The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

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Brand ‘lawyer’: Stability, reliability

By Kim Covert August 20, 2013 20 August 2013

Brand is not a dirty word – and lawyers have one.

One of the things regulators bring to the table is brand protection, says Tim McGee, CEO and ED of the Law Society of British Columbia.

As a result of the regulators’ work, the public can continue to have confidence in lawyers – a stable, reliable, transparent regulator is important to the brand.

And that sort of brand stability is important in an atmosphere of rapid change, whether that change be in terms of technology, economy, business or society.

McGee was part of a panel speaking to in-house lawyers at the CBA Legal Conference in Saskatoon on Monday, along with Natalie Des Rosiers. and Heather Innes, Counsel at GM Canada.

Most regulators are viewed as rocks which can’t be moved, says McGee. With the caveat that the key characteristics of honesty, competency and avoidance of conflict are non-negotiable, he says there is a variety of ways that regulators can change.

“We all have a stake in becoming flexible, nimble and responsive” to make sure opportunities are made the most of, says McGee.

Given the winds of change that are buffetting the profession, “I think it is very important that we work very closely with both regulators and educators so that we can respond in a timely way to what’s happening,” Heather Innes added.

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Diversity, inclusion and intelligence

By Kim Covert August 19, 2013 19 August 2013

Diversity is who’s in the workplace. Inclusion is what you do there. And making a conscious effort at both makes you smarter.

The more comfortable you are with differences, the faster you solve problems – in fact, studies show that it makes you smarter. The average IQ has risen 20 points in 20 years, but mostly in urban areas, where the population is more diverse, says Dr. Arin Reeves, author of The Next IQ and president of Chicago-based Nextions.

But diversity doesn’t equal inclusion – diversity is about differences between people in the workplace; inclusion is about how those differences are treated.

And the legal profession is one of the least diverse professions, no matter what country you’re in.
Diversity – and more importantly, inclusion – results in sustained excellence and higher rates of collaboration, says Reeves. And part of that is because smart people who value diversity will be attracted to an inclusive workplace.

“The opposite of inclusive is not exclusive, it is just incomplete,” says Reeves. Real inclusion is about seeking out differences, seeing different people as peers, as equals, as assets.

So how smart is your workplace?

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Access to justice is your issue too

By Kim Covert August 18, 2013 18 August 2013

It’s not them, it’s us.

Government is a key player in the justice system, which means it’s a big component – though by no means the only one – of access to justice. But there seems to be a certain lack of political will to deal with what’s been called the “abysmal” state of access to justice in Canada.

And part of that, suggests John Sims, Q.C., a member of the CBA’s Access to Justice Committee and its Envisioning Equal Justice Initiative, is that most Canadians see access as an issue for someone else.

(More after the jump)

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Measuring the success of Futures

By Kim Covert August 17, 2013 17 August 2013

The ultimate comfort you can offer human beings – unless those human beings are spending a solitary evening in a creepy old house, or have an irrational fear of aliens – is to tell them that they are not alone.

That was a comfort that CBA Vice-President Fred Headon offered to lawyers assembled Saturday afternoon at the CBA Legal Conference Council session – you are not alone. It’s not just you: every profession is struggling to deal with the challenges presented by a changing economic and global environment, and innovative upstarts that are usurping their hold on a profession.
 
The union movement, for example, has been struggling, particularly in the United States, and is seen to be on the ropes. But legal defence funds, which exist to help workers with legal questions, are flourishing – because they’ve found another way to serve people in a way that resonates with them.
 
Likewise, the demise of the once-mighty Washington Post can be linked to the rise of Politico.com, Headon said.
 
The analogies are striking – there are plenty of other professions struggling in the same way as the legal profession. The question is what the legal profession will do about it. You can’t order people to be innovative, Headon says. That’s not how it works. But what you can do is provide them with the tools and information about the problems that they need in order to find creative solutions.
 
(More after the jump)

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Get ready for the CBA Legal Conference

By Kim Covert August 16, 2013 16 August 2013

Issues critical to the future of the legal profession will be at the forefront of this year’s CBA Legal Conference in sunny Saskatoon.

Following on the heels of a critically acclaimed summit in Vancouver in April, the Envisioning Equal Justice initiative will present a summary report of its findings to Council on Sunday. Dr. Melina Buckley, Chair of the Access to Justice Committee, will give a TED talk on Tuesday at the closing luncheon, which will be live-streamed for members on CBA.org.

The Future of the Legal Profession Initiative, which, like the Equal Justice initiative, was launched at the 2012 CLC, will present a professional development panel looking at the need to find non-traditional ways of practising law – a recurring theme in the work it has carried out so far.

From Friday, Aug. 16, to Tuesday, Aug. 20, CBA and National magazine staff will be providing updates on what’s happening in Council meetings, and in professional development sessions. We’ll also be your eyes and ears for the Dialogue with the Justice Minister, the speech from Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, the opening address from CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge, and other keynote speakers. Keep an eye on CBA.org and on nationalmagazine.ca, and follow the #CLC2012, #CBAFutures and #A2J hashtags on Twitter for up-to-the minute details.

We’re looking forward to listening to the speakers and hearing the debates over resolutions that range from promoting harm-reduction drug policies to ensuring adequate pension coverage for Canadians; as well as to sitting in on what promise to be some very interesting PD sessions.

Come by the National booth while you’re in Saskatoon, and say hi!

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