April Announcement

I would be honored to have your support in the upcoming Bencher election. Je serais honoré d’avoir votre soutien à la prochaine élection de conseiller. My platform includes:
LSO to Regulate Firms – The Law Society needs to deal with systemic and individual discrimination in our profession. The ability of the Law Society to regulate law firms as well as lawyers, will have an important impact on issues faced by female and racialized lawyers as well as the LGBTQ community. Regulation of law firms will provide the Law Society with an important tool in this area.
Access to Justice – Let’s put the “aid” back in legal aid – we need more government funding, full stop. It is in the interest of the profession and society at large to have a properly funded legal aid system.
Support for Small Law Firms and Sole Practitioners – The LSO needs to develop a wider range of programs and practice aids for sole practitioners and smaller firms. This need has been magnified recently by the inability of law school graduates to find articling positions, and newly called lawyers to find positions with experienced practitioners.
As a profession, we face numerous challenges, some historical, but many having emerged more recently. Our Law Society’s role in meeting these challenges is to govern in a way that both meets its public interest mandate and ensures that we have a viable profession going forward.

Barbara Hendrickson quoted in Law Times article “Taking the Business Plunge” November 28, 2016

Quoted from Law Times “Taking the Business Plunge” – November 28, 2016

“Networking was critical,  she [Barbara Hendrickson] says, and prompted her to start the Toronto Business Lawyers Association, a referral group of like-minded lawyers from small firms that focus on servicing businesses.”

Click to view original article (PDF): barbara-hendrickson-nov-28-2016-article

Why small is beautiful for exchanging ideas, tips and experiences – By Mitch Kowalski

Talk about re-thinking legal services often focuses on large firms and expensive technology.

A lot of this discussion is beyond the means of solo lawyers or small firms. Little wonder, then, that pint-sized, grass roots associations have been popping up to help “solos and smalls” explore how they can deliver legal services in a way that creates value for clients and profit for themselves.

For some time now, I’ve been hearing rumblings that the large Canadian bar associations no longer provide enough value to their members. The sudden formation of these small ad-hoc groups over breakfast, lunch or pizza dinners is a sure sign that the large bar associations aren’t the best way for solos and smalls to exchange ideas, tips and even client referrals.

Solos and smalls have remarkably different experiences and challenges compared with lawyers at the big law firms. These new gatherings fill a void by placing a greater emphasis on the actual “business” of law, than upon “the law” itself.  This is something solos and smalls truly appreciate. Their clients tend to be exceptionally price conscious, and these lawyers have far more financial skin in the game than their big law firm cousins — rent, office costs and all salaries come directly out of their pocket every month if revenue comes up short.

Working as a solo or a small can be a lonely and scary existence. Building relationships with colleagues and sharing experiences and ideas are vital to a healthy legal practice. For a profession that is mostly comprised of introverts, finding the right colleague and mentor can be a daunting task at big, traditional legal trade association events. Introverts are more apt to thrive in small, intimate settings where everyone is given an opportunity to be heard, and is encouraged to share.

The inaugural gathering of The Self-Rep Navigators started with inauspicious beginnings. Initially, co-founders Heather Hui-Litwin and Michael Hassell held informal discussions with a select group of like-minded lawyers to gauge interest in helping self-represented litigants (primarily in family law) through limited scope retainer arrangements.

Those discussions resulted in the creation of a small group of lawyers who now gather to discuss how to best provide affordable services in a market that is exceptionally fixated on price.

Lest anyone think that family law is alone in these issues, I was invited to a meeting of the Toronto Business Lawyers Association, recently created by Barbara Hendrickson for the purpose of gathering solos and smalls with a business law focus to connect, provide referrals and share advice on the business of law in a small, informal, non-judgmental atmosphere. It’s an approach that has also worked well for the Legal Innovators Roundtable, which was fortunate to secure sponsorship from Thomson Reuters, but has retained its intimate, small group feel.

These “cottage” gatherings have no formal headquarters, no fees, no annual meeting, no awards, no officers, no directors, no formal legal education agendas and no egos. They’re just groups of lawyers who are trying to make sense of it all, and who are keen to just get on with it.

The intimacy of these gatherings often leads to better conversations, to better connections and to better time spent than what one would receive at your garden variety “continuing legal education” event. With apologies to E.F. Schumacher, this growing “Small is Beautiful” movement in lawyer gatherings may be the future of lawyer associations. It may also result in some exciting, positive and workable changes to legal service delivery.

Financial Post – Toronto lawyer Mitch Kowalski is author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century.

SOURCE: http://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/mitch-kowalski-why-small-is-beautiful-for-exchanging-ideas-tips-and-experiences