Big Firm Habits You Need to Break

The Lawyerist - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 07:12

After two years in a big firm, I went solo. Running a small or solo practice is much different than practicing law in a big firm, and I quickly found that the bad habits I developed at my firm were hurting my practice and my professional relationships.

Here are four bad habits I found myself doing and what I did to get past them:

1. Pick Up The Phone and Talk to Your Clients

American Bar Association Model Rule 1.4(a)(3) says that you “shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the case.” During my tenure at a big firm, it became easy to concentrate on billing time rather than paying attention to the people and businesses I was representing. Instead of keeping my clients fully informed about what was going on in their cases, I spent nearly all my time doing “billable” tasks that would keep myself profitable . Sure, I kept the insurance company informed — they were the ones paying my bills — but I rarely initiated contact with the client I was actually representing without being prompted.

Numerous bar journal articles across the country say that communication with clients decreases your risk of a legal malpractice case. When you are running a solo or small firm, many new clients will come through word-of-mouth from your old clients. Affirmatively reaching out to your client just to say hello can go a long way. This is not to say you should show up to your client’s kids’ soccer games, but reach out and talk to them even when you are not obligated to do so.

2. Do Not Bill for Everything You Do

In many big firms attorneys bill clients for everything they can think of — telephone calls, letters, even copy-and-pasting subpoenas. But before you start machine-gunning a client every month with 0.1’s, you should understand that your clients have probably hired high-billing attorneys before, and were likely unhappy about being nickeled and dimed.

In my small practice, I tell hourly rate clients at sign-up what I am not going to bill them for: travel time around town, speaking with them on the telephone (no matter who makes the call), or writing and reading emails or letters. I also put this in the retainer agreement. Some clients have actually been shocked (in a good way) that I would not charge for these things.

A caveat: I have not had a client barrage me with calls or emails. If you are worried about a client taking advantage of unlimited free telephone calls or emails, consider setting a daily or weekly limit.

3. Cut Your Clients a Break on Fees

How do you want your clients to remember you?

This goes hand-in-hand with not billing for everything that you do. I believe the old adage that everything looks like a nail from a hammer’s perspective applies to attorneys billing a client. If you are able to resolve a case quickly in your client’s best interest, consider cutting your client a break on the total fee. It can pay dividends in the long run.

4. Do Not Hide in Your Office

During my tenure as a big firm associate, I frequently ate lunch at my desk. I sat behind my computer most of the day with my door closed, working and entering time. There will always be days you need to spend holed away getting things done, but unless you have no need for new clients, I would strongly recommend getting out of your office and being social. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” definitely applies to attorneys who get business through referrals. You do not want to find you missed out on a referral because your friend or previous client did not know you practiced that particular area of law.

It is natural to pick up habits that are good or bad if you have worked in a big firm. While some habits can help you be productive and profitable, others can hurt your client relationships and referral network.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

slaw - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 07:00

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. Jan Wong v. The Globe and Mail Inc., 2014 ONSC 6372

[11] Following the book’s publication in May 2012, the Globe and Mail immediately applied to the Arbitrator for a determination that twenty-three phrases in the book breached the MOA’s confidentiality provision. The Globe and Mail sought an order that the applicant forfeit and repay to it the second lump sum, representing two years’ salary, paid to her under the MOA.

[12] The Arbitrator held a hearing on The Globe and Mail’s application on May 30, 2013. The Arbitrator released her decision on July 3, 2013. In her decision, the Arbitrator concluded that at least four of the twenty-three impugned phrases in the book did breach the MOA because they disclosed the fact that a payment had been made by The Globe and Mail to the applicant. Those four phrases were:

• … I can’t disclose the amount of money I received
• I’d just been paid a pile of money to go away …
• Two weeks later a big fat check landed in my account.
• Even with a vastly swollen bank account …

As a result, the Arbitrator concluded that the applicant had disclosed a term of the settlement and thus had breached the confidentiality provision.

2. Hodge v. Neinstein, 2014 ONSC 6366

[81] Non-compliance with the Act or the Regulations does not make the contingency fee agreement void or unenforceable. A contingency fee agreement can only be declared void, or be cancelled and disregarded, where the court determines that the agreement is either unfair or unreasonable. There is no strict liability for a breach of the Solicitors Act. If there is a breach of the Act, the lawyer may have to refund all, some, or none of the illegal or unreasonable charges.

[82] It is against this statutory background that the alleged reprehensiveness of the Respondents’ alleged unauthorized double-dipping needs to be measured, and in this regard, it can be immediately be noted that double-dipping, as such, is not prohibited. What is prohibited is unauthorized double-dipping, and the prohibition of it is hardly absolute because, practically speaking, the case law accepts that it is possible to act without permission and to beg forgiveness later by showing that it was appropriate to double-dip because of the value of the services provided by the lawyer on a case-by-case basis.

3. Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9

[1] This appeal calls on the Court to consider, once again, the troubling question of the approach to be taken in judicial review of decisions of administrative tribunals. The recent history of judicial review in Canada has been marked by ebbs and flows of deference, confounding tests and new words for old problems, but no solutions that provide real guidance for litigants, counsel, administrative decision makers or judicial review judges. The time has arrived for a reassessment of the question.

The most-consulted French-language decision was Laval (Ville de) c. Pothier, 2014 QCCM 167

[40] La lecture que fait le procureur du défendeur de l’arrêt de la Cour suprême dans l’affaire précitée de «R. c. W. (D.)» m’apparait inexacte : La Cour ne mentionne pas que l’analyse du témoignage du défendeur doit se faire en vase clos ni que la démarche préconisée en est une en trois étapes successives.

[41] La jurisprudence récente, dont un arrêt de la Cour suprême elle-même, confirme que l’analyse de la version du défendeur doit se faire dans le contexte de l’ensemble de la preuve faite et que la démarche énoncée dans W. (D.) en est une d’alternatives qui se présentent au juge des faits et non une analyse séquentielle.

* 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.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

The First Tool: Elements of the Project Charter

slaw - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 07:00

In the last two articles I described the idea behind becoming a very highly valued five-tools project manager and supplied an overview of the first tool, the project charter. Now let’s look at the elements of a project charter.

The Business Problem

What does the client need to achieve?

Corporate clients rarely have legal problems; they have business problems. (Yes, occasionally it is a true legal problem, but as doctors say, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses rather than zebras.)

What is blocking or imperiling their business? What business goal are they trying to achieve? The more you share an understanding of their business needs, the better able you will be to deliver the results they are looking for.

If they try to “pre-digest” it for you as a legal issue, do what your doctor would do if you said to her, “Doc, I have the flu.” She’ll take your declaration as a data point, but she’ll still take your temperature, investigate your symptoms, and so on.

The Client Vision

What will the world look like when the client has achieved the goals of this project? Keep it very high level.

And I know vision seems both “fluffy” and unimportant. I’ll grant that it sounds a bit “West Coast” – but think of it as a very high level six- or eight-word overview of what you’re trying to achieve. It pays off whenever the project starts to wander and threatens to expand. “Does this help us achieve the vision?” Visions help inoculate the project against scope creep.

And a vision is not a “vision statement.” The latter is HR- and consultant-speak. The former is informal, and you should waste no time trying to be clever or to wordsmith it.


If the vision is high-level, “Done” is specific. What three things must you achieve for the client to call the project successful? Not fourteen, but three. (Okay, maybe four, but seriously, not six!) When you need to make trade-offs, trade against the other stuff, not the “Done.” Likewise, if a task doesn’t help you get to “Done,” ask hard questions about why you’re doing or assigning it.

Out of Scope

What are you not going to do?

If you list everything you plan to do and omit something, it all too often goes unnoticed… until later. On the other hand, if you list something as a don’t-do and the clients think otherwise, they’ll let you know immediately, while you can still get it right without wasting time or effort or money.

Dates and Deadlines

Don’t include a whole court calendar, for example, but pick three or four critical dates. These dates can include internal dates, such as a major client (or team) vacation.


If you don’t have an agreement on budget, then you don’t have a meeting of the minds.

I know sometimes talking budget isn’t fun. But it’s necessary to achieve a full understanding of the work in question. And clients, as well, need to know how much of their budget to reserve. What they spend with you, they cannot spend on other projects they’re expected to accomplish. (And over-reserving for you amounts to the same thing – they can’t spend it on other projects.)

Staffing and Resources

Who are the key people you’ll need to staff this project? Better make sure now you can establish their availability.


Who – particularly on the client side – is a stakeholder? The business group for whom you’re doing the work, of course, but who else? For example, if a matter may hit the press, someone in corporate marketing or positioning is a probably stakeholder.

Watch out especially for hidden stakeholders. They’re like crocodiles lurking mostly below the surface. Remain on lookout for those eyes just breaking the surface, waiting until a tasty morsel (you) comes within range.

Project Risks

What can throw the project off track? What can go wrong? How can you prepare? Minimize? Mitigate?

Summing Up

Remember, all projects have a charter. If you don’t explicitly agree on a conscious charter, however, your project team will drift – or blunder – into making it up as needed. Chances are good they will neither make it up uniformly, or in the same way as if you’d developed a real charter up front.

Finally, keep it short, under two pages.

And circulate it among the stakeholders to be sure you’ve gotten it right – and to flush out issues now, up front, rather than after you’ve wasted your time and client money chasing after the wrong items.

(This article is adapted from Steven B. Levy’s new book: Legal Project Management Field Guide: Five Tools for Busy Professionals. The book covers the elements of the project charter in considerable detail.)

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Observing the Office Grouch

slaw - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 06:30

Monday, November 10th marked the 45th anniversary of ‘Sesame Street’. I grew up watching the show. I’m not so grown up that I didn’t smile when I saw my favourite characters in the news coverage of the milestone event.

Many of the lessons Sesame Street taught us about how to get along with the people in our neighborhood actually still serve us well in the workplace.

