PCLaw Training: Become a Proficient User

 Calgary, Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on PCLaw Training: Become a Proficient User
Oct 132015

Does your law firm use PCLaw®? If you are one of the many firms using this popular time, billing, accounting, and practice management software program, LESA is offering two upcoming PCLaw training seminars that will help you get the most out of the program.

After stepping aside from his law practice in 1999, Steve Best began to consult for law firms of all types and sizes as a private practice management advisor. For the past 16 years, he has provided PCLaw training (as well as training on other programs) from Edmonton and Calgary to New York and Miami, all the way down to Sydney, Australia.

In November, Steve will again be offering two programs to help you get the most out of software – PCLaw® Basics and PCLaw® Beyond the Basics.

In Steve’s experience, this program benefits attendees because it offers “training on the core aspects of the product, as well as tips and tricks on how to use it better and more efficiently.”

Anybody who works in a law firm that employs PCLaw will benefit from this class, from the novice user to the person who believes he or she is a true expert in the program. I’ve never taught the class and had somebody say to me, ‘I didn’t learn anything.’ There’s always something to learn: something new that you probably didn’t know about or some button you can push that would help you avoid having to take 6 steps, because now you’re able to do it in 2 steps.”

The Programs

Here’s how Steve explains the differences between the programs.

PCLaw® Basics explains how the program works and how to put data into the program.

PCLaw® Beyond the Basics explores how to extract and use the data that is in the program: how to efficiently get bills and reports out, how to customize the look and layout of bills and reports, and how to use the general ledger, for example.

When we asked Steve for an example of a topic that he teaches on that people generally have questions about, he focused on a segment in the Beyond the Basics program:

One of the recent enhancements [to PCLaw®] is a vast enhancement to the ability to email bills, so we go over that in great detail. One of the things we didn’t go over the last time I taught for LESA, that we’re going to cover this time, is the template editor as well as how to modify report layouts. This class … is going to go into these topics that were probably the number 1 and 2 things that were asked for and not covered last time.”

For more details on the topics covered in each program, view the program brochure.

Reference Resources

You’ll cover a lot of ground in each of these seminars, and you’ll also walk away with a handy manual (with screenshots!) to reference when you have questions in the office.

Register Online

Since these seminars focus on different aspects of software program – getting data in and getting data out – you’re welcome to attend both programs. Whatever your PCLaw training needs, these seminars will offer you valuable information and tips to make you a more proficient PCLaw user.

Attend PCLaw® Basics in Edmonton (November 16) or Calgary (November 19).

Attend PCLaw® Beyond the Basics in Edmonton (November 17) or Calgary (November 20).

SoloNet – Building an Alberta Practice Community

 Edmonton, Legal News: Alberta, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on SoloNet – Building an Alberta Practice Community
Oct 092015


Have you heard of SoloNet? If not, today’s LESA blog will fill you in on why roughly 380 sole practitioners and small firm Alberta lawyers have already joined this online community and why you should think about joining too.

We spoke to the Law Society of Alberta’s Jocelyn Frazer to learn more about how SoloNet allows lawyers to connect with each other to share valuable resources and build a community of practice.

SoloNet is an online community for lawyers who are in sole practice or in regional practice settings to connect and share practice information. … Lawyers can post emails. It’s like a list serve, but it’s not. … Lawyers can introduce themselves and raise issues of concern for them, so the topics range in variety. It could be practice issues relating to substantive questions, procedural issues, or somebody might be looking for recommendations for a book keeper. The conversations depend on the issues that are burning for each individual member, but there’s a wide range of topics. They can range from “How do I handle a difficult lawyer on the other side?” to “Where could I find a precedent?” and people do share precedents or make references to case law. Obviously, lawyers are responsible for their own content, and they need to exercise their own judgement when using the information, but it’s a way of sharing information among people who are in similar practice settings.”

While there are many benefits to SoloNet users, here are the top 4 reasons it makes sense to join:

1. Gain a community.

As Jocelyn explains, this is one of the benefits that SoloNet users are most grateful for.

Lawyers who are on their own may not always feel comfortable reaching out to people who work in large law firms, or may have limited access to different networking opportunities; they’re outside of the downtown area, for example, so CBA and other professional memberships may be less available to them. We’ve had conversations or comments on SoloNet that it’s like being in a big firm or like having a watercooler: you just ask people a question. So often when you’re in sole practice that is what you miss: just having a group of colleagues that you can bounce ideas off of.”

2. Discuss the issues that impact your practice.

With the range of practitioners on SoloNet, the shared conversations, suggestions, and resources touch on many different areas of law.

There is a real variety … [of] lawyers from many different areas of practice. Conversations with respect to wills & estates, real estate, and family law certainly seem to be paramount, but there will be business law questions, tax questions, … [and questions about] general practice management issues. The lawyers who participate are from a wide range of practice areas and levels of seniority; there are people ranging from articling students to very senior practitioners in certain areas.”

3. It is a forum for open conversations.

Lawyers should realize that SoloNet is meant to provide a platform for practitioners to discuss the issues that they need to find solutions for.

I think it’s important to say that the Law Society does not moderate the conversation, that it’s a confidential environment for lawyers. While we provide the infrastructure for SoloNet [and] the Practice Advisors participate from time to time, it’s separate from the regulatory environment of the Law Society. You don’t have people in the conduct department reading the conversation.”

4. It is free to join.

The resource is available at no cost to Law Society of Alberta members who work in solo or small firm settings.

You can learn more about registering for SoloNet on the Law Society’s website.

Save on Law and Practice Update

If you are a sole or small firm practitioner, you’ll find another resource developed with you in mind in LESA’s upcoming Law and Practice Update program. This two-day seminar offers substantive updates in 5 areas of the law, discusses practice management topics, and offers you opportunities to network with your colleagues. You can learn more about the Law and Practice Update in our blog with seminar chair Ingrid Meier or in the program brochure.

SoloNet users are in for a treat: there is special $100 registration discount available for you! Find the discount code on SoloNet, and register online to reserve your spot in the program.

Drafting Your First Will: Gain Confidence & Practical Tools

 Calgary, Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Drafting Your First Will: Gain Confidence & Practical Tools
Oct 072015

iStock_000013606273_DoubleAre you relatively new to your wills & estates law practice? Do you want to know more about drafting wills? Or are you a more senior practitioner wanting to branch out and develop a new practice area or revisit the fundamentals? If so, LESA has an upcoming seminar just for you: Drafting Your First Will.

To find out more about what you’ll gain from this program (including checklists and samples!), we spoke with seminar chair Paula Hoffman. Here’s what she had to say about Drafting Your First Will.

Why will Drafting Your First Will benefit attendees? What are they going to gain?

They are going to obtain useful information that can help them in their practice, from the start of the first interview to the drafting of documents. … They will [also] discover some pointers or alerts … that will help them … [know] when they need outside assistance – like senior counsel, or an accountant, or a doctor to give a capacity assessment. It’s going to be both practical information – practical tools to assist them in the interview and drafting – as well as alerts as to when this might be a file that requires greater assistance.

What are going to be the main takeaways from this program?

What we were hoping they would take away are some checklists to help them in the interviewing/drafting stage[,] … some draft template or sample wills for very basic will documents, and clauses … for the more complex type of documents. They’re going to get really practical tools. They’re [also] going to get some checklists surrounding capacity. I think those practical elements are what the newer people … are really going to benefit from. From a more senior perspective, there is going to be a review of some tax basics – what’s changed, what you should know about – which would help them in the drafting. … [The discussion about] complex wills … or what could lead to litigation would be helpful to a more mid-level or senior type of person who might come to this seminar.

What are you personally most looking forward to about the program?

Well we have an excellent panel of speakers, from practitioners who have practiced for a little while to senior practitioners. We have big firm people and small rural people. So I’m looking forward to all of their presentations to see what their perspective is on each of the topics.

Register Online

To see the full list of seminar faculty and their presentation topics, view the program brochure.

The early bird registration deadline for this program is fast approaching (October 13), so register online now to take advantage of the savings: register in Edmonton (November 18) or Calgary (November 25).

Want to Expand your Legal Research Skills?

 Calgary, Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Want to Expand your Legal Research Skills?
Oct 062015

Research for Legal Support Staff Image
LESA’s Research for Legal Support Staff program is coming up soon, and it’s worth getting excited about! We recently spoke to seminar chair Karen McDougall to find out why support staff new to the legal community or those wanting to further develop their research skills will benefit from attending this program.

Sneak Preview

While Karen says that she is “leaving the more detailed stuff to the experts – Shaunna and Dale,” she’s also offering some very practical information to program attendees – including a bibliography of the most helpful websites to use in your legal research.

Shaunna Mireau and Dale Barrie will be speaking on the “legislative process, how to find legislation, case law, how to find case law, and keeping it current – which means noting it up to make sure you’re actually relying on a case that hasn’t been overturned on appeal. … You have to make sure it hasn’t had negative treatment by the courts, [or else] it loses its level of persuasion.”

Expert Speakers

While there’s a lot to love about this program, Karen is probably most excited about the high quality speakers who will be presenting.

We’re really, really, really lucky to have landed Dale and Shaunna, because I consider them both to be experts in their field. … Dale, for instance, is the Information, Resources, and Training Services Manager for all of Alberta Law Libraries. … Shaunna is my go to person. Whenever I personally have a legal research question, I always bother Shaunna – poor Shaunna. … She now works at Field, and she’s the Director of Knowledge Management and Process Improvement. … I don’t know half of the things that she’s probably forgotten about legal research. So this is a coup for us to have landed these [two].”

Here’s a short snippet from each of the speaker’s bios:

  • Dale Barrie oversees the development and delivery of all research and information services provided via libraries across Alberta. He has presented and written on matters relating to legal research and takes particular interest in the self-represented litigants phenomenon that is currently facing the courts.
  • Shaunna Mireau coordinates knowledge management projects, manages her firm’s LESAN Six Sigma continuous improvement projects, and collaborates closely with the firm libraries, technology team, and practice groups. She has given many presentations on legal research and technologies, blogs regularly at slaw.ca, and has contributed to two recent books.
Program Benefits

Karen outlined three reasons why this program has a lot to offer attendees.

  1. It will help support staff field questions they are asked.
  2. Since information is power, learning more about legal research will help support staff take more initiative and do different things in their jobs.
  3. Learning new skills helps augment your current skill set and opens the doors to other opportunities in your career.
Register Online

The early bird registration deadline for this program is fast approaching (October 13); register online now to attend in Edmonton (November 17) or Calgary (November 24).

For more details about the seminar and the discussion topics, see the program brochure.

Sep 302015

One of our faithful CPLED supporters – Diana Mah – was recently appointed as a Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta in the Family and Youth Division. Congratuations Judge Mah!

For the past several years, Judge Mah worked with LESA as a Learning Group Facilitator and Learning Group Evaluator. Her work supporting CPLED’s online modules was greatly appreciated, and we are sad to lose one of our incredible CPLED supporters. But CPLED’s loss is the Bench’s gain.

We wish her all the best as she enters this exciting new step of her career. Please join us in congratulating Judge Mah.

Don’t miss the 5th Annual Law and Practice Update

 Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Don’t miss the 5th Annual Law and Practice Update
Sep 282015

Law and Practice Update Image

LESA’s 5th annual Law and Practice Update program is just around the corner.
It runs in Edmonton on November 13 & 14.

This incredible 2-day program packs a lot of punch; it includes 12 sessions that discuss practice management topics and provide substantive updates in 5 areas of the law.

To give you a sense about what to expect from the program, LESA spoke to seminar chair and past program attendee Ingrid Meier.

Who should attend?

Ingrid describes her firm setup as being “as small as you can get.” As a sole practitioner who works from home, she understands why the Law and Practice Update offers so much to sole practitioners and small firm lawyers who don’t have the benefit of in-house legal education programs.

This basically gives [attendees] a short snapper in each field, … [explaining] the most recent things that have happened. From there, they can go and do more research on the topics that are of particular interest to them.”

While this program is designed with sole practitioners and small firm lawyers in mind, Ingrid also pointed out that anyone looking for a general update will benefit from attending, even lawyers in larger firms.

What will you gain?

One benefit of this program is that it brings together sole practitioners and small firm lawyers from across the province. This provides incredible networking opportunities for you to connect with the fellow colleagues who best understand the unique challenges and opportunities you encounter in your practice.

Another benefit is that the program covers a wide-range of topics – providing you with information and tips to address the range of substantive law questions and practice management issues that you face. You can find the whole range of 2015 topics and speakers in the program brochure.

For Ingrid, another benefit to the program is that it helps fill in the gaps. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. She puts it this way:

The benefit to me is that sometimes I don’t know about something that I should know about. That’s why it’s good to go to all of [the sessions], not just the particular areas that impact you. I’m a wills & estates practitioner, I do real estate, I do small corporate. But maybe I need to hear something in family law that impacts wills & estates. From that perspective, I look forward to having my eyes opened in areas I don’t practice in, because they might have some things that impact my areas and they might have some processes that they’re using that I could utilize in my area.”

Make it a trip!

Perhaps you have a partner or family you’re thinking of bringing along? With the seminar located at the Fantasyland Hotel in West Edmonton Mall – this is the prefect venue for a mini-getaway. You can take in the Canadian Finals Rodeo (which runs November 11–15) or enjoy the Mall’s shopping and attractions. If you reserve rooms in LESA’s room block at Fantasyland Hotel, you can even purchase discounted attraction passes to the World Waterpark and Galaxyland! See the back page of the program brochure for details.

Register now

Whether you are coming to this program with specific questions in mind or whether you are most looking forward to the networking and general overview, there is plenty to gain at this year’s Law and Practice Update.

The special early bird registration rate ends on October 6, so register now to take advantage of these savings.

We’ll see you in November!

2015 LEAF Persons Day Breakfast

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on 2015 LEAF Persons Day Breakfast
Sep 232015


The annual LEAF Persons Day Breakfast is happening in Edmonton on October 15, and LESA is proud to be one of the event sponsors.

Each year, LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) hosts the Persons Day Breakfast to commemorate the 1929 Persons Case ruling. The focus of the breakfast changes from year to year, and in 2015 the topic of discussion is cultures in sexual violence.

Professor Constance Backhouse, from the University of Ottawa, will be sharing her insights into the topics of human rights, sexual abuse, and violence against women and children.

You can hear Professor Backhouse and support LEAF in their work to advance the equality rights of Canadian women and girls by attending the event.

Find all the event details in the attached information sheet, and then register online to save your seat.

We hope to see you there!

Did You Miss the Women’s Legal Forum 100 Year Celebration?

 Lawyer Recognition, Legal News: Alberta, LESA Update, News  Comments Off on Did You Miss the Women’s Legal Forum 100 Year Celebration?
Sep 212015

Lillian Ruby ClementsEarlier this month, the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association’s Women’s Legal Forum organized a 100th anniversary celebration of the first woman called to the bar in Alberta – Lillian Ruby Clements. LESA is proud to have been a sponsor of the event, providing a photo gallery depicting some of the Alberta legal community’s trailblazing women.

If you missed the event, today’s blog shares photos and a brief synopsis provided by LESA’s Karen McDougall, one of the Women’s Legal Forum Committee Members.

The majority of event attendees were female members of the bench and bar, including Alberta’s Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, and this sold-out crowd was treated to a truly inspirational evening. They came together to celebrate women in the legal profession generally and Lillian Ruby Clements specifically. Attendees heard from a number of incredible speakers: from the Honourable Madam Justice Joanne Veit, reminiscing on what it was like to practice law as a young woman in the 60s, to Corrie Flett, a lawyer raised in northern Alberta, describing how she was galvanized by issues facing aboriginals to set up her law practice in Fort McMurray. The keynote address was delivered by the Honourable Madam Justice Suzanne Côté of the Supreme Court of Canada, who shared her own experiences as a woman in the profession. The evening then ended on a high note for the event’s charity of choice, the iHuman Society, when the organizing committee presented it with a cheque for $30,000.

Photo Gallery

While we can’t share all the photos from the event, below are a few to give you a taste of the evening.

LESA Staff
The LESA contingent: Craig Edhart, Holly Miller, Susan Paterson, Carolyn Bernardin, Karen McDougall
Photo credit: Myles Peterman

Special guests: The Honourable Marguerite Trussler QC, The Honourable Madam Justice Suzanne Côté, the Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Fraser
Photo credit: Myles Peterman

Guest speaker: The Honourable Madam Justice Joanne Veit
Photo credit: Myles Peterman

The event’s photo gallery included pictures of several female trailblazers coming after Lillian Ruby Clements. Some of those photos are featured below.

The Honourable Madam Justice Elizabeth McFadyen – first woman appointed to an Alberta court (1976)
Photo credit: Legal Archives Society of Alberta

The Honourable Madam Justice Mary Hetherington – first woman appointed to the Alberta Court of Appeal (1985)
Photo credit: Legal Archives Society of Alberta

The first all-female Alberta Court of Appeal panel: the Honourable Madam Justice Mary Hetherington, the Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, and the  Honourable Madam Justice Carole Conrad (1993)
Photo credit: Legal Archives Society of Alberta

Domestic Contracts – Gain Tips and Information

 Calgary, Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Domestic Contracts – Gain Tips and Information
Sep 162015

Domestic Contracts image

If you practice in family law, domestic contracts are probably a regular part of your routine – negotiating them, drafting them, and perhaps challenging them.

Whether you are new to the family law practice or you are more experienced and want to revisit the fundamentals on domestic contract topics, LESA’s upcoming Domestic Contracts seminar is for you.

Seminar chair Deni Cashin understands why lawyers approach domestic contracts with caution: there are many factors at play in this sometimes sticky business of domestic contract drafting.

If you find yourself looking for advice about how to handle domestic contracts, you’ll discover many helpful tips in this seminar. The goal of this program is to offer information that will form a guide for practitioners preparing domestic contracts, so that, as Deni says, “they can do all they can to assure themselves that the contract won’t be attacked in the future.”

This seminar is timely, since domestic contracts are becoming increasingly common, with more and more clients requesting prenuptial agreements or marriage contracts. For Deni, the drafting tips and considerations offered in this program are also important to keep in mind because “actions against lawyers who have signed prenups are becoming more common.”

With the drafting and challenging of domestic contracts happening more frequently, it is important to refresh your knowledge and keep yourself up-to-date. You probably wouldn’t argue with Deni’s statement that “lawyers don’t want to be negligent in the exercise of their practice.”

But are you confident that you’ve done all you can to prepare yourself? Deni points to statistics that show a significant percentage of negligence claims against lawyers arise out of domestic contract issues. Since these issues are posing challenges for many family lawyers, it’s important to keep your understanding of the issues current.

Four major topics will be covered at this seminar:

Domestic Contracts and Death
Patricia Daunais QC

Roxanne Petts
Rachel Woynorowski

Prenups, Cohabs, and Marriage Contracts
Monica Brown
John Evans

Traps for the Unwary
Laura Bruyer

A lot of ground will be covered by these experienced practitioners, and from Deni’s perspective, the main takeaways include practical information and tools:

  • Summary of major concerns lawyers should take heed of
  • Sample precedents and clauses for prenups and marriage contracts
  • Tips to avoid common drafting errors
  • Checklists to refer to when preparing domestic contracts

To gain all the benefits this program offers, register online now to attend in Edmonton (October 28) or Calgary (November 4). Make sure you register by September 22 to take advantage of the special early bird discount.

Constitutional Law Symposium: Review Recent SCC Decisions

 Edmonton, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Constitutional Law Symposium: Review Recent SCC Decisions
Sep 152015

Constitutional Law Symposium image

Every year LESA works with the Centre for Constitutional Studies to host the Constitutional Law Symposium, where members of the bar and academics across western Canada gather together to discuss recent Supreme Court of Canada constitutional decisions, analyze trends emerging from the Court, and review helpful litigation strategies.

This year’s program promises to be exciting and informative, with panel discussions focusing on some of the most current topics of the day – the Khadr case, Trinity Western University, freedom of association, the Saguenay case, and more. As program chair Patricia Paradis pointed out, this program is particularly timely. Just last week, Edmonton’s city council decided that it would no longer say a prayer before it’s meetings as a result of the decision in the Saguenay case.

To help give you an idea of what to expect from this program, we asked Patricia a few questions about the why you are going to want to attend.

What are attendees going to gain?

“First of all they’re going to hear from first-rate practitioners who have been involved in some of the significant cases that have been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada, and they will also hear from academics who can provide more of an analysis of the decisions, from a different perspective. In one particular case, we have a practitioner coming from Toronto, Ranjan Agarwal, who’s been involved in some of the significant cases that were decided by the Supreme Court of Canada this year, for example, the Saguenay case. He’ll be able to talk about some litigation strategies, …  so there’s the practical element. There’s also a more theoretical element. Overall, they’ll get a very good taste, over the course of the day, about what’s happened this year in the courts with respect to constitutional issues.”

What types of practitioners will find this program beneficial?

“Practitioners whose practice areas intersect with constitutional issues, … for example labour lawyers, anyone who does employment law, people who work on division of powers issues, … and generally people who do constitutional litigation and who might want some tips.”

Could you talk a little about the format and content of the program?

“The day is divided into 4 distinct sections. These are all panels, so there will be 2–3 people speaking on a panel on a particular subject. We have a section that deals with the section 2(d) of the Charterfreedom of association. We have one on federalism, division of powers. Another one we’re calling God and the State. And then there will be a panel on looking, generally speaking, at the year in review. There are also a couple of special talks being given that day. … Professor Donna Greschner from UVic will discuss the evolution of section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as it is 30 years old this year.. … An interesting highlight of the day will be our keynote speaker Nate Whitling; he was counsel on the Khadr case and is going to be giving us an inside look at that case from his perspective. … So there’s a little bit of something for everyone, and there will be some very challenging presentations made, for example, in the panel on God and the State, because there are some controversial issues out there, for example, Trinity Western University.”

What do people like most about the Constitutional Law Symposium?

When we asked Patricia what she liked most about this program, she highlighted the fact that it brings together a variety of academics and practitioners from across British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. As she says, “It’s a western-based opportunity for interactions and synergies to be created between the bar and the academy. “

We also spoke with past attendee Lee Cutforth QC about why he likes to attend and what he’s looking forward to about the program this year. He explained that, while there are a lot of continuing legal education options, this program serves him well because it covers a lot of ground with its structure as an overview and its focus on examining general principles.

I enjoyed it last year and found it worthwhile. It was a well run seminar … that I could glean a lot from.”

Register Online

Whatever it is you are most looking forward – the general review, like Lee – the networking opportunity, like Patricia – or maybe a particular speaker or topic – this program is sure to offer you plenty of insights, information, and helpful strategies to use in your own practice.

You can register online now to attend the program in Edmonton (October 23); just make sure you register online by September 22 to take advantage of the early bird savings.