Are you looking for some law student help with your busy law firm but not necessarily a full-time law student? We have a solution for you.
While Flex Legal provides advanced freelance legal services (our freelance lawyers have between 5-20 years of post-call experience) we wanted to introduce you to a new freelance service by law students at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law (Common Law). With the global pandemic many students lost their summer jobs or had their hours reduced significantly. To assist these students, the University has created a program to connect law firms and students through freelance opportunities. According to the University:
“This initiative pairs employers in need of short-term support with students eager to build on their practical experiences. The Career and Professional Development Centre will post freelance or short-term contract opportunities for law students. These contracts could, for example, be for a single piece of research, remunerated on an hourly basis, with a set number of hours allocated to the work.”
A student can also assist a lawyer or law firm with: social medial marketing, blog post drafting, website updates, client outreach, customer satisfaction surveys, etc.
We thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce our clients to this initiative and encourage you to take advantage of it if you have student level work to outsource.
You can find more information on the initiative here.
If you would like to post a short-term opportunity for students, you can fill out the form at the following link. The University then makes the information available to their students. The University will not post unpaid positions.
For any questions, please feel free to contact Chantal Riendeau (email@example.com) at the Career and Professional Development Centre.
This service is provided directly through the University of Ottawa. Flex Legal is not profiting from this initiative. We are happy to do our part, give back to the community, and support these students who need our help. Flex's founder, Erin Cowling, is also the Regional Alumni Advisor (Toronto) for the University of Ottawa (Faculty of Law).
As a lawyer who is brand new to running a freelance business from home, I notice a comforting solidarity with our whole profession. Responding to COVID-19, we are all in a place where we have been forced to change, adapt, and embrace new ways of working and living. To varying degrees, we are all in the throes of transition.
Rigidity is a common lawyer characteristic. It is easy to rely on checklists, guidelines, policies, and tried-and-true advice. We expect that these formulas will achieve the intended result because we followed a ‘plan.’ Sometimes, however, we realize that there is no pre-charted course forward from where we are. This is true for most of us right now. We have to figure things out as we go. How do we do that? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Acknowledge the Negatives
It is difficult to embrace change when we are focussed on all the negatives that change has caused, but we do have to process our losses. There are likely real downsides to COVID-induced changes. Perhaps you have experienced loss of income, extra work, loneliness, health anxieties, a steep learning curve with new processes, and difficulties while working from home.
Grant yourself permission to grieve your losses. It is helpful to largely focus on the positives, but we know it is counter-productive to repress our negative emotions. This is an unprecedented time. It is understandable to struggle. Only when we have acknowledged our struggles can we move forward. If you feel like you are drowning, stop to calmly reflect on why you are feeling down. If this reflection is easier while accompanied by a pint of ice cream, a glass of wine, a run, or a bubble bath, indulge (responsibly, of course). Consider this a break-up with life as you know it. You have certainly waded through adversity before, and you will triumph again!
2.Focus on the Positives
So, you have allowed yourself a brief pity party. It is time to move on. There are things to be grateful for, and I am sure some of them might be COVID-related too. For me, I have enjoyed more time with my husband. With less running around in the evenings and weekends, we have had time to learn to bake bread, read books, garden, enjoy our neighbourhood, and obsessively watch a few law enforcement TV dramas. I have reconnected on a heart-level with things I took for granted, like long visits with friends and going to church. I have also felt confirmed in my vocation of at-home remote work. Starting a home-based business seems more acceptable now.
What positive changes have you noticed in your own life and work lately? If it helps, physically make a list of good things. If you cannot easily think of big things, acknowledge the little things, like a good cup of morning coffee. Make brainstorming the positives a regular and intentional focus to lift you out of your blues.
3.Translate Reflections to Future Plans Values
It can be hard to make plans in times of uncertainty. When I cannot predict the future to a degree that allows me to make concrete plans, I find it helpful to translate my reflections on positives and negatives to values that I can focus on going forward.
For example, we had to cancel a trip to Scotland that was scheduled for this month. While this was a loss to grieve, my disappointment highlighted a value I did not know I held: celebrating our family heritage. While we cannot plan a rescheduled trip in the immediate future, we can plan to let that value steer us towards cultural celebration. On the day when we were supposed to leave, we donned the family tartan, ate Scottish trifle, and had a wee dram of the good stuff.
I have talked to countless lawyers who are used to working in big offices and have had to work from home temporarily. Most of them enjoy it. Some of them might use this newly discovered self-knowledge to consider how they can advocate for more flexible working arrangements when things go back to ‘normal.’ While we cannot always plan ahead concretely, we can lean into our values and focus on how we can implement them in the future. This future-focus can greatly assist us in challenging times.
4.Maintain Empathy and Help Others
This is the simplest and most important suggestion for times of change, so it will be this post’s concluding word. As I have heard others say, we are all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. Quite simply, remember to be kind, and remember that everyone is doing the best they can. Comparison will not help you or others. You always have something to offer, and it is also okay to ask for help. If you need a hand with legal research assistance, please reach out to Flex Legal Network!
Kathleen is a freelance lawyer with Flex Legal. She assists lawyers with legal research and all their drafting needs. You can read more about Kathleen's experience here.
In the “old” days, pre-pandemic, we used to publish “Lawyers Looking for Leads” blog posts with curated lists of networking events for lawyers in Ontario. We focused on events with a social component, where lawyers could make new contacts and find potential referral sources for work. Well, in-person networking has ground to a halt. What are lawyers to do now?
Here are our top 3 tips to continue your networking plan but in a virtual way:
1. Join Social Media:
If you have been hesitant to join in the past, now is the time! Social media is one big networking event you can attend in your pajamas and with unwashed hair. Connect with other lawyers on Twitter (follow #lawtwitter), LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram (#lawyersofinstagram), etc. Interact with them by liking their posts, posting interesting articles or writing articles of your own and sharing them. You can build your profile and make new contacts all from the safety of your couch.
2. Virtual Coffee Dates:
Before this crisis hit, you may have had a calendar full of coffees or networking lunches or after work drinks. Don’t cancel them. Move them online. Make a coffee or drink at home and have that face-to-face meeting still.
3. Pick Up the Phone or Send that Email:
Now is the time to reach out and connect with other lawyers. Renew relationships. Check in with former colleagues or old law school friends. What are they doing? How are they coping? Let them know also what you are doing and what legal services you are still offering.
How are you making new connections and building your network while maintaining social distancing?
As freelance lawyers, who work remotely, it's business as usual for us! Looking for a cost-effective way to get your legal work done and find time to focus on building your practice? Contact us and find out how we can help you.
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.
Do you work from home or hope to work from home more often?
As freelance lawyers who work remotely we know it is not always easy. You can read some of Erin's tips for successful remote working for freelance lawyers (and regular lawyers alike) in the article: The Lawyer's Guide to Working from Home in Precedent Magazine's Fall 2018 Issue.
Do you have any other suggestions for a better remote working experience?