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April 2012 Newsletter

April 1, 2012


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I thought long and hard about a clever April Fools related newsletter but simply couldn’t muster the creative juices necessary to fool such a savvy readership. Instead, I’ll err on the safe side and provide a few highlights from what has already been a very busy spring.

First, as you can see from the photograph above, we made a trip up to the Alberta Children’s Hospital a couple weeks ago to formally present our $25,000 donation to the hard working staff at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. Having made two other purely “business” trips to the children’s in March, my four year old’s asthma attack and my 10 year old’s concussion (they’re both fine), it was nice to be there and actually pay for parking. Thank you to our clients for making this sort of donation possible. We have re-upped our commitment for the 2012 Candy Cane Gala and will once proudly serve as a Gold Level sponsor later this year. So please, keep those searches coming!

We also made great gains in our fundraising for the upcoming Gordie Howe Stick It To Alzheimer’s Hockey Tournament taking place in two weeks time. Thanks in part to your overwhelming response to being shamed, I mean encouraged by me last month, we currently sit as the #2 ranked fundraising team and we have easily the most individual donations made (small ball works!). Yours truly spent most of March in the #1 spot for individual fundraising but I’ve slipped to number 3 over the past few days. For anyone who hasn’t made a donation, there’s still time. Click here and give generously, or not generously. Every little bit helps.


Finally, and perhaps I should have led with this, we are proud to be releasing our second not bi-annual but Once-Every-So-Often White Paper.  You can find the 2012 edition entitled Client Service Revisited on our website or by clicking here. We surveyed 120 in-house counsel on emerging trends in client service; what works, what doesn’t, what annoys them and what pleases them. We hope you will find it interesting. We did. Then again, we don’t live particularly exciting lives.

Enjoy this month’s articles.   Have a great April.



Supreme Court Ruling lets Lawyers talk tough with Judges
By:  Kirk Makin
Article Link:

The Supreme Court of Canada has given lawyers a green light to criticize judges with toughly worded passion, provided they do not veer into the sort of invective that would earn public disapproval.

In a decision that provides badly needed guidance to the legal profession, the court said lawyers enjoy a constitutional right to vent their spleen about judges or the justice system. [Read more]

2012 In-House Compensation Report
By:  Ashley Post
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Experts note a moderate increase in salaries and bonuses, offer advice on how to earn more.

As dedicated readers of InsideCounsel know, each month the magazine features a profile of a general counsel. In these profiles, reporters routinely ask their interviewees this question: What advice would you give to a young lawyer aspiring to become a GC?  [Read more]

A Fresh Look at the Strategy Process
By:  Stephen Mabey
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It is with no intended humour that I speculate that there are law firms claiming success in achieving their strategic targets having done so by shooting first and calling whatever they hit their target.

Many law firms have thrown up their hands in disgust, frustration, and defeat throughout their strategic planning exercise for myriad reasons. The reasons for quitting generally fall into three main categories:  [Read more]

Establishing Core Values in Your Law Firm
By:  Eric Seeger
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The slow economy of the last three years forced law firms into unprecedented personnel cuts that hit support staff as well as associates and eventually even cut into some partnership ranks. For many firms these were agonizingly difficult decisions.

Some firms had to come to grips with the fact that they had gotten lax on their recruiting, promotion, and performance standards. Some lawyers weren’t cutting it. Some were producing revenue but causing other problems. Many firms had more lawyers than work. When someone has to go, who decides? On what basis? Does an underperforming lawyer get a chance to improve? To what level, and over what period of time?  [Read more] 

Personality Counts
By:  Julius Melnitzer
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Personality or skills? Which counts more for articling students and young lawyers looking to build successful careers?

“You’ve got to have both,” says Deborah Dalfen, the Toronto-based Director of Student Affairs at Torys LLP. “Being a lawyer means that you’re in a people business, so it’s as much about building and developing relationships as it is about technical skills.”

So what are the personality traits that fit this bill? “Gregarious is probably an overstatement,” says Dalfen, “but we’re certainly talking about people who are well-rounded and engaging and can talk about things other than the legal and business issues at hand. It’s not so much a personality type as an interest in and a desire for new relationships.”  [Read more]

What Your Resume is Up Against
By:  Susan Adams
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Last week, the job search site, released research showing that recruiters only spend an average of 6.25 seconds looking at a candidate’s résumé before deciding whether he or she is a fit for a job.

The study also shows that recruiters spend 80% of that six seconds looking at just six things:  [Read more]

Be the Better Person
By:  Gail J. Cohen
Article Link:

I’m going to put this out there as a universal truth in the legal profession: at one point, everyone’s been on the other side of the table to another lawyer who’s not been civil. Perhaps it’s been in the courtroom, perhaps just in the hallway, or maybe it was in a letter or a series of letters, or it’s just been during a short phone call. And it seems it doesn’t matter what area of law you practice — civil litigation, corporate-commercial, real estate, family, criminal, immigration law, etc. — there’s always a bad egg out there somewhere. And it’s such a scourge on the profession that law societies, bar associations, and legal academics have tried to tackle the “problem.” But the “problem” really is that rudeness can’t be cured or legislated. “You can’t change an a-hole,” one distinguished member of the bar recently noted at a panel I attended on civility.  [Read more]

6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers
By:  Paul J. H. Schoemaker
Article Link:

You’re the boss, but you still spend too much time on the day-to-day. Here’s how to become the strategic leader your company needs.

In the beginning, there was just you and your partners. You did every job. You coded, you met with investors, you emptied the trash and phoned in the midnight pizza. Now you have others to do all that and it’s time for you to “be strategic.”

Whatever that means.  [Read more]