I’m fortunate that as part of my career I have the opportunity to Mentor students, beginning at the High School level and carrying on to lawyers about to be Called to the Bar.
I’ve recently encountered some questions during Mentoring interactions that have led me to realize, some people seeking Mentorship have an inaccurate belief as to what it took to get where I am now.
I was Called to the Bar in 1993, so I’ve been doing this a while. When I started my firm, I generally worked 7 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. in order to get everything done. I couldn’t afford to hire the great support staff I have now, so a lot of things took longer as I was on my own. It was worth it.
Even today, while I’m happy to take time away from running my practice to speak to Mentees, taking that time means that I’ll be at the gym a bit later than planned, unless that meeting was already scheduled, or I’ll add a task onto my “to do” list for the following day.
Given how hard I worked in the early days and continue to work today, though not quite the 14 hour days of my youth, I was shocked to have one student recently ask me for advice on a well paying career that doesn’t require a lot of hours of work. This student believed that I don’t work a lot of hours because I’m happy.
Well, that’s not true and the key to happiness is finding a career you enjoy, so it doesn’t feel like work.
The “lack of hours” issue really grates on me. I’m not looking to dump on Millenials here, don’t worry. However, the reality is that any career, not just Law, requires you put in the work in the early stages to build a solid foundation on which you will build your career. The phrase work/life balance does include the word “work” and you cannot forget that when you’re starting out.
Like Drake, I started from the bottom, now I’m here. Not going to say, I’m at the “top” (whatever that means) but I am certainly enjoying the benefits of putting in the extra hard work in the early years, so I can work efficiently now.
Inga B. Andriessen JD
What is the difference between a lawyer and a paralegal? That is one of the most common questions I am asked by clients.
One of the most obvious differences between lawyers and paralegals is education; however, this blog will focus on the scope of practice of a paralegal.
Lawyers are not limited on what area(s) of law they wish to practice in. Paralegal training is nowhere near as extensive as lawyers, which limits what a paralegal can do.
The Law Society of Upper Canada authorizes licensed paralegals to represent parties in Small Claims Court, offences under the Provincial Offences Act (traffic Court, etc.), summary conviction offences (where six months’ imprisonment is the maximum penalty), and Administrative tribunals such as the Landlord and Tenant Board and the Human Rights Tribunal.
While representing a party in any of the above proceedings, a paralegal can provide legal advice regarding the subject matter of that proceeding. Paralegals can also draft pleadings and other documents that are used in the course of those proceedings, and paralegals are permitted to negotiate settlements on behalf of a party to a proceeding.
Paralegals cannot provide legal services in areas outside of the scope permitted by the Law Society that only a lawyer can provide.
Some paralegals, like lawyers practice in multiple areas of law, while others specialize in one area.
One common element between paralegals and lawyers is that must both abide by codes of conduct: the Paralegal Code of Conduct, and Rules of Professional Conduct, for lawyers. They are quite similar.
Both paralegals and lawyers serve pivotal roles which are necessary in the interests of justice.
Lawyers provide a service. We do many things including conducting research, advocating for our clients and providing legal opinions. While these services are essential, they are not always welcomed nor are they always appreciated.
Many businesses that are not law firms experience the same issue – you do a good job, but the customer is not happy. This leads to the question: how do I protect my business from an unhappy client or customer?
When it comes to lawyers, individuals often don’t choose to deal with a lawyer until they are required to. This can lead to clients not appreciating the information they are being given or ignoring it altogether. While this is extremely frustrating, difficult clients are a part of the profession.
There is no one way to deal with a difficult client or customer; just as in your personal life, dealing with difficult people varies depending on the person you are interacting with. However, the most important thing for a business to do is to ensure that they protect themselves from liability. For lawyers in particular, this is to protect themselves for situations where their advice is ignored.
Protecting your business is done through a CYA email which stand for, “Cover your assets” well, maybe not the last three letters
All correspondence between you and your client or customer should be documented. After every phone call especially those where there was a substantive conversation, follow up with an email and outline what you have discussed during your call and reiterate your opinion on the matter if necessary.
Documenting conversations with customers may seem like an obvious tip and something that all businesses and lawyers should be practicing. However, as we have grown accustomed in our personal life to take things at face value, this trait often translates to our business and professional lives as well. As much as we would like to believe that our advice will be adhered to and more so that if this advice is not taken we will not be personally liable this is not always the case.
So do yourself a favour and write a CYA email, otherwise it may be C YA when you need to prove that you did what you said you would do.
Harman S. Toor JD
I previously talked about why I became a Law Clerk and my role with corporate matters in the firm. This is a big part of what I do for our clients and I wanted to expand on that thought, so that’s what today’s Blog is about.
As a Corporation, Federal or Provincial, there are a few things that need to be maintained yearly in order to be compliant, one of which is annual meetings of shareholders and directors, and the recording of them, i.e. Annual Minutes or Resolutions. We call this annual corporate record keeping.
Once the financial statements have been prepared by your Accountant and delivered to you, you should reach out to your corporate lawyer to let them know that you are ready to have with your Annual Resolutions prepared. Why wait until after you receive your financial statements? That is where you will know if any bonuses or dividends have been paid and these are required to be reflected in the Annual Resolutions as part of the record keeping.
As part of our service, we don’t wait to hear from you for your financial information. Approximately three months after your financial year end, our offices will reach out to you to see if you have received the information from your Accountant and ask questions that will assist our office in preparing the Resolutions.
Pursuant to the Ontario Business Corporations Act (OBCA), and the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA), a corporation is required to maintain their corporate records. Failure to do so can result in significant penalties such as fines, with the officers and directors being personally liable for those fines. For this reason, please don’t ignore the request from your corporate lawyer, which is probably more accurately a request from a Law Clerk like me.
We’re to help things run smoothly and avoid the necessity of rushing to make your Minute Book current (because of a purchase or a corporate audit), and will save you stress and money.
So next time you get that email from your lawyer asking for your year end information, get your response to them to avoid any unnecessary expense and make life easier for a Law Clerk like me !