Pacific Legal Technology Webinar Series (PLTW)

An overview of the PLTW series, by Chair, Michael McCubbin

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Earlier this year, I had the very distinct honour of being approached by the Trial Lawyers’ Association to chair the Pacific Legal Technology Webinar series (formerly the biennial Pacific Legal Technology Conference – the “PLTC” and not to be confused with the Law Society’s PLTC) in David Bilinsky’s place. Big shoes to fill, indeed, but the process has been much smoother than I expected.

I have been a faculty member of a few seminars in the past, including the PLTC, but chairing such a one was a first for me. Fortunately, I had superb guidance from Erin Monahan, the Education Director at the TLABC. I also benefited from the network that David had in place having run the PLTC for several years as well as a planning committee including counsel, support staff, and one member of the court of appeal. Many hands make light work and credit for the new seminar’s success should be shared widely. Really, I could not have imagined a more determined group that got along so constructively.

This year, the PLTC converted to a series of seven lunch-hour webinars instead of a single-day in-person conference coupled with a live webinar. Each webinar is comprised of 2-3 speakers presenting on a specific topic for about an hour, followed by a sponsor-demonstration and Q&A. I am pleased to say that attendance at the first webinar was roughly the same as what we had at earlier in-person sessions.

The series imagines a hypothetical lawyer wanting to “go paperless” but not knowing where to start. This lawyer needs a fundamental grounding in available solutions but also wants to exploit some of the tangible benefits of more advanced technology and software (FYI: software is called “apps” these days). So, early webinars are very basic but later ones progress to more nuanced topics, such as data security and artificial intelligence.

From that fundamental knowledge gained early in the series, the lawyer is equipped to follow later, more specific and complex presentations. This way, “newbies” can start early, and counsel with more developed knowledge and experience can jump into those specific sessions of interest to them.

Why is this webinar series important? A few reasons:

  1. The subject matter transcends individual practice areas and firm cultures. Xennials and millennials are becoming lawyers and partners in firms big and small. They want to practice and live differently. More importantly, they’re also becoming clients, which means their expectations will be drastically different from our parents’ generation.
  2. We are on the cusp of a computational move forward in how law is practiced. While most law firms have made or are beginning the transition from an analog to a digital practice, artificial intelligence will be increasingly common in the near term (that’s the “computational” move). I venture to say that it will have as important an impact on the practice of law as Henry Ford did on the manufacturing process. Legal research and document review will be much cheaper and more efficient. Outcome predicting software (err, sorry – “apps”) will drive more cases toward settlement, probably much earlier in the process. All this will free up court time, improve access to justice, and improve the value clients derive from our work. That is part of the reason we have pushed so hard to have things like AI and task automation included as topics.
  3. There are many technologies available that can improve lawyers’ quality of life by making the practice cheaper and more efficient. Our profession has embarrassingly high rates of burnout, poor job satisfaction, and substance abuse problems. In this respect, technology is a liberating ally and not something to be feared.
  4. In many ways, the quality of the debate around legal technology is poor and uninformed. Yes, data breaches occur. But what is the risk and the consequences? Who are the targets? What are the methods of attack? Is it safer than entrusting a binder of documents to a bike courier you’ve never met? Is it less safe? For that reason, we have included experts in the field who can shed light on this evolving and dynamic issue.

I’ll be following up soon with another blog post to talk more about how this new series is progressing. In the interim, please don’t be shy to give me a call or an email with any questions, suggestions, or feedback.

mike@whitecaplegal.ca               @McCubbinLaw                whitecaplegal.ca

 

Upcoming PLTW Programs:

Friday December 8th 2017
PLTW: Practical Software Tips for a Digital Practice
Webinar Sponsor: Heuristica Discovery Counsel
Presented by Chilwin Cheng & Jeremy Hessing-Lewis
12:00 – 1:30 pm, 1.5 CPD Credits
Click here to register

Friday February 9th 2018
PLTW: Practical Advice for Conducting Electronic Discovery 
Webinar Sponsor: Tracy Ayling, Litigation Support Consultant
Presented by Michel Conde, Kate Gower & Ann Halkett
12:00 – 1:30 pm, 1.5 CPD Credits

Click here to register

Friday March 9th 2018
PLTW: Artificial Intelligence: Will It Replace Lawyers? 
Webinar Sponsor: i-worx
Presented by Kate Gower, David W. Miller & Thomas Spraggs
12:00 – 1:30 pm, 1.5 CPD Credits

Click here to register

Friday April 13th 2018
PLTW: Everyone’s Got Boundaries:  Essentials on Crossing the Border and Maintaining Data Security
Webinar Sponsor: HUB International
Presented by Ryan Black, Brian Mauch & Solomon Wong
12:00 – 1:30 pm, 1.5 CPD Credits
Click here to register


Friday May 11th 2018
PLTW: 60 Tech Tips in 60 Minutes! 
Webinar Sponsor: Dye and Durham

Presented by Valter Cid, Paul Doroshenko, Nathaniel Russell, Shannon Salter & Euan Sinclair
12:00 – 1:30 pm, 1.5 
CPD Credits
Click here to register

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An Overview of the NATLE GAC

Well, he’s only been here a month, but our new CEO, Shawn Mitchell, has been working tirelessly to acclimatize and immerse himself in the TLABC issues, culture and team.

A bonus to having new eyes in the boardroom is, of course, fresh perspective.
TLABC, as an association, is proud to be founded on principle, and in many ways -tradition.  Tradition is a wonderful thing, but it’s always good to take a step back and see what’s working and what might benefit from a little restructuring.

Shawn comes to us with a wealth of leadership experience that will no doubt be indispensable as we move forward and it has been a real pleasure getting to know him.

In this spirit, Shawn attended one of our favourite events last week, along with incoming President Sonny Parhar and Director of Communications Bentley Doyle The National Association of Trial Lawyers Executives (NATLE) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) – this year held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Here’s what he had to say… 

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Intro

I’ve just gotten back from the National Association of Trial Lawyers Executives (NATLE) Governmental Affairs Conference. What members of the association lovingly refer to as the GAC (say: gack). The location of the conference changes every year — this year’s was held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Attended by 100 TLA CEOs, their presidents and government affairs-aligned senior staff, the GAC was a great opportunity to network, learn how other TLAs go about their business, and attend a range of sessions focused on the challenge of lobbying government (both state and federal).

There were a total of 22 presentations and round tables, covering a range of topics and issues, during the three-day event. A sampling:

    • Learning the language of the conservative culture (presented by Judge Kenneth Starr — yes, THAT Kenneth Starr)
    • Effective polling
    • Creative ways to build relationships with lawmakers
    • Engaging leaders and members in the legislative process — making it meaningful and creating evangelists
    • Workers’ compensation trends to watch
    • Self-driving vehicles
    • Subrogation for dummies
    • Managing member expectations in the legislative arena

Taken from these and other sessions in which I participated, a few thoughts …

Trumped

Almost without exception, American TLAs spent the last eight years doubling down on their relationships with Democrats and largely turning their backs on Republicans. After the election results in 2016, most woke up terrified and unsure of what the future held for them when it came to advancing a legislative agenda on behalf of their members. Much of the conference was about sharing best practices on how to “speak Republican.”

Born to lobby

I was also struck by the very different posture or business orientation of the American TLAs, compared to (what I am coming to understand about) Canadian TLAs. Even small associations are heavily invested in ongoing lobbying on a range of issues. The eye opener here for me was both the difference and the potential for us to explore being more invested in this activity beyond ad hoc campaigns.

Everything is poll-itical

Given the extent to which TLAs are involved in lobbying, it follows that they are also becoming increasingly invested in polling and “testing the message.” There were a number of sessions on this topic, linking polling research to focus groups and the importance of not saying anything publicly on an issue until you’d tested your ideas and language in the field. Here again, at TLABC we have not had a history of behaving this way, but certainly we have seen the benefit of it most recently in the guidance we gained while positioning ourselves regarding no-fault and fixing the financial imbalance at ICBC.

No such thing as being too social

Our neighbours to the south are also heavily invested in social media, using Facebook and Twitter to cultivate audiences in support of different positions they are lobbying for at the state or federal levels of government. The insight here is that we at TLABC need to keep doing what we are doing — social media is a powerful, cost-effective engagement tool.

(Think James Carville, here) It’s about the membership, stupid!

One area where I believe we at TLABC still have lots of room to grow is on member engagement. American TLAs work very hard to be highly responsive to their members’ concerns and to engage them in the association’s work — beyond just the board and executive. They also have communication strategies that are focused on demonstrating the value that members receive from their TLA. This is something that TLABC does not do enough of.

Wrap up

Finally, there were some specific legal issues that were discussed where there is some real concern amongst our American colleagues… the emergence of “robot cars” and the implications this might have on liability and personal injury, and the continuing saga that is ABS (Alternative Business Structures). While we are currently focused, rightly, on fixing ICBC, additional time and energy on moving our way through these issue areas may also have merit.

Overall, it was an excellent way for me to continue my orientation and onboarding at TLABC. And, as always, I’m happy to hear your thoughts on this post or anything else you might like to fire my way.

