♫ Swear allegiance to the flag
Whatever flag they offer
Never hint at what you really feel…♫
This is a guest post by Michael T. Mulligan, Barrister & Solicitor in regards to the upcoming special general meeting of the Law Society set for June 10. I would note that at all times the views expressed on this blog are strictly personal and in particular do not reflect the opinions of the Law Society of British Columbia.
I am posting this guest post from Michael as I feel that this upcoming Special General Meeting reflects some very important issues that should be discussed fully, openly and respectfully. I know that this particular matter has garnered considerable press and generates some fairly intense views both in and outside of the legal profession. I feel that informed dialogue and discussion among the profession is the way to resolve this issue and accordingly here is Michael’s post:
In anticipation of the June 10 Special General Meeting of the Law Society of BC, please find here a legal opinion prepared by Dr. Melina Buckley and J.J. Camp, QC.
The opinion addresses the following issues:
1. Is the Trinity Western University (“TWU”) Covenant Discriminatory?
2. What is the role of the LSBC in this matter?
3. Does the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in TWU v. College of Teachers  1 SCR 772 (“BCCT”) determine the outcome of the LSBC’s decision.
In addition, please find below links to two of the submissions considered by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Both submissions include a detailed legal analysis of the applicability of the BCCT decision and come to the conclusion that it would not be determinative. The submissions further analyze the discriminatory nature of the TWU covenant and the obligations of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
If you are interested in reviewing the debate and material relied upon by the Law Society of Upper Canada in coming to the conclusion that TWU ought not to be accredited, that can be found here:
In a recent email to the profession, the president of Trinity Western University argues that it would be “unfair and discriminatory to preclude TWU graduates from practicing law in BC because of a religious belief.”
While Trinity Western University has tried to characterize the issue before the Law Society as one relating to the admission of future theoretical graduates based on their religious beliefs, this is simply not the issue before us.
In my respectful judgment, a person’s religious, political or other beliefs should play no part in a decision concerning their fitness for call and admission. The Law Society is a regulator of conduct, not belief.
Moreover, as a profession, we are better off having members with a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs.
What is being considered, at this stage, is whether the Law Society should give its approval to a proposed faculty of law. Doing so, in this case, would countenance an institution which acts in an offensive and discriminatory manner. It is Trinity Western University, not a theoretical future student, that is seeking our approval at this time.
Section 3 of the Legal Profession Act sets out the objects and duties of the Law Society. These duties include upholding the public interest in the administration of justice and the preservation and protection of the rights and freedoms of all persons. This section also grants authority to achieve these objectives by, amongst other things, permitting the Law Society to establish standards and programs for the education of lawyers.
The objection to the application for approval of a university that operates in a discriminatory fashion is not founded on, as TWU suggests, an emotional appeal. It is founded on a carefully considered analysis of the correct legal test for the granting of approval of the sort requested.
In addition to being in accordance with the legal objects and duties of the Law Society, the denial of approval for TWU is the morally right thing to do. We should be leaders in ongoing efforts to end unacceptable discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Thank you for taking the time to carefully consider this important issue.
Michael T. Mulligan
Barrister & Solicitor
Mulligan Tam Pearson Law Corp.
3rd Floor – 536 Broughton St.
Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 1C6
Toll Free: 1.800.664.2785
Thank you Mike for this guest post on such an important issue. Voting will be available at the various locations for the Special General Meeting until 6 pm PDT on June 20, 2014. The information posted by the Law Society of British Columbia regarding this meeting is as follows:
Special General Meeting June 10, 2014
Information about the special general meeting on June 10 along with the material considered by the Benchers in their discussion and decision on April 11 are available here.
Read the Notice of Special General Meeting update.
Read the Notice of Special General Meeting - includes messages from the Benchers and lawyer Michael Mulligan.
A transcript of the Bencher discussion and decision is available here.
The webcast of the meeting is available here.
The opinions that were before the Benchers for consideration at their April 11 meeting are available here.
Personally I agree that a student should not be faced with the moral dilemma of either possibly forgoing a legal education or a having to sign allegiance to an offensive discriminatory policy as a condition of being admitted to law school and never being able to admit how they really feel while they are in attendance.
Posted in Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
♫ Albert Einstein
I got an idea and it’s really bright
Somebody in my brain just turned on the light…♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by Avias.
This is another great leadership post from Beth Flynn at the THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY LEADERSHIP CENTER (www.leadershipcenter.osu.edu).
This post highlights the principles that helped shaped Albert Einstein into a leader and successful scientist. They are taken from Smithson, D. (2014). What managers don’t know: how to be a better manager, leader, and entrepreneur? Theinformbook.com
“Many people think that Einstein was just a simple scientist who went about formulating the laws that govern the Universe, but he was so much more than that.
Apart from being the man who had the greatest single impact on the advancement of our understanding of the laws that govern the physical universe, Einstein was also a philosopher king! Following are some of his musings (ESP), along with how they can relate to your business.
ESP 1: ‘The search for truth is more precious than its possession.’ This of course links back into the idea that you should never stop learning, asking questions so that you can learn.
ESP 2: ‘Imagination is more important that knowledge.’ This ESP is one of those ideas that has no direct application, but is such a powerful belief to install within your psyche; it can influence everything you do.
ESP 3: ‘No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.’ In science, nothing is ever 100% true. Think about that axiom. True science merely posits a theorem that should be successful tested and validated by other independent scientists, raises up a ranking to being a theory. This relates to the ideas of leadership. A leader is often only ever as good as his or her last successful decision.
ESP 4: ‘Most people say that intellect that makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.’ Apart from having a brain the size of a planet, Einstein was a man of constant inquisition, determination and almost child-like playfulness. So whilst you are getting your business qualifications, do so without sacrificing your social and thinking skills. If you are lacking in some areas, then go outside your comfort zone and learn how to gain those skills.
ESP 5: ‘It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.’ Einstein was an amazingly humble man, but this typical self-effacing statement reveals much of the secret of his success. He simply refused to give up. In everything he did, Einstein took the approach of an outstanding man who wanted to achieve outstanding things.
ESP 6: ‘You learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.’ If you want to become a success you have to first get into the game, and to do that you have to understand what the rules are. Once you’ve got that locked down, you have to practice and compete constantly – and if necessary, push for a change in the rules!!!
ESP 7: ‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’
I have made (and continue to make) mistakes, ranging from minor inconveniences to absolute oh my lord pass me on a gun now! But I never stop trying because I have a very simple philosophy: I never fail, so long as I learn something new (even, as I said, if that something new is a mistake - I won’t ever do that again.
ESP 8: ‘To stimulate creativity one must develop childlike inclination for play and childlike desire for recognition.’ My outlook on life is simple, I want to experience everything I can before I get to the final destination.
ESP 9: ‘Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.’ It is said that we go through three stages of development. First it is met with derision. Then it is confronted with hostility and aggression. Finally, it is accepted as playfully self-evident. This is especially true when your great idea is a challenge to the established way of doing things, or contrary to the idea of the one who sits above you (p. 211-291).”
WANT TO DISCUSS TODAY’S LEADERSHIP MOMENT?
Go to the Ohio State Leadership’s blog and share your thoughts, ideas, or answer the questions below.
- Which of these ESP principles had the biggest impact on you?
- What are some ways you can integrate these principles into your work life?
Thanks Beth for helping us all turn on the light in our brains!
♫ 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)Posted in Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Technology, Tips | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ Tell me, where are we going?
Oh, what’s the future showin’?
Oh, where are we headed?
With all that’s goin’ on where are we getting’? ♫
Lyrics and music by: Larry Mizell, Edward Gordon; recorded by Marvin Gaye.
This is another guest post by Bob Denney. It is on a topic near and dear to my heart, namely strategic planning and in particular, SP for smaller firms.
The legal profession continues to change dramatically. One of the encouraging developments of these changes is that more law firms are recognizing what their corporate clients have known for years: You can’t survive and compete successfully without a Strategic Plan. We have seen the result of this in our practice. Strategic Planning has always been one of our major services. Now, in the last three years, it has become our largest area of practice.
Unfortunately, there are still come misconceptions about strategic planning, even on the part of people who acknowledge its benefits. One of the most common is that “It’s only for large firms.” This is not so. Strategic planning is just as critical for mid-size and smaller firms because they have fewer resources and must utilize their resources strategically.
Another encouraging development of the last few years is that mid-size and smaller firms are also recognizing that, while they do not have the resources large firms have, they do have certain advantages over them:
o Lower or more reasonable fees and rate structures.
o Lower overhead and expenses.
o For the most part they provide superior client service.
o They have highly skilled lawyers, many with substantial books of business, who have left large firms.
o They are often able to recruit talented law school graduates who are by-passed by the large firms.
o They have open communication within the firm.
o They have the ability to make major decisions on a timely basis.
Strategic Planning is a complex and delicate process which is foreign to many law firms, even some of the largest. It can consume many hours (none of which are billable), generate intense feelings and result in firms setting unattainable objectives. But this does not mean that it is only for large firms. The Managing Partner of a firm which developed its first strategic plan two years ago gave perhaps the best reason of all for mid-size and smaller firms to develop strategic plans:
“The process we went through was as valuable or even more valuable than the final product we came up with.”
—Managing Partner, 250-lawyer firm
Robert Denney Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 551, Wayne, PA 19087-0551 • phone: 610-644-7020 • fax: 610-296-8726 email: firstname.lastname@example.org• web site: www.robertdenney.com
Thanks again Bob for emphasizing the importance of knowing where we are heading with all that is going on…Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Tips | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ Check the state of the world we live in
Can’t you see it’s a cryin’ shame?
