Looking for some guidance during these uncertain times?
We've made a list of webinars and resources aimed at lawyers to assist with your practice and helping your clients.
CPD Assists (to help Legal Practitioners during the Pandemic), available to download, Law Society of Ontario (FREE)
How to Access New Government Emergency Relief Programs, April 2nd 12:00pm-1:00pm Ontario Bar Association ($50 Member / $95 Non-Member)
Litigating from Home: Staying Healthy, Connected and Productive. April 3rd 12:00pm-1:00pm, The Advocates' Society. ($25 Member/$50 Non-Member)
Urgent Motions During COVID-19. April 3rd, 2:00pm-3:00pm. LexisNexis (FREE)
Your Real Estate Practice and the COVID-19 Pandemic: What You Need to Know, Law Society of Ontario. There will be multiple live-replays and on-demand access asap. Replays April 1, 2 and 3rd. (FREE)
Virtual Fireside Chat with The Hon. Chief Justice Morawetz, April 6 2:00pm-2:30pm, The Advocates' Society (FREE)
SERIES: Maintaining Your Litigation Practice in a Remote Work Environment, Call-In Sessions April 7-May 14. 9:30am-10:15am. Ontario Bar Association (FREE for Members, $100 for the series for Non-Members)
Will Execution, Holograph Wills & Evaluating Capacity April 1st 10:00am-11:00am Ontario Bar Association ($50 Member/$95 Non-Member)
What To Do When Crisis Strikes, original air date April 1st Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice. (FREE)
Today's Privacy Challenges: Remote Workforces, Consent and Sensitive Personal Information. Original air date, April 1st Ontario Bar Association. ($50 Member/$95 Non-Member)
Urgent Matters: Defining Urgency and Other Critical Issues Facing Family Lawyers, Original air date March 31st Ontario Bar Association. ($50 Member/$95 Non-Member)
Litigating from Home: A Starter Kit. The Advocates' Society, original air-date March 27th.
Criminal Law Now: Bail, Parole, and Prisoners' Rights. Ontario Bar Association. Original air-date March 27th.
Emergency Powers and Their Limitations and Protections Against Their Arbitrary Use. Original air date: March 25th Ontario Bar Association.
Health Law Now - Emergency Management, Virtual and In-Person Care, and Lessons from SARS. Original air date: March 26th Ontario Bar Association.
Mindful Lawyer Series: Elevating Morale and Fostering Resilience in Today's Climate. Original air date: March 26th Ontario Bar Association.
Remote Workforce: Employer Obligations, Health and Safety, Privacy and Emergency Changes to the ESA, original air date March 24. Ontario Bar Association
Force Majeure, Contract Cancellations and Occupier's Liability, original air date March 19. Ontario Bar Association.
Lawyering From Home: Working the File from Start to Finish, original air date March 30 Family Law and Civil Laws & Wills Ontario Bar Association and Ryerson's Legal Innovation Zone.
LexisNexis - Free Coronavirus Document Kit for lawyers and free access to The Lawyer's Daily COVID-19 Updates.
Law Society of Ontario - Inventory of COVID-19 Notices & Resources (FREE)
Ontario Bar Association: Special Services during COVID-19, including Tips for Lawyer Wellness.
Canadian Bar Association: Article "Staying Sane While Shifting to Remote Work" by Jennifer Taylor
Federation of Ontario Law Associations: Updates on Information for the Profession and COVID-19 and Real Estate Law - What You Need to Know
Hull and Hull LLP: Execution of Wills During COVID-19
McCarthy Tetrault LLP: Podcast - Law in the Time of COVID-19
We hope this list is helpful. Let us know if you are aware of other useful resources that should be added. We will update this list regularly. Also, see our list of notices from the courts, Law Society, government etc. here.
Flex Legal is open for business as usual. We are freelance lawyers, working remotely assisting lawyers, law firms and in-house legal departments with their overflow legal work. Contact us if you need assistance. A list of our services can be found here.
We are replacing our usual curated list of networking events for lawyers blog posts, with a one-stop COVID-19 Information Page (updated regularly), with links to helpful resources and information for lawyers in Ontario:
1. GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO
Mandatory Closure of Non-Essential Businesses on March 24th 11:59pm: Lawyers are considered essential. See full list here.
Ontario Limitation Periods and Procedural Time Periods Suspended: The Ministry of the Attorney General has advised that an Order in Council has been made under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020. The Order in Council can be viewed here (PDF).
Suspension of Residential Evictions: See Court Order here.
Updates from Legal Aid Ontario can be found here.
2. GUIDANCE FROM THE COURTS and REGULATORS
Each court has issued its own notice or direction regarding procedures to be implemented in the face of this pandemic, see below.
Also an E-Hearings Task Force has been established with co-operation from the Law Society of Ontario, the Federation of Law Societies of Ontario, Ontario Bar Association and The Advocates' Society to expand virtual access to the courts. See more information in this notice from the Advocates' Society.
The Ontario Court of Justice’s notice provides that unless you have an urgent criminal or urgent family court appearance between March 20 and May 29, 2020 do not attend court. Further information on scheduling matters and “COVID-19 Pandemic Planning” can be found on the OCJ’s website.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has issued several important notices to the profession, litigants, and witnesses, which can be found on the OSCJ’s website. All civil, family and criminal matters scheduled to be heard on or after March 17, 2020 are adjourned. The court will currently remain open for urgent matters as described in its notice.
UPDATE: However, as of April 6, 2020, the court will expand the matters that can be heard remotely beyond just urgent matters. Details were provided on April 2nd: Family and Civil and Criminal. There are also Notices for each region: here is the Notice for Toronto.
For criminal matters, for any accused person who has a matter scheduled for any type of appearance in the Superior Court of Justice between March 17, 2020 and June 2, 2020, that matter is adjourned, unless directed otherwise by the Court. More information on criminal matters can be found here.
Small Claims Court hearings have also been suspended until further notice. You may continue to file claims online.
The Commercial List has also provided a notice of changes to its current services, provided by the Commercial List Users Committee. A similar notice has been provided regarding the Estates List as well.
Good new for E-Filing: Here is the expanded list of documents you can now file on-line.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario has suspended all non-urgent appeals from March 17 until April 3, 2020. Urgent appeals will be heard based on either written materials or will be heard remotely. Parties on non-urgent appeals can request that their appeal be heard in writing. For more information on what the Court considers “urgent” see its Notice to The Profession and the Public. Plus, all materials can now be e-mailed as the counter service is now closed.
The Federal Court has produced a Practice Direction and an Updated Practice Direction and Order re COVID-19, with FAQs. All Federal Court hearings previously scheduled between March 17 and April 17 have been adjourned sine die. This includes hearings that were scheduled to proceed by way of telephone conference. For exceptions, see the detailed Practice Directions.
The Supreme Court of Canada has closed the building to visitors but currently the Court remains open for case-related matters. To assist parties in filing their documents within the required deadline, documents may be filed by email. For more information see the SCC’s COVID-19 notice. Deadlines imposed by the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada have also been suspended. More details here.
The Canadian Securities Administrators is providing temporary blanket relief for market participants from certain regulatory filings, as a result of COVID-19, as announced by the Ontario Securities Commission.
For information on the status of tribunals (Consent and Capacity Board, Landlord and Tenant Board etc.) see this handy list from the Ontario Bar Association.
3. GUIDANCE FROM THE LAW SOCIETY OF ONTARIO
The LSO has provided regular updates on its website under: COVID-19 Response. Of note, until further notice, the LSO is allowing lawyers and paralegals to verify the identity of their client via video conference. This will be in compliance with By-Law 7.1. Further, commissioning of affidavits may also be completed via video conference. See the LSO website for more details.
Also, for any lawyer or paralegal who has not paid their 2020 annual fee yet, the late payment fee will not be applied before April 6, 2020. The filing deadline for lawyers and paralegals to file their 2019 Annual Report is still March 31, 2020, however, you may file during the 60-day default period (ending May 30) without penalty.
4. GUIDANCE FROM LAW AND BAR ASSOCIATIONS
Several associations and organizations have also prepared helpful guidance and tips to assist lawyers during this time:
Ontario Bar Association: COVID-19 Action Plan and Tips for Lawyer Wellness.
Canadian Bar Association: Statement on COVID-19
The Advocates Society: COVID-19 Update
Toronto Lawyers Association: TLA Response to COVID-19
LawPro: Response to COVID-19
Federation of Law Societies of Ontario: Special Edition Real Estate Lawyers Update and Weekly Update (April 1, 2020).
Criminal Lawyers Association: COVID-19 Blog Articles
Ontario Family Lawyers: Public Facebook Group - To share ideas and concerns.
Also, we remain open to assist lawyers and law firms with your overflow legal work. We are pros at remote working and there has been no interruption in our services. Please reach out to let us know how we can assist you.
Stay healthy and safe everyone! Check back here often as we will be updating this post regularly. This is current as of March 30, 2020 at 8:00am.
To assist it's member, the OBA asked us to write an article on our remote working and work-from-home tips. A quick preview of our five top tips:
You can read the full article and details on each tip here. It was a pleasure to share our experience with other lawyers.
As we work remotely 100% of the time, it's business as usual around here - please reach out if you are a lawyer looking for help with your overflow legal work. Our experienced freelance lawyers are available to assist. We offer a wide variety of services at competitive prices.
** UPDATE: WARNING - PLEASE CHECK WITH ORGANIZERS AS MANY OF THESE PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED OR POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19**
Below is our curated list of upcoming lawyer networking events in Ontario for March and April 2020. We focus on events with a social component, where lawyers can make new contacts and find potential referral sources for work:
March 12, 2020 - TORONTO - The Advocates' Society - 9th Annual Trivia Challenge for Charity. The Hot House Restaurant, 35 Church Street. 6:00-8:30pm. $300+HST for a Team of 4.
March 25, 2020 - TORONTO - Young Women in Law - The 10th Annual Young Women In Law Charity Gala (featuring the Honourable Justice Beverley McLachlin and lawyer Annamaria Enenajor) The Design Exchange, 234 Bay Street. 6:30pm-11:00pm. Members Only Pre-Sale $80.00, General Public Sale opens February 11, $95.00.
March 25, 2020 - BRAMPTON - The Advocates' Society - Young Advocates' Peel Social. Fionn MacCool's 11 Ray Lawson Blvd. 6:00pm. Your business card is your ticket.
March 26, 2020 - WINDSOR - The Advocates' Society - Young Advocates' Windsor Social. Panache Restaurant and Lounge. 53 Pitt Street East. 5:30-7:30pm. Your business card is your ticket.
March 26, 2020 - KITCHENER - The Advocates' Society - Waterloo Region Social. Gilt Restaurant, 305 King Street West. 5:30-7:30pm. Your business card is your ticket.
March 27, 2020 - OTTAWA - County of Carleton Law Association - Annual General Meeting and Awards Banquet. Trillium Ballroom, 4th Floor, Shaw Centre. (Registration to open shortly)
April 1, 2020 - TORONTO - The Advocates' Society - Wine & Cheese with the Bench. For lawyers in their first 10 years of practice. 2700- 250 Yonge Street. 5:30pm-7:30pm. Members: $50.00. Non-Members: $70.00
April 15, 2020 - TORONTO - Ontario Bar Association - The OBA Awards Gala. Omni King Edward Hotel, Crystal Ballroom, 37 King Street East. 6:00pm Reception. 7:00pm Dinner and Awards. Tickets: $240.00
April 21, 2020 - TORONTO - Ontario Bar Association - Dinner with Your Honourable Estates List Judges. OBA Conference Centre, 20 Toronto Street, 2nd Floor. 5:30pm Registration 6:00pm Dinner. Member: $97.00 Non-Member: $147.00
April 22, 2020 - TORONTO - The Advocates' Society - Family Law Bench & Bar Reception. The Advocates' Society Offices, 2700-250 Yonge Street. 5:30-7:30pm
April 24, 2020 - OTTAWA - County of Carleton Law Association - Law Day Fun Run & Walk. Marion Dewar Plaza. 12:30pm-2:30pm.
April 30, 2020 - TORONTO - Toronto Lawyers Association - 8th Annual Young Lawyers Bench & Bar Social. TLA Lawyers Lounge, 2nd Floor, 361 University Ave Courthouse. 5:30-7:30pm. Members: FREE Non-Members: $20.00
Know of any other upcoming social or networking events for lawyers? Let us know!.......And we hope to see you at some of these events soon!
**Please double check dates/times/locations/prices directly on the associations’ websites as this information may change**
Do some days just fly by and you feel like you worked all day but got nothing done? Do you wake up and realize that it’s Friday and you didn’t accomplish half the stuff you were supposed to that week? I’ve been there! I understand how hectic running a law practice and a business can be. Below are 5 of my top productivity tips for busy lawyers:
1.Lists, Lists, Lists
Lists are not for everyone, but for some they can be a lifesaver. I have a main list of my open files and the next steps to take on them. Then on Monday morning of each week, I set my weekly "To-Do" list, divided into four parts:
1) My legal work (priority files, next steps)
2) My business work (marketing, admin, blog writing)
3) My volunteer work (meetings, next events to organize) and
4) Personal List (birthday presents to buy, class trip forms to return, house maintenance, etc.).
Under each list, the most important task goes first. Prioritize those tasks. Emergencies come up that might take you away from your list, but once they are dealt with you have your list of tasks (in order of priority) to ground you. If an item does not get done that week, I add it to the list the following week. If a task is not on the list, I forget about it, and it doesn’t get done. So, for me, my lists are all important.
2.Find Your Most Productive Time and Respect It
I belong to a business book club for women entrepreneurs. One of the first books we read was The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey. The main takeaway for me was to find the time of day that I was most productive and to block off that time for work only. For me, I am most productive between 7am-11am and then again between 1pm-3pm. I block that time off for the work that requires my strict attention and my deep-thinking skills. The rest of the time I schedule my phone calls, meetings, answer emails, take a break, exercise, eat, do routine tasks, admin, etc. Everyone has different times for their peak productivity – when is that for you?
3.Give up Perfectionism
This is a hard one for me. I desire perfection. However, perfection is a myth that cannot be achieved in law and this quest for perfection hurts my productivity. I end up spending a lot longer on a factum or pleading or legal opinion than I need to, leaving less time for other important tasks on my list, and I cannot bill for that extra time spent. As Lorne Michaels from Saturday Night Live said: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.” It helps when I set a deadline or time limit for my work.
4. Say “No” When You Need To
I wrote a blog post on my personal website called “Building a Legal Practice: Say “Yes” Until it is Time to Say “No”” I’ve learned that it is important to say “yes” to new opportunities to build your brand, bring in clients, increase business, but you must be careful of burnout. Be selective of the files you take on, the volunteer opportunities, the speaking engagements, etc. Is the opportunity one that you are excited about? One that brings in some money? Or, one that will help build your personal brand? Assess the opportunity before you say “yes” and add another thing to your to-do list.
5.Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Are you doing admin tasks that are taking you away from your legal practice? Is there a part of your client in-take process that can be automated? Are there routine steps that a junior lawyer or law clerk can do to free up your time? I understand why lawyers feel like they must do everything (they are ultimately responsible for their law practice), but you are the billing lawyer. You are making the money. You should not spend the majority of your time doing non-billable work. Have your assistant answer the phones or outsource this to a call service, automate your intake process or automate your social media posts, consider outsourcing any overflow legal work to freelance lawyers…there are so many ways to free up your time so you can focus on the work that you really want to do!
What are your productivity hacks?