In this Addendum...
Addendum is published by National magazine, the official magazine of the Canadian Bar Association. The views expressed in the articles contained herein are solely the views of theauthors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Bar Association.
You may recognize some of the articles in this edition of Law Student Addendum. Excerpted versions appear in the National’s Law Student 2008, a special issue of the magazine dedicated and circulated exclusively to Canada’s 10,000 law students. This year’s edition, released in September, features stories on the uncertain future of articling, preparing students for the profession, transforming the teaching of law, the search for private donors, and more...
Pick up your copy at your law school office, or check out the online issue.
© Copyright 2008 Canadian Bar Association.
Navigating the Boomer workplace
By Alison Arnot
There have been countless articles and news stories on the Y generation or “Millennials,” the 20-somethings now entering the workforce, and how the older generations will have to adjust to this new force in the workplace.
But last we checked, the older generations — the Baby Boomers and some members of Generation X — still hold the power and make most of the decisions, particularly in workplaces (like law firms) where hierarchy reigns. So until the Millennials run the partnership committees, here are some tips for thriving in the law firm workspace.
Members of Generation Y are used to receiving a lot of positive reinforcement and constant feedback, which they may not get from some older lawyers at a firm. If you need feedback, you may have to ask for it.
1. Be aware of the hierarchy. “This [Millennial] generation is very aggressive to go straight to what they need,” says Tammy Hughes, president of Claire Raines & Associates, a Texas-based human resources consulting firm. At a law firm, this may translate into going to a senior partner with questions or ideas rather than seeking input from your middle manager.
“The biggest thing that you’ll need to help coach them with,” says Hughes, “and they are very open to coaching, is that there are hierarchies, especially in law firms.” This leads to the second point:
2. Understand the older generations. Hughes quotes an Arab proverb, “People resemble their times more than they resemble their parents.” Boomers grew up in a time of great change and entered the workforce during economic prosperity. Their childhood may have been lacking in comfort, but they made up for it later, becoming the generation known for its materialism.
Generation X, on the other hand, is about half the size of the previous generation, and many members grew up in a house where the parents were divorced and/or where both parents worked. They’re the original latch-key kids, which produced a certain autonomy and independence in their work style. They also have different priorities than previous generations, working to live, rather than living to work.
This brings us to Millennials, a large cohort that received lots of parental support, grew up in a scheduled environment and were constantly coached. “[Theirs] was a very fun time to be a child, everybody was caring for you and doting on you. That is not [the experience of] the generation that precedes them,” says Hughes. So if your manager doesn’t want to discuss the weekend, but wants to get down to business, you should understand that’s not an insult, but may simply be a refection of the time she grew up in.
3. Learn from their experience. “That doesn’t mean you can’t express your ideas,” says Hughes. But be prepared for criticism. “If your idea gets shot down, that’s okay.” Members of Generation Y are used to receiving a lot of positive reinforcement and constant feedback, which they may not get from some older lawyers at a firm. If you need feedback, you may have to ask for it.
The law firm setting may also require more independence from younger lawyers than they’re used to. “Generation Y lawyers, through the way that they’ve been educated or brought up, are used to group work,” says Tara Erskine, manager of legal human resources at McInnes Cooper in Halifax.
“And Generation X lawyers are pretty good at being independent. So the Generation Y lawyers may need to be a little bit more independent and be able work on a project. Certainly, there will be opportunities for group work, but that won’t always be the case.”
4. Accept the reality of face time. Lawyers who’ve spent many years at a firm may be used to measuring the amount of work the younger associates are doing by the amount of face time they put in, Erskine points out. So if you’re a 20-something who’s used to taking the laptop home to work the wee hours away, you need to let the older lawyers know that’s what you’re doing.
As well, younger lawyers should have some flexibility in their schedules on evenings and weekends to be able to take advantage of client-contact opportunities that may arise, such as charitable events, says Erskine.
5. Communicate old-school. Some of the firm’s more seasoned lawyers may prefer to meet face-to-face rather than conversing by e-mail. “The older lawyer may have a different understanding of what it means to meet and work on a file together,” says Erskine. She advises establishing how you’ll communicate with each other on a project from the outset.
