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?
Civil litigators in Ontario should be aware of amendments to both Rule 76 Simplified Procedure claims and claims brought in Small Claims Court which came into effect on January 1, 2020.
1. Simplified Procedure Changes
The limit for claims brought under the Simplified Procedure rule has now been increased to $200,000 from the previous $100,000 limit which had been in place since 2010.
According to the Ministry of the Attorney General, “[t]his change will require more people to file claims under the Simplified Procedure rule, reducing the cost of resolving disputes to families, businesses and taxpayers.”
Other amendments include:
The Ministry of the Attorney General has also provided a helpful Fact Sheet regarding the amendments and has developed simple flowcharts illustrating the processes under the Rules of Civil Procedure.
2. Small Claims Court
The Small Claims Court limit has been raised to $35,000 from the previous $25,000. Also, the minimum amount of a claim that may be appealed to Divisional Court was increased from $2,500 to $3,500.
Have you already started a claim in Superior Court that now fits under the new Small Claims Court threshold? Don’t worry litigants can seek to transfer their case to Small Claims Court.
According to the Ministry of the Attorney General the increase in the limit is to make it “faster, easier and more affordable for people and businesses to resolve their disputes in front of a judge”.
As there will likely be an increase in claims at the Small Claims Court, hopefully there will be a corresponding increase in the number of deputy judges available to decide these disputes. Perhaps now is a good time to apply to become a deputy judge if you are interested. According to the Ontario Courts website to become a deputy judge:
Interested lawyers with a minimum of 10 years’ experience may write to the Regional Senior Judge of the region in which they wish to preside. To prevent court scheduling conflicts, applicants may apply to one region only. Please provide a letter of interest, curriculum vitae and references. Applicants must be members in good standing of the Law Society of Ontario, have no outstanding liability claims relating to the practice of law and no criminal record.
Some effort is being made to modernize our courts through a new pilot project launched on February 11, 2019 for all matters on the Commercial List in Toronto.
All parties and counsel will be required to use the assigned “Digital Hearing Workspace” to deliver documents electronically to the judicial officer and other parties or counsel in the matter. If the parties fail to electronically upload documents using the workspace, the presiding judicial official may “address” such failure (no specifics were given as to the consequences of not uploading).
What is a Digital Hearing Workspace?
It is NOT a court filing service. It is a document sharing service or online document management platform. So, documents shared in the workspace must still be filed in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure and applicable practice directions.
The pilot is intended to replace electronic delivery by email, USB Key and CD-ROM (people still use those?) The goal for the project is to “make delivering, storing, organizing and retrieving documents filed in Commercial List proceedings easier for the parties, counsel, judicial officials and court staff involved in these matters.”
Where do you access the Digital Hearing Workspace?
If you are counsel or a self-represented individual, you will be assigned to a Digital Hearing Workspace for your case. You will be sent an email requesting you to register for the workspace. Court staff must approve your registration before you can access it.
For step by step instructions on how to access the workspace, upload documents, view documents, etc. see the “Digital Hearing Workspace User Guide”, which has helpful graphics as well.
It is important to note that the file name of documents uploaded to the Digital Hearing Workspace must follow the naming convention outline in the “Guide Concerning e-Delivery of Documents in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice”.
Once the case has been disposed of by a final decision, the workspace will be closed and users will no longer have access.
For more information see the Practice Advisory Concerning Electronic Documents in Commercial List Proceedings, dated February 11, 2019, which supplements the Consolidated Practice Direction Concerning the Commercial List, dated July 1, 2014. Counsel and parties are also advised to review the relevant parts of the Consolidated Provincial Practice Direction and any other applicable Toronto Region-Specific practice directions or guides (this seems like a lot of practice directions to us – one consolidated document/practice direction might work better?)
How helpful do you think this pilot project will be? It is great to see some movement toward modernizing our court system. We look forward to more developments in this area.
Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash
It took me a long time to realize that “business development” and “networking” are not dirty or scary words. They are important and essential steps in building a law practice and a personal brand within the legal and non-legal community.
Networking and business development are not about being an aggressive salesperson. Nor do you have to spend thousands of dollars on top advertising spots on TV. It is simply about making yourself and your legal skills available to others through a variety of means. It is about meeting people and making connections.
Below, we provide our Top Five Tips on Networking & Business Development for Lawyers:
1. KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
First, do some groundwork. Who is your target audience or ideal client? Usually, your target audience will be made up of two groups: other lawyers for referrals and your potential clients.
For referrals, think about the type of lawyer that might refer work to you. For example, an estate litigator may want to seek out referrals from an estate solicitor. If a dispute arises, the family often turns to the lawyer handling the administration of an estate for a referral to an estate litigator. Make a list of lawyers you already know and assess who might be a good referral source and who you can refer work to. Then ask them out for coffee or reconnect with them.
For potential clients, once again think about who and where they are. Family law lawyers have a very large market. Crypto-currency lawyers or entertainment lawyers may have a smaller market. If you have a practice that is accessible and understood by most of the public (family, criminal, real estate) it is easier to market to the general public. However, sometimes clients might not even know they need your expertise. It is your job to explain to them how you can fix their problems.
2. MAKE A LIST OF IN-PERSON NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Every month or so, review the upcoming lawyer networking events (not just CPD events, but those that also have a social component) advertised by the Ontario Bar Association, Canadian Bar Association, Toronto Lawyers Association, Law Society of Ontario, The Advocates’ Society, Women Lawyers Association of Ontario, etc.
Then, sign up for the ones that a) you think will provide a good return on your investment (hint: If you don’t work at a firm that pays for these events, find the free ones) and b) fits into your busy schedule. If you don’t have time to make this list, check out our curated list of lawyer events in the GTA/Ottawa/Hamilton area that we post every few months.
For non-lawyer events targeting direct clients, Google and make a list of events where you can mingle with others than can use your services: local charities, community organizations, local political associations, your kid’s school’s parent council, etc.
Try to target one event a month.
3. GET PUBLISHED: TRADITIONAL or SOCIAL MEDIA
Not all of us are extroverts who like in-person networking. The good news: you can just as easily develop your brand and network with others through the written word.
Consider writing an article for a magazine, law journal, newspaper, your firm’s monthly client newsletter, etc. Anyone reading these articles will see your name and your firm and this will help in keeping you top of mind. Every publication is looking for quality content! Just reach out! But also, write for your target audience. For example, if you are a franchise lawyer, consider writing for Franchise Canada magazine.
Not sure about traditional publications? Consider social media. Social media is one big networking cocktail party you can attend in your pajamas and with unwashed hair! Update your LinkedIn profile, reactivate that Twitter account, revise your firm’s Facebook page. The key with social media is to post regularly, post articles or information that is useful to your target audience and engage with others. (Just be mindful of the Rules of Professional Conduct.)
Consider blogging. Update your readers on recent developments in the law. Explain legal issues in easy to understand terms. It helps with search engine optimization when you regularly post quality content on your website.
Don’t have time to blog or draft articles? Consider outsourcing that work to qualified freelance lawyers/writers.
4. SEEK OUT SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
While this is not for everyone, consider speaking engagements where you can reach your target audience (either other lawyers or potential clients).
How do you get these speaking opportunities? Try asking. Put yourself out there. Approach the different organizations and say, “I have this great 30 min presentation on X law that might be beneficial to your members – do you have any programs coming up?” Once you do a few speaking engagements, you are on people’s radars, and you will be asked to speak again.
5. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED
Networking/business development is a marathon and not a sprint. Lawyers often get discouraged when their efforts do not yield immediate results. It would be rare for you to take a potential client out for lunch and be handed a file later that day. Instead plant the seeds (through in-person networking, publishing and speaking engagements) and watch them grow (at their own rate). The more seeds you plant, the more likely something will sprout!
These are our top five tips for networking and business development: What works for you?
Passionate about being a Lawyer? Want to Improve the Legal Profession in Ontario? Consider Running to be a Bencher!
It’s easy for lawyers to sit back and complain about the lack of progress in our profession, whether it be with advances in technology; access to justice; equality, diversity and inclusion, etc. However, now is your chance to get involved and (hopefully) make a difference: the next Law Society of Ontario (LSO) bencher election is taking place during the last two weeks of April 2019 and the nominations are now open!
What is a Bencher?
Yes, the name is confusing, but basically a bencher is a member of the board of directors at the LSO. That “board of directors” is called Convocation. The “president” is called the Treasurer. (The LSO is considering changing the terminology.)
Benchers play a critical role in the governance of the LSO and the regulation of lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. For example, they are holding a special convocation on December 10 to address the future of the lawyer licensing process in Ontario.
There are 20 elected lawyer benchers from Toronto and 20 from outside of Toronto. There are also paralegal benchers, appointed benchers, and ex-officio benchers, however Convocation just approved changes to limit the rights of honorary benchers to contribute to debates. (Fun Fact: His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales is an Honorary Bencher)
Why Should You Run?
We need a more diverse group of benchers who reflect the legal professionals in Ontario and the clients we serve. New lawyers? Racialized lawyers? Solicitors? Solo/Small firm lawyers? Women? We need you all.
How Do You Apply?
Go to the LSO’s webpage for the Bencher Election 2019. Download the Lawyer Nomination Form, fill it out (including the names and signatures of at least five lawyers that will nominate you) and submit it by 5:00pm on February 8, 2019.
Are You Running for Bencher?
Let us know!
Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash
One of our most popular blog posts was our first "Lawyers Looking for Leads" article from July featuring summer networking opportunities for the legal profession.
It was so well received that we've decided to repeat a similar post a few times a year to keep our lawyer clients up to date on some great social events and to give them a chance to generate some leads, meet new people, and to just get out and have some fun!
Below are some upcoming social events/networking opportunities you do not want to miss. Registration information for these events can be found in the links:
November 8, 2018 - Ontario Bar Association - Young Lawyers Division, Southwest Social: London, 5pm-7pm, Joe Cool's Restaurant. Registration complimentary.
November 13, 2018 - Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers / South Asian Bar Association - Fall Social Networking Event: Toronto, 5:30pm registration, 6-8pm Networking, 3 Brewers, 120 Adelaide St. Hosted by the FACL Women's Committee, the FACL Mentorship Committee, and SABA. Registration complimentary.
November 14, 2018 - The Advocates' Society - Young Advocates’ Pub Night, Toronto: Pravda Vodka Bar, 6:00pm-8:30pm. Open to TAS members, non-member lawyers, and law school and articling students. Your business card is your ticket.
November 14, 2018 - The Advocates' Society - Kingston Pub Night, Red House 369 King St. East, 5:30-7:30. This event is open to TAS members, non-member lawyers, and law school and articling students.
November 15, 2018 - The Advocates' Society - Estate Litigation Bench and Bar Reception, Toronto: The Advocates' Society offices, 2700- 250 Yonge Street, 5:30-7:00pm. Free for Members. $30.00 for Non-Members.
November 15, 2018 - Toronto Lawyers Association - TLA Fall Pub event, Dublin Calling, 250 Adelaide St. W., from 5:30-7:30pm. Free for TLA Members ($20 for non-members). Open to lawyers and articling students. Ticket includes appetizers and two drinks.
November 18, 2018 - The Advocates' Society - Santa Claus Parade Party, Toronto: Campbell House, 12:30pm-3:00pm Members Only event: $25.00 per family.
November 28, 2018 - South Asian Bar Association - Annual Gala and Awards Night, Toronto, Liberty Grand 6:00pm-10:00pm. $225.00 for individual ticket.
November 29, 2018 - County of Carleton Law Association - 5th Annual Holiday Social, Geneva Room, Knox Church, Ottawa: 4:30pm-7:30pm. No fee, but please register in advance. All are welcome - judges, paralegals, students and lawyers.
November 30, 2018 - Hamilton Lawyers Association - The Annual Members’ Appreciation Lunch, 5th Floor Lawyers' Lounge, 45 Main Street East, Hamilton: 12:00-2:00pm.
December 13, 2018 - The Advocates' Society - President's Festive Reception, Toronto: TAS Offices - 2700-250 Yonge Street. Members Only
Know of any other upcoming social or networking events? Let us know!
And we hope to see you at some of these events soon.
(Please double-check dates/times/location/prices directly on the associations' websites as this information may change).
Lawyers are a self-governing profession in Ontario and we oversee our own regulation through the Law Society of Ontario. This month the LSO published a “Call for Comment” seeking feedback on suggested changes to the LSO’s governance structure. Comments are due October 15, 2018. Many lawyers may have missed the email, so we’ve summarized the key points for you here.
The Governance Task Force has identified four options to streamline the government structure at the LSO and are seeking your input on the following suggestions:
1. A smaller size for the LSO’s board and changes to the composition of the board:
Every four years lawyers and paralegals vote in a “bencher” election. Benchers are the LSO’s directors. The LSO’s board is currently called “Convocation”. The next bencher election is in 2019.
[Brief side note: Unfortunately, it appears that most lawyers are not interested in exercising their right to vote in the bencher elections. Voter turnout has basically decreased with every bencher election with 56% of eligible voters choosing to vote in 1987, down to only 33.84% of eligible voters voting in the 2015 election. Benchers are the people who decided to: change us from “members” to “licensees”; change the Law Society of Upper Canada to the Law Society of Ontario; and implement the Statement of Principles. All of which caused a strong reaction in the legal profession (both in support of and against these decisions). Benchers potentially hold a lot of power in determining how we govern ourselves, yet few lawyers appear to be interested in voting on who can make such decisions and how.]
Currently there are 45 elected benchers (40 lawyers and 5 paralegals) and 8 “lay benchers” appointed by the government. There are also 35 ex officio benchers (such as former Treasurers, former attorney generals and “life benchers” who have been grandparented in after the 2010 governance reform which ended ex officio offices) as well as the Treasurer and the Attorney General, which makes up 90 members of Convocation.
One example to streamline LSO governance, as suggested by the Governance Task Force, is to keep the current make-up of benchers but remove the ex officio positions which were grandparented in.
Another suggestion is to reduce the number of elected positions to 29 and add 3 LSO appointments (in an attempt achieve greater diversity).
A third example is to reduce the number of elected positions even more to 20 and have a higher number of appointed positions: 7.
2. Changes to the Treasurer’s Term
The Task Force is also exploring changes to the Treasurer’s term, which is officially a one-year term but by convention is a two-year term (the Treasurer runs un-opposed for the second term). The suggestion is to make the Treasurer’s term a two-year term. Another option is to impose a Treasurer “ladder” with a vice president, president, past-president or two vice presidents and a president.
3. Changes to the Bencher terms
Currently a bencher term is four years with a 12-year term limit. The Call for Comment suggests both a shorter term and shorter term limit.
4. New Terminology
The fourth area for potential change is in the terminology we use. The Governance Task Force provided the option of changing Treasurer to President, as there may be confusion over the role of the Treasurer (i.e. people may think he or she is only responsible for financial matters rather than the whole board).
Along with this would be a change from the term "Convocation" to either Board, Board of Directors, Board of Governors, or Council and a change of the name "Bencher" to Board Member, Council Member, Director or Governor.
The LSO is taking the view that if they do go ahead and change the governance structure, significant changes must occur gradually. Some changes requiring legislative amendment would occur following the 2019 bencher election and would be in place for the 2023 bencher term.
Interested in learning more? Read the full report here. To comment you can fill out this online form.
Comments are due OCTOBER 15, 2018
**For more information on this topic see Adam Dodek's article on SLAW called Public Interest Regulation: Governance Reform at the Law Society of Ontario.
Are you interested in lawyer and paralegal governance? Do you want to have your say? Well there is a bencher election coming up in 2019. Consider running for a position on the board/convocation. The key dates are set out below:
Close of nominations: February 8, 2019
Election day: April 30, 2019
First day in office: May 23, 2019
Referrals from other lawyers are a great source of new business for law firms. Attending legal events and meeting other lawyers in-person is one key way to building your personal network and finding those potential referral sources.
Sometimes, however, lawyers can get too busy to research potential networking events so we’ve done that for you! Below is a list of some networking opportunities coming up for July to October 2018. (While most CLE/CPD events contain some element of networking, our list focuses on networking-only or mainly social events):
CANADIAN/ONTARIO BAR ASSOCIATION
OBA Women Lawyers Forum - Mix and Mingle: September 12, 2018 at the Metropolitan (20 Victoria Street, Toronto) at 5:30pm. No registration fee, regular food/drink rates apply.
OBA Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, Ontario Chapter Event - Fall Social: September 20, 2018 at Jump Café & Bar, Toronto. Free for members of the CCCA but must register before September 6, 2018.
OBA Young Lawyers Division – Kick-Off Social Event: Monday September 24, 2018 at CRAFT Beer Market, Toronto. No charge for CBA Members and CBA Students. Non-Member charge of $15.00
TORONTO LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
TLA Summer Patio Pub. Wednesday August 29, 2018. Location: The Porch, 250 Adelaide St.W. Members: free Non-Members: $20. Must pre-register online.
HAMILTON LAW ASSOCIATION
New Lawyers’ Meet n’ Eat, Lunch. 12:30-2:00pm. August 15, 2018. 7th Floor John Sopinka Courthouse, Hamilton. $5.00 - at the door or in advance.
Commercial Litigation Dinner, October 4, 2018. The Spice Factory, Hamilton. $95.00.
COUNTY OF CARLETON LAW ASSOCIATION
Annual Golf Tournament & BBQ (Kanata). August 21, 2018. Golf, cart and reception $140.00 (plus HST) before August 1, 2018.
Opening of the Courts, September 26, 2018. Courtroom #37, 3rd Floor, Ottawa Courthouse.
WOMEN’S LAW ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO
WLAO/CAWEE 17th Annual Deb Snead Memorial Golf Event, Toronto. September 17, 2018. Member: $155.00, Non-Member: $180.00
THE ADVOCATES’ SOCIETY
Big Mingle (Montreal): Young Advocates’ Standing Committee invites Montreal articling students to stop by the Bar Don B Comber on July 26, 2018.
Big Mingle (GTA): Young Advocates’ Standing Committee invites GTA articling students and summer students to drop by on August 15, 2018. Exclusive to law students and articling students only.
Young Advocates Pub Night (Toronto). September 6, 2018. Hot House Restaurant and Bar. Your business card is your ticket.
Breakfast with Tiffany’s (London). Networking breakfast for women advocates on September 13, 2018. Members: $40 (plus hst), Non-Members: $65 (plus hst).
1st Annual Montreal Gala on September 20, 2018 at the Hotel Le Mount Stephen. Hear from Canada’s Chief Justice. Members: $200.00 (plus tax), Non-Members: $250.00 (plus tax).
Young Advocates’ Standing Committee Fireside Chat (Toronto) with Justice Cynthia Petersen and Sandra Barton. October 4, 2018. Members: FREE, Non-Members: $30.00 (plus tax).
Breakfast Near Tiffany’s VII (Toronto). Beyond Mentoring: A Dialogue on Sponsorship for Women Advocates. October 10, 2018. Four Seasons Hotel. Members Only Event, $75.00 (plus tax).
YOUNG WOMEN IN LAW
Articling Student Drinks on August 29, 2018. At Batch, 75 Victoria Street, Toronto. Free for articling students, must register online.
Know of any other upcoming social or networking events? Let us know! And we hope to see you at some of these events soon.
(Please double-check dates/times/location/prices directly on the associations' website as this information may change).
*Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash
Did you miss the Law Society of Ontario’s solo and small firm conference this year?
We’ve attended this conference every year for the last four years and each year we are impressed with the topics and programs. This conference is always appropriately geared toward issues that solo and small firms face and provides great networking opportunities throughout the day. As freelance lawyers, we are all technically “sole practitioners” (although we are not really sole practitioners, see our blog post on why that is, here) and face the same issues solos/small firms face, so it is a great program for freelance lawyers as well.
This blog post will provide some of the highlights of this year’s conference, in case you missed it!
The title for the conference was: Solo and Small Firm Conference 2018: The 21st Century Lawyer. The chairs were, once again, Kathleen Erin Cullin and Allan Oziel, this year joined by Barbara Hicks.
The opening plenary was by Jack Newton of Clio and was called Using Data to Deliver a Better Client Experience. Jack provided quantitative data (U.S. based) to show how consumers find their lawyers and how lawyers are failing (or succeeding) in delivering legal services (are we capturing all of our time? Are we being efficient? Are we using technology to cut down on inefficiencies?) Our only feedback on this session is that it was too similar to last year’s opening plenary.
After that, we attended a session by Noel Semple called Enhancing Profitability while Increasing Access to Justice. While this topic seems like a bit of an oxymoron, Noel spoke about finding the “Sweet Spot” for personal plight lawyers (lawyers who deal with family law, criminal, and estates, etc. where personal problems and emotions are involved rather than corporate issues) between providing quality and professional services, making a profit, and offering accessible legal services. One possibility was to provide unbundled legal services or working on a limited scope retainer. Another tactic was to learn to delegate or outsource legal work. We wholeheartedly agree with this, outsourcing certain tasks (legal research, drafting, court appearances, blog post drafting) to freelance lawyers (who often charge out at a lower rate) means you can pass those savings on to your client and free up your time.
Megan Cornell, the Founder and CEO of Momentum Law next spoke on using technology to scale your firm or practice at the session Scaling Your Practice: Make More Money with Better Technology and Processes. I wish I had taken more notes during this session as it appears her presentation and slide deck are not in the provided material (unless it has now been recently added?) Megan spoke about doing more with less and getting rid of inefficiencies in your office. For example, she spoke about the “Two Scoop Solution” that her law firm embraces. This came from their use of a coffee machine that required 8 scoops of ground coffee for the perfect pot of coffee. The problem was it took a long time to scoop out 8 scoops. So, they found a larger scoop and figured out two of the larger scoops equalled 8 of the smaller scoop, reducing their time spent on making coffee in the morning. Anything that reduces redundancy and helps with efficiencies improves the overall practice of law and makes for a better client (and lawyer) experience. Megan spoke about some of the technology she uses to automate her practice as much as possible (including Clio, Office 365, Lexicata, Athennian, Closing Folders, LawPay, Typeform, etc.)
We learned how to “cherry-pick” our clients in a session by Marni MacLeod, the Vice President of Skunkworks Creative Group Inc. Marni suggested using “client personas” to target the right audience. What is a “client persona”? It is basically a composite sketch that includes realistic characteristics for a segment of your clients or a new client group you want to attract. Who is your ideal client? A starting point is to look at the clients you already have and look for patterns you can identify, for example clients with a specific legal problem, clients who came from the same referral source, etc. Marni then took us through an exercise to help us start our client personas, so we could target our marketing correctly.
Finally, we attended a session by Brooke MacKenzie of MacKenzie Barristers Professional Corporation, who spoke about 10 Ethical Issues to Watch Out for in Practice. These included the new rules on marketing and marketing restrictions, joint retainer issues, referral fees, conflicts etc.
There were several other sessions happening concurrently that included sessions on the new tax rules; a guide to working with expert witnesses; building a practice that fits your life; disability and accommodation issues in your practice; running your practice as a business; etc. (We unfortunately missed the closing plenary on “Becoming a Blockchain Lawyer” as we had to sneak out early to prep for The Advocates’ Society End of Term dinner.)
Another bonus for conference attendees were unique workshops that were available to those who signed up in advance. The topics for these workshops were: Building Your Professional and Personal Brand on LinkedIn, Using Storytelling Techniques to be more Memorable, Effective Negotiation Principles and Strategies, and Growing your Practice through Equity and Inclusion.
Networking opportunities happened throughout the day (and the night before at the Treasurer’s Dinner at Osgoode Hall), which is always a great way for solos and small firm lawyers to make connections with other lawyers in their areas of practice or to find referral sources. These breaks also gave us a chance to visit the exhibitors’ booths and learn about new technology and services geared toward solo and small firms. Or you could wander over to the “ingenious bar” where you could speak to representatives from various LSO associations: Homewood Health, LawPro, Law Society Referral Service, Practice Management Helpline, Spot Audit, the Action Group on Access to Justice, etc.
We look forward to attending next year’s Solo Small Firm Conference and hope to see you there!
Many lawyers are aware that freelance lawyers can assist other lawyers and law firms with legal research, drafting, due diligence and other “behind the scenes” legal work. However, that is not all we do. Freelance lawyers can also assist with in-person court appearances, discoveries, cross-examinations, mediations, etc.
Often sole practitioners, or lawyers at smaller firms, do not have the luxury of asking the lawyer down the hall to step in for them should an emergency arise, or when they are double-booked. Flex Lawyers can be the lawyers you turn to, to act as your agent. Below are just some of the examples of how our Flex Lawyers have assisted other lawyers and law firms in the past:
Contact us to learn more about our court appearance services in Toronto.
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