Law Students and Young Lawyers

You Need a Shrink

For years I delegated work to Mindy, who was very competent, productive, generous, and warm.

I never knew when I walked into Mindy’s office to ask her to do something whether she would be her usual lovable self or would bite my head off.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

Keep it Simple, Start With the Statute, Stupid

You may be familiar with the “KISS Principle” attributed to one Kelly Johnson,  a renowned aeronautical engineer at Lockheed Martin.

It turns out that the concept of “Keep It Simple, Stupid” applies whether you are designing aircraft or solving legal issues.

Client Development

Being Brilliant is Over-Rated

Way back before the cell phone, we had a telephone in our reception area for clients to use. At the same time, my doctor had a sign in his reception area advising patients that the doctor’s phone was for his staff’s use and clients could use a payphone in the lobby. The difference? We lawyers had to market ourselves to find clients and then convince them to pay our bills. My doctor worked under a government health care system and did not have to worry about either of those things.

Law Firm Management

Aren’t Non-Equity Partners Really Just Glorified Associates?

With a nod to the danger of generalizing, I would have to say that as a group, I like non-equity partners (“NEPs”) just as much, if not better, than I like equity partners. They are often people who are primarily interested in practicing law and doing well by their clients, as opposed to promoting themselves and reaching the top of the earnings heap.

On the other hand, I don’t think much of the whole concept of non-equity partnership.


Could Someone Please Pay Me Off Already?

I have been railing against the establishment in the legal profession for going on four years already. You would think that by now I would have annoyed at least a few well-established lawyers with deep pockets.

It seems to me that by this time someone would have offered to pay me at least six figures to abandon my principles, put down my metaphorical pen, and shut up.

Legal Tech

Selling Software to Teckified Companies

Yes, I made up the word “teckified” so I suppose that I have to make up a definition as well. It means “to use technology efficiently, including having databases which talk to each other, or better yet, a single database.”

If you are in the medical profession or the legal profession, you are likely not teckified. Teck-afraid perhaps, but probably not teckified.

Whether or not you are teckified matters. Allow me to explain.

The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

There Is Enough Work For Everybody

Someone once told me that if your family is poor when you are twelve years old, then no matter how much financial success you have, you will always be fearful that you might lose it all. On the other hand, the theory goes that if your family was rich when you were twelve years old, then no matter how badly you are doing at any moment, you will likely believe that financial success is around the corner.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

I’ll Tell You What He Didn’t Do

Those of you who read my stuff from time to time know that when I retired, I moved to the country, bought a pick-up truck, and started listening to country music. One song I like is by Carly Pearce, and it has the following lyrics:

Law Students and Young Lawyers

Career Quiz for Law Students and Young Lawyers

So you went to Law School and participated in the legal clinic at the Fasken Building at University of Toronto or won a scholarship from Davies at Osgoode Hall.  Somehow you were given the impression by your Law School experience that if you did not get yourself hired by a Big Law firm (“BL”), you  would be a second-rate lawyer.

Although critical thinkers at Law School should have warned you about the Golden Rule, (“he who has the gold makes the rules”) and its corollary (“follow the money to find the guilty,”) you may have missed that lesson and ended up believing that bigger is better.

Legal Tech

What is the Left Hand Doing?

Ogilvy, Cope, Porteous, Montgomery, Renault, Clarke & Kirkpatrick was the first law firm that I worked for. It is now known as Norton Rose Fulbright.  The law firm where I spent most of my career was once called Pallett, Valo, Barsky, Kuzmarov & Keel. It is now Pallett Valo LLP.

What is with all of the name shortening? It has something to do with branding. The idea is to project to clients that the firm is a single entity, and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

To a large extent it just ain’t so. Law firms are comprised of individual lawyers, often tenuously held together for the moment because their self-interests happen to align. One of the corollaries of this truth is that communication within a law firm is not always stellar. And when internal communication suffers, mistakes happen and opportunities are missed.

For example, the real estate department handles the sale of a house but does not communicate the new address to the corporate department. The house was the residence address of a director and the registered office address of a corporation. Nobody updates the filings. The director whose house was sold does not receive important correspondence. Bad things happen. The client is unamused.

The client wants to know why the law firm did not update its records when it handled the damn real estate transaction. Cue unhappy clients, negligence claims and other bad stuff.

Or perhaps poor communication results in lost opportunities to impress clients.  Let’s take the example of a firm which drafts wills. It starts each new client engagement by sending an information questionnaire. If the request is made of a long-standing client, the client might be impressed if the questionnaire is pre-populated with information from the real estate department about which properties the client owns and from the corporate department about the companies in which the client own shares.  Perhaps the client has invested in mortgages and that information can also be pre-populated. Or maybe the client is recently divorced (the firm having handled the domestic reorganization) and the questionnaire asks the appropriate questions for that situation.

But in many law firms this type of communication is not going to happen, and the client will be left with the impression that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing at their lawyer’s office.

What if the law firm’s information technology systems talked to each other? How many problems would that solve, and what types of opportunities for better client service would that present? Doesn’t it seem kind of obvious that this is the direction in which legal tech should be headed?

Appara thinks so.  Check out information about their new platform here: