Marketing/PR in Law – Law is Cool The law school blog and podcast from Canada Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:10:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 1338880 Big Box Law Mon, 02 Jun 2014 03:57:27 +0000 By: Farrah Rajan

Walmart has brokered a deal with Axess Law to provide legal services in select Walmart locations. The founders of Axess Law are hoping to promote access to justice by alleviating the fear people have of consulting a lawyer. They provide a walk-in service for a small number of matters that they deal with on-site and refer matters out of their scope to other firms. With this business model, they are able to offer affordable rates and provide service in the evenings and on the weekends.

While some people may be hesitant to seek the services of a lawyer at their local Walmart, the lawyers at Axess Law are still governed by the Law Society Act and must conduct themselves accordingly. Customers buy groceries, electronics and toys from Walmart and don’t expect the items to be potentially unsafe, so why should legal services be any different? Also, Walmart already offers a number of speciality resources that require licensed staff such as pharmacy, vision, and vehicle maintenance services that contribute to their overall success.

Promoting access to justice should be a fundamental goal for all legal professionals in order to maintain the integrity of our legal system. I commend Axess Law for this endeavour and hope to see them expand their offerings in the future.

On an extremely biased side note, adding licensed paralegals to their practice would be a phenomenal step forward.


Doug Jasinski, The Office

Francine Kopun, Walmart shoppers can now get $99 wills

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@uOttawa and @TRULaw_SLS lead the way on #cbafutureschat Tue, 08 Oct 2013 22:19:17 +0000 Here at Law is Cool we are keeping an informal tally of which schools are participating the most in #CBAFuturesChat. Schools get 1 point if atleast 1 student participates in the chat. Schools get an additional point if they have the most students participate (In week 1 that was uOttawa) and an additional point if one of their students is featured in the weekly ‘social media highlight’ here at LawIsCool (Last week’s winner was Thompson River’s James Wagner).

Law Student Leaderboard

Law School Week 1
University of Ottawa 2
Thompson Rivers University 2
Queen’s University 1
Lakehead University 1
University of Victoria 1

There are some pretty big name schools missing from this list, what does that tell you?

James Wegener of #TRUlaw makes Social Media Highlight Reel Mon, 07 Oct 2013 16:24:34 +0000 James Wagner

James Wegner, a law student and editor in chief of the  at British Columbia’s Thompson River’s University has made this week’s Law is Cool social media highlight reel.  James made the highlight reel after his performance last week at the #CBAfutureChat.  James came to the half hour session and shared his thoughts on the state of legal education in Canada with students and the broader legal community last Tuesday.  His clear answers and thought provoking followups saw him quoted in the CBA Legal Future’s Initiative’s  weekly summary of the twitter chat.

I followed up with James to ask him a few questions about social media and the study of law.

Q. Do you have a strategy when it comes to social media? Do you have any goals you are trying to achieve?

A. As a law student, one of the main things on my mind is making sure my profile looks professional.  I tested this a couple of days ago by googling myself, and I was pretty happy with what came up.  Using social media or blogging is just another way for potential employers and the broader legal community to get to know you.

Q. You mentioned blogging, I just read a post you wrote on ‘The Sports Law Canary’, what sparked your interest in blogging?

A. It was an opportunity a professor presented to my sports law class.  I thought it was a great opportunity to get my name out there and write about something interesting.

Q. Is it common for students at #TRUlaw to use social media like that?

A. I think it’s something a few students do, there are a few students on twitter who are using it rather smart.  They tweet about human rights, for example, and other issues they care about.  There are a lot of people on linkedin too, which is relatively new, but also great for interacting with the legal community.  Everyone of my classmates use social media, some use it for branding and networking, while some only use it for personal connections.

Congratulations to James for being the first to make the LawIsCool social media highlight reel.  If you are a law student who is looking for a chance to be featured here, make sure to participate in the weekly twitter chats hosted by the CBA Futures Initiative.  #CBAFuturesChat, every Tuesday in October.

How Litigation Should Be Wed, 07 Mar 2012 15:29:36 +0000

From a real ad in Ontario.

Articling How To – Canadian Lawyer4Students Tue, 28 Feb 2012 05:11:04 +0000

Recently Omar Ha-Redeye and Simon Borys (that’s me) (both contributors to this blog) were interviewed by Michael McKiernan for Articling How To, an article in the Canadian Lawyer4Students magazine.  In it, Michael discusses how students can set themselves up for an articling position in the midst of this present articling crisis.

He talks about doing something to set yourself apart from the crowd by “thinking small” (Omar’s topic), “taking the initiative”, “knowing your options”, “embracing old technology”, and “embracing new technology” (my topic).

In terms of “thinking small”, Michael wrote:

Bay Street firms run their articling programs like a well-oiled machine and provide a large chunk of the available spots, so it’s no surprise that they’re front of mind for law school career counsellors, says Toronto lawyer Omar Ha-Redeye. But the 2011 Ontario call advises more students to think small. “I think for people who are going into litigation, smaller firms are better options. I was in court more than anybody I know. I was really thrown into the mix and was on my feet the whole time,” he says.

In terms of embracing new technology, Michael wrote:

In a competitive articling environment, you have to make yourself stand out. And the earlier, the better, according to Simon Borys, a second-year law student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., who has put a great deal of effort into building his online profile. “Everyone comes to the table with law degrees, so you have to demonstrate to future employers what you bring in addition. Online activities are a great way to showcase that,” he says.

Borys highlights his own history as a police officer on his blog, which he uses as a platform to link up with fellow students, senior practitioners, and potential future employers. He’s also active on Twitter and participates in online legal discussion groups. And it’s paid dividends, because he’s already secured a summer position at a criminal law firm, with a strong chance to return to complete his articles. “It’s been very well received and I’ve made lots of connections,” says Borys.

