See more on Slaw.
Posts Tagged ‘Mitch Kowalski’
- Jessica Gonzalez
- Omar Ha-Redeye of Fleet Street Law and My Support Calculator
- Joshua Slayen of Legal Linkup
- Simon Fodden of Slaw
- Michael Carabash of Dynamic Lawyers
- Colin Lachance of CanLII
- Mark Robins of Lawyer Locate
- Chris Jaglowitz of Gardiner Miller Arnold
- Pei Shing Wang of PSW Law
- Damion Kraemer
- Garry Wise of Wise Law
- Andrew Feldstein
- Barry Sookman of McCarthy Tetrault
(Not in photo but present)
The CLawBies have become an institution in the Canadian blogging community, one which recognizes established and new legal blogs in our corner of the Internet. But it also recognizes that we very much are a community, and that even though we live in the second largest country in the world many of us have gotten to know each other quite well through blogs and social media. For example, I am able to introduce myself to Nicole Garton-Jones on the west coast and David T.S. Fraser from the east, and we instantly know all kinds of things about each other and have an affinity for one another.
Community building, in any community, is an arduous process. The low barrier of entry for blogging means the community is inherently fluid, but also characteristically democratic. There cannot be any formal hierarchies or official leadership for the Canadian blogging community. But there can be leaders, and those behind the CLawBies such as Steve Matthews, Jordan Furlong, and Simon Fodden, have certainly have positioned themselves as some of those.
Group psychology and organization behaviour, some of my passions I carry over from my management background, are just as relevant when applied to social media in the legal community. One of the more memorable quotes which reflects this principle was expressed by Brian Solis,
— Allison_1001 (@Allison_1001) December 19, 2011
Despite being spread out from coast to coast, those of us in Toronto have tried to organize gatherings and meetups to get to know each other better in person. We’ve met regularly, almost every month now, for quite some time. Our gatherings have ranged from 4-5 people all the way to over 30, and almost always of varied composition. In fact I think I can say that we have never had a blawger meetup with exactly the same people there twice, with people like Simon Fodden, Barry S. Sookman, and Dan Pinnington all making respective appearances.
One of the more permanent hallmarks of these gatherings has been Garry Wise, another clear leader whose involvement has been absolutely essential in rallying both novice and experienced blawgers around the table. People attend to share expert tips, war stories, or just talk about current events, while other arrive with a curiousity about whether they should start blawgging at all. Our newest addition is Sara Cohen’s Fertility Law Blog, with a single post to date, launched earlier this month as a result of a discussion between Garry and her at our last meetup.
For those of us who love social media, it’s the exchange of well thought-out substantive legal ideas that challenge us on a personal level in a respectful manner which keeps us coming back for more. The addition of new members to this dialogue can only be a good thing.
Supporting the cultural norms and celebrating positive additions to the blawging community are the themes of my 2011 nominations:
1. SQP jeunes avocats | virtual mentor for new lawyers by Lee Akazaki
I got to know Lee primarily through is previous role as Ontario Bar Association (OBA) President. He executed his duties in that office amazingly, and was a huge support to younger members of the bar. He has continued his mentorship with a new blog focusing on mentoring. And he’s doing it in both official languages. Although the site was just launched in mid-November, I again reference the criteria listed on the CLawBies website:
newer, unlisted blogs may be eligible if they demonstrate all the critical elements of a great blog: decent post frequency, audience engagement, topic originality, and blog-to-blog references or citations.
Lee’s posts are coming through at least weekly (sometimes daily), and is expressly intended to be interactive,
This Blog has to be interactive
This is more than a website. There is a real live senior lawyer behind this wall, who in turn has a large network of lawyers to draw on for expertise. The function of this blog is to be interactive, to provide new lawyers with help and value for your time in reading. Please consider leaving a comment to any blog post you have read. Provided they are constructive, comments will be approved for the benefit of all readers. If you have a question or situation which you wish to share with the readership, send it to me and it will be considered for a future article. If you have a question you wish to ask on a confidential basis, contact me directly. Click on the ‘about lee / contact’ tab above and get in touch with me.
This is a great idea, and one which I feel the need to support through an endorsement with a CLawBie. See also Chris Jaglowtiz’s nomination of this site.
