♫ All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you
Oh yeah, well it’s true… that
I was made for you…♫
Lyrics and music by Phillip John Hanseroth, recorded by Brandi Carlile.
The beginning of September is always the start of the new year for me. Perhaps it was so many years spent in school and the inevitable association with the start of the newly-minted school year. Perhaps it is coming back from a summer vacation refreshed and invigorated and with new energy for projects. Perhaps it is because I have been talking to many people who have plans for when they get back in September in terms of branding and setting a new strong strategic direction for their firm.
Either way, I believe that September is a wonderful time to refocus, regroup and decide the future direction of your practice. What changes would you like to see? Over time law firms can lose their focus on their core services – what do they do best. They can also lose touch with their core values and their strategic direction as they take on new files and clients that pull them in new directions. September is a perfect time to sit back with your colleagues and think about where the firm is going. Do you wish it to explore new opportunities? Or are you being pulled into areas that no longer represent the reasons you formed the firm in the first place? What is gnawing on you about the firm? What would you like to change from both a firm-wide and personal perspective? Start a list..and have your colleagues do the same – and arrange a time (on a weekend) to hone in on all this and come to a consensus on where all of you would like to go.
Come together and discuss the firm..its direction, focus, what makes it special and distinct – and what should be the future direction of the firm. What is your story? Have you been drawn away from the clients, activities and associations that drew all of you together in the first place? What is your marketing focus for the next while? What would you like to change regarding the management of the firm? What about technology? Have you fallen a bit behind in this area and need to incorporate plans for upgrades and new ways of doing things? Are there categories in the finance area that you would like to tighten up, such as the collection of old accounts receivable and the tightening up of credit extended to clients? How about looking at your budget and seeing if the expenses in the group “we have always been paying this” should be looked at again if for no other reason to see if there are other vendors who might be less-expensive?
Personally I think one of the important measures is whether you have remained a ‘client-focused firm’. My late colleague and friend Milt Zwicker’s acid test was whether what was done in the firm provided value to the clients - or not. If not he would change or modify the policy or procedure so that it benefitted clients as much as possible.
I think focusing on the story of the firm and how it carries you into the future is also important. This is the culture, the invisible bond that draws all of you together and forms the backbone of the belief system of the firm. Organizations can change their culture and focus, but the story is the glue that connects the past with the future and tells why you are where you are. It is important to connect with the story of the firm, since after all, the firm was made for you to be able to provide value and meaning to your clients.
(cross posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ And I’m on a roll
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m on a roll
I’m runnin’ hot
Baby, am I hot or what?…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by Mark Knopfler.
This is another guest post by my friend Bob Denney. This is his midyear “What Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession”.
In our Annual Report last December, we stated that some of our findings are obvious while others are not but we report them because they may become significant. We have applied that same reasoning in preparing this Update. What is most important to recognize is that the strategic relevance of each item may vary for each firm depending on its size, practice areas and geographic markets. The resulting picture is a montage of a profession that continues to change.
- Patents. Despite a drop in manufacturing, applications continue to increase in science and technology. The steady increase in Patent Litigation continues to be fueled to a great degree by patent trolls. See Other Trends & Issues – Patent Trolls and Defensive Aggregators..
- Health Care. More issues arise as the result of implementing the Affordable Care Act.
- Energy. The fracking boom continues along with opposition. Oil is becoming more important than ever and not just in the U.S. New EPA regulations affect coal. Despite Administration and environmentalists’ efforts to expand alternate energy sources, they still provide only a small percentage of our total energy.
- Environmental. New rules just issued by the EPA are tough in some states, easy in others.
- Regulatory. One of the areas that continues to keep Chief Legal Officers and business owners awake at night. Covers a wide range of matters including cybersecurity and social media.
- Labor & Employment. The steady increase in union organization activities adds to the caseloads generated by widespread layoffs.
- Major litigation. In the top 100 firms and major litigation boutiques. Many less serious cases are going to MidSize and even some SmallLaw firms
- Education Law. Particularly in firms with colleges and universities as clients. Title IX cases continue to increase.
- Criminal due in part to defendants’ increasing use of videos in sentencing hearings.
- Private Offerings
- White Collar Crime
- IPOs. Particularly in technology. As we anticipated in our 2013 Annual Report.
- Bankruptcy. The increased cost of filing is the principal reason. One significant indicator: The venerable Los Angeles-based boutique Stutman Treister & Glatt is closings its doors after 57 years.
- Asia. Proskauer Rose and U.K. firm Withers report substantial growth in their anti-bribery and corporate fraud practices.
- London. Recent research confirms that U.S. start-ups in London have the highest partner churn rate. Fraser MacLean, Recruitment and London Start-Up Coordinator, asks why
MARKETING & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
- Obviously these are more important than ever for any size firm as all firms battle for a shrinking pool of work, particularly high-end. We are not ignoring M & BD, merely referring the subject to the plethora of reports, articles, seminars and blogs that address these areas.
- Disaster Plans. The weather this past winter and spring in most parts of the U.S. makes the need for them greater than ever for all firms, not just large. Pittsburgh firm Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky (full disclosure: a client) has one of the most comprehensive plans. o LSAT exams. In 2013-2014, only 105,532 applicants sat for the exam, the lowest number in 15 years. The highest number of takers was in 2009-2010, when 171,514 people sat for the exam. Obviously, unless there is a reversal, this is not a favorable trend for law schools and the legal profession.
- Law Schools. Many developments here:
- Tuitions. For the second straight year, the University of Arizona Law School is cutting tuitions for non-residents, this time to $29,000, down from $38,841 a year ago. The Board of Regenets claims this undercuts the non-resident tuition at more than a dozen peer law schools nationwide.
- Faculty Buyouts. University of Buffalo Law School is offering faculty buyouts in response to a planned downsizing of its study body.
- Curricula. Slow but increasing changes and additions, many focused on technology.
- Suffolk University: New area of study called “Legal Technology and Innovation” which includes Process Improvement and Legal Project Management,
- Michigan State: The Reinvent Law Laboratory to train future lawyers in legal technology software and computer-based methodologies. Florida Coastal School of Law: The Center for Law Practice Technology.
- In a Harvard Law survey of 124 lawyers at major firms that employ the most HLS grads, they said accounting, statistics, corporate finance, negotiation and business strategy are essential courses to best equip them for practicing law.
- Uniform Bar Exam. Enables anyone who passes it to practice in any of the other states that offer the UBA although each state may set its own passage score. Currently offered in 14 states. We expect this number to increase and, sooner or later, the UBA to replace state bar exams.
- Mandatory Mediation. The New York State court system is ready to launch a pilot program in Manhattan Supreme Court that would require every fifth case assigned to judges in its commercial division to go to mediation. Could this become a trend? We doubt it.
- Patent Trolls. Oklahoma recently became the 12th state to enact legislation aimed at reining in patent trolls – or more politely “non-practicing entities” (NPEs) – which accounts for most patent litigation today In total, patent bills have been introduced or enacted in 26 states.
- Defensive Aggregators. These are recent players in the NPE phenomenon. In exchange for an annual fee, they buy up dangerous patents on the open market before NPEs get their hands on them. When NPEs do sue subscribers, DAs try to arrange settlements for their members, lever-aging the fact that they can strike deals on behalf of multiple members at the same time.
- Legal Fees and Gender Gap. According to a review by Sky Analytics Inc., a provider of software to help track legal spending and invoices, female partners command on the average 10% less in fees then their male counterparts. The gap begins at the junior lawyer level and is more pronounced among experienced attorneys at major firms, even when partners have similar levels of experience and work in the same market.
- Diversity. While the number of Asian-American and Hispanic lawyers has rebounded from pre- recession levels at the 100 highest-revenue firms, the percentage of black lawyers at these firms is only 3%, the lowest level since 2000. Yet corporate legal departments, not to mention government and regulatory agencies, are increasingly integrated and take affirmative steps to ensure they employ diverse outside counsel.
- Alternative Fee Arrangements. Reports from corporate legal departments on the percentage of their legal fees paid in some form of AFA vary widely. However, a growing number of corporations now involve procurement people in preparing RFPs and discussing AFAs. Reports from firms also vary widely but rarely exceed 50% and, in most firms, continue to be much less. Some large firms are developing pricing strategies, particularly those that have hired pricing directors.
- Non-lawyer investment in firms. A controversial issue that was hot until a year ago, then cooled down. It’s far from dead. See my article in the August issue of Of Counsel.
- MidLaw and SmallLaw firms continue to benefit as large corporate clients shift work to them because their rates are lower, they have skilled lawyers and fewer conflicts. LexisNexis reported that the share of fees in the U.S going to firms of 201-500 lawyers grew from 18% three years ago to 22% last year while, at the largest firms with more than 750 lawyers, the market share fell from 26% to 20%.
- Litigation Funding is still Hot as certain investors continue to fund law suits in hopes of collecting when verdicts come down. Some law firms are even seeking funding arrangements for clients who need help to carry their suits.
- Virtual law firms continue to increase. The June 5 edition of the excellent “Attorney At Work” blog contains a thoughtful discussion of how to avoid the isolation that could occur in them.
- Project Management continues to grow in importance at mid-size firms as well as the largest because major clients continue to demand “Value” – often undefined – for their legal spend.
- Succession Planning, for both management and client responsibility, is becoming a major concern, not only for mid-size firms but also for some of the largest.
- Lateral Hiring continues to be a growth strategy, not only in large firms but also in many mid- size ones as well. Abandoned merger discussions, such as the recent ones between Patton Boggs and Squire Sanders, continue to provide an additional pool of potential laterals.
- Contract and Part-Time Attorneys. BigLaw and MidLaw firms continue to hire more of them.
- Equity Partner Compensation continues to be a critical and even more sensitive issue. With firms need for growth, often just to survive, partners and even senior associates are demanding more recognition for origination or are opposing “sunset origination”. The issue becomes more clouded with the other responsibilities partners must handle in even smaller and mid-size firms.
- Always a major issue in most firms, we see compensation becoming more challenging an issue than ever.
We will be addressing some of these developments, as well as others not included here, in greater depth in subsequent Legal Communiques as well as one our web site which is updated monthly or more often.
Robert Denney Associates Inc. provides strategic management and marketing counsel to law firms, companies and non-profit organizations throughout the United States. Previous Communiques as well as information about our services may be viewed on our web site.
P.O. Box 551, Wayne, PA 19087-0551 • 610-644-7020 • fax: 610-296-8726 email: firstname.lastname@example.org • web site: www.robertdenney.com.
Thanks Bob for a great post – looks like you are on a roll!
♫ I want security, yeah
Without it I had a great loss, oh now
And I want it at any cost, oh now…♫
Lyrics and music by: Margaret Wessen, Otis Redding; recorded by Otis Redding.
I have been giving a number of presentations lately that in part, deal with the (in)security of law firm systems. This is based on the findings of the Legal Technology Resource Center of the ABA (“LTRC”) in their 2013 Legal Technology Survey. They reported that 15% of reporting law firms acknowledged that they had a security leak. 43% reported being infected by a virus, spyware or malware. Only 53% of firms reporting having a disaster recovery plan in place (these stats cause me to picture a Venn diagram showing those firms that were infected, had a security leak and those who had a disaster recovery plan and the degree of overlap…or lack thereof…but I digress…)
Bloomberg reports that China-based hackers target law firms to get secret deal data. Unfortunately the law firms being hacked were Canadian – and Bloomberg states that they rifled one secure computer system after the next – eventually hitting 7 different law firms as well as the Treasury Board and Canada’s Finance Ministry.
Bloomberg further states that in a meeting with 200 law firms in New York City with Mary Galligan, head of the cyber division in the New York City office of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and her group: “..the FBI issued a warning to the lawyers: Hackers see attorneys as a back door to the valuable data of their corporate clients.”
Obviously this column is far too short to deal with this issue in any depth except to help raise awareness and to leave our gentle readers with one technique to protect sensitive communications and data.
Bruce Schneier is one person that I listen to when he speaks on security. Bruce has been writing about security issues on his blog since 2004, and in his monthly newsletter since 1998. He writes books, articles, and academic papers. Currently, he is the Chief Technology Officer of Co3 Systems, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, and a board member of EFF.
Bruce said – if you want to evade NSA (and basically any other spying) then don’t connect to the Internet. OK you say, how is that possible today? Well Bruce recommends having one computer with an air gap. This is a physical isolation of a computer (or network of computers) from the internet. If you want to get really really paranoid – you buy two identical computers, configure one by connecting it to the internet for a little as possible to get it running (and as anonymously as possible), upload those results to a cloud-based anti-virus checker and then transfer the results of that to the air gap computer using a one-way process. Then once you have the computer configured – never, never ever connect it to the internet again. Disable the Wi-Fi so it never gets accidentally turned on. Turn off all auto run features.
Bruce advises transferring files using a writable optical disk (CD or DVD). You can verify the data written to such a disk. Encrypt EVERYTHING moved on and off that computer (and of course have full hard-drive encryption on this air gapped computer).
Bruce states that even this is not foolproof. He has further suggestions in his blog. You can take things even further. Bruce should know – he is looking at Snowden documents. Bruce wants security at any cost…
(cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)
♫ These days go by
And they’re gone before you know it
So come on, open your window
Let the light shine in
This is life don’t miss it…♫
Lyrics, Music and recorded by Francesca Battistelli.
It is not too often that I get to write about technology and theatre. However, to every rule there is an exception. And this is an exceptional exception.
Helen Lawrence is playing at The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver until April 13, 2014. This is a world premier. If you haven’t already seen it – I urge you to take a moment and head off to one of the remaining shows. It will be gone before you know it.
The writeup for the presentation is as follows:
“World premiere Acclaimed visual artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Boardwalk Empire) bring you an intoxicating mixed-media spectacle set in the Vancouver of 1948. Visit the vanished worlds of the old Hotel Vancouver and Hogan’s Alley—the city’s hot spot for gambling and vice.Helen Lawrence is an intriguing, hard-boiled tale of loyalty and money that illuminates our city’s politics during a time of historic upheaval.”
It is stunning in its use of visual effects. The acting is simply outstanding – it is crisp, exact and precise. The tone is perfect. The use of visual angles to great effect only accentuate the story.
In a word I loved it. I don’t want to say more as I don’t wish to be a spoiler. But this is a show not to be missed. Bravo!!!
.♫ And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun….♫
Lyrics and Music by David Gilmour, Nicholas Mason, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, recorded by Pink Floyd.
One of the most interesting things I did just prior to Techshow was to attend a small group presentation hosted by Bob Christensen of The Form Tool and Doxsera in advance of Techshow. Bob’s presentation focused on change and in particular, the effect of change on the legal profession. In order to set the stage, Bob started by noting that in earliest dawn of man, one major change appeared in say, 10,000 generations. That has gradually accelerated to the point where today, we are seeing four major changes appearing in a single generation.
So what has that got to do with the legal profession, you say?
Bob noted that the structure of the legal business was established in the 1700s. We continue to use that structure more or less today.
Bob continued by noting that the watchmaking industry was started at about this same time. During that same period, watchmakers were some of the wealthiest people around and handmade watches cost a considerable amount. Now fast forward to today…to the world of Timex. A $29.95 Timex watch today keeps far better time than the best hand made watch of the past.
Furthermore, 60% of the number of watches in circulation has plummeted - due to the appearance of smartphones. The members of the new generation do not buy watches – they all have smartphones that keep accurate time. They do not see the need.
Bob stated this is just an example of the fact that “the consumer will always dominate the marketplace.” And that applies just as equally to the legal profession.
He noted three major themes in life today:
Theme #1 – the rate of change is accelerating
Theme #2 – that evolution always starts at the top. It is incremental.
Theme #3 – that revolution comes from the bottom. And revolution is always disruptive.
Bob noted that www.LegalZoom.com has taught the legal marketplace (but not lawyers) that legal documents should be free or at least low cost.
Bob challenged the lawyers in the room to see themselves in the same position as the watchmakers of the past who made hand-made watches for high prices. Revolution = Disruption = Technology is coming.
A word about Bob’s latest product: Doxsera. Doxsera is priced at $89 / year (USD). It is a very sophisticated document assembly engine for Word for Windows (sorry it doesn’t work in Word on the Mac).
What makes Doxsera different? It pulls in vast amounts of info into multiple documents and assembles documents in a way that is unique and very cost-effective. You don’t just assemble one document – you assemble a group of documents all relating to say, a closing or real estate transaction etc. You can take a process that in the past, had to be used to produce documents in a serial process (one after another) to the point where it can produce a whole grouping of documents at one time (parallel processing). Bob is trying to demonstrate to lawyers how they can produce legal documents at low cost. Think of his product as taking the legal production process as moving from making expensive hand-made watches to producing inexpensive Timex watches.
However, after his talk I couldn’t help looking back over my shoulder for the legal equivalent of the smartphone. Hmmm….perhaps it is just a matter of time..
♫ There’s a bridge
I don’t know how to cross yet
I need your hand
To hold along the way..♫
Music and lyrics by: Tozer, Faye/lauper, Cyndi/pilsford, Jan/irn, Jasper, recorded by Steps.
Since I am just recently back from ABA Techshow in Chicago which was held last week, I thought this blog post could be an amalgam of the sessions that touched on going paperless that I saw as well as the management issues that were raised in these sessions.
To start, there are “Three Key Steps to Paperless Success.” These are:
- Everything gets scanned
- You need protocols in place to make sure it gets done
- You (and everyone else) has to make time to do it
If you don’t scan everything, nothing else matters as the systems then start to break down.
There are three Scanning Methods that you can adopt:
- Centralized Scanning: This is suitable for large firms. Here you have one person or a team dedicated to the task, using large capacity scanners
- Distributed Scanning: This is suitable for smaller firms, where everyone scans their own documents. Here you have staff that have multiple roles, including scanning. The King of Scanners for this method of scanning: The Fujitsu ScanSnap.
- Hybrid Scanning: This method is suitable for medium to larger firms. Here work groups scan their own documents, using a variety of scanners. Staff have greater familiarity with the types of documents being scanned as compared to Centralized Scanning.
Regarding the management process behind the decision to go paperless, the suggestions were: (more…)
♫ Doin it right, doin it right
Doin it right, doin it right
The blues bands cookin and the drummers burnin down
Doin it right on the wrong side of town!!! ♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by the Powder Blues.
Law firms like to think that they do things rather well. Exceptionally well, as a matter of fact. Particularly the biggest ones.
Only problem is, not everyone agrees with that perception. Take Casey Flaherty for example. Casey just happens to be the General Counsel at Kia Motors America. In his words (and this is an exact quote) “Lawyers see themselves as Tom Cruise but most of their work is drudgery.. and they suck at using computers.”
His proof? He gave a mock assignment to lawyers that he knew should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete. When tested the average time to compete the assignment was 5 hours and some took as long as 8 hours.
He has devised a technology audit that he gives to firms before he engages them to test their technology competence. We are not talking sophisticated legal tools here. Casey is testing knowledge and use of basic Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and Adobe Acrobat.
From the ABA Journal article by Casey Flaherty himself, he stated:
Sample tasks include:
(a) formatting a motion in Word,
(b) preparing motion exhibits in PDF, and
(c) creating an arbitration exhibit index in Excel.
The specific tasks, however, are of little importance as they are designed to test general skills. The foregoing examples could just as easily be:
(a) formatting a contract in Word,
(b) Bates stamping a document production of PDFs, or
(c) isolating pertinent performance data in Excel—or, really, any of the other myriad, routine, low-value-added tasks that lawyers regularly complete on their computers (or should).
He has given the audit 10 times. All firms failed…some spectacularly. Both the median and mean was 5 hours.
What does he have to say about the audit results?
My claims are much broader: a lot (of waste exists in the legal system) and enough (of that waste is attributable to technological incompetence to make this a problem worth addressing)
The real issue is that law firms (and particularly the largest ones) have absolutely no incentive to have their lawyers increase their technological knowledge. So long as they bill by the billable hour – meaning there are no competitive pressures forcing them to acquire greater skills, this situation will exist. The greater hours put into a file translate to a bigger bottom line.
There is something very very fundamentally wrong here. No other business or profession has been allowed to languish on the borders of technological incompetence and still be in business. Most if not all other business would have been driven out of business by failing to meet mounting competitive pressures.
Is there a correlation here with Access to Justice? The middle class have been claiming that lawyers are far too expensive and out of reach for their typical legal problems for some time now.
I wonder just how long the public will stand by before they start to call for fundamental changes to the legal system in order to bring about the changes that they desire. My co-author for this column, Garry Wise of Toronto, in reviewing this article stated that:
But in fairness to Canadian lawyers, in part, without paperless courts and automated systems for court and other filings, there is even less incentive for us to master the skills that would be necessary to put electronic documents together. Our system simply doesn’t require that we prepare or know how to complete effective “non-papyrus” documents.
I agree with Gary ..the solution is not piece-meal. We have to address the entire workflow of how we produce, serve, file, share, store, search, and archive legal documents. I was presenting at a CBA Immigration conference in Vancouver last week and my co-presenter Laura Best a lawyer at Embarkation Law Group asked the attendees how many people in attendance filed electronically in federal court. Only a handful of hands went up indicating that even where e-filing is possible, lawyers are not getting on the bandwagon (Laura happens to be one of the biggest users of e-filing here in BC, I understand).
This is a knowledge management issue, it is a management issue, it is an issue where all the players in the room have to come to the table to brainstorm on how to change not only behaviours but the system itself to encourage lawyers to bring about the necessary change.
The call to arms here for lawyers, law firms and regulators is to prod, push, cajole and otherwise mandate greater change before this change is thrust upon us. We have to become students of change and move with the technological times. Management of firms should not stand by and simply be satisfied with the status quo. They should be bringing in IT training (complete with tests and assignments) to ensure that their lawyers are up to speed on at least basic technological tasks. There are no lack of trainers and programs, both in house and available thru consultants for this to occur. Furthermore, court administration, judges and tribunals should be right on-side and equally looking at how their systems can be improved to increase efficiencies and effectiveness.
Perhaps another message for general counsel like Casey Flaherty is to look for smaller firms that could do it right…even if they come from the wrong side of town….
This article is concurrently posted here and on slaw tips.ca.
♫ Even though you’re going through hell
Just keep on going
Let the demons dwell
Just wish them well…♫
Yesterday I taught the first class of the 2014 term on legal technology for the Internationally Trained Lawyer’s Program at the University of Toronto law school. We started the session with everyone giving a bit of background on who there are, where they went to law school, what type of law they practiced in their home country and hope to practice following their call here in Canada and what their background was in technology. They also had to provide one quirky fact about themselves that no one would know which provided a light-hearted fun aspect to the course.