All of the things Michael discusses in this article are highly relevant to students currently seeking articling, especially considering the present scarcity of articling jobs.  It’s not enough in this day and age to come to the job market with just a law degree and your hand out and expect that someone will give you a job.  You don’t have to use new technology, like I do, but you have to do something!  Read Michael’s article and think about what might work for you.

Simon Borys is a law student at Queen’s University in Kingston.  He is also a former police officer and an an aspiring criminal lawyer.  His Blog, Simon Says, focuses on dispelling policing myths and demystifying the law.

Advocates Don’t Dance Alone Tue, 24 Jan 2012 22:15:47 +0000 Here’s a great ad from the Advocates Society:

These Days the Slaves Fight Back Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:07:37 +0000

The Seven Sister law firm Davies LLP ran the above ad in several issues of Obiter Dicta, Osgoode Hall’s law student magazine, the last one running on January 9, 2012.  The law firm is known for working its law students and associates exceptionally hard, earning it the informal nickname, “Slavies.”

As you can imagine, outrage ensued.  Especially worth reading is Osgoode Hall’s Kisha Munroe, who stated in a letter to Obiter Dicta on January 16, 2012,

That Davies saw fit to run an ad invoking the shameful, genocidal, dehumanizing practice of forced, unpaid, lifelong labour and suffering that was essential to the power the Western world now enjoys is despicable.

What is even more offensive is that the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, is still alive and well with regard to disparities in access to employment, education, wealth and justice that the descendants of slaves still suffer. It is beyond distasteful for them to jokingly compare the rarified privilege (however rigorous) of working at a Bay Street lawfirm with this history.

To their credit, Davies LLP did print an apology in the paper,

The intent of the advertisement was instead to try to suggest that the nickname students have used for our firm for many, many years should not dissuade students from considering applying to us for summer or articling positions. We were aiming for some selfdeprecating humour. It did not occur to our team that we would be seen as making light of slavery, rather than simply poking fun at ourselves. Obviously it should have.

We thank those who brought this to our attention and accept their criticism. We sincerely apologize to those who were offended. We will not run the advertisement again.

Frances Mahil
Director, Student Affairs
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

No public apology is available yet on the Davies website.   Yes, this is an issue that concerns and has offended a much broader audience than just Osgoode Hall.

The fact that this occurred in the first place does highlight the insensitivity and insularity that exists in Canada’s “top” law firms.  I can already hear the voices of many lawyers I know dismissively saying that those offended are “too sensitive.” In fact Andrew Emery, another 2L at Osgoode,  wrote in to the paper,

There is nothing offensive about playing on the perception that Davies students work like slaves. It is as offensive as just saying the word “slave”. Just saying a word doesn’t make it offen sive. The joke is so mild even my Grandma could laugh at it and she thinks women shouldn’t show their elbows on television.

The lack of sensitivity by major law firms, especially at the decision making level, should actually be used to hold them accountable.  Apparently Davies LLP was not concerned enough about dissuading minority students from applying to summer or articling positions.  And rather than realizing that the strenuous hours and unrealistic work assignments that have fostered the negative reputation should be an incentive to change the firm culture and create better internal supports, the firm still thinks it’s reasonable to flaunt this reputation as a “learning experience” akin to “slavery.”

Davies does have a “diversity page” on their site which states,

The creativity and different perspectives that are brought to our practice by lawyers from diverse backgrounds and communities have helped to define who we are as a firm today, and we believe that they will continue to be key factors that enable us to endure as market leaders in our chosen areas of practice.

Their NALP profile states under “diversity,”

Our goal is to recruit, hire, retain and promote exceptional students and lawyers who share Davies’ commitment to excellence…

It continues,

Our goal is to hire exceptional students who share our commitment to excellence. We are committed to our student program as the primary source of new lawyers and hire back students anticipating they will become partners of the firm very early in their career. This early partnership structure is unique among law firms and we have a very high ratio of partners to associates. As a result, very early in their careers our talented young lawyers learn to act like owners, rather than employees, and to view the firm’s relationships with its clients from that perspective.

Unlike many American law firms, Canadian ones are highly resistant to releasing statistics about their associate and partner diversity.  Of course you don’t need much time to flip through a website to get an idea of what kind of diversity they have.  And as well all should know, the real issue of  law firms diversity has a lot more to do with retention than it does recruitment.  Nobody announces it on their departure, but the insensitivities of law firm culture is one of the primary reasons why minority lawyers don’t feel fully accepted, can’t be completely productive, and ultimately choose to find more comfortable work environments.

But aside from dissuading law students and even lateral hires, there could be other implications for insensitivity by law firms.  Some clients in the American legal context have historically demanded proof that a legal team will have sufficient diversity.  In-house counsel of minority backgrounds may opt to choose another large law firm to do their legal work instead.

In other words, there are financial consequences to these poor decisions.  And although the managing partner may not be able to identify on a budget why some clients are choosing alternative service providers or explain recruitment issues, it is worth noting:  in today’s world, the “slaves” actually fight back.

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How law students can boost their job prospects with a good online profile Wed, 04 Jan 2012 00:26:16 +0000 Recently Alexandra Kozlov wrote a great article for Canadian Lawyer 4Students on how law students can boost their job prospects with a good online profile.

You can read the article on the Canadian Lawyer 4Students site or on my blog: Simon Says.

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A Conversation with the Opportunity Maker Thu, 30 Jun 2011 14:17:01 +0000 Ari Kaplan, the author of The Opportunity Maker, and his new book, Reinventing Professional Services, spoke to Omar Ha-Redeye during his last visit to Toronto.

Clients Don’t Care Where you Went to Law School Sun, 13 Feb 2011 21:15:45 +0000 Via Matt Homann at the [non] billable hour: