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    Take Advantage of Social Media – Learn how to stand out from the crowd
    Monday, August 10th, 2020

    ♫ All the little birdies on Jaybird Street
    Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet…♫

    Music and Lyrics by Thomas Jimmie, recorded by Michael Jackson.

    Would you pay attention to an emerging marketing platform that has seen a 663% increase in people over the last two years looking for recommendations around professional services? I would imagine you would. Twitter is that platform. Now: how many of you have a thoughtful, continual and strategic presence on Twitter that engages the community from which you draw your clients? While we are at it, how many of you have a digital media marketing plan that includes Twitter and other social media platforms? If not, according to research carried out in the UK by Orange Business, you may be overlooking a big opportunity: “[S]econd on the list are solicitors, who may not be aware of the fees they could be missing out on by not engaging with the public and other businesses via Twitter,” (https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/twitter-becoming-key-referral-source-for-solicitors-says-research).

    Orange notes that lawyers need to do more than just be ‘on’ Twitter. You need to demonstrate your expertise, show that you know what you are talking about and share information far and wide. In other words, your Twitter presence should be part of a comprehensive and strategic social media marketing plan (a “SMMP”).

    How do you build your SMMP? 

    First, you need to learn about how SM is being used by lawyers in your area(s) or practice.  Look inwards and determine which services you provide that you wish to market and learn how other lawyers (perhaps in other jurisdictions) are using SM in relation to these services. Are they engaging on Twitter and if so, what hashtags are they using? Did they create YouTube videos that speak to their knowledge of an area of law? Are they on Facebook and if so, have they posted videos, articles or interviews? How about Instagram? Reddit? Quora? Snapchat? The idea is to think beyond LinkedIn, which frankly, every lawyer should already be on.

    Now, determine what people are saying about you and your firm on SM. Research using Google, Facebook, Twitter and other SM platforms and see what is being said about you and your firm, if anything. This gives you a starting point together with an assessment of the SM landscape.

    Determine how your target clients are holding conversations in SM that are relevant to you and your firm.  What topics are they discussing? This gives you a target of where you need to be in terms of platforms and topics.

    Now set your strategy. How are you going to go about SM posts? Videos?  Photos? Articles? Will you engage in Twitter conversations on select topics? Comment on recent cases (hint: don’t use your recent cases – too easy to breach client confidentiality). Establish SM goals for your marketing focus.

    Schedule your time and updates for SM. You will need regular, consistent and timely updates. How much time and money will you expend?  Set a budget.

    Set up the metrics that you will use in determining if you are meeting your goals. You need to see if you efforts are bearing fruit.

    Reach out and experiment and start to build your SM networks. Follow people. Comment. Experiment. Learn how people use the different platforms and become part of the community. Don’t hesitate to consult with SM experts to save time and speed up the process.

    Your SM presence should aim to refer people back to your blog where your more detailed content is located and where people can learn about you (after all this is social media). Your blog is where you demonstrate your in-depth knowledge via the posts that you have written and people can find your contact information.

    Unlike an advertisement, SM is a dialogue with your potential clients. Your skillful tweet tweet tweet can take you from being just another birdie in the tree to a rocking robin.

    Who are the knowledgeable legal marketing personalities and organizations that are available to assist you in your marketing journey?

    LMA:  The Legal Marketing Association is an international organization composed of consultants, vendors, lawyers, marketers from other professions, and marketing students. It has a Western Canadian Regional Governing Board, with Vancouver’s own Susan Van Dyke of Van Dyke Marketing & Communications as the 2019 President.  They are a tremendous resource for all areas of legal marketing. Follow their blog to stay current on news, trends and more. blog.legalmarketing.org 

    In terms of on-line presence, you should be able to learn a great deal about legal marketing by seeing what advice experts in the field place on their blogs and web pages – for free. Examples of their work allows you to gauge the impact of their work; awards allow you to determine what their peers are saying about them. Here is a sampling of those people and organizations that I and others, consider strongly influential.

    Skunkworks: The team at Skunkworks have become a local tour de force for lawyers and law firms here in BC. Doug Jasinski, Marnie MacLeod and Jeremy Hessing-Lewis have all done their time in the legal trenches and speak the language of lawyers and marketing. Their blog and examples of their work are a good place to start to see what local firms have achieved in thinking about their marketing message. https://skunkworks.ca/blog/ 

    Stemlegal: Steve Matthews and his group form a web development, publishing and strategy juggernaut for the legal profession. They are a local company with a national presence and influence. Steve is tireless – not only does he look after his legal marketing company, he manages slaw.ca – Canada’s online legal magazine, he runs lawblogs.ca – Canada’s comprehensive listing of Canadian Legal Blogs, legalpubs.ca – which tracks the latest in Canadian legal publications and runs  ClawBies.ca  – Canada’s annual legal blogging awards.

    Eva Chan: After practising advertising, marketing, and IT law at a national Canadian law firm for over 10 years, Eva is now a social media strategist, consultant and trainer.  More to the point she provides social media-related services to lawyers and law firms.  A ClawBie award winner, her blog https://www.evachanweb.ca/blog/ has articles such as Social Media Opportunities and Risks, How To Write an Engaging Social Media Post and Twitter tricks and treats (aka tips). She asks (and answers) such questions as: What One Thing to Advance Women in Law Will You Do?

    Fishman Marketing: Ross Fishman, although located in Chicago, has a strong presence here in Vancouver. His web site is loaded with great advice and insights into the world of legal marketing.  Review his numerous case studies to gain insights into his thinking and work. Subscribe to his blog to stay current on his innovative ideas. https://www.fishmanmarketing.com/blog-2/

    The Rainmakers Blog:  Stephen Fairley consistently receives accolades for perhaps the best legal marketing blog on the Internet.  A recent post was one of my favourites: 5 Ways to Attract your Ideal Client. Another was: How to Determine Which Social Media Networks Work Best for Your Firm. https://www.therainmakerblog.com 

    (Published by the Canadian Bar Association in their publication Bartalk in the columns: PracticeTalk and Dave’s Tech Tips in December 2019. The post has been updated slightly.)

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal 
    Monday, July 13th, 2020

    “Some changes are so slow, you don’t notice them, others are so fast, they don’t notice you.” —Ashleigh Brilliant

    BC’s Innovative online system resolves thousands of legal disputes—usually without lawyers.

    On July 13, 2016, the legal world changed in a small but significant way when an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Tribunal started taking its first cases in British Columbia, Canada. BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) drew on prior private law examples such as eBay and PayPal’s ODR resolution platform. EBay was the proof of concept of ODR: By 2010, it was handling over 60 million disputes each year, most of which were fully resolved by the parties without any additional human intervention.

    This development came after academics, scholars, the United Nations, universities, governments, private industry, lawyers and nonlawyers long debated the potential of using the power, reach and resources of the internet to settle legal disputes. This was the first time government provided a mechanism for parties to settle a dispute in a totally online forum.

    THE ORIGINS OF ODR

    Colin Rule, who played a leading role in the creation of PayPal’s ODR platform, is one of two recipients of the 2020 inaugural Frank E.A. Sander Innovation in ADR Award from the ABA Center for Innovation and the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. Rule has led the development and expansion of ODR since 1999, but over the past five years he has been a key driver behind international efforts to expand access to justice by integrating court ODR into the legal system.

    Much of the work in the field of ODR is based, directly or indirectly, on Rule’s innovative thinking and work in this area while first at eBay, then Modria, an ODR provider, and latterly as vice president for ODR at Tyler Technologies, together with his colleagues’ work from the National Center for Technology & Dispute Resolution (http://odr.info) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 

    There are two general types of ODR. One type focuses on using the algorithmic power of computers to help people resolve their issues. This branch uses computing power to help parties reach an optimized solution that both sides can accept, or it can help parties overcome obstacles and reach agreement. 

    And per a 2013 Canadian Arbitration and Mediation Journal column, “Online Dispute Resolution: The Future of ADR,” written in conjunction with Rule and Dr. Frank Fowlie:

    The second [type of ODR] focuses on using computers to facilitate human communication. Instead of having the computer processor analyze data and make recommendations, this branch uses information and communications technologies to assist the interaction between the parties, helping them to reach mutually acceptable solutions. … The computer is used to create a virtual meeting space, one specifically tailored to best meet the needs of the disputants.

    This second type of ODR is what the CRT is patterned on.

    IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CRT

    Since its launch, the CRT’s jurisdiction has steadily expanded. On July 13, 2016, the system began accepting disputes involving owners and tenants of condominium properties and corporations. On June 1, 2017, its jurisdiction expanded to small claims (all disputes $5,000 and under, such as debt or damages, recovery of personal property, personal injury and specific performance of agreements involving personal property or services). On April 1, 2019, its jurisdiction was expanded again to include certain motor vehicle accident disputes. For instance, if the CRT determines that a person’s injury is minor, damages for pain and suffering are limited to $5,500.

    Importantly, the CRT’s jurisdiction is not concurrent with the courts; it is exclusive—and the vast majority of CRT decisions are final and binding on the parties. Within its legal jurisdiction, a claimant has a very limited ability to move a dispute out of the CRT to the courts. Furthermore, there is limited ability to challenge the decision of the CRT; a party unhappy with the outcome can, in most cases, only apply for judicial review of the decision on a standard of patent unreasonableness. In small claims matters, a party may file a notice of objection, which results in a new process being started in the Provincial Court. However, a financial deposit may need to be made, and the Provincial Court may assess a penalty if the person objecting doesn’t receive a better outcome than the CRT decision.

    THE CRT PROCESS

    As a starting place, the CRT platform contains a Solution Explorer that includes legal information and self-help tools in such areas as buying and selling, housing, loans and debts, construction, employment, insurance and property, as well as general disputes. The platform then guides potential parties through a question-and-answer protocol to lead them to relevant legal information.

    For example, assume someone had a prepaid purchase card (a gift card preloaded with a certain amount of money) and was charged a fee by a merchant for using the card. The Solution Explorer would guide the party to information that would inform them that, under British Columbia law, such a fee may not be charged, and explains to the party how to claim a refund by writing to Consumer Protection BC and filing a complaint.

    If the nature of the complaint is such that a legal claim needs to be initiated, then the Solution Explorer provides online guides on how to file a claim. A case is initiated by completing the appropriate form from the “Make a Claim with the CRT” webpage. The CRT is designed to try to assist the parties to craft their own solution. If a solution cannot be reached by negotiation between the parties or facilitated by a CRT case manager, then a hearing can be held by the CRT. This hearing can take place by email, by electronic submissions, paper submissions or, in rare occasions, via an oral hearing by telephone, videoconference or in person. Evidence can be submitted, including expert evidence.

    The CRT is certainly applying a different mindset to the process of civil dispute resolution––largely without lawyers. In proceedings before the CRT, the ability to be represented by a lawyer is curtailed.

    THE ROLE OF ATTORNEYS

    As of June 2020 [ED: the original article has earlier stats, this version has been updated], the CRT has handled 17,238 disputes—14,362 small claims and 2,701 strata property disputes. The system has closed 15,644 disputes, including 13,187 small claims disputes, and 2,333 strata disputes were closed and of those, 907 strata property disputes were determined by adjudication. There were much smaller numbers of motor vehicle disputes and society and cooperative association disputes, and 78 percent of participants would recommend the CRT to others, according to the Civil Resolution Tribunal’s April 2020 Participant Satisfaction Survey.

    Albert Einstein once said: “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels.” The CRT is certainly applying a different mindset to the process of civil dispute resolution—largely without lawyers. In proceedings before the CRT, the ability to be represented by a lawyer is curtailed.

    In motor vehicle injury disputes, litigants can automatically be represented by a lawyer. However, in most other cases, parties need to ask the CRT for permission if they want to be represented by a lawyer. And, in all cases, if a party wants someone other than a lawyer to represent them, they must receive permission. There are exceptions for minors and persons with impaired mental capacity. At any time during the tribunal process, a case manager or tribunal member can restrict the participation of a person providing representation or assistance in the tribunal process.

    Traditionally, lawyers have opposed changes to the adversarial method of dispute resolution. Lawyers can continue to oppose meaningful changes to the legal and justice system that would result in greater access to justice; however, they do so at their peril. They may just wake up one day and find that change happened, and that change did not include them. The example of the CRT is just one of those changes that is likely to expand and fundamentally change the process of dispute resolution. LP

    (This article appeared originally in the Big Ideas Issue, Law Practice Magazine, July 1, 2020 (https://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_practice/publications/law_practice_magazine/2020/ja2020/ja20bilinsky/).

     

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Toxic Workplaces: Avoiding Burnout while Staying Positive
    Monday, February 10th, 2020

    ♫ And if it’s bad
    Don’t let it get you down, you can take it..
    Hold your head up, oh hold your head high… ♫

    Music and Lyrics by Junod Etienne and Sean Price, recorded by Steppenwolf.

     

    Image result for burnout

    (Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay).

    When one thinks of toxic environments, one doesn’t tend to think of law offices as falling into that category. Yet I get calls from partners, associates and staff alike who are having to cope with working in such situations.  In some offices matters are dire; the stress of working in these environments are taking their toll on the person’s health and well-being, on their careers and certainly on their home life as well as they can’t help but carry the effects home.  After a time some of these people reach the breaking point and leave. Others are not so fortunate and are looking for tips on how to cope with being in such a situation.

    The first thing to remember if you are caught in such an office is that you cannot control other people’s behaviour; you can only control how you respond.  Passive-aggressiveness, destructive and negative comments, conniving politics, terrible leadership, partners that are insensitive to personal boundaries or worse are not things that are a reflection of who you are; you are simply caught in the toxic vortex.  So here is a collection of tips for coping in a toxic environment:

    • You need to stay positive and upbeat. The person you are most able to influence is yourself so don’t allow the toxicity to drag you down.
    • Learn from the experience. Every bad situation allows you to grow as an individual and take home lessons – even if those are about things that you would never repeat. Learn how to apply The Golden Rule – ie how to treat others as you yourself would wish to be treated – as it is a powerful guide to help you grow when you are in such a situation.
    • Do the best that you can do. You want to preserve your integrity and your good name. It is no surprise that word gets around in the legal community and being able to cope in a bad environment only enhances your reputation, your work ethic and your character.
    • Create a ‘thank you’ file. While it may perhaps be the thinnest file in the office, a collection of letters and cards that endorse the value of your work could be the most valuable file in the office. It will grow over time and leafing through the physical embodiment of good wishes and thanks is a personal validation of your own self-worth and assistance to others.
    • Get a supportive network outside of the office. Having someone to talk to about the situation certainly helps and their advice and support can get you through some dark days.

    Continue to search for a better workplace while keeping your shoulders squared and your spirit up. Keep looking for a more positive situation.  Remember that no matter what, continue to hold your head high.

    What online resources are available if you find yourself in a toxic environment?  Here are a selection:

    Workplace Bullying Institute “WBI is the first and only U.S. organization dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying that combines help for individuals, research, books, public education, training for professionals-unions-employers, legislative advocacy, and consulting solutions for organizations.”  It was founded by Drs. Gary & Ruth Namie.  They state:

    “Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

    • Verbal abuse
    • Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating…”

    This site has wonderful resources for people caught in these situations including an ‘action plan’ which includes the great piece of advice: “Have your escape route planned…

    The World of Psychology Web site in the article “When Your Workplace is Toxic” has this bit of advice regarding having a personal renewal program in place.  They state:

    “We must have a self-care protocol in place that we can employ as a daily guide, while being alert to rationalizations and excuses for not doing it. Not to have such a personal renewal program may court disaster for both our personal and professional lives. It is also, at its core, an act of profound disrespect for the gift of life we have been give.”

    The Future of CIO website: in an article entitled “Five Characteristics of a Toxic Workplace” states:

    “One of the most toxic characteristics of workplace, is that of management making decisions without the consideration of the people.”

    It goes on and states:

    “A lack of real support for employees can be an issue: Who do you go to if there’s a problem with your boss or someone in a senior role? Often, there’s an ‘elephant in the room’ that no-one wants to address until the problem begins to spiral. Unhelpful behavior that leads to general gossip, can very quickly create a toxic environment.” 

    If you are a leader in a firm that is starting to show signs of toxicity, this website has another  good article that speaks about a 4 step methodology for analyzing, assessing, and redesigning the culture of an organization in a consistent manner: Corporate Culture Re-inventing: Is Hybrid Model the Best?

    Lastly, when it comes time to craft your exit strategy from the toxic workplace, Forbes Magazine has an article online entitled “Five Critical Steps to Finding a Job Fast!” It lists such things to consider as fine tuning your LinkedIn profile as well as checking any publicly available information about yourself that may turn up on a Google search.

    (Originally published by the Canadian Bar Association in their publication Bartalk in the columns: PracticeTalk and Dave’s Tech Tips in February 2014.)

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Provincial Court of BC’s Twitter Town Hall
    Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

    Progress by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 ImageCreator

    If not today
    Maybe tomorrow
    If not tomorrow
    Maybe in a week
    No matter how far I push it
    It needs to find me
    Progress

    Lyrics and Music by Booker T. Jones, James Edward JR Olliges, recorded by Booker T. Jones.

    Sometimes change happens so slowly, you don’t notice it. Sometimes change happens so quickly, it doesn’t notice you (Ashley Brilliant)

    Oct. 28, 2019 was a day in Canada unlike most others.  You may not have noticed anything different, even if you were in the legal community. On that day, Provincial Court of BC’s Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie hosted the province’s Chief Justice, Robert Bauman, and Jennifer Muller, a former self-represented litigant (SRL), in a live Twitter Town Hall.  For two hours, the group engaged in twitter discussions with their Twitter audience from not only in BC, but across Canada and the world.

    A good review of the proceedings, parties participating and topics discussed can be found here: https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/enews/enews-19-11-2019.

    Since the proceedings have been covered in depth in the noted article, I wanted to discuss what I find momentous about this event and possibly, comment on its future implications.

    Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible (Frank Zappa)

    There is no denying that we have an access to justice issue in the courts and society, not only in BC or Canada, but world-wide. Different approaches are being tried in many locations with the best of intentions, aiming to improve access to justice.  However, if these approaches fall into the category of ‘more of the same’, then one is left with the distinct impression that these efforts are little more than flogging a dead horse. Or as Albert Einstein famously said: “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”

    One thing that happens when you reach out to the world. You receive information about approaches that have been developed elsewhere and then enter into a meaningful discussion as to their applicability here.  For example, there was the tweet:

    “Domestic Violence courts are really amazing! Toronto’s integrated domestic violence court pilot (criminal and family under one judge) was a huge success. When will we see something like it in BC?”

