Christianson:

    Barney Christianson

    Treating with respect the power to form an opinion.

    Bjorn is the managing partner of the Christianson TDS offices in Portage la Prairie, MacGregor and Gladstone, offices which have operated with the Christianson name since 1970. His current practice is focused principally on transactional matters in the areas of Farm Real Estate, Corporate, Commercial, Estates, Municipal Law, and litigation relating to those matters.

    Born and raised in and around Westbourne and Portage la Prairie, Bjorn has spent his working career in South Central Manitoba. His clients are the individuals, businesses and institutions who live, work and shape the communities in the area. The concerns his clients bring him involve the acquisition, growth, and protection of their family, farm, and business assets.

     

    David J. Bilinsky:

    2013 20 years with bartalk

     

    Well I hope you have enjoyed reading the ideas put forward by our colleagues! Here are my thoughts on what we all know we should be doing in 2015 but aren’t (or perhaps could do a bit more…):

    1. Look after our world. Be a part of a group that is trying to make the world a better place.  We all say that ‘someone should be doing …X…” well that someone is really each of us.  We can’t to everything but we can help out in some way, at some level, by being in some group that is trying to do things better.  Someone once said that the best thing you can do for yourself is to help someone else.
    2. Look after those closest to you.  Time slips between our fingers all too quickly.  Hilary Cooper said “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”   Set time aside to catch as many of those breath-taking moments as you can with those you love.
    3. Take time to look after yourself.  The fact is that if you don’t, no one else will.  You have a gift of life, time and intelligence.  Use these gifts well to not only look after others but look after yourself, too.

    So buy more flowers!  Be a better friend!  Play that guitar that gets lonely sitting in its case! We have the incredible advantage that there is still time ahead of us…

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    2014 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

    ♫ Have a holly, jolly Christmas;
    It’s the best time of the year
    I don’t know if there’ll be snow
    but have a cup of cheer
    Have a holly, jolly Christmas;
    And when you walk down the street
    Say Hello to friends you know
    and everyone you meet..♫

    Lyrics and Music by Johnny Marks, recorded by Burl Ives.

    As in past years we would like to (finally!) take a moment from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and wish everyone the Best of the Holidays and a Happy New Year!  This year in particular I would like to thank all my guest contributors who have enriched this blog with their wonderful and thought-provoking ideas.

    2014 screen shot

     

    Our gift to everyone is a few minutes of images set to music.  To see this year’s complete slide show to music (turn up your speakers!) click on the link below (please be patient it may take a few minutes to start):

    For those with a photography bent, most images were taken with either a Panasonic DMS-G3 camera with the 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 lens or an Olympus TOUGH with an Olympus 4.5-15 mm f/2.0-4.9 lens.  A few were taken on cell phones.  All were taken within the last 12 months.

    The music is “A Holly Jolly Christmas” which is a Christmas song written by Johnny Marks and most famously performed by Burl Ives (per Wikipedia).  It is performed by the Argyle Alumni Choir, Argyle Senior Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, copyright Frances Roberts, Director. Used with permission.

    We hope you enjoy the images and the music. Best wishes for the holidays and all the best in the New Year!

    Prior Seasons Greetings slide shows can be viewed here:

    2013 Christmas Greeting

    2012 Christmas Greeting

    2011 Christmas Greeting

    2010 Christmas Greeting

    2009 Christmas Greeting

    2008 Christmas Greeting

    2007 Christmas Greeting

    Posted in humour, Law Firm Strategy, personal focus and renewal | Permalink | 3 Comments »