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Originally published on CBA/ABC National   Outsourcing is hardly a novel strategy for law firms. But for small and solo practitioners, it has become vital to their survival. Never more than now during the current economic downturn, when revenues have taken a hit, but with legal services still in demand. “Outsourcing is simply asking someone outside of my own law firm to help me achieve my goals, which are to provide personalized customer service and grow my practice,” says Valentin Erikson, the head of Ottawa’s Erikson Law Firm. “I started making really good money when I started using outsourcing.” The trick is deciding what to outsource and finding the right service providers. “To achieve my goals, I delegate non-legal tasks like social media and marketing, IT services and accounting,” says Erikson. “These services are essential for growing my firm but don’t require a legal degree to perform.” Allan Oziel, founder of Oziel Law in Toronto, says “the principals of small firms should know their limitations and consider outsourcing non-legal matters fairly quickly. This will allow them to concentrate on running their business and providing legal services.” Outsourcing non-legal functions to third parties allows small firms to adjust their operations more easily, says Omar Ha-Redeye, executive director of the Durham Community Legal Clinic and Access to Justice Hub. Files vary in size and timing. Some trials can be more resource-intensive. Or firms may encounter seasonal swings, in real estate matters for instance. “[Outsourcing] can also allow these firms to better adapt in light of unexpected circumstances, such as the ones that we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Ha-Redeye. Don’t even rule out...
Mandatory Shutdowns And Commercial Leasing: Who Bears The Risk?

Mandatory Shutdowns And Commercial Leasing: Who Bears The Risk?

A Review of the Legal Position in Canada and Other Common Law Jurisdictions Irshad Motala, LLB. CEO, LexOutsource – Legal Research, Writing and Analysis for Canadian Lawyers There is significant uncertainty regarding the tenant’s obligation to pay rent where trade from the leased premises becomes impossible due to the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, the tenant cannot meaningfully enjoy use of the leased premises and derives no income from the leased premises during a mandatory closure. The tenant may also be deprived of the knock-on benefits associated with consistent foot traffic through a vibrant shopping centre. In such a situation, it could appear inequitable for a tenant to be expected to pay rent.  However, there are also equitable arguments which favour the landlord: (a) The landlord has not deprived the tenant of the right to trade. The COVID-19 pandemic is a natural disaster and the ensuing restrictions placed on trade do not stem from the landlord. (b) The tenant retains possession of the leased premises. For instance, the tenant’s trade fixtures and inventory remain in the leased premises. Therefore, the situation is akin to the tenant temporarily ceasing business for staff training or to take stock, without moving out of the leased premises. Thus, the landlord should not be responsible for non-use of the leased premises by the tenant, where such non-use is caused by events unrelated to the landlord. (c) The tenant’s continued possession of the leased premises is beneficial to the tenant. For instance, the tenant does not have to pay additional moving and storage costs for...
Freelance Legal Research: A Solution to a Law Firm’s Constraints

Freelance Legal Research: A Solution to a Law Firm’s Constraints

Let’s face it: Legal research and writing can be a time-consuming endeavour. After all, which lawyer wants to spend hours attempting to uncover a “needle in the haystack” precedent, when they already have so much pressing work on their plate? This is especially so when there are so many different legal research resources which may need to be scanned to find the “right” case. Indeed, one judge aptly described the predicament faced by lawyers in the following terms: “For a lawyer at the top of her field the work hours are often intense.  Lawyers in a competitive work environment can regularly be required to work in very long continuous stretches up to ten or 12 or more hours per day on end, often continuing into the weekends and evenings.  These working hours often involving considerable stress, for example, as urgent legal research is needed, or documents need to be negotiated and drafted for the impending closing of a corporate transaction, or preparation for direct or cross-examination of witnesses is needed each night and weekend prior to and during a trial.”[i] In addition, conducting quality legal research often requires incurring significant expenditure (over and above the time-limitations). Free legal research resources have inherent limitations, with one judge accepting “that although CanLII can be a useful free resource, it is less reliable for noting up older cases.”[ii] Premium legal research resources can come at a prohibitive cost. For instance, in one case, it was noted that a British Columbia law firm was paying “Westlaw $1,666.67 per month for access to the legal resource database”.[iii] Often, the monthly subscription costs for premium...
Why You Should Outsource Your Legal Research And Writing

