Get started on your new year’s resolution

The new year provides an opportunity to reflect on your development over the course of the past year, and an opportunity to re-evaluate what you want to achieve in the year to come.

Having said that, once work and regular life resumes post-New Year, many of us inadvertently file away our New Year’s resolutions in the ‘too hard’ or ‘do later when things quieten down’ basket.

So you’ve made resolutions – how are you going to keep them?

A resolution is like any other goal – once you contextualize it and frame it as a goal, you arm yourself with the tools you need to achieve.

Project goals or work targets require planning, research and a deadline in order to succeed. As do your goals.

So how exactly do you achieve?
We asked around the office for some tips on how to achieve your professional development goals. Here’s what the OsgoodePD team came up with:

> Get specific
Like any goal, you need to identify what success will look like.
Make it tangible and also realistic. Set a date by which you want to achieve and clearly define, as detailed as possible, what you want to work towards. Visualize what success will look like, what the tangible outcomes are.
Having a specific goal and time frame helps you track your progress and realize when you’ve succeeded.

> Break it down
So you’ve got your big picture, now how do you achieve it?
Break your goal down into achievable steps. Factor in your work commitments and social commitments, your financial and time constraints. How can you work effectively on your goal, within your determined time frame, without your commitment becoming a dreaded task that saps energy and time?
Are you wanting to engage in further study but are already limited by an extensive work schedule? Is lessening your work commitments an option? Or is part-time study or a series of short courses a more viable option?

> Document your progress
Check in regularly – how close are you from achieving your determined success? What has helped or hindered your progress? What lessons have you learned? What new habits have you developed?
Checking in helps develop a healthy perspective on your path to achievement and you might just be surprised with how far you’ve progressed!

> Know yourself
Work to your weakness’ and your strengths.
Do you prefer to break up your learning over months or prefer a more intensive model? Or are you more interested in short and sharp lunchtime learnings spread out over the course of the year?
Know what works for you and what doesn’t and use these traits to your advantage.

>Get techy
Are there any apps you can use to get organised, stay focused & achieve your goal? Can you learn on your commute/ from home/ on your lunch break? Can you tap into a community to share ideas, insights and discuss questions?

> Change your mindset
The older you get, the harder it is to challenge or change habits. But you can start by adding ‘yet’ to your next statement.
Professional development requires a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.
Fixed mindset tends to view success as being tied to a fixed trait, in this case talent or intellect, that can not be improved or developed.
You’ve either got it or your don’t.
Growth mindset, a concept developed by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, acknowledges that talent or intellect are traits but they are also just the beginning. Hard work and focus are vital to developing those traits and making progress. In turn, shortening the distance between you and your end goal.
You’ve either got it or your don’t, yet.

Here as OsgoodePD, we’re committed to professional development . Consider your learning goals, time, and budget – we offer a variety of both short term and long term options and we’re sure to have a professional development program to help you achieve your professional development resolutions.

Are you REDe?

At OsgoodePD, we are continually developing new ways to keep you, our community, ahead of the curve and up to date on the continually changing Canadian legal landscape.

You told us you wanted a more efficient way to access our diverse catalogue of legal programming at an affordable price. Quality professional development content, relevant to your interests, available anywhere and anytime.

You talked, we listened.

Introducing OsgoodePD’s REDe PassportOsgoode expertise, on demand, when you want it.

REDe Passport is a new and convenient way to access OsgoodePD’s renowned professional development programming at a time or place that works best for you.

REDe is an annual subscription service offering unlimited access to more than 1,800 hours of OsgoodePD’s accredited CLE programming (programs that ran January 2015 – December 2016), for one low annual fee of $895 + HST.

Choose from an extensive catalogue of quality on demand content, available 24/7 and accessible from desktop, tablet or mobile devices. Catch up on hot-topic legal issues at the office, in transit or from the comfort of your own home.

REDe allows you to tailor your viewing and curate hours of OsgoodePD programming to better suit your interests and practice area. With keyword search and the added ability to view entire programs or select sessions, REDe helps you customize your professional development learning to reflect your interests.

Subscription includes full access to downloadable and searchable program materials, including templates and precedents.

REDe Passport subscribers also receive a 25% discount on selected OsgoodePD non-credit and Certificate programs, along with priority access to some of our most popular and frequently sold-out programs; ITAW, Written Advocacy & The Certificate in Adjudication for Administrative Agencies, Boards & Tribunals.

