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Erin Cowling’s wonderful interview series, Women Leading in Law, is back up and running after a bit of a break.

In response to the difficult times we’re in, Cowling notes, “I don’t know about you but I need some good news right about now. And I believe there’s nothing better than reading positive stories about women kicking butt in law“.

In her series (at 45 interviews and counting!), Cowling asks women lawyers working in a wide variety of roles and practice areas a standard set of six questions:

  • Tell me a little about your practice or business.
  • Why did you go to law school?
  • How did you get to where you are today? Design? Chance? Both?
  • What is your most significant achievement?  What are you proud of?
  • What are some key challenges, and more importantly, opportunities for women in law?
  • What advice would you give a woman starting her legal career?

The responses are fascinating and unexpected and contain excellent advice. Spending some time reading them is almost guaranteed to inspire you!

 

Our personal and professional lives have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19. We’re all trying our best to stay informed, remain physically and mentally healthy, and to live and work in this brave new world. I am not alone in suggesting that staying informed about this pandemic and experiencing this constant barrage of information about COVID-19 through the media, social media, and web has become mentally and physically exhausting. How do you stay informed, prevent information overload, and remain mentally well all at the same time? 

As a law librarian, one of my skill sets is navigating, curating, aggregating, and communicating sources of information and content. In my workplace, the Law Society of Saskatchewan, we are doing our best to guide you towards reliable sources of information about COVID-19 and its impact on your physical and mental health, the practice of law, and the judicial system. 

In this vein, we offer some suggestions that may help you to stay informed: 

1. Fight Fake News:

Misinformation and unsubstantiated stories about COVID-19 are rife. Don’t forget to critically evaluate and assess the content you view. In this infographic, the International Federation of Library Associations suggests you evaluate the source, check the author, consider the supporting sources, and more.

2. Follow These Information Sources to Learn More:

We encourage you to follow these excellent resources for frequent posts and accurate information regarding COVID-19 and the practice of law: 

This document provides practical guidance regarding the virus’s impact on Canadian employment law, commercial law, corporate law, and litigation practices.  This material is only available to those with access to LexisNexis Quicklaw.      

Canadian Lawyer provides a daily post aggregating updates from Canadian courts and law firms.   

Lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault are monitoring and reporting on all emergency measures being taken by Canada’s Federal and Provincial governments during the pandemic. 

WestlawNext is collecting and curating all case law, decisions, and legislation related to COVID-19.  Scroll to the bottom of the Westlaw Next homepage and select the “COVID-19 Legal Materials” link. 

The CBA resource hub provides legal and justice system updates, a great collection of mental health resources, and a variety of professional development resources you may want to take advantage of during the pandemic.   

One of the leading news sources for news about the legal and justice systems during COVID-19, follow The Lawyer’s Daily for multiple posts per day about the coronavirus.  

How is the pandemic driving innovation in the legal sector and the justice system?  Follow Jordan Furlong’s Law21 blog to learn more!

3. Take a Break!

Finally, don’t be afraid to take an “information break” from the news media, social media, or any other sources of information about coronavirus.  This is an overwhelming situation and we are experiencing a global pandemic, after all.   

A version of this tip by Alan Kilpatrick first appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog.

 

Three standout posts on surviving and thriving during this abrupt change to working life:

Staying sane while shifting to remote work

Halifax lawyer Jennifer Taylor shares crowdsourced gems of wisdom on “how to be a lawyer, and a feminist, working from home in the age of COVID-19” (CBA National)

What Lessons Lawyers Can Learn From Week One of Working From Home

US lawyer coach Lauren Krasnow outlines 13 best practices for “how to remain effective, realistic, responsive and human.” (Law.com)

New work from home reality an opportunity for law firms

Toronto PR & communications pro Andrea Lekushoff posits that the coronavirus pandemic could be an “opportunity to begin moving away from the always-on, always-here law-firm culture, to step boldly into a new, flexible way of working.” (The Lawyer’s Daily)

 

Clio has just announced a $1 million COVID-19 legal relief initiative in order “to help create business continuity and peace of mind for you, your law firm or your legal organization. Open to the entire legal industry, funding can be used towards financial assistance for legal technology, getting educational support from industry leaders, and onboarding support as you move to the cloud.”

Learn more and apply for help at https://www.clio.com/covid-relief/

 

A very quick tip today: Bob Ambrogi has assembled a webpage that lists “products and services offered by companies for free to support the work of legal professionals during the coronavirus crisis.”

LawSites: Coronavirus Resources

If you have something to add to the list, email Bob (ambrogi-at-gmail.com) or tweet him (@bobambrogi).

Hat tip to Jordan Furlong for the heads-up.

 

Like fashion, communication methods evolve, change, and sometimes come back again. During the twentieth century, telephones became ubiquitous, largely replacing the need for written telegrams and letters. Today, that trend has reversed, with text messages and e-mail the dominant and preferred method of communication in many contexts, especially with younger generations.

But effective telephone communication is a skill that can atrophy as we use it less in our daily lives. As such, here are six things to consider before picking up that antiquated telephone contraption.

1. Prepare
Preparing for a call ensures that key points and issues will be discussed and will keep the conversation on track. Preparing might mean thinking about the call for a couple minutes, jotting down an outline, or thinking of specific language for sensitive topics.

2. Protect
Before taking a confidential call on your cell phone, find a private place to have the conversation or, if possible, wait until returning to the office.

3. Listen
Active listening cues, such as vocal acknowledgements or positive affirmations of understanding, can help keep conversations positive and effective.

4. Control
Excessive volume (see: yelling) is always a potential problem when contentious matters are at issue. If the other side lets their passions inform their volume, it’s okay to calmly inform them that they are yelling and ask them to stop (especially if it’s not a client).

5. Articulate
If your call is sent to voicemail, it’s a good idea to hang-up, compose the message you want to leave, and then call back. Clearly state the reason for the call, whether you will call back, give and spell your name, and provide a number at which you can be reached (and then repeat it for good measure).

6. Memorialize
Always make a written record of a phone conversation with clients or opposing counsel, either in a personal memo or follow-up email. Habitually doing so can prevent serious headaches and malpractice claims down the road.

Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.

 

How long have you been on LinkedIn? A few years? More? Have you added or changed anything since that time? Your headshot? Your profile? The type of content you post?

If it’s been more than a few years and not much has changed, now is the time to do just that! Even if you start with a single, small step.

Choose something easy…                                      

  • How about updating your headshot, so that it is current and engaging?
  • Simpler? You can change your title, so it’s not just accurate… it’s interesting.
  • Too much? Simply install the LinkedIn app on your smart phone and check your feed once a week. You can read what your connections post and jump into a conversation when you see something that matters to you.

Yes, it will take more than this first step to become a LinkedIn warrior. But once you start seeing the results of your efforts, you may find that you are surprised at just how motivated you are to keep going!

For more related reading, see these past articles on Slaw:

Also, see the following related articles by Sandra Bekhor at Toronto Marketing Blog:

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

CPLED is now hosting a Student Resume Directory on its website to assist students who are seeking articles. Students can create profiles here, indicating the type of position they are looking for, the location where they would like to work (Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan), and upload a copy of their resume. Employers can browse the student profiles and reach out to suitable candidates for opportunities in their organization using the Contact Form with each student’s profile. The Directory is free and available to law students seeking summer or articling positions.

[This tip originally appeared on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog.]

 

The holidays are just around the corner. Everyone looks forward to the cards, lunches, gifts, parties and general good cheer this time of the year. Maybe in some small way, it makes up for the cold!

So, here’s a thought to take all that goodwill up a notch. Why not use your holiday events as a platform to celebrate success? Whether it’s with your partners, your staff or your clients.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about this:

  • Have you made new connections this year? Can you get specific about that eg how many connections, how were the connections made or how did these connections add value to your practice…
  • Have any of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) improved this year? Profit, revenue or volume?  
  • Have you changed something about your services? Do you have any feedback or data about how well this change was received by your clients or staff?
  • Have you adopted a new process or technology that resulted in greater efficiency?
  • Have you made any new hires recently? Did they benefit from your onboarding process? Or did you not even need to hire because your retention is so solid? Celebrate that.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating how motivating discussions about a job well done can be. They can create opportunity to acknowledge others for their work and dedication.

And if having a positive experience using concrete data about your firm’s performance leads to an appetite for greater insight about how well the practice is running… even better!

Sandra Bekhor, Toronto

 

Smartphones provide lawyers with constant availability and the convenience of responding to queries and communications from any location at any time. But our devices can also be a source of distraction and addiction that discourage productivity and negatively impact our mental health.

A recent survey by Deloitte found that the average person checks their smartphone 52 times a day, while another study found the average person spends more than 3 hours on their phone daily. My own phone tells me that I receive an average of 78 notifications each day, causing a daily average of 73 “pickups”—each one interrupting workflow and concentration.

Making an active effort to reinforce self-control and limit our smartphone use can go a long way to ensuring we control our devices and our devices don’t control us. Dr. Gabrielle Golding, a lecturer with the University of Adelaide Law School, recommends lawyers pursue “digital detox” by scheduling predictable time away from smartphones and computers each week, slowly acclimatizing oneself to feeling “disconnected”, refraining from using any digital devices in bed, and taking up a non-technological hobby.

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with applications such as iPhone’s Screen Time and Android’s Digital Wellbeing functions, which allow users to set limits on when and how they use their smartphone. Blocks of phone-free time can be set in advance, or limits can be placed on certain applications. These applications also provide daily summaries of just how much time a user spends on individual applications—the results of which may surprise you.

Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.