Guetter bien le juge / Eyes on the judge!

Avez-vous 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.

Common Sense and the Practice of Law

When someone says, “It’s only common sense,” and you disagree, what does it mean?  What strategies are available for refuting the inalienable truth?  Click here or on the graphic to the right, to read the November 2012 installment of Canadian Lawyer’s Accidental Mentor. Vous hésitez de contradire vos aînés?  Hélas, il faut d’abord considérer la fondation de leur ‘sagesse’ en ce qui concerne les vérités inaliénables.  Cliquez ici, et lisez la suite dans l’article du mois dans Accidental Mentor de Canadian Lawyer.   Terms of use / Mentions légales

Reading Insurance Law – Of Emperors and Clothes

We lawyers can sometimes adopt a herd mentality.  A senior lawyer or judge says something.  You go back and read the case.  You may be reluctant to voice your difference.  That’s how we, as a profession, can just get things wrong.  The example here comes from insurance law, but you can apply it to your area of expertise.

Axing Ideas: What Lawyers Can Learn from Writers

In this month’s Accidental Mentor column in Canadian Lawyer, learn to apply to your law practice what the best writers have been teaching for years: ‘kill your darlings.’ Dans l’article prochain de l’Accidental Mentor dans Canadian Lawyer, profitez de la leçon principale des écrivains professionnels: si vous faites naître une bonne idée, prenez la hache dans vos mains! Terms of use / Mentions légales

Winning at a meeting

Clients hire lawyers to fight their battles, but ultimately they want you to show them the peace, and to take them there. Unfortunately, we teach our lawyers to be technical wizards but leave it to chance whether they learn the law’s most basic skill: how to mobilize a gathering of people.  In 2012, winning does not mean getting your way but persuading people in an organized assembly to do what you envision they should be doing. Whether it’s an internal law firm committee, or a hearing in the law courts, this month’s Canadian Lawyer column, The Accidental Mentor, talks about three questions you…

Lawyers and their telephones

You can distinguish generations of lawyers from their relationship with the telephone. (le sommaire français suit) I’m not talking about “recreational” use.  That phone-hugging lout, weaving back and forth in front of you through the breakfast cereals aisle at the supermarket, has shortened your life by the time you had to listen to him.  Sadly, public places have become mental extensions of people’s living rooms.  Compared to its omnipresence in the world outside, the decline of telephony in the law office is more subtle and more important to your career. The desktop telephone reached its apogee as professional tool  in…

Intellect, bad behaviour and the professional brain

Historically, being smart in competitive endeavours went hand in hand with ruthlessness.  So, too, the law has sometimes countenanced anti-social traits and even coveted possessors of the killer instinct.  As law becomes a more socially relevant, more collaborative pursuit, the aggressive lawyer needs to change, to remain smart.  This sea change is, in part, behind the upheaval in law over civility.  After the storm, there is hope. Read this month’s posting in the Accidental Mentor, for more about the future of bully-savants. Historiquement, être intelligent dans la compétition associait avec la cruauté. Donc, aussi, les avocats ont parfois toléré des traits…

See how the active voice wins you your case

Today, I read a lawyer’s factum. By the third paragraph, I stopped reading it and started to count the sentences written in passive voice. Like the kids in the classroom tallying the number of times the teacher performs a nervous tic, my brain switched off and looked for something else to do.  The writing style alone induced this autonomic response. The writer of the factum lost my attention simply by abusing the word “to be” in various tenses followed by a past participle. After my indulgence in pedantry, I had to re-read it and struggle to understand what it said.…

Get your job application “proofed”

Lawyers are lousy at marketing themselves to other lawyers.  Just put out an ad for hiring a new lawyer and the proof of this statement, in the form of badly written applications, will come streaming in. This week, I read a job application from an LL.B. graduate from England and Wales. It started “Hello,”  Out sputtered a few lines of marketing jargon intended to impress the reader.  The candidate then claimed to be familiar with the Canadian legal system.  He had not bothered to find out his degree – an undergraduate LL.B. – does not qualify him to practice law…

Unpacking the legalities of the “Three Little Pigs”

Hidden behind The Guardian‘s provocative “Three Little Pigs” ad is a subtext on the role of public opinion on the judicial process. (la version française suit) It starts, of course, where the children’s story ended.  The Big Bad Wolf was boiled alive, but then the layers of the story unwrap into a fractured tale of a “just” crime, and perhaps more than one.