The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

Article

Meet the new CBA president

By Kim Covert August 21, 2013 21 August 2013

Meet the new CBA president

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Technology and the future of the legal profession

By Kim Covert August 20, 2013 20 August 2013

Technology has been called one of the major forces behind the changes affecting the legal profession but the dangers of relying on it exclusively became – ironically – apparent during a professional development session on innovation and the future of the legal profession at the CBA Legal Conference in Saskatoon.

The Riverview Law presenter’s YouTube ad kept buffering instead of playing; the Cognition LLP presentation wouldn’t load; and Michelle Crosby of Wevorce in the U.S., who was participating via Skype after missing a flight, kept going offline. Apparently it was a bandwidth problem, but it underscored two things: change isn’t easy; and you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, no matter how innovative.

During her presentation, Crosby led a little exercise in which she asked the session participants to imagine an issue (for anyone who couldn’t think of something, she suggested the fact that lawyers on average first interrupt clients less than 11 seconds into a first meeting), then imagine an action that they’d take to resolve it. One lawyer said the interruption thing was an issue for her, and to resolve it she’d use the timer on her phone to set a minimum amount of time for the client to speak before she could speak.

Not all of the problems – or solutions were technological in nature.

Another lawyer, a sole practitioner, said not being able to take holidays was a chronic problem. Her solution would be to gather together a consortium of sole practitioners to discuss the problem. Perhaps a solution could be agreeing to cover for each other under certain circumstances.

Technology both creates and solves problems in the legal profession. The session was a case in point for intelligent integration into one’s work without making it the be-all and end-all.

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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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