Leadership fails before it begins
Motivated by personal gains
My long-standing good friend, fellow lawyer, runner and enduring leader in the American Bar Association has (finally!) launched his blog Strategic Legal Leadership. Tom’s mission in life for as long as I have known him has been in enhancing leadership among lawyers. He has written extensively on the subject (see for example his two books “Lessons in Leadership” and “The Lawyer’s Guide to Strategic Planning” both published by the ABA) and has led by example (see his extensive leadership roles here).
Tom has read virtually everything written on leadership (his book Lessons in Leadership is a must-read, if for no other reason than to come up to speed on the highlights of the most important books on leadership which are not only summarized in his book but placed in a legal context). He has provided some of the most educated and thoughtful presentations on not only why leadership is so vitally important at this pivotal time in the legal profession (some of which I have been most fortunate to have been present to hear) but why lawyers in any size firm need leadership skills to bring their firms, their partners, their associates and staff into the new reality of practising law.
I am truly fortunate as I have had the opportunity of working with Tom for 20 years, extensively running with him (while discussing leadership and other practice management topics) and watching his and my daughter grow up together. I believe that if mentoring is one sign of leadership, then Tom has excelled in raising his daughter to be an example of someone who is now leading her life trying to bring about social change and improving conditions for those whom society has left less-fortunate than most.
Tom truly believes in servant leadership. Traditionally, leadership was viewed as the accumulation and exercise of power by someone ‘at the top of the pyramid’ (as per Wikipedia). In contrast, servant leadership puts the needs of others first and views success as helping others develop and perform as highly as possible.
Tom has stated this about his blog:
Strategic Legal Leadership helps lawyers lead. Providing thoughtful guidance and practical advice will result in effective leadership, efficient management, and ultimately an exemplary client experience. Author Tom Grella offers timely advice based on his extensive experience and study.
I am adding Tom’s blog to my ‘must read’ list. Tom is a bright light, showing the true path to servant leadership, as he recognizes that leadership fails where it is motivated by personal gain. A true leader such as Tom put the interests of those that he seeks to lead first and foremost.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, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ Twisting and turning
Your face to the wall
Your future was soaring
The landing was hard..♫
Lyrics and Music by Tom Mallicoat, recorded by Lethal.
The American Bar Association Journal reported today:
A Texas lawyer accused of double-billing Bexar County for indigent defense work and forging judges’ signatures on payment vouchers has been sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty in March to forgery and securing execution of a document by deception.
..[O]n 46 felony counts related to allegations she forged judges’ signatures and double-billed the county for her services.
My SA further reported that the deception charge Hilda plead guilty to is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. She may be able to apply for probation.
A hard landing indeed. One can only speculate on what led this lawyer to such behaviour.Posted in Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ Ah, there’s an elephant standing in the room
Ah, though we’re all alone
It’s not just me and you…♫
This is another guest post from Beth Flynn at the Ohio State University Leadership Center.
All of us have these two parts within – the wise and intentional inner executive and the unconscious inner elephant, which does a good job for us most of the time. The friction between inner executive and inner elephant occurs when they have different ideas about desired behavior. The inner elephant is concerned about its own needs and comforts, and is often stronger than the inner executive. The inner executive can see the bigger picture even if it has not learned how to guide and control the elephant.
For a leader, the ideal situation is for the inner elephant to work as the servant, the inner executive to work as master. Of course everyone faces situations where the inner elephant’s urges seem far stronger than the inner executive’s good intentions. This is like the inmates having more influence than the warden. Managers who do not have a well-developed inner executive will not lead themselves consciously and intentionally, just as a company without a CEO and executive team will not have an intended strategy or the capability to coordinate disparate departments for strategy execution.
When in its proper role, the inner elephant thrives as a follower, not a leader. Ideally, leaders will understand their own elephant, and will be conscious of its habits and needs. When a person is “unconscious,” however, he or she tends to live at the mercy of the inner elephant, following its needs and impulses without concerns for others or a bigger picture. When “conscious,” a leader can be intentional about doing the right thing (p. 11-12).
From: Daft, R. L., (2010). The executive and the elephant: a leader’s guide for building inner excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
WANT TO DISCUSS TODAY’S LEADERSHIP MOMENT?
Go to OLC’s blog and share your thoughts, ideas, or answer the questions below:
When have you used your inner executive to see the bigger picture?
How can you become “conscious” about doing the right thing?
Thanks Beth and her team for continuing to foster the development of leaders and helping us understand our inner elephant!Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
♫ 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!!!Posted in personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips | Permalink | 1 Comment »
.♫ 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..Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ 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: Read the rest of this entry »Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »