Challenges and Opportunities of Rural Practice in Nova Scotia

The Lunenburg County Barristers Association invites you to a Fall Conference

on November 3rd and 4th, 2011


The Best Western in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

For information and registration

Call 902 530 3404 or

Email Elizabeth

Conference Fee: $200.00 for practicing members, includes dinner, breaks and lunch + HST

$ 50.00 for law students, includes dinner, breaks and lunch

Conference Program

Thursday 3rd November, 2011

5:00-7:00pm Registration and check-in, assignment of law students

7:00pm Social and dinner

Friday 4th November, 2011

8:00-8-30am Registration and Check-in

8:30-9:00am Opening Remarks and Introduction

Working Groups:

9:00-10:30am Operational Models for Rural Practice in the 21st Century

10:30-10:45am Break-Tea and Coffee, Snacks

10:45-12:15pm Serving our Communities – Access to Justice for All

12:15-1:15pm Lunch

1:15-2:45pm The Good Life – Attracting and Retaining Young Talent in our Communities

2:45-3:00pm Break

3:00-4:30pm Where We Are and Where to Go? Plenary Discussion about the results of the Working Groups

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

What Parts of Rural Practice Won't Survive?

Jordan Furlong suggests lawyers and firms conduct an Obsolescence Audit, aimed at identifying aspects of your business that won’t survive the next ten years.  Here’s his checklist of things to look for:
1.  Any offering that’s the same no matter who buys it.
2.  Any offering essentially the same as your competitors’. 
3.  Any offering not optimally designed for client value.
4.  Any offering that really, truly doesn’t require a lawyer.
Read the entire post for Jordan’s elaboration on each point.  A fantastic idea!  What aspects of your practice won't survive the next ten years?  What hasn't survived the last ten?

What are Your Bold Predictions for 2021?

In his provocative blog, Kevin Kelly thinks about thinking the unthinkable:
The futurist Herman Khan introduced the idea of “thinking the unthinkable” as a way to loosen up the imagination in trying to forecast the future. Most time we are unable to guess the future because we are inhibited by conventional wisdom – something that everyone knows is true. For instance everyone (including me) knew that an encyclopedia written by amateurs that could be changed by anyone at anytime was simply a silly, impossible idea. That prevented anyone from forecasting wikipedia. Herman Khan stressed that we should assume what we know is wrong and begin to imagine how the unthinkable might happen.
Looking back even ten years, who would have predicted the legal present we’re experiencing now?  Services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Avvo, LegalZoom weren’t around, and the biggest technology decisions most lawyers had to make was between Wordperfect and Word.

What are your "Unthinkable" Predictions for Rural Practice in 2021?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

What's Your Biggest Challenge?

Hello!  I'm Matt Homann, the facilitator of this year's conference.  I'll be posting lots of information, ideas and suggestions here for the conference over the next few weeks.

Because we'll be focusing on the challenges of rural practice at our event, can you share with me the biggest ones your facing?
What challenge, if you could solve, would have the greatest positive impact on your practice?
Leave your challenges in the comments, or email them to me directly at Matt (at) LexThink (dot) com.

In the meantime, check out my blog: the [non]billable hour.  It has hundreds of posts about innovation, creativity, client service and the economics of law practice.

I look forward to meeting all of you!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Hotel Accommodation and Conference Registration

We have secured 50 rooms at the Best Western for the Conference.  We are currently negotiating with other hotels in this area for more rooms.

If you book your room please give the purpose of your visit to the Conference at the time of pre-booking and you will receive a preferred rate  for your room.  All rooms receive the same price and will be offered at a first come first serve basis.

Please register with Elizabeth at 902 530 3404 or by email at

You can also register by Paypal with the button on the right hand side if you have a paypal account or wish to set one up. 

Please note that registration deadline is the 15th October, 2011 at the close of business.  We must have sufficient registrations at that time to go ahead with the conference.  I will keep you posted on this.  Students must register through Elizabeth to receive the student rate.

Any questions please ask!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Challenges and Opportunities of Rural Practice in Nova Scotia

Over the last twenty years rural practice, especially in the outlying areas has become increasingly challenging.  The combination of an alarming rate of attrition and an inability to attract young talent to our communities has led to decline in numbers of practitioners in rural areas and is making its impact felt across the province.  Access to justice has become more challenging for more people in the communities we live in.  The transition from a paper based practice to an increasingly electronic world has not favored rural practitioners.

Many of us have realized that there are no ready-made solutions for these problems.  The work that needs to be done to develop solutions to the challenges of rural practice can only be done by rural practitioners for rural practitioners.  The realization that we are responsible to face the challenges as a profession practicing in a rural area is the basis for the Lunenburg County Barristers’ Association hosting this conference on November 3rd and 4th, 2011. 
Because there are no ready solutions the conference focuses on Working Groups.  The three major topics that are set out in our program will be discussed and worked on in small groups of 10-15 participants and the contents of the conversations will be recorded by our student guests.  We have retained Matt Homann of LexThink as our conference facilitator.  Matt has worked with these issues in the US for many years.  He recently facilitated the conference of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Annual General meeting.
In the Working Groups, which will be attended by all participants, we will have conversations about what tools can assist small practices through technology;  how we deal with file management and file retention;  how to start a rural practice and how do you retire from it.  

During the “Serving our Communities” time slot, we hope for conversations about mediation and ADR, basic level services for those that are too poor to afford full service and are not eligible for legal aid or have issues outside of the family and criminal law area.  We would like to introduce and have conversations about new billing models.

During our Recruitment and retention session we anticipate conversations about new articling models permitting rural practitioners to hire articling students and give them a full spectrum of experience. We would like to talk about intra bar mentorship programs.   Moving away from the traditional competition model, with greater emphasis on co-operation to improve overall service to our communities are all topics that will be on the menu for this session.
The day ends with a plenary conversation.  Behind the scenes during the day, the content of each Working Group will be analyzed and compiled into the framework of your ideas and proposals which you have developed during the day.  We hope this will form the starting point for your local bar and working groups to further develop and implement some of these changes. 

To make communication before and after the conference simple and easy, we have created this blog page through which you can register and pay your conference fee and participate in the conversations about specific topics to get us all ready for the conference.