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    2017 Predictions Part 2
    Monday, December 12th, 2016

    ♫ It’s coming on
    It’s coming on
    It’s coming on
    It’s coming on
    My future is coming on…♫

    Lyrics and music by: Damon Albarn, Teren Devlon Jones, Jamie Hewlett, recorded by The Gorillaz.

    cball

    (photo by Sean Creamer, used under a Creative Commons Licence)

    The predictions are coming in fast and furious! In this Part 2, we have prognostications from:

    • Jeremy Hessing-Lewis
    • Stephen P. Gallagher
    • Colin Lachance
    • Jared Correia
    • Tim Baran
    • Niki Black
    • Jordan Furlong
    • Larry Bodine
    • Darin Thompson

     

    Jeremy Hessing-Lewis

    jeremy-hessing-lewis
    Always a pleasure to see your name in my inbox. I’m happy to contribute a few predictions this year:

    Introduction:

    My cynical prediction for 2017 is that despite the emergence of hovercars and a buyer for Twitter, the legal profession will remain relatively unchanged. This follows the formal adoption of “plus ça change” as the official mission statement of the legal community. Despite this prevailing inertia, the legal innovation movement will rejoice with exciting news from the margins:
    1. Law as a Lifestyle Company: Traditional commitments to the billable hour meant that the practice of law rarely worked in half measures. As a lawyer in private practice, your options tended to be 0% employment or 130% employment. With the emergence of creatively structured alternative fee agreements (AFAs), we will see more lawyers opt for less than full-time practices. This will include increasing numbers of practitioners pursuing phased retirement, parents with young children, and those with employment or interests outside of the practice of law. While AFAs and new technologies will give law firms the option of becoming lifestyle businesses, regulatory bodies will struggle to keep-up with these changing practices.
    2. If This, Then…: With practice management technology fragmented among an increasing number of web applications, lawyers will become increasingly interested in the connections between these applications (the application programming interfaces or APIs). Direct APIs allow independent applications to share information. More complex intermediary tools (e.g. ZapierIFTT), will increasingly be used to weave together multiple APIs and automate administrative tasks within a practice. Ronco’s dream will finally be fulfilled: “Just set it and forget it.”
    3. Demographic Shifts: Baby boomer lawyers are starting to read obituaries of law school colleagues. There is no better motivation to reevaluate priorities than the passing of peers. The valuation and sale of practices will decline, to be replaced by younger lawyers who are simply willing to take on the files. For every client that is an asset, there is another that is a liability. We will see more succession planning that addresses continuity rather than cash.
    4. Renewed Commitment to Justice: Following Donald Trump’s electoral victory, the Lawyers of the Left secret Facebook group has accumulated over 188k members. Many of the posts to this group have featured lawyers from all practice areas renewing their commitments to justice. In particular, many mid-career lawyers have expressed a rekindled appreciation for why they went to law school in the first place.

    Thanks Dave and best of luck in the new year!

    About Jeremy Hessing-Lewis
    Jeremy is:
    Jeremy can be reached at jeremy@gosmall.ca or 604.229.2620 ext 2.
    Skunkworks Creative Group Inc. Jeremy Hessing-Lewis / Senior Digital Advisor
    jeremy@skunkworks.caSkunkworks Creative Group Inc.
    604.739.8976
    600 – 55 Water StreetVancouver, BC V6B 1A1
    http://skunkworks.ca

     

    Stephen P. Gallagher

    amelia-da-pic

     

    Aging of the legal workforce has finally hit the “proverbial brink wall.” According to a recent Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP) Retirement Survey, of the 6000 members over 50 who filled out the survey, bar members 60 – 69 represented over half (53%) of survey participants. To add insult to injury, 50% of these respondents report that they are planning on retiring from legal practice in the next five years. The brain-drain is clearly underway.

    • In order to continue to attract talent, law firms will have to demonstrate concern for senior partners who need support in moving away from full-time practice. Young lawyers will be watching this very quickly. The worst thing that a firm can do is to do nothing about it.
    • In order to continue to attract talent, law firms will have to adopt more flexible career paths for all lawyers that include formal flex-time guarantees for both aging lawyer as well as mid-career lawyers, who may not want to “Die at their Desks”.

    Stephen P. Gallagher sees himself as a student of the legal profession. I am a former Director of Law Practice Management for the New York State Bar Association. Currently, I am a Baby-boomer born in 1946, and since I have been working in the legal profession for the past thirty-years, I consider myself a bit of a transition expert. I am an adjunct instructor of marketing at a Jesuit university, and I work with law firms and bar associations, to help get conversations started regarding the Aging of the Legal Marketplace.  I have a limited coaching practice built around grandchildren’s schedules.  sgallagher@leadershipcoach.us

     

    Colin Lachance

    colin-lachance

    My first inclination in looking ahead to the future of law in 2017 is to look into what has happened in other industries over the past 5 to 10 years and pick from there the changes that the legal industry might be ready to face. But as even that might be too fanciful a thought, I’ll instead over some broad predictions of what’s ahead without going too deeply into whether or which might hit the business of law.

    1. Cloud backlash.  No I’m not talking about arguments against moving services to the cloud in the first place, but backlash and exhaustion from those who have been there for some time. Two triggers here: sheer volume and unwanted sharing. Honestly, I don’t seem to go very long without having or choosing to sign-up to a new cloud-based service to carry on my business and personal life. But what really begins to concern me is losing visibility and control of cross-service data sharing (i.m looking at you, G-Suite!). Surely, I’m not alone in this. But we press further into this world even as the news mounts of privacy breaches at one after another provider, and even as the daisy chain of our digital identities exposes our complete selves to the weakness of security practices at any link. I can’t tell you what form the backlash will take or what options exist, just that anxieties will be high and that 2017 will be the year we start to figure out what to do.
    1. Alexa, Siri and their friends move into the corporate world. As leaps in voice recognition begin to combine naturally with leaps in Natural Language Processing, machine/deep learning and knowledge management, the corporate world will start to wonder why it’s spending so much time typing things into in-house search and document management systems. With prime time for this still a few years down the road, 2017 will feature plenty of articles and profiles of companies that operate on voice commands to call up corporate knowledge. Think: “Computer, put the 2016 Johnson – Smith contract on screen. Read me Paragraph 4.”
    1. Giants begin to fall. Jack Welch of GE fame was found of saying he only wanted the company to be in businesses where they could be the number 1 or number 2 player. 2017 is the year a lot of number 2 players lose their spots or at the very least find that being number 2 ain’t all that special. In all domains, but especially in those reliant on the burgeoning AI field, innovators will lower or remove barriers and undermine pricing strategies of market incumbents.

    Bio and contact info:

    Colin Lachance, as CEO of Maritime Law Book, is currently leading the launch of Canada’s newest case law research platform (Compass) through which he hopes to contribute to the realization of his third prediction. A business advisor and lawyer, Colin served as CEO of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) from 2011 to 2015 and in that capacity was profiled by the ABA Journal as a “Legal Rebel” (2014), by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as among the “Top 25 Most Influential” (2014), by the Canadian Bar Association as an innovator who is “Doing Law Differently”, and by Fastcase as a member of the 2013 Fastcase 50 class of legal innovators and visionaries. Prior roles included senior positions in advocacy, marketing and lobbying with a national telecommunications company. An average and unimpressive student in all his schooling, he added a technology-focused LL.M. in 2013 to the degrees in business and law obtained in the bloom of youth.

    A frequent speaker and author on legal information, technology and market development topics, his recent professional commitments included consulting with firms, corporate legal departments, access to justice organizations, courts, law associations and others through PGYA Consulting. In 2016 he served as an advisor to numerous legal tech startups, to a government-funded research study into access to justice mobile apps, and was an industry advisor to the legalX cluster at Toronto’s MaRS Development District during its first year of operation. He practices communications law part-time in association with Momentum Business Law in Ottawa, Canada, but otherwise is of little use as a lawyer.

    Colin can be reached by email Colin@pgya.ca, phone 613-316-3290 and Twitter @ColinLachance

     

    Jared Correia

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    • Seeking reduced competition, more favorable cost of living and improved lifestyle components, more solo and small firm lawyers will open practices in rural areas.
    • The use of modern technology, including cloud software, will allow them to remain competitive as against law firms located in large, urban centers.
    • And, these lawyers, freed from the hive mind mentality of big city lawyering, will be freed to try innovative approaches to marketing, client service and billing.

    Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting and technology services for solo and small law firms.  Red Cave also works with legal institutions and legal-facing corporations to develop programming and content.  A former practicing attorney, Jared has been advising lawyers and law firms for over a decade.  He is a regular presenter at local, regional and national events, including ABA TECHSHOW.  He regularly contributes to legal publications, including his column, ‘Managing,’ for Attorney at Work and a forthcoming advice column for Lawyerist.  Jared is the author of the American Bar Association publication ‘Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers’.  He is the host of the Legal Toolkit podcast on Legal Talk Network.  Jared also teaches for Concord Law School, Suffolk University Law School and Solo Practice University.  He loves James Taylor, but respects Ron Swanson; and, he tries to sneak Rolos when no one is looking.

     

    Tim Baran

    tim-080916

    I’m more of a here-and-now than a futurist. There are folks who are much, much smarter prognosticators, so I’ll leave it to them. However, here’s what I would like to see happen in 2017.

    Access to Justice – Good people are doing good work hosting hackathons, creating apps, and offering free and low cost criminal and civil legal help to those for whom justice is less than blind. Thing is, many of the folks who could use these services don’t even know they exist.

    I’d like to see justice warriors go to underserved areas and spread the word to folks who don’t know what they don’t know and spread the word. Like churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Community centers, movie theaters, and street corners. Perhaps even an old retrofitted van or bus providing mobile justice. If you’re interested in starting a city by city movement, get in touch with me and let’s do this.

    Diversity – Again, lots of good work happening here but I’d like to see us take the long view. Start in high school. Lawyers beget lawyers and many of the rest can’t even visualize themselves in court or firms. College is too late. Many won’t get there without mentorship and the confidence that they belong.

    I’d like to see every Am Law 200 firm, corporate department, and federal and state court, offer a hands-on program for high schoolers including scholarships, mentorship, and internships. Yep, scholarships. Cold hard cash. Gotta walk the talk.

    Marketing – There needs to be less content and more connecting. And I’m a content guy. Everyone’s doing the same damn thing. It’s a no-win proposition. Webinars, E-Books, Blogging, Data Analysis? Everyone’s doing it, and someone’s doing it better than you.

    What would I like to see in 2017? Keep writing but do less of it and go deep. Don’t let your insatiable desire for bloody traffic water down your writing and distort your message and add to the noise. Use content to facilitate connections – like the invite to this collaborative post. Look outward for connections across clients, products and functions. Use content to facilitate the effort. Lots to unpack here. For more on this check out The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change by Bharat Anand. End of rant.

    Well, almost. Video seems to be the hot thing so of course everyone is jumping on that bandwagon. Go for it but make sure it’s useful for your intended audience and not salesy or narcissistic, the latter of which seems to be proliferating.

    Technology – So many good companies and applications in the legal space, so little time to test them all to determine which is best for you and your firm. I’d like to see some overdue consolidation in the industry. ‘nuff said.

    BIO

    Tim Baran is all about community. He’s engaged in improving the management and delivery of legal services and access to justice. He works on content, connections, and relationships with Rocket Matter. Tim is the author of Evernote for Lawyers and was named to the 2016 Fastcase 50 honoring the law’s techies, visionaries, and leaders.

     

    Niki Black

    nb-shot

    Technology is changing the legal landscape and providing lawyers with more options and better tools than ever before. Improvements and advances in software are making it possible for lawyers to be more mobile, collaborative, and responsive, while focusing on the work they truly enjoy. Lawyers will have more options than ever in 2017 to help streamline and improve their day-to-day work processes.

    For example, lawyers will have more options than ever when it comes to collaborating online. Litigators, in particular will benefits from software designed to facilitate collaboration between litigation teams. Using litigation case management software, teams of lawyers can collaborate and share notes about case-related evidence and documents in a secure web-based platform. Litigation collaboration by simplified and streamlined, thus reducing redundancies and inefficiencies in the litigation preparation process.

    And, advances in AI that reduce the repetitive tasks of day-to-day practice will increase exponentially in 2017. Using machine learning and advanced analytics, AI software is being designed to impact many areas of practice by reducing the amount of rote work often performed by lawyers.  For example, there are new software tools on the market that take advantage of AI to streamline timekeeping, contract review, due diligence analysis, and legal analytics for litigation. In 2017, you can expect to see many other new AI software products that will assist lawyers with any number of different functions. Of course, it’s important to emphasize that AI software will not replace lawyers; instead, it will remove some of the drudgery of practicing law from lawyers’ lives, allowing them to focus on higher level analytical thinking and on the needs of their clients.

    Here’s my bio:

    Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase.com, legal practice management software. She is the nationally-recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a regular columns for The Daily Record, Above the Law, and Legal IT Pros, and has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing, and Internet-based technology. She can be contacted at niki.black@mycase.com.

     

    Jordan Furlong

     

    furlong furlong furlong

    I admit, this might be wishful thinking. But I have a feeling that 2017 will turn out to be the year we reach a tipping point in the campaign to improve access to justice. I’m now encountering A2J in many different contexts outside the legal profession — in the mainstream press, at technology conferences, and among governments, think tanks, policymakers and corporations. It looks to me like access to justice, about which the legal profession has said a great deal but accomplished relatively little over the past few decades, has finally breached the consciousness of society at large.

    This may prove to be a double-edged sword for lawyers. On the positive side, bringing many more resources and many different and diverse perspectives to the A2J problem can only accelerate us towards a solution. On the negative side, as Lawyerist’s Sam Glover pointed out a few years back, we can close the access-to-justice gap, but lawyers aren’t going to like it.

    It is very clear to people outside the legal profession that lawyers are demonstrably unable or unwilling to make adjustments to their business model that would make their services more affordable to more people. It’s equally clear to these observers that the legal profession intends to indefinitely maintain barriers against “non-lawyer” service providers who could help enable more access to legal services. Whatever merits these positions might have when viewed from within the profession, I can assure you they have almost no traction outside it.

    Access to justice is about to become a mainstream social issue. When it does, it will leave the orbit of the legal profession, and along with it will go the profession’s ability to dictate or even influence the solutions that are eventually found. Those solutions will have consequences for lawyers, both intended and unintended, and not all of them will be good. But I suspect our window of opportunity to do much about that, a window that has been open for many years, is finally going to close.

    Jordan Furlong

    Jordan Furlong is an internationally recognized consultant and legal market analyst who forecasts the impact of changing market conditions on lawyers and law firms. He has addressed audiences throughout Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, Europe and Australia over the past several years, including law firms, law societies, state bars, courts, law schools, and numerous legal associations. Jordan is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and a member of the Advisory Board of the American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation. He writes regularly about the changing legal market at his website, law21.ca.

     

    Larry Bodine

    Larry Bodine

    Here you go David. Happy holidays!

    2017 will see more plaintiff trial attorneys opening a mass torts practice area. There are already 250 federal mass tort dockets with 135,000 actions, primarily product liability cases involving defective medical devices and dangerous drugs. In fact, 36% of the entire federal caseload is composed of mass tort actions. Some of the better-known cases involve defective hip implants, talcum powder, blood clot filters, pelvic mesh implants, and drugs like Lipitor, Xarelto and Abilify. Mass torts, where multiple actions are consolidated before one judge, have surpassed class actions as the best approach for attorneys to hold giant corporations responsible. Listen to my webinar at https://goo.gl/R0SUOk.

    Attorneys will throw away less money on pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization and other disposable forms of marketing. Instead, they’ll embrace content marketing, which creates a permanent online asset that grows with each new blog post. A basic website needs a minimum of 5,000 words to make a dent; to dominate a market an attorney should have 50,000 words online. And yes, lawyers are hiring attorneys to write all that copy for them. For a content clinic see https://goo.gl/sHcz82

    On social media, Facebook will be the single best place for attorneys to market themselves. Facebook has far more users, engagement and rapid growth than Twitter or LinkedIn. Facebook is social media for consumer clients, considering that 66% of adults log on to the social network every day and 80% use the Facebook smartphone app. Research show that a majority of consumers would hire an attorney who is active on Facebook. Check out my article at https://goo.gl/O9GZmu.
    Millennials will be the target market for many attorneys. There are 75 million of them — about 1/4 of the US population. With a spending power projected to reach $1.4 trillion in just four years they are buying cars, starting families and launching companies. So forget old-school marketing like print advertising, radio, internet pop-up  ads and print mail campaigns. Millennials are on their smartphones, checking out attorneys blogs, videos and social media.
    Larry Bodine:

     

    Darin Thompson

     darin thompson

    Legal expert systems will continue to increase access to justice

    Access to justice will increase thanks to expanded use of legal expert systems. In BC, we already have 3 great examples. The Legal Services Society’s MyLawBC platform supports users in the area of family law, foreclosures, and wills & estates. The Civil Resolution Tribunal’s Solution Explorer platform is supporting users with condominium disputes, with small claims coming soon.  BC’s Residential Tenancy Branch recently launched a new expert system for landlord-tenant disputes, also using the Solution Explorer platform.

    As a by-product of this expanded use of legal expert systems, we will see the emergence of new ‘legal knowledge engineers’ who are trained to put expert legal reasoning and guidance in the hands of non-expert users (i.e. the public). If you’ve read any of Richard Susskind’s works lately, you’ll be familiar with his description of the new role of the legal knowledge engineer. Several knowledge engineers have already been trained to create and maintain Solution Explorer content. And Thompson Rivers University Law’s new course led by Prof. Katie Sykes will bring this training directly to the law school environment.

    Expert systems are also being used for triaging legal aid users in places like New Mexico. The recently announced Microsoft Statewide Legal Access Portal Project, which includes at least $1 million in technical development from Microsoft to create a legal access portal will also include a legal expert system component. This initiative could add considerable momentum to the development and deployment of expert systems in the legal domain.

    Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) will become more ‘normal’ for public justice

    Colin Rule covered this better than anyone can in the 2017 Predictions – Part 1 post. But I’m going to +1 him on it anyway.

    The digital-first model of the Civil Resolution Tribunal represents a big leap forward in this area. BC’s first public justice ODR service created by the Property Assessment Appeal Board in 2011 helped to pave the way for the CRT, thanks in a large part to the work of Colin Rule’s company Modria.

    Now that England and Wales has crystallized its intention to create online courts, it will make it harder for courts in other jurisdictions to argue that ODR is somehow unsuitable for public justice processes.

    I agree with Colin that 2017 will see ODR continue to move forward in courts, tribunals and other key public justice services.

    People will stop asking “Should we do ODR in the public justice system?” and start asking instead “What will it look like, and when do we start?”

    Bio:

    Darin Thompson is a lawyer with the BC Ministry of Justice. He has helped to initiate multiple projects using online dispute resolution (ODR) and is a former member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Working Group on ODR. He is also part of a team that developed a knowledge engineering process for legal expert systems.

    Darin is also an adjunct professor of Legal Information Technology at Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. He holds a BA (with distinction) and a JD degree from the University of Victoria and an LLM (with distinction) in Innovation, Technology & Law from the University of Edinburgh.

    More at: http://darinthompson.ca/about/

    More predictions are to come in Part 3!  Stay tuned!

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    2017 Predictions – Part 1
    Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

    ♫ Hey, how you like it?
    How you like it?
    I see the future, baby
    You and I, better with time…♫

    Lyrics and music by: Bryan Michael Paul Cox, Johnta M. Austin, Kendrick Ashley Jevon Dean, Mary J. Blige, recorded by Mary J. Blige.

