The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Ann Macaulay

Practice hub

Going in-house: Look before you leap

By Ann Macaulay September 15, 2017 15 September 2017

Going in-house: Look before you leap

 

THE DINERS

The General Counsel: Martha Binks, GC, Assistant Corporate Secretary and Director of Legal Services at Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, Markham, Ont., for the past 14 years.

The lawyer: We’ll call him Gilbert. A Toronto lawyer, he’s thinking of making the switch from private practitioner to corporate counsel and for now he’d like to keep that under wraps.

Is the grass truly greener on the other side?

Sitting down to lunch at Figo in Toronto’s Entertainment District, Martha Binks orders from the Italian-inspired menu then dives directly into the biggest issue for many exhausted private practitioners: work/life balance.

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The practice

Managing the Trump effect

By Ann Macaulay September 5, 2017 5 September 2017

Managing the Trump effect

 

Donald Trump has been president of the United States for just eight months but many Canadian lawyers have already started to see the impact of his protectionist policies on their practices. And that impact will likely continue to affect Canadian businesses and their lawyers as more policies are unveiled.

Where many are seeing doom and gloom, however, at least one Canadian lawyer sees opportunity.

“This is the best time to be a trade lawyer and to be able to go out there and make a difference,” says Cyndee Todgham Cherniak of LexSage, a boutique international trade law and sales tax firm in Toronto. She points to renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, continuing softwood lumber issues and Trump’s Buy-American policy as creating a significant increase in legal work recently.

Trump’s protectionist bent has some Canadian companies looking to move to the U.S., and American companies that have set up operations in Canada considering pulling up stakes and moving home, says Todgham Cherniak. “And if the tax reforms go through in the U.S., there’s going to be a greater incentive for Canadian companies to open branch operations in the U.S.”

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The practice

How to deal with practice disruptions

By Ann Macaulay August 3, 2017 3 August 2017

How to deal with practice disruptions

 

Plenty of things can disrupt your law practice, from unanticipated events like sudden illness or a natural disaster, to more expected things, such as pregnancy or moving your firm to a new location. Fortunately, there’s a great deal you can do to minimize the potential fallout. Planning ahead and being organized can go a long way to keep chaos at bay.

“What’s your plan if you’re hit by a bus?” is the first thing to ask yourself, says former lawyer Joanne Clarfield Schaefer of JSchaefer Coaching in Toronto, who had an unexpected medical leave after depression struck her completely out of the blue.

Clarfield Schaefer advises lawyers to create a list in anticipation of not being able to work, including passwords, phone numbers and names of clients, as well as the key people in your firm. If you can’t communicate and can’t make it in to the office, there should be someone available who knows everything about your practice, she adds. She recommends having what she calls an “emergency ghost,” someone “who you trust with your files and your clients so you can call on them readily to step in if you’re completely incapacitated.” That person should have your password so they can figure things out simply by sitting down and accessing your files.

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The Practice

Got stress? What to do before the burnout hits

By Ann Macaulay July 7, 2017 7 July 2017

Got stress? What to do before the burnout hits

 

Many young lawyers struggle with high levels of stress and often leave the practice of law altogether because of it. Conflict, long hours, demanding clients, competition and the constant pressure to be perfect can be stressful for even the toughest, most experienced lawyers.

Fortunately, there are many ways to cope before burnout hits. Most people typically start with the basics to fight stress: exercise, eat and sleep properly, take vacations, meditate, practise mindfulness and don’t isolate yourself from others. But there’s even more that can be done.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, says Gary Mitchell, CEO and founder of On Trac Coach in Vancouver. “Don’t try and do it on your own. You may think you’re the smartest person in the room but often you’re not because other people have other skills. Surround yourself with those other people.”

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Anti-corruption

Paying bribes doesn't pay

By Ann Macaulay September 2, 2016 2 September 2016

 

Until relatively recently, paying bribes to foreign officials was simply part of the cost of doing business for Canadian companies working abroad.

Surprisingly, many Canadian lawyers and business people are still not aware that it’s an offence in Canada to bribe or cover up a bribe of a government official elsewhere in the world, says Michael Osborne of Affleck Greene McMurtry in Toronto, who is a member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Anti-Corruption Team.“I suspect many lawyers would take the view that what goes on in [another] country stays in that country and not realize it’s an offence.”

But with the government starting to strongly enforce the 1999 Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in the past few years, people making – or taking – bribes are facing fines in the millions of dollars and serious jail terms are also a possibility. That should be a big deterrent, Osborne says. “If you’re doing business in other countries, you need to be aware of the CFPOA. You need to know what the rules are so that when and if you get asked for a bribe … you’ll know what to do.”

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