The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Julie Sobowale

Money matters

Common cents: A young lawyer’s financial Top 5

By Julie Sobowale July 3, 2018 3 July 2018

Common cents: A young lawyer’s financial Top 5

 

You worked your butt off making the grade in law school, then articling, then passing the Bar exam. But you found a job and you’re making good money and it’s time to enjoy it, right?

Except … there’s student loans and buying a new wardrobe, and you’ve been talking about buying a house…

“You’re making a big salary, probably the most money you’ve ever made, but you have big debt,” says Jessica Moorhouse, a certified finance counsellor specializing in working with millennials. “Young lawyers can end up spending so much to live this lifestyle and it becomes really tough to pay debt. Then you get a house and it becomes more expensive to live.”

Landing your first job as a lawyer can give you the ground you need to start of a good financial future. But you studied law, not personal finance. So what’s a young lawyer to do? The best advice is usually common sense – things we all know, but need to be reminded of every so often. Here are some common-sense tips for putting your financial house in order.

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Practice hub

Collaboration at work

By Julie Sobowale June 18, 2018 18 June 2018

Collaboration at work

 

Teams from Firm A and Firm B arrive at the office of in-house counsel to pitch their services. When the team from Firm A presents, presenters compliment each other as they speak. When the team from Firm B presents, team members look at their phones while others from their team are speaking. Which firm do you think in-house counsel will choose?

“The competitive advantage of teamwork starts before the work comes in the door,” says Jennifer Romig, law professor at Emory University Law School. “An effective team should be able to pitch in a tailored, cohesive way actually showing how they work together as a team, rather than just saying it.”

Collaboration and teamwork are more than just buzzwords. It’s good business. According to research from Heidi Gardner, a distinguished fellow at the Center on the Legal Profession and faculty chair of the Accelerated Leadership Program at Harvard Law School, lawyers from multiple practice groups collaborating to serve one client earned 12 per cent higher hourly rates than lawyers selling discrete services. She suggests identifying lawyers with expertise that might be beneficial to your clients and finding a project to work on together.

“It starts with the client,” says Gardner. “Even the most self-interested lawyers want to do great work for their client. One GC from Latin America recently told me that he expects his outside counsel to be able to anticipate and address the questions on the mind of the business person. It’s not enough to serve up a narrow legal answer or to focus on winning arguments.

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Corporate counsel

Crisis management in the social media age

By Julie Sobowale January 16, 2018 16 January 2018

Crisis management in the social media age

 

When a crisis hits, you want a calm person at the helm of your crisis management. That’s what Kelly Friedman learned early on in her career.

“If an injunction comes in, I’m the one who is calm in those situations,” says Friedman (pictured above), who is national counsel of BLG’s Discovery Services Group in Toronto, specializing in e-discovery, cybersecurity and privacy. “One partner once told me, ‘Thank you for your equanimity.’ I had to look up the word and it means even keel. The more nervous people get, the more calm I get. It’s a great tool as a litigator.”

Litigators aren’t the only ones who need a calm head. How an organization can weather a crisis is now largely based on who gets the information out first. With the rise of social media and the increasingly rapid news cycle, general counsel must be more prepared than ever to deal with the next crisis.

A situation can escalate quickly through social media. On September 7, Equifax revealed that 143 million Americans and 100,000 Canadians (later revised to 145.5 million and 8,000, respectively) had their data stolen as the result of a data breach. The story quickly became viral, with thousands of Twitter users tweeting under hashtag #Equifax. Within two days of the initial report, the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Security Officer retired and two class-action law suits were filed. Then, over the next couple of days, Equifax accidentally tweeted links to phishing websites (websites that mirror others, normally to steal information) to breach victims, causing further criticism and social media outrage. 

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Practice hub

Does your office need an ombudsperson?

By Julie Sobowale June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

Does your office need an ombudsperson?

 

Melanie Raymond vividly remembers her first impression of law firm culture as an articling student.

“I was surprised in my first encounters with fellow colleagues about how everybody was bragging about being overloaded with work,” says Raymond, a commissioner at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. “I was surprised how this was something that was seen as positive.”

Every workplace culture is different – and those differences can lead to conflict. In a diverse work environment, it’s easy to miscommunicate and a simple misunderstanding can quickly escalate into a full-blown fight. 

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Corporate counsel

Blockchain for in-house counsel

By Julie Sobowale June 16, 2017 16 June 2017

Blockchain for in-house counsel

 

Jillian Friedman fell into the Bitcoin world three years ago. After finishing her articles, she started taking notice of the cryptocurrency and began working with the Bitcoin Embassy in early 2014.

“I started reading a lot about Bitcoin and went down the rabbit hole,” says Friedman. “I’m not a libertarian but I was intrigued by the application of libertarian philosophy to a technology and economic system.”

Friedman quickly became an expert in blockchain and the National Bank of Canada took notice. The bank hired her in 2015 to focus on technology law. She believes blockchain will have a big effect in commerce.

“I’m far more involved in the business side of things,” says Friedman. “I’ve been working closely by tech people for two years. It makes my job to identify risks a lot easier. I learn how things work.”

Blockchain is the legal tech darling of the year. Beyond the hype, blockchain is revolutionary technology that could change how we interact with one another. From financial transactions to health records, blockchain promises to be the next major legal tech frontier.

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