The presentation concerns empirical research and user testing that Dr. Gill and her colleagues performed to inform the creation of the functions and user interface of Legislation.gov.uk, the UK’s official online legislative service, developed by John Sheridan.
JURIX 2013: The 26th International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems, is being held 11-13 December 2013 in Bologna.
The Twitter hashtag for the conference is #jurix2013
The conference Twitter account is @Jurix2013
Last week, Bitter Lawyer’s Greg Luce committed “Avvocide” by sabotaging his own Avvo profile. He put more work into his fake profile than he ever put into his real one, and he was rewarded with a boost in his Avvo Rating, to 9.2 (“Superb”).
Avvo, if you don’t get out much, hosts profiles for every lawyer in the country. You can claim your profile, add your picture, information about yourself and your practice area, and endorse other lawyers. Think Yelp for Lawyers. You can also, somewhat controversially, answer consumers’ legal questions online. There’s more to Avvo, but that’s the gist of it. Some lawyers swear it gets them lots of referrals. Others just swear about it. Still others ignore it.
To find out how Avvo handles this sort of thing, as well as less-ridiculous profile problems, and why Greg’s — er, the Goat Lawyer’s — score went up as a result of his prank I called Avvo’s general counsel, Josh King.Goat Lawyers Aren’t a Major Problem for Avvo
When Avvo was new, according to King, a lawyer did something similar to his profile as a form of protest. He used a profile picture of Bozo the Clown, and filled out his profile with bogus awards and fake information. King said they “sort of let him run with it” for a while. Greg and this lawyer are definitely outliers.
Since it’s rare, Avvo does not have formal policies on dealing with such ruffians. In Greg’s case, Avvo reverted his profile to its previous state, and, according to King, “our customer care changed the [password] on Goat Lawyer, concerned that he would continue his hircine ways.” Seems fair. King said an email to him (or, presumably, a support ticket) should get Greg’s account restored.Policing Avvo Profiles
In Greg’s case, Avvo picked up on the prank via Twitter, where we were having fun with it all day.
— Lawyerist.com (@lawyerist) November 27, 2013
Avvo does some policing of lawyers’ profiles, but mostly it relies on lawyers to police themselves. King pointed out that “the disincentive to put fraudulent stuff on an Avvo profile is pretty high.” False advertising is an ethics problem, after all, and dealing with your state’s ethics board is probably worse than anything Avvo could do. But lawyers also like to keep Avvo up to date on their colleagues, often with letters. “It’ll just be a blank envelope with an order or a newspaper article about someone being disciplined,” King said. He assumes the anonymous letters are probably coming from other lawyers, which makes sense. Nobody else uses the mail anymore.
Would ethics boards distinguish Greg’s ridiculous false information from actual misleading information in a lawyer’s profile? While ethics boards don’t appear to have much of a sense of humor, King said it would be hard to see how Greg’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Ruminant Lawyers Association, for example, would mislead anyone.Goat Lawyer’s 9.2 Avvo Rating
When Greg sabotaged his profile, he was surprised to see his Avvo Rating jump to 9.2. This has to do with which profile information Avvo uses to calculate the Avvo Rating, particularly the awards, publications, and speaking engagements.
Your score will not go up with every award, publication, or speaking engagement you add. King said it’s probably a good idea to add non-legal awards, for example, to flesh out your profile, but they will not increase your Avvo Rating. Avvo keeps a database of organizations, publications, and conferences that do boost the score, though.
In other words, adding a fake award from a fake organization will not increase your score. But adding a fake award from a real organization, might.
In Greg’s case, it was probably due to his fake Creighton Law Review article, “Reexamining EPA Regulations Regarding Plastic Fencing, BPA, and Chewable Contours of the Farm,” and his Minnesota CLE speaking engagement, “Tech Tools for Lawyers, Goats, and Canaries.”A Related Issue: Endorsement Spamming
Since I had King on the phone, I also asked him about the endorsement spamming Mark Bennet discovered. King called it a fairly new development in the way lawyers use Avvo, and that they are looking into it and considering what to do with it. He did point out that, beyond a certain number, endorsements do not affect the Avvo Rating. On the endorsement spam, King said “It’s weird because it doesn’t really do him any good.” Likewise, he thinks endorsing lawyers you don’t really know just reflects poorly on the lawyers involved.
I’m not sure my endorsement of the Goat Lawyer reflected well on me, but it did make me laugh:
Why the Goat Lawyer Had a “Suberb” Avvo Rating is a post from Lawyerist.com. The original content in this feed is © 2013 Lawyerist Media, LLC. This feed is provided for private use only and may not be re-published.
The end of a calendar year is a good time to reflect, assess and plan. One aspect of this reflection for me is looking at learning: what have I learned in the last year, what has adjusted based onthat learning, and what should I consider for 2014. I am a law librarian and just like every year, there are many items to add to the "things I learned this year" list. Some of that learning came from conferences and webinars offered by professional associations, some came from discussions at CBA conferences, Legal Education Society of Alberta events and some came from reviewing twitter streams and law blogs. I read a few books and attended events at my firm where we value professional development and training.
Things change so quickly in our information industry that it is very important to build a learning plan into your work life. If you are looking for inspiration for your 2014 plan, there is a fantastic discussion about some of the shared learning by Kate Greene Stanhope at On Firmer Ground.
Some of the things on my learning plan agenda for 2014:
My most personally effective learning comes from listening and discussing, so conferences and meetings are my favourite learning venue. I also like to read (surprise) so reviewing thought leader blogs and scanning professional (library and legal) journals works well for me.
Some of you will have CPD requirements maintain your regulatory compliance. Have you made a plan for your 2014 learning?
As you may recall, I promised to report back on my efforts to get organized and deal with all that information overload. I would like to say that I can report a near 100% success rate. My system is working pretty well, but I feel I am not there just yet. Going through this process though, I have been reminded of a couple of pretty simple lessons, and I hope you will not mind my repeating them.
You have probably heard the old adage, give a job to a busy person if you want to get it done. I don’t agree. Not if you want the busy person to be healthy, happy and stress free. Just like the nonsense of doing more with less, resources everywhere are limited. In this case we run out of time and even a busy person needs to say NO. I have adopted this new mantra, by getting better at prioritising and exercising discretion. I love challenges, variety and the excitement of something new, and the new thing I am learning is that I do not need to say yes to every opportunity. Lesson: Learn your limits, be true to yourself and what works best for you. Hence this is my last SLAW column.
I’ve mentioned Doodle before and lately our Trustees and Committee members have had to schedule a lot of meetings. One meeting of 6 people could result in endless email strings that would bring my mailbox to a standstill and I still wouldn’t have a clue of when we should be meeting. Using Doodle has been a lifesaver. You can use it when trying to arrange a function with family or dinner with friends too. Pick some dates and times and create a poll. Send everyone the link and let them vote. Doodle will tell you which is the best date and time for the meeting. The lesson, use whatever technology makes things simpler. Of course, not everyone adapts to change, but with gentle encouragement or strong persuasion, they can be moved, especially if it makes sense.
Tasks, projects and regularly recurring events all need to be kept track of. I have talked about David Allen’s GTD system in the past and have found that adapting Outlook to incorporate the GTD system has been fantastic. His website actually has a guide on how to do it, again using the resources available to me, without having to spend too much time to figure it out myself. It’s forced me to analyze the bits of information I receive and quickly place them in the proper spot. It’s almost impossible to explain one’s organizational system in so short an essay, but I encourage everyone to take some time to examine what structure their email / task system can provide. If you do happen to check out his website, don’t let it overwhelm you, start by reading his book Getting Things Done.
The problem is when there’s so much going on I don’t have time to create a task. That’s when the old-fashioned pad and writing device come in handy. When something impromptu happens and someone calls or walks into my office, I still take notes on paper. If the issue can be dealt with quickly, it disappears. But for things that are more complicated, I quickly process it into its proper spot; another Staff Meeting agenda item, more information for a project or its own discrete task. No matter what system you use, you need to take the time to reflect, check lists and assess. Does your organizational system show you what is still outstanding, what your day looks like, what to expect in the coming weeks? Even with the best system, we all need to take the time to access and plan.
The one thing this process has led to is something that I heard Stephen Abrams say years ago, never handle any piece of paper twice. I remember him advising us to deal with it or delegate it as it comes in and you are done. What about your email inbox – how many hundred emails do you have? Steven’s advice works even better with all those digital informational tidbits flying at us through the ether. As it comes in make your decision and deal with it immediately: delete it or file it as a task, add it to a project, make it an appointment, make a telephone call in response, reply to it, but don’t just leave it there. Mailboxes quickly fill up and things get lost, forgotten or neglected. There are any number of email management solutions available. I don’t care what your system is, just make sure you do something!
Have I used Evernote? – admittedly no. I took a quick look, but as is a common complaint today, I didn’t really have the time to fully understand it and as a result have left it as an undated Task on my list. I realized that all our Outlook system was able to provide the structure I needed to organize my workflow. And believe my next project will greatly enhance my ability to keep organized: the association and library are moving to the cloud. Now wherever I go, as long as I have an internet connection, I will be able to access my desktop, all the files currently stored on the server, and the full Outlook which now includes my colour coded GTD system. The nerd in me is very excited.
What’s the moral to these last couple of months of searching for some sparkly new paradigm that was going to totally transform my life? Well, turns out it was right there in front of me. It only took the perspective of looking at other systems to see that the one I was so familiar with had everything I needed. Changing old habits is not easy but sometimes you already possess what you need to make yourself more efficient. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes some time to instill new habits. The point is to find out what works for you. It may not be easy, but the results are worth it.
Thanks to everyone who has read, commented and offered article suggestions and especially to my editor, Linda Zardo. I’ve really enjoyed the forced introspection these articles have required, but like I said, I’m embarking on some new and exciting plans. Who knows, I might write about some of those in the future.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon at a law firm somewhere in Toronto. John is reading the Huffington Post on-line. He feels stuck. Unmotivated. With no pounding deadlines this week he just can’t get around to doing the important but not urgent work on his desk.
Tina in Vancouver is also stuck. She’s so stressed out and anxious about the deadlines she has to meet that she is frozen. Her inner dialogue is about how hopeless she is, and useless, and the worst lawyer ever, and under this harsh litany of criticism she is immobilized.
Frank in Calgary has some urgent client work to attend to but he is interrupted every couple of minutes and can’t make any headway. He gets to working on it, and then hears the ping of his email. He starts to respond to a message, and then he remembers he promised his girlfriend that he’d book the restaurant for dinner. He looks up the restaurant on-line, and then another important email opens up, and the associate next door pokes his head in to tell him how the lunch meeting went.
And me? I procrastinate about personal matters that make me anxious!
Don’t you find that it can be so darned hard to get down to work? It is too quiet and calm so we can’t get motivated to work. Or, it’s so busy we are frozen and can’t work. Or, there are too many interesting things catching our attention. Is it not a wonder that any work gets done at all?
Procrastination in law firms must add up to a mountain of unbilled time – it is certainly one of the number one questions I hear from lawyers: “What’s wrong with me, I just can’t get down to work?” I’ve written about it before and I am turning to the topic once again with some fresh insights to share from leadership coach David Rock, and his book, Your Brain at Work.
Essentially, what I learned from Rock is that our brain chemistry and brain mechanics make us vulnerable to distraction and procrastination.
Our prefrontal cortex is, evolutionarily-speaking, the newest part of our brain. It is often called the executive centre as it is responsible for decision making, planning, scheduling, analysing, strategizing, and basically all of what we are paid to do in law firms. Without your cerebral cortex even thinking “I need to water my plant” would be impossible.
Powerful though it is, our prefrontal cortex is also very sensitive. Amy Arnsten, Professor of Neurobiology at Yale Medical School has likened it to the Goldilocks of the brain. Everything has to be just right for it to function optimally.
As knowledge workers, the more we can come to understand how our brains function, the better results we will get. Recent, as well as not-so recent, insights into how our prefrontal cortex functions can help us to adopt ways of working that maximise the power of our brain instead of reducing it.
Our distractible prefrontal cortex
Our prefrontal cortex is always on alert for new external experiences. This likely originated back in time when as hunter gatherers any rustle in the grasses could mean a predator was approaching. Unfortunately this means that is all too easy for us to be distracted by exterior inputs.
Our prefrontal cortex is also sensitive to internal inputs. A memory or thought can also throw off our focus. Thinking about the errand you have to do at lunch can be just as distracting as the conversation outside your office.
Distractions exhaust the prefrontal cortex’s limited resources. Being “always on” (connected to others via technology) can drop your IQ significantly, as much as losing a night’s sleep. Focus occurs partly through the inhibition of distractions. The brain has a common braking system for all types of braking. Inhibition uses a lot of energy because the braking system is part of the prefrontal cortex. Each time you inhibit something, your ability to inhibit again is reduced. Inhibition requires catching an impulse when it first emerges, before the momentum of an action takes over. (David Rock, Your Brain at Work, page 58.)
Frank in Calgary’s prefrontal cortex is experiencing major distractions. Every time he stops and starts work on his file his brain has to reactivate a sensitive network of billions of neurons. It slows him down, and reduces his effectiveness.
Frank tries to deal with the distractions by ignoring them but when his eyes drift to the email alert or who is calling on his cell phone he often finds it difficult to stop from answering.
While writing this article my phone rang and before I could stop myself my hand had picked up the phone and answered the call.
Why is it so hard to stop ourselves from getting caught up? That is because our brains have a hard time putting on the brakes, and the more frequently we use the brakes, the less effective they are.
What Frank and I and any of you distractible types need to do is the following:
Our sensitive prefrontal cortex
John in Toronto has his door closed and email off, but he still can’t bring himself to work and is surfing the net instead. He is experiencing a phenomenon that was discovered by researchers close to a hundred years ago:
In 1908, scientists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson discovered a fact about human performance that they called the inverted U. They found that performance was poor at low levels of stress, hit a sweet spot at reasonable levels of stress, and tapered off under high stress. The verb stress means “to emphasize,” and it’s not necessarily a negative thing. It’s wrong to think your performance would improve if stress disappeared from your life. It takes a certain amount of stress just to get out of bed in the morning. This type of stress is known as eustress, or positive stress. Positive stress helps focus your attention. (David Rock, Your Brain at Work, page 62)
As you might have guessed John is a capital markets and securities lawyer who is used to working under tremendous pressure. With the mining downturn he’s been finding it much quieter and while he still has day-to-day legal work to conduct for his clients he is just not able to focus on it. What John needs to try is turning us the stress a little. Here’s what he can do to bring his adrenaline level up:
Or alternatively he can try getting his brain’s dopamine level up by introducing something fresh and new or humorous. He can take five minutes to watch a funny video before getting down to work. Our brains also respond positively to small shifts in our environment. John can try moving the position of his computer screen and chair slightly in the office. Or as one client with a standing desk recommended, move the desk into the upright standing position from sitting.
What about Tina in Vancouver? She’s suffering from distraction and stress overload, what is she to do?
With too much incoming information Tina’s stress levels are too high. The stress in turn is triggering a series of negative thoughts. Her prefrontal cortex just can’t operate under those conditions.
First, she needs to take a short break. A walk out of her office to the coffee room or somewhere private for a change of scenery would help. Tina need to move to break out of the mental rut she is in.
Next, I would recommend Tina take ten slow deep inhales and exhales and think about five things that she is most grateful for. The breaths are to counteract her stress reaction and cue her body into relaxing. The gratitude practice is to stop the train of negative thoughts and turn her thinking outward.
Finally, she would do well to seek out a friendly colleague to talk about the project at hand and figure out her work plan.
Talking with a friendly colleague will help raise her dopamine levels and get brain chemistry moving upwards towards that Goldilocks just-right level. Jotting down her action plan on paper would also help – so that she is not cluttering her brain with any more information.
All human brain’s differ, but do share the same chemistry and mechanics. John, Frank, and Tina, are just like you and me. We are all too easily distracted and thrown off our game by changes in our stress levels. The good news is that by understanding how our brains work we can take steps to make the most of what our prefrontal cortex’s can deliver.
And as for my anxiety-driven procrastination, which results in me not scheduling important meetings with health care providers, I am going to ask my assistant, in this instance only, to schedule those appointments for me. As I know very well that what gets scheduled gets done!
For more tips on working with, and not against, your brain do read: David Rock’s Your Brain at Work. It has changed the way I work for the better.
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.
Protect Your Data by Putting a Password on Your Screensaver
Activating a password-protected screensaver is a simple and very effective way to prevent an unauthorized person from rifling through the data on a computer or other device that’s been inadvertently . . .
Finding Previous URLs
Today’s Tip is a story: I was asked to find what a particular web-available document would have read in the early 2000s. This is a pretty typical request for a . . .
Blogging Is for Lawyers, Too
David Bilinsky & Garry Wise
For lawyers interested in practice-building, there are few methods more proven than law blogging (or blawging, if you prefer) and getting social via social media online. As I wrote in a recent paper . . .
The 2013 Innovating Justice Forum is being held 10-11 December 2013 in The Hague.
The event is hosted by the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law’s Innovating Justice Project.
The Twitter hashtag for the event is #trialogue
The Innovating Justice Project is tweeting about the event at @InnoJustice
Here is a description of the event:
The first day of our action-packed Innovating Justice Forum on “Building the courts of the future” will start off with a short common introduction programme. HiiL’s new Future of Courts trend report will be presented and discussed with the forum participants and speakers from very different backgrounds. They will present compelling, interactive stories about the expectations of people and organisations, problems tackled, approaches used and the lessons they have learned.
The group will break into separate workshops on the following topics to take full advantage of our Justice Innovation Lab:
All breakout sessions will start with a short presentation of key research findings, new methods and relevant innovations. They will offer the opportunity to zoom in on the methods and innovations that are deemed most interesting. [...]
Intermittently the group of experts on courts and dispute management will reconvene in a plenary session for joint ‘reality checks’ and engagement with new speakers. [...]
Breakout session continue during the second day but will be even more focused on specific interests and the needs of the group. Throughout the workshops, some groups will get the opportunity to work on a dispute case study jointly, developing a model court that would be well suited to resolve a certain type of dispute. Working sessions will be become ever more action- and collaboration-oriented allowing for follow up and further collaboration.
In addition, three teams of architects, interior designers and artists will present three distinct visions of creative designs for the courts of the future.
On the second day, work will continue. In the afternoon we will reconvene for a closing session, the big finale, pitches from top justice innovators from around the world, the Justice Innovation Award Winner announcement, the first Human Rights Innovation Award ceremony and a joint reception. [...]
The event is being organized by Professor Dr. Monica Palmirani.
Here is a partial description:
[...] The hackathon is divided in three groups:
(A) AKOMA NTOSO group with the following objectives:
1. To test Akoma Ntoso language respect different set of documents, different countries and levels:
- bill of the Senate/Chamber
- decree of the Government Ministries
- bill/act of the Italian Regions (Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio)
- bill/act of Local Municipalities
- regulations from Government Agencies (e.g. Data Protection Agency)
2. Use different tools for helping the mark-up.
3. At the end we want to compare statistics about number of documents marked-up, tags and attribute used, list of them with figures.
(L) LegalRuleML group with the following objectives:
1. Take some Akoma Ntoso documents and to model legal rules in LegalRuleML in order to test the language.
2. Use different tools, including NLP, for helping the mark-up.
3. Test the integration between legal source of the original documents and the legal rules modelling.
4. Reasoning with LegalRuleML.
(V) Visualization of legal open document with the following objectives:
1. Rendering of the Akoma Ntoso or/and LegalRuleML document for multi-channels.
2. Smart visualization for managing the complexity of the legal system.
3. Automatic semantic classification, Point-in-time, comparison table, navigation among versions, other visualizations that could help the legal end-user to use the huge amount of legal open document. [...]
For more details, please see the event’s Website.
In a news release dated today, the Law Society of British Columbia has announced approval in principal of three recommendations made in the final report of the Legal Service Providers Task Force, to wit:
The benchers' support for the recommendations was unanimous.
Law society regulation of paralegals has precedent in Ontario, but the opening of a door to "other providers of legal services" is a step into new territory for Canada.
This is approval in principle, it should be repeated, and there will need to be considerable work on details before actual regulations can be promulgated.
[Hat tip: Malcolm Mercer via the Canadian Legal Ethics email list]
How do you use social media in conjunction with events, whether "live and in person" or online? The upcoming Twitter Moot always impresses me in how they have redefined an in-person event for the virtual space, holding the actual moot online–and publicly!–so that others can follow along and even participate. It changes the whole dynamic of the event.
How else can social media be used in conjunction with events–to plan them, promote them, engage people at the event or people just observing, how to "capture" or record the event, and how to allow everyone to learn from the event? Daniel Lee and I are exploring this question this week with our Social Media Tools and Tactics class (a University of Toronto iSchool Institute online course). And to make this oh so very "meta", we are doing it publicly as a Twitter chat event starting today until Friday, December 13th. You can follow along and join in by monitoring the program's hashtag #smp4orgs ("social media for organizations") on Twitter.
In the law world I see a nice amount of tweeting happening around law and technology or knowledge management conferences. On the volunteer side, Toronto's PR and tech community come together each year to run HoHoTO, a party born on Twitter several years ago, to raise funds for Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank. The event is promoted on Twitter and in person there is typically a "Twitter wall" where everyone can see each other's tweets projected onto a large screen. Raffle prizes are announced via Twitter, and in past years there has even been a "hangover auction" of unclaimed raffle prizes conducted via Twitter a day or two after the big event. Plus lots of dancing and general partying, of course.
I'm curious to know what else is happening? What are your favourite events held in conjunction with social media? Are you seeing other examples in the legal industry? What tools are you using to "capture" the event?
The entire set is available for download and all the symbols have been released into the public domain.
The December 2013 issue of LAWPRO Magazine focuses on the issue of cybersecurity and law firms. As a supplement to the magazine, practicePRO has added a number of model policies and articles to our Technology page. Written policies that clearly establish guidelines and requirements governing the acceptable use of firm technology can help reduce cyber exposures and give staff clear direction on what they are permitted and not permitted to do with law firm technology resources.
These resources and sample policies can be adapted to create polices for your firm. The model policies are also available in Word and RTF formats.
First as law students and then as lawyers, we repeatedly hear about the need for zealous advocacy. To take one example, the commentary to Rule 5.1-1 of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada Model Code of Conduct states, in part:
In adversarial proceedings, the lawyer has a duty to the client to raise fearlessly every issue, advance every argument and ask every question, however distasteful, that the lawyer thinks will help the client’s case and to endeavour to obtain for the client the benefit of every remedy and defence authorized by law.
The commentary also states “[t]he lawyer’s function as advocate is openly and necessarily partisan.”
In adversarial proceedings, the role and value of vigorous, partisan representation is apparent. The truth-seeking function of our court system relies heavily on parties skillfully and forcefully presenting their side of the case. Moreover, where an individual’s liberty is at stake, resolute criminal defence advocacy acts as an essential check on state power.
But what about when lawyers act outside adversarial proceedings? Should our understanding of the lawyering role change in cases where lawyering takes place more privately and without a third-party decision-maker (like a judge or tribunal adjudicator) acting as an institutional check?
A number of legal ethics scholars have suggested that these types of contextual differences matter. Bradley Wendel has argued, for example, in his book Lawyers and Fidelity to Law that where lawyers act in an advisory capacity —for example, in transactional planning matters or in offering tax advice—the lack of institutional checks imposes a greater responsibility on lawyers to advance positions consistent with the purpose of the law. In terms of “real world” cases, Wendel discusses at some length the flimsy (and hugely self-serving) legal analysis contained in “torture memos” prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Council and the work of lawyers who assisted Enron “to structure transactions to conceal the true financial condition of the company, leading to its collapse and the losses of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of investors’ wealth.” Lawyers acting in these cases, according to Wendel, ought to have shown more “fidelity to law” and not treated the law as “merely a possible downside to be taken into account, planned around or nullified in some way.”
In Canada, the arguments raised by Wendel would appear to potentially have some resonance in relation to the action commenced by Edgar Schmidt against the Attorney General of Canada. As a recent story in CBA’s National magazine reports, Mr. Schmidt’s claim, among other things, raises questions about whether the process used by government lawyers to assess proposed legislation for inconsistency with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights results in candid and meaningful opinions about the prospects of proposed legislation surviving constitutional challenges.
The merits of Mr. Schmidt’s claim have yet to be opined on by the courts. Regardless of the outcome of this case, however, questions still remain about the ethical duties of lawyers acting in advisory capacities. When acting in advisory capacity, what is the role of lawyers as the guardians of the rule of law? What should govern a lawyer’s conduct in situations where the client is looking for advice to condone their behavior, rather than a competent legal opinion?
Rule 3.2-2 of the Model Rules provides that “when advising a client, a lawyer must be honest and candid and must inform the client of all information known to the lawyer that may affect the interests of the client in the matter.” Does this rule go far enough? Do we need a new rule to set out a lawyer’s obligations when acting in an advisory capacity? Or is it simply a matter of better enforcing the current rules that we have which speak to a lawyer’s obligation to give genuine, independent advice? Or can regulatory rules really even get at the heart of the issue of fostering a lawyer’s obligation to fidelity to law (to use Wendel’s term)?
What do you think? Join me on December 10 at 7pm ET for the next #cbafutureschat to share your thoughts. If you’ve never participated in a Twitter Chat before, it’s a mix of a networking event and a retro ‘chat room’. Questions are asked by a moderator, and everyone is free to respond and engage with each other’s ideas. It’s a great way to get new perspective on issues, connect with new and interesting people, and provide valuable feedback to the CBA’s Legal Futures Initiative.
Law school final exam season has begun, and whether you are a 1L or a 3L, you are probably digging into your outlines and meeting with your study groups. Going through our archives last week, I realized we’ve practically written a book on law school final exams, written by some pretty successful law students, now adjunct faculty, Nena Fox and Randall Ryder (although short enough that you’ve got time to read it, now). Here are the posts, which cover big-picture stuff like winning the law school mind game and detailed advice for closed-book, open-book, take-home, and essay exam-taking (each link will open in a new window).Winning the Law School Mind Game
First things first. One of the most important pieces of advice I received during was: “first, win the mind game.” To do this: remember what you know, prioritize something that has nothing to do with law school, make a plan and stick to it, and limit talk of law school and exams.
Image: “Male hands writing task while examination” from Shutterstock.
The Lawyerist Law School Exam Study Guide is a post from Lawyerist.com. The original content in this feed is © 2013 Lawyerist Media, LLC. This feed is provided for private use only and may not be re-published.
Let me say, up front, my post this week is a shameless promotion for the civil litigation program I am co-chairing at the OBA Institute on Thursday morning, 6 February 2014.
Those of you interested in the future of the civil trial, put it in your diaries.
The speakers include Justice David Brown, Justice Mark Edwards, Marty Teplitsky and Tom Curry.
Much has been written in the last decade about the “vanishing trial” in Ontario, and other jurisdictions. The newest generation of Ontario civil litigators may retire without ever having conducted a civil trial to judgment. The most common explanation given for this is cost, although civil litigation under the now dominant ADR method does not appear to be appreciably less expensive.
Is the civil trial dead, or just dying? Can it be rescued? How? Is it worth the effort?
The theme of the 2014 OBA Civil Litigation Program is that the civil trial remains a valuable and viable method of dispute resolution in the 21st Century, when conducted in an effective and cost-efficient manner.
Hear from leading litigators on how to streamline your case and use the rules to get it to trial faster. Here is the Program.
I recently had the privilege of attending the book launch of Roy McMurtry’s Memoirs and Reflections and it has stirred up many memories of my own.
Most people in the legal world will be aware of at least some aspects of McMurtry’s legal career extending over 50 plus years; litigation lawyer, Attorney General of Ontario, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court, and then Chief Justice of Ontario. But I have special memories of him from his years as Attorney General.
He was appointed Attorney General in September, 1975. In the spring of 1976, fresh out of the Bar Admission Course, with some trepidation I joined the Policy Development Division of the Ministry. I was anything but a Progressive Conservative party supporter, but having articled in the Division I knew there was at least a commitment to law reform in that Division. Still for me McMurtry was a yet unknown quantity. How quickly that changed!
Almost immediately he started on a path of unprecedented law reform with the Policy Development Division clearing the way. It didn’t hurt that the head of the Division was Archie Campbell (later Regional Senior Justice of the Ontario Superior Court) who had worked for McMurtry two summers while a high school student and had served six month of his articles with McMurtry. The other lawyers in the Division at that time were Karen Weiler (later Justice Weiler of the Ontario Court of Appeal), John Cavarzan and Craig Perkins (later both on the Ontario Superior Court) and the outstanding Steve Fram (See, Supreme Advocacy Letter, October 04, 2012 | Issue No. 59)
In his Memoirs McMurtry writes of overcoming his uncertainty about working with civil servants and his growing respect and reliance on them, to the point that he “announced an open-door policy- literally leaving the door ajar- to encourage staff to drop in to talk”. His open door extended to his own home where at the start of the holiday season he held a party for all of the lawyers from the 18 King Street head office. And in the days before recognition of the rights of common law spouses, not to mention gay spouses, the invitation included not only spouses but “significant others”.
His faith in the work of his legal staff was such that a year after my call to the bar I was given responsibility for the development of legislation to give equal legal status to children born outside marriage (Children’s Law Reform Act) thus I believe giving for the first time in Canada equal rights to so-called illegitimate children. Just two years later I was given the opportunity to expand the Children’s Law Reform Act to implement comprehensive reform of child custody law, which eventually came into effect in 1982.
Also, only 3 years after my call to the bar Attorney General McMurtry appointed me counsel to His Honour Senior Judge (later Justice) Lucien Beaulieu who was chairing the Task Force on Vandalism. With eminent criminologist Professor Anthony Doob, we produced Vandalism: Responses and Responsibilities, a 475-page report.
While responsibilities like these were amazing enough in themselves what made the work exceptional was the direct personal contact with him during projects like these. That “open- door” attitude extended even to junior lawyers such as me. Unlike Cabinet Ministers today, he did not surround himself with an office full of political advisors. Nor did he insist that briefings be done by senior civil service managers, with us juniors sitting in the wings. Briefings were direct and informal. How informal? Well, one time at his home in his bedroom when he was laid up with a bad back. A couple of times at breakfast at the Park Plaza. Most memorably, when I was commuting on a once-a-day GO train, it was he who ended the briefing saying, “Don’t you have to go to catch your train?”
And it was not unusual, after a job deemed well done, to receive a personal written note of thanks. And once, a bottle of wine.
As I said, he kept a very small office of personal staff. Whereas today the Ministry Communications Branch has over 20 staff, his office contained exactly one, the excellent David Allen. So, in the early days I was one of a small group of lawyers who were asked to help out with “speaking notes” for non-partisan topics, such as the role of the Attorney General, children’s rights, the responsibility of the legal profession to give back through community service and of course the importance of law reform. More often than not the speech contained a passage that we called the “Boast of Augustus”. Lord Brougham in a speech to the House of Commons in 1828 said:
It was the boast of Augustus that he found Rome of brick and left it of marble. But how much nobler will be our sovereign's boast when he shall have it to say that he found law dear and left it cheap; found it a sealed book, left it a living letter; found it the patrimony of the rich, left it the inheritance of the poor; found it the two-edged sword of craft and oppression, left it the staff of honesty and the shield of innocence.
With an incredible record of having 59 statutes* enacted in 10 years and his 16 years on the bench, Roy McMurtry has outdone Augustus while remaining a humble servant of the law and with no need to boast.
(* On his retirement as Attorney General the Ministry’s Policy Division presented him with a leather bound volume called Law for the People , containing all 59 statutes)
[Ed. note: This article originally appeared in Supreme Advocacy Newsletter Nov. 28.]