Still, the generational rift regarding comfort with technology is disappearing. Don Higa, director of professional development and risk management at Macleod Dixon LLP in Calgary, doesn’t believe this is an issue. “Everybody here works remotely and by e-mail,” he says. “Even the oldest lawyers are doing that…. The reality is that your clients are doing it, so you’re forced to.”
6. Be clear about your career goals, but also be patient. Most firms follow the traditional partnership model, in which associates put in a specific amount of years and then are expected to apply to become partners. However, there are indications that this model may be changing to meet the varied priorities of younger generations.
For some Millennials, making partner may not be a priority, while others may be in a hurry to get there. “Firms have to be flexible to realize that partnership is not the goal for all lawyers,” says Erskine.
McInnes Cooper has created flexibility in its partnership model in two ways. It has shortened the timeline after which you can apply to provide associates who feel they have fulfilled the requirements with the opportunity to advance earlier. Meanwhile, lawyers with differing priorities don’t have to apply after seven years, as has been expected in the past. “It’s not an ‘up or out’ model as has traditionally been the case,” explains Erskine, “and our associates have responded quite positively to that.”
Whatever generation you’re from, there should be a place for you in the legal workplace. For his part, Don Higa doesn’t believe there is much difference between generations. To him, any variations in work style and priorities are simply the result of aging. “People change because of maturity and obligations — financial, family and otherwise,” he says. “As you get older, you have those obligations.”
Alison Arnot is a freelance writer. This article appears in the National’s Law Student 2008 issue.
Is wi-fi a no-go? Whether to ban wireless access in classrooms
By Daniel Casciato
Wireless access is becoming ubiquitous on college campuses across North America, including many law schools. The upsides are obvious: better research access, easier communication, more information at students’ fingertips, etc. But there’s a growing debate over whether wireless access should end at the classroom door.
Professors are growing tired of students sending Instant Messages, surfing the web or otherwise spending classroom time ignoring the lecture and ensuing class discussions. One high-profile law school, at the University of Chicago, has even taken the step of banning wireless access during class.
Maureen Fitzgerald, president of CenterPoint, a conflict resolution law practice in Vancouver who earned her Ph.D. in legal studies, finds this an abhorrent practice. “I’m quite insulted by this. These are adults, not children to be pushed around.”
Fitzgerald, author of Legal Problem Solving: Reasoning, Research and Writing and formerly a law professor at the University of Victoria and UBC, says teachers need to engage students, so that they won’t easily be distracted. “If your teaching is so boring and so painful that your students are doing something else because they can’t see the relevance of what they’re learning — that’s your fault. If you’re really concerned, ask them to sit in the back so they don’t disrupt the class.”
Prof. William Henderson of the University of Indiana Faculty of Law, who blogs at Empirical Legal Studies, permits laptops and Internet access in his classroom, though he admits it’s difficult to monitor. But he says that students who are playing games or surfing the Internet are only sabotaging their future careers.
“While you’re in law school, you’re building your reputation. I’ve seen many examples of alumni who called former classmates to give them a half million dollars worth of business. This comes from impressions made during the first year of law school. I see this in my own career too, where people get academic jobs because of their great character.
“If you’re checking email and buying shoes online during class, it shows your lack of character,” Henderson says. “Your classmates will remember that.”
Daniel Casciato is a freelance writer.
Law firm recruiters chime in on J.D vs. LL.B debate
By Alison Arnot
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” William Shakespeare wrote centuries ago. In 2001, the University of Toronto tested that theory when it became the first Canadian law school to change its LL.B. designation to a J.D. (Juris Doctor).
In response to student-led initiatives, several more, including the University of Western Ontario, UBC, Queen’s, and Osgoode Hall, have followed suit in the past year. The thinking behind the change is to provide parity with other professions such as doctors (M.D.) and to increase the recognition of the degree internationally.
But what do law firm recruiters in Canada and abroad really think about the J.D. vs. LL.B. debate? Not much.
“In the Vancouver marketplace and probably in the Canadian marketplace, it doesn’t make a difference,” says Nadia Myerthall, director of student programs at Davis LLP in Vancouver. “It’s exactly the same. It’s just a change in title; it’s not a change in qualifications.
