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Gail J. Cohen

Well worth the read

I’m not one to publicly toot my own horn but I think in the case of this Canadian Lawyer issue, I’m going to do just that because I think it may be one of our best ever.

The cover story celebrates the Top 25 Most Influential lawyers and judges in Canada. This is the fourth year we’ve conducted our most influential listing and the response from the legal community was fantastic. We received more than 90 nominations, put 85 candidates up for voting, and an astounding 4,636 people voted and commented on those who they thought were the most influential this year. Every year, I am amazed and impressed at the calibre of nominees and honorees on the list.

While we have a number of people who return to the list for 2013, many are new names who have shown their influence across a variety of spheres and aspects of Canadian business and civic life. It is always an excellent time to reflect on the incredible contributions lawyers make and be inspired to follow in their footsteps.

Canadian Lawyer will, of course, be doing it all again next year so if you have comments or thoughts on the honorees this year or nominations for next year, please get in touch with me.

While we celebrate the past achieve-ments of our Top 25 list, we also need to look to the future. The profession is in a state of upheaval for law firms of every size and shape. Canada is by no means on the leading edge of change but even here, the situation has reached a tipping point where action is no longer avoidable. Already the Law Society of Upper Canada is rewriting the book on the training of new lawyers in its efforts to introduce the Law Practice Program as an alternate to the articling process. For a few years now client pressure on fees has been causing the most disturbance to the force within law firms but at the same time not much has dramatically changed in terms of client service — and that’s an area where there’s bound to be innovation (or at least should be innovation) at every level and in every type of law. Access to justice, professional regulation, and law firm structures are areas that also have to evolve.

With that in mind, I recruited five thought leaders to do some futurecasting about the profession. The short essays from Dentons Canada’s Chris Pinnington; lawyer and author Mitch Kowalski; University of Calgary law professor Alice Woolley; former Ontario associate chief justice Coulter Osborne; and incoming Canadian Bar Association president and in-house counsel Fred Headon provide a wide range of perspectives on the future of law.

Along with all that I’ll be fully launching our Canadian Lawyer magazine group on LinkedIn, where I hope to engage readers with ongoing discussions of the issues facing the profession today. I’ll be starting off by taking some of the thoughts from the futurecasting essays and putting them out there for comment and debate. So please join in.


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