Friday, March 30, 2007

Court OKs fees, residential school deal can proceed

Looks like Tony Merchant will get his bucks. Does anybody know whether lawyers are still picking up clients for this settlement? Or has that phase already passed?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dalhousie Law School is OLD!

Here's a tidbit for you : "Dalhousie is the oldest university-affiliated common law school in the British Commonwealth."

That's the claim on the Dalhousie Law School index page of their website. Who knew!

Defining Your Practice - Your Area of Law

One year ago, definitely two years ago, and unequivically three years ago, I never would have thought of myself practicing anything but corporate legal work. Litigation? Family Law? Dependent Adult Law? No way. Absolutely no way.

But, now law school has come and gone, the articling year has come and gone, and nearly a year into my practice, I am now practicing not only corporate stuff; I am also practicing real estate, wills and estates, litigation (some of it class action stuff), family law, and dependant adult stuff. It just goes to show that you just shouldn't peg yourself too early on in your legal career. Let things steep for a while. The stuff that you don't like will settle down to the bottom of the barrel, and the stuff you like will rise to the top. You will naturally move towards the work, the clients, and the outcomes that you want to spend your time on. Don't try to go against the grain.
I never would have thought (OK, I admit I had some far off John Grisham inspired fantasies) that I would like courtroom lawyering. But, I am learning that I really quite like it. I love the collegiality with the other members of the bar, and the judiciary. I love bantering with the court clerks.

So far, I enjoy mixing a solicitor and a barrister practice. It suits me well, and keeps things interesting. As my law firm grows, I can start pushing work that doesn't really suit me to others in the firm -- stuff that they might really like. Eventually, I will find my niches and be even happier than I am today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, copyright 2007

Unhappy Birthday is a grassroots project run by citizens who are outraged by rampant copyright infringement in today's society — particularly in relation to the song Happy Birthday. It's a funny read!

Did you know Happy Birthday is copyrighted and the copyright is currently owned and actively enforced by Time Warner?

Did you know that if you sing any copyrighted song: a place open to the public
...or among a substantial number of people who are not family or friends
You are involved in a public performance of that work?

Did you know an unauthorized public performance is a form of copyright infringement?

With four children now, I am going to break the law more and more each year!

Gilligan's Island and the Law

Today, I was daydreaming while drafting a Statement of Claim for Divorce, and remembered sitting in a law class (can't remember which one) in my first year of law school, surfing the web. I had come across this article called "Legal Tales from Gilligan's Island". It is a fascinating essay by Robert M. Jarvis (Professor of Law, Nova Southeastern University. B.A., Northwestern University; J.D., University of Pennsylvania; LL.M., New York University) which seeks to shed some light on the jurisprudence of Gilligan's Island.

I used to absolutely love to watch this show, and still enjoy seeing a re-run if one ever comes on (although I haven't seen one in two years, as we unplugged our TV two years ago).

In any case, if you are in the midst of a boring law class, or looking for some relief from your law job, shoot over to the essay and have a read. You won't be dissapointed.

Please post your comments about the essay here, as I would be delighted to hear your response to the essay.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Race for the Top

There is a promising new article at The Gazzette about law student / law firm recruiting.

"A thousand or so ambitious law graduates. Two dozen big law firms. A couple of hundred high-paying jobs.

These are the vital statistics for an annual event now under way - the race for a place at one of Montreal's top law offices."

Apparently it is a multi-part article, with subsequent columns coming out looking at the recruiting madness that occurs in Quebec each year, with students trying to find jobs, and then law firms trying to attract the cream of the crop.

"In stories this week and next, we look at the dance from both sides. This week it's from the students' perspective: what it takes to make the right impression on a law firm, and the risks and rewards - to the ego, report card and wallet - that participating in the recruitment process presents.

Next week, the tables turn as the firms compete for the best and brightest students to make their recruitment spending pay off. At whose office will they choose to spend their 70-hour weeks?"

I'll provide updates when the new articles appear. I am really interested to see what they say.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Help Josh go to Law School

Here's a neat idea - sponsor a kid to go to law school for a 10 day trial run. That's the deal for a 14 year old British student who says "It's the chance of a lifetime and I've wanted to be a lawyer for as long a I can remember, maybe because I like arguing!"

I think it would be a really great thing if law schools themselves would sponsor law school demos. I have heard of programs where law students will go to high schools or junior highs and put on mock trials. But, I think it would be pretty cool if I had gotten the chance to sit in on some real law school classes. It would have really helped to guide my path towards the law. I probably would have become a lawyer a lot sooner than I did. Then again, I might have been really put off by the intensity of the experience. Worse, I may have experienced that awful property professor that I had in my first year of law school. That would have turned me off of post-secondary school altogether!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Show me the Money!

Check this out! One family puts up $25,000,000.00 for Harvard Law School. I know a few Canadian Law School deans who would love to have similar headlines:

University of Alberta Faculty of Law receives $15 million from famous author alumni.


University of Victoria Faculty of Law receives juicy $6 million from former kayak champion, LLB alumni 1986!

That would be pretty cool.

Actually, I read in my alumni magazine recently that some big hotshot cut a cheque for mega bucks for the U of A Faculty of Law. I hope they buy something more exciting and useful than the plasma screen T.V. in the entryway, which they bought with the differential tuition cash grab from a few years ago.

Delay in Publication

The 2nd Edition of So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? has been delayed somewhat by the publisher. We expect it to be available by May, 2007. It has taken some extra time to gather the new information and corroborate its accuracy. As well, there is lots of new information, so that has taken longer to sort through with editing, etc. It will be really good though, and is worth the wait. In the meantime, you will still find the First Edition very useful and well worth the $15.

For those of you who have purchased the book - thank you. I really appreciate your support. I also really appreciate the positive feedback that some of you have left at, and Thank you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hooray for Mooters across Canada!

I came across this article recently. It made me happy to see some media recognition for the winners of the Gale Cup moot. I had a good friend who competed in a bilingual moot (Gale Cup is also bilingual) and they said that it was really hard. I competed in the National Aboriginal Moot, which was a lot different than most of the moot formats, in that it was non-confrontational, but rather more collective or collaborative. It was definitely a highlight of my law school experience.

Residential School Case Aftermath

There's a fairly good (although somewhat biased) article on the controversy surrounding contingency based lawyer fees for the Canadian Residential School case here. If you are interested, there are quite a few articles on the subject, and especially on Mr. Tony Merchant and the Merchant Law Group. Tony and his firm stand to make the most out of the deal, and that has left a lot of Native people, as well as other lawyers and citizens in general pretty upset.

Friday, March 16, 2007

New Lawyer for Letourneau Eden LLP

We just hired a new lawyer for our firm. I am very excited about this. It is my goal to one day have the largest firm in the area I live in. I am now one step closer to this reality! It's great to set goals like this. You just never know what might happen. I have a habit of asking unreasonable requests of others (it often results in magical happenings), so why not ask unreasonable things of yourself from time to time.

Leading Partner

My wife gave me a great idea the other day. She said you really shouldn't try to be a Managing Partner for your law firm. You should try to be a Leading Partner. It was a small side comment on her behalf, but it has sent my mind on fire in many ways, both for my own practice/firm, but also for other law firms. Some of the major firms have CEO's, from my understanding, but I would venture to say that most firms have simply a managing partner, which is changed on a rotating basis.

I really like the idea of a business leader at a law firm, not unlike the President of a Corporation. Lawyers need real leaders to lead them towards success. A Leading Partner would not get himself dirty in the day-to-day operations. They would employ an office manager, who could be a lawyer or non-lawyer to do this. The Leading Partner would focus on business development, strategic partnerships, firm strategy, both growth and maintenance. Things like that.

For us smaller firms, I like the idea of taking on more of a leadership role - leading by example, and strategizing for future growth. This is really more my cup of tea when compared to administrative management. I hope one day to be able to lean more towards the leadership than the management, but it may take a while to make the complete transformation. In the meantime, I think it would be very healthy to at least take on more of a leadership mindset, and put more of my brainpower towards building the business, encouraging strong lawyers in the firm, and making sure that everyone is as happy as they can be in their jobs.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Part-time Law Studies

I received an email inquiry from a mother who wants to attend law school in Canada, but would like to do so on a part-time basis. She was afraid that this might not be possible.

This is a very possible and feasible option for some who attend law school in Canada. I had a friend who had two children while attending law school, and chose to reduce her last two years to a part-time schedule. It worked out great for her. She did very well in her classes, became the Editor-in-Chief of the law review, and managed her family time very well, considering. Although it took her a while longer than some of us, she ended up at the same destination.

The options for a part-time schedule were reduced once she got to the articling year, where part-time work just doesn't exist. Very few, if any, law firms would be open to this type of schedule, at least at the beginning. And, I believe that this would go against the requirements of the law society articling requirements.

But, by my friend's articling year, she had already spent a few years giving lots of time to her new children, and they were perhaps at an age where out-of-home childcare was a viable option.

So, part-time law school, no problemo.