2. Social Media for Law Firms by Samantha Collier
The vast majority of lawyers I encounter are interested in social media primarily as a business development tool. My passion for it primarily stems from the ability to connect with other, exchange ideas, and build relationships that eventually grow into communities. But there is nothing wrong with lawyers who enter our space out of an interest to make themselves more visible to the public, and people like Samantha can help them do it in a classy way. Professional marketing advice doesn’t cheapen the profession, it enhances it, especially when done properly.
Most of Samantha’s technical content is probably introductory for many online veterans, but as I note above there are a lot of lawyers who are consider entering the field. Her site provides a form of mentoring on how to use social media, in the same way that Lee uses social media to discuss mentoring. She was also listed in the Top 24 Social Media Influencers in Canada this year, a list with many familiar faces and names which includes some very important non-lawyers who have helped build this community (special mention for Connie Crosby, for example).
3. Blawg Review by Ed. (Anonymous)
A 2010 CLawBie winner for Friends of the North, Blawg Review is an example of what the Canadian law blogging community could do for ourselves on a more regular basis. Blawg Review is truly an astronomical project that rotates to different sites every week and compiles a roundup of law blogs around the world. I would love to see Canadian blawgers comment more in a constructive manner on other blawgs, and for us to have an ongoing conversation about legal issues and cases.
Crowdsourcing complex legal questions discussing legal philosophy in a respectful and open exchange is a best case scenario for me because it would foster the greatest forms of creativity and collaboration, something we already see happening in the tech, communications and business sectors. Unfortunately law schools and most legal practices don’t properly teach interpersonal skills or the importance of collaboration, which in my opinion is a lost opportunity for potential development. Those of us who have tried to work more closely with each other have developed some rather revolutionary projects, including LawTechCamp (Monica Goyal, Sapna Mahboobani and Mitch Kowalski) and our sessions at the Law Society of Upper Canada (Mitch Kowalski, Bob Tarantino, Garry Wise and myself). You can read more about our sessions on Garry’s CLawBies nomination page. The materials not only reached over 5,000 lawyers in our jurisdiction, but have travelled far beyond and are already being used by lawyers in other provinces and countries. If there was any question about how social media can bring the legal community together in a positive way, this program has demonstrated how it can happen.
We don’t necessarily have to have our own blogging carnival for lawyers out here in Canada. But we could learn a lot about the spirit and attitude that makes Blawg Review work to help develop our own community. And yes, even the anonymous editor of Blawg Review has attended our blawger meetups in Toronto. It already has that kind of international pull. How many “Friends of the North” can claim that? If blawgers in other Canadian cities start hosting their own meetups we would see this community move forward to another level, and I can promise that at some point in the future I’ll make make the effort to attend them all myself – in person.
E-mail and social networking sites are rapidly becoming the preferred method of communication. If you are a lawyer or paralegal, it is critical for you to understand how the use of these tools can trigger the duty of client confidentiality and other professional obligations. Attend this program and learn best practices for ethical use of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn for the purposes of communicating with clients, marketing your legal services, and networking with your colleagues.
Results for the 2011 Bencher Elections are now available:
A list of candidate websites is available via Malcolm M. Mercer:
The voting list for the 2011 Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) Bencher Election is set on March 25, 2011, with a voting deadline of April 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm EDT.
This means that the July 2011 calls to the bar are ineligible. Since I can’t vote this year, the next best thing to do is offer my endorsement of the following candidates:
Emir Aly Crowne casts an enormous shadow, well beyond the University of Windsor where he teaches. He is The Essential Guide to Mooting, and has founded or administered more moots than I can keep track of. I’ve done relatively well in internal and external moots, but the few times I’ve been clearly trumped has been at the hands of some of his proteges. His dedication to students is also manifested through his participation in the Canada Law Student Conference, hosted by the Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues. Having participated in the conference and the law journal, I can say first-hand that both are executed absolutely professionally. He’s also a prolific writer, as evidenced by his SSRN page. Given all of his academic and professional activity, it’s no surprise he was awarded the Young Practitioner Award at the 2010 South Asian Bar Association (SABA) Gala. For everything that Prof. Crowne has done, not only for his students but for law students across Canada, a word of support is the least that this law student can do in return.