Notwithstanding the humour introduced by the quirky question responses, two factors struck me in listening to the stories of these bright and enthusiastic lawyers…one of which being the challenges and personal sacrifices that they had undertaken in order to cross half the globe and seek qualification here in Canada. The second aspect was how deeply technology has penetrated how we practice law in Canada and the enormity of their task – to not only learn a new legal system but to learn how one interacts with that system using the myriad of tools and technologies available to us.
There is the analogy of the boiling frog – if you put a frog into a pot of hot water, the frog will immediately leap out. But if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog apparently does not realize what is happening…the frog slowly adjusts to the increase in temperature (ultimately for its detriment…but I digress). The point is that technology has grown up around us to the point where we take it all for granted.
It is only when you are faced with the prospect of learning all that we take for granted that you realize how lawyers in Canada have adjusted to incorporating technology into all that we do. Unfortunately there are still a number of lawyers who do not embrace the benefits of technology and what we can achieve on behalf of our clients by applying technology appropriately. It is sad that some of this group wear the distinction of not knowing how to use technology as some kind of mark of distiction.
It also makes one realize the efficiencies and effectiveness that we have achieved as a result of incorporating technology into the practice of law. We have been through a tremendous period of change from the time of the introduction of the first personal computers into practice. Now with the Internet, collaborative technologies, social media, cloud computing and all the mobile devices from smartphones to iPads and Android devices, we have new and innovative ways to practice from wherever we are with clients that are scattered all over the globe.
I can’t think of a more exciting time to be a lawyer in Canada. I am encouraged and humbled by the determination of those in this cohort to come up to speed with all aspects of how to practice law in Canada. I wish them well!
(Cross posted to slaw tips.ca)
♫ One of these things
Will tell you something.
Let`s tell the future
Let`s see how it`s been done.
How it`s been done…♫
Lyrics, Music and Recorded by Serena Ryder.
(image used per licence from VectorGems)
I so look forward to this time of the year when so many friends contribute their ideas for what the future will hold for us in the New Year! This year we have predictions from:
- Ross Fishman
- Richard Granat
- Nicole Black
- Sharon Nelson
- Colin Rule
- Ann Halkett
- Brian Mauch
- Jordan Furlong
- John Zeleznikow
- Michael Downey
- Bob Denney
- Mitch Kowalski
- Buzz Bruggerman
- Andrew Clark
- David J. Bilinsky
It is great fun to see what others are thinking in terms of where the legal profession is heading. So without further ado, let’s see how it’s been done:
#1 Post-merger local-firm marketing will increase:
- Today, more than five years into the legal profession’s Merger Frenzy, the smaller acquired firms are realizing that many of the promised benefits of the mergers, e.g. cross selling new legal services from The Mothership, haven’t materialized — they’re on their own. Further, they’re actually in a negative position regarding visibility in their local markets because they traded their hard-earned local name recognition for a big-firm brand.
- Unfortunately, although you are now part of a 1000-lawyer national firm’s proud 100-year tradition, it doesn’t help you generate business if no buyers near you have heard of the firm. Frustrated that The Home Office doesn’t feel their pain (or acknowledge the problem), and tired of waiting, they’re starting to hire their own marketers to build the new brand in their local market.
#2 Significantly more mid-sized and large firms will build their new websites in open-source technology like WordPress or Drupal than any particular web developer’s proprietary software.
#3 I predict that nearly every single law firm in an entire geographic region will proudly showcase their “unique culture and differentiation” by rotating a collection of smiling photos of their lawyers on the home page of their new websites.
The CEO of Fishman Marketing, Ross Fishman has an international reputation as one of the legal profession’s most-effective branding experts, web developers, and marketing strategists. His creative online and traditional marketing campaigns help law firms dominate their markets and drive millions of dollars of additional revenue.Fishman Marketing has designed campaigns for upwards of 200 law firms worldwide, and presented nearly 300 marketing programs, firm retreats, and CLE/Ethics presentations. A former litigator, marketing director, and marketing partner, he has received dozens of marketing awards, including the Legal Marketing Association’s grand prize, the “Best of Show” honor, five times.
A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, in 2006, Ross was the first marketer inducted into the LMA’s Hall of Fame.
- I predict that some, not all, law schools will continue to reinvent legal education by incorporating training in legal technology and legal education.
- New courses in document automation, legal project management, legal services redesign, legal expert systems, and ediscovery management will infiltrate the law school curriculum to train law students for 21st century law practice.
2013 predictions by Nicole Black:
1) Mobile computing will continue to transform the way that lawyers practice law and manage their practices. Of all emerging technologies, mobile computing has been the one technology that was most quickly embraced by most lawyers. Most lawyers now use mobile phones in their law practices and even federal court judges in their 80s now use iPads while on the bench to conduct legal research and view briefs with hyperlinked case citations. With the increase in the use of mobile devices, more and more attorneys will utilize mobile apps or software with mobile integration, such as PDF annotation apps, law practice management software, and legal research products. Lawyers will use mobile devices to increase their productivity and will be able to practice law and run their practices no matter where they happen to be. There will also be a continuing tension between the convenience of 24/7 access and finding the right balance between work and home life.
2) 2014 will be the year that lawyers begin to move to the cloud at rates never before seen. In 2011 I predicted that by mid-2013 the mindset of lawyers regarding the cloud would finally change and lawyers would begin to view the cloud as a secure, more convenient and affordable alternative to traditional server-based systems. Based on results from surveys such as the 2013 ABA Legal Technology Survey and anecdotal evidence, I believe that occurred. But Snowden’s revelations regarding NSA’s spying certainly had a stifling effect on lawyers’ views toward cloud computing. Even so, the proliferation of cloud computing software can’t be denied and lawyers are increasingly realizing that the benefits outweigh the risks. I expect that trend to continue in 2014 and that the legal cloud computing market will really open up and move ahead at a fast pace by the year’s end.
3) The need to understand social media and the major platforms will become a much higher priority for many lawyers–especially litigators–as the impact of social media on their cases continues to rise. There will be a push by most law firms–large and small alike–to educate their attorneys about using social media both in their cases and to promote their practices. Lawyers will actively seek out information about social media with the goal of using it as a tool in their cases, both during the discovery phase as a tool to obtain useful evidence to support their clients’ cases and also at trial when researching jurors.
4) While practicing lawyers will continue to embrace new technologies and take steps to educate themselves about the ways that new technologies can help their practices, most law schools will, unfortunately, take the opposite tack. Enmeshed in institutional patterns with little to no incentive to change, the majority of law schools will continue to teach law as they’ve always done. Very few will change their curriculums to incorporate teaching law students about new technologies or the practicalities of running a law practice. Preparing students with the skills needed to practice law in the 21st Century will take a back seat to the desires of law school decision-makers to increase short-term monetary gains rather than invest in the future of law students and the legal profession as a whole.
Nicole Black is a Director at MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is an attorney in Rochester, New York, and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology and can be reached at:
2013 Predictions by Sharon Nelson:
- Smart entrepreneurs (like those who founded Novus Law)will siphon business that used to belong to large law firms.
- “Encryption by default” will spread throughout the Internet – a good thing and thank you to the National Security Agency, which provided much of the motivation for the trend!
Sharon D. Nelson, Esq.
Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc, a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the ABA podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology.” She is a frequent author (ten books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She is the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014.
#1 – The US Affordable Care Act website will finally work seamlessly, and government contracting of web services will shift firmly to outsourcing instead of insourcing.
Ann Halkett‘s Predictions:
- We will see more education with Canadian content on the eDiscovery process targeted towards lawyers and paralegals. This will likely originate in eastern Canada, but will be available across the country via webinars.