Interested? For more information on REDe or to subscribe, head to our website:

ParDONE: Innovating Access to Justice

Image courtesy of: Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University Facebook Page
(left to right: Hersh Perlis (Director, Legal Innovation Zone), Geevith Rubakumar (founder, ParDONE), Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Rabeea Khalid (OsgoodePD student & Social Media Intern, ParDONE) , Chris Bentley (Executive Director, Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program).

The top prize in the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General’s Access to Justice Challenge has been awarded to ParDONE, an online B2C platform founded by Geevith Rubakumar, a student of OsgoodePD’s International Business Law program.

ParDONE was developed to give individuals with a criminal record a second chance at success. Accessible by anyone with an internet connect, the platform guides users through an automated record suspension process while keeping the user regularly updated on the process.

“Access to justice to me,” Geevith said during the challenge, “is providing legal services to the most vulnerable in our society so that they can exercise their legal rights.” Geevith, a current student of OsgoodePD, started the LLM in International Business Law in summer of this year. He has also previously successfully completed the Foundations for Graduate Legal Studies certificate program.

As first place, ParDONE has been awarded $25,000 in seed money for platform development, and a four month opportunity to work out of the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University to sustainably grow the startup platform.

According to ParDONE’s Legal Innovation Zone profile, roughly 10 per cent of Canadians—over three million people—have a criminal record. The platform is free to access, and plans to offer a self oriented record suspension service starting from $99, with a full service option starting at $499. A reduction from the current total cost of a record suspension and US entry waiver, that can exceed $2000.

The Ontario Access to Justice (A2J) Challenge operates as a call to action for startups with innovative solutions for improving access to justice for all Canadians. 2016 is the inaugural year of the A2J Challenge.

Osgoode Professional Development would like to congratulate Geevith Rubakumar on his achievements and we look forward to seeing the platform innovate access to Ontario’s justice system in the near future.

For more information about ParDONE, visit the website and Legal Innovation Zone profile. More details on the Ontario A2J Challenge can be found here.

Last Minute CPD

Falling short on CPD? Still need some extra professionalism hours before 2016 draws to a close? OsgoodePD can help in your last minute CPD dash.

We’ve taken the time to curate hundreds of hours of programming to provide you with our top On Demand picks suitable to your practice area.

Practice Management
pmwebseries_projectmgmt101_200x200v2 Red Plus pmwebseriesii_session1200x200v2 opd_equals_sml 225_hours
Family Law
ethics_in_family_law_200x200_v2 Red Plus ethics_in_family_law_selfreps200x200 opd_equals_sml 225_hours
Criminal Law
judgestoptips_200x200 Red Plus dna_200x200 opd_equals_sml 150_hours
Business & Corporate Law
pmwebseries_projectmgmt101_200x200v2 Red Plus kenadams_session1200x200v2 opd_equals_sml 200_hours
Personal Injury Law
personalinjury-lawandpractice200x200 Red Plus personalinjury-assesingcapacity200x200 Red Equals Sign 225_hours
Ethics & Professionalism
judgestoptips_200x200 Red Plus ethicsandexpertwitnesses200x200 opd_equals_sml 200_hours
Civil Litigation
ethics_in_ediscovery_200x200v2 Red Plus ethicsandexpertwitnesses200x200 Red Equals Sign 225_hours
Inhouse Corporate Counsel
ethicalissuesinhousecounsel200x200 Red Plus pmwebseries_howtobudget200x200 Red Equals Sign 225_hours

What You Drive May Determine How You Present

Are you a Smart car person? F-350 monster truck? High octane sports car? Or an SUV soccer van?

Although most of us know how to drive, we’re not equally comfortable in all vehicles. Even if the extreme compactness of the Smart car makes you anxious it can still get you from A to B. In other words, you can meet your basic travel requirements, but you won’t necessarily enjoy your trip.

It is similar to when you organize content for presenting to a particular audience. You have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there; you have to know who is coming along and what helps them enjoy the ride.

In my work coaching clients’ presentation skills, far too often I find race car drivers chained to a tractor, or nervous, inexperienced drivers strapped into a performance sports car. Often, the vehicle has been chosen by someone else or, believing the vehicle matters more than the driver, the presenter has been overly ambitious, or needlessly cautious.

Any presentation is a symbiotic soup of content and performance. A great performer can only do so much with lame content and a weak performer will not have the chops to navigate an intricately woven audience experience. When organizing your content for an audience, at a minimum you must be clear on your objectives; what is your audience’s needs and desires? What are their characteristics? How can you contribute to what they’re looking for?

When you look at how to structure your carefully selected content, think about your strengths and choose according to them. If you’re not funny, don’t go for laughs. If you get confused by numbers and detailed information, stay at the forest level not the tree line.

The difference between an acceptable presentation and an outstanding one is your choice in vehicle. Ask yourself, “Am I doing my best? Am I enjoying this?” If you’re having fun, so will your audience.

There are as many ways of combining information as there are people on the planet, and every one of them has a story that someone else wants to hear.

So choose your vehicle and enjoy the ride!

Joanna Piros will be leading OsgoodePD’s Communicating to Persuade: Skills for Legal Professionals and You Said What?! Media Relations for Legal Professionals, December 8, 2016.

Picture of Joanna Piros

JOANNA PIROS has over 25 years’ experience in the media as a reporter, television news anchor, writer and producer. Joanna has helped a wide variety of clients create communications strategies, create events, and become better communicators with external audiences, internal audiences, and media. Joanna is also an instructor with the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business and sits on the Board of Directors for the prestigious Jack Webster Journalism Awards.

What will law practice look like in 2026? Reflections on the COLPM conference

I’ve just returned from the annual conference of the College of Law Practice Management (COLPM). I’m not a member or fellow; I was drawn there by what looked to be one of the more thoughtful “legal futures”-type conference agendas of the dozens out there these days. It wasn’t all about tech –  which is exciting and essential – but you still have to figure out what to do with it and why.  Nor was it all about “Big Law”, although many of the attendees live in that world.

Drawing from Bill Gates’ quote that we overestimate the amount of change in two years but underestimate the amount in ten, the organizers (including Dan Pinnington of LawPro) chose the year 2026, and asked their panelists “What types of entities will provide legal services?”, “How will we better deliver what clients want and get paid for it?”, “How will technology change the nature of legal work and services?”, “Where will the legal jobs be and who will fill them?” and finally, “What will marketing and sales look in the new world of legal services?”

Each panelist tackled a question under those umbrellas, for example, “Will the billable hour finally be dead?” in the second panel (the answer: “no” for maybe 20% of work but “yes” for most.)

I can’t capture all of the great discussion in a blog post but wanted to share a couple of my own and others’ insights and observations of the conference.

One was the potential for big data and AI, rather than replacing lawyers, to be used as a valuable tool for improving  judgement and decision-making, which can be flawed by fatigue and bias and limited by our capacity for data. In this way, AI would become one in an array of tech tools being used like an “exo-cortex”. One could certainly see the advantages of using AI tools in courtrooms and tribunals where decision-makers hear many similar kinds of matters, and where studies have shown that irrelevant factors (such as time since last meal) can have an impact on outcomes.

Another was the emergence of the legal operations professional role. Whether it’s project management, change management, business development, fee negotiation, budget management, tech and product solutions or other functions, there is clearly a move to clear lawyers’ plates of the increasingly complex tasks involved in running a legal firm or department. Often lawyers staff these roles. Connie Brenton (JD/MBA), Chief of Staff and Director of Legal Operations for NetApp,   has been involved in establishing the rapidly-growing Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, and provided an update on, among other things, the status of  SOPS being developed by and for members (eg., “we don’t pay for first year associates”).

On the job market for lawyers in general, Jordan Furlong of Law21 predicted a continuing contraction followed by a leveling out by 2026, when most of the baby boomers will have moved on. Things will, however, look markedly different; there will no longer be partners and associates, most first and second year lawyers will be trained in organizations like Axiom, there will be more government and in-house lawyers, fewer lawyers but more legal operations roles, and there will be more flexible work arrangements.

Access to justice in 2026 will likely be better because of technology, and it’s a good thing. Glenn Rawdon of the US legal aid organization Legal Services Corporation talked about triaging clients into groups who can help themselves, with use of information and technology tools, and those who can’t. He shared some sobering US statistics about median income, however, that despite a recent bump (which still doesn’t get people to where they were before 2008) suggested that the demand for government-supported legal services will only grow, and that it would be difficult for a lawyer in private practice to make a living from low-income clients: Many people just have no money to pay a lawyer, no matter how they use tech to become more efficient.

There were lots of thought-provoking moments and a couple of moving ones too. There was the usual piling on of law schools who are seen to be turning out too many graduates who are ignorant to the realities they face and ill-equipped to handle them. Views were expressed that they should be training students for different types of legal roles, not just lawyer, and in general need to fold different types of skills training and business disciplines into the curriculum. I generally agree with the view that law schools should spend more time on lawyering, not to mention clients (and have since I graduated in 1987), but when Jordan Furlong said, “say what you will about how law schools should change, what they really must do is teach more rule of law, and the value of human dignity because we’re going to need lawyers to stand up for those things”, I applauded, as did many others. It was a valuable reminder, in an unsettling time, of the critical societal role of law schools.

A particularly thought-provoking moment came when Natalie Robinson Kelly, Director of the State Bar of Georgia’s Law Practice Management Program and an African American woman, facing a 99.9% white audience at a conference where 17 of 20 panelists were white men, addressed the question, “Will there be more diversity and equity in the profession in 2026?”. “What say you?”, she said and repeated, and after a long pause shared the anguish she felt in preparing her talk, knowing even before she got there that everyone else would be white. And then again, “what say you?”.

Clearly the next 10 years will be a time of challenge but also opportunity for legal services providers and those who educate and train them.  It was a terrific conference and if I have the good fortune to attend in 2026, I most definitely will.

Assistant Dean and Executive Director, OsgoodePD

Call for Contributors

Osgoode Professional Development is looking for new contributors for our blog.

We’re looking for current lawyers, professionals and LLM students to write from your perspective on current legal topics, or on topics relating to legal education and professional development.

Some examples of topic ideas include:

  • Trends in the law or within your industry, and what that means for the future
  • Case studies, or story of a difficult problem that was overcome, and how others could benefit from the learning
  • Recap of a recent conference or course, highlighting key questions or insights
  • “A day in the life…” post – this could be an inside look at your current role/industry, or an interview with someone else
  • “Top 5” list of valuable tips that can be shared with other professionals

If you’re interested in contributing, fill out our Blog Submission Form and we’ll be in touch with more information.

For any questions, please contact us at

From One Internationally Trained Lawyer to Another: 4 Insights from Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers’ Day

The talent present this year at Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers’ Day (OITLD) was impressive. Participants came from all types of backgrounds of legal careers; some were well-established lawyers in their home countries, some were sole practitioners and others are working in legal positions for big firms. Despite diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, we were united by a burning desire to further our career development and to apply our international experiences in the Canadian legal industry.

OITLD16 Images

As an internationally trained lawyer enrolled in the LLM in Canadian Common Law program at OsgoodePD, I am faced with heavy academic commitments and I often ask myself, “how will my participation in the program benefit my career?” It is a relevant question not only for those who have decided to build careers in Canada, but also for those planning on returning to their respective countries to do the same. The topics covered during OITLD were relevant to both groups and here are my take-aways:

  1. You already have what it takes. One misconception that was highlighted is that internationally trained lawyers need many years of experience practicing in an established law firm before going solo. This isn’t the case. It is possible to start your own practice right after being called to the bar, but the key is to carve your own path in a way that it is most comfortable for you. Dawn Bennett’s advice was to “find your authentic self so you can be satisfied and make your money too”.
  2. Don’t hide your rich experiences. Internationally trained lawyers should apply their knowledge from various legal systems into their practice, or consider practicing in different countries at the same time. ‘Mobile practice’, which is unique in its set-up, was presented to us and is innovative and can go beyond borders while you sit in your living room (or anywhere else for that matter)
  3. Invest in the set-up of your practice. If you don’t understand the nuances and intricacies of setting up a legal practice, do yourself a favour and address these issues in collaboration with professionals that understand the business and can offer you tailor-made solutions. Rebecca Lockwood stressed not to overlook foundational needs such as sourcing powerful client management software – you might not need it immediately, but it will make things easier in the long-run.
  4. Don’t try to do it all alone. At the end of the day, and regardless what path your career will take, admittedly, it is extraordinarily hard, and near impossible, to do it without help from others. This is where the value of networking and mentorship becomes apparent. Through networking you get access not only to professionals, but to individuals who like yourself, need friendship, support, and encouragement. It is through mentorship that you get the opportunity to draw on knowledge of those who have been where you are, who know the path and its struggles, and who are ready and willing to provide guidance and feedback.

OITLD16 Images

I have often heard about the value of networking and mentorship, however, at the event, I was not just reminded of it, but capitalized on the chance to connect with interesting people and lay the groundwork for potential future relationships.

As a rising tide lifts all ships, so too do the relationships you establish with supportive and engaged professionals. I am excited about the times to come and I most definitely look forward to OITLD 2017.

Picture of Alex FomcencoALEX FOMCENCO, Ph.D., LL.M., LL.B., is currently teaching and conducting research at Aalborg University, Denmark. His main research interests are International Business and Corporate Law, EU Law, and Contract Law. Concurrently, he is pursuing an LLM in Canadian Common Law at Osgoode Professional Development.

Why lawyers need to think about their thinking

Over the last number of years I have observed a lack of clarity of thought in the legal profession: lawyers who have not fully thought out their argument; lawyers whose written work does not logically lead to the conclusions they advance; lawyers who mount business development plans without direction; lawyers whose oral argument takes a 180 degree turn from their written argument without their seeming to have noticed.

We all know that we need knowledge and skills to succeed in the practice of law: substantive knowledge, writing skills, oral communication skills, negotiation skills, practice management skills, and business development skills, among others. Yet we persist in ignoring the skill that underlies and draws together all of the elements of a successful practice – thinking. Or rather, many of us assume we don’t need any help with our thinking; that it is somehow innate and immutable. We all went to law school. We got our call. We are practicing lawyers. Of course we can think. We think thinking is a given.

But what if it’s not?

Intrigued by the fuzziness of thought I noticed around me, I spent some time talking to academics and philosophers. I learned that thinking is a skill – just like writing, or marketing – and it is one at which we can all improve.

Fast, or “on your feet”, thinking is the kind you deploy in a high pressure situation, like in an intense negotiation or in submissions in court. Slow, or reflective, thinking is the kind we need when building our theories and strategies for our files. We use slow thinking when we have more time, but the stakes are no less significant than in high pressure situations.

Human beings employ shortcuts, like pattern-matching or emotional tagging, in our slow and fast thinking all the time. We must, in order to cope with the volume of information around us. Most of the time, these strategies are useful, but they can let us down too.

Shouldn’t we understand the tricks our brain uses to subconsciously advance our thought processes?

Doesn’t it make sense that understanding how our thinking works will improve it, and help us understand when to trust our judgment and when to question it? Or that it will help us understand the forces that may be at work in the thought processes of opposing counsel, the judge or our client? Picard had Troi, but in this world, understanding the natural thinking biases that guide human thought is the best we can do.

Thinking lies at the very heart of our profession. Everything about our practices – our ability to apply our substantive knowledge, our ability to write, our ability to effectively communicate orally, our ability to build a book of business – improves when our thinking improves. So why not think about your thinking? Imagine the power of what you might discover.

An OsgoodePD workshop on Thinking Fast and Slow: Strategies and Tools to Enhance Decision Making, will be taking place on Friday June 17, 2016 from 8:30am to 12:30pm.

Picture of Jasmine Akbarali

JASMINE T. AKBARALI is a partner with Lerners LLP, where she practices in the Appellate Advocacy Group. She specializes in civil appeals and litigation opinions in a wide range of areas, including public law, commercial disputes, constitutional challenges, professional liability, employment, personal injury and lawyers’ professional and ethical duties.

OsgoodePD at 20: Career Perspectives from our Network

During our 20th anniversary year, we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting at OsgoodePD. We’ve had tremendous growth in the past 20 years, starting as a small offshoot of the law school and developing into a leading provider of continuing legal education in Canada.

What we’ve realized is that our reach has been far greater than we knew. Through a combination of Continuing Legal Education programs, LLM degree programs, preparatory and custom programs, we’ve reached over 50,000 professionals worldwide. It got us thinking about the diversity of people that we come into contact with every day. Of course, there are many lawyers, judges and paralegals, but also a lot of non-legal professionals who deal with legal issues on a regular basis – nurses, educators, law enforcement professionals, tax professionals, human resources professionals, and the list goes on.

On a day to day basis, we see how remarkable this diversity in experience and perspective is, and how people are able to forge new connections and learn from each other. We decided we couldn’t keep these experiences to ourselves. So we asked 20 people who have been involved with OsgoodePD in the last 20 years for their stories. We asked about their career journeys, perspectives on professional development, memories of OsgoodePD and advice to their younger selves. The responses we got back were fascinating, not just for the variety of experience, but for how personal and meaningful they were.

These stories cover a lot of ground – from careers starting on construction sites and in the National Archives, to aspirations for a Nobel Prize in Physics, to a stint in military law with the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG), to the displacement of moving to a new country and establishing a new career from scratch. Here are a few quotes from our contributors:

Photo of Steve Coroza“Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try doing a variety of work during your legal career. Variety in practice allows you to see other points of view.”
Justice Steve Coroza, Superior Court of Justice
Photo of Nancy Quattrocchi“If I had the chance to give a younger self some advice, I would say that you should explore all your talents and interests and discover what motivates you. When I was growing up, you took practical courses that could land you a job. I always wonder what would have happened if I had been allowed to discover my creative side.”
Nancy Quattrocchi, Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
Photo of Norie Campbell
“The most important part of a rewarding career is the relationships you build – prioritize that.”
Norie Campbell, TD Bank Group

Read our full profile on 20 Years and 20 Stories, and give us your thoughts on professional development. Looking back on your career experiences, what would you tell your younger self?

Assistant Dean and Executive Director, OsgoodePD