Michael M. Lerner doesn’t share a surname with Lerners LLP by coincidence. I went to law school at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario, the same city where the litigation boutique was originally founded in 1929. During my time there, Michael Lerner was conspicuously present as a representative of Lerners LLP, who supported many aspects of my student life including the Mature Students Club while I was President, the 2009 UWO Law Alumni Dinner, and of course, the highly-coveted Lerners LLP Cup, where I finished as a finalist and was awarded the Justice C.D. Stewart Trophy. The Lerners Moot is UWO Law’s premier advocacy competition, used to rank and finalize all of the school’s external mooters, and Michael Lerner personally awarded the trophies. All of these law school activities would not be possible without the support of Michael Lerner, who is also a graduate of Western Law.
Stephen G. A. Pitel is a former litigator at a prominent Toronto litigation boutique, and currently teaches at the University of Western Ontario. I was introduced to him very early during my time at Western, when he would pick on me to answer questions in Ethics, even when I didn’t raise my hand. Not that I had a problem answering the questions. I got to know him much better through the 2009 Davies LLP Corporate Securities Moot, where he tirelessly offered countless hours assisting our team, even though he was not formally our coach. I attribute my placement in the top 15 largely due to his support. He also provided considerable career advice and guidance when it came to considering a career in litigation. I got to know him further when I took his International Commercial Litigation class. The the Van Breda case was released by the Ontario Court of Appeal at the time of this course, and his insight and commentary on the subject was extremely informative. Given my extensive interaction with him over 3 years of law school, I believe Stephen Pitel would be a good candidate for bencher.
R. Lee Akazaki is the current President of the Ontario Bar Association (OBA). In my capacity as Articling Student Ambassador for the Toronto Region in the past year, I have the privilege of attending many OBA events and have gotten to know Lee Akazaki relatively well. He has made a concerted effort to broaden the mandate of the OBA and expand participation in the organization beyond its traditional base. For example, I’ve made a strong case for extending free OBA memberships for law students, a case that has positively received by Lee and the OBA. He is also strengthening the ties of the OBA with practices outside of Toronto. Despite running for bencher in the Toronto region, Lee would be an asset to the entire province by bringing fresh ideas and a new outlook.
Basil Alexander is the one bencher candidate I’m nominating that I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting. An associate at Klippensteins, his practice is largely comprised of social justice and pro bono work. We simply don’t have enough people making the sacrifices to do the work that most of us appreciate so much, and giving those who are making the effort a greater voice simply makes sense.
Raj Anand is running for re-election as a bencher this year. As a former Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, equity issues is a high priority for him. You can see a sample of his many activities on his LSUC bio, recognized in 2003 by the Law Society Medal. I first met Raj in 2009 at a Labour Law Conference at UWO, and continue to run into him repeatedly at various legal events and activites since. He most recently a recipient of the Distinguished Career Award at the 2010 South Asian Bar Association (SABA) Gala.
Julian N. Falconer is the third bencher running for re-election that I’m endorsing, as a strong advocate for marginalized communities. One of Julian’s notable projects includes legal assistance for Maher Arar. The legal system is the last defence against governmental abuses, and those who have already demonstrated the courage and fortitude to take a tough stand are exactly what is needed for the law society.
Monica Goyal is the founder of My Legal Briefcase, a website dedicated to assisting the public with Small Claims Court, with fees ranging from $24.99 to $249. Access to justice is one of the most pressing needs in Canadian society today, and self-represented litigants are clearly on the rise in Ontario. Technology can play a central role in addressing these concerns, and someone already involved in the delivery of cost-effective information to educate the public can certainly spearhead similar projects within LSUC.
Nabeel Haque will probably be one of the least renown candidates for bencher this year. However, he also happens to be one of the few lawyers I’ve actually known before considering a legal career (to understand how, see the Chris Bredt podcast mentioned above). With a small family-based practice based in western Toronto, primarily serving visible minorities, his perspectives of an entirely different type of legal career should be useful for addressing niche concerns.
Mitch Kowalski is best know for his column in the Legal Post. As an information junkie I certainly appreciate anyone who makes the effort to keep track of trends and challenges in the industry, and is willing to share these findings with others. The law society plays an important role in communicating with not just lawyers, but the public as well. Lawyers who have already developed a communication network and infrastructure can assist the law society in delivering their messages more effectively.
There are many other candidates that I have not mentioned above, which is not meant as a snub or opposition. It simply means that I have not had the opportunity to interact with any of them and appreciate what I am certain has been a career full of public service and advocacy.
You can read more about the use of social media and the Internet during these elections on Slaw.