The J.D.: a change in title; not a change in qualifications.
“I get résumés from J.D. candidates from the U of T, and I compare them to other candidates from other law schools. It’s not seen more favourably that they have a J.D.; it’s just that they have their law degree.” She adds, though: “I think that for students who are perhaps looking to go internationally, the J.D. is recognized more than the LL.B.”
Indeed, one of the reasons cited for the change to J.D. is that the LL.B. could be mistaken for an undergraduate degree by recruiters outside the country. In the United Kingdom, for example, students who receive an LL.B. go to law school straight from high school.
“There’s a difference in the skills and qualifications that the LL.B. from Canada brings,” says Myerthall, “but sometimes that may be lost in the interpretation.” The J.D. designation, it’s believed, would underline the fact that most if not all Canadian graduates receive an undergraduate degree before pursuing studies in law.
“Initially, I think the University of Toronto did it because the market for their students is a lot more focused than some other schools in the U.S. and internationally,” says Patti MacDonald, director of student and associate programs at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in Toronto. “I think maybe they found that some of those recruiters didn’t understand what the difference was between the designations.”
So are recruiters in the United States confused about what it takes to get an LL.B.?
“I think that more sophisticated firms understand the educational landscape in Canada and understand what an LL.B. is,” says Caronline Menes, Director of Legal Recruiting at Proskauer Rose LLP in New York.
“It is inconsequential to Proskauer Rose whether a student has a J.D. or an LL.B. ... I do not believe that any other large firms would view a student with a J.D. more favourably than one with an LL.B. The lawyers in our firm work aside and opposite Canadian lawyers regularly, and recognize that their legal expertise is equal to that of American lawyers.”
Anyone who’s doing recruiting professionally should be aware of differences, or lack thereof, between the various law designations, says MacDonald in Toronto. “If you are in charge of recruitment, you are looking at the résumé; you are seeing what degrees the candidate has, where they’ve gone to school, whether it’s a completed degree or partial degree. You’re not just skimming over the qualifications and looking at J.D. vs. LL.B.”
So if changing the name of the degree is inconsequential, is there anything else that law schools should be doing to improve their graduates’ prospects?
“I don’t know that they need to improve the degree,” says MacDonald. “I think our school system is for the most part very adequate. There are certain schools that place a little bit more focus on certain areas than others. That helps students choose which law schools they want to go, depending on the different focuses of the schools.”
For her part, Menes in New York sees nothing wrong with the Canadian legal education. “We have recently strengthened our recruiting efforts at Canadian schools, and look forward to increasing our presence at Canadian campuses and recruiting more Canadian students to our firm,” she says.
As part of the proposed change from LL.B. to J.D., universities are offering their law school alumni the opportunity to change their existing designation. The jury’s still out on whether many will take them up on their offer. “If given the opportunity to change the title of my degree,” says MacDonald, “I wouldn’t do that.”
Alison Arnot is a freelance writer. This article appears in the National’s Law Student 2008 issue.
Your online activities can expose you to unwanted scrutiny
By Bertrand Salvas
Information technology has changed the way we perceive the world and how the world perceives us. The seemingly infinite scope of the Web has led many Internet users, particularly professionals, to become preoccupied with the preservation of their so-called “cyber-reputations.”
Like proverbial bulls in a China shop, Internet users often divulge personal information through blogs and social networking sites without considering the long-term consequences of their indiscretions. So, what are the greatest risks and where are they most likely to be encountered?
Discussion forums, the quintessential online meeting point since the early days of the Internet, forewarned us of the risks associated with cyber-communication. As more advanced interactive tools began to eclipse discussion forums, concerns about online privacy only intensified.
Discussion forums, the quintessential online meeting point since the early days of the Internet, forewarned us of the risks associated with cyber-communication. Early forum users were often deceived by the illusion of privacy, unaware that records of their discussions were being stored. As web technology developed, these discussions would become readily available to all Internet users. Information and opinions once thought to be private began to resurface, much to the discomfort of professionals, businessmen and politicians.
These phenomena caused some early Internet users to demand a “right to forget” which would obligate webmasters to destroy sensitive online data after a given number of years. This was intended to ensure that web information could not outlast human memory. As more advanced interactive tools began to eclipse discussion forums, concerns about online privacy only intensified.
The latest online communication tools are more profit-driven than their predecessors. Many social networking sites today are aimed explicitly at gathering information for resale or to attract advertising.
Vincent Gautrais, a Professor in the Faculty of Law at Université de Montréal and a specialist in electronic privacy law, recently analyzed the information policies of Facebook, one of the most popular social networking sites. Gautrais discovered that all of the information stored on Facebook becomes the ipso facto property of the website. Therefore, all messages, photos, videos that are published on Facebook can be reused, resold or republished without users having much to say about it. Nevertheless, Gautrais is “not sure what Facebook could possibly gain from the majority of information on its pages. The risk stems mostly from photos that can be taken and published by third parties. The principal worry, therefore, is the protection of image rights.”
If we are to protect ourselves, we must first realize that the Internet is not an independent realm that is severed from reality. It is often equally, if not more dangerous, to divulge sensitive personal information on the Internet than it is in the so-called “real” world.
Cynthia Chassigneux, a researcher at the Centre de recherche en droit public, observes that many students don’t know the risks associated with the disclosure of personal information on websites like Facebook and MySpace. “We must be aware of the loopholes in these systems from the outset, and be willing to live with the consequences of our actions,” says Chassigneux, who holds a doctorate in law. “Facebook has been around for quite a while, so there are no excuses for not learning to protect ourselves. It is important to study the site’s terms and conditions and to adjust the settings that correspond to our levels of tolerance. If we choose to divulge our virtual lives to all observers, we must live with the consequences.”
At the same time, a frenzy of panic isn’t unwarranted: we shouldn’t assume that participating in such sites, or other web-based blogs and forums, will automatically harm our reputations. For Gautrais, “the inherent risks should not prohibit us from using these applications. These technologies are here to stay, and their unparalleled efficiency almost makes it a handicap not to use them. We must understand that there is no threat which cannot be countered with a minimal degree of education and social consciousness.”
Canadian law professors invade the blogosphere
By Brad Mackay
Canada is, per capita, one of the most vibrant and dynamic law-blogging countries in the world. As the Canadian Law Blogs list makes clear, this country’s legal community is one of the most prolific contributors to the global “blawgosphere.” Lawyers and law students were among the pioneers, but the past year has seen some of the most innovative legal blogs develop in the halls of academia.
Inspired by the success of Florida-based PrawfsBlawg.com, which has racked up more than two million visits since its launch in 2006, a number of Canadian law professors and faculties have staked out their own corner of the internet. Among these efforts so far are The Court, Osgoode Hall’s foray into all things Supreme Court, and the University of Alberta’s Law Faculty Blog, which has covered everything from securities regulators to Paris Hilton.
It all started with Simon Fodden. A professor emeritus at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall, he was among the first legal scholars to take up blogging five years ago with a property law blog. Retired since 2000, Fodden set up Slaw (as in, “It’s law”) a groundbreaking cooperative blog for legal researchers, in 2005.
“I think one of the big problems with lawyer blogs is, ‘My God, you might say something that would brown off a lucrative client!’ Academics don’t worry about that all. And that makes them perfect bloggers, in my view.”
Building on these bona fides, in January 2007 he established The Court, the first official law school blog in the country. Run by a team of students and edited by faculty, the site has quickly gained a readership made up of lawyers, professors, students and (if their sources are to be believed) Supreme Court justices themselves.
“I think it bothered me that Osgoode had such a strong IT team and such a strong interest in the works of the court, but was doing nothing online,” Fodden recalls. “So I suggested to the dean that we do something on the Supreme Court, and he loved the idea.” He believes that, if handled the right way, blogs can be a huge boon to scholarly institutions. “I think blogs help enhance a school’s reputation. It can project an image of them as interesting, authoritative and in step with the times.”
An alternative to established “blawgs”
The Court, which is staffed by a team of eight students and publishes content by a long list of scholars, also benefits from the Internet’s immediacy. While law review and law journal articles must wait up to 12 months for a case comment to get from author to print, The Court can have them online and into the world within hours of a decision.
Fodden even thinks that his scholarly blog, which averages about 1,500 visits a day, has an advantage over their more established competition: lawyer blogs. “I think one of the big problems with lawyer blogs is, ‘My God, you might say something that would brown off a lucrative client!’ Academics don’t worry about that all. And that makes them perfect bloggers in my view.”
Moin Yayha could not agree more. The associate dean of graduate studies at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law in Edmonton, he started his first blog with a friend when he was a student at George Mason University in the U.S. That site, which commented widely (and at times, wildly) on law and pop culture, was written under a pseudonym out of a fear of reprisal from the law faculty. This, he says, is another reason why legal academics there have been slow to pick up the blogger cause.
In the elite American schools, Yayha says, “it was seen as a distraction ... if you were blogging, you were seen as wasting your time. You could have been writing another article ... There have been rumours about people in the U.S. being penalized pre-tenure for their views.”
Since starting the U of A’s Law Faculty blog in September 2007 as a way of establishing “an alternate form of scholarship,” Yayha has definitely made the most of it. He and his cast of about a dozen bloggers have adopted a self-described “free-flow, free-style blog.” A June 2007 post, “The Tao of Paris,” credits the hotel heiress “with a zen-like saying that I am sure will rank up there along with JFK dictum regarding service to one’s country: ‘Don’t serve the time; let the time serve you.’”
For his part, Yayha praises the immediacy of the Internet over traditional outlets. “There are just some things that you can’t write a Law Review piece on. In other words, something comes up now and it warrants comment now — not tomorrow.” He also uses the site as a way of “parking” ideas that he will further develop at a later date.
One of the unexpected side effects of the blogs has been more interactivity in the classroom, as profs will direct students to read more about a particular subject on the blog. “The more we blog, the more it’s becoming part of our scholarship,” says Yayha. “It cuts across generations, and takes us a step closer to the students who are used to getting their information on the internet and do much of their discussion online.”
James Stribopoulos, editor of The Court since spring 2007, is trying to blur the line between class and the web even more, by working to get academic credit for the students who work on the blog. His argument is straightforward.
“I think that we unquestionably reach a far wider audience than do law reviews or law journals,” he says. “We have over 1,500 readers every single day. I don’t have statistics to support this view, but I very strongly suspect that conventional legal publishing doesn’t come within a fraction of that sort of readership.
“Because we are online, we also appeal to a much broader audience than simply those within the legal community. This is probably the most accessible form of legal commentary available.”
Brad MacKay is a freelance writer.
A mini-manifesto for law students
By Matt Homann
- Law school is a trade school. The only people who don’t believe this are the professors and deans.
- Being good at writing makes you a good law student. Being good at understanding makes you a good lawyer. Being good at arguing makes you an ass.
- You can learn more about client service by working at Starbucks for three weeks than you can by going to law school for three years.
- Law school doesn’t teach you to think like a lawyer. Law school teaches you to think like a law professor. There’s a huge difference.
- The people who will help you the most in your legal career are your classmates. Get to know them. They’re pretty cool people.
- Law is a precedent-based profession. It doesn’t have to be a precedent-based business. Challenge the status quo. Somebody has to.
- When you bill by the hour, getting your work done in half the time as your peers doesn’t get you rewarded. It gets you more work.
- Your reputation as a lawyer begins now. People won’t remember your class rank as much as they’ll remember how decent and honest you were. They’ll really remember if you were a jerk.
- There are plenty of things you don’t know. There are even more things you’ll never know. Use your ignorance to your benefit. The most significant advantage you possess over those who’ve come before you is that you don’t believe what they do.
- People don’t tell lawyer jokes just because they think they are funny. They tell lawyer jokes because they think they are true. Spend your career proving them wrong.
Matthew Homann used to practise law. Now he writes and speaks about legal innovation, creativity, marketing and client service. His blog is www.nonbillablehour.com.
B.C. launches articling registry
In July, the CBA’s British Columbia Branch, with support from the Law Society of British Columbia, launched an innovative online articling registry for Canadian law students and B.C. lawyers.
The registry, the first of its kind in Canada, enables both lawyers and students to look for articling positions by location, timeframe, and area of practice. Firms and students can post positions sought, resumes and available articles.
The registry is designed to promote articling, including shared articles, throughout B.C., with a particular focus on solo and small firm practices outside of the Lower Mainland and Victoria region.
“This was an initiative that came out of our Small Firm Task Force,” says Law Society of B.C. President John Hunter. “The Task Force considered it to be likely that students who choose to article in smaller communities would, if given the opportunity, stay in those communities after being called to the bar.”
Some solo and small-firm practitioners have reported that while they may not have enough legal work to justify hiring an articling student on a full-time basis, they would be in a position to share a student with another firm. The Task Force received strong encouragement from solo and small-firm practitioners to support and promote an expanded shared articling program.
“The goal of the registry is to increase the number of articling students with solo and small firms, which will support and strengthen the viability of law practices and the provision of legal services in both the short and long term throughout the province,” says CBA-BC President Kenneth Walton.
Over the coming months, the CBA-BC and the law society will be working to encourage both lawyers and law students to post information on the registry, which can be found on the CBA website.
CBA supports law school initiative in Nunavut
The Canadian Bar Association is supporting the second phase of an initiative that helps address the serious shortage of legal professionals in Nunavut by allowing Inuit students to access a fully-accredited law degree program.
The Akitsiraq Law School is an innovative approach to delivering legal education to Inuit students in their own social, cultural, and geographical environment in the North. Launched in 1999 in partnership with the University of Victoria, Akitsiraq gave 15 Inuit students in Nunavut a rigorous legal education that meets the highest standards of Canadian university law programs. Eleven students graduated in 2005. The CBA is urging partners to offer their full support to the program so that a second cohort of Inuit students receives the same opportunity.
“The CBA wishes to thank you for your continuing efforts towards increasing access to justice and the respect of minorities in Nunavut,” then-CBA president Bernard Amyot said in a letter to the Akitsiraq Law School Society, in June 2008. Mr. Amyot also met Nunavut’s Deputy Minister of Justice to discuss the challenges facing the legal profession and the justice system in Nunavut. During the last decade, there have been as few as five full-time resident private sector lawyers in Nunavut, none of whom speak the Inuit language. Mr. Amyot’s followup letter urged the Nunavut Department of Justice to join in supporting Akitsiraq.
Also last June, Mr. Amyot wrote Mr. John Sims, the Deputy Minister of Justice Canada. “We were made aware that you recently agreed to support the planning and preparation phase of the program,” Amyot said. “The CBA commends your decision and urges Justice Canada to grant the needed support to the Akitsiraq Law School Society through the subsequent stages of the program.”
Amyot added: “By providing for professionals with intimate knowledge of the specific challenges facing the residents of Nunavut, the Akitsiraq Law School Program will allow Inuit to take their rightful place in the administration of justice and government in Nunavut, and for the local bar to gain more stability and sustainability.”
Mr. Sims has confirmed that Justice Canada is supporting the planning and preparation phase of the program for a second cohort, which will be delivered through the University of Ottawa. “These Inuit law students will contribute to an accessible and responsive justice system that meets the needs of Nunavummiut,” he responded.
The National Association of Law Placement’s Canadian Chapter has created the Canadian Directory of Legal Employers (CDLE), a clearinghouse of information about law firms seeking to hire new lawyers. It provides Canadian law schools, lawyers and students with a comprehensive searchable directory of Canadian legal employers with summer student, articling and associate positions.
Law schools use the information in the CDLE to create resource materials for their students and to direct students to rely primarily on this resource for identifying employers and accessing information on summer and articling positions, and current job openings.
The CBA is rapidly becoming a market leader in online CLEs, accessible anywhere you have Internet access and affordable on student budgets. Here are two upcoming online CLEs — for details, visit the CBA CLE website.
The Business of Being a Lawyer
October 7, 2008
The Paperless Office (French)
November 6, 2008
If you miss a CLE, no worries — webcasts are available online for past CLEs, including The Business Law Boot Camp IV: Business Relationship Agreements, held on September 11, 2008, and Privacy Compliance, held on September 18, 2008.