Tales from a Canadian Attorney: A New Way of Practicing Law

Carli Van Maurik

Many lawyers realize that the legal profession has changed dramatically in recent years. As such, attorneys who want to thrive (and survive) must start looking at a new way to practice law.

We’re delighted to welcome Canadian attorney Carli van Maurik back to talk about exactly what you can do assure career survival. Welcome back, Carli!

Every lawyer who is even moderately tuned in knows that the practice of law is rapidly changing. Whether it is the downturn in the economy, the law school bubble or social media, the end result is that clients are no longer accepting of how lawyers have practiced for decades.

The “old” way of practicing is coming to an end if it has not happened already. The billable hour, lack of transparency about costs, monstrous overhead and expensive partner compensation packages are all on the chopping block.

It’s a buyers’ market and clients are savvier than ever. Clients are shopping around and are sensitive to prices. Alternative options are flooding the scene: ranging from a will kit at Staples, services like Legalzoom and outsourcing to India.

What does this mean? Instead of complaining about the changes, we should be creative and figure out how to provide legal services in this market. Everything should be on the table for consideration. We need to figure out how to reduce costs and create transparency around pricing and billing. We also need to inform clients about what they receive in exchange for those fees.

What I’m Doing

The solution for each lawyer and each practice area may very well be different. My practice is a work in progress but I am drastically reducing overhead, committing to fixed fees (or fee ranges) and I am upfront with clients with respect to costs. In addition I offer a complimentary planning meeting during which I strategize with clients and provide them with an indication of costs and the services needed.

The timing of this rapidly changing market is ideal for young lawyers. In my view there is a huge opportunity for new lawyers as long as they are willing to be creative. Us youngins are not like our senior (read Titanic) counterparts. We are flexible enough to turn the ship, try something new and stand out from the crowd.

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Definitely food for thought. Thanks, Carli!

More about Carli:

Carli van Maurik is a senior business solutions lawyer and joined Whiteboard Law in 2014. Carli was formerly with a highly regarded business law firm located in Victoria, B.C., where she led their Corporate and Commercial Department.

An entrepreneur herself, she recently co-founded an innovative online start-up company.

Ms. Van Maurik is actively involved in the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) and is a booster with VIATeC’s “Accelerate Tectoria” accelerator program where she mentors start-up businesses and appears as a frequent guest speaker.

Carli has extensive experience in a wide range of business law matters including assisting her clients with (technology) start-up formation, debt and equity financing, sophisticated corporate/capital structuring, corporate governance, maintenance and compliance, as well as shareholders agreements. In addition, she regularly assists clients with complex corporatere-organizations and helps by avoiding and solving stakeholder disputes. Other areas of practice include negotiating and preparing share/asset purchase, franchise and licensing agreements. She has extensive experience in structuring corporate entities, societies and not-for-profits, cost-sharing arrangements, joint ventures and partnerships.

Carli has volunteered her time with the Access ProBono Society of British Columbia providing legal advice to low income individuals.  She was sought out to make a guest appearance on a Victoria television show profiling the local business community.  Carli is also an Advisor with ICE which is a resource for helping budding entrepreneurs research and potentially launch a new venture. It is also a resource for very early ventures that have yet to raise outsidemoney (beyond early “friends and family”) and which are now reaching a stage where they need to polish a business plan and become “Investor-Ready”. ICE is an initiative of the Gustavson School of Business on behalf of the University of Victoria.

Carli is a graduate of St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia and attended law school atDalhouseUniversity where she received the Award of Academic Excellence and was on the Dean’s List for 2002 – 2003.  Carli was called to both the British Columbia Bar and the Nova Scotia Bar in 2007.

Read On:

Want more useful advice from Carli? Check out these posts:

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Have a question for Carli? Leave it in the comments!


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