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September, 2021
September, 2021 | Article

In Memory of Susan Carr

Susan Carr was an active member of TLOMA since 1989.  It is with great sorrow and a heavy heart that we inform you of Susan Carr’s passing on July 5, 2021.

Below is the internal announcement from Blaney McMurtry LLP.

Susan Carr (2)"Susan passed away peacefully this morning after a long hard battle with cancer this past year.   Susan was comforted and always very happy to receive the many encouraging notes and well wishes from everyone from her Blaney’s family.

Susan was at Blaney’s for the past 27 years, first as the HR Manager and then promoted to HR Director.  We could always count on Susan’s smile and positive attitude no matter what the situation.  She maintained that positive attitude though out her cancer battle this entire year.

Susan was kind and generous and strongly believed in giving back to the community.  Susan always put others ahead of herself.  She was involved in many charities especially the United Way and Feed the Hungry.  Susan served meals very single Sunday morning, no matter what we got up to on Saturday night.  Susan was always the first to jump in to give a helping hand to anyone who needed it. 

She has been a great friend and colleague to so many of us.  I feel blessed for having known her, and the world was a better place with Susan in it.

We will truly miss her."

TLOMA extends our sincere sympathy to Susan's family and her Blaney family.  To those who knew Susan, she is gone, but not forgotten and will live in our hearts forever.

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September, 2021 | Article

President Message

Durdin Bernice 9nov19
Author Bernice Durdin

As quick as the mosquito that bit you our Summer has come and gone, with September at our doors. Whether in person or virtual, the kids are preparing for going back to school, as Employers and Employees alike wonder if they too will see a return to norm. Before your tan fades, let us look to what’s ahead for TLOMA in the Fall of 2021.

Over the summer months, the Nominating Committee has been hard at work putting together your Board of Directors for 2022. New SIG Leaders are being recruited as well to foster growth in our volunteering membership group. 

On September 14th we will hold the TLOMA’s 2021 Compensation Survey Results meeting.   If your firm has participated in and/or purchased the TLOMA 2021 Total Rewards, Associate and/or Business Services Surveys, we invite you to attend the Results Meeting. 

On September 22nd, the 1st Annual TLOMA Golf Tournament will take place at the Royal Ontario Golf Course; an excellent opportunity to network, relax and stay out of the sand traps.

Finally, TLOMA’s Virtual Conference and Trade Show will take place September 28-29th.  This event will feature a plethora of great speakers and a robust trade show.  The deadline was extended to September 3rd. Don’t delay - Register Now!

Here’s a list of our upcoming events planned for September:

Sep 08, 2021 TLOMA Technology SIG Event - Protect your firm’s reputation with Data Loss Prevention - a briefing for law firms

Sep 15, 2021 TLOMA Finance SIG Event

Sep 21, 2021 Virtual Networking Event - Build Your TLOMA Connections

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

September, 2021 | Article

2021 Conference Sponsors


If you still haven’t registered for TLOMA’s 2021 Virtual Conference & Trade Show on September 28 & 29, this is your last chance. Don’t miss out on top educational content and amazing networking opportunities including a Taco Tuesday Night. You’ll also get a chance to meet our generous Business Partners and learn about new products and trends at our virtual tradeshow! Registration closes tomorrow.

TLOMA would like to Thank our 2021 Conference SPONSORS

Elite Sponsors



Premium Sponsors

Cartel Inc.
HAYS Recruiting experts worldwide
RICOH Canada Inc.
Tikit an advanced company

Diamond Sponsors

Armour Cybersecurity
BMC Networks Inc.
Branch Office Services
Epiq Global, Canada
Forge Recruitment
Korbitec Inc.
Netex Enterprises Inc.
Saul Good Gift Co.
Southwest Business Products Ltd.
Supon Voice - Transcribe For Me
Surgically Clean Air Inc.
Vertex Solutions Corporation
Wilson Allen

Event Sponsors

Facility Plus
QRX Technology Group
SmartPrint Inc.


AMJ Campbell
ASCA Office Solutions
Facility Plus
Interior Care
Pro-Form Sinclair Professional/HUB International
The Hiring Partner
TitanFile Inc.

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September, 2021 | Article

No Marketing Plan? No Problem! 5 Quick & Easy Ways to Promote Your Firm

September 2021 - No Marketing Plan.. Vendor Picture
ION Group of Companies - 1/2 page ad for article- September Issue HalfPage
Author Carole Wright

Covid-19 shook most industries to the core, and the legal profession was clearly no exception. We’ve struggled, pivoted, adapted … even prospered at times, and adapted again; in ways not seen before in the legal realm.

During these past 18 chaotic months, some processes and procedures were (understandably) put on the back burner in our attempts to keep operations running as smoothly as possible. This includes events, networking, marketing, advertising and so on. With our eyes now on the future (keeping this pandemic in our periphery), it’s time to reach new goals by boosting those client numbers, increasing revenues and vying for top spot in today’s highly competitive legal world.

Here are five quick and easy (yet tried and true!) methods to make impressive gains in your firm’s marketing strategy, helping launch you back into the spotlight:

1.  Refresh your ads

Both digital and traditional ads are excellent methods to boost your visibility and get your brand front and centre. No time for heading up an advertising committee and starting fresh? We hear you! Dust off those old publication ads and send them to a (professional) graphic designer who will revamp them to suit your modern look and feel. Promote your firm’s new hires, new services and other company updates. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you do have to make sure all content and images are eye-catching and informative. You can also investigate paid digital ads that don’t break the budget – but unless you are experienced in today’s digital marketing nuances, you will want to leave it to the pros for best results.

2.  Update your website

Your website is usually the first impressions a potential client will get of your firm. That is why you must ensure it is the best representation possible. If your site is slow, glitchy and outdated, potential clients searching for you will simply move on to sites that are more appealing. The good news is that a website refresh can catapult your firm into the present while costing you less than a new website build.

Here are the most compelling reasons to update your site:

  • Improved user experience and accessibility
  • Speed – you want an ultra fast load time
  • Mobile friendly – keeping in mind that 70% of people are searching for you from a cell phone
  • Branding & photo updates – keep your look and feel fresh and modern
  • Change in services, products, staff or promotions
  • Security and spam – don’t let hackers get the upper hand; lock your site down tight
  • Compliance to LSO’s Rules of Professional Conduct in marketing and advertising

3.  Have a consistent social media presence

Haven’t been posting to your social media or blog page for a while? Your audience may think you are either uninterested or understaffed … or worse – presume you are out of business. Your social media presence is essential for client communication and engagement, at minimal cost to your firm. Frequent, relevant and engaging posts with great graphics will not just inform your clients, but also help move your firm’s visibility up on search engines like Google. The more relevant content you post, the more the algorithms recognize you. Not sure where to begin? Brainstorm with your team to come up with social media post ideas that are most meaningful to your client base, and voilà – you are on your way to marketing success.

4. Direct mail & email campaigns

Your existing or past clients may not follow you on social media, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach them. Send out emails that provide helpful updates and information but be sure to offer an ‘unsubscribe’ feature for those who wish to opt out. You can also run a direct mail campaign, which is a tried-and-true marketing strategy. Since the pandemic, people are home now more than ever, so it makes sense to reach them while they are a captive audience. One important piece to consider however is that your mail or email publications must have strong visual appeal - with graphic design components throughout. Otherwise, you could harm your brand instead of improving upon it.

5. Keep up with office swag & client gifts

When it comes to marketing, you don’t have to work as hard when you have custom branded items out and about in the community to help you along the way. Your logo, brand colours and contact info/URL will get into hands of people who notice, if not right away, then later. From office pens and  notebooks to golf balls, mugs, shirts, tech gadgets and upscale gifts … custom swag makes an impact. Don’t forget to thank those clients who stuck with you over this challenging year by sending them a thoughtful (branded) gift.

Here are the top reasons why law firms continue to benefit from promotional products:

  • Big reach, low cost – showcase your firm with a budget that suits you
  • Brand recognition – stay top of mind 24/7
  • Drive loyalty – giveaways and gifts show your clients you care
  • Relatability – choose items that are relevant to your firm, clientele and community

We are not out of the woods yet when it comes to Covid-19, and the unpredictable nature of this pandemic is definitely keeping us on our toes. That is why it is important to take time now to assess your marketing efforts and do that little bit more to shine your brand brighter and stay connected with your audience in a time when people are feeling less engaged than ever.

A Western University graduate, Carole has over 20 years of experience in creative, dynamic roles such as project coordinator, marketing lead, and most recently as head content writer and blogger. She’s living the dream: walking to work & loving the agency life.

Carole can be reached at or 705-503-7066.

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September, 2021 | Article

How to prove the value of a Document Management Solution – ROI based on hard data

September 2021 - How to Prove the Value of DMS
Zver, Peter 7sep23
Author Peter Zver

How do you calculate the return your legal firm will get from investing in a document management system (DMS)? To help with the answer, this article explains how to calculate ROI using “hard cost” savings.

Framing the issue

The adoption of a Cloud-based document management system makes sense on several levels, but how can you prove that it’s to the firm’s advantage to invest in a DMS before you make that commitment? Typically, firms guesstimate non-billable time (soft costs) via a formula that might look like this:

15 minutes saved each day by 20 professionals at an average of $300 per hour x 220 days = $330k

This is a valid calculation, but it’s one that firms often view with some incredulity, partly because these are estimates of what a ROI might be, rather than hard numbers. To offer an alternative view, this article is focused on using purely hard data.

The factors in play

The areas where you will save money by implementing a DMS are:

  • The costs of paper and printing
  • The costs of paper / file storage
  • Software and hardware redundancy

Going forward we expect to see not ‘the paperless office,’ but the ‘paper-light office’. ‘Print-to-read’ will be the primary reason for paper being used, as ‘print-to-file’ and ‘print-for-client’ will no longer be necessary.

Recent research[1] indicates how the pandemic has changed attitudes to home working, with 70% of workers wanting to return to the office, yet only 6% wanting to do so on a full-time basis. The clear direction of travel is towards hybrid working. This may also lead firms to revisit their office leasing contracts and consider how these can be renegotiated with focus on right-sizing the space. But returning to the matter at hand, reducing the area of floor-space needed for paper storage can play into and make a useful contribution to the reconfiguration exercise.

The costs of paper

Paper costs more than you might think, firms must also add the costs of the hardware used to print, copy and scan paper, as well as the cost of toner. Add to that the cost of products that support the use of paper such as pens, markers, staples and staplers, hole-punches and filing cabinets.

Based on trend data, it’s likely that firms can reduce their paper and associated costs by 25% in year 1; by 50% in year 2 and thereafter by 70% from year 3 onward. Your accounting system can tell you what you’ve spent on paper and associated costs in the last year.

Paper storage

Most firms store paper in three ways: in near-at-hand office filing cabinets; in interim storage areas on site, which is often a secondary office or basement; and in offsite archives. All of this storage attracts a cost. A standard filing cabinet for example requires 12 square feet of floor-space.

“We added in additional benefits such as a reduction in paper and print costs. We also reviewed our property strategy, as many people have because of the pandemic, and part of this is to review and reduce our filing and therefore to reduce our footprint in terms of buildings and leases.” John Turner, COO, Ellisons Solicitors

We’d expect onsite storage costs to be gradually reduced, reaching around a 50% reduction by year 3, and around 80% by year 7 as the digital file becomes the norm.

In addition, offsite archives will be wound down as the content ages, while typically onsite content goes offsite in year 3. So, firms should expect the costs of offsite storage to start falling from year 4, although this can be accelerated if existing physical inventory is scanned into digital.

Hardware and software redundancy

Finally, both hardware and software costs are reduced as Cloud-based DMSs don’t require in-house servers, storage, OS and db licensing etc. We believe that firms will reduce their server leasing or server acquisition and upgrade costs by a factor of around 75%. If the firm subscribes to file sharing utilities these won’t have to be renewed either. A new and additional cost, however, will be digital signature software.

“I thought this was a huge advantage, particularly in our situation. After all, as a boutique firm, we want to focus on the needs of our clients, not on provisioning servers. With NetDocuments, we don’t have to buy, house, or continually maintain an IT infrastructure. Plus, it provides the scalability we’re looking for.” Dr Hubertus Stuttmann, Partner at LMPS Rechtsanwälte.

In conclusion

It’s likely that tomorrow’s firms will look different to early 2020. They will probably have a distributed workforce, connected to a digital headquarters, using the physical office space for reasons other than productivity, e.g. to meet clients and host team cohesion events. This office will have no filing cabinets or interim storage, and there will be no off-site archive with a Cloud-based document management system as the central pillar of the digital HQ.

The immediate future

To make financial sense in the here and now, partners must first make good, data-driven decisions with hard, objective numbers about the real cost savings that a DMS adoption can bring. Our findings are that a mid-sized firm can look to save between $400k and $600k over the first five years of DMS adoption.

To learn more about how much you can save by switching to a Cloud-based DMS, register for our webinar, in which we will break down the calculations, how your firm can save on hard costs, followed by a Q&A session for any of your document management ROI questions. To register to the webinar click here.

[1] The 2021 Workforce Trends Survey was conducted online with 1,058 UK employees in decision making roles between 11 and 21 June 2021, see:

Peter Zver CPA,  was appointed VP of Revenue and Operations for Bundledocs in June 2022 and has been serving the legal market for over three decades. His background is in Information Systems and Finance and was the founder of Zver & Associates and PensEra Knowledge Technologies, both of which specialized in addressing the business of law via the delivery of technology products and services.

His work has focused on the business of law and fintech, more specifically practice management and document lifecycle systems, and the impact these systems have on improving profitability and client relationships for law firms. Peter is an active contributor to ILTA, Thomson Reuters Elite, LegalIT Professionals, Canadian Lawyer,  and other media organizations.

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September, 2021 | Article

The Inevitable Obsolescence of Servers, or How Microsoft 365 Has Fundamentally Changed Law Firm IT

September 2021 - The Inevitable Obsolescence of Servers
Mauch, Brian
Author Brian Mauch

I’ve been working with law firm IT for over two decades, and I’ve seen a lot of significant technology changes during that time, but none as important as Microsoft 365.

I will freely admit that it took me a few years to recognize the significance of Microsoft 365.  I haven’t always been a big fan of Microsoft’s licensing and security, and like others I’m concerned about the monopoly they have on operating systems and productivity applications in the business world.

At first, I saw Microsoft 365 as a cash grab by to get law firms to pay for their Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint) software licenses on a subscription basis.  Traditionally, firms had purchased one-time perpetual licenses and used those versions for many years, until there was a good reason to upgrade to a newer version.  Microsoft 365 offered continually updated versions of these applications, but I wasn’t sure that was something that law firms needed.

Then I saw Microsoft 365 as a way for Microsoft to control a law firm’s email by migrating them from on-premise Exchange servers to their Exchange Online cloud service.  I wasn’t sure that Microsoft’s data centres could provide the same level of uptime that a quality, well-maintained on-premise server could provide.

But I eventually realized that Microsoft 365 is so much more than that.

It wasn’t until I watched my teenagers saving their high school projects to SharePoint Online, and easily collaborating with their friends using the mobile and web versions of Word and PowerPoint that I grasped the full significance of what Microsoft had achieved… they had found a way to render servers obsolete. 