To reach CEO Shawn Mitchell, please email him at shawn@tlabc.org 

Please continue to connect with us by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIN & @tla_bc on Twitter. 

Wellness in the Workplace

#TLABCWellness

This fall, we will be talking about Mental Health in our 154th issue of the Verdict and teamed with this, we are launching a Wellness in the Workplace initiative at TLABC. We will begin this new initiative, by asking you… our members and our readers… How do you get your health on?

With the fall issue of the Verdict, we hope to provide some insight into how some of our TLABC members and staff are answering this question. Travel, theatre, un-anticipated illness and injury are all circumstances that have inspired some of our TLABC members and staff to think about their health (physical and mental) and wellness a little bit more critically. We’d like to encourage you to do the same.

While health and wellness can often be seen as an inside job, we cannot underestimate the impact we have on one another.

We, at TLABC, want to encourage our members to live well, so that we can also work well. We want to create environments where wellness in the workplace is encouraged, and health (both physical and mental) can be made a priority.

Remember that at TLABC we are a team and:

T – ogether
E- veryone
A  – chieves
M – ore

To get involved in this initiative, we encourage you to send us your photos, stories or favourite wellness posts and tag #TLABCwellness on Twitter and Instagram! Email megan@tlabc.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter@tla_bc for more information.

Business Man Relaxing On The Beach

TLABC Membership Director

We are pleased to welcome a new addition to the #TLABC Team – Karen St. Aubin!

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Karen is joining us as Membership Director and will be your go-to gal for all things that support our roster of over 1500 members.  (You can reach her at karen@tlabc.org)

You may recognize her from the Canadian Bar Association, working in Events & Community Relations.

In the spirit of full disclosure, we wanted to share with you some very important information we’ve recently learned about our new colleague… Enjoy!

Favourite colour? Blue

Favourite band/type of music? Oohhh…I’m all over the map on this one as there’s not much I don’t like…but you can never go wrong with cheesy 70s rock

What do you like to do to unwind outside of work? Enjoy the outdoor beauty of this amazing city…the seawall, third beach…but a guilty pleasure trashy reality TV show isn’t all bad, either

What is something on your bucket list? Going on an African safari

Dream travel destination, or favourite place you’ve already been?
(The) Mediterranean

Welcome to the TLABC Team!

It’s Been Awhile…

2017 has been a busy and political year here at TLABC!

We have been active in our campaign to End Distracted Driving, (please visit www.distracteddrivingkills.ca) – and have been focusing on political engagement and some very important justice-related campaigns, which we will be able to update you on soon.

As we move into the fall season, we have some exciting new initiatives to share, a jam-packed seminar season, and will be re-launching this site across all of our social media channels!

(We also have some new additions to the team!)

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter (@tla_bc) for campaign updates, association issues, member perspective and our new wellness focus, “Wellness in the Workplace!”  #TLABCwellness 

Stay tuned and enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

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Wellness Wednesday – October

“We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit” – Aristotle.

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Last weekend, we held our 11th annual Women Lawyers Retreat at Nita Lake Lodge, in Whistler.  It was a wonderful weekend of inspiration, collaboration and learning.

Despite what some people might think, the challenges women face, (especially in business and in law,) have certainly not disappeared… and it’s crucial that while we acknowledge how far we’ve come, we also recognize what we can do to continue to progress and create change.

As we continue to move forward and support one another, let’s remember that healthy habits are the foundation of growth.

Here’s a Wellness Wednesday pick from our publisher, Julia Chalifoux, from the Centre For Women in Business…

Five Healthy Habits for Women in Business

Take care of yourselves!

@tla_bc

#tlabc_women

 

Wellness Wednesday – Workspace

Several years ago I worked with a woman who bought herself fresh flowers every week. She didn’t spend a fortune, often less than $10 a week. I don’t know what it was, but somehow these flowers placed near her workspace made her, and the rest of our office, very happy.

I liked her habit, and soon incorporated it in to my own routine. Once a week I would make a point to stop on my walk home from work, and purchase a few flowers. Rather than taking these flowers to work mind you, I would place them in and around my apartment. Again, the flowers worked their magic, and seeing them around made me happy.

As I write this, I realize the only plants visible from my office, are the illustrated succulents I have chosen as computer screen saver. Cute as they are, I think it is time to add some life to my office.

Just in case I needed any further convincing, this article (below) by the Guardian has sealed the deal! Plants in offices increase happiness and productivity. – Julia Chalifoux, Publisher

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Creating a Happy Workspace with Plants 

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/aug/31/plants-offices-workers-productive-minimalist-employees