Why You Should Outsource Your Legal Research And Writing

In recent years, the legal industry has undergone some significant changes. One of these changes is the introduction of legal process outsourcing. Gone are the days when lawyers needed to spend hours conducting document reviews, collecting data, and filling out forms. Assistants have taken over the bulk of these processes, but even their workloads can become tiresome. You should be looking into legal process outsourcing solutions in order to alleviate your workload. You might be apprehensive at first due to the fact that you deal with sensitive client information on a daily basis, but these feelings are misplaced. All legal process outsourcing companies make use of properly trained legal professionals and paralegals. If you are considering taking this path, continue reading for some of the benefits of legal process outsourcing. More Cases Can Be Won If you are spending time researching and writing documents, you are likely not able to focus very much on the case at hand. This can become a problem, as you might not be able to spend time strategizing for the best possible outcome for clients. By choosing legal process outsourcing for your research and writing, you can develop a laser focus on your cases and can win more of them. You can also ask the legal process outsourcing company for their advice on a case, so long as the confidentiality of your client is maintained. You will find that a new pair of eyes on your work will provide some fresh insights into your case, which can make it easier for you to reach final decisions. Concentrate On What You Excel At While all...
Ethics Committee of the Law Society of British Columbia – Outsourcing of Legal Work is Ethically Permissible

Ethics Committee of the Law Society of British Columbia – Outsourcing of Legal Work is Ethically Permissible

The following is a copy of the Ethics Committee of the Law Society of British Columbia opinion dated March 3, 2005 on legal process outsourcing: CHAPTER 12: WHETHER PROPER FOR LAWYER TO ENTRUST CERTAIN MATTERS INVOLVING THE PRACTICE OF LAW TO CONTRACTOR The Unauthorized Practice Committee asked the Ethics Committee to consider whether lawyers may refer work that involves the practice of law to private contractors. The question arose during the Committee’s investigation of a conveyancing and search company for possible unauthorized practice of law. The Unauthorized Practice Committee concluded that the company was providing legal services, but declined to take any action because it was satisfied that the work the company was performing was exclusively for lawyers. The company’s expressed intention is to “provide the capability of an experienced paralegal in a specialized department of a law firm or in a specialized boutique practice.” The Committee noted that in March 2001 the Ethics Committee made the following comments with respect to the question of whether employees may be permitted to take files out of the office for the purposes of performing the work elsewhere: It was the Committee’s opinion that a lawyer may permit an employee to do work out of the office, provided the lawyer is satisfied that client confidences will not be compromised by permitting that to occur. In determining whether a lawyer can fulfill obligations of confidentiality in these circumstances, the lawyer must have regard to, among other things, the trustworthiness of the employee, the nature and sensitivity of the information the employee will be taking away from the office, the environment in which the...
Ontario Bar Association – Guide to Outsourcing Legal Work in Ontario

Ontario Bar Association – Guide to Outsourcing Legal Work in Ontario

The following was published by the OBA Law Practice Management Section (see Volume 10, No. 1 – February 2013): Guide to Outsourcing Legal Work in Ontario By Shelby Austin Legal outsourcing, also known as Legal Process Outsourcing, refers to the practice of a law firm or corporation engaging legal support services from an outside law firm or legal support services company. The discussion surrounding legal outsourcing has become increasingly relevant in today’s financial climate. The economic downturn coupled with increasing legal costs has fostered an environment in which businesses and law firms have begun outsourcing those functions that can be performed efficiently and effectively by external service providers. Outsourcing is Not New to Canada Outsourcing is not a particularly new phenomenon in the Canadian market, except perhaps in name. It is not unusual, for example, to engage a subject-matter specialist, or to retain local counsel to attend at a Court appearance in another jurisdiction. While contract lawyers have also traditionally been used to deal with overflow on a discrete basis, the practice of hiring large teams of contract lawyers to assist with special projects is more recent. Traditional law firms are simply not equipped (and clients are unwilling to pay) to have articling students and associates review staggering volumes of electronic data that have now become common in corporate and commercial litigation and competition matters. As this trend shows no sign of abating and is likely to become a reality for many in the profession, it is important for law firms to understand how to approach the issue for their clients. Relatively little has been written on outsourcing in...