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March 2012 Newsletter

March 1, 2012


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You made me do it. I didn’t want to do it but you gave me no choice. Another photo of the mighty Parkview Richards and their stellar afro quaffed goaltending dynamo. Do you think the kid behind me wanted the “A” or what?? That looks like a homemade tape job. Why not go for the C?

These photos have been released from the vault solely in the name of charity. Among a host of worthy causes, The Gordie Howe Stick It To Alzheimer’s fundraising hockey tournament is truly exceptional and I will ask again for your support. Can you believe last month’s plea went completely unanswered? Nada. Zilch. So, here’s what I propose. In honour of the Oscars, Moneyball and Billy Beane, how about we play a little small ball? If every person who receives this newsletter simply donates $25 to this worthy cause, the Pekarsky Stein Pro Bonos will be the top fundraising team out of 24 teams entered. If every person who receives this newsletter and actually reads it donates $25, we will be among the top 10. Not bad. $25! $25 to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Maybe last month you meant to donate but you forgot. That’s a bad joke in poor taste but I went there in the name of giving you the benefit of the doubt. $25!? That’s a couple fewer decaf skim extra hot wet caramel lattes with whip with a triple shot of caramel macchiato with skim milk, light foam, and extra caramel sauce lining the sides of the cup no whip but a pinch of nutmeg in a Venti cup, and an extra shot of vanilla this month. I know you can do it. Click here.

In other news, we had a busy February at the firm. Calgary is booming, no doubt about it. We were delighted to commence a great General Counsel search for The University of Calgary, we expanded our breadth into the regulatory world and we successfully concluded a rewarding search for Calgary Legal Guidance. Speaking of which, congratulations to CLG on their 40th anniversary. You guys do amazing work. Our firm bought a table for the gala dinner and thoroughly enjoyed our night at Hotel Arts. Thanks to my old articling principal, who shall remain nameless (clue: rhymes with Alex MacWilliam) for corrupting my young, impressionable associates who carried on into the wee hours but did manage to make it to work the next day. At least, in body.

The month ended with yours truly delivering a speech at the annual CALA Managing Partners luncheon held at Centini. The large audience seemed generally attentive and laughed politely at some, though not all of my jokes. Personally, I thought the cartoon below which accompanied the part of my talk about the importance of being nice to people when they choose to leave your firm to, for instance, go in-house, deserved a bigger laugh. Then again, my affection (affliction?) for The Far Side cartoon series isn’t shared by all. Still, it was an honour to present to such an esteemed group and it would be my pleasure to do so again in the future.


We have added several new names to the newsletter distribution list. We hope you enjoy it. There are several excellent articles this month which can be found below. If you are not interested in receiving this note, you can unsubscribe by clicking below.

Looking forward, we have a busy March in store. Next time I write, the clocks will have sprung forward, what little winter we’ve had will be over and the author will be one year older.

See you in April, if not sooner. $25.


How West Was Won: Alberta, Sask., to Lead for Years
By:  Michael Babad
Article Link:

We learned from the census this week that economic and political clout is shifting west, where natural resources are driving provincial economies.

Economists at Toronto-Dominion Bank went a step further, with economic projections that show Alberta and Saskatchewan will lead Canada in growth for years.

Derek Burleton and Sonya Gulati did their forecasts for 2015-2021, going on the assumption that it will take three to four years to fully recovery from the crisis. [Read more]

Top Executive Recruiters Agree There are Only Three True Job Interview Questions
By:  George Bradt
Article Link:

The only three true job interview questions are:
1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?
3. Can we tolerate working with you?

That’s it. Those three. Think back, every question you’ve ever posed to others or had asked of you in a job interview is a subset of a deeper in-depth follow-up to one of these three key questions. Each question potentially may be asked using different words, but every question, however it is phrased, is just a variation on one of these topics: Strengths, Motivation, and Fit. [Read more]

Establishing Core Values in Your Law Firm
By:  Eric Seeger
Article Link:

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]

Moonlighting:  Going In-House?  It’s About Time
By:  Susan Moon
Article Link:

You may be one of those people who realized early on that law firm partnership is not for you. For me, this was the case even before I started law school. Law was going to be a second career for me, and by the day of my first 1L class, I already had two small children vying for my attention. Surprisingly, having small kids while in law school full time was not easy. You really need to be engaged in your kids’ interests, which can be hard when you’re also trying to dodge Socratic bullets for the first time. There was one semester when it literally took me an entire week to defeat the Elite Four in Pokémon Yellow. Tough times, tough times.  [Read more]

What was the Point of that Again?
By:  Neill May
Article Link:

Corporate law is, I suppose, like a lot of specialized activities — users of corporate legal services seem generally to have little interest in, or understanding of, the ugly machinery of the industry (in this case, the vagaries of statutory requirements, the overlay of common law dictates, and the realities of common practice). And really, why should they? When someone comes to fix my hard drive, I don’t want to know details about the processor, the circuitry, or the history of the PC. I just want to know that there are either no problems, or that whatever problems there were have been fixed.  [Read more]

What do Clients Think about Law Firm Marketing?
By:  Daniel J. DiLucchio, Jr. and James S. Wilber
Article Link:

Law firms that want to get on a potential client’s radar screen for the first time should focus on personal contact and substantive content according to the Altman Weil Chief Legal Officer Survey conducted last fall. We asked CLOs to rate the effectiveness of ten typical marketing activities including sponsorships, directory listings, social media and more. Take a look at how they scored.

Download the report

A Young Lawyer’s Guide to Approaching a Mentor
By:  Michael P. Maslanka
Article Link:

Most law students and new lawyers know it’s critical to have a mentor, but how can they find one? Lawyers are busy, the economy is bad, and it’s easy to feel adrift. In this and future columns, I’m going to share what new and aspiring lawyers need to know, without a bunch of fluff that doesn’t add value.

What qualifies me to write as a mentor? During three decades of practice, I’ve won and lost a lot of cases and been on both sides of the desk, as an employee and a boss. I see a lot of résumés as managing partner of my firm’s Dallas office. I’m a member of the American Inns of Court, a group that devotes time to mentoring. I spend a fair amount of time with 3Ls and new lawyers seeking counsel on their careers.[Read more]

The Blurring Lines of In-House Counsel
By:  Jennifer Brown
Article Link:

When lawyers move in-house they obviously do so with their own career aspirations in mind. Some have an entrepreneurial spirit like that of Evan Johnston, general counsel of Churchill Corp. based in Calgary who, when I spoke with him back in September, told me bluntly that in five years he didn’t want to have a law job — he wanted to be on track to move into more of a business role.

There are others, like AGF Management Ltd.’s new senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary Mark Adams who started out as a securities lawyer and loved that area of law, but wanted to broaden his activities to include more of what in-house duties involve, while staying within the realm of the capital markets.[Read more]

Paperless Law Offices:  An Altman Weil Flash Survey
By:  James S. Wilber
Article Link:

Does your firm convert incoming paper documents to electronic format on a systematic basis? It might come as a surprise that nearly a quarter of law firms say they have formal paperless office programs in place. For those who are reviewing their own paperless initiatives or are considering implementing one, this AW Flash Survey will provide some guidance on how others have structured their programs.

Download the survey