    Ron Usher noted in another tweet:

    “The use of technology in B.C. Securities Commission hearings is impressive, well worth taking the time to sit in on a hearing.”

    These tweets and others like them lubricate the pump of thinking outside of the box.  Studies and research articles were mentioned and noted and helped raise the level of awareness of the current thinking of the subject of access to justice world wide.

    In fact this Town Hall not only generated thought inside of the Province, it reached far beyond. Chief Justice Michael Wood in Nova Scotia had a question that was asked via video clip embedded in a Tweet.  His question (here I have paraphrased) was, given BC’s huge geographic distances, whether BC courts have found ways to make meaningful use of technologies to assist in outreach out to remote communities without losing the personal touch that they have found in Nova Scotia to be so important.

    The Justice Education Society replied that they were working to assist judges in BC reaching out through the use of live streaming technology.

    Change always means no longer doing things in the ways that you have always done them. Or to quote Christopher Robin, I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been.

    Think, then Think Differently

    In the Town Hall Discussion, there was inherently a recognition that the solutions lay in ideas that are outside of the traditional ‘way of business”.

    For example, this tweet from Jennifer Muller:

    “^JM: #A2JChatBC For there to be real change in the ways users of the system can access justice, justice stakeholders need to decide to act on A2J and do it differently – collaboratively and experimentally – putting users at the centre.”

    The problem, in part, is due to the fact that the justice system has a long history and tradition. Change, in other words, comes slowly. Consider that the Air India Trial started in April 2003 in Courtroom 20 in the Vancouver Law Courts. That courtroom, along with being a high-security courtroom, facilitated a long high-tech criminal trial using an array of technologies. Yet in the 16 years since, there have only been a handful of cases using similar technologies, despite all the evidence that these technologies not only sped up the trial but facilitated many aspects of the work of the lawyers, of the judge and of court administration.

    When it comes to technology, one could be faulted for saying that the justice system does not seem to turn to technology for solutions.

    Accordingly it is refreshing then, to see Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie and Chief Justice Robert Bauman turning to Twitter to conduct their Town Hall with the world.

    Jennifer Muller stated:

    “We need to do things differently and try things that haven’t been tried. Collaborative approaches vs. adversarial should be the default, let’s start with small things: improve court scheduling with tech to save users time and money.”

    Change, like justice, must be seen and not just heard …aka…don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.

    Technology is only a tool. Yet it is a very powerful and societal changing tool. The application of technology has been responsible for bringing into being the next phase of human progress, namely the Information Age. Yet the changes wrought by information technology in the legal sphere in general and the justice system in particular, have been relatively minor compared to the disruption that has occurred in other professions and industries. Judges, court administrators, lawyers and of course, the public have called up all participants to address the access to justice problem.  Questions are many; answers are few. The justice system must not only be seen to be actively calling for and supportive of solutions to address access to justice; it must also be seen to moving towards changing itself to be part of any real efforts to seek change.  In this regard it must demonstrate that it is open to technological change or be subject to criticism that it itself is part of the problem.

    Certainly the courtroom of today must be prepared to handle the move to paperless trials and video evidence. Court processes can benefit from full or partial automation in much the same way that law firms have done. Conferences that focus on emerging systems aiding court processes inform judges and court administration worldwide and help bring about knowledge, alignment of systems and with it, change.  Furthermore the movement world-wide to online dispute resolution (such as our Civil Resolution Tribunal in BC) completely depends on the use of internet and communication technologies. Moreover, judges, as the pinnacle of the system, must not only support the call for change, they must be seen to be active change agents within it.

    The Twitter Town Hall could not have taken place without The Internet and enabling technologies. A different social media platform could have been chosen with differing results. Twitter allowed a diverse audience from all points on the compass to join in, see the questions, read the answers and in turn, ask and have their questions answered.  Ask yourself where, on or off the Internet, is it possible to engage in a discussion such as the one that occurred on Twitter, with judges and others? Possibly in a conference where judges are invited to speak and take questions, but those events would be limited to those who could attend in the same physical location at the same time.  In the Twitter Town Hall, the conversations were asymmetric, meaning that one speaker did not have to wait in line at a microphone to ask his/her question one after another. Furthermore the record of the tweets, asked and answered, is fully available now to anyone by going to Twitter and searching under the hashtag #a2JChatBC. The record clearly shows the level of engagement that took place.

    No machine is above the law

    How do you judge (pardon the pun) that the Twitter Town Hall was a success?  What are the criteria?

    For one, it is rare for any member of the legal profession, much less the public, to be able to ask questions of a judge.  Even in courtroom engagements, it is the judge that is able to ask questions of counsel and at times, witnesses. No dialogue such as an open discussion takes place in court and rarely outside of it. Public social events involving judges are, not surprisingly, limited. The sheer ability to “talk” to a judge on Twitter, in public, and ask questions and receive answers, in particular, is practically unprecedented.

    This engagement was recognized in this tweet by the Chief Justice of BC:

    “^CJBC Communication between the judiciary and the public it serves is critical to maintaining trust and confidence in our judicial institutions. And importantly it is the judiciary’s duty to pursue these opportunities. #A2JChatBC”

    In an article entitled “The Qualities of a Good Judge” by Judge Steven L. Platt, who presided over one of Maryland’s trial courts for nearly three decades (Orphan’s Court, 1978-1986; District Court, 1986-1990; Circuit Court, 1990-2007), it is set forth:

    “Chief Judge Robert M. Bell [of the Maryland Court of Appeals] has emphasized the need for judges to communicate not just in the courtroom but also in the communities in which they serve and to the other branches of government.”

    While judges giving talks or speeches in communities are vital, this method of communication is rather one-sided.  The ability to ask questions by the public is usually limited and often there is no opportunity for a discussion to take place.  The Twitter Town Hall was a major step forward in allowing a multi-party, diverse and wide-ranging engagement to take place.

    If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito (Betty Reese).

    There were many suggestions and approaches outlined to address access to justice.  Benchers, The Law Society, PovNet, BC’s Office of the Ombudsman, Legal Aid BC, the CBABC, the Courthouse Library, TLABC, Mediate BC, the BC Utilities Commission, the BC Law Institute, the BC Family Innovations Lab, Access to Justice BC, The Society of Notaries, lawyers, notaries, and many others joined in the wide-ranging discussions.