- More firms will obtain software to assist in dealing with eDiscovery files or update existing software to take on eDiscovery.
- More firms will recognize that they require best practices, established processes, staff, and lawyers dedicated to the specialized area of eDiscovery to avoid costly mistakes, keep up with competitors, and meet client demands.
Ms. Halkett is a senior paralegal with 19 years of experience. She is the Litigation Support Coordinator with Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP. She has a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Victoria, a certificate in Journalism from Langara College, paralegal certificates in Litigation and Conveyancing from Vancouver Community College, is certified in Summation and LAW PreDiscovery and works with a number of litigation support programs. Ms. Halkett is also the past chair of the BC Legal Management Association Litigation Support Subsection and has written and presented at numerous CLEs.
- I predict that more law firms will adopt secure forms of cloud computing. This will complement the recent trend of lawyers using multiple mobile computing devices to access their data from anywhere.
- I also predict that more small law firms will implement document management systems, in order to manage the massive quantities of email sent and received by each member of the firm.
Batter up! Last year in this space, I made five trips to the plate, offering predictions about the Canadian legal market in 2013. Let’s see what the scoresheet shows.
- Two more Canadian firms will join global law firms through merger. In the event, one did: Fraser Milner Casgrain joined Dentons in March 2013. Double.
- Ontario’s introduction of a Law Practice Program to complement articling will lead two other provinces to follow suit. Nothing at all happened here. Strikeout.
- The Canadian economy will start really slowing, leading to retrenchment and cuts at big firms. I’m hearing reports and seeing evidence of this retrenchment all over the place, although no major firm announcements have come yet. Single.
- Canadian firms will accelerate lateral hiring efforts. The latest import from the U.S., overpaying free-agent partners to produce quick revenue fixes, is still growing, but not as dramatically as I expected. Call this a Walk.
- Quality Solicitors will expand its operations from the UK to Canada, offering franchise business support to solo and small-firm lawyers. I swung for the fences here, and came up empty. Strikeout.
So in the result: no runs scored, but the bases are loaded with two outs. Let’s see if I can get something across the plate in 2014.
- At least one law society will announce plans to relax restrictions against non-lawyer ownership of law firms. I’d be pleasantly surprised if a law society went so far as to approve full-scale Alternative Business Structures — that would be a Shot Heard ‘Round The Country — but at the least, I do think we’ll see the first serious crack in lawyers’ monopoly on law firm equity ownership.
- New lawyer employment will fall off drastically. A slowdown in business, a squeeze in profits, and a growing unwillingness of clients to pay for unskilled lawyer talent, will all combine to drive articling and associate hireback numbers to their lowest levels in recent memory. Combined with huge challenges encountered by new graduates trying to hang out their own shingles, this will help accelerate the next trend:
- Canadian law schools will be galvanized to provide skills training and legal career preparation. Led by forward-looking schools like Calgary and Queen’s, clinical legal education programs at several other faculties, and the new Integrated Practice Curriculum at Lakehead, law schools under huge pressure from students to counteract diminishing job prospects will start adding new credit courses that provide a “practical” element to their curriculum.
- A second provincial law society will follow Ontario’s lead and prepare to formally license independent paralegals. The actual process of approving and setting up a paralegal licensing and education system will take some time, as Ontario has demonstrated; but one law society will signal its intention to expand access to justice by granting at least partial autonomy to non-lawyer paralegals.
- And finally, my annual long shot: LegalZoom or RocketLawyer will launch full-scale Canadian operations, either in B.C. or Ontario, offering online interactive legal document services and throwing down the gauntlet to both regulators and the solo and small-firm lawyers they intend to either co-opt as partners or take on as competitors.
Change is unquestionably accelerating in the Canadian legal marketplace. The question is no longer whether we’ll see shifts in the structure and behaviour of the market for legal services here. The questions are when, how fast, and how far.
Jordan Furlong is a principal with Edge International and a Senior Consultant with Stem Legal Web Services. He has delivered dozens of dynamic and provocative presentations on the future of the legal market to law firms, law societies, state bars, legal organizations, law schools, judges, and a wide range of legal professionals in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. His blog, Law21, has been named six straight years as one of the best 100 law blogs by the ABA Journal, the only Canadian entry to be so honoured. A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, he is a guest lecturer at Queen’s University Faculty of Law in Kingston, Ontario, and the Legal Innovation Strategist in Residence at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.
- Rather than concentrate upon developing new technology, our efforts will be focused upon governance, ensuring our children are secure and happy and use the technology appropriately
- One US law school will announce a masters (LLM?) in Legal Process Management
- Some insurer will announce that it is automating its process for obtaining an initial offer to settle claims, using a virtual server
- The largest law firm in the world will surpass 4500 lawyers (a 10% increase in one year), and probably 5000 lawyers
- Law firm mergers will continue to increase, and at least three major US law firms will fail
- One large law firm will suffer a major data breach
- Five more jurisdictions will adopt the Uniform Bar Exam, effective by mid-2015
- By this time next year, I will be removed from the chair position of the Law Practice Division . . . .” At least then I know that one of my predictions will be accurate.
- The over-supply of lawyers, at least in the United States, will work its way down.
- Big firms will continue to discuss mergers, including more international ones, but some of these will not happen and a few of the completed mergers of the last few years will fail.
- While the number of lawyers may not increase, the total market for legal services will continue to grow because new laws and regulations will be passed and there will be more non-lawyers and entities that can and will provide them.
President Bob Denney is the founder of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., a firm that has provided management, marketing, and strategic planning expertise to over 900 law firms, offices and legal organizations throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and the Caribbean. Twice a year his firm publishes the highly regarded reports on “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” around the world.
Kowalski’s Predictions for 2014:
I have learned many things over the past 24 months, one of which is that I’m terrible at making predictions! Check that, I’m terrible at making short-term predictions. Because all of the things that I have predicted in the past on this blog will come true, just not as quickly as I had hoped. So, what to do for 2014? Keep on predicting….
- Cognition LLP and Conduit Law will continue to expand in the marketplace at a growth rate significantly higher than that of any other firm in the country. By 2025, both firms will be among the top 5 Canadian law firms by number of lawyers.
- I still believe that one well-known mid-sized or large-sized Canadian law firm will disband. Note that I say “disband”, rather than “explode”. Disbanding will occur when enough key partners at the firm decide there are greener pastures elsewhere and the firm disintegrates thereafter.
- The forward-thinking remainder of the disbanded firm in number 2 above, will rise from the ashes in the form of a new model law firm.
- No Canadian law firm will merge with a US or other international law firm.
- I am still calling for one law society to approve the adoption of Alternative Business Structures (“ABS”) for law firms. Look to Nova Scotia as the leading light in this matter.
- Benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada will receive the report of its committee on ABS and will vote that more study needs to be undertaken.
- The 2014 Law Practice Program in Ontario will flop badly at both schools offering it. This is due mostly to the last minute nature of how it was sourced by the Law Society of Upper Canada which does not give the successful proponents enough time to create a coherent and well-run program for 2014.
Mitch Kowalski is an innovative thinker, writer, speaker and lawyer. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, ABA best-seller, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century. He speaks regularly on legal service innovation as well as blogging on legal matters for the National Post’s blog, The Legal Post and on innovation in legal services for Slaw.ca. Mitch’s print articles have appeared in Lexpert Magazine, The National, The Advocate, The Hong Kong Law Journal, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post. He teaches innovation in law at the University of Calgary Law School and at the University of Ottawa Law School. Mitch is one of the co-founders of lawTechcamp Toronto, a co-ordinator of LawSync and was selected as one of the Fastcase Top 50 Global Legal Innovators in 2012. Follow him on Twitter @mekowalski for information about innovation and law.
