The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Beverley Spencer

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Lights, camera, action!

By Beverley Spencer January 31, 2013 31 January 2013

Lawyers are not exactly famous for being cutting-edge innovators or for quickly adapting to change for that matter. As legal futurist Richard Susskind jokes, there’s a reason you don’t find many lawyers on Twitter: They’re still waiting for it to take off.
 
This issue features five examples of practitioners who put paid to the idea that lawyers have trouble adapting, whether it’s to new technology or to a new way of doing business. These experienced entertainment lawyers have witnessed a sea change in the industry and had to adapt their practices accordingly. And they’re thriving.
 
The role of lawyers in the entertainment industry was radically redefined as new technology ranging from iPads to e-books revolutionized how the world consumes entertainment. The client base is different, the law is advancing in leaps and bounds and the deals are more complicated than ever.
 
Major label deals are being overtaken by a greater variety of creative smaller deals and non-traditional players are entering the field as everyone scrambles for new ways to monetize products. Intellectual property law is barely keeping pace with new developments.
 
Some of the changes have made work more efficient — Dean Chenoy of Heenan Blaikie says that 15 years ago, it would have taken him several days to accomplish what he does today in just one. On the other hand, the pace is faster; clients want answers right away — sometimes within the hour.
 
Does any of this sound familiar? It should. Not every practice area has seen this much change, but there are common themes that will resonate with most practitioners: technology is redefining both industry and service delivery; client demands are ramping up; and there is no such thing as coasting.
 
Fortunately, there are a lot of examples in the profession of how to adapt. And how to thrive at the same time.
 
Send your comments to comments@nationalmagazine.ca.

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Blog

The CBA intervenes in McKercher, ctd

By Beverley Spencer January 24, 2013 24 January 2013

As a follow-up to our earlier post, you'll find the CBA's factum here. And if you want to listen in on the hearing, here's a link to the live webcast (accessible until around 11:30).

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Blog

The CBA intervenes in McKercher before the Supreme Court

By Beverley Spencer January 24, 2013 24 January 2013

The CBA is at the Supreme Court of Canada today advocating for conflict of interest rules that don’t deny Canadians choice of legal representation when there is no need to do so.

The association is intervening in the case of CN v. McKercher LLP and Wallace, arguing that the scope of the duty to avoid conflicts of interest does not categorically prohibit acting directly adverse to the immediate interests of a current client.

Malcolm Mercer, Eric Block and Brendan Brammall of McCarthy T├ętrault LLP acted as counsel for CBA on a pro bono basis. Malcolm Mercer explains the association’s position and the implications of the case for access to justice.

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Article

Q&A: Paul Lippe

By Beverley Spencer December 19, 2012 19 December 2012

Q&A: Paul Lippe

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A season of epic reinvention

By Beverley Spencer December 4, 2012 4 December 2012

The legal profession is changing. But is the future as dire as some fear? There is plenty of evidence that there is reason for optimism and opportunity for renewal.

The repercussions of the 2008 financial crisis continue to reverberate around the globe. But something interesting is emerging: a new sharing economy. As Leo Singer writes in this issue, cash-strapped young people shut out of the traditional economy are learning to create wealth by other means, including the use of time banks to exchange skills — a new twist on the ancient practice of bartering. There’s a move to community ownership, and people without access to traditional sources of capital are using social networks to crowdfund projects ranging from theatre shows to co-working office space.

But our laws and legal practices are out of sync with the new realities of the sharing economy. Janet Orsi, a California lawyer who advises social enterprises with unconventional needs, observes that “the reality of most activities in the sharing economy is that they don’t fit into traditional legal boxes and categories.” She believes that transactional lawyers are needed en masse to aid in an “epic reinvention” of our economic system.

Meanwhile, a new generation of lawyers is finding meaning working to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. Michael Dempster spoke to Amanda Dodge, winner of the CBA’s inaugural Legal Aid Leader Award. She is the supervising lawyer at Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City where last year more than 100 students served nearly 700 clients and learned a powerful lesson in the roots of inequality.

There will always be a place for lawyers motivated by a passion for change in a world where so much work still needs to be done. That’s a reason for optimism as we enter the season of hope and goodwill.

From everyone here at National, best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous new year.

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