     

    crystal-ball

     

    In this first instalment of the predictions for 2017 ( I just asked for submissions yesterday! ), we have predictions from:

    • Colin Rule
    • André Coetzee
    • Ross Fishman
    • Bob Denney
    • Sharon Nelson and John Simek

    More predictions will follow in Part 2!

    Colin Rule:

    crule at cpr[1]

    Wow, Buzz nailed it last year! I was overly optimistic about timing, but I still feel my 2016 prediction is on track.

    Here’s my 2017 version:
    The time has come for ODR in the Courts in North America.  You’ll see major statewide and province-wide pilots of ODR technology within legal service bureaus (following the lead of MyLawBC) as well as in individual courts, especially family, small claims, and traffic.  Tools digitizing the courts from within like Matterhorn (http://getmatterhorn.com/) will also continue to gain traction, with companies like Tyler and Xerox paying close attention.  Conferences for judges and court administrators will have technologists delivering the keynotes, focusing specifically on mobile and the preferences of the younger generation.  There will also be a big jump in attention paid to ODR standards and certification efforts.  As it becomes clearer that ODR is for real, many articles will be written identifying the challenges behind ensuring quality and preventing kangaroo courts from cropping up.  New initiatives will be launched to expand dispute resolution ethics to cover systems designers and ODR platforms, in addition to updating ethics for individual mediators and arbitrators to specifically address the ethical conundrums that technology can engender.  Also, we’ll see more critical/skeptical coverage of ODR emerge in mainstream press (especially from legal journalists) as the move toward ODR in the courts starts to build up momentum.
    Thanks, David!  Have a lovely holiday…

    About Colin:

    Colin Rule is Co-Founder and COO of Modria.com, an ODR provider based in Silicon Valley. From 2003 to 2011 he was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal. He has worked in the dispute resolution field for more than a decade as a mediator, trainer, and consultant. He is currently Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution at UMass-Amherst and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution at Stanford Law School.

    Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO (2000) and President. In 2002 Colin co-founded the Online Public Disputes Project (now eDeliberation.com) which applies ODR to multiparty, public disputes. Previously, Colin was General Manager of Mediate.com, the largest online resource for the dispute resolution field. Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.

    Colin has presented and trained throughout Europe and North America for organizations including the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Department of State, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution. He has also lectured and taught at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, MIT, Pepperdine University, Creighton University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Ottawa, and Brandeis University.

    Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has contributed more than 50 articles to prestigious ADR publications such as Consensus, The Fourth R, ACResolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He serves on the boards of the Consensus Building Institute and the PeaceTech Lab at the United States Institute of Peace. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.

    André Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Predictions for 2017

    • Firms instead of adding more square footage to their office space as they grow, will turn to hosted services to create a hybrid of physical office space with legal professionals working virtually, saving time, money and creating a great modern working environment;
    • Technology being flexible, mobile and nimble are all expected from legal professionals. Being able to work from anywhere and enjoying flexible hours will assist firms in attracting top young talent who not only want a successful career but also work life balance;
    • Powerful mobile devices allow firms to leverage technology advancements in web based video conferencing to more efficiently communicate with clients and staff alike;
    • An even greater push to go paperless resulting in reduced cost, better efficiencies and the added bonus of saving the planet. By moving to paperless offices there will be more demand for document management software that allows firms to access and search for digital documents quickly and easily;
    • Continued focus on security and protection of data:
      • greater adoption of two factor authentication;
      • more centralized user access management and single sign on to the myriad of applications people use i.e. getting the user access to what they need at the right time with the right privileges;
      • predictive security software and tools to protect firm’s data against ransomware and other malicious attacks;
    • Applications that extract data from multiple legal and business applications\data sources and then mines and analyzes the data to pick up trends and perform predictive forecasting. This will lead to better serving clients and potentially finding new ones;
    • Integration of CRM based applications with VoIP on a hosted desktop i.e. being able to call a client by clicking on their number in your CRM application and dialing from your VoIP soft phone loaded on your hosted desktop. When a client calls in it will automatically pick up their company and contact information and pop up on your screen before you answer the call;
    • The way we interact with technology is going to be more experiential and tactile driven by Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Check out Magic Leap for a glimpse of the not too distant future – www.magicleap.com;

    André Coetzee, MBA, PMP, BA, H.Dip.Ed.

    (Master’s in Business Administration, Project Management Professional, Bachelor of Arts, Higher Diploma in Education)

    Andre Coetzee is a Director and a founding partner of i-worx, a Premium Hosting Service Provider for law firms. Andre is constantly researching and exploring new and better Hosted IT services with the goal of continuously providing legal firms a premier IT experience. As a result i-worx has developed a reputation for delivering innovative Hosted IT services to law firms, including Hosted Desktops, Hosted Email and secure file sharing with exceptional personalized service. For more information or to learn more about how hosted services could benefit your Firm, call 604.639.6300 or email andre@i-worx.ca.

     

    Ross Fishman

    ross-fishman

     

    Although future predictions are always challenging, my 2017 crystal ball is looking more like a Magic 8 Ball — “Try again later.”  At the moment, Cassandra can’t even foresee what she’s going to have for lunch. (And who’d believe her anyway?)

    That being said, in light of the new political environment, I’m feeling pretty confident about my predictions, below.   Here are the practice areas I feel are going to be especially hot in 2017, and why:

    • In 2017, the new administration will enact harsh new regulations, risking a trade war with China, and making international trade an especially hot practice. Unless, you know, they don’t.  And it isn’t.
    • We’ll start building a wall with Mexico, generating high demand for both construction and immigration lawyers. Unless we don’t.  And they aren’t.
    • The US Supreme Court nominee will be provocative and polarizing, increasing demand for Supreme Court specialists. Unless s/he isn’t.  And it doesn’t.
    • A major Twitter faux pas will create an international incident in Latin America, expanding Florida-based Latin American practices. Unless that never happens.

    Hell, I don’t know. I got nuthin’.

    BIO:

    “Many people consider [Ross] to be the nation’s foremost expert on law firm marketing.” – Of Counsel magazine

    Ross Fishman, JD, is CEO of Fishman Marketing, specializing in strategy, branding, and websites for law firms.  A former litigator, marketing director, and marketing partner, he has helped 200 firms stand out from the competition and generate revenue (see fishmanmarketing.com/results for 100 case studies).  A popular keynote speaker and Ethics CLE presenter, he has given 250 presentations worldwide.  Ross’s popular “The Ultimate Law Firm Associate’s Marketing Checklist,” called a “marketing bible” by Of Counsel magazine, is available on Amazon at https://goo.gl/HsrmbE.

    A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, he was the first inductee into the Legal Marketing Association’s “Hall of Fame.” Contact him at ross@fishmanmarketing.com or +1.847.432.3546.  Follow him on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/rossfishman) and Twitter @rossfishman), and subscribe to Fishmanmarketing.com/BLOG.

     

    Bob Denney

    Robert Denney

    Here are my humble – and not-so-humble – predictions:

    • There are always changes in the legal profession, particularly in
      the United States, when there is a change in Administration. There
      will be more than ever in the next few years under the Trump
      Administration.
    • Immigration and cybersecurity will have the most dramatic growth.
    • The push for Alternate Energy will cool down, at least in the U.S.
    • Law firms will hire more professional business developers, i.e.
      non-lawyer sales executives, following what has been a common
      strategy in the accounting profession for decades.
    • Some law schools will close because of the continued decline in
      jobs for their graduates.
    • The number of Alternate Business Providers – non-lawyer entities
      – and the services they provide will continue to grow.
    • Alternate Business Structures (ABSs) with non-lawyer ownership or
      investment will be approved in Canada but not yet in the U.S.
    • The number of non-lawyer management and administrative positions
      in even mid-size firms will grow.

     

    ROBERT W. DENNEY

    President, 

    Bob Denney has provided incisive management, business development and leadership counsel to over 400 law firms and legal organizations throughout the United States and parts of Canada  He is the author of the highly regarded reports on “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.”

    He has been a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, has served on the Board of the Legal Marketing Association and is a member of the LMA’s Hall of fame.  He has written or co-authored seven books, two of which were published by the American Bar Association, as well as articles that have appeared in many legal publications. He has been interviewed by the ABA Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times and has conducted webinars and national TV seminars on law firm management and business development.

    Bob has addressed conferences sponsored by The American Lawyer, the ABA, the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of British Columbia, the Association of Legal Administrators, the Legal Marketing Association and numerous state bar associations.  He has also been a guest speaker at several law schools.

    He graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania.  After serving as an officer in the Navy, he did post-graduate work at the Wharton School towards an MBA.  In the first phase of his career, Bob was President of a national cosmetics company and was also Vice-Chairman of that industry’s principal trade association. In that capacity, along with Ralph Nader, he testified before a Senate sub-committee.

    In addition to being active in charitable and professional organizations, Bob and his wife have raised nine children and live in suburban Philadelphia.

    Note:  Some of Bob’s articles as well as many of his Legal Communiques are published on his web site, www.robertdenney.com, 154 Chandler Drive, West Chester, PA 19380• 610-431-2077 • cell 610-804-7850, email: bob@robertdenney.com • web site: www.robertdenney.com

     

    Sharon Nelson and John Simek

    simekSharon Nelson 2

    Predictions for Dave Bilinsky

    1. Our first prediction is that no one will know what cybersecurity will look like until the Trump presidency is well underway. Mr. Trump is an unknown. If what he says is true, he does not value privacy in the context of what he sees as the fight against ISIS and others – and this does not bode well for the Constitution. Mind you, we were not happy with some of the privacy invasions which took place under Mr. Obama’s administration.
    2. Ransomware will get ever MORE crafty – and ransoms, which have gone up sharply in 2016, are likely to go even higher. It is not unusual at this point to see bitcoin ransoms in the $2500 range where law firms are compromised.
    3. The media has begun to report that the luster is off Apple and we believe that trend will continue. The truly innovative days of Steve Jobs appear to be gone. We have seen many clients switch from iPhones to Androids and embrace the Surface Pro.
    4. An increasing focus on tech CLEs seems likely. Florida, in 2016, mandated tech CLEs and we, in Virginia, have seen VSB TECHSHOW (capped at 500 attendees) sell out twice – and we expect to see it fully sold out again in April of 2017 – there is a great hunger among lawyers for good tech CLEs by speakers they can understand.
    5. We expect more major IoT breaches of personally identifiable information. We are at the point where it may cause actual physical harm or a huge financial impact.
    6. Continued implementation of encryption everywhere is very likely. Encryption by default is now standard in so many places.
    7. We predict, sadly, that a lot of solo and small practitioners will find that they are not selling what clients want to buy – primarily lower prices when technology is effectively leveraged.
    8. We also expect to see a greater usage of client portals – another way of protecting confidential data – and a feature that clients absolutely love.
    9. Block chain technology will begin to make inroads in the legal process as a method of authentication.
    10. Lawyers will increasingly understand that they must “fish where the fish are” – in social media. We have seen a great interest in CLEs which teach attorneys how to effectively manage and leverage social media.

    About John and Sharon:

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq.

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. 

    Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.”

    She is a frequent author (fifteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014 and a past President of the Fairfax Law Foundation.

    She may be reached at snelson@senseient.com 

    John W. Simek

    Mr. Simek is the Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., an information technology, digital forensics and information security firm located in Fairfax, VA. Mr. Simek has a national reputation as a digital forensics technologist and has testified as an expert witness throughout the United States. He holds a degree in engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and an MBA in finance from Saint Joseph’s University.

    Mr. Simek holds the prestigious Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE) certifications in addition to multiple other technical certifications. He currently provides information technology support to hundreds of Washington, DC area law firms, legal entities and corporations. He is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast Digital Detectives. He is a frequent author (fifteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics.

    He may be reached at jsimek@senseient.com.

    Thank you to all the authors!  We will gaze further into the future in Part 2!

     

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Cheap is Good but Free is Better!, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    2017 Predictions!!
    Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

    ♫ Tell me, tell me where I’m going
    I don’t know where I’ve been
    Tell me, tell me, won’t you tell me
    And then tell me again
    My heart is breaking, my body’s aching
    And I don’t know where to go
    Tell me, tell me, won’t you tell me
    I’ve just got to know
    Crystal ball
    There’s so many things I need to know…♫

    Music and lyrics by: Tommy Shaw, recorded by Styx.

    2017

     

    At this time of the year, I call for our gentle readers to submit their predictions for 2017.

    I would love to hear from you and read your thoughts on what the year will hold for the legal community.

    Topics can range from: access to justice, security, legal software, justice and online dispute resolution, big law, solo and small firm issues, alternative business structures, changes in legal regulations, business development, legal marketing, change management, firm governance, moving to paperless  or moving to Mac (or back to Windows), quality of life, tips and trends …all these topics and more are on the table.

    Results will be posted in a series of articles near the end of December.

    I would love it if you put your thinking cap on and send me your prediction.  Let’s see what we can do together as there are so many things we need to know!

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Oscar or Felix? What does Your desk say about you?
    Thursday, August 18th, 2016

    ♫ Their habits, I confess
    None can guess with the couple…♫

    Lyrics and music by Sammy Cahn and Neal Hefti.

    oscar or felix

    Look at your desk and office. Whose office does yours resemble?  Oscar Madison’s or Felix Unger’s? Is your desk neat and tidy or more a hodgepodge of piles of paper, old coffee cups and files stacked everywhere with food wrappers interspersed? Of course The Odd Couple accented the extreme personal differences between Oscar, who is perhaps the world’s most famous slob and Felix, the extreme clean freak, as a way to create an underlying comedic friction as the backdrop for the show.

    But according to George Rains, your desk says a lot about you and your work habits.  George states that there are at least 3 reasons to keep a clean work space:

    #1 A clean work space projects a Professional and Personal Image

    #2 Your office reflects on the image of your firm

    #3 A clean office can help maintain personal health

    George is not alone in advocating for a clean and tidy workspace. Pat Heydlauff states:

    According to the National Association of Professional Organizations, paper clutter is the No. 1 problem for most businesses. Studies show the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for papers, which adds stress and frustration to the workplace while reducing concentration and creative thinking.

    Renae Nicole states that a clean workspace reflects on the overall morale of the organization. A clean and tidy desk reflects on how someone views their job.  She also reinforces that a chaotic workspace can hinder efficiency.

    So look at your desk and office.  Are you more like Felix or Oscar?  Fortunately it isn’t too late – salvation is at hand – all of us can aspire to better habits – starting today!

    (if you want to take a short online test to see if you are more Felix or Oscar, click here).

    (concurrently published on tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips | Permalink | No Comments »
    Welcome the New Tipsters!
    Thursday, March 10th, 2016

    ♫ Go, go, go New Justice Team
    Go team, go team, team team team
    Who’s that newest Justice Team…♫

    Music by Christopher Tyng, Lyrics by Ron Weiner, recorded by The New Justice Team.

    lady justice

    This is a cross-post with SlawTips.

    Changes are coming to SlawTips!  I would like to introduce our new enhanced team of practice tipsters.

    Our team will now include:

    • Michael McCubbin, Vancouver
    • Andrea Cannavina, New York City
    • Stacey Gerrard, Halifax
    • Sandra Bekhor, Toronto
    • Mark Morris, Toronto
    • Elizabeth Mah, Vancouver
    • Bjorn (Barney) Christianson, Portage la Prairie
    • Ian Hu, Toronto

    who will be joining Garry Wise and I in posting all the best tips that we can think of to assist you in practising law.

    A little about each of our newest team members:

     

    Michael McCubbin:

    Michael McCubbin v2

    Michael owns and operates a small firm with a broad focus on civil and administrative litigation and corporate-commercial law. In recent years, he has increasingly focused on regulatory compliance and risk management for businesses. He has run a paperless practice since its inception in the fall of 2011 and is a regular speaker on legal technology matters.

    Michael says that the things that he would like to write about are:

    • Integration of practice technology with hearing preparation
    • Adopting business practices from outside the legal profession to improve service quality and efficiency
    • Remote working arrangements and business/employment structures
    • Jurisprudential “catch up” with technology (Equustek Solutions?!)

     

    Andrea Cannavina:

    Andrea Cannavina

    Andrea Cannavina is the CEO and founder of LegalTypist, Inc. the premiere legal transcription, secretarial and administrative service to US based law firms. She helps attorneys and other service based professionals upgrade their business processes to digital in order to get more done with less – less cost, less time and less stress!

    An executive legal assistant, Andrea worked in various sized law firms in and around New York City since starting her career in the 1980’s. Andrea has been a professional legal secretary/ assistant for 20+ years and a Virtual Assistant since 2001.   ALL Andrea has focused on since opening her virtual practice is help lawyers and other legal professionals upgrade to digital in all the right places.

    Her site, LegalTypist.com specializes in providing experienced cyber secretarial services and has serviced law firms of 1-120+ attorneys along with private investigative firms, insurance agencies and other high volume reporting companies.

    After putting together LegalTypist’s tech, people and processes, and speaking with 100’s of attorneys, law firm administrators and legal IT types, Andrea expanded her focus in order to help any size practice.  In 2005, her site LawFirmSolutions.com went live to help larger firms looking to incorporate the web into their processes and solos looking for secure technology to use in their day-to-day practice.

    Andrea is passionate about digital security and has frequently presented on this and other topics, including e-mail overload and etiquette, website how to’s, projecting a professional image and upgrading to a digital workflow.

    Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Andrea’s family moved to Long Island, New York during her teenage years. She graduated from Glen Cove High School, attended Nassau Community College and SUNY Old Westbury.

    Andrea lives and works in Hicksville, New York, is married with two children, and has Rosie, the office dog as her constant companion. Along with making things work, Andrea enjoys camping, cooking and spending time with family and friends in the great outdoors.

    Andrea says that she would like to write about:

    • Systems, processes and organization of the office – people and tech.
    • Law practice management.
    • Getting Things Done.
    • What’s it’s like being on the other side of the desk.

     

    Stacey Gerrard:

    stacey gerrard

    Stacey Gerrard is a practicing member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society and joined the Lawyers’ Insurance Association of Nova Scotia (LIANS) as LIANS Counsel in 2010. Graduating from the University of Ottawa’s National Program with bilingual degrees in both Common and Civil Law, Stacey relocated back to Halifax and pursued her interest in civil litigation first in a private firm and then with each of the Federal and Provincial governments until joining the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in 2008. In her current role, Stacey manages and handles assigned claims or potential claims against insured lawyers and provides professional support to the Risk and Practice Management program.

     

    Sandra Bekhor:

    sandra

    Sandra Bekhor, MBA, BSc, is a professional practice consultant focused on growing and enhancing Canadian, small to mid-sized law, architecture, accounting, consulting, healthcare and other professional practices. A senior marketing professional since 1992,

    Sandra has helped take leading entrepreneurs to a new level in the global marketplace with the introduction of business and marketing strategies as well as the enhancement of company structure and process. In September 2005, Sandra founded Bekhor Management with the intent to apply this acumen in a manner that would enable professionals to realize their vision for their practices.

    Sandra Bekhor speaks, teaches and writes about practice development for various professional associations and publications, including: The Lawyers Weekly, The Bottom Line, Investment Executive, Interior Designers of Canada (IDC), Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND), Ontario Society of Chiropodists (OSC) and Canadian Vet.

    Sandra says that what she would like to write about, basically, her area of expertise, would fall into these categories:

    • Marketing
    • Branding
    • Online marketing
    • Offline marketing
    • Firm level marketing
    • Personal marketing
    • Coaching
    • Management
    • Planning -strategic plans, succession plans, retreats, marketing plans
    • Performance management
    • Human resources management
    • Partner / management meetings
    • Communication
    • Delegation
    • Leadership
    • Coaching

     

    Mark Morris:

    mark moris

    Mark began his career working as the Attorney General of Ontario’s Senior Policy Advisor. Following that, Mark founded Slatewood Retail Advisors, a retail consulting firm primarily focused on the restaurant and apparel market space. In that capacity, Mark transformed small local brands into national chain operations and worked to assist growing international businesses with their legal franchise work, their core branding and their operational workflows.

    Presently, Mark is a co-founder of Axess Law, one of Canada’s leading retail law firms with 10 locations in the GTA. Last month, Axess Law was selected as one of the Top 5 Canadian Innovative Law Firms by the Financial Times newspaper.

    Mark frequently lectures on Real Estate law and regularly teaches Real Estate Law Courses at the Ontario Real Estate College. In 2014, Mark was selected as one of Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers and was recognized as one of the top 5 Legal Change Makers as rated by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

    Mark was called to the Ontario bar in 2002 and has an M.B.A. from the Rotman School of Management, a Law Degree from McGill University and a B.A. from the University of Toronto.

    Mark says he likes writing about how Law is changing as we move towards a volume based model of service delivery and about the new entrants that are making their mark on the practice.   On a purely legal level, he likes writing about consumer based legal services (developments in real property conveyance, wills etc) and ways that those changes affect consumers.

     

    Elizabeth Mah:

    Elizabeth Mah

    Elizabeth Mah is the owner of Paperclip Law, a different kind of law firm that helps families and businesses make the best (and biggest) non-litigation decisions of their lives. In her life before her 2 little girls, she enjoyed cooking and eating hot meals, reading and running without interruption, and throwing darts at a map and then travelling to them.

    Elizabeth says that since having her 2 little girls, she is  most interested in:

    • Time efficiency: in making my (and the team’s) time the most effective and productive that it can be
    • Business development/networking
    • Firm administration and strategy

     

    Bjorn (Barney) Christianson:

    Barney Christianson

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

    Bjorn frequently presents on practice management and office technology topics; some of the victims include the Law Society of Manitoba’s CPLED and MCPD programs, the Law Society of Upper Canada SSF Conference, the Lawyers Insurance Association of Nova Scotia, the Manitoba, Central and Western Manitoba Bar Associations, the CBA’s Skilled Lawyer Series, and the ABA TechShow. He provides practice management advice to the members of the Law Society of Manitoba in his spare time. Twitter @Bjornqc

    Barney says that the topics that he finds interesting and wishes to write about are:

    • time management (many sub-topics)
    • creating impressions for clients
    • managing expectations
    • civility
    • importance of clarity in emails
    • breaking bad news
    • blunt a.o.t nice (and therefore vague)
    • planning to buy and replace tech
    • staffing issues
    • sharpening your axe
    • anything to do with running a law office.

    Barney has named himself as the curmudgeon of the group; I am not quite so sure about that but I am looking forward to his wise postings!

     

    Ian Hu:

    Ian Hui

    As the face of Claims Prevention and practicePRO at LAWPRO Ian speaks, writes and blogs about practice management, claims prevention and lawyering issues. His mandate is to help lawyers succeed in the practice of law and avoid malpractice claims. Having had experience in private practice under his belt with various sizes of firms, Ian has seen some of the trials and tribulations lawyers go through.

    As a former Vice President of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers he has mentored young lawyers and advocated for hundreds of lawyers and students as a group. Ian also has an interest in promoting diversity in the profession and has sat on various advocacy committees.

    Ian tells me that the things he is  interested in writing about are:

    • cognitive bias
    • happiness
    • new and young lawyers issues (being a professional, building career, soft skills, survival tips, managing time, etc.)

    Of course Garry Wise and I will also be continuing as contributing authors  and editors at tips.slaw.ca to this amazing team of thoughtful minds. I am very excited about this new phase in SlawTips and I (and I believe I can speak for Garry as well) look forward to seeing the thoughts, ideas and tips from our New Justice Team!

    -David J. Bilinsky, Editor, Vancouver BC.

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    The Dash
    Thursday, February 18th, 2016

    ♫ This is the end, beautiful friend 
    This is the end, my only friend, the end..♫

    Lyrics and music by: Bruce Franklin, Eric Wagner, Rick J. Wartell, recorded by The Doors.

    graveyard.

    (© Copyright Peter Ward and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

    Garry Wise, my co-author in our SlawTips.ca weekly column, had his mother pass away this past weekend.  Extending condolences and sharing his grief is only natural; but it started me thinking about whether there were anything we can take away from the grief and try to find meaning in the loss.

    Another friend of mine stated that lives are represented by the dash that appears between someone’s birthdate and the day they passed away, as in [1930] – [2016].  Entire lives, loves, joys, marriages, births, heartbreak are contained in that dash. When someone close to you passes away, can you learn something from the grief? Marsha Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC in an article entitled “Finding Meaning in Your Loss” stated that there are lessons to be learned from grief.  She stated:

    Losing someone you love teaches you to:

    • Stop, examine and appreciate what really matters, what’s important, what’s truly valuable in life.
    • Live fully in the present, knowing that the past is gone and the future is not yet.
      Appreciate the value and wonder of every precious moment, without taking them for granted.
    • Accept the freedom and joy of spontaneity, to play, to relax and to have fun.
      Find valuable insights buried in the give and take of daily life, to slow down, daydream and fantasize.
    • Simplify your life, so you have more time and energy to share with those you love.
      Accept what’s happened to you, roll with the changes and keep on growing, believing that you’ll make it.
    • Be patient with yourself, allowing the grieving process to happen in whatever way it will.
    • Keep and develop your connections with others, knowing that you are not alone.
    • Share your thoughts and feelings with others openly and honestly, and sooner rather than later.
    • Rethink your attitude toward death as a natural part of the cycle of life.
    • Be grateful for the love you shared, however briefly, and appreciate what you have left.
    • Define yourself as a survivor rather than a victim.
    • Share what you’ve learned with others. At some point in your grieving process, you may feel the need to channel your pain, as well as the time and energy once devoted to your relationship with your loved one, into something productive and meaningful. As one who truly understands the grieving process, you may feel ready to reach out to others who are suffering the pain of loss. Once you’ve found your own way through grief, you will have a great deal to share with other grievers: you can identify with their struggles, empathize with their sorrows and doubts, and offer valuable information and support.

    Joel Readence writing in The HuffPost on “Death, Dying and Finding Meaning in Loss” stated:

    For those of us left behind, it’s important we ask ourselves what our loved ones would want for us after they die. Would they want us drowning in the grief and despair of their loss, or would they want us to mourn, make peace with and move past their deaths? We also need to remember our time here is limited. We need to stop putting off until tomorrow, those things that will add value and meaning to our lives today. Don’t let fear of failure, success or judgment by others keep you from realizing your full potential. Give yourself permission to be all that you can be and unapologetically move in the direction of your dreams.

    When someone near and dear to us reaches that final end point, realize that we still have some time left.  The passing of another can be used to find meaning and to push beyond the pain to find greater value in our lives.

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips | Permalink | No Comments »
    Make – and Implement – a Plan
    Thursday, February 4th, 2016

    ♫ But the plan won’t accomplish anything
    If it’s not implemented…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Built to Spill.

    idea plan action

    (image used pursuant to Creative Commons CC0 licence)

    There are many questions to ask yourself and to think about before you reach your decision as to whether or not you would like to open a law practice. In talking to other lawyers, they will have some very helpful questions that will be very insightful and provide guidance as to whether you are making the right move or not. Owning a law  practice is a huge responsibility, so you want to be very sure of what you are getting yourself into. You want to make sure that you are ready willing and able to do what it takes, and most importantly, you have what it takes to run that legal practice.

    Ask yourself – are you are a good decision maker? Part of owning your own business means that you have to be that voice of reason and the ultimate decision maker. The buck, as they say, stops with you. You have to be the one to see that the best interests of your clients are always first and foremost. You also need to do what is best for both your clients, as well as for the practice.

    Ask yourself: are you organized enough to run the business? You need many skills including a high degree of organization in order to be successful. This does not mean that you necessarily have to be equipped with those skills yourself. It is quite acceptable to hire someone to do tasks on your behalf, as long as they are going to effectively get the job done. So if that means hiring an extra secretary and an accountant, then so be it. But you are the one doing the management for the practice and as such you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your practice.

    Ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice what it takes to properly run your practice? You will be putting in long hours and as a result, have much less of a social life when you are starting a new practice, at least at first. You are going to want to dedicate your time concentrating on your new firm – managing it, marketing it, checking the finances and all that. You need to realize that when a person opens a new law practice, it does take away some of the time that they have with their family and loved ones. You have to be sure that this sacrifice is something that you have thought through, and accept and that your family is willing to make their own sacrifices as well.

    Once you have mentally prepared yourself to run a busy law practice, there are more things to think about. You have to organize your office! After carpet and wallpaper combinations are worked out, client seating is considered, office equipment ordered and qualified staff are recruited the legal professional’s office is open for business. Bookkeeping must be done and cheques written.

    As time passes, increase in business volume strains the practitioner. Even though managerial ability should be increasing, there is no time to manage effectively. Gone are the days when legal professionals handled every aspect of the day-to-day business. The accountant says business has increased but profits are down. Staff members sometimes do not get along. Information systems do not break out pertinent details of the business. The expensive marketing costs do not seem to be hitting the mark. The community begins to wonder why this educated and apparently capable individual never seems to support enough local projects. At the end of the day, there is very little time for considering the business, let alone family. Often the step overlooked when building a new practice is to develop a practical business plan from the outset.

    Planning is perhaps the fundamental function of a manager. It requires understanding the components of a business and how they are interconnected. Planning begins with understanding the value a practitioner brings to their client and how best to satisfy the client’s needs. There is no better use of your time before you open your new practice than planning what it is going to look like, how it is going to operate, how it will be financed, what tools and technologies will you incorporate into your workflows and how will you manage to find time for yourself in order to avoid burnout.

