An iTunes for law? Think the unthinkable retail experience.

As shoppers file past the packaged meat counter at a Korean Tesco’s built into a subway platform, brings the groceries to commuters, then delivers them to their homes.  The virtual grocery, sort of like iTunes for those who want the record store browsing experience, might give us a glimpse of the law firm of the future.

Never has the market for legal services been so mismatched.  The courts, especially in family law, are bursting at the seams with pro se litigants.  Firms, on the other hand, resist cutting back on essentials like supper club memberships for partners.  The reality is that there are not enough lawyers to go round, and not enough blue chip clients to keep some lawyers in the lifestyle to which they were once accustomed.

In my penultimate Accidental Mentor column for the Canadian LawyerI suggest the chasm in access to justice will cause us to develop a fundamentally new model for delivery of legal services.  What does this old world need?  Nothing less than a supermarket of law.

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Dans un supermarché coréen Tesco, les baladeurs dans la station de métro peuvent choisir leur produits parmi les stockages qui ne videra jamais: car les achats vont être versés à partir d’un entrepôt central.  Est-ce que cela peut inspirer le cabinet d’avocats du futur?

Le marché des services juridiques n’a jamais été si basculé.  Devant les tribunaux, surtout en droit de la famille, les auto-représentants sont nombreux.  Chez les grands cabinets, pourtant, l’espoir de la recherche des clients payants revendique le renouvellement des adhésions aux clubs exclusifs.  À dire la vérité, il n’y a pas assez d’avocats, et pas assez de clients qui peuvent payer des bons frais.

Dans ma pénultième article du Accidental Mentor pour le Canadian Lawyer, je propose que le problème de l’accès à la justice va nous forcer the contempler une façon entièrement radicale pour l’offre des services juridiques.  Ce dont on a besoin?  Rien de plus remarquable qu’un supermarché de droit.

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Plain-Language Legal Resources in French Now Just a “Cliquement” Away

Cliquez-justiceDid you know that every Ontario lawyer has an obligation to advise francophone clients of their linguistic rights in the justice system?  It will not be long, in my estimation, before a client brings a complaint or a professional liability suit against a lawyer after defeat in a civil, family or criminal matter because the client was not fully able to express himself or herself as witnesses at trial, or on the basis that a bilingual judge or jury would have decided a case differently.

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Guetter bien le juge / Eyes on the judge! des collègues ou des adversaires qui ne vous écoutent point?  Ils ou elles tombent amoureux ou amoureuses de leur propre parole.  Hélas, durant un colloque au Barreau du haut-Canada, j’ai témoigné une conférencière qui monologuait sans cesse.  Elle ne regardait jamais à l’audience, et ne savait que personne ne suivait ce qu’elle disait depuis dix ou quinze minutes de torture.

(English below)

Imaginez-vous donc, en banc, le ou la juge au tribunal.  L’avocat qui parle à la mitrailleuse, ou qui ne prend aucune pause durant ses discours, peut bien perdre votre attention. Continue reading

Your future in Criminal Law

Twenty-five years from now, historians, criminologists and other observers of criminal law in Canada may very well look back to a 2005 lecture given by Justice Michael Moldaver (now of the Supreme Court of Canada), to the Criminal Lawyers Association.  Will they ask, why did we not see the symptoms of a dying branch of our profession?

(la version française suit)

The important excerpt from the lecture, quoted at the opening of a comprehensive report by the Ontario courts on criminal procedure, pointed to a trial process spiraling out of control.  He repeated his call to action in a 2006 address to the Justice Summit in Toronto.  What Justice Moldaver left out of his clarion call, however, was the future of the criminal defence bar.  Now is the time for a new generation lawyers to chime in.  For most senior lawyers, it may be too late to make a difference.  (Although at least one senior civil litigator I know has returned to law school to obtain training in criminal law.)  For new lawyers, however, the call to service will come sooner than you think.

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Write about law, like a pro

(la version française suit)

In her mind, the request will kill two birds with one stone: clients will know the firm’s members are current about the latest developments in the law, and it’ll be a good opportunity to see if you have what it takes to write reports directly to clients.  Let’s face it, young lawyers are not known for their writing prowess.  Senior lawyers have told me incessantly that new lawyers cannot spell, let alone string two sentences together.  “This is a test!” you have to say to yourself.  And it is.  This is your chance to get noticed – so grab it. Continue reading

The Best Ontario Limitation Period Chart

Limitation periods come and go.

That, in five words, is the problem.  For the general practice lawyer and litigator, limitation periods are the bane of our existence.  In the days when we relied on paper “tickler” systems, compliance often depended on the diligence of the office clerk assigned to keep track of them.  Now with electronic calendars, iPhone or Blackberry alerts, it is pretty much up to each lawyer to ensure limitation periods are brought to your notice in a timely way.  You can have an assistant or clerk set it up, but the negligence suit will name you or your law firm. Continue reading

Keynote Address to ABA YLD Conference

   Lee Akazaki delivered the Keynote Address to ABA YLD Conference, on August 5, 2011.  He talked about the “OF” and “FOR” dichotomy of being a lawyer and a representative professional.  Click ABA YLD Keynote  for the full text.


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