It’s not just on-premise servers that will soon be extinct.  Hosted servers are also on the endangered list because they won’t be necessary either.  Traditionally, servers have been required to share files and transfer email among multiple users on a local network.  But Microsoft 365 has come along and replaced these traditional server functions for a low monthly subscription, bundled in the Office applications and Teams for videoconferencing and instant messaging, and added advanced security features that are continually being enhanced.  At this point, it’s difficult to resist the value of Microsoft 365, especially if it enables a firm to eliminate the cost of buying and maintaining servers.

Cloud computing options have been commercially available since the early 2000s, but many law firms were concerned about data sovereignty, and didn’t want to be the first to adopt new technology.  Microsoft finally offered a Canadian data centre in 2017, and this opened the door for Canadian law firms to take some tentative steps into the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.  And beginning in early 2020, the remote access demands of the COVID-19 pandemic provided the catalyst for many firm law firms to finally take the plunge into cloud computing.

Microsoft isn’t the only game in town when it comes to an online server replacement system.  Google Workspace offers a similar product for a similar price.  However, since the Microsoft Office applications have become ubiquitous in law firms, I expect most law firms will favour the Microsoft offering.

After adopting Microsoft 365, the final roadblock to a completely modernized, server-free environment is that most law firms still use server-based software applications for functions like accounting, document management and practice management.  However, there are many cloud-based applications that do not require servers and are accessed via web browser or mobile apps.  Migrating to a new application is expensive and time-consuming, but forward-thinking law firms should start identifying cloud-based options for their legacy systems.  Most new software development is being done on cloud-based applications, and server-based software is being left behind.

My views on the inevitable obsolescence of servers are not popular among the old guard in IT.  After all, we’ve made our careers out of maintaining servers, and there is concern about what happens to our roles if servers are no longer required.  However, I’m not concerned… configuring and integrating cloud systems still requires an IT professional, cybersecurity has rapidly become an important part of our job, and computer users will always need a help desk.  I think the role of IT professionals will certainly change over time as cloud adoption increases, but I don’t think we will be as extinct as servers will eventually be.

Once a law firm has migrated their systems to Microsoft 365 and cloud-based legal applications, they can realize the significant cost savings and improved access and collaboration that a server-free “full cloud” environment will provide.  Securely accessing their data from any device, and from anywhere, is something that all law firms can look forward to.

Brian Mauch is a specialist in legal tech and a member of the TELUS Business team. He holds degrees in both law and commerce from the University of British Columbia. With a focus on strategic planning and providing advice to our law clients, Brian has over 20 years of experience in assisting law firms with their IT requirements.
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September, 2021 | Article

Breaking the Paper Habit

September 2021 - Breaking the Paper Habit
TLOMA - TalkTLOMA Forum HalfPage
Coglan, Julie
Author Ms. Julie J. Colgan

Law firms have always been paper-heavy businesses.  But as the law libraries of yesteryear, rife with hundreds of volumes of primary and secondary research resources, have given way in large numbers to online research tools like Westlaw and LexisNexis, so too are the days of the paper file numbered.  There are many reasons to encourage moving toward a digital-first information management strategy, and now may be the best time in history to do it.

When the COVID pandemic burst onto the scene well over a year ago, millions of workers left their offices and went to work from home – essentially overnight.  They left behind personal items and most if not all their paper files, assuming they’d be back in a few weeks.  Over the ensuing months, we all became a lot more comfortable working from our homes and relying on the tools and resources we had there, and many realized that those papers on their desk were in large part merely convenience copies.

There has also been a significant infusion and investment in enabling technology, including creating digital mailrooms so your postal mail need not be physically delivered to you anymore, improvements to document management and collaboration systems to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, and a race to adopt cloud technologies to reduce reliance on physical datacenters and to infuse more demand flexibility quickly. 

These two phenomena – forced remote work for long periods of time and better technology – has created a perfect storm to work on finally breaking the reliance on paper records.

Benefits of Breaking the Paper Habit

The benefits of moving away from a traditional paper records management operational model are many and touch both the bottom and potentially the firm’s top line.

Save Money

  • Real Estate: Another phenomena of the pandemic has been firms taking a hard look at what to do with expensive, large office spaces with the prospects of some potential amount of permanent remote working.  The need for dedicated offices and workstations is perhaps permanently reduced.  Accordingly, many firms are now re-thinking their office occupation strategies and working with landlords to either release space back or finding tenants to sub-lease unneeded space.  This space give-back can be further impacted by eliminating the need for file rooms and floor space for filing cabinets by going electronic.  The space previously used for file storage and processing can be eliminated or re-purposed for fee earner desks.
  • Offsite Storage: Many law firms are holding on to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of boxes of paper records and paying a third-party company to store them.  Stop adding to the pile by no longer sending “file copies” of items that are saved to your firm’s systems, and other material that doesn’t need to be retained.  In addition, work with experts in information management to help you devise an exit strategy for the material you currently have in storage.  Firms who take on this effort can avoid millions of dollars in future storage costs.
  • Supplies:  The cost of physical folders, labels, boxes, shelving, filing cabinets, and delivery carts add up.  These costs can be eliminated or at least dramatically reduced by only creating physical files for items that must remain in physical form (e.g., original evidence).

Save Effort

  • Physical records management programs are much more labor-intensive than digital programs.  Save the cost for workers to create folders, to file papers into folders, to move papers around the office, and to manage file rooms.  Your legal assistants and records management teams will be much more productive, accomplishing more with less people. 
  • In addition, your fee earners can work more efficiently, not having to wait for a file to be retrieved from an onsite storage area or to be recalled from an offsite storage facility.

Enable “Anytime, Anywhere”

  • When your client calls, regardless of the day or time, you can take care of business easily by checking the firm’s document management system for the status on the latest version of a document right from your phone.  That level of service would be impossible if you had to rely on accessing a paper file that is at the office or in a file room.
  • This is where broad adoption of an electronic information management strategy can impact the top line of your firm.  Your fee earners no longer need to be in any particular location to have access to the information needed to address client needs right away, which could help your firm stand out among the competition.
  • Of course, there will always be some things that just can’t be eliminated in physical form, like items of intrinsic value or original evidence, but these typically represent less than 5% of the total information that law firm’s store.

Whether your firm is planning a complete return to office or planning for a more hybrid approach, taking a step back and considering the disruption the pandemic created and whether any of it can be used to drive strategic change for your business is a good idea.  Particularly, this is a unique moment in law firm operations where we have had the opportunity to realize that we really can work effectively without paper files. To continue that momentum, seek out experts who can help you develop a plan to deal with the paper you already have, and a strategy to get you out of the paper business for good.

Julie J. Colgan, CRM IGP is a certified records manager and certified information governance professional with over 22 years of experience helping organizations optimize their information management operations.  At Epiq, Julie leads a team of subject matter experts with deep expertise in law firm information governance, helping firms control cost, mitigate risk, and enhance client service.

Julie can be reached at  For more information, please visit

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September, 2021 | Article

Managing the Client Connection Challenge

September 2021 - Client Connections
TLOMA 2021 Virtual Conference HalfPage
Heather Suttie - New Headshot 2023
Author Heather Suttie

Good client management works hand-in-glove with cultivating a vibrant practice – and requires diligent execution on savvy business development techniques.

Done right, business development leads to client management. Both are strategic objectives attuned to the long game, and right now, how the long game plays out will depend on actions taken over the last year and in the months to come.

Part of the client connection challenge lies in current and future work arrangements whether a lawyer is in the office, at home, or balancing a hybrid situation.

Success will depend on temperament, tools, circumstances, behaviour — both natural and learned — and understanding that while law is a profession, legal service is a business.

Thriving versus surviving

During the pandemic, some lawyers have been telling me that while working from home they’ve been enjoying more quality time with clients, prospects and contacts due to the speed and ease of online meetings. Like many of us, they are finding that with the ability to be in the intimate, digital environment of each other’s homes, formality has been cast aside in favour of interaction and personal styles more understanding and forgiving of our current circumstances. These are very human, more informal modes of connection.

But what about people at the other end of the connection spectrum? I’m hearing about — not from — lawyers who have been holed up and incommunicado. Their preferred tactic of one-on-one in-person interaction has been locked up due to lockdowns; pandemic-enforced isolation has enabled them to beaver away on files but prevented them from networking in person at events. Not naturally adept at managing the nuances of business development or client management, they’re struggling mightily now and feeling isolated, frightened and worried.

This is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma, but people issues usually are. Thankfully, there are solutions.

Savvy business development

Savvy business development targets clients who sit squarely in the centre of your service-offering wheelhouse and whom you seek to engage in a business relationship. Successful business development is knowing how to nurture the clients and work you want, while gracefully declining work and referring clients best suited to others.

Business development takes thought, planning, patience and diligence, and there is no pat recipe for success. However, I can recommend a few simple tasks that work well for the bashful and time-restricted, as well as those who would prefer a root canal to developing business.

In traditional lawyer six-minute billing parlance, the time to execute these tasks should range from 0.3 to 2.0.

0.3: Review your LinkedIn connections. Invite appropriate clients and contacts to connect with you, and be sure to add a note to your invitation. Remove or unfollow contacts that are well outside your professional sphere.

0.5: Post an article related to your practice or industry expertise on social media networks that your target clients use. You might enhance the post by adding a professional point-of-view comment, and you can also comment on other’s posts, or simply ‘like’ them. Be selective and on brand.

1.0: Attend a webinar focused on your target market. Ask questions in the Q&A function.

2.0: Attend a virtual networking event. Send a personal note of greeting to attendees of interest via the chat function during the event or afterward to start a more substantive conversation.

The best part of these activities is that they can take place at home or the office, in pandemic times or not.

Strategic client management

“The customer is always right” is a motto of commerce coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, founder of the iconic U.K. department store chain that bears his name. And good client management works hand-in-glove with cultivating a vibrant practice.

Client management is the art of providing sensitively structured service to nurture and protect long-term relationships with key clients who, in addition to being profitable, help burnish your reputation for sterling service and legal work.

Because client management is based on care, it requires the insight and fortitude to bring other providers — legal and otherwise — into a client’s service team. This is when the value of being a connector results in wins for the client, your colleagues and you.

Trusted advisor

‘Trusted advisor’ isn’t a moniker. It’s the hallmark of those who consistently earn their excellent reputation and remain highly influential. They achieve recognition through savvy business development combined with strategic client management. And they embrace — as should you — one of the most important tenets of the long game: ‘No one is you and that is your power.’

Heather Suttie is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on legal market strategy and management of legal services firms.

For 25 years, she has advised leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — on innovative strategies pertaining to business, markets, management, and clients.

The result is accelerated performance achieved through a distinctive one of one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage leading to greater market share, revenue, and profits.

The effect is accomplishment of the prime objective — To Win.

Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or


September, 2021 | Article

Law Firms Industry Outlook

September 2021 - Industry Outlook
Stephen Mabey - 1/2 page article for September Issue HalfPage
Author Sonya King
Focus on efficiency and improving the back-office

Firms will operate through the remainder of 2021 with a heightened focus on efficiency, as they look to achieve quick wins by improving back-office processes. Technology implementations and cloud migrations continue to be key challenges, but they are more likely to be investments in 2022, as firms prioritize lower-investment and less disruptive improvements in the short term. There is also more awareness around cybersecurity risks and challenges, but little evidence of elevated measures to combat them.  

Further reduction in real estate spending

Although many law firms have been downsizing their office spaces for the last decade, the pandemic’s remote-work model has accelerated the opportunity for further reduction. Almost two-thirds (64%) of law firms plan to spend even less on real estate in the next three to five years, according to the Aderant Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey, which polled 201 business of law and legal professionals from firms worldwide in late summer 2020. This indicates the decade-long downsizing trend will continue, with more firms making remote or flexible working arrangements permanent.

This long-term adoption of a remote-work environment is probably driving the top challenges of 2020 cited in the Aderant survey. Operational efficiency (39%), technology adoption (32%) and cybersecurity (30%) were the most frequently cited challenges in a list of 15.

Top challenges facing law firms

Operational efficiency in the back office through process improvement

The pandemic has boosted business at many law firms, exposing the long-overdue need to improve operations in order to scale efficiently. However, only 48% of law firms plan to achieve these efficiencies by spending more on software, while 70% plan to do so by increasing investment in process improvement, according to the Aderant survey, which was published in May.

This shows that law firms are looking to optimize current processes using the technology stack in which they already have invested. Process improvement also is usually less disruptive to internal operations than technology implementation and is preferred when looking for quick wins or a short-term return on investment. 

But what about growing revenues?

Firms might finally be ready to address many of the front office operational issues they have been avoiding or putting off. This realignment of priorities is evident in how Aderant survey respondents identified the top three challenges facing their firms: 29% said retaining and growing existing business from clients, up from 19% in 2019. It is the first time in the four-year history of the survey that more firms cited this challenge than pricing pressure (28%). In other words, firms are seeking to improve profits by growing revenue instead of by just cutting costs.

However, based on our conversations with law firm executives, while the desire to grow a firm’s top line is preferred over continuing to cut costs, many firms still don’t know where or how to start.

Because of the pandemic, firms have a litany of opportunities to embrace the change that has been forced upon their leadership teams, and they should incorporate these opportunities into their strategic planning sessions at their partner meetings this summer and fall. Whether it’s addressing go-to-market approaches, sales, networking, training of rising stars, building cross-functional working teams, understanding the profitability metrics and opportunities within its current client mix, or even the continued importance of succession planning, firm leaders have finally reached a point where these difficult conversations must be on the agenda.

Cloud migration: Immediate challenge but long-term solution

The top three technologies with the biggest impact on efficiency at a firm continue to be document management (82%), financial management/enterprise resource planning (75%), and time and expense management (74%), as determined in the Aderant survey. We expect a sizable portion of technology investment will be to move these technologies and similar ones to the cloud.

Moving valuable legal technologies to the cloud

Although many firms desire to move document management and time and expense management systems to the cloud, they are reluctant to make this investment until their older, on-premises financial management (enterprise resource planning, or ERP) systems are updated or migrated—and migrating the ERP system can immediately disrupt daily operations. With operational efficiency being a top challenge, even a short-term disruption for long-term improvements is not palatable following the tumultuous year of the pandemic. This reluctance is creating a bottleneck of technology improvements, which will continue to hold firms back from the operational efficiencies they desire.

The current focus on process improvement over tech adoption shows that although a cloud migration may be on the road map, implementation may be delayed in order to tackle less daunting process improvements in the short term. Aderant reports that only 8% of firms plan to move their practice management solution to the cloud within the next 12 months, and 31% plan to at least a year from now. But firms can’t afford to wait much longer to join the cloud migration. Some are annually spending tens of thousands of dollars—or even more—to maintain on-site server rooms and the associated salaries for technicians, security upgrades and other related support. Firm leaders need to recognize that migrating to the cloud benefits their attorneys and balance sheets more than maintaining the status quo.

Cybercriminals take aim

Cybersecurity is increasingly challenging law firms, a trend consistent with what the entire middle market experienced during the pandemic. The number of firms that rate cybersecurity as a top challenge increased to 30% in 2020 from 17% in 2019, according to the Aderant survey.

Cybercriminals probably will continue to target law firms with ransomware, as firms are becoming increasingly paperless and hold terabytes of highly sensitive and valuable information. For firm executives, the associated operational and reputational risks are worth losing sleep over.

To deter and repel hackers, firms can implement technologies such as firewalls and two-factor authentication, ensure that software is updated, patched and maintained, and back up files in secure repositories. However, many firms face a pair of challenges: deciding which technology makes the most sense depending on the makeup of the firm, and obtaining approval for increased spending to protect the firm. We have found that if a firm can align its security programs to an appropriate security framework, it is much more likely to obtain the funding and support it needs to sufficiently secure the firm.

The view forward

It’s clear that law firm leaders continue to look to manage expenses in the back office as a strategy to increase profits, especially through identifying quick wins and making any relatively easy changes. However, we are seeing a reluctance to invest in strategic technology and revenue-growing activities—which might negate cost management efforts relative to other firms that are strategically aligned to grow revenue, scale, and gain market share.

The Law Industry Outlook was originally posted on RSM Canada.”

Sonya King has nearly a decade of professional experience in management consulting, project management and change management. She specializes in back-office process optimization, operating model assessments and automation assessments within the finance and accounting functions. Sonya also leads robotic process automation efforts within Canada, and helps her clients evaluate automation candidacy and return on investment when considering emerging automating tools like RPA.

Sonya was selected in 2021 to RSM’s Industry Eminence Program, which positions its senior industry analysts to understand, forecast and communicate economic, business and technology trends shaping the industries RSM serves. As an industry eminent, Sonya provides business and professional services clients valuable insights and information to help them make strategic decisions and align with industry benchmarks. By using a data-driven approach, Sonya works diligently to further the success of clients with the use of unbiased, transparent recommendations. She is motivated to make a meaningful impact and create sustainable change in organizations.

Sonya can be reached by email to:

September, 2021 | Article

Core Values

September 2021 - Core Values
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P. Kuttner
Author Paul Kuttner

“That’s not us”, said the Managing Partner at a memorable retreat when discussing similar sized and competitive law firms in their trading space. “We are a different breed!”

Fair enough comment, but then I asked “Who are you? What is the prevailing culture at your firm? What is the value system at your firm?” After a slight pause the group was presented with a lengthy list of platitudes, generic likable statements, promises of fair treatment, commitment to excellent work and client focus.

No Right or Wrong Value

Core values are distinct from Core Purpose or Mission (Why you are here in the first place). There is no right or wrong determinant. You decide for yourselves what values you hold core. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us that throughout changes in society, the economy, politics, competition and technology they are still the core values we will abide by.

Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our goals. There is a distinct difference between strategy and core values. (Core values: Disney – Imagination, wholesomeness and the preservation and control of the Disney image; Nordstrom – Service to customers; Harley Davidson owners – Personal freedom, freedom from mainstream values and social structure plus Patriotism). The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission.

You Cannot “Set” Organizational Values

Only very few values can be ‘Core’. Not a plethora, not the expected generic law firm proclamations, not your operating strategies, not what you think others might regard highly, not what you think the staff will go for, but just those very few that matter to you.

You Can’t Get People To ‘Buy Into’ Them

First, you cannot ‘set’ organizational values, you can only articulate them. Nor can you ‘install’ new core values into people. Core values are not something people ‘buy in’ to. People must be predisposed to holding them. Instead of getting people to share your core values, the task is to find people who are already predisposed to sharing your core values. You must attract and then retain these people and let those who aren’t predisposed to sharing your core values go elsewhere.

Core Values Define Culture.

Core Values of your firm define your organizational culture. Until you decide what those values are, and how you will interact with each other, it’s very difficult to do anything else effectively —whether setting goals, solving problems or even making decisions. Core values cannot be left to chance and allowed to emerge through unconscious neglect. Core values determine whether people work in an open and trusting environment where opinions are valued, or in an environment that is tainted by suspicion and tension.

They Establish Boundaries Of Behaviour

Core values reflect the basic principles that guide your interactions with every stakeholder at all levels of the organization. They also establish the boundaries of behaviour for the culture or firm’s subculture.

They Require No External Justification

Core values are the essential and enduring tenets of the firm. A small set of timeless guiding principles that require no external justification. Core Values might be a competitive advantage, but that’s not why you have them. They have importance to those within the firm, not clients or other lawyers. They stem from the leaders’ inner beliefs and not from market requirements. If there are those at the firm who don’t hold these values, there may be some tough decisions ahead.

So, what core values do you bring to work every day, and are your strategies aligned with your core values?

Make Fire not Rain. Let's face it.  Deep down inside of you is the burning desire to set your practice on fire. We ignite the passion, show you how and work with you till you are hot.  Coaching - one on one. Associate training.  Practice group action. Please call. Because around here, you are either a profitable leader or a petulant follower.  Paul Kuttner

September, 2021 | Article

Why Email is Every Law Firm’s Worst Security Threat

September 2021 - Why Email isEvery Law Firm's Worst... Vendor Picture)
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Author Mr. Michael Sauber

Email is a dinosaur. Messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams are the new go-to platforms for business communication, right? Wrong. Email is still the preferred mode of communication for over 74% of the population, with the average office worker sending and receiving as many as 121 emails per day.1

Why is email still so popular, despite more “modern” alternatives? It’s familiar, it’s easy, and it’s everywhere (46% of email opens are on a mobile device2).

The Dark Side of Email

Despite its popularity, there’s a downside to email, and it’s a big one – especially for lawyers. It’s not secure. Former lawyer and document automation specialist, Jeff Schoenberger, says “a key unaddressed vulnerability for lawyers is the known, but largely unacknowledged fact that email is not a private communication.”

Maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of client information is every lawyer’s obligation. Most jurisdictions spell out this duty explicitly in their rules of professional conduct.3

How Many Ways Can an Email Go Wrong?

Think of a postcard. Readable by anyone once it reaches its destination. But in transit, it’s well guarded by a postal system with decades of experience moving and protecting communications and packages. Not so with emails. Your email could be intercepted while working on a public network or at any point along its journey from sender to recipient. In fact, a copy of your email resides on every computer server it’s routed through along the way.4

Email has several other downsides, too. You have no proof of delivery – no assurance that the intended recipient got your email or opened it. That’s if your email ever makes it out of your computer in the first place. Email servers limit the size of your attachments. Is your file size too big, even when compressed? Better find another way to send it.

The Problem Just Got Bigger

In a survey of IT professionals, 71% believed they had likely experienced a theft or loss of email attachments.5 Yet email is still the go-to channel for exchanging documents between a firm and outside parties. Almost 90 percent of firms surveyed said their firms use email to collaborate with clients or third parties on matters, with almost 75 percent using it daily.6

Encryption, the most common protection method, does provide some measure of security for email in transit. But once the email is received and the attachment decrypted, it’s a different story. The document can now be downloaded, copied, and forwarded. And that confidentiality statement you added at the bottom of your email is no better. Lawyer Christopher T. Anderson says, “confidences, once let into an unsafe ether, are put at risk, and no ‘confidentiality statement’ can mitigate that.”7

As if these issues weren’t enough, the pandemic made the problem worse. A Deloitte survey found that 45% of firms haven’t extended their IT security measure to remote work environments. Not surprisingly, there was a 32% growth in high-risk email threats due to remote work over the past year.

The Method of Choice

There is a much more secure way to exchange documents – a web-based portal designed for legal documents. Nicole Black of the American Bar Association, citing a lawyer’s “ethical obligation to ensure client confidentiality”, says web-based portals should be a “firm’s communication method of choice over email.”

How do these portals work? Here’s the simple step-by-step process:

  • Firm A’s users create a matter and list the participants authorized to receive documents related to the matter.
  • With a single click, the documents are encrypted and sent to a secure repository and a notification is sent to the intended recipients at Firm B.
  • Firm B’s users receive the notification and log in to the portal where their credentials are authenticated to ensure they are the intended recipients.
  • Firm B’s users receive the documents, download them, and can respond with their own counter documents. All along this communication chain, the documents have been encrypted both at rest and in transit.

Secure Portal v. Email

Aside from superior security, web-based document portals have several other advantages over email:

  • Documents can never be sent to the wrong recipient
  • A document can be revoked after sending. Maybe you hit “send” too soon?
  • The portal produces a detailed audit trail. You can track when a document was sent, when it was received, and when it was opened.
  • The portal can be accessed from anywhere using a standard web browser, and you are always covered by the security of the system, even if you’re working remotely, away from your firm’s secure network.
  • The portal can be invoked from within your current document workflow, so no duplicate keystrokes are required.

Closing Thoughts

If a secure document portal sounds like a viable solution for your firm, make sure to answer these questions when you compare your options:

  • Was the portal designed specifically for legal practices?
  • Is the portal integrated with your document automation software?
  • Is the portal hosted on servers located in Canada and protected by local privacy laws?
  • Has the portal been broadly adopted by the legal community?

Messaging apps like Slack and Teams may not replace email any time soon, but for exchanging legal documents, a secure document portal is fast becoming the preferred choice. You owe it to your clients and to your firm to check them out.

1. The Future of Digital Communication. SendGrid. July 2017.
2. Forsey, Caroline. The Ultimate List of Email Marketing Stats for 2020. Hubspot Blog. July 2020.
3. Rules of Professional Conduct, Chapter 3, Section 3.3. Law Society of Ontario. Amended October 2014.
4. Schoenberger, Jeff. It’s an Open Secret: Email Isn’t Private. Affinity Consulting. 2019.
5. Christopher T. Anderson and Dan Barahona. When “secure enough” isn’t enough: A Law Firm Guide to Protecting the Confidentiality of Shared Client Files. LexisNexis. January 8, 2018.
6. File-Sharing in the Legal Industry. LexisNexis. 2014.
7. Ibid.

Michael Sauber leads the marketing program for Korbitec, producer of Automated Civil Litigation (ACL) and GhostPractice billing, accounting and case management software. He has worked with document production technologies and professional services for over 30 years and is a frequent blogger on these topics. More at and
September, 2021 | Movers and Shakers
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