Canadian Lawyer

June 2009

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 16 of 51

LAW OFFICE MANAGEMENT interference W A helpful kind of BY LUIS MILLAN hen Ishwar Sharma, a Toronto criminal and immigration lawyer practising in the heart of Little India, received a phone call from a practice management reviewer from the Law Society of Upper Canada to schedule an appointment, his heart began thumping. Sharma had misgivings and was filled with apprehension over the notion that an outsider working for the profession's regulatory body was going to spend a day at his office, asking questions and sifting through books, files, and records to ensure his practice management was in compliance with established standards. "And there you are standing exposed," says Sharma wryly. It didn't help that Sharma knew his prac- tice could benefit from a small facelift. A sole practitioner who took over his father's busy general practice eight years ago, Sharma instinctively felt from the outset that his office lagged behind. Putting his finger on what, aside from knowing it could use a technology upgrade, proved elusive. Continuing legal education cours- es didn't really provide clues. Then, slowly, almost imperceptibly, compla- cency set in. "As a lawyer practising for a few years, you somewhat become complacent in the sense that you feel that you are doing everything well. Clients are happy. Practice is going OK," says Sharma, whose clients are principally of Indian or Filipino origin. "But I realized very quickly as the reviewer began mak- ing suggestions that there was a lot of room for improvement." Far removed from the much-dread- ed practice reviews, which are usually prompted by complaints and informa- tion received in the course of investiga- tions or audits, practice management reviews are designed to assist lawyers in evaluating their practices and improving their skills and competencies. Besides providing www. C ANADIAN Law ye JUNE 2009 17 Practice management reviews get lawyers on track early in their careers to prevent them going off the rails later on. JEREMY BRUNEEL

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