Consider Oscar the Grouch, for example. Okay, he’s a Muppet, not a person. But his traits aren’t too different from some of the curmudgeonly colleagues I’ve worked with. When I think about those colleagues, I realize how much I’ve learned from them. And how valuable they can be to an organization.


  1. A healthy dose of skepticism isn’t necessarily bad. Grouches counterbalance shiny, happy tendencies from creative can-do types by asking tough questions and making astute observations. They speak from experience.
  2. They have high standards. They expect you to meet those standards. Your work product will be better for it.
  3. They will offer recognition or appreciation only when it’s genuinely deserved. I’ve had some tough customers; their vote of confidence is all the more meaningful because I know I’ve earned it.
  4. They force you to be organized and prepared. Ever worked with someone who gives you “the look” from his desk while you quake in their doorway and stammer out a question? I’d bet you have. I’d also bet that you organized your thoughts so you’d take up as little time as possible and then scram.
  5. You must respect their garbage can. Err….I mean office. The office grouch prefers to deal with colleagues on his or her turf. And if you’re invited in, for Pete’s sake, don’t move anything around.

Law firms and legal organizations can be full of people who take themselves and their work seriously. Understandably so, given the scale of risk that lawyers manage on behalf of their clients.

It’s scary, though, to approach a colleague who seems perpetually serious, grouchy, prickly, misanthropic or all of the above. Associates and staff can feel especially intimidated if the grouch in question has some power over their careers. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that your colleague might be gruff or unfriendly, but probably isn’t set on making your life miserable. Find a way to work together. You might just enjoy it.

PS: This blog post is really about appreciating nice curmudgeons, not dealing with difficult contrarians, genuinely disrespectful coworkers or abusive bullies who cause workplace issues worthy of a completely separate post.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Malik et al.: Predictive Visual Analytics for Community Policing and Law Enforcement

Legal Informatics Blog - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 03:15

Abish Malik, Ross Maciejewski, Sherry Towers, Sean McCullough, and David Ebert are scheduled to present a paper entitled Proactive Spatiotemporal Resource Allocation and Predictive Visual Analytics for Community Policing and Law Enforcement, at IEEE VIS 2014, being held 9-14 November in Paris.

A video preview of the paper has been posted at:

Here is the abstract:

In this paper, we present a visual analytics approach that provides decision makers with a proactive and predictive environment in order to assist them in making effective resource allocation and deployment decisions. The challenges involved with such predictive analytics processes include end-users’ understanding, and the application of the underlying statistical algorithms at the right spatiotemporal granularity levels so that good prediction estimates can be established. In our approach, we provide analysts with a suite of natural scale templates and methods that enable them to focus and drill down to appropriate geospatial and temporal resolution levels. Our forecasting technique is based on the Seasonal Trend decomposition based on Loess (STL) method, which we apply in a spatiotemporal visual analytics context to provide analysts with predicted levels of future activity. We also present a novel kernel density estimation technique we have developed, in which the prediction process is influenced by the spatial correlation of recent incidents at nearby locations. We demonstrate our techniques by applying our methodology to Criminal, Traffic and Civil (CTC) incident datasets.

Filed under: Applications, Articles and papers, Methodology, Research findings Tagged: Abish Malik, David S. Ebert, IEEE VIS, IEEE VIS 2014, Predictive analytics, Predictive law enforcement, Predictive policing, Quantitative legal prediction, Ross Maciejewski, Sean McCullough, Sherry Towers, Statistical methods in legal informatics, Visual analytics, Visual predictive analytics, Visualization of legal information
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Mobile Legal Research – Notes From the US

slaw - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 16:15

Cheryl Niemeier, Director of Knowledge & Research Services at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, started a series of blog posts on legal research apps last week. The post was titled Part 1 – Legal Research in Your Pocket: Fee-based Services and it made me a little bit jealous.

It also made me a little bit nervous and a little bit worried and a little bit puzzled.

Cheryl’s excellent annotated list of research apps includes content that many Canadian law libraries would license, HeinOnline and CCH Intelliconnect. It also contained a lengthy list of sources that would only apply for Canadians with a significant cross-border practice. I am a little jealous of this content. Of course we have WiseLII and a Quicklaw app, and it doesn’t cover things like the eBook apps that our Canadian legal publishers offer, but it is a lengthy list all the same.

Why would someone like me, a law librarian who is quite obviously pretty darn geeky, be nervous, worried and puzzled by a legal research app list. I will explain, and hope to read your comments.

Nervous: Many legal research apps I have seen are a slice of what is available on the full, paid site. For example, the Quicklaw app offers a path to find a case by name or citation only – a small portion of the full service. It makes me nervous to think of lawyers out of the office relying on app service as opposed to using a mobile friendly website for legal research.

Worried: Are we prepared – with training, wifi access, best practices – for the impact of mobile lawyers. As someone who recently supported law firm legal research, would I ask the right question about how someone needs to access information to provide the right tool at the right time. Have we moved from a “do you want a hyperlink or an email attachment” to can I show you how to get than on your Android/Apple/Blackberry/Other device?

Puzzled: I wonder to what extent are lawyers bypassing desktop research in favour of mobile. This is a big question for library budgets that are offset by desktop use of sources where usage is tracked to make purchasing, training, and budget decisions.

What do you think of when someone says mobile legal research – mobile browser accessibility or law via app?

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

My Twitter Digest for 11/10/2014

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Categories: Teknoids Blogs

LSUC: No Yurts!

slaw - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 09:35

The Law Society of Upper Canada is located in beautiful Osgoode Hall on Queen Street in the heart of downtown Toronto. The large, manicured grounds in front are partly surrounded by an ornate iron fence that’s interrupted at a few points by elaborate gates known as “cow gates,” baffle affairs that would indeed keep cows out (or in) and that are enjoyable to wiggle through.

I happened to pass by recently and saw that No Trespassing notices had been posted at these gates. Perhaps they’ve been there for a while and I’ve just never noticed them before. At any rate, I was amused to read the elaborate notices, in a way as Victorian as the fence itself. I’ve put a photograph of it below (click on it to enlarge it) and a transcription of the text here, if you can’t read the notice in the photo easily.

What particularly struck me was the prohibition of yurts. Who would think to prohibit a dwelling from the steppes of central Asia?

I suspect that the answer has to do with the Occupy movement’s occupation of a Toronto park a few years ago and the Batty case (2011 ONSC 6862) in which the City successfully defended its claim that the occupiers were trespassing. One of the descriptions of the occupation that was used in most media reports and quoted in the course of the judgment, referred, among other things, to the presence in the park of three yurts, large circular tent-like structures housing various services available to the occupiers. It seems the Law Society’s lawyers feared that the past would simply repeat itself with remarkable faithfulness (lawyers as poor historians, “condemned,” as in Santayana’s epigram, to repeat the past if only in bad dreams?).

From a larger perspective, this notice demonstrates a lot that is wrong with legal drafting, let alone betraying an elitist anxiety about incursions by the lumpenproletariat. I imagine that the Trespass to Property Act contains sufficient provisions to allow the Law Society to repel the hordes without the need to post the property with notices prohibiting defecation or setting fires. On the brighter side, I also imagine that no one reads these notices, or if they start to, that their eyes glaze over about half way through the first bullet point where the ejusdem generis listing goes on and on.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

LawPal Closes Up Shop

The Lawyerist - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 07:39

LawPal went live earlier this year, described in our forum by founder Alex Halliday:

LawPal is part project management, part deal room. It is a way to manage your transactions in a collaborative, efficient way. Document exchange, feedback collection and versioning via email is painful and expensive today and we want to change that. We will be expanding the service to include signing, daily digest emails and more granular privacy controls.

It was a nifty idea, but I found it difficult to get acquainted with:

LawPal violates my #1 rule of software: if I can’t figure out what to do with it within 10 minutes, I move on. I’ve spent more than 10 minutes on it, and I’m not going to spend more time on it until they say it’s ready for prime time.

If you were using LawPal, you have until November 30th to download your information. LawPal will delete all user data on December 1st.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Tor Lets You Surf Anonymously And Protect Your Clients

The Lawyerist - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 07:12

Given our obligations to maintain confidentiality and privilege, lawyers must be aware of our heightened responsibilities regarding data privacy and security. Those are obligations that are getting harder and harder to fulfill, however, as we now know that the NSA is perfectly comfortable with intercepting attorney-client privileged communications.

Before you begin thinking you need to cut up your credit cards and only use burner phones and bitcoin and basically live like a character in The Wire, take heed: there are some steps you can take to hide some of your personal and professional online life from prying eyes. Tor (short for The Onion Router) is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure that your travels on the web remain untracked and unfettered.

You hear a lot about how you need to encrypt the data you store and how certain types of sensitive material, such as banking data, is encrypted on its path across the internet. Encryption is great, but encryption alone is not enough, thanks to traffic analysis.

Internet data packets have two parts: a data payload and a header used for routing. The data payload is whatever is being sent, whether that’s an email message, a web page, or an audio file. Even if you encrypt the data payload of your communications, traffic analysis still reveals a great deal about what you’re doing and, possibly, what you’re saying. That’s because it focuses on the header, which discloses source, destination, size, timing, and so on.

A basic problem for the privacy minded is that the recipient of your communications can see that you sent it by looking at headers.

To scramble that header info, you need a set of virtual tunnels like Tor. Tor is pretty conceptually simple. It works by distributing your data and headers over a number of places on the internet. Basically, your header data doesn’t take a direct route. Instead, it goes randomly through a number of relays and no one on the path can figure out where it is coming from and where it is going to end up.

Using Tor is incredibly easy because all you need to know how to do is install a program and use a browser. Just download the version for your OS (Tor is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux) and then install the Tor browser. Then, just do any of the Internet surfing you would like to hide via that browser instead of your normal one. This is probably the simplest way imaginable to protect your privacy — and potentially your client’s privacy — on the Internet. Tor works best when you change some other surfing habits as well. Don’t install browser plug-ins, always use HTTPS (encrypted) versions of websites when possible, and do not open documents within the browser.