    Having a well drafted strategic business plan at hand means that you have a roadmap that governs not only the business direction in which you wish to proceed, it also serves as a governing document, guiding your efforts towards the clients, files and type of practice that you wish to have. It serves as the place where you have listed your business goals (in both qualitative as well as quantitative terms) and when you expect to reach them. It is an analysis of your business from many angles, including how to run the practice (Management), how to reach your chosen markets (Marketing), what systems you will need to make your practice work (Technology) as well as how you expect to be able to raise the necessary capital to start up and run your practice (Finance).

    Along the way, you must learn the systems that must be incorporated into your practice to and how to properly run them to ensure that you are practicing professionally, profitably and ethically. You must also decide the legal entity under which you will practice.

    Optimally you should do all this planning by crafting a well-thought out business plan before you open your doors. That is foresight. But the plan won’t accomplish anything sitting on the shelf. You must give life to the plan and seek to implement its goals and objectives as well as monitor and evaluate the results of your efforts to make maximum use of your plan.

    After all your plan won’t accomplish anything unless it is implemented.

    (posted concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Do Something Different!
    Thursday, January 21st, 2016

    ♫ So put me on a highway
    And show me a sign
    And take it to the limit one more time…♫

    Lyrics and music: Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Glenn Lewis Frey, Donald Hugh Henley, recorded by The Eagles.  Thanks Glenn for all the great music.

    thinking

    (image by Wade M – CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)

    This is a new year’s resolution of a different sort.  All of us resolve to get healthier, to live better lives and to do better this year than last.  How many of us resolve to keep our minds sharp and agile?  Here are some suggestions:

    • Learn something different: Take a course that is completely removed from anything else that you have done.  The more you learn the better your mind learns to rework its neural pathways.  Taking on the challenge of the unknown is more beneficial than doing the same thing over and over.
    • Start an aerobic exercise:  There is a mind-body connection and the fitter the body the fitter the mind. Keeping your cardio system strong can lessen the chance of system health concerns which in turn, reduce the effects that the passage of years take on them mind. Keeping a daily aerobic exercise has been shown to beat depression, increase mental sharpness and bolster the immune system!
    • Get enough sleep:  Chronic sleep depravation is linked with the build up of proteins in the brain that are linked with reduced learning and cognitive decline.
    • Drink your coffee: Studies have shown that two to four coffees a day may decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s by 30 to 60 percent!
    • Eat a healthy diet:  There is evidence that brain and heart health may contribute to warding off dementia. You have heard it all before:  stick to fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and a moderate amount of alcohol,
    • Use your mind:  Don’t resort to a calculator or computer. Do it in your head (you can always check it using the tech). Math strengthens reasoning and problem solving skills.
    • Don’t stop learning: Evidence shows that the best classes are those that are both mentally challenging as well as socially demanding.  Photography is great here!
    • Do puzzles: There is a correlation between doing puzzles and increased scores on mental tests. Hey, it can’t hurt!
    • Engage: When in a situation, try to turn on all your senses. Notice scents, tastes, feelings, sounds, sights in situations around you. This activates different areas of your brain at the same time.
    • Use your left *(or right)* hand: My father was ambidextrous. For those of us who are not, trying to use your “other” hand challenges your mind and senses!
    • Be Positive!: Maintaining a positive attitude not only helps you mentally, it also increases your social skills!
    • Be Creative: Take up writing, a musical instrument, poetry, quilting or something that challenges to come up with something original.
    • Help Others: No truer statement was ever written when someone said “When you help others, you help yourself”.
    • Adjust: As we age, we won’t be running marathons as we used to (or whatever it was that defined your peak). Runners World magazine advised seeking new goals as we age that adjust to our life conditions such as running different runs or seeking new running partners. Redefine what is success to you.
    • Give thanks:  So many people are caught up in the race of comparing themselves against others. Stop. Take a breath. Now think about what you have and how fortunate you are compared to many others. Practising gratitude can be a very affirmative habit that increases your life happiness and satisfaction.
    • Carry a notebook: OK your memory isn’t as good as it used to be. So write things down in a notebook that you carry with you. Albert Einstein said: “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.”
    • Repeat things: When you meet someone new, repeat their name several times in your conversation. This will help you remember their name. Use this for other things you need to remember.
    • Meditate: A lawyer that I have known for a very long while sent me a CD with meditation music saying that this was one of the best things he has ever learned. I pass his advice on to you.
    • Ask for Help: Who said we need to do it all ourselves?  Lawyers don’t want to seem incapable; my advice: give it up.  All of us can’t possibly learn everything we need to learn in life. Mentors are worth their weight in gold.

    All of us age – that is inevitable. The effects of aging however, are (somewhat) optional. By exercising our mind, we are encouraging it to stretch and in effect, challenging it to take it to the limit one more time.

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    How to Keep those New Year Resolutions!
    Thursday, January 7th, 2016

    ♫  We made our resolution for our brand new year:
    No more letting days go by…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by The Limousines.

    Postcards2CardsNewYearsResolution1915

    So many of us resolve to do things better in the New Year even if we don’t make formal New Year’s Resolutions.  Problem is that good intentions die hard.  How can you increase your chances for a positive change and outcome?  Here are a number of suggestions put forward to increase your chances for a real positive change:

    • Start Small: Rome wasn’t built in a day and changes take time. By starting with a small change you can reap the benefits of achievement early and reinforce the knowledge that change is attainable.
    • Start with One Goal: If your list is as long as your Christmas gift list, chances are you will get discouraged with the daunting nature of what you have taken on.  Change is hard: Don’t overwhelm yourself.
    • Slippage is Inevitable: Perfection is an abstract concept. By picking yourself up after a wee break, you can get yourself back on track.
    • Choose New Goals: Avoid trying to achieve the goals that you previously set that may not have worked.  Giving yourself a fresh goal can be invigorating and empowering.
    • Keep Working at It: Change is a process and processes take time. Babies learn to walk by taking tiny steps.  But they lead to big things.
    • Seek Support: Don’t do it alone. Friends and family can be the positive reinforcement that you need and help get you through a dark spot.
    • Reward Yourself: Reward behaviour to celebrate your success!
    • Keep Trying: Keep at your new behaviour until it starts becoming part of your routine and personality.

    Most of all don’t give up! We all know that change is hard but determination can overcome  resistance. You made your resolution for the brand new year; now no more letting days go by!

    (published concurrently with tips.slaw.ca)

     

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    2016 Predictions – Part III
    Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

    ♫ And if you don’t love me now
    You will never love me again
    I can still hear you saying
    You would never break the chain…♫

    Lyrics and music by: Stevie NicksLindsey BuckinghamChristine McVieJohn McVie, and Mick Fleetwood, records by Fleetwood Mac.

     

    2016 3

     

    In this third and final instalment of the 2016 prognostications, we have predictions from:

    • Sharon Nelson and John Simek
    • Sheila Blackford
    • André Coetzee
    • Ben Stevens
    • Brian Mauch
    • Nikki Black
    • Stephen Gallagher
    • Tom Spraggs Jr
    • Deb McMurray
    • Mitch Kowalski
    • Dave Bilinsky

     

    Sharon Nelson and John Simek:

    Sharon Nelson 2

    simek

    Predictions for Dave Bilinsky

    1. Encryption of confidential e-mail will surge – it’s no longer “too hard” or “too expensive” – and it may be ethically required (see 2015’s groundbreaking ethical opinion from Texas). We were busy all year installing ZixCorp (which seems to be favored by many law firms) and expect to be even busier doing it 2016.
    2. Because security is now paramount on the minds of so many lawyers, we have already seen a great deal of interest in Open Whisper Systems’ Signal encryption for use with voice and text communications via smartphone. Edward Snowden and cybersecurity guru Bruce Schneier are both fans – and we’re starting to see lawyers taking a serious look at this – it began hitting the listserves in 2015 and will likely grow in popularity. The caveat is that both parties to the communication must be using it.
    3. As we write, it has been announced that LegalZoom is buying a UK law firm. Look for some serious alternative business structure lobbying by LegalZoom, Avvo and others in the coming year.
    4. More and more large firms are acquiring the ISO 27001 certification – 27 of the AmLaw 100 firms have it now. This is not for the solo/small market but you will probably see a lot of those firms self-certify that they are compliant with the NIST small business data security standards.
    5. The Rise of the Machines seems more and more inevitable as Ross, the Superintelligent Lawyer (and ‘son’ of IBM’s Watson) has gotten ‘a job’ at Dentons and is being deployed by other large firms on a trial basis as well. A lot of paralegals and first/second year associates are likely going to be replaced by Ross and his progeny – if not in 2016, then soon thereafter.
    6. We have been surprised by how many lawyers adopted and fell in love with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 (us too). We are now seeing, for the first time, enterprise deployment of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – we expect that trend to continue. Folks are outfitting their firms with the a Surface Pro 4, a docking station, a full size keyboard, and two flat panel monitors. Grab it and go and you have a fully functional laptop in a tablet form. We don’t see the Surface Book achieving the same success – once you remove the keyboard and effectively have a tablet, the battery life plummets to about 3 hours. That’s a non-starter. Note that we have taken the Surface Pro 3 on cruises, European vacations, etc. and been fully functional. We see a bright future for the Surface Pro 4.
    7. Windows 10? Many waited (prudently) to install it, but almost everyone will have it by the July 29, 2016 deadline to install it for free. Look for all the compatibility and bug issues to be resolved by early 2016. This will become the workhorse that Windows 7 was in its time.

    About John and Sharon:

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq.

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. 

    Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.”

    She is a frequent author (fourteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014 and a past President of the Fairfax Law Foundation.

    She may be reached at snelson@senseient.com 

    John W. Simek

    Mr. Simek is the Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., an information technology, digital forensics and information security firm located in Fairfax, VA. Mr. Simek has a national reputation as a digital forensics technologist and has testified as an expert witness throughout the United States. He holds a degree in engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and an MBA in finance from Saint Joseph’s University.

    Mr. Simek holds the prestigious Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE) certifications in addition to multiple other technical certifications. He currently provides information technology support to hundres of Washington, DC area law firms, legal entities and corporations. He is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast Digital Detectives. He is a frequent author (twelve books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics.

    He may be reached at jsimek@senseient.com.

     

    Sheila Blackford:

    Sheila Blackford

     

    Outsourcing in 2016 will continue, with more firms reaching out to non-traditional sources of legal assistance.

    Don’t be afraid of hiring talent with different skill sets if they are compatible with your needs, especially if accompanied by attractive personality attributes.

    Digby[1]

    Digby consistently displays a remarkable accuracy rate in catching manuscript errors while maintaining an upbeat cheerful nature that fosters a pleasant work environment.  I don’t think writing Trust Accounting in One Hour for Lawyers would have been as easy an undertaking without his support. Here he is checking things before sending the manuscript to ABA Law Practice Division Publications Board.

    About Sheila:

    Sheila Blackford is an attorney and has been a practice management advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund since 2005, providing confidential practice management assistance to Oregon attorneys to reduce their risk of malpractice claims and ethics complaints. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Law Practice, published by the ABA Law Practice Division and is co-author of Paperless in One Hour For Lawyers and a contributing author to the Flying Solo, 5th Edition both  published by the ABA Law Practice Management Division. Her book Trust Accounting in One Hour for Lawyers  is scheduled for publishing in 2016. She is a contributing author to the Fee Agreement Compendium published by the Oregon State Bar. Follow her blog Just Oregon Lawyers.

     

    André Coetzee:

    Andre Coetzee

    Here some predictions for 2016:

    1. The demand on bandwidth is going to continue to grow exponentially due to the even higher demand for performing work online. As result there are going to be more providers providing fibre internet connections at a reasonable cost.
    2. Wireless cellular providers are going to continue to invest in ways in making their networks faster too as well as increasing their reach into more rural areas. This is going to allow us to do even more on our Smart Devices.
    3. Adopting a client experience approach as opposed to a client satisfaction approach. The client experience is a holistic approach and ensures that all the functional areas within your firm consistently give the same experience to the client i.e. if your client is dealing with the receptionist or the managing partner, an associate or a paralegal the client experience will be the same. The client experience approach also deals with how\who you hire, how you treat your vendors etc. Adopting a client experience model is not easy to achieve, however can reap high rewards e.g. increase in new business\clients, client retention, happier staff, loyal vendors etc.
    4. Digital dashboards which allow Partners to view predetermined Key Performance Indicators to see how their firm is performing real time. The data will be pulled from multiple different data sources e.g. a legal application\s, a productivity application\s etc.
    5. The amount of data is increasing exponentially and hence tools\software that gives us quick and easy access to the large volumes of data we have whether it be on your server, in the cloud, computer at home etc. Also being able to add more storage on demand.
    6. More digital automation than we currently see today to improve, enhance, create new processes and maybe even create completely different business models i.e. using a combination of these technologies, mobile, cloud, data analytics, artificial intelligence etc. to provide better more customized services to clients quicker
    7. Being more nimble with regards to services and products provided to clients.
    8. Digital assistants performing mundane data entry e.g. names, addresses etc.
    9. Virtual reality is going to improve and holographic movies are on their way – saw a demo video of holographic technology where there were Rhinos and cheetahs walking around a shopping mall India –it was incredible.
    10. Simpler and more user friendly digital signature technology, improving processes and efficiency.

    About André:

    André Coetzee, MBA, PMP, BA, H.Dip.Ed.
    (Masters in Business Administration, Project Management Professional, Bachelor of Arts, Higher Diploma in Education)

    Andre Coetzee is a Director and a founding partner of i-worx, a Premium Hosting Service Provider for law firms. Andre is constantly researching and exploring new and better Hosted IT services with the goal of continuously providing legal firms a premier IT experience. As a result i-worx has developed a reputation for delivering innovative Hosted IT services to law firms, including Hosted Desktops, Hosted Email and secure file sharing with exceptional personalized service. For more information or to learn more about how hosted services could benefit your Firm, call 604.639.6300 or email andre@i-worx.ca.

     

    Ben Stevens:

    Ben Stevens

    I believe that more attorneys will begin using the Apple Watch and integrating it in their practices and their lives.  For instance, trial attorneys may realize that they can subtly receive messages from their associate regarding key points while questioning a witness.  Further, the health integration is also an easily overlooked feature that could encourage attorneys to spend a little more time standing or moving around their office instead of sitting behind a desk all day.

    About Ben:

    Ben Stevens is a South Carolina family law attorney, who is a Fellow in both the AAML and the IAML.  He has published The Mac Lawyer legal technology blog since 2006, and he co-founded the Macs in Law Offices (MILO) forum in 2007, which has almost 5,000 members today.

     

    Brian Mauch:

    Brian Mauch

    My predictions for 2016 are:

    1.  Small firms will adopt document management systems like Worldox in record numbers.  The volume of documents and emails that firms need to manage is increasing exponentially each year.
    1. Android-based smartphones will overtake iPhones as the most popular choice for lawyers replacing their smartphones next year.  iPhones had overtaken Blackberries a few years ago, and now its Android’s turn.
    1. Dual monitors for lawyers and staff have become the standard setup for many firms.  The percentage of firms that have adopted multiple monitors will soon exceed more than 50%.

    About Brian:

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

     

    Nikki Black:

    Nikki Black

    In 2016, smartwatch use by lawyers will start to take off.The biggest benefit of this type of technology is that it will help lawyers untether from their smartphones and filter out all but the most important, need-to-know information.

    Cloud computing use by lawyers will also increase now that the technology and the legal cloud computing providers are becomingly increasingly familiar. Lawyers will use it for all sorts of law office functions, including billing, time tracking,and document storage. Othes will move all of those functions to the cloud by using a full-fledged web-based law practice management software system.

    By incorporating cloud computing software and other types of emerging technologies, such as smartwatches, into their practices, lawyers will be able to streamline their practices and provide better representation to their clients.

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

    Stephen Gallagher:

    Steve Gallagher

    What a group of authorities you have brought together once again. I do not know how I can contribute other than saying that I still think every young lawyer should read Clayton Christensen’s book, “How Will You Measure your Life?”.

    In this groundbreaking and remarkably personal book, Clayton Christensen and his coauthors James Allworth and Karen Dillon put forth a series of fundamental questions everyone asks themselves at some point in their lives:

    • How can I be sure that I’ll find satisfaction in my career?
    • How can I be sure that my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness?
    • How can I avoid compromising my integrity—and stay out of jail?

    Using lessons from some of the world’s greatest businesses, applying his theories about disruptive innovation, and drawing personal examples from his own life, Christensen and his coauthors seek to answer these questions by presenting a way for each of us to think about our lives and find the satisfaction, happiness, and direction necessary for a successful and happy future.

    I’ve admired Clayton Christensen for some time now. He is among other things a devout Mormon. He writes that he is very grateful for several early decisions he made in his career. In a speech to Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional he said that one of his decisions was made at Oxford. He told his audience that he is 6’8″, so he tried out for and made the Oxford Varsity basketball team. They turned out to have a great team. He said that those guys were the best friends that he ever known in his life, and they went through the regular season and were undefeated.

    Then they went into the British equivalent of what we would call the NCAA basketball tournament. They marched through each of those games in a fairly easy fashion until they came to the final four. When he looked at the schedule he realized that the final basketball game was scheduled to be played on Sunday in Bristol. He was devastated because he had made a commitment to himself when he was 16 that he would never play basketball on Sunday.

    He went to the coach truly conflicted. The team had worked their guts out all season long and Clay was the starting center, and he wanted to help them win this goal that they had all practiced for. And yet he had made this commitment to Heavenly Father and to himself. So he told his coach about this conflict and asked him what he should do. The coach was just incredulous. He said, “We have worked so hard for this. I can’t believe you’re even asking.” He said, “I don’t know who your god is, but mine, let me tell you what he’s like. He lets us by on things like this. And Clay, just this once, just this once, play this game and then go off and do whatever you have to do with your god and make peace with him and never do it again.”

    Well, then the team played in the semi-final game without Clayton, and they won. Clayton said that proved that he wasn’t that important to the team. As time has passed, Clayton felt that this decision looms as one of the most important decisions he had ever made because it would have been very easy to say, in general, keeping the Sabbath day holy, but in his particular extenuating circumstances, it’s okay, just this once. And the reason that decision has proven so important to Clay is that his whole life has turned out to be an un-ending stream of extenuating circumstances, and had he crossed that line just that once, then the next time something came up that was so demanding and critical, it would have been so much easier to cross the line again.

    I share this with young lawyers who are starting their careers, They will be constantly bombarded with “extenuating circumstances”. The future holds many challenges and the winners in this fight will be ball players who refuse to compromise themselves.

    About Stephen:

    Stephen P. Gallagher, is a principal at LeadershipCoach.us, an executive coaching consultancy that works with senior lawyers, practice group leaders, and other “high potential” individuals.  Stephen is an Organizational Development professional that provides lawyers and law firms with a broad range of coaching services directed at facilitating positive change.

    Stephen holds a Master of Science degree in Organizational Dynamics (MSOD) from the University of Pennsylvania. He has more than 30 years of experience in working exclusively with lawyers.

    Stephen is also certified as a Retirement Options coach, and as such, he helps individuals focus on the critical aspects of non-financial retirement planning.

    Based in Philadelphia, PA, Stephen’s practice is committed to partnering with clients in a creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential and at the same time enhancing professional and personal satisfaction in achieving a more balanced life.

    Stephen has conducted strategic planning programs with the American Bar Association, state and local bar associations, as well as The Law Society of England and Wales, and The Law Society of Scotland. In addition to coaching lawyers, Stephen is an adjunct faculty member in the Marketing department at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

    Stephen has written extensively in areas as diverse as The High Performance Lawyer, Yesterday’s Strategies Rarely Answer Tomorrow’s Problems, and Winding Down the Law Practice, Planning for Retirement  He has designed and facilitated numerous bar association and law firm retreats dealing with the changing nature of law practice. The National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) published Stephen’s two part articles, LPM Programs: an Inside Look and Bar Associations in Transition II.  In December 2014, Bar Leaders, a publication of ABA Division for Bar Services published another of his articles, The rise of the laptop lawyer? Senior members, lonely bowlers, and a way forward.

    Stephen P. Gallagher: sgallagher@leadershipcoach.us

     

    Thomas Spraggs Jr.:

    Tom Spraggs

    The market will continue to compel the legal community to search for technology solutions that facilitate the effective delivery of legal services while simultaneously attaining a high level of efficiency.

    One of the ways to do this is with Customer Relationship Management software, otherwise known as “CRM”. CRM software represents a useful tool for managing a company’s interactions with customers. CRM attempts to analyze data about the customer’s history and allows a company to cater to their needs. It is scalable and, most importantly, made more accessible through cloud based technologies. For example, www.salesforce.com now offers a cloud solution so that a client’s interactions with a company can be tracked from beginning to end and in perpetuity. CRM can also simply take the form of a contact manager system that integrates emails, documents, jobs, faxes, and scheduling for individual accounts.

    Wouldn’t it be amazing to know where your referrals were coming from and having the ability to view a customer’s data and company interactions on an electronic dashboard?

    I predict that 2016 will be one of the most innovative years for lawyers in general who apply technology and this may be the year that CRM software gains popularity to foster business relationships and retain satisfied clients.

    About Thomas:

    Thomas has applied innovative approaches to practice management and a progressive approach to technology in leading Spraggs & Co to become a highly respected, award-winning law firm. Thomas has earned an LLB, an LLM, and an MBA, and he is a co-founder of Lawly (www.lawly.com) a technology start-up supporting access to justice. He is a member of the law societies of British Columbia, Yukon and Alberta and a volunteer with the British Columbia Law Institute in his capacity as Director and Treasurer. He also serves as co-chair to the newly-formed Canadian Bar Association Tri-Cities/New Westminster Civil Litigation Section in addition to working as a Director of Douglas College and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.

     

    Deborah McMurray:

    Deb McMuray

    There is this phenomenon called  “The Law of the First Impression.”  For law firms and lawyers, your buyers are checking you out long before you know they are.  They go through 57% of the purchasing process before even speaking to you – vetting for credibility, popularity and efficacy.

    For too long, lawyers have ignored that buyers of legal services make their purchasing decision on two levels. When buyers are creating their short list, they are making a technical or intellectual evaluation of things they can check off a list – expertise, relevant experience, geographical suitability, fee arrangements, industry knowledge, and so on.  But when they are making their buying decision, where they are choosing the one lawyer or firm to hire, they are making an emotional decision – do I like this person, do I trust her, how would I feel getting stuck on the tarmac for 4 hours sitting next to him?

    Lawyers have to win the short list test to even be considered for purchase – and most of this evaluation is done (at least 57%) before the lawyers even know about it. I predict that lawyers and firms will finally focus on ensuring that their best experience is readily available – that their best client stories are succinct, but complete, and that this critical warehouse of move-the-needle information will be a major priority for driving new revenue.

    About Deborah:

    Deborah McMurray is CEO and Strategy Architect of Content Pilot LLC, a strategy, design, content and technology company. Deborah and her team specialize in award-winning design of websites and proposal centers, experience databases and other marketing technology tools, and important strategic initiatives, such as marketing department restructuring/realignment and positioning/branding campaigns. In 2008, she was inducted into the Legal Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame and in 2007, was elected as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In December 2013, she was named as one of National Law Journal’s “2013 Top 50 Legal Business Trailblazers & Pioneers.” Read her Law Firm 4.0 Blog.

     

    Mitch Kowalski:

    Mitch Kowalski

    Predictions:

    Dentons LLP has made making some predictions in 2016 very easy – it will acquire at least one firm in 2016. Beyond that however, things are very murky – but here goes:

    1. The Prairie provinces have wisely banded together to tackle regulatory reform including ABS, this month. By this time next year they will boldly move forward to implementation;
    1. The Prairie provinces will further band together under one law society, instead of three;
    1. Nova Scotia will implement regulatory reforms concerning entity regulation and compliance;
    1. The Law Society of Upper Canada will continue to earn its reputation for lethargy and inertia. It will no longer be seen as a progressive or thoughtful institution to be followed;
    1. Shares in Slater & Gordon will rebound by summer;
    1. Ryerson’s LPP programme will continue to succeed, forcing the Law Society of Upper Canada to seriously consider abandoning the articling process in 2017;
    1. Ryerson will formally apply for a law school;
    1. TWU will win its appeal in Ontario, and the Law Society of Upper Canada will then appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada;
    1. Alberta will institute a pilot, online divorce process;
    1. BC will begin planning how to roll out its online dispute resolution for small claims court, to higher level courts.

    Have a great holiday!!

    About Mitch:

    Mitchell Kowalski was recognized as a Fastcase 50 Global Legal Innovator in 2012, and he is the author of the critically acclaimed American Bar Association best-seller, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century. His forthcoming book, The Great Legal Reformation, in 2016. As a former in-house counsel, and partner at one of the world’s largest international law firms, Mitch provides a seasoned and unique perspective on the redesign of legal services delivery – one that is sought-after around the World. As a visiting professor at the University of Calgary Law School, he researches/teaches innovation in the global legal services market.

     

    David J. Bilinsky:

    P1110191 - Version 2

     

    In looking back at my predictions for last year, I can say that the majority came true or are in the process of coming true, one clearly did not and a few are still on the ‘wait and see’ pile.

    But this year I believe is starting to approach the ‘inflection point’ where new technologies and new developments are poised to bring about great change.  There are several indications that suggest that this may be happening:

    • I think that how we educate lawyers is about to undergo big change. No longer will students accept only ‘black letter law’ training that leaves them little prepared for the actual practice of law. Bar associations, universities and perhaps law societies are going to open up how they educate lawyers. One encouraging development is the growth of ‘incubators’ that allow young lawyers to start up with little cost and place them in an environment where they come into contact with other young entrepreneurs.  This ‘mash up’ of cultures, ideas and people will help break the bubble that tends to isolate lawyers from the energy, enthusiasm and creativity that is happening in places like Palo Alto and other places.  The drop in enrolment and the pressure to demonstrate that a real career lies ahead with a law degree will help bring about these changes.
    • Watson and other ‘legal thinking machines’ will start to greatly transform the delivery of legal services.  While many have speculated on the far-reaching power of Watson and similar AI technologies, what we haven’t given much thought to is how Watson and other AI technologies will actually deliver legal services.  Will Watson work for existing firms, allowing associates and partners alike the use of enhanced legal reasoning or will they be used for the delivery of lower-cost but more routine legal services via such platforms as perhaps LegalZoom? Google’s AI platform will be a different flavour altogether and may allow the public to get answers to their legal issues by simply doing the equivalent of a Google search.  These technologies stand poised to start delving at what it is that lawyers can do for clients – and do it better, faster and in all probability, cheaper.
    • There will be a looming battle for the lawyer’s desktop. Developers such as CLIO, RocketMatter, Amicus Cloud, MyCase, ActionStep and others are going to continue to try to provide the equivalent of the ‘holy grail’ to the solo and small firm lawyer.  The promised land will be the seamless integration of trust and general accounting (with systems that work in both the Canadian and the American tax/regulatory environments) with document management, document generation, CRM and project management and much much more. The financial dashboard that provides real time feedback on the performance of the firm is just one such aspect to these enhanced solutions.
    • Security and privacy will continue to be a big concern of lawyers and law firms. Lawyers are going to demand real time protection from such malicious software as Ransomware that holds their data hostage until the desired ransom is paid.
    • More jurisdictions will be watching British Columbia and the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) and will be planning to launch similar initiatives to provide lower-cost ways to resolve small claims-type disputes. Once the success of the CRT has been demonstrated, expect the model to be applied to a wide-range of potential tribunals in multiple jurisdictions. This process will inevitably erode at the jurisdiction of the courts and reduce the demand for judges and judicial processes as governments seek lower-cost ways to provide services.  For example, one particularly fruitful area for technology-enhanced dispute resolution will be family law.  Once the CRT – technology assisted ADR model has been proven, it will be applied to help resolve disputes in multiple areas of law, empowering consumers to seek solutions themselves using the on-line tools and inevitably reducing the demand for lawyers and judges alike.
    • Technology platforms will continue to evolve. Right now the hot item is the MS Surface Pro 4. I fully expect Apple to revamp their product offerings to come up with a competing platform that will keep the faithful happy. The winners will be all of us with products that work and think the way we do.
    • Encryption and being able to securely communicate with clients will come under increasing attack as more ‘back doors’ are discovered such as the Juniper Networks backdoor.
    • Virtual legal assistants will become more and more common along with other virtual contractors. The practice of law has been decoupled from the expensive downtown office. Lawyers can practice from wherever they can find an internet connection and a cloud-based practice management solution. Accordingly legal support providers will orient themselves to increasingly support this virtual practice of law.
    • This is more of a longer-baseline prediction. Blockchain technology (the technology that underlies Bitcoin) will start to transform the world. For example, unbreakable contracts are contracts that are self-enforcing or self-executing that exist via the block-chain.  This way if a company is contracted to produce 1000 widgets, they are paid by way of transfer of a fixed price from the purchaser to the vendor’s bank account each time a widget is delivered. No intermediary and no lawyer or court is required to enforce the contract. Similarly with any government registry.  No need to build such a registry to securely transfer property. You can have a blockchain-based property ownership recording system. The blockchain can be used to identify the current owner of any property, to make sure that ownership is correctly transferred to a new owner on sale, to resolve disputes and to prevent fraud. Real estate, vehicles – indeed any type of traditional property ownership and transfer – can take place via the blockchain. Fraud is reduced if not eliminated. The blockchain guarantees the validity of of a transaction. Any one or indeed any entity that provides the trusted intermediary role in today’s world (read: any government registry) can be replaced by blockchain technology.

    Well that is the wrap for this year. Now we have to sit back and see what indeed transpires! One thing seems to be certain..when it comes to the blockchain technology, you would never break the chain…

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