If you haven’t already gone paperless, you will. It’s long past time to leave paper mostly behind. I went paperless shortly after I started my solo practice in 2005. Back then, it was still a pretty cutting-edge thing for a lawyer to do.
I used to spend a lot of time debunking common misconceptions about the paperless office and pointing out the advantages. It’s not worth doing that any more. Plenty of law offices are paperless now. In fact, the federal courts have been paperless for years, and even state courts are converting to electronic filing and paperless case files.
If you aren’t paperless already, you need to catch up.
When you are ready to leave paper (mostly) behind, use this guide to get started.Essential Equipment
Document scanner. In order to turn paper into bits, you will obviously need a document scanner. If you already have an all-in-one machine, you can use it, but a dedicated scanner is a better choice.
When it comes to dedicated document scanners, there are plenty of options, but only a few good ones, and one clear leader. The best scanner to set on your desk is the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. The NeatConnect is also worth a look if you need TWAIN1 Feel free to do your own research, but if you just want a great scanner, get the ScanSnap or NeatConnect.
Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat is to PDF as Word is to DOC/DOCX. There are alternatives, but if you regularly need to rearrange, redact, Bates stamp, and OCR PDF files, you should probably get a current copy of Acrobat Pro.2
A bigger (or another) monitor. Since you will be viewing documents on a screen most of the time, you will want to be able to look at two pages (at least) side-by-side. The smallest monitor that will do this comfortably is a 21″ monitor, although a 24″ monitor is closer to ideal.
Better yet, get two monitors if your computer supports that option.
The best value overall is still the still-great 24″ Dell UltraSharp U2412M. The price goes up and down on Amazon, but it is generally about $300. Just consider that monitor resolutions are probably about to double, and it may pay to wait a couple of years before you make a major investment.
A tablet. A tablet (read: iPad) is definitely optional, but highly recommended. A laptop or desktop display does a poor job of replicating the feel of holding paper in your hand. A tablet, however, makes it easy to lean back in your chair to read a brief or hand a document to someone else to review.
To get the most out of your iPad, get GoodReader.
A shredder or shredding service. Once you go paperless, you will be throwing away more paper, so you will need a shredder or shredding service.
If you get a shredder, it doesn’t really matter which one, so long as it creates confetti, not ribbons. Just get something duty cycle that matches your usage.
If you get tired of slowly feeding documents through your shredder and lugging the bin to the trash room, you could just sign up for a shredding service like Iron Mountain.
Cloud storage. Once you are paperless, you will need a way to access your files from all your devices and share them with any other members of your firm. Dropbox and Box are probably the best options — and they are much better than trying to maintain your own file server. Add Viivo or Sookasa to encrypt your client files.
Backup. Going paperless can be much more secure than maintaining paper files, but a bulletproof backup strategy is critical. At a minimum, use an external hard drive for daily backups. The Western Digital WD Elements line of drives are ideal, no-frills external backup drives.
You should also back up your files remotely. CrashPlan is probably the best option for this. It is very secure and it is a good value.
Set up your backups before you shred anything, and test your backups regularly to make sure they work properly.Paperless Workflow
Once you have the right equipment, going paperless is technically as easy as putting paper in your scanner and putting the Scan button. But it helps to spend a little time thinking about your paperless workflow and organization.
If you don’t know where to start, here is a basic blueprint that you can tweak as needed to suit your own practice.
Existing files. If you do not have a lot of paper files right now — say 3 bankers boxes or fewer — take an afternoon or two and scan them yourself. If you have more than that, or if you don’t want to lose a day to scanning, hire someone to do the scanning for you.
Going forward. From now on, use your inbox as the gateway to your office. Nothing should leave your inbox without being scanned before you do anything else with it. The inbox is sacred. It must be the only place for documents that have not been scanned.
That is critical, so I will repeat it: Nothing should leave your inbox without being scanned before you do anything else with it. Don’t even pick it up and read it. Scan it first. If you have people working for you, make sure they know that if they violate this rule you will fire them.
Why is this so critical? You cannot afford to have any uncertainty about which documents have been scanned and which have not. The simplest way to make sure this never happens is to make sure the only documents that have not scanned are the ones in your inbox. Everything else has been scanned and can be shredded or saved as necessary or convenient.
For more, see my guide to desigining a paperless workflow.
Organizing files. The easiest way to organize your digital files is pretty much the same way you organize your paper files. Here is how I set up my client file structure:
In other words, have a Client Files folder, and within that folder make a folder for each client or matter. In each of those folders, have as many folders as you need to organize documents sensibly.
Finally, name your files starting with the date of the document and a plain-language description, like so:
2015-02-06 Letter to Joe Smith RE Settlement Offer.pdf
The date (with the year first) will sort your documents in chronological order, and the description will make it easy to scan your folders for the document you are looking for.
For more, see my guide to organizing paperless client files.
Once you have the right equipment and a basic plan, start scanning! Soon you will have a more efficient, more portable, more paperless office.
Featured image: “Image of businessman getting ready for race” from Shutterstock.
Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.
For this last week:
1. Iannarella v. Corbett, 2015 ONCA 110
 In my view, the improper use of the surveillance evidence gave rise to a form of trial by ambush. This came about because the trial judge did not require the defence to comply with the Rules in relation to the disclosure of the surveillance evidence and the provision of particulars. The trial judge did not exclude the surveillance evidence under rule 30.08, nor did he assess its relevance and require the respondents to comply strictly with the rule in Browne v. Dunn before admitting it. He did not provide the jury with any instructions concerning the permissible use of the surveillance despite the defence’s problematic jury address, nor did he provide the jury with a limiting instruction.
2. Law Society of Upper Canada v. DeMerchant, 2015 ONLSTA 6
 The Law Society’s arguments focus on the suggestion that in giving this advice and working on the memo, the Lawyers waded into the commercial tension in the related party transaction. It suggests that Mr. Sukonick, by giving advice on the break fee concept and suggesting that the payments could be characterized in this way for internal purposes, was giving advice to the company in which he might be tempted to prefer the interests of the executives to those of HII. It argues that advice on the tax treatment affected the commercial arrangements between the parties on the related party transactions because the tax treatment of the non-compete payments would have affected the bargaining between the parties on the amounts to be attributed to the different entities. Finally, it argues that in being involved in the drafting of the corrective memorandum, which contained the commercial rationale for the non-compete payments, the Lawyers were involved in the commercial tension on behalf of the obligors.
3. Hopkins v. Kay, 2015 ONCA 112
 The issue on appeal is whether the respondent is, or should be, in the discretion of the court, precluded from bringing a common law claim for intrusion upon seclusion in the Superior Court because PHIPA creates an exhaustive code. The Ontario Hospital Association (the “OHA”) intervenes to support the position of the appellants. The Information and Privacy Commissioner (the “Commissioner”) intervenes to support the position of the respondent
The most-consulted French-language decision was Institut Philippe Pinel de Montréal c. A.G. 1994 CanLII 6105 (QC CA)
AUTORISE, pour une période de deux ans à compter de la date de cet arrêt, l’appelant à traiter l’intimé contre son gré, en lui administrant des médicaments antispychotiques et les autres médicaments jugés nécessaires pour atténuer ou combattre les effets secondaires des premiers;
* As of January 2014 we measure the total amount of time spent on the pages rather than simply the number of hits; as well, a case once mentioned won’t appear again for three months.
How many times have you heard…“Don’t get too excited… You don’t want to be disappointed.” I bet, a lot!
When is it time to get excited about a new case or new project? When the client says they’re moving forward or when they sign the engagement letter or when you receive the check? In my book… all of the above!
The other day I was coaching a client and he shared with me that his client said they would be moving forward on the project. My client said cautiously that he always waits to see the check before he believes it. I said, why not choose to believe your client is telling the truth and will be moving forward? Be happy about it and let your enthusiasm feed more business development efforts. Enjoy each step of the process because it will fuel the next step, and the next step! Success shouldn’t only be measured by receiving a check. It’s about playing the game and enjoying it along the way. Don’t we cheer for the baseball player that gets to first base and then again when he reaches second?
Let’s face it, no one ever died of disappointment. Yes, the deal may hit a bump in the road, there may be delays or the check may not be issued, but chances are it will.
The benefit of celebrating the fact that the client said they are moving forward is renewed enthusiasm for the business development progress. Just imagine what your practice could be if you really enjoyed business development?
I see it sort of like this…
If you can’t enjoy a date until you know if you’re going to get married… there would be a lot of miserable people on this planet! Enjoy the date, and look forward to what may happen next.
Have you ever wanted to cease and desist from all social media communication? I have. And I did. Here’s what happened…
…well, actually, nothing happened. Despite dire warnings from bloggers proclaiming the “10 online activities you must do every day to build a valuable personal brand”, nothing bad actually happened. In fact, my business grew.
The benefits of a social media sabbatical
If you’ve ever wanted to take a break from the onslaught of online activity, you should. Treat it as you would any other sabbatical– prepare in advance, walk away and come back with a new perspective. You won’t regret it.
Vancouver is already headquarters to big names in the legal SaaS and social media software markets. Both Clio and Hootsuite are homegrown. For a couple of years I suspected that one of these—or perhaps an enterprising partner relying on the market reach and platform of one of these companies—would come along to knit legal and social media together in a product that served the unique needs of lawyers.
The unique need, to state it succinctly, is for an easy-to-use browser-based tool that captures posts (incriminating Facebook admissions, credibility destroying tweets, etc.) and preserves them with “evidentiary quality” for use in prosecution, litigation or administrative proceedings. This is a need shared by family lawyers, personal injury lawyers, criminal lawyers, etc. and which is more narrow than the broader compliance requirements companies face. While comprehensive solutions for archiving all electronically stored information generated by a company and its personnel might be characterized as a defensive need, lawyers wading in at the conflict-end of the pool have an offensive need to be able to seize evidence that will be seen as authentic.
As one US jurist, the Hon. Paul W. Grimm, wrote in a paper on “Authentication of Social Media Evidence”, “While there are multiple evidentiary issues that affect the admissibility of any electronic evidence, the greatest challenge is how to authenticate digital evidence.” In my discussions with judges and lawyers on this point, at least here in BC, I sense that it is generally the practice to print screenshots of digitally sourced evidence. I strongly suspect, and perhaps other commentators who frequent Slaw may agree, that this practice is far from foolproof in establishing authenticity, or proofing against doubt. Certainly if you are concerned with hardening your case against attack, a conscientious approach to social media evidence gathering can only help you.
And there is so much more of this type of evidence, too. Last January (in 2014) I compared a statistic I’d seen which said that in 3.5 years, from June 2007 to November 2010, the keyword “Facebook” arose 230 times among Quicklaw search results. I reran that search and found that between November 2010 and January 2014 (about 3.25 years) over 1,000 more cases resulted. I just did that search again on Quicklaw, and since January 17, 2014 a further 437 cases result. And that is, of course, just Facebook—which teens don’t even like anymore (and is therefore dead, right?). Though I’m surely just flogging a dead horse with this trite observation that social media is everywhere, “Twitter” as a keyword occurred 70 times between June 2007 and January 2014 in Quicklaw results, but in the last 13 months alone it occurred in 40 cases.
Writing in the Judges’ Journal, a quarterly publication of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association, Sharon D. Nelson and John W. Simek (who are frequent contributors here on Slaw) recently noted that some “experts estimate that Facebook postings emerge as evidence in as much as 60 percent of divorce cases. Personal injury is probably a close second, most likely followed by employment cases.”
When I first started looking around for social media evidence gathering tools last year, I found ones set up for archiving and evidence gathering on a large scale. I did a 30-day trial of X1 Social Discovery which permits mass archiving and subsequent search and review of social media content from numerous networks, including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. But X1 is a client-side software (meaning it’s installed on your machine, not cloud-based). It is feature rich, and complex enough that certified training is actually recommended—not a couple online videos, mind you, but actual on-site certification at no small expense through a company called Digital Shield. I am told that a couple of major Canadian law firms, as well as the RCMP and Department of Justice, are clients of X1, but I wonder whether the full complexity of this product appeals to ordinary practitioners and law firms.
Enter a new tool from another homegrown Vancouver outfit, PageFreezer Software. While I have not tried PageFreezer’s primary application (the eponymously named PageFreezer) I was recently given access to the Beta version of their new tool, a Google Chrome extension called WebPreserver. This tool works very similar to something like the Evernote extension in that when you are visiting a webpage in your browser, you can capture what’s on that page by clicking the WebPreserver extension’s button and sending the snapshot (either full screen scroll view or limited current view) to your downloads folder and/or the WebPreserver servers. The key feature of course is not that you can quickly snap defamatory tweets (or ferociously threatening #KMfaces), since free tools like Evernote can already do that and save PDFs and JPGs in concordance with whatever system of folders, tags and descriptors you so choose. No, the key feature is that WebPreserver applies a timestamp and signature to the data which gives the capture a better chance to be proved authentic. The Beta version also hints at collaborative features which would allow a user to share items and data associated with those items (such as annotations, tags, etc.) depending on account grade.
The tool exports the following array of formats and data:
In terms of usability, the product could very well work for basic-needs lawyers who simply do not want the setup, training, and own-hosting challenges of a more full service archiving tool. My only questions are:
Then let’s make the effort to find them and vote for them.
It’s election season at law societies across Canada
In the coming months, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario lawyers will elect the governors of their respective law societies and some change is inevitable. In Ontario, 17 of 40 incumbents are not running so the prospect of substantial change is very real. But whether it is a change of make-up or merely a change of bodies could depend entirely on the efforts voting lawyers put into learning about the candidates.
Quebec has a very long election season – opening in December and leaving candidates until April 7th to put their names forward. The Barreau du Quebec also has an impressive site that provides linked profiles for candidates as they register. Great info about the candidates with just a few clicks and plenty of time to review it. Nova Scotia runs a staged process, with 10 regional candidates elected first, then 3 province-wide candidates after that. In Nova Scotia, there are 15 candidates total for the regional positions (two of which have already been acclaimed), leaving 13 for 8 positions. A small number to review, but with 5 of the 13 candidates holding QCs, I suspect the number of unknown candidates is quite small.
Then we have Ontario. Oh….Ontario.
Lawyer members of the Law Society of Upper Canada will elect forty Benchers in April – twenty from within Toronto and twenty from outside Toronto. The only place (for now) you will find the names of all of these people in one place is on the Law Society site, and in the embedded picture below.
This list is only slightly smaller than the 2011 candidate list, but that doesn’t make it any easier to research candidates and identify new voices.
Would it surprise you to know that in 2011, although lawyers were each permitted to cast up to forty ballots (for up to twenty in and up to twenty outside Toronto candidates), the averages were far lower? Even the most enthusiastic voters (Toronto lawyers) cast only an average 9 votes for Toronto candidates and a measly average of 5 votes for outside Toronto candidates.
Consider those numbers alongside a sub-40% voter turn-out and you arguably have an election profile where most people are only motivated to vote for those they know. More charitably, the numbers could suggest a strategy among voters to improve the election odds of their top candidates by not adding too many votes to their second tier choices. Either way you look at it, most voters did not set out to support a large number of qualified candidates.
We can do better in 2015
If ever there was a time where lawyers were of a common type and shared a common experience, those days are long gone. Increasing diversity of lived experience among new lawyers, and expanding diversity of professional opportunities available to lawyers represents the new normal. We are all far more likely to carve out a unique path of learning and practice than to share a fully common experience with other members of the bar.
A diverse legal profession will also approach current challenges from very different perspectives, and that diversity needs to be reflected in those we elect to oversee our law societies. We have a better chance of getting that result if we look at and vote for more than a handful of candidates.
The leadership we need can be found in that list of 97 candidates. I’ve spent the time trying to figure out who these candidates are and what they might bring to the table. I’m incredibly excited by the mix of seasoned Bencher veterans and new voices that we might see after the ballots are counted on April 30th.
I suspect that over the coming weeks, it will become a little bit easier to learn about the candidates. It shouldn’t be necessary to run 97 Google searches. In the meantime, if you are serious about finding new voices and getting them to the decision-making table, I encourage you to follow the #LSBencher tag on Twitter, return often to the ever-growing Law Times candidate profile page, and let others, including Slaw readers, know where to find information about candidates.
The front page of the New York Times for Monday, February 2, 2015 carried a story titled, “Fire at Brooklyn Warehouse Puts Lives’ Detritus on Display.” The article caught my eye for several reasons. A huge, aged warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront that had been used as a site to store paper files belonging to a variety of local and regional governmental agencies that included courts and hospitals, burned in a mighty conflagration. Pieces of paper, bits of records, were blown into the sky by the fire and littered the surrounding neighborhood and shoreline. At first authorities were not overly concerned. What could be stored on paper that would be so important? Then people began to notice that the scorched pages had individuals’ names and social security numbers, medical test results and other highly personal information. Eventually the area was blocked off and crews came in to collect the material but much had been snatched away.
What a fine example of the transition from print to digital information! Though 2015 is set squarely in the new age of information where cloud computing equates to infinite storage capacity and Google has rendered indexes dusty oddities, the past dogs the present. How many of us have seen overstuffed files, bursting boxes and crowded shelves. Stuck away in a hallway, a closet or exiled in a storage area? Only real application of human effort could control the roiling paper rivers of the 20th Century. Not that most institutions ever did a very adequate job of storing and tracking old files, but at least an effort was made. Today digital information is reality, paper files are shining artifacts of the past. Many of the agencies whose files floated on drafts of smoke out on to city streets were unable to say exactly what had been stored in the warehouse. Some claimed to be in the midst of digitization projects but were unsure of how far along the projects might be. Much like the powerful image at the end of Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom (1984), where the precious Ark of the Covenant is hidden in plain sight by being placed in the midst of rows and rows of storage boxes, lost through it submergence in the banality of mass unlabeled aisles, paper information is put away to be left away..
The public view of information is a single photograph, taken today by an iPhone perhaps. That picture shows a limitless view of information and its retrieval. None of the baggage of the paper past is part of it. The paper has been sent away.
Abandoning the past is a dangerous enterprise. Neil Postman once said that soon history will not run any further back than events that were recorded on film, because to be real, an event must be observed, not read about. He may be right, but that world will hold great peril. Paper, unless set on fire or mishandled in some other way, lasts. Not forever, but even poorly made paper can be supported. In the digital world, despite laudable efforts like the Way Back Machine that attempts to record the Internet, information surges forward.
The scorched documents from the Brooklyn warehouse stand as a symbol to warn all information organizations, by which I mean libraries, to hold on to the past even as we embrace the present. Librarians have long fought to save items that no one else valued. Perhaps in 2015 that might mean all paper based information. The future should build on the past, not leave it behind. Stand firm, librarians always have.
Drawing the line between privacy and practicality is not always easy, even for the Justices of the Court of Appeal, who divided narrowly on the issue.
Just before Christmas the Ontario Court of Appeal released a split, 3-2, decision in a case that pitted the privacy rights of judgment debtors against the execution rights of judgment creditors.
The Royal Bank of Canada (“RBC”) had obtained a judgment of just over $26,000 against the defendants. The defendants owned a residential property that RBC wished to have the Sheriff seize and sell so that the bank could collect on its judgment. Since the property had a mortgage registered on title, the Sheriff would not sell the property without a mortgage discharge statement (the “Statement”) from the mortgagee (in this case Scotiabank).
RBC attempted to conduct two different examinations in aid of execution on the defendants, who failed to show for both. If they had shown, the defendants would have been obligated to bring a copy of the Statement, or alternatively, RBC could have demanded a copy by way of undertaking given at the examination.
Having no such luck with the defendants, RBC scheduled an examination of a Scotiabank representative. The Scotiabank representative attended, voluntarily, but refused to produce the Statement on the basis that Scotiabank was not permitted to do so under the provisions of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”).
RBC then brought a motion to have the court compel Scotiabank to produce the Statement. Although it was clear that Justice Gray wanted to grant RBC the relief it sought, he felt that he was handcuffed by the Court of Appeal’s prior interpretation of PIPEDA.
Before the Court of Appeal, Justices Laskin, Cronk and Blair held that unless the defendants had consented to the release of the Statement by Scotiabank or unless Scotiabank was required by court order to attend an examination, the provisions of PIPEDA operated to prevent Scotiabank from having to provide the Statement to RBC. In other words, the fact that Scotiabank voluntarily submitted to an examination acted as a bar to the court ordering production of the Statement.
In dismissing the appeal, the majority invited RBC to bring a motion for an order requiring a Scotiabank representative to be examined, after which time the Statement would be properly producible under law.
Associate Chief Justice Hoy and Justice Sharpe disagreed with the majority. Hoy A.C.J.O., noted that “requiring multiple motions results in unwarranted delay and expense and does not foster access to justice” and that to require RBC to bring another motion “would fly in the face of increasing concerns about access to justice in Canada”.
The minority held that they would order Scotiabank to produce the Statement to RBC and that there were two different bases for doing so. Firstly, a court ordered examination of a third party (such as Scotiabank) is not necessary to meet the requirement of “an order made by a court” within the meaning of s. 7(3)(c) of PIPEDA. Secondly, the minority held that a court order was unnecessary at all because the defendants’ consent to the disclosure of the Statement can be implied.
Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.
You Can Ignore “Low on Ink” Warnings on Inkjet Printers*
All too frequently, we have all faced the frustrating “printer is low on ink” warning – usually when we are printing something urgent. Do you need to immediately change your cartridge? No. If, despite the low ink warning, you are still getting good quality print jobs (i.e., no fading or streaking), carry on printing….
Understand What You Are Asking For
I am having a wonderful time in Maui this week with my family. Today’s Tip is inspired by my Aunt Betty who reminded me that it is important that OTHER PEOPLE know what you are asking for. You may know that the Hawaiian language uses fewer letters than English. I confess to being completely baffled by local pronunciation. Betty, on the other hand has visited this beautiful part of the world several times, and has mastered the phonetic discrepancies that twist my tongue…
5 Tips on Marketing for Law Firms (Video)
The world of marketing remains a bit of a mystery for many legal professionals. We know enough about it that many of us become do-it-ourselfers for our websites, blogs and even our branding. Nonetheless, there is much we can learn from true marketing professionals. To that end, I have the pleasure today of introducing the first in a series of videos on Marketing for Lawyers and Legal Professionals I’ve done with Sandra Bekhor of Bekhor Management and Toronto Marketing Blog. …
It didn’t take much for Glen Wright to figure out that academics on Twitter are just like everyone else.
Many academics spend their days reading and purveying dense, largely humorless tomes, or buried in lab work or archives, and have a reputation as a serious tribe. Cats and Twitter, however, are great equalizers. Following Mr. Wright’s post, in early December, photographs of academics posing with their cats came pouring in. They are still trickling in today.
Mr. Wright, 26, is an improbable figure. He is not particularly known for his research at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations. He does not hold a doctoral degree. At this time last year, he had barely used Twitter.
And yet Mr. Wright has amassed a substantial following over the last seven months, due in part to his talent for giving scholars and researchers an excuse to unleash their wit—or, at least, to try. The thousands of tweets Mr. Wright has solicited with his hashtag prompts provide, if not wall-to-wall laughs, then at least an angle into the academic psyche.
Stop and think for a moment just how many people are going to actually read that article of yours #BadAdviceForYoungAcademics
— John Coupland (@JohnNCoupland) February 20, 2015
There will always be jobs for good people #Badadviceforyoungacademics
— Heidi (@HeidiDarroch) February 19, 2015
He is responsible for several popular hashtags beyond #AcademicsWithCats, including #BadAdviceForYoungAcademics, #RuinADateWithAnAcademicinFiveWords, and #FailaPhDinThreeWords. The last of those is his favorite.
“It’s actually quite a good exercise in being concise,” he says. Academics “have a bit of a reputation for rabbiting on about not a lot, and taking many hundreds of words to say what two would have done.”
"Since time immemorial…" #FailAPhdInThreeWords
— Jessica Langer (@DrJessicaLanger) February 14, 2015
N of 1 #FailAPhdInThreeWords
— Robert L. Reece (@PhuzzieSlippers) February 17, 2015
Academia Obscura, both the blog and the Twitter account, came out of a wager Mr. Wright made last summer with a friend. Mr. Wright bet the friend that he could get at least 10,000 people to follow a Twitter account dedicated to the amusing side of academe. The friend, a corporate lawyer who had just spent the day stuck in a course on international shipping arbitration, thought the proposal a contradiction in terms.
“Nobody will ever read it,” Mr. Wright remembers him saying. “Nobody’s interested in that.”
Mr. Wright, whose Twitter account now has nearly 13,000 followers, has been largely vindicated. Still, not every hashtag has been a winner. #AcademicsWithCats was a huge success; #AcademicsWithHats and #AcademicsWithTats, less so.
One not-very-popular tag, #ConferenceWishList, seemed to confuse people. “Half the people took it quite seriously, and were a bit bitter, and they said things like, ‘relevant presentations,’” he says. “And then there were other people who said, ‘I want a hot tub,’ or ‘I want a popcorn maker.’”
— Jaydeep Bardhan (@jbardhan) January 16, 2015
WWE-style intro videos for the keynote speakers. And a house band. #ConferenceWishList
— KT Torrey (@catchclaw) January 18, 2015
— danielle lorenz (@daniellelorenz) January 19, 2015
Compared with Mr. Wright’s day job—where he studies sustainability and international oceans governance—coming up with silly hashtags might seem like a waste of time, both for him and his followers. But such distractions are not necessarily counterproductive, he says. Academic life can be isolating and occasionally frustrating. A sense of community, and a sense of humor, can help keep you sane.
“When you’re taking part and you’re observing things,” says Mr. Wright, “and you’re understanding and empathizing with things that other people are saying, even when they’re short and humorous—I think it really makes people feel like they’re part of something.”
Most people use Docker for containing applications to deploy into production or for building their applications in a contained enviornment. This is all fine & dandy, and saves developers & ops engineers huge headaches, but I like to use Docker in a not-so-typical way.
I use Docker to run all the desktop apps on my computers.
Jessie Frazelle’s Blog: Docker Containers on the Desktop https://blog.jessfraz.com/posts/docker-containers-on-the-desktop.html
Running Chrome in a container sounds like an excellent idea to me. I think I’ll finally give Docker a try.
CSALE 2013-14 Survey of Applied Legal Education – by Mary Lynch – Best Practices for Legal Education http://bestpracticeslegaled.albanylawblogs.org/2015/02/23/csale-2013-14-survey-of-applied-legal-education-by-mary-lynch/
Reading the latest edition of MIRLN, I was reminded again of the Perma.cc service for addressing link rot in journal articles and judicial decisions. I know the issue has been discussed a couple of times on Slaw. I was wondering what Canadian courts are doing to address the problem of link rot. Is there a Canadian equivalent to Perma.cc? Are any Canadian courts using or considering using Perma.cc? Is this a service that could one day be provided by CanLII, or are individual courts’ websites being used for this purpose already?
The UK has just passed a law to criminalize revenge porn (see ss 33 – 35). A fair amount of discussion clearly went into the drafting, considering the qualifications and the language. The law prohibits the publication or distribution of a ‘private sexual photograph or film’ without the consent of the subject and with the intention to cause the subject distress. There are fairly subtle definitions of the images, a broad definition of distribution (online or offline), and a requirement that the intention be specific, not just inferred as a reasonable consequence of publication or distribution.
This article describes the statute and some of the defences in the statute as well, e.g. for journalists.
Do we need such a law here, or are the activities covered by the Criminal Code already? Did Bill C-13 extend to revenge porn in its anti-bullying provisions? Or are the issues of consent (given and withdrawn, presumed for or against in the circumstances etc) and intention either specific enough to need legislation on their own, or too hard to cover by specific legislation (so they are better caught by more generic language)?
The demands of individual files can make it a challenge to give your practice’s finances the time and attention they need. From the new issue of LAWPRO Magazine, here are 20 ways you can make or save more money in your day-to-day work. Most are relatively simple and can be implemented at little or no cost. Some are new habits you develop when dealing with clients and billing, and some are new technologies you can incorporate into your practice. While not every item on the list will apply to every practice, we expect you will find at least a few ideas that will help improve your bottom line.
LawWithoutWalls (LWOW) is a collaboratory investigating the “intersection of law, business, technology, and innovation.” Launched in 2011 by Michele DeStefano, associate professor at the University of Miami School of Law, LWOW aims to “pull down barriers between business and law.”
In many ways, LWOW has been a response to comments that DeStefano and her colleagues have been hearing about legal education and the business and practice of law:
“‘When are legal educators going to start training our law school students to be the 21st century lawyers of tomorrow?,’ and then at the same time we keep hearing, ‘When are law firms and lawyers going to start innovating and learning how to be successful business entrepreneurs and lawyers at the same time?‘”
DeStefano has also seen that “Business school students are challenged to be entrepreneurs … [and thinks that] … law students should be, too.” So LWOW also aims to break down barriers between legal educators and legal practitioners. And with “30 law and business schools and over 450 academics, students, technologists, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, business professionals, and lawyers from around the world” participating it looks like they are on the right track.
LWOW participants collaborate in project teams consisting of business and law students along with a handful of mentors that provide advice and expertise in research, entrepreneurship and legal practice. The teams first meet in person at a LWOW “KickOff” and then work virtually in an environment that fosters learning by doing. The final LWOW phase is what’s called the “ConPosium.”
The ConPosium is an interactive event where the “Projects of Worth” (i.e. the “solutions to problems in legal education and practice across a broad spectrum of topics“) are presented and evaluated. LWOW judges “assess the projects based on substance, creativity, viability, and presentation style … [and] audience members voice their opinions through live chat and real-time voting.”
“What I really hope will be the biggest change [in the future] is more interdependency between legal practice and legal education. The successful law schools of tomorrow will shift what and how they teach and the successful law firms will shift how and what they concentrate on in professional development. But more than that tomorrow’s challenge requires more collaboration and permeability between law practice and educatoin an interdependent relationship with recirical obligations and more interaction with non-lawyers and people of different disciplines and really a mentality of law without walls.”
If you’re interested in getting involved with this initiative there are opportunities as mentors, advisers, subject experts, and startup consultants. You can also support them by crowdfunding a student. Drop them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wrote this post in the middle of January. Some unlucky mishandling resulted in it being published just now. Part of my blog was trying to make good fun of colleagues in the industry who were getting close to releasing a product announced as imminent over a year ago. But their product was finally rolled out… before my post. I will have to remember this the next time I think about mocking colleagues.
What remains true is the cold over Montreal. At least that part of my post remains accurate. The picture attached shows how lucky we are in Quebec. While the whole world suffers from global warming, here in Quebec we can still enjoy a good old days’ polar winter. Actually, as you can see it is even getting better than in the past, it is some sort of garden of Eden for winter lovers.
Let’s continue now with the January post and let’s hope that my other predictions will not be struck by the same fate as that post.
Daniel Poulin, February 20th 2015
As I am writing this post, we are still in January. It’s cold as all get-out in Montreal and the partying, if over, is still close behind. Laziness brings me to the usual January topic: musing about what is in store for the New Year?
My first prediction is that the new SOQUIJ portal will be launched this year (see the press release here), so let’s be on the lookout for that. In the same spirit, I can announce that my own company, Lexum, has started messing around with improving the way people research the law in Canada. We will see by year’s end if it will be Lexum’s turn to be the butt of a similar long struggle to get any useful results. Together, these elements bring about a lot of expectations for the next twelve months and will remind you of 2005, the year that Butterworth introduced the all-new 5-hole loose-leaf format at the CALL-ACBD Conference in Saint-John’s. But let’s not get distracted by past major events, this post is about the future…So, what of importance could happen in our field this year?
On the policy side, one may wonder if the “Open Data” policies, and more specifically open legal data policies, will survive, thrive or die. It is difficult to say. On the one hand, open data is good for the economy and economic development is good. However, on the other hand, with the oil prices and government revenues in free fall, will governments remain interested by investing to improve access to data? One may wonder. Still on policy matters, could 2015 be the year when the Canadian Judiciary revisits the issue of courts’ role in minimizing the personal information found in judgments and, when required, in providing redacted documents? Over the last ten years, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec courts have been at the forefront of ensuring the openness of court proceedings by providing for distribution documents proper to be circulated.
What changes can we anticipate in legal technologies this year? If you want to show off as a techie in Costco’s aisles or around the court house, don’t look for glasses in the Google Store, you will have to continue one more year with your Bluetooth ear set. In the past, I used to visit Court Technology Conferences. Year after year, one of the hottest items was the Dragon software promising to replace your Honor’s two-finger keyboard hammering by a more elegant dictating. This device at least taught us Québécois to better articulate. From what I hear, Dragon was less successful in English Canada. Despite its unequal performance in improving legal officers’ pronunciation, Dragon was a clear business success. This year, Nuance will be introducing Dragon 13! And new speaking corrective devices have been brought to the market; SIRI can also contribute to improve your dictation ability. However, be careful for what you ask.
What changes in accessible legal content? Last year, CanLII’s “CanLII*Connects” initiative drew a lot of well-earned attention, what will it be this year? My guess is that in 2015 we will see the depth of CanLII, its historical scope, passing the threshold from being fine for current stuff to being enough for usual legal research (except in a small set of cases where a comprehensive historical research is in order). This qualitative change comes out of 15 years of cumulative investments made towards CanLII by various Canadian Law Societies. Moreover, in recent years, several of these societies have led their own historical extension projects to the scope of the case law for their province, bringing this scope far beyond 2000. The aggregate effect of these initiatives is also now clearly showing. CanLII now offers over 200,000 decisions anterior to its inception (in 2000).
Changes in services in 2015? E-filing? Let’s face it, today, if you are living in Canada, a query for the term “e-filing” on Google will get you the Canada Revenue Agency website as your first, your second and your third result. Actually, the “Federal Court Electronic Filing System” stands alone in the middle of a full page of e-filing information about the Revenue Agency (under the catchy domain name “cas-ncr-nter03.cas-satj.gc.ca”, probably chosen to confuse the North Korean secret services). Some of the older SLAW readers may remember my paper presented in Lyon in 1995 about the soon to be generalized e-filing in courts (as Scripture says “No prophet is welcome in his hometown”). More seriously, could it be that we will get through 2015 without seeing more generalized progress in the way lawyers transact with courts? I can hardly believe so, so let’s assume that we will see much progress in this field in the next month.
January 2015, Daniel Poulin
If you work in a large firm, one question you never have to ask yourself is what business entity makes the most sense for your law practice. Strike out in any entrepreneurial venture, however, and this becomes a key threshold question as you set about your work.What You Need to Consider
Your choice of business entity has many ramifications, many of which have nothing to do with ethics rules or considerations specific to lawyers. Here is what you need to begin considering when making a decision:
Leaving the general considerations applicable to all businesses aside for the moment, there are some issues particular to lawyers that you need to consider when choosing an entity. Here are two critical questions that need answers:
For any business, one of the primary benefits of utilizing an entity is to limit your potential liability for debts of the business. For this reason, any analysis for a business begins with the question of liability insulation.
For lawyers, we are of course concerned about debts a firm may incur, and typical entity liability rules will apply to regular bills such as those owed to vendors. So if your law firm is an LLC and the LLC owes a document reproduction company, the company can only recover from the LLC.
What you should be concerned about, though, is malpractice claims. No business entity can protect you from personal liability on your own malpractice claim, because the tort of malpractice is recoverable against the individual who committed it. For this reason, no business entity takes the place of malpractice insurance.
However, a business entity can help shield you from vicarious liability for malpractice committed by others in your entity. This is a tremendous benefit and a vast improvement from old-school general partnerships where each partner was liable for the acts of others. To take advantage of this benefit, you must strictly comply with your state’s rules for lawyers operating as entities. You may be required to register the entity with the state bar or ethics board, for instance, in order for the protections to be triggered.Options for Business Formation
Each state regulates for itself the form in which law firms may operate. For specifics on your state, check with your state bar and statutes governing business forms. Generally speaking, law firms are permitted to operate in the following forms:Limited Liability Partnership
LLPs are a very common way for partnerships of all sizes to operate in a more protected manner than a general partnership. Most of the biggest firms are LLPs, as are countless small firms. In an LLP, the partners are not responsible for the debts of other partners. States that allow law practices to operate as LLPs may also require that they be registered with the state bar.
In California, for instance, an LLP operating as a law firm has certain strict requirements, including that every member of the LLP be a lawyer and that the LLP be registered with the state bar. Failure to register automatically precludes the LLP from invoking the limits of liability set forth by statute.Corporation
States have various forms of corporations which can be used for law practice. In New York, the corporate form for lawyers is the Professional Service Corporation; in California, a corporation registered with the state bar to operate as a law firm becomes known as a law corporation; and Texas allows a professional corporation to operate as a firm.Limited Liability Company
Most states allow law firms to operate as LLCs or as professional limited liability companies. For example, New York and Florida allow PLLCs, and Texas allows law firms to be LLCs. California explicitly does not allow lawyers to be LLCs, as no business for which a professional license is required can operate as an LLC.Professional Association
Some states also offer law firms to operate as “professional associations” which can have different meanings depending on the state. In Florida, a PA is a corporation registered to provide professional services; in Texas, a PA is a different entity than a professional corporation.
The business entity options allowed for lawyers vary from state to state, as do the specific requirements ensuring that the limitations on liability rules apply to the entity. It is imperative that any entity being formed be fully researched and the state requirements complied with strictly.
And remember, when choosing and implementing a business entity for your firm, no amount of corporate structure can prevent malpractice exposure for your own actions.
Featured image: “Close-up of businesspeople discussing plan at meeting” from Shutterstock.
GitLab | GitLab 7.8 released with GitLab.com integration, never-lost comments and GitLab Annex for managing large files. – https://about.gitlab.com/2015/02/22/gitlab-7-8-released