- Within 5 years, big screen TVs will be free. They will be sponsored by advertisers and will include chips that will make it impossible to change channels during commercials.
- The ROI is very simple, say a set costs get driven down to say $400 for a 42” set. Assuming say a 4 year useful life, then cost per year is $100, or $.27 per day. This cost of acquisition for a commercial sponsor will be peanuts, and something that the advert world will be all over.
Buzz Bruggeman is one of the co-founders of ActiveWords. He graduated with honors from Coe College and from Duke University Law School. He runs all of the outward facing aspects of ActiveWords, including marketing and partnering, and as such is responsible for evangelizing ActiveWords to everyone he meets. Buzz has spoken at many tech industry events, has been on the advisory board of the Demo Conference, won a Demo god award, and has been featured in books by Dan Gillmor and Robert Scoble. Buzz has been a long time participant in the startup and blogging community, and routinely speaks and consults on using new media tools to market and evangelize software. Buzz is an active mentor in the Techstars program.
- Could this be the year that enough lawyers want to do e-trails (not just electronic evidence presentation) that the judiciary and the courts really embrace technology in the courtroom? Here’s hoping.
- This is the year – wireless access in courthouses.
- Uptake of civil e-filing to BC courts tops 40%.
- Why not – lawyers and judges embrace a new assignment court model in 2014 and make it a success for the courts.
Andrew Clark is an independent consultant specializing in management consulting and project management in the Justice Sector. Andrew has spent the last nine years providing management consulting for a number of clients worldwide. Andrew started his career over 20 years ago in software engineering as a specialist in user interface design.
Andrew worked as an IT Director for the BC Ministry of Attorney General where he was the project director for the JUSTIN project, BC’s criminal case management system. After managing a software company for 8 years, Andrew started his own consulting company.
Throughout his career, Andrew has focused on Project Management and Team Building within an organization. He is a UVIC graduate with a B.Sc. and an MBA. Andrew is also a Project Management Professional certified by the Project Management Institute and an associate faculty at Royal Roads University where he has taught project management education within the MBA program for 6 years.
For the past eight years, most of Andrew’s work has been in the Courts, highlighted by his work in the British Columbia as well as work in the Vietnam Courts. Andrew has been the Project Manager for the British Columbia eCourt program, a portfolio of projects co-sponsored by the Judiciary and Court Services Branch. He also worked on the JUDGE Project – a CIDA funded project working with the courts in Vietnam – where he was responsible in overseeing the design, procurement and implementation of Digital Audio Recording in 3 courtrooms. A highlight in this project for Andrew was the establishment of a users group, without any senior officials, and creating a culture of users able to express their views in order to improve the solution for audio recording in the courtroom.
He is currently working with the Yukon Courts as well. Andrew has been and continues to be a member of several national committees and working groups for the Canadian Centre for Court Technology and the Association for Canadian Court Administrators. He has spoken at several conferences including the Court Technology Conference (CTC), the Canadian Forum on Court Technology and the Center for Legal and Court Technology Affiliates Conference.Email
UnitedLex Market 2014 Predictions:
UnitedLex predicts an increase in outsourcing as law firms recognize its intrinsic value and cost-cutting capabilities and as corporations begin to implement fixed fee budgets for law firm services.
They include insight on:
1. Outsourcing on the rise and the need for managed services
2. Law firm innovation
3. Law school innovation
5. GC priorities and the budgeting process
Law Firm Innovation
Law firms increase their partnership with Outsourcing providers. With GCs moving to a fixed-fee model for law firm services, we see law firms giving up the specialized services that they used to perform – such as eDiscovery, document review, legal research, etc. — and relying on LPOs to perform these functions. They are consolidating these services vs. having these services in-house. In the age of bigger cases, heavier workloads and demand for faster outcomes, law firms are beginning to realize that they cannot possibly meet the desired client service levels while maintaining profitability. Further, more and more case studies are demonstrating the ability of LPO/LSO to revamp business models resulting in cost savings of 50%. In 2014, they will pursue more long-term, strategic engagements – as opposed to using different vendors on a case-by-case basis for tactical, transactional work. This pay-as-you go consumption model will help firms control costs, improve quality and efficiencies, and increase profitability.
Attitudes change towards lower-level associates or non-practicing lawyers. Due to increased costs and declining billability, firms are cutting non-practicing lawyers, such as litigation support personnel, who are typically under-utilized and under-qualified. In addition, job functions typically held by lower-level associates (which include doc review, contract management, legal research, etc) at law firms will be outsourced to managed services providers.
Law firms slash IT budgets. As part of this trend, we’ll continue to see more and more law firms slash their IT budgets as they realize that increased overhead costs (high rents, salaries) and inaccurate risk/exposure forecasting is leading to lower revenue per hour. We are seeing law firm CIOs are faced with two critical tasks: How to reduce spend while increasing security. This is driving law firms to adopt cloud-based services that can be managed more efficiently and cost-effectively by outside providers as if they were managed internally.
Law firms begin to focus just on offering core services. As corporations look to reign in legal costs, there will be a focus on law firms who just practice law and offer subject matter experts. We’ll also see some innovative firms take steps to eliminate unnecessary spending by proactively reducing the amount of data being processed for e-discovery, resulting in a six- to seven-figure cost reduction per case which will help firms more accurately forecast total legal costs after e-discovery.
Cybersecurity and the legal industry
Increasing attacks on the corporate “soft underbelly”: More corporations will follow Google’s lead in 2014 and beef up their internal and network security protocols to prevent external attacks (e.g., hacking, social engineering), but also to prevent internal compromise (e.g., disgruntled employee leaving a firm and taking info with them). This increased focus on corporate security will cause hackers to seek out a corporation’s “soft underbelly” – including service providers like law firms – and concentrate attacks there. In 2014, UnitedLex predicts more law firms will increase security spending – both at the IT level and on employee training – to better detect and protect against an increase in attacks.
BYOD attacks will increase: As personal mobile devices proliferate within the workplace, 2014 will see an increased number of attacks on iOS and Android devices, which are used by lawyers to access secure corporate email and data networks, and which could have valuable information stored on them by note-taking or voice-recording apps. We saw numerous attacks in 2013 affecting law firms and corporations. BYOD-specific security software has been created to address this problem, however hacker attacks evolve faster than security. Law firms will have to develop and implement strict BYOD policies and procedures, setting aside convenience for better security.
Efforts to minimize risk and exposure from third-party vendors: We see a consolidation in the number of third-parties with whom law firms contract to provide services. In order to minimize the risk of a breach, we believe that more firms will strategically partner with end-to-end solutions providers, as opposed to using multiple-point solutions on a tactical, per-case basis, so they can limit who can access, store or otherwise manipulate sensitive data.
How firms can protect themselves and ensure strict vendor security compliance
· Vendor contract: Ensure contract has protections and assurances firms need regarding information access, what happens if there’s an incident, what access the firm would have to the vendor’s network to conduct its own investigation, etc.
· Hire consultant to physically inspect physical and IT security controls, evaluate policies and procedures, conduct frequent audits before sharing data
· Be aware of what information is actually being shared with third parties before it is shared
· Ensure that a vendor’s security protocols equally address people (training, internal security), processes and technology
GC Budgeting and Spend
GCs begin to maximize ROI from e-discovery projects. In 2014, we’ll begin to see organizations start to understand how to maximize ROI from their e-discovery projects as they understand the financial risk and potential exposure of e-discovery, and take proactive measures to manage spend. Already, GCs are realizing that the key to managing spend is enterprise data management, which starts at the corporate level and with inside counsel, and working with providers who can help reduce data volumes and more accurately predict TCO of e-discovery.
GCs keep a more watchful eye on costs to optimize their legal budgets. We’ll begin to see GCs look at internal spend vs. what they outsource as budgets tighten. They will focus on optimizing spend with outside counsel—only spending for counsel while outsourcing more and more lower level associate work to LPOs. GCs more than ever are looking at the internal vs. outsourcing perspective.
The shift from per-gig model to a fixed-fee model for e-discovery services. From a budgeting perspective, per-gig pricing will still play a heavy role in purchasing decisions in 2013, but will begin to move to a fixed-fee model in 2014. GCs are beginning to realize that this type of pricing model is a short-term fix (12 months) and does not address larger issue of enterprise data management. There is little cost savings for GCs because the large data volumes negate any potential savings from low per-gigabyte costs. In 2014, we’ll see GCs look at ways to strategically manage data volume and larger data management issues, which will greatly lower costs, and communicate this to procurement.
In the past, GCs focused just on legal strategy and litigation management but in 2012 and 2013, we began to see GCs focus on compliance, security, information governance, strategy areas that GCs had less responsibility a few years ago. There are now a multitude of issues in a GCs budget that a GC focuses on and we’ll continue to see this into 2014.
The rise of the LSO. We’ll begin to see more GCs outsource more and more services to legal services outsourcing providers vs. firms who just do legal processing. GCs are not just outsourcing their processing to today’s legal services providers. They are outsourcing a variety of functions including eDiscovery, document review, legal research, etc. that would normally be reserved for law firms to providers that can perform these functions. As GCs look to optimize spend, we’ll begin to see a shift towards services directed to these managed services providers (LSOs), as GCs begin to realize the strategic value that these LSOs have.
Law School Trends
Consolidation of law schools. LSAT applications will continue to decline in 2014. This will have a significant financial impact on law schools who must continue to pay for tenured professors and adhere to ABA requirements for a large, resource intensive library. As 80-85% of the law schools in the US are operating at a deficit, we’ll begin to see a consolidation of law schools that are not able to make their numbers.
Externships decline. Because Law schools are operating at a deficit, we’ll begin to see fewer and fewer externships as law firms strapped by corporations tightening their budgets begin to refuse to pay for these externships.
We’ll continue to see fewer jobs available for graduates. Corporations will refuse to pay the high rates that law firms charge for low to mid-level legal work normally handled by junior associates. This will force law firms to find a more cost-effective way of doing the work, such as outsourcing, which leaves fewer entry-level law firm jobs for graduates. Those that do get hired will not benefit from having learned these tasks, and therefore will have limited understanding on how they are done – creating inefficiencies.
Law Schools partner with services providers to help with job skills for after law school. In 2013 we saw law schools partnering with services providers to expand training for students in skills and technologies they would not normally learn on the job. We’ll continue to see this in 2014. Like a medical residency program, this gives law students real-world practical experience, exposure to actual legal matters, and hands-on experience of working in their field.
UnitedLex is a global company with a singular mission to improve the performance of law departments, law firms and academic institutions. We provide unparalleled solutions to address the risk, efficiency and effectiveness goals of our clients in North America, Europe and Asia. Our more than 1,500 attorneys, engineers and consultants drive economies of scale and knowledge in the areas of litigation, contracting, intellectual property, general legal and operations to deliver seven and eight figure benefit to our clients. Founded in 2006 and with more than $250 million in assets, UnitedLex deploys the right blend of service and technology in supporting the world’s leading corporations and law firms. UnitedLex is the only full service LSO recognized by Chambers & Partners as a Tier One/Band One legal service provider.
David J. Bilinsky
Like Jordan, I am going back to my predictions for 2013 to see how well I did …so here goes. Here is a short list of last’s year’s predictions with comments (Came True, Coming True, Still Waiting or Strikeout):
#10 Law Schools will embrace distance education as a way to expand their market and to bring in sessional lecturers that ordinarily would be cost-prohibitive:
Still Waiting: I haven’t seen a big uptake in distance education in 2013 with perhaps the University of Toronto Law School being a positive exception. However, I think that this will come true in time.
#9 Education in Law Schools will incorporate greater MBA-related training:
Coming true: I think with the new Law Practice Program in Ontario we are moving to more of a skills-oriented legal education that will incorporate more of an emphasis on practising law including required business management skills.
#8 Non-lawyers involved in the delivery of legal services:
Coming true: Ontario and BC are currently expanding the ability of paralegals to render legal services. I believe this will be matched in other Canadian and American jurisdictions. I also believer that other near-legal professions will call for greater powers to render legal-type services in order to match the increasing need for affordable access-to-justice (such as Notary Publics in BC).
For example, the Benchers of the Law Society of BC in December, 2013 approved the following task force recommendations:
- The Law Society and the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia seek to merge regulatory operations.
- That a program be created by which the legal regulator provide paralegals who have met specific, prescribed education and/or training standards with a certificate that would allow them to be held out as “certified paralegals.”
- That the Law Society develop a regulatory framework by which other providers of legal services could provide credentialed and regulated legal services in the public interest.
#7 Lawyers as Leaders:
Coming True: The CBA with its Future’s Initiative is starting the dialogue on having the profession consider its role in society including a greater emphasis for lawyers to take on a future interest in leadership.
#6 Effect on Judiciary / Court services:
Coming True: The new Online Dispute Resolution / Alternative Dispute Resolution Model is working its way to becoming reality in BC in the new Dispute Resolution Tribunal as an alternative to Small Claims Court. I think other provinces are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach before implementing their own versions of this initiative.
#5 Access to Justice:
Still Waiting: While there are increasing calls for better access to justice, there is still no clear path forward.
#4 Globalization Effects will continue to be felt:
Fail: At least for the moment, we haven’t really felt any of the big effects of globalization (yet) in the Canadian legal market. Time may change this…
#3 Alternative Business Structures:
Still Waiting: ABS’s are still not a reality in Canada with some very limited exceptions in BC and Ontario. However, I think this is just a matter of time before this dyke breaks and we see greater innovation in terms of how legal services can and will be delivered in Canada.
#2 Greater Uniformity across Jurisdictions:
Coming True: Canadian law societies are moving towards adopting a common model code (for example, The new Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia which came into effect on Jan 1, 2013 and which is based on the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code of Professional Conduct). Furthermore all provincial law societies are moving towards adoption of the new National Mobility Agreement with the northern territories expected to follow in 2014.
#1 Technology will continue to reform Law and Legal Practice:
Coming True: The fact that iPads are carried to court by approximately 1/3 of lawyers today (per the latest ABA LTRC survey) shows that technology is on a perhaps slow but steady pace to reform how we practice law. The bigger change is yet to occur: namely not just using technology to practice faster and more efficiently but looking at how technology can rework how to deliver justice and legal services, such as adopting Online Dispute Resolution.
So with my past history as a backdrop, here are my predictions for 2014:
#1 There will be continued calls for greater pro-bono work by lawyers to try to address the access to justice problem. The problem is, as I see it, that to achieve real change and real access to justice we have to change the structure of how justice is delivered. This would mean looking at one big sacred cow in the Canadian legal establishment, and that is to access justice you have to go to court. My prediction is that cash-strapped governments across Canada will be looking at lower cost ways to provide justice such as through Alternative Dispute Resolution and in particular, using Online Dispute Resolution methods that will leave judges (and perhaps lawyers) out of the process.
#2 At least one Law Society in Canada will start the dialogue on truly implementing Alternative Business Structures in the legal profession. This will not be done for any other reason but out of a realization that near-legal service providers (such as LegalZoom) are much more competitive than initially thought and ABS’s are seen as a way to allow law firms to innovate and access capital markets that are presently unavailable to them in order to be able to mount a real competitive response to the LegalZooms of the world.
#3 Security and Privacy will assume a much greater importance in law firms. Lawyers will be under greater pressures from corporate clients to step up their security and privacy policies and communication technology to ensure that client confidences are as fully protected as possible. Corporate clients will be calling on their legal providers to move to secure webmail, secure client portals and other methods of secure and perhaps encrypted communication aside from unencrypted and insecure email.
#4 The Snowden revelations will renew calls by law firms to use only on-line backups and cloud services that are fully hosted and protected in Canada. As a result we will see a move away from USA and other foreign-based cloud services.
#5 We will reach a tipping-point where a critical mass of lawyers realize that the legal profession needs to seriously examine how the profession is regulated in order to ensure its continued relevance. While the profession is very conservative and careful in making any changes, the environment in which it operates is increasingly volatile and changing. These two factors will come increasingly into conflict, forcing the profession to confront that it needs a much more flexible method to really implement change.
#6 Application numbers for law school will start to fall. With the difficulties for new grads to find articling positions and new lawyers to find jobs, students that may have looked to law as a career will look elsewhere. This will be a major shakeup for law schools and a wake-up call for the profession.
#7 The retiring of the XP operating system by Microsoft in April 2014 will cause law firms across Canada to scramble to update their software and hardware. There will be a hue and cry as lawyers will have to increase their tech spending and learn how to use the new systems.
#8 Mobile devices will become increasingly integrated into the legal enterprise. Lawyers will want to take their iPads, phablets, and other mobile devices to court, to the ski cabin, to the cottage and to home to work on their files – seamlessly. This will only increase the demand for secure Canadian-based cloud services to support these mobile devices.
#9 Document Management will (finally) come front and centre in law firms. No longer will law firms have their files and documents strewn across email, webmail, email attachments, cloud services, laptops and home computers and portable devices. IT departments will implement enterprise-wide document management applications to ensure that all information on a client and their file can be found in one place – easily, securely and in a way that can be backed up and protected against disasters.
#10 Lawyers will (finally) realize that they need to develop skills to deal with change. No longer will it be able for a skilled and competent lawyer to be able to say that they are a luddite when it comes to technology. Our client’s matters are so increasingly entwined with technology that it will be an increasingly important skill to be able to understand technology and its interplay in our client’s issues in order to deliver competent legal advice. But dealing with technology is only part of the situation. Change is happening so fast that law firm leaders must be increasingly able to lead change in their environments in order to remain competitive. New challenges demand new skills – and dealing with change will be front and center.
David J. Bilinsky is a Practice Management Consultant and lawyer for the Law Society of British Columbia. He has recently been named a Fellow of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution (NCTDR) at the University of Massachusetts. He is also a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and past Editor-in-Chief of ABA’s Law Practice Magazine.
David is an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University teaching a totally online, graduate level course in the Masters of Arts in Applied Legal Studies program. This MA program received the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education. He has designed and is presently teaching a course on legal technology for the University of Toronto Law School.
Dave’s mission in life is to empower lawyers to anticipate the changes, realize the opportunities, face the challenges and embrace the expanding possibilities of the application of practice management concepts to the practice of law in innovative ways that provide service excellence.
Dave is the founder and Chair of the Pacific Legal Technology Conference and a past Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s TECHSHOW.
Dave writes regularly for many publications in the USA and Canada including being a contributor to the award-winning blog www.slaw.ca and tips.slaw.ca as well as his own blog: www.thoughtfullaw.com. His articles have been translated into several languages and republished across the globe.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and should not be inferred as those of the Law Society of British Columbia.
Well there you have it! We have had a huge response to the call for predictions for 2014. One of these things will surely tell you something about what 2014 will hold in store!
♫ Yeah yeah yeah yeah
I feel so alive
Now is the time
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Let’s shout it out…♫
Music and lyrics by Wally Lopez, recorded by Jasmin Villegas.
Now is the time to nominate deserving blogs for the 2013 Clawbie Awards! There were so many to consider that, as usual, I had a very hard time just picking three. I am going to confine my nominations to BC Blogs, thinking that there are so many others back east that can nominate blogs in their jurisdictions that together we can help unearth the best in Canada. So with no further ado:
1. BC Law Watch Blog: Dye & Durham is BC’s full-service legal registry expert. “Founded in 1874, Dye & Durham Corporation (D&D) has been a reliable provider of timely and accurate information for well over a century. With 150 employees and 5 locations, we are also the largest, most comprehensive provider of legal support services in British Columbia and across Canada.” They have just done a great job in keeping the legal profession up to date on the developments within the legal profession in British Columbia with their BC Law Watch Blog. They also tweet at @bclawwatch. A ‘must read’ if you practice law in BC and they are a fine example for other similar legal service blogs in other jurisdictions.
2. J.P. Boyd on Family Law Blog: John-Paul Boyd is the executive director of the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, a non-profit society affiliated with the University of Calgary. Before joining the institute, John-Paul practiced for thirteen years as an arbitrator, parenting coordinator, collaborative practitioner, mediator and litigator in Vancouver, BC.
John-Paul is the founding author of the public legal education wikibook JP Boyd on Family Law (originally published as JP Boyd’s BC Family Law Resource) and its syndicated companion blog, J.P. Boyd 0n Family Law. A wonderful resource on all matters involved with family law.
3. Eric Magraken’s BC Injury Law Blog: Again this year Eric has continued his wonderful blog on BC Injury Law and its developments. I constantly refer young lawyers who are interested in setting up a blog to visit Eric’s site and learn from his fine example.
Honourable Mentions: I can’t just leave it here. Here are the ones that fully deserve a mention, if I could only nominate more (and these are not limited to BC Blogs):
1. Stanley Rule’s Rule of Law Blog: I love the clever name but there is much much more to Stanley’s blog than just a clever name. As Stanley says: “I am a lawyer at the law firm of Sabey Rule LLP who works with people, assisting them with estate planning, probate and estate administration. I also assist people in resolving disputes about wills and estates. In this blog, I write about some of the legal topics that I deal with in my law practice, and about other legal issues that interest me. In doing so, I hope that I help others learn more about law, and that I encourage discussion about law and law reform. I hope that, in some small way, I help nurture the rule of law.”
2. Samantha Collier’s Social Media for Law Firms Blog: Samantha’s blog is clever, eye-appealing and full of great content. Not surprisingly: “Samantha Collier assists lawyers, law firms and legal industry consultants in their social media marketing efforts. The author of Social Media for Law Firms, winner of the 2011 Canadian Law Blog Awards in the Best Practice Management Category, Samantha is also recognized in ”The 24: Canada’s Top Legal Social Media Influencers” from The Counsel Network.”
3. Jordan Furlong’s Law21 Blog: Jordan is one of the judges and as such his blog is ineligible for an award. But he doesn’t need one. His blog is simply excellent in terms of setting forth his views in looking forward to where the legal profession is heading…even if others do not agree with him. In Jordan’s own words: “I’m a lawyer, speaker, industry analyst, and consultant based in Ottawa, Canada. I’m a principal with the global consulting firm Edge International and a senior consultant with legal web development company Stem Legal Web Enterprises. I specialize in delivering dynamic and thought-provoking presentations to law firms, practice groups, and legal organizations at a time of unprecedented marketplace change.”
4. Dan Pinnington’s Avoid a Claim Blog: Dan’s work on attempted frauds against lawyers and law firms is just the tip of the iceberg on this blog. This is a wonderful blog and just worth anyone’s time, particularly if they suspect that they have received an email or other fraud solicitation.
5. Slaw.ca: Simon Fodden’s brainchild is the leading legal blog in Canada, hands down. Another ‘must read’ by all lawyers of every practice area in Canada.
Those are my nominations for 2013. Yeah Yeah Yeah let’s shout it out!~