    Like a pebble dropped in a still pool of water, the ripples of the Twitter Town Hall have spread far and wide. Initiatives such as these help push the access to justice boulder a little higher up the hill.

    Indeed, inherent in the discussions was the recognition that Access to Justice solutions may actually, in part, lie outside of the courtroom.

    MediateBC posted this tweet:

    “Shameless plug: Mediation and other collaborative dispute resolution processes are critical to #A2J (i.e. more affordable, removes strain on the courts, etc.). There could probably be a bit more in the media about that. #A2JChatBC  ^WB”

    Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be (Khalil Gibran).

    The Hardest thing to open is a closed mind (Graham Andrews)

    What of the people who weren’t there, who didn’t participate, who are part of the justice system but turn a blind eye to change and in particular, enhancing access to justice? The ones who, due to indifference, adherence to the past or dislike of change, seek to stand in the road and obstruct progress.

    Margaret Mead stated that:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    or reaching back in time:

    Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow (Plato).

    If not today, maybe tomorrow. If not tomorrow, maybe in a week. No matter how far we push it, it needs to find us. Progress.

    (concurrently published in slaw.ca)

    Posted in Change Management, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Time for Change in Legal Regulation
    Friday, October 4th, 2019

    Time for Change in Legal Regulation

     

    ♫ It’s time we stop, hey,
    what’s that sound
    Everybody look what’s going down…

    – Music and lyrics by Stephen Stills,
    recorded by Buffalo Springfield.

    There is something happening here. Traditional lawyer regulation “has not proven to foster innovation” and this in turn is seen as holding back innovations that could increase access to justice. For example, in 2018, The Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California (“Board”) received a Legal Market Landscape Report (bit.ly/bt1019p26-3) suggesting that “some of the rules and laws governing the legal profession may be hindering innovations that could expand the availability of legal services.” As a result, the Board appointed a Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (“ATILS”) and assigned it to identify possible regulatory changes to remove barriers to innovation in the delivery of legal services by lawyers and others. ATILS was charged with balancing dual goals: consumer protection and increased access to legal services. They came up with 16 concept options for regulatory changes.

    The report (bit.ly/bt1019p26-1) found that: “The slow evolution of the rules governing lawyers, including, but not limited to, lawyer advertising and solicitation, fee sharing/fee splitting, and UPL, are examples of regulatory reforms failing to keep pace with changes in the legal services market, including changes in the market driven by evolving innovation and technology and related consumer behaviour and preferences.”

    But California is not alone.

    Utah and Arizona are also looking at the issue of the regulation of lawyers and its effect on access to justice, in particular the issue of Alternative Business Structures (“ABSs”):

    The Utah group – which was heavily influenced by the experience in England and Wales – said ABSs, backed by a new regulatory regime, would help foster innovation and promote other market forces “so as to increase access to and affordability of legal services.” (bit.ly/bt1019p26-2)

    As of August 28, 2019, the final report of the Arizona task force has yet to be published, but it was reported that minutes of its meetings confirm that it supported the introduction of ABSs along with entity regulation.

    Of course ABSs have been allowed in the UK since 2013.

    Underlying these reports is the message that technology has been the biggest factor of change and innovation over the last while, yet lawyers are failing to realize the benefits of change and innovation that technology offers. Access to justice suffers as a result.

    The Utah Bar, for their part, issued the report “Narrowing the Access-to-Justice Gap by Reimagining Regulation.” (bit.ly/bt1019p26-4)

    Utah stated that eliminating or substantially relaxing the rule allowing lawyers and non-lawyers to share fees was “key to allowing lawyers to fully and comfortably participate in the technological revolution.” (bit.ly/bt1019p26-2)

    Utah felt that they should encourage “non-traditional sources of legal services, including non-lawyers and technology companies, and allow them to test innovative legal service models and delivery systems through the use of a “regulatory sandbox” approach, which permits innovation to happen in designated areas while addressing risk and generating data to inform the regulatory process.” (bit.ly/bt1019p26-2)

    We need to start the process of regulatory reforms to allow these changes to take place here; for without them, as we all know, you step out of line, the man come and take you away.

    What are some of the key recommendations and findings of the California and Utah reports?

    California: Legal Market Landscape Report | Utah: Narrowing the Access-to-Justice Gap by Reimagining Regulation Report

    California

    Legal Market Landscape Report (bit.ly/bt1019p27-1)

    • Narrowing restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law (“UPL”) to allow persons or businesses other than a lawyer or law firm to render legal services, provided they meet appropriate eligibility standards and comply with regulatory requirements;
    • Permitting a nonlawyer to own or have a financial interest in a law practice; and
    • Permitting lawyers to share fees with nonlawyers under certain circumstances and amending other attorney rules regarding advertising, solicitation, and the duty to competently provide legal services.

    The potential benefits of these recommendations were listed as follows:

    • Improving the ability of new providers to enter the legal services market;
    • Creating incentives for innovators to collaborate with lawyers to develop technology-driven solutions;
    • Expanding options for entities and individuals other than lawyers to support and participate in these developments through business ownership and capital investment.
    • Limiting the new UPL exceptions to only those providers who meet eligibility qualifications and become regulated;
    • Requiring the establishment of ethical standards comparable to those imposed on lawyers and law firms;
    • Conditioning the new system on the establishment of equivalent protections afforded by the attorney-client privilege and a lawyer’s ethical duty of confidentiality; and
    • Including in the revised fee-splitting rule a provision prohibiting interference with a lawyer’s independent professional judgment.
    Utah

    Narrowing the Access-to-Justice Gap by Reimagining Regulation Report (bit.ly/bt1019p27-2)

    “Certain rules of professional conduct have been viewed by lawyers as impeding their ability to increase business and survive in the online world. Restrictions on lawyer advertising, fee sharing, and ownership of and investment in law firms by non-lawyers are concepts that need serious amendment if we are to improve competition and successfully close the access-to-justice gap.”

    In a July 11 meeting, the Arizona task force voted “to amend the state’s ethical rules to allow lawyers and non-lawyers to form new legal services businesses known as ‘alternative business structures.’” They stated that they believed the Arizona approach had much to offer. Indeed, they viewed the elimination or substantial relaxation of Rule 5.4 as key to allowing lawyers to fully and comfortably participate in the technological revolution. They felt without such a change, lawyers will be at risk of not being able to engage with entrepreneurs across a wide swath of platforms.

    (Published by the Canadian Bar Association in their publication Bartalk in the columns: PracticeTalk and Dave’s Tech Tips in October 2019.)

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Recognizing Different Strengths
    Monday, June 24th, 2019

    ♫ You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
    You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
    I am strong when I am on your shoulders
    You raise me up to more than I can be…♫

    Music and Lyrics by B. Graham, R. Lovland, recorded by Martin Hurkens.

    What does it take to practice law successfully? That list of abilities would be as diverse as the spectrum of lawyers out in practice today. Many of us would wish for a photographic memory combined with an intellect that allows that large amount of data to be assimilated and processed. That is exactly what Haley Moss, a lawyer in Florida, does. Joseph Zumpano, the co-founder of the law firm Zumpano Patricios, that employs Haley Moss, said he believes Moss is the first “openly autistic” lawyer to be admitted to the Florida Bar. Moss gives his business an edge in complex areas of law, Zumpano says, because of her “extraordinary” capacity for analysis and information processing .

    Of course, not every person with autism possesses a photographic memory or has a capacity for deep analysis. People with autism have a range of abilities and  challenges. Employers such as SAP, JPMorgan Chase, EY, Microsoft and others  recognize this diversity and are part of the Autism at Work program, which  seeks to take this range of abilities by employing over 160 colleagues in 13 countries.(https://www.sap.com/corporate/en/company/diversity/differently-abled.html)

    According to StatsCan, 22% of Canadians have at least one disability, which represents 6.2 million people (2017). That is a huge pool of people that could play a role for many employers, law firms included, from being lawyers to acting in other careers.

    There are more attorneys with autism than people realize, according to Shain Neumeier, an autistic lawyer from Massachusetts as reported in the ABA Journal.

    The ABA Journal continues: “I think people are becoming more willing to be out of the closet because some of the stigma is gone. It’s not just a bunch of people who are sitting in corners banging their heads; we are fully functioning,” says Michael Gilberg, a special education and disability rights attorney in New York, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 18. He graduated from Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2007 and is admitted to practice in New York and Connecticut.

    The goal would be for all individuals to be recognized for their strengths and abilities that they bring to a workplace, not just for how they are challenged.

    “I want to see us being meaningfully included and have opportunities that are aligned with our skills,” Haley Moss stated, “as well as what we’re capable of.”

    Employers, particularly law firms, who have a deep role to play by advocating for the rights of those with differing abilities and challenges, can also play a leading role in recognizing and employing individuals who have amazing attributes and strengths to build meaningful careers and help raise them up to be more than they could be…

    The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation in 2005 reported on a study that found that 92% of consumers felt more favourable toward those employers that hire individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, the study showed that people also had strong positive beliefs about the value and benefits of hiring people with disabilities, with 87% specifically agreeing that they would prefer to give their business to companies that hire individuals with disabilities.

    AtWork outlines further benefits of hiring people with disabilities.  These include:

    Improved productivity: Effective job matching fits the employee’s abilities to the employers’ needs. The right person in the right job makes everyone more productive.

    Reduced turnover: Having trouble finding good employees? Many repetitive or entry-level positions are well suited to people with disabilities.

    Improved morale: People with disabilities want to work and contribute. They are motivated and reliable coworkers who add value to any team. Their enthusiasm and positive attitudes are contagious – and great for morale.

    Higher retention: People with disabilities are reliable and dependable workers, with some of the highest rates of retention of any employee group.

    Low investment, high return: There is no additional cost to you, other than the employee’s wages.

    Win-win situation for all: Hiring people with disabilities benefits the workers, the community and your company.

    What resources are out there to assist you in employing people with disabilities?

    CASE: The Canadian Association for Supported Employment, established in 1999, was initially an informal network of service providers and stakeholders committed to the full participation of persons with disabilities in the Canadian labour force. CASE is a national association of community-based service providers and stakeholders working towards the Employment Inclusion of people with disabilities. This association strives to promote full citizenship and personal capacity for persons with disabilities through the facilitation of increased labour market participation and outcomes. Through such workforce participation, CASE also promotes social inclusion for Canadians with disabilities.  Joining CASE signifies your organization’s role in being part of the national voice for employment inclusion.

    CASE lists a number of supportive organizations that can assist in the role of employment inclusion in BC:

    Family Works BC

    AspectBC

    Community Living BC

    The Provincial Networking Group Inc.

    Work BC 

    Inclusion BC

    There are real and tangible benefits to hiring those people with differing abilities and challenges. As lawyers we are justly concerned with rights and freedoms; I trust we are equally concerned with opportunities being equally available to all.

    (originally published in BarTalk, a publication of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.)

    Posted in Adding Value, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, personal focus and renewal, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Reducing Your Exposure to Internal Fraud
    Monday, February 11th, 2019

     Attribution: Chantal Pare.

    Everybody thinks you’re the lamest
    We all know you’re a fraud
    Life can be so frustrating
    I’m so glad you got caught
    …♫

                                                                                Music, Lyrics and recorded by: Hawk Nelson.

    Fraud in the workplace cost Canadian businesses $3.2 billion, reported the CBC in 2011 (the last date I could find statistics). While lawyers have been aware of, and taken steps to prevent, fraud attempts by outsiders on their trust accounts for some time now, there is a largely unacknowledged vulnerability of fraud committed against law firms by employees. The sad truth about internal fraud is that people deny that there is a fraud problem in the first place or only react after a fraud is discovered.

    Consider these internal fraud facts:

    • “On the basis of the evidence it is likely that losses in any organisation and any area of expenditure will be at least 3%, probably near to 6% and possibly more than 10%” (PFK.com “The Financial Cost of Fraud, 2015).
    • “25% of internal fraud cases result in losses of a million dollars on average” (Langlois Advocates – Lawyers, “Theft or Fraud by an Employee: Management Rights and Legal Action.”
    • “Previous research suggests that fraud, like many crimes, is under-reported” (Statistics Canada, 2006; PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2005; Smith, 1999).
    • “The more steps businesses take to control and uncover fraud, the greater their chances of detecting fraudulent activities and the better their ability to assess the effectiveness of their anti-fraud strat Thus, strategies for detecting and preventing fraud are key mechanisms in keeping the costs, direct and indirect, of fraud down” (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2007).
    • “The prospects of recovery of the proceeds of fraud are dim, with 65% of victim companies recovering 25% or less of the stolen funds. And many recover nothing.” (The True Cost of Fraud: Direct Costs, Tracy Coene in Insurance & Risk Management).
    • ACFE in their 2018 Report to the Nations (A global study on occupational Fraud and Abuse being the largest global study on occupational fraud) looked at 2,690 real cases of occupational fraud from 125 countries over 23 major industry categories. They found:
      • The mean, or average, loss due to the frauds in their study was $2.75 million, which is an enormous amount when considering how much damage such a loss represents to most organizations.
      • The median loss for all cases in their study was $130,000. While 55% caused less than $200,000 in financial damage, more than one-fifth resulted in a loss of at least $1 million.

    What are the steps you can take to reduce fraud?

    Trust, but Verify: Trust your employees to do their jobs properly, but take steps to verify that this is in fact the case.

    Establish Hiring Procedures: Check references of your final candidates. Let your candidates know that you will be doing this.

    Set up Internal Controls: There are a number of well-established policies and procedures you can put into place now to reduce the opportunity for someone to commit a fraud.

    Dual Signatures: While trust accounts require the signature of a practising lawyer, there is nothing that prevents you from adding a second signatory to both your general and trust accounts. Two sets of eye balls looking at a cheque is better than one.

    Train Employees in Fraud Prevention: By having regular training on how to prevent and detect fraud, your law firm is sending the message on what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. Anti-fraud examiners state that employees are the “best possible fraud detectors.”

    Conduct Regular Audits: “Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting  activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.” (Wikipedia)

    Monitor Vacation Absences (or lack thereof): “Two classic fraud prevention techniques are mandatory vacations and periodic job rotations. Mandatory vacations of one week or more (consecutively) are helpful, because the employee cannot continuously monitor a fraud scheme while away. Job rotations are also effective at disrupting these schemes especially when the employees are not given advance notice” (Essentials of Corporate Fraud).

    Hire Experts: Periodically hire an expert in detecting fraud to examine your policies and procedures and assist in your antifraud steps.

    Check your bank statement for unusual activity and signatures. If someone has forged your signature, you must detect this and report this to your bank quickly.

    There are a number of steps that you can take to ensure that you do not become a victim of internal fraud. However, if the worst should happen, then at least you can take some solace in the fact that you have established systems and procedures that should detect the fraud and ensure that the perpetrator is eventually caught.

    Internal Fraud Resources:

    The Association of Canadian Anti-Fraud Examiners (ACFE) has a Fraud Prevention Check Up in PDF format in both English and French. It recommends that you perform this check up in conjunction with an Anti-Fraud Examiner but the list provides a good overview of the steps you can take now to reduce fraud.

    The Law Society of BC published “The Trust Accounting Handbook” that encapsulates the procedures and rules for operating a trust account. It also publishes a list of the Fraud Alerts to the profession.

    PracticePro has an excellent resource that addresses several types of fraud.

    RubinBrown LLP has a list of 30 internal control considerations in an article entitled “Focus on Law Firms: Managing Law Firm Fraud Risks – An Internal Control Checklist” (June, 2016).

    The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Inc.,in an article entitled “Designing an Effective Anti-Fraud Training Program,” sets out the topics to cover in designing employee training to counter fraud.

    The Canadian BankingAssociation,in an article entitled “Protecting Yourself from Cheque Fraud,” advises “Review your monthly bank statement or regularly check your transactions through online or telephone banking. If you see transactions you didn’t do, notify your bank immediately and they will investigate.”

    Dave Slovin,in an article entitled “Blowing the whistle: a well-designed, accessible whistleblower hotline can be a powerful tool in the fight against fraud,” quotes Warren E. Buffett chairman of the board of Berkshire Hathaway, a global investment firm with 180,000 employees, who said after their recently installed hotline, “Berkshire would be more valuable today if I had put in a whistleblower line decades ago.” The issues raise dare usually not of a type discoverable by audit, but relate instead to personnel and business practices.

    ((originally published in BarTalk, a publication of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. This article has been updated for the purposes of republishing).

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Rethinking Your Tasks
    Monday, December 3rd, 2018

    ♫ But there never seems to be enough time
    To do the things you want to do
    Once you find them… ♫

    – Music, Lyrics and recorded by: Jim Croce

    hourglass

    Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels.

    As lawyers we are accustomed to working long, hard hours. Indeed, some writers such as Jordan Furlong have stated there is no such thing as work-life balance as our lawyer work culture has changed over the last while from moderate to frenetic. As our clients’ demands and needs sped up, our pace increased to meet them. However, while our clients’ figured out how to increase efficiencies with technology and new ways of doing things, we as lawyers fell behind. Jordan’s suggestion is that we now need to learn to reshape the way we work to align better with what our clients want and what we need. In the process we can consider and address the toll that our current pace places on our lives and those close to us.

    To start, we need to perform better client service in ways that reduce the time we spend on a matter. This leads to learning how to increase efficiencies and improve workflows to accomplish more in less time. There is a role for the increased use of technology here. Besides figuring out how to be more efficient in the office, we also need to turn our minds off when we are out of the office to get the rest and relaxation we need to continue to be on the top of our game and avoid burnout. We all know what we love to do outside of work to relax; the trick is finding or creating the time to do it.

    So how do we do this? In January 2016, Inc.magazine published an article entitled “A Simple, Science-Backed Trick to Better Work-Life Balance.” All of us leave our desks each night with uncompleted goals and tasks. Brandon Smit of Ball State University found these uncompleted tasks are intrusive and interrupt our evening’s peace. He cited the Zeigarnik effect, wherein uncompleted tasks are more likely to be remembered and intrude on your non-work time, interrupting your ability to recharge.

    But Smit found a way to neutralize these intrusive thoughts. Before leaving the office, not only make a list of your outstanding to-dos, but take the next step and clearly plan when, where and how you will tackle each one. He found that by specifying how you will deal with these as-yet uncompleted tasks, you can put these matters out of your mind and lessen their intrusion into your private time. You need not worry about unfinished business waiting for you back at the office. There were added benefits from adopting this approach. Smit found that by using this system, participants found it easier to let go of work. Your mind can relax as it “knows” that you have thought about how to accomplish the tasks that you need to get done.

    By not only planning what you need to do but also when, where and how you will do it, you tell your mind in its restful time it can stop worrying. This way you can use your relaxation time to do the things you want to do, now that you have found them.

    So how do you achieve a better work-life balance?

    If getting more efficient and effective is part of the answer to achieving better work-life balance, then here are tips, apps and sites that can further you along in this journey.

    Inbox Zero

    This is a technique where you decide what to do with every email in your inbox immediately as you read it. File it, add it to a To-Do list, trash it – just don’t leave it in your inbox! Strive to empty your inbox daily. Also use SimplyFile  which speeds up dealing with email by “guessing” which folder in Outlook an incoming and outgoing email belongs in. It is fast, accurate and amazing! I would recommend it for any PC (unfortunately only for Windows….not Mac).

    Brainstorm

    This is sitting down and writing down as many ideas as you can generate to address a problem. Fortunately, mind-mapping software can help you organize and grow/group the ideas as they come to you. You can try: MindjetXMindCoggleFreemind or MindNode (the 5 best mind-mapping applications per Lifehacker.com).

    Capture Your Ideas

    Ideas come to you at all times in the day. Use Evernote, Microsoft’s OneNote or carry a paper notebook in your briefcase to capture those ideas before they slip away. Evernote and OneNote are also great ways of organizing digital information of all types, including web pages, video and audio. You can even dictate your notes into Evernote.

    Build Lists

    Many of us live by our To-Do lists. Time management experts tell us to have separate lists for work and for personal use. Apps such as Wunderlist allow you to keep these lists on your smartphone, PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, Watch and more and keep them all in sync.

    Block off Time and Reduce Interruptions

    Take your To-Do list and block off time in Outlook, or whatever calendar application you are using, to allocate time to tasks. Have a sign for your door that politely asks people to not interrupt your work time unless it is an emergency. RescueTime  and similar applications will not only block Internet access for a set period (allowing you to concentrate on tasks at hand) but will provide you with a breakdown of how you spent your time during the day. Studies have shown that it takes time to spool up to really attack a task; if you are being constantly interrupted then you are not making the best use of your time and reducing your effectiveness.

    Log Time

    Even if you don’t bill by the hour, it is a great idea to track your time to determine your effectiveness. This can also help you determine your effective hourly rate if you divide your collected fees on a matter by the actual (not just billable) time put into a matter. There are many time tracking and time and billing applications such as: PCLaw, Clio (goclio.com), Amicus Attorney (amicusattorney.com) and many others.

    Learn to Say No

    People will always request that you take on new commitments. While none of us wish to be curmudgeons who never help out others, you have to balance this time with the time spent on tasks that are important to you, and allow yourself the time to complete them. Accordingly, one important skill is to say no gracefully but firmly.

    (originally published in BarTalk, a publication of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association).

    Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    2019 Predictions!
    Monday, November 26th, 2018

    ♫ Open up your eyes now, tell me what you see..♫

    Lyrics and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, recorded by The Beatles.

    gaze

    CC0 Public Domain

    After too long a layover, I am bringing back the Legal New Year Predictions!

    This year we are going to look at 16 different categories that seek to cover the bigger issues in law, education, access to justice, technology and what the future may hold. This is your chance to add your voice to what lies ahead for the legal profession in 2019.  I will also be asking past and new contributors to chime in.  I am hopeful that we can generate some interesting insights into where you see change happening in the legal profession and have some fun in the process.

    Here are the categories:

    2019 Prediction Categories

    1. AI in the law firm environment
    1. Alternate legal service providers
    1. Alternate business structures
    1. Law school education
    1. Post call legal training
    1. Blockchain and smart contracts
    1. Legal service regulation
    1. Practice management
    1. Legal technology
    1. Online justice/online dispute resolution/access to justice
    1. Law, ethics and technology
    1. Cybersecurity
    1. Risks and speed bumps ahead for lawyers
    1. Strategic goals and planning for law firms
    1. The future of the legal profession
    1. Something you will be working on or thinking about in 2019

    Send me your thoughts at daveb@thoughtfullaw.com. I will be publishing these starting mid-December, 2018.

    So gentle reader – tell me what you see!

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Something to Twitter About…
    Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

    ♫ Don’t hold me back I want to feel vulnerable.
    Disregard everything that I’ve been told.
    Don’t blend in stand out and be bold.
    Today’s the day that we break the mold… ♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Austin Jones.

    prov ct

     

    The Provincial Court of BC will break the mold for the 2nd time and hold a second Twitter Town Hall on Thursday April 6, 2017 between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM Pacific Time. Chief Judge Crabtree will again answer questions tweeted to #AskChiefJudge.

    You can expect a lively dialogue with legal discussion provided not only by the Chief Judge but by members of many other legal organizations that are participating in the town hall along with the public, lawyers, law students, law faculty and others.  This opportunity to ask and hear from multiple points of view in real time on Twitter was simply, unprecedented a year ago. #AskChiefJudge became a twitter ‘trending’ topic during the town hall – a sure sign of success from a participation viewpoint.  This event became a Canada Day ‘amazing story’ chosen by Twitter Canada, indicating its impact not only on BC but on Canada (and the Twitter Universe).

    The Provincial Court of BC is not new to Twitter or the web. @BCProvCourt is a very active Twitter handle and tweets regularly on topic related to the courts, law and related developments. There is a page for Students/Teachers on the BC Provincial Court Web Page and people can subscribe to their e-news. This is one of the most open and transparent courts in the world and it is setting an example of how a traditional institution does not have to be locked into a traditional mindset. Of course this all comes from leadership at the top and staff that support an innovative approach to courts, dispute resolution and the role of courts in society.

    This is one of the highlights of Law Week 2017  with events right across Canada (and the web!).

    On April 6, come and join a historic discussion and send your questions into the Chief Judge and don’t be afraid to stand out and be bold.  That will be the day that we break the mold (again!). See you all online.

    (posted jointly to slaw.ca)

     

     

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »




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