All Our Practice Tips
Remember Your Lawyer Assistance Program
Research shows that lawyers are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety and substance abuse than average. And according to Ontario lawyer-turned-social worker Doron Gold, “If there’s stigma in society generally, the stigma is tenfold in the legal profession.”
Today’s practice tip is a reminder that every province and territory has a lawyer assistance program that exists to help members of the legal profession and those that care about them. Services and programs vary, but most have confidential helplines, counselling, peer support programs, and many more offerings to benefit lawyers, judges, law students, their immediate families and colleagues.
The Judges Counselling Program is another Canadian organization that provides support to judges, justices of the peace, masters, prothonotaries, and their spouses and eligible children.
Go to Live Events
Technology has made life better in oh so many ways. Today, we
can even make new connections with colleagues and clients, without leaving
the comfort of our home or office.
But there’s been a price to pay.
We’ve become less inclined to get out there, in person. The truth is, it’s just so much easier not to. No traffic. No subway closures or delays. For lawyers, that translates into joining webinars instead of attending live conferences and other educational programs.
That’s a shame because there are so many good reasons to
make the effort to show up in person. Here are just three!
- Your phone can’t replace the energy of a room.
While, you may hear the same content, somehow you won’t have the same
experience. Live is better. Every time. A live program will make a bigger
impact and stay with you longer.
- You never know who you will meet. Sometimes
the most ordinary event can result in the most important of connections. You
won’t know, if you don’t put yourself out there.
- Solutions to the issues you’re struggling
with don’t happen in isolation. When you meet up with a group of peers,
discussions about shared challenges and opportunities tend to happen
So, the next time you receive an invitation or a newsletter
or someone asks if you’d like to join them at a professional event, make the
effort! Better yet, be the someone
asking others to join you.
For more reading related to networking for lawyers, see these
past articles on SlawTips and Slaw:
Also, see the following related articles by Sandra Bekhor,
Practice Development Consultant:
– Sandra Bekhor, Toronto
Getting Cross With Affidavits: Think About Specifying Whether the Affiant Swore or Affirmed
enlightened country with an enlightened legal system practised by (hopefully)
enlightened legal professionals, we are accustomed to certain neutralities that
make no preference for religious beliefs. One such neutrality is the legal
equivalence between swearing and affirming an affidavit. Accordingly, the
form affidavits provided by courts in every Canadian common law jurisdiction
contain a jurat with the words “Sworn
(or Affirmed) before me at . . .”, with the options of “swearing” or
“affirming” both accounted for in the template language.
an affiant may be free to choose between swearing and affirming, it may be good practice to
ensure the jurat specifies which
option was used. Leaving the form language unchanged (that is, containing both
“sworn” and “affirmed”) may be frowned upon (or worse… technically improper).
arose in British Columbia v. Adamson, where Chief Justice Hinkson of the BCSC suggested
that affidavits containing the language “sworn (or affirmed)” within the jurat (that is, without specifying which
was used) were “improper” and would have been rejected were they not being
adduced in the context of an interim application (see para. 19). The Chief
Justice may have been disappointed that counsel had apparently neglected to
review the “Guide to Preparing Your Affidavit,” provided by the BCSC on its
website, which stresses that a jurat should
make clear whether it was sworn or affirmed: “You do one or the other, not
both. Cross out or delete the one that does not apply to you.”
(though not all) Canadian jurisdictions and institutions provide express
guidance that a jurat should specify
whether the affidavit had been either sworn or affirmed. Saskatchewan’s Guidelines for the Use of Commissioners for Oaths, for example, states that a proper jurat should identify whether the
affidavit was sworn or affirmed, and only contain one or the other (at p. 7). The
Northwest Territories’ Information and Instructions for Commissioners for Oaths and New
Brunswick’s Commissioner of Oaths Handbook give similar instructions.
While it is perhaps a questionable invasion of privacy to force affiants
to specify whether their evidence was sworn or affirmed, consider removing any
form language in an affidavit that refers to both “sworn/affirmed” options
before it is signed. If it is known in advance whether the affiant will swear
or affirm, consider
whether the corresponding language should be used in the jurat. If the affiant’s preferences are unknown at the time the
affidavit is drafted, consider
crossing out the inapplicable language once the affiant makes their
election and then initial the alteration.
Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.
Slaw Tips Reaches 1000 Tips!
As noted on Slaw – this week, Slaw Tips reached a big milestone: 1000 tips!
From the Slaw post:
Launched in 2011, the site’s very first tips dealt with turning off pop-up email notifications, finding moved web pages and preventing your firm’s star performers from being poached–all still relevant today.
Our current and past contributors are a talented team of practicing lawyers, librarians, consultants and entrepreneurs–smart folks who generously share their wisdom with our 15,000 monthly visitors.
We tip our hats (pun fully intended!) to all our past and present Tips authors: thank you for sharing your insight, skill, humour and enthusiasm with the Slaw community.
Would you like to join the Slaw Tips team? We’re looking for contributors to write short and sweet tips in the areas of law practice, technology, and research. Tips are posted to Slaw Tips, featured in a weekly roundup on Slaw.ca, and publicized via Twitter and the Slaw Tips email subscription list.
Interested? Please get in touch via the Slaw contact form.
It’s Not What You Say; It’s How You Say It: Using Typefaces to Write More Persuasively
When drafting documents, the voluminous typeface options at our disposal may sometimes leave us overwhelmed and relying on the safety of default options, such as Calibri in the case of Microsoft’s Office Suite, or Arial for Google’s suite of cloud-based applications. But venturing beyond the confines of the defaults can not only help your documents appear less rote, but can also increase the effectiveness of the underlying text.
A 2013 experiment conducted by the New York Times found that the choice of typeface has a measurable impact on the persuasiveness of the underlying text. The experimented tested six fonts—including Helvetica, Georgia, Baskerville, and Comic Sans—and asked readers to rate the believability of a series of statements, each written in a different typeface. Unsurprisingly, the much-maligned Comic Sans was found to be the least persuasive. But it was the text written in Baskerville that was most persuasive to readers. A similar experiment conducted in 2016 also found Baskerville to be the most “trustworthy” typeface.
Of course, when drafting documents for a particular institution, your choice of typeface may be restricted. The Ontario Court of Appeal, for example, “encourages” the use of Arial or Times New Roman for all text in factums. The British Columbia Court of Appeal is even more stringent in its requirements, mandating the use of 12-point Arial for all submissions—a constraint sure to disappoint Matthew Butterick, author of Typography for Lawyers, who once declared “you cannot create good typography with Arial”.
For its part, the Supreme Court of Canada requires the use of Times New Roman or a “comparable font”. Judicial interpretation may be required to clarify whether the sans-serif Arial is “comparable” to the seriffed Times New Roman.
And if you’re still not convinced, try converting this Tip into Baskerville and reading it again.
Shawn Erker (@ShawnErker) is Legal Writer & Content Manager at LAWPRO.
A “Business Coaching for Lawyers” Explainer
Have you ever had a conversation with someone – a spouse, a colleague, an advisor – that shifted things for you? You somehow felt just a little less burdened or constrained after the fact? More hopeful even?
They asked the right questions.
They listened, actively, as you tried to sort something out, aloud.
They shared from their own experience.
They gave you something profound to mull over.
Well, folks, that’s essentially the value of business coaching.
Whether your struggles are focused on practice development, accountability from your team, leadership in your community, communication with clients or learning to delegate more, coaching conversations with a skilled consultant can help you to overcome your biggest obstacles to growth.
Those obstacles were there a month ago. Six months ago. Even a year ago. You can safely predict that they will continue to fester. But you don’t have to just sit back and wait. Begin the process of effecting change with a meaningful conversation today.
For more reading related to business coaching for lawyers, see these past articles on SlawTips:
– Sandra Bekhor, Toronto
Plug Into Law Podcasts
If you were paying attention to the last installment of the Canadian Law Blog Awards (aka Clawbies) this past December, you probably noticed that podcasts are more popular than ever. The top prize even went to a podcast this year!
Today’s tip is to expand your professional development horizons past print and in-person, and check out a podcast.
A good place to start is with the outstanding productions that were mentioned in the 2018 Clawbies:
Other great podcasts (including more Clawbies winners) can be found in the lawblogs.ca Podcasts & Vlogs section.
For more recommendations, including a bunch from beyond Canada, check out Connie Crosby’s recent post: Legal Knowledge Professionals’ Podcast Roundup – Jan 18 2019
What You Need to Know About Crossing the Border With Electronic Devices
With travellers at Canadian airports and border crossings subject to increasing scrutiny, it is important for lawyers and Quebec notaries to have an understanding of how the privacy interests of their clients may be impacted by legislation and policies developed to address public safety issues. Legal counsel should also understand that their profession does not make them immune to policies and processes that could impact information otherwise subject to solicitor-client privilege.
Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries travelling internationally with electronic devices face increasing uncertainty about how those electronic devices will be treated by border agents on apprehension by Canadian Border Security Agency (“CBSA”) officers on return to Canada, by border agents in the U.S., or by border agents in other international destinations. Searching the electronic device (including smart phones, laptops, and USB sticks) of a legal professional may infringe solicitor-client privilege when that legal professional crosses borders.
A new advisory, Crossing the Border with Electronic Devices: What Canadian Legal Professionals Should Know, developed by the Policy Counterpart Group of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (the “Federation”) with the assistance of law society practice advice counsel, describes the risks of travelling with an electronic device when returning to Canada, going through pre-clearance with U.S. border officials on Canadian soil, and when travelling to the U.S. and beyond. This advisory also identifies relevant professional responsibilities, and concludes with suggestions and advice for Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries on minimizing those risks.
 Office of the Privacy Commissioner, “Your privacy at airports and borders,” (October 2018), online: https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/public-safety-and-law-enforcement/your-privacy-at-airports-and-borders/
[This tip originally appeared on on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog]
We Were Born Free, and Everywhere We Are in Email Chains
Thanks to technology, we have habits no previous generation has ever had. You probably wake up in the morning and pick up your cell phone first thing. You check your emails before you brush your teeth. You sit down at your desk in the office and check your emails before you check your to-do list. You hear a chime and look at your phone and check your emails in the middle of a contract you’ve been drafting for the last hour. You think there’s got to be a better way. And there is. Now, I don’t yearn for the way things once were – paper letters are, increasingly, welcome curiosities in this modern age. Work-by-email is a miserable form of existence. Emails create the impression of urgency but, often, without the importance. And there is a difference between what is urgent and important. Your to-do list can be decided intentionally, not dictated by companies whose well-being depends on your addicted habits to their devices. So give yourself licence to break free from the chains.
Wake up and refuse to check your emails. Calmly enter your day with your own thoughts. Come into work, sit down, and think about what you want to do first. And when the time comes – based on your choice, not as a response to a beeping stimuli, check your email. Consider scheduling a time to check emails – 10am? 2pm? 5pm? And then be done with it. The always-on technology does not mean you must always be on, a recipe for disaster. Take a break from the tech and take hold of the reins. For we are inspired from the great Jean-Jacques Rousseau: we confess our addiction to email, and we throw away the chains.
—Ian Hu (@IanHuLawpro)
Create Your Own Personal Pension Plan
2019 is here and rather than lament about funds you already spent in 2018, now is the time to get back on track and set savings goals. Statistics say the average millionaire saves at least 20 percent of what they earn. Are you on track to create real wealth for yourself in 2019? If you are an incorporated professional pay close attention to this tip: There are still ways to save for retirement using your corporation even with the recent tax changes. Consider the benefits of creating your very own personal pension plan.
WHAT IS AN INDIVIDUAL PENSION PLAN ?
An Individual Pension Plan (IPP) is a defined benefit pension plan. If you are a legal professional who owns a professional corporation, an IPP offers maximum tax relief and a maximum retirement pension. The result is an owner of a legal corporation no longer has to rely on Registered Retirement Savings Plan’s (RRSPs) performance to provide for a long and happy retirement. That’s because IPPs also offer guaranteed lifetime income and any surplus in the plan belongs to you.
WHY ARE IPPs SO POPULAR?
Incorporated legal professionals like the fact that the pension they will receive is known well in advance of their retirement date. They also like that at age 50 the maximum contribution to an IPP is $7106 dollars higher than a traditional RRSP and is also creditor protected. They can also include past service to an IPP for years they did not contribute all the way back to 1991. This can significantly increase what can be contributed to the plan along with increasing their tax deduction. IPPs can also be set up for the legal professionals spouse if the spouse is an income –earning employee of the corporation. Set up Fees are also tax deductible to the corporation.
WHAT IS THE TAX SAVING OPPORTUNITY?
High Income Earners
Legal professional corporations who have income over $130000 will pay taxes over the 46 percent rate for each dollar they earn over that amount. If your income is over$220,000 you are now in the highest tax bracket of 52 percent. If you plan to maximize your RRSP contributions anyway this is an excellent vehicle to provide additional tax deductions and save for retirement while making the most of your tax bracket.
Sale of a Business
Most law firms are sold to family members or partners. The proceeds from these types of asset sales are treated as taxable income. By setting up an IPP now using terminal funding, a deduction can be created against this income.
Legislation requires funding projections to be based on a retirement at the age of 65.
However, anytime after attaining age 60, a member of an IPP can retire and supplement the benefits provided in the plan by adding unreduced early retirement benefits, cost of living increases and bridging benefits. These early retirement benefits can provide a significant additional tax deduction for the company.
- Legal professionals who own a professional corporation
- Individuals age 40 or older
- People who earn employment income reported on a T4 of at least $132,300 from the company sponsoring the Individual Pension Plan
—Jackie Porter (@askjackieporter)