Tor has a not entirely unwarranted reputation as the tool of choice for some of the really seedy parts of the internet, such as child pornographers and drug dealers. But Tor is just that – a tool. It is neither good nor bad, morally. It has some very critical and necessary applications that are relevant to attorneys seeking to protect themselves and their clients. Here’s why.

When you use the internet, all your traffic originates from your IP address. A quick internet search will map your IP address to your city, and it is becoming increasingly easier to map that IP address to something as narrow as a street location. However, Tor masks your IP location, which means that you will not accidentally reveal your location if, say, you’ve traveled to meet with a client.

Tor also hides your IP address when you use the Internet to do things like conduct research on a corporation your client may be suing or when you communicate with a government whistleblower. If you represent any clients with national security concerns, Tor is a must-have, as those types of clients are especially vulnerable to the possibility of surveillance. Finally, Tor lets you view websites that may be blocked in your home country. This might not sound like a big deal in America, but if you have traveled somewhere for work that doesn’t allow Facebook, for example, you will immediately see the benefits of being able to circumvent that restriction.

Tor is not without its problems. First, your data has to leave the Tor network for the very last leg of the journey via an exit node. People using Tor voluntarily choose to be an exit node, which means that the government or a hacker could be the last stop on your way out of Tor. The solution to this problem is to make sure to use encrypted (HTTPS) websites for sensitive data on top of using Tor. Next, though the NSA can’t follow how your traffic twists and turns through Tor, they can see that you are using Tor and that may pique their interest in you or your clients. Finally, for maximum security, your clients should be running Tor as well so that their header info is scrambled on any communications they have with you.

Tor is not a great — or necessary — choice for use for your regular surfing, as all the hops across the Internet will slow your traffic down considerably. If you’re just looking at cat gifs or making a dinner date, it is probably overkill (unless you’re that security minded, of course). But when it comes to your obligations to protect your client’s location, safety, and privilege, masking your trail is critical and Tor is an easy way for you to start doing so.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Citizenship Act Reforms: Unjust and Insecure

slaw - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 07:00

In the wake of the attacks in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa in October, and against the backdrop of the sudden and very terrifying rise of the Islamic State in Syria and northern Iraq this year, there is renewed fear and anxiety about terrorism, at home and abroad.

The Islamic State (varyingly known as IS, ISIS and ISIL) has been responsible for unimaginable acts of cruel violence and widespread human rights abuse against women and girls, followers of other religious sects or faiths, ethnic minorities and western hostages. Amnesty International researchers catalogued the horrors in a number of grim reports in recent months. Islamic State fighters have been responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is an undeniable human rights crisis.

Among the many troubling dimensions of Islamic State terrorism and violence are the reports that there may be many foreign nationals in their ranks, including significant numbers from Canada and other Western states. And with that, once again, there is both rational debate and bigoted hyperbole about foreign fighters, dual nationals and loyalty.

The rational debate considers what measures are needed to track and, if necessary, take action when Canadians head overseas to join up with a group like Islamic State, thus almost inevitably becoming implicated in such international crimes as war crimes and crimes against humanity, and nationally criminal acts of terrorism.

The bigoted hyperbole makes sweeping conclusions about naturalized Canadians and Canadians with dual nationalities, questioning their loyalty and suggesting they can’t be trusted.

We’ve been down this road before in Canada; or at least a similar road. In the days, months and years after September 11th many members of the Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities in Canada felt targeted, vilified and mistrusted. And there were many troubling instances of Muslim Canadians suffering torture and other serious human rights violations in such places as Syria, Egypt, Sudan and Guantánamo Bay, with varying degrees of complicity and responsibility on the part of Canadian law enforcement, security and diplomatic officials.

We know that from former Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Dennis O’Connor’s findings in his judicial inquiry into the case of Maher Arar. We know that from former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci’s findings in his judicial inquiry into the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin. We know that from two Supreme Court of Canada rulings in the case of Omar Khadr. And we know that from a Federal Court of Canada judgment in the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik.

Unfortunately the ground has been laid for a renewed wave of suspicion of dual nationals with recent, unprecedented reforms to Canada’s Citizenship Act, which passed Parliament at the end of June. That was followed by further citizenship reforms in Bill C-44, the proposed Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act, introduced following last month’s attacks.

The reforms make it possible for a Canadian with at least one other nationality to be stripped of his or her Canadian citizenship if they have committed one of a number of enumerated offences. Those offences include treason as well as several offences under the National Defence Act and the Security of Information Act. It also includes terrorism convictions under the Criminal Code or a conviction in some other country for an offence that would constitute terrorism under the Criminal Code.

There are a number of serious procedural concerns that arise. The possibility of losing citizenship on the basis of terrorism-like convictions in other countries is particularly troubling. Going back many years Amnesty International reports are filled with cases of individuals around the world who have been convicted on terrorism and other national security-related charges which are clearly disguised attempts to punish critics, stifle opposition and target particular religious or ethnic minorities. There is also a glaring lack of fairness in the proceedings leading up to a loss of citizenship on these grounds.

