Been there, done that: Memo from the partners

Tony Wilson
Boughton Law
To: All Junior Partners, Associates, Students, and Staff
Re: The Year Ahead

We are pleased to announce that for the first time in the history of the Firm, profits from photocopying, printing, scanning, faxing, long-distance surcharging, and other administrative fees that we add to bills wherever possible, have now outstripped profits made from the practise of law. To further increase the “cost recovery-plus” objectives for our Office Services, and in the interest of generating further revenues from other departments of the firm (besides the legal ones), the following new procedures will be instigated as of April 1, 2008:

1. There will be a new procedure for entering client file numbers and new “special codes” in all our photocopiers, fax machines, printers, and other devices. For the 20th floor of the Toronto office, before entering the 15-digit file number, please enter the code YYZ-666-967-11-11 in each device, along with your personal ID numbers, followed by the pound (#) key. This code will change on Monday of each week, unless Monday is a holiday (in which case it will change on the following Monday). On the devices located on the 21st floor of the Toronto office, use 22-22, not 11-11, and hit the star (*) key, not the pound (#) key. As for Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver, please use the airport prefix for your city instead of YYZ. Thus, for Montreal, use YUL; for Vancouver, use YVR; and for Calgary, use YYC. Any photocopying, printing, or other disbursements should be run, where even remotely justifiable, using the Calgary YYC code. This is because the clients there are awash in oil money, so these disbursements are charged out 7% higher than other offices.

2. The new “special codes” will not apply to coffee machines in any of our offices. Instead, as of April 1, simply bill coffee to the respective client file number, or your personal file number.

3. We have heard some complaints that billable time is being lost by staff members and lawyers not remembering file numbers and device codes. We understand that last year at least 15 minutes of billable time per day was lost by each lawyer and staff member in the process of entering wrong file numbers, or forgetting file numbers and having to look them up. We would like to get that up to 60 minutes a day and to have lawyers and staff bill for this service. The “special codes” to be introduced April 1 will help us reach that goal. Accordingly, as of April 1, please record the time you spent looking for file numbers to the respective client files. In this way, we expect you will add an extra hour a day to your billings. Your time should be described as: “file information acquisition, review and consideration.” Please record 0.2 hours in all cases where you actually had to look something up.

4. We understand that our affiliated firms in New York and Chicago are instigating a cost-recovery program for e-mails sent from lawyers’ computers and BlackBerrys.  As of April 1, e-mails can only be sent through our server using the 15-digit file number and 14-digit special codes noted in paragraph 1 above. Remember to use the right floor and city code, and don’t forget the pound (#) key will not work on star (*) floors in the Toronto office.

5. Finally, on the issue of security, we understand that many of you are suffering from “password fatigue” and continue to use your mother’s maiden name, your kids’ names, or your dog’s names as your passwords. These passwords are easily hacked and are no longer acceptable. Accordingly, we will be issuing all of our lawyers and staff with new weekly passwords. In the Toronto office, the passwords will be drawn from the product list contained in the 2008 IKEA catalogue. Accordingly, the technology department will be issuing all Toronto lawyers with new keyboards to deal with the Swedish alphabet, which contains the letters à‚ÃÆ’„¶/à¢, Ä/ä, and Ö/ö. For our Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver Offices, we will be issuing new keyboards in the Greek alphabet, and your weekly passwords will be drawn from the works of Herodotus (Ἡρόδοτος Ἁλικαρνᾱσσεύς). Remember to bill any time entering your Greek or Swedish passwords to the appropriate file.

We look forward to a healthy and prosperous 2008.

— The Management Committee


Over his career, Vancouver franchise lawyer Tony Wilson was an associate at three large Vancouver firms that subsequently blew to smithereens — some say, due to him. He was also a partner at a boutique technology and licensing firm, which is still around. These days, he happily practises franchise and IP law at Boughton in Vancouver as associate counsel.

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