The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Ann Macaulay

The practice

How to deal with practice disruptions

By Ann Macaulay August 3, 2017 3 August 2017

How to deal with practice disruptions

 

Plenty of things can disrupt your law practice, from unanticipated events like sudden illness or a natural disaster, to more expected things, such as pregnancy or moving your firm to a new location. Fortunately, there’s a great deal you can do to minimize the potential fallout. Planning ahead and being organized can go a long way to keep chaos at bay.

“What’s your plan if you’re hit by a bus?” is the first thing to ask yourself, says former lawyer Joanne Clarfield Schaefer of JSchaefer Coaching in Toronto, who had an unexpected medical leave after depression struck her completely out of the blue.

Clarfield Schaefer advises lawyers to create a list in anticipation of not being able to work, including passwords, phone numbers and names of clients, as well as the key people in your firm. If you can’t communicate and can’t make it in to the office, there should be someone available who knows everything about your practice, she adds. She recommends having what she calls an “emergency ghost,” someone “who you trust with your files and your clients so you can call on them readily to step in if you’re completely incapacitated.” That person should have your password so they can figure things out simply by sitting down and accessing your files.

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The Practice

Got stress? What to do before the burnout hits

By Ann Macaulay July 7, 2017 7 July 2017

Got stress? What to do before the burnout hits

 

Many young lawyers struggle with high levels of stress and often leave the practice of law altogether because of it. Conflict, long hours, demanding clients, competition and the constant pressure to be perfect can be stressful for even the toughest, most experienced lawyers.

Fortunately, there are many ways to cope before burnout hits. Most people typically start with the basics to fight stress: exercise, eat and sleep properly, take vacations, meditate, practise mindfulness and don’t isolate yourself from others. But there’s even more that can be done.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, says Gary Mitchell, CEO and founder of On Trac Coach in Vancouver. “Don’t try and do it on your own. You may think you’re the smartest person in the room but often you’re not because other people have other skills. Surround yourself with those other people.”

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Anti-corruption

Paying bribes doesn't pay

By Ann Macaulay September 2, 2016 2 September 2016

 

Until relatively recently, paying bribes to foreign officials was simply part of the cost of doing business for Canadian companies working abroad.

Surprisingly, many Canadian lawyers and business people are still not aware that it’s an offence in Canada to bribe or cover up a bribe of a government official elsewhere in the world, says Michael Osborne of Affleck Greene McMurtry in Toronto, who is a member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Anti-Corruption Team.“I suspect many lawyers would take the view that what goes on in [another] country stays in that country and not realize it’s an offence.”

But with the government starting to strongly enforce the 1999 Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in the past few years, people making – or taking – bribes are facing fines in the millions of dollars and serious jail terms are also a possibility. That should be a big deterrent, Osborne says. “If you’re doing business in other countries, you need to be aware of the CFPOA. You need to know what the rules are so that when and if you get asked for a bribe … you’ll know what to do.”

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Practice hub

Moving in-house

By Ann Macaulay June 23, 2016 23 June 2016

Moving in-house

When lawyers think about moving from a law firm or government agency to an in-house position, they’re often looking for a better work/life balance, a steady salary, a pension plan and — hopefully — less stress.

But there are important things to consider before making such a move. “Your hours are not necessarily as predictable as you might think,” says Jim Spurr, corporate legal counsel and secretary to the board of the Halifax Regional Water Commission. “You’re a salaried employee, your benefits can be very lucrative, with annual bonuses, stock options, performance shares. But you don’t get all of that by simply working from nine to five.”

The CEO can call at any time, says Spurr, who has taken calls at night, on the weekend and while on vacation.

As part of the executive or senior management team, an in-house lawyer must have or develop a good understanding of business principles. Since not all lawyers have a background in business — or much interest in it — not everyone is cut out for the job.

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M&A

Reduction in hostilities? Jury’s out on new takeover bid regime

By Ann Macaulay May 31, 2016 31 May 2016

Reduction in hostilities? Jury’s out on new takeover bid regime

 

Canada’s takeover bid regime is now harmonized across the country with the Canadian Securities Administrators’ implementation of National Instrument 62-104 Take-Over Bids and Issuer Bids. As of May 9, all non-exempt takeover bids are subject to a 105-day bid period, a 50 per cent minimum tender requirement and a 10-day extension requirement in order to permit other shareholders to tender to the bid.

Extending the minimum deposit period for takeover bids from 35 days to 105 days provides a more certain time frame for a hostile bid, equalizing “the negotiation leverage that a target board has with a hostile bidder,” says Frederic Duguay of Hansell LLP in Toronto. “It gives the board of the target more time in order for it to properly evaluate the bid, seek competitive offers from other parties and make a recommendation to its shareholders whether they should tender or not to that particular bid or tender to a strategic alternative that has been proposed by the board.”

The increased bid period is subject to two exceptions: The target’s board may issue a news release that there is a shorter deposit bid period of at least 35 days that is acceptable to the board or it issues a release stating that it has agreed to enter into an alternative transaction.

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