More fundamentally, though, what is so very problematic is that these reforms take Canadian citizenship off in two deeply worrying directions.

First, is the introduction of the notion of using loss of citizenship as punishment. Until now citizenship could only be stripped on the basis of fraud or misrepresentation. That made sense. If citizenship had been obtained on the basis of lies and falsehoods it really, in essence, was never truly granted. Taking it away simply recognized that reality.

This is different. Now citizenship laws are being used to say to some Canadians: you are no longer worthy to be one of us. It is a return to the practice of banishment from the realm in the feudal ages. That was discredited and abandoned long ago. Instead we rely on our criminal justice system to identify, penalize and, hopefully, reform wrongdoers. We do so, in part, recognizing that whatever the forces, personalities and events are that lie behind the commission of a crime; society is often part of that picture. Banishment pretends that we were not involved. That it was not negative influences, here in Canada. That it was not pain and hardship, here in Canada. That it was not a failure to respond and offer support earlier, here in Canada.

If this is going to be our new approach to punishing criminals, why stop with terrorism and treason? Why not simply send away all serious criminals? Make their criminality some other country’s problem and responsibility.

But of course it wouldn’t be all serious criminals. It would only be serious criminals who have at least one other nationality in addition to their Canadian citizenship. And that is the other drastic departure in these reforms that is so troubling. Ironically, the explanation is, on the surface, a laudable one. It is in fact a necessary step to avoid violating international legal obligations that prohibit Canada from making someone stateless. That is why we won’t strip Canadian citizenship if the person concerned has no other nationality as a back-up.

Notably the changes also mark the first time that Canadian-born citizens face the risk of losing their citizenship. If he or she has obtained an additional citizenship, be it by virtue of a parent’s citizenship or by way of marriage, their Canadian citizenship is vulnerable. That is a dramatic change.

The bottom line is that there is now a sharp difference in how Canadians without any other nationality and Canadians with other nationalities are treated. And deliberately or not, it feeds into an ugly xenophobic sentiment, which is easy to find in Canada and in countries all over the world; a sentiment that views dual nationals as a little less loyal and a little more suspect.

That is what is particularly ugly and potentially very poisonous about this new approach to Canadian citizenship. And it is precisely the wrong message that a government should convey in a time of anxiety about terrorism, violence and human rights abuse.

Of course there should be fair and firm accountability for any criminal acts. That is, in fact, a human right obligation. But eroding concepts of citizenship and creating different tiers of citizenship do none of us any favours. The resulting divisions cleaved open among us are unjust and serve only to lay the ground for marginalization and insecurity.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Tips Tuesday

slaw - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 07:00

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.

Dan Pinnington
Two Simple Rules for Avoiding the Dangers of Email Attachments*

While email attachments are frequently used to share documents between lawyers, law firm staff, and clients, they are also one of the most common delivery mechanisms for malware. While most messages that have infected attachments will be stopped if your anti-malware software and/or spam filter are working properly and updated, some will make it through. …

Check Out Your Public Library
Shaunna Mireau

There are about 2300 public libraries in Canada. This doesn’t include a count of libraries with multiple branches. The bottom line is that most Canadians will have access to information that they need from a public library near them….

Two-Timing on My iPad With a Windows Tablet
Garry Wise

Today’s post is not so much a “tip” as a confession. For it’s true – I have been two-timing on my iPad with a Windows tablet. Because for all its virtues, and there are many, I’ve still had more than the occasional sinking feeling that my iPad just isn’t enough…

*Editor’s pick

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

MIT Legal PrototypeJam, 14-16 November 2014, Boston, Massachusetts

Legal Informatics Blog - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 04:17

MIT Legal PrototypeJam is scheduled to be held 14-16 November 2014, at District Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Here is a description of the event, from the event’s Webpage and blog:

The MIT Human Dynamics Lab, in collaboration with LawGives, UMKC Law School, Brooklyn Law School and the MIT Kerberos & Internet Trust (MIT-KIT) Consortium, are working with City of Boston and Kansas City, MO to design and prototype an open source next generation interface for business interactions with city governments.

Designed to work for key interaction types such as business permits, small business assistance and grants, this collaboration will culminate with a combination of creative commons open licensed design-phase conceptual use cases and prototype open source, free and documented code. The creative commons and open source software license covering PrototypeJam contributions ensures that easch collaborator and any city is free to use, contribute to or fork any of the projects worked on together.

‘Every Wednesday from 4pm-6pm EST this projects related to this collaboration are developed by one or more of the partners at regular class sessions hosted by the MIT Media Lab, UMKC Law School and Brooklyn Law School. An in-person prototype jam event is planned for November 14-16 when all the collaborators can work together on the project and plan a prototype user engagement test and final semester demo presentation.

The November PrototypeJam is [... intended] to focus on use case iteration describing the intended functions and interactions for each project and rapid prototyping of each project to provide meaningful design review, practical feedback and solution development.

This in-person event is focused on providing space for current collaborators and invited contributors to work on existing project together. Additional tables at the venue and online channels will be available for members of the public who wish to contribute to the projects being prototypes at this event. For more information on how to contribute contact us [...].

The PrototypeJam is organized by researchers focused on Computational Law and Big Data Systems the MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics Group. This event is an in-person meeting of an informal semester-long collaboration convened by the MIT Media Lab, who may be contacted here for more information on this collaboration and how other parties may get involved.

Dazza Greenwood of MIT’s Computational Law research program says that the event will include “a legal agreements and terms of use team working on a review of OpenID Connect and broader OAuth 2 legal terms and the language of user grants of permissions.”

For more details, please contact Dazza Greenwood’s Computational Law research team at MIT.

Filed under: Applications, Hackathons, Hacking, Prototype, Technology developments, Technology tools Tagged: Brooklyn Law School, Business law information systems, Business permit information systems, Dazza Greenwood, egovernment systems, Legal hackathons, Legal hacking events, MIT computational legal science research, MIT Legal PrototypeJam, MIT Legal Science research team, MIT PrototypeJam, UMKC Law School
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Free Webinar on Competitive Intelligence Deliverables - This Thursday 11/13

3 Geeks and a Law Blog - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 16:52
Update 11/18/2014: A recording of the presentation, handouts, and examples are available on the CIBlawg site.
NOTE: The Webinar has been over-subscribed! Unfortunately, this may mean that some of you may not be able to log in and listen. 

The Slides of the presentation will be available shortly after the webinar. Seems like AALL and PLL have a popular thing on their hands, and hopefully will present additional CI webinars soon. - GL

If you've ever wondered what Competitive Intelligence looks like, then sign up for this free webinar sponsored by Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (or PLL as we like to call it.)

Fellow 3 Geek contributor, Mark Gediman, is on the panel with a couple of Dallas-based CI experts, Emily Rushing and Kevin Miles, as well as Juli Stahl Hughes. Should be a great webinar, but hurry, there's only room for 100 participants.

CI Deliverables - FREE PLL Webinar
November 13, 2014, 2-3 PM EST (this coming Thursday)
This webinar will give you insights from three veteran CI professionals showing you their best practices and how their response to these requests is tailored based on these factors:
  • Turn-around time
  • What the need is 
  • Preparing for a meeting
  • Responding to an RFP
  • Having Lunch
  • Planning a Client Check-up Meeting
  • Participating in a Business Development Initiative, etc.
  • The Audience's Context
Register soon as space is limited to 100 participants.

Moderator/Coordinator - Kevin Miles (Norton Rose Fulbright)

 Emily C. Rushing (Haynes & Boone)
 Mark Gediman (Best, Best & Krieger)
 Juli Stahl Hughes (Stradley Ronon)
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Ogletree Deakins Wins Intranet Innovations 2014 Award

slaw - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 16:49

Last week at the KMWorld 2014 conference in Washington, DC, Step Two Designs out of Australia once again handed out their annual international Intranet Innovations Awards. This year Ogletree Deakins, an international labour and employment law firm based in the U.S., is winner of the Gold Award for Intranet Rework:

ODConnect, Ogletree Deakins’ intranet, was specifically acclaimed for its client-matter sites and search capability, which judges said provided “a rich set of intranet improvements to support lawyers in their everyday work” and demonstrated “an intranet developed with clear priorities and strong business alignment.” The judges also highlighted “really good evidence of time savings, and in an environment where hours are billable, this is meaningful ROI.”

From the Ogletree Deakins press release:

“Our Knowledge Management and Technology departments designed ODConnect to be a single source for firm content that helps the firm’s lawyers and staff service their clients more efficiently and effectively,” said Patrick DiDomenico, director of knowledge management at Ogletree Deakins. “We are honored to receive this recognition and are committed to continued innovation in order to provide additional value and benefit to our clients.”

Patrick DiDomenico, known in the legal Knowledge Management industry for his writings on the LawyerKM blog, was on hand to accept the award. Congratulations to Ogletree’s KM and IT teams.

Related information:

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Frankie Carbone Sues the Simpsons

The Lawyerist - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:32

From Bitter Lawyer:

Frank Sivero, who is most remembered for his iconic role as a frozen corpse in Goodfellas, is suing the creators of the Simpsons. Sivero’s cause of action is based off of the supposed theft of his one-dimensional stereotype in the 1990 Scorsese classic, which Matt Groening et al turned it into a one-dimensional cartoon character that has since had a speaking role in the Simpsons for a grand total of 15 episodes. In other words it’s another banner day for those of use with a vowel at the end of our last name.

Everybody knows Jimmy Two Times is the only character in that movie worth $50 million, but you don’t see Anthony Powers going around suing people. (Whoa look what I found!)

