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The Practice of Law

The Golden Rule

There are two rules which young lawyers have to learn to be successful. Strangely enough they do not learn either of these rules in law school.

Luckily, they have me to fill in this gap in their education.

Categories
The Practice of Law

The Power of Walking Away

Herb Cohen, the author of ‘You can Negotiate Anything’ and once labelled ‘the world’s best negotiator’ tells a story about negotiating the purchase of his own house. Apparently, his family was so intent on acquiring this particular home that he feared being divorced and having his children never speak to him again if the deal did not close. As Herb told the story, since walking away from the deal was not an option, he was unable to negotiate even a nickel off the purchase price.

Categories
The Practice of Law

Leverage

Early in my career, I represented a franchisor of retail bakeries. As is commonly done, my client leased premises from commercial landlords and subleased them to its franchisees.

Since my client was not particularly good at what they did, they frequently made mistakes. On one occasion they missed the deadline to give notice to renew a lease.

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The Practice of Law

The Big Picture

At one stage of my career I did a great deal of work for a franchisor of bakeries. If the truth be known, my client was not exceptionally good at the franchisee selection process. The franchisee qualification process consisted of providing evidence of a bank account and a heartbeat.

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The Practice of Law

Professional Negligence 101

Once upon a time, one of my litigation partners had a field day suing a very senior partner of a reputable law firm in the Toronto area. I will call that defendant “Max.”

The crux of the matter was that our client, who I will call Sue (appropriately, because that is what she ended up doing to Max) was involved in the sale of some shares of a corporation to the other shareholder. When Sue did not get paid, she came to see if we could do anything about it. When my partner asked Sue whether she was represented by counsel in the sale transaction, she identified Max as being her lawyer.

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The Practice of Law

Speaking Goodly

Many years ago, someone who I was related to was arrested on a relatively minor charge, but one which had potentially devastating consequences for his professional reputation and career development. Having access to money, he hired the late great criminal defense lawyer, Austin Cooper to defend him. That is how I found myself sitting through the only criminal trial that I have ever seen which was not on television or in a movie.

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The Practice of Law Uncategorized

A Business Lawyer’s Take on Criminal Lawyers

I practiced business law for 40 years. I never knew much about criminal law. In fact, I knew so little about the subject that I used to tell my clients that if they got arrested, they probably should not use their one phone call to call me because all that I could do for them in their hour of need would be to incorporate a company.

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The Practice of Law

Why Can’t You Make My Open-Heart Surgery Shorter?

At my first firm, Eric was a client lawyer. He was not much for reading legal documents, but he knew how he wanted them to look, and that was short.

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The Practice of Law

Let’s Pretend that the Closing Date is Realistic

My many years of practice taught me that clients usually want to close their transactions quickly. 

You would think that they would want to close when everyone involved has had the time to do the job properly, but that does not seem to be the case.  Apparently, ‘quickly’ is when deals have to close.  Now, in fairness, there is often a good reason to close a deal quickly. A business reason, or a tax reason, perhaps.  But, more often than not, the desire to close the deal quickly seems to constitute an independent, over-reaching, crucial goal.

Categories
The Practice of Law

David and Goliath in the Legal Profession

In my early years of practice, I received a phone call from a friend who practiced union side labour law.  He had a question about Civil Law and having recently graduated from McGill with a Civil Law degree in addition to my Common Law Degree, I was able to answer his question.  He appreciated my help.  Or so he said.