Previously, Frank Sivero sues a deli over a sandwich.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

My Twitter Digest for 11/09/2014

<CONTENT /> v.5 - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:30
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

NY bar on ethics of cloud computing – again

LLRX - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:08
Nicole Black lauds the the leading edge role taken by the New York State Bar in determining issues related to lawyer use of cloud computing and client confidential data. In two different opinions handed down in the latter half of this year, the New York Bar committee reaffirmed the applicability of the longstanding duty of due diligence when assessing the security of third party service providers, explaining that a lawyer must assess whether the technology offers reasonable protections against disclosure and must also take reasonable precautions when using technology.
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Criminal, privacy implications of drones

LLRX - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 11:24
Nicole Black discusses a recent NJ case that raises significant questions about the future of privacy and the use of drones for surveillance purposes by both private individuals and governmental entities. Cases such as this one involving the discharge of a weapon to destroy a privately owned drone used to surveil a neighbor's property will impact interpretations of privacy laws in New Jersey, New York and around the country as well.
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

8 Legal Tech CEOs Talk About Their Work

slaw - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 09:03

Last month CodeX hosted a “video demo event” called EVOLVE LAW. CEOs from eBrevia, Casetext, Traklight, LawGives, Ravel Law, Wizdocs, Hire an Esquire and ClearAccess IP were invited to talk about the “nuts and bolts of starting a legal tech business, funding experience, marketing and sales strategies and brief video demos of their products.” The session is almost two hours long so I thought I’d break it down and give you a chance to jump into the video where it might interest you most. However, if you have the time I encourage you to watch all of this illuminating discussion.

Roland Vogl, Executive Director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology (LST) and a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, hosted this event featuring eight legal tech innovators sharing their thoughts on trends in the industry and their experiences creating a legal tech businesses.

Owen Byrd, Chief Evangelist & General Counsel of Lex Machina, started things off by talking about the growth of Lex Machina. He touched on the alliances developed between the computer science department and the law school at Stanford and the potential business opportunities available for applying legal analytics and informatics, resulting in what he calls “money ball for lawyers.”

Each of the legal tech CEOs then provided some introductory remarks about each of their companies followed by a short video demonstration of their products.

I’ve provided some very rough notes from their introductions below.

Ned Gannon, eBrevia :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • due diligence in mergers and acquisitions, extract and summarize key provisions in target companies, contracts, employment agreements, leases, etc.
  • usually done by a large team of junior associates, time consuming, expensive and inaccurate
  • grew out of sponsored research at Columbia

Jake Heller, Casetext :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • lawyers can read cases, statutes and regulations annotated by the legal community
  • lawyers spend 30% of their time doing legal research
  • it’s not just reading but providing context
  • large players have huge teams trying to provide this service and results are not necessarily of high quality
  • take all public legal knowledge, including judges, law firms, academic blogs, etc. and integrate it into the data where you do your legal research
  • private networks in a large law firm can provide better access to lawyers in your firm

Tony Lai, LawGives :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • four out of five5 lower income households who need legal help don’t get it at all
  • how to match up lawyers with people who need them; build communities to find and do the rewarding work that they want to do
  • millennial lawyers looking for a different way to practice, rewarding and purposeful work; senior lawyers concerned that they were only hitting the tip of the iceberg through their volunteer and pro bono work, how can they pass on their wisdom and experience

Daniel Lewis, Ravel Law :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • legal research and analytics platform
  • discovered, when returning to law school, legal research tools hadn’t changed much in 10-15 years
  • met with computer science, data visualization, analytics
  • difficult to contextualize the vast amount of legal information
  • instead of doing legal research, could do higher value lawyering, writing and crafting legal arguments
  • identify key material faster, understand why it’s important and have data driven insights in how to use it
  • machine learning, data visualization, natural language processing

Ben Longoria, Wizdocs :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • mergers and acquisitions, manually reviewing thousands of agreements, creating issues lists, disclosure schedules, etc.
  • must be a better way?; leverage technology to automate these manual processes
  • isn’t it great that lawyers are inefficient, i.e. billable hours?; clients more savvy and demand better service
  • attorneys should not be doing “administrative” work
  • automates the management of manual work creating valuable reports

Julia Shapiro, Hire an Esquire :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • commercial litigation, contract attorney automating staffing processes

Nicole Shanahan, Clear Access IP :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • patent docketing system
  • law firms, not a lot of interest in technology
  • why can’t it be easy like that?”, e.g. Facebook
  • reduced manual labour to focus on more meaningful work; liberate data

Mary Juetten, Traklight :: introductory remarks :: video demo

  • protecting/tracking intellectual property of entrepreneurs
  • analytical tool to identify and understand IP rights
  • inadvertently created a client intake platform for attorneys

Before each of the video demos each the panelists were asked to speak briefly about who they perceive to be their competitors. Tony Lai preferred to call them “compatriots” rather than competitors. Ben Longoria says, “The competitors are the lawyers themselves who don’t realize that they need to embrace technology.” Mary Juetten noted that attorneys think that technology is replacing them rather than freeing them to do higher-value work.

Vogl then leads the beginning of a very interesting Q&A session.

The audience was then invited to contribute questions:

This was another great CodeX session giving us some great insights into the emerging legal technology environment.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs