Tag: New Media Observations

08 Mar


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You don’t usually go to concerts. With kids and work, you are really busy. Yet, you really want to see that band. You arrange for a babysitter. You sit down at your computer to buy tickets.  You snag awesome seats. You go to pay and the website asks you to create an account. You type in your email address and create a password: soexcitedfortickets@imfinallygettingoutofthehouse.com and Joanie<3sChachi.   ERROR MESSAGE – Incorrect password. This email is already assigned to a previous user. Damn! What was your password? Then you notice the “forgot password” button. What was the name of your first pet?  You enter “Skippy the Great Dog Prince of 17 Home Street”. Sweet! You’re in. Put in your credit card information, buy your tickets and you and your spouse are set for a date night!

For many of us, the above is not an uncommon experience.  In fact, you probably have online accounts in vast numbers. It is difficult to remember them all. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail, Flicker, iTunes, Ebay, PayPal, Amazon, Netflix, Banking, and Credit Cards. This is only the preliminary list of places you probably have an online account. If you do a lot of online shopping you might have accounts with Gilt, Jetsetter, or the Bay. Looking for a deal? Maybe you have a Groupon, Teambuy, or WagJag account. Your online presence is likely far greater than you remember. 

Passwords change all the time. We are in fact encouraged to use a variety of passwords and constantly change them. Don’t forget to make sure it has at least 6-8 characters with capitals and numbers. This is all well and good while you are alive. You are likely to remember the exact name of your first dog. After your death, when faced with this same problem, your estate trustee, if they are lucky, might remember that your dog’s name was “Skippy”. ACCESS DENIED.

This may be the best case scenario for an estate trustee trying to shut down an online account. In many cases, estate trustees are outright denied access to accounts on the basis that the account is not truly an ‘asset’ of the deceased. Social Media is in many cases, exactly what it says it is – Social. It is interactive. On your death, it continues. This can cause emotional heartache, or financial obligation (some websites have a yearly fee that automatically gets deducted), not to mention frustration to your estate trustees, among other issues. There is a good chance your estate trustee wants to shut down these accounts.  As you can imagine, problems arise.

A recent article published in Pepperdine Law Review discussed the implications of online presence in Estate administration and litigation in the United States (For a brief synopsis, see the Forbes article on the paper here).  In Canada, there has been little litigation over this issue.  However, how to deal with your digital legacy has been discussed in the Estate world for some time.  On our website alone there have been several postings.  What I found particularly interesting about the Pepperdine Article, is that much like passwords, the world of dealing with digital assets is constantly changing.  Who can claim ownership of those digital assets, and how to do so, not to mention the potential ‘conflict of laws’ issues, is something that legislators and will drafting solicitors will likely be grappling with for years to come, and is unlikely to stagnate.

For now, keep in mind the long term implications of creating any online account, and how that account will need to be managed after your death. After reading the Pepperdine paper, I don’t think that concrete and enforceable answers for planning purposes are easily found, but in my experience, awareness of the problem is the first step to solving it.

Have a great weekend,

Nadia M. Harasymowycz

22 Nov

With Intangibles, What’s Left?

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I have a love of history. I’m the kid who spent hours at the Smithsonian on the family vacation, the one who enjoyed the class trip to Fort York and who still can spend hours circling a museum, reading every last plaque while the rest of the tour group heads to the nearest restaurant. The experience of being there, of listening and not just of seeing, is key.

I’m learning to embrace our world filled with technological advancements and digital media. I still like to read the Saturday newspaper, delivered to my door, over a cup of coffee, yet have a variety of news websites marked as ‘favourites’. As I embraced this new medium, I came across an article that made me wonder what the future of my travel plans, often geared to visit historically significant locations, will look like. It seems that Google has taken to making history available at our fingertips, without ever leaving home.

In an effort to demonstrate an understanding of the world beyond the corporate buzz, Google helped digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls, making them available for world wide viewing via the internet.   The Google Cultural Institute plans to digitize a variety of culturally significant things in an effort to make them available the world over. I can see the significant benefits to such efforts, particularly from an education front.  Yet I wonder, is it possible that this will be our new ‘History’?

As my grandparents have passed away, I have kept a few items which belonged to them as they mean something special to me. I have my great-grandmother’s everyday dish set, a dress my grandfather, a tailor, made me, an amber necklace my grandmother bought on her one and only trek back to her ‘home-land’ and a crumpled two dollar bill my grandfather gave me when they were still in circulation. It wouldn’t be the same to see at them on my ipad. 

Will my children see the Hall of Mirrors on video? or hike Machu-Pichu on their xbox? Will any of my grandchildren want a necklace of mine, or just a well digitized photo of it? They say the world is getting smaller, yet if our history is being replaced with intangibles, will we still make the effort to preserve the tangibles and not live worlds apart?

Until Tomorrow,

Nadia M. Harasymowycz – Click here for more information on Nadia Harasymowycz


07 Mar


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One can’t deny that social media has changed the way we interact with one another. To better embrace this new way of social interaction, we’ve been working hard at Hull & Hull LLP to help you stay connected to us by creating several media options to empower you with legal and practical knowledge on estate matters.

We invite you to visit our Media Centre via our website www.hullandhull.com, where you can follow us on multiple social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, to help keep you up to date with our latest blogs, podcasts, news and events. While visiting our Media Centre you will also have the option to subscribe to our RSS feed for blogs and podcasts, as well as be given the opportunity to download our material on iTunes or follow us on our YouTube channel.

We are also excited to introduce the new online subscription of our quarterly newsletter “The Probater”, so you can have every issue sent directly to your inbox.

If you have any questions at all, please contact our Social Media Coordinator, Amy Cochren, at acochren@hullandhull.com.


Suzana Popovic-Montag – Click here for more information on Suzana Popovic-Montag.

22 Oct

Tweeting in Court and other Socially Acceptable Behaviour

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Given the prevalence of scepticism amongst lawyers (see my earlierblog), it is entirely in keeping with character for lawyers to be slow to openly embrace social media.

Judging from a recent study, it would seem that this might be doubly so for Canadian lawyers. In this article about Digital Life, the world’s largest study into consumers’ digital behaviours and attitudes ever conducted, the following observations were made about Canadians’ online activities:

  • Canada lags in digital engagement.
  • Canadians aren’t much for blogging.
  • Canadians are average picture-sharers.
  • Canadians do less social networking, more email.
  • Canadians spend less time on social networking sites on their mobile devices.
  • Canadians will be slower to transition social networking on mobile phones.
  • With an average of 150 friends in our social networks, Canadians are not as "friendly" as consumers in some other countries. 

If the President of the United States can win an election based in part on social media strategy, then even the most sceptical of lawyers cannot deny there just might be something to it.   Barack Obama has so many friends on facebook and contacts on LinkedIn that even I am a 3rd level connection.     

We have also seen this week much texting and tweeting from the courtroom during the sentencing hearing of Russell Williams. Justice Robert Scott agreed to allow the media to use electronic devices for the purpose of taking notes but said any use of laptops, handheld communications or recording devices must be done an a way that was not obtrusive to the court process.

Social media is a pretty big wave. It is changing our behaviour and it is here to stay. Whether you are a Canadian, a lawyer, or both, you might as well just hang on and enjoy the ride!

Sharon Davis – Click here for more information on Sharon Davis.


13 May

Twittering Lawyers

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By now, almost everyone has heard about Twitter. Twitter is the micro-blogging social network that allows you to publish and read short messages of less than 140 characters (“tweets”). Twitter has over 10 million users and with all the recent media attention it seems like everyone is on twitter; celebrities, news agencies, municipalities, and corporations.

Some people think it’s a fad and others think that it is the new source for sharing information. It is difficult to predict what role Twitter has for lawyers in a professional capacity. Some lawyers are using Twitter to republish their blogs, build social networks, and access information. Other lawyers are not sold on the idea of Twitter. Click here  to hear a podcast by two lawyers debating both sides of the issue.

For lawyers deciding whether or not to Twitter or those who have already taken the plunge, Steve Matthews for slaw.ca has written a fantastic blog offering lawyers some dos and don’ts for using Twitter.

While Twitter has been around for awhile, it will be interesting to see if its new surge in popularity will affect the way the legal community views Twitter as a marketing tool.

Thanks for reading,

 Diane Vieira




12 Nov

Trust Law and Zebra Mussels

Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, Litigation, New Media Observations, News & Events Tags: , , , 0 Comments

In the wee hours of Saturday night, on my umpteenth flight back from Asia this year, I couldn’t help but ponder two things.  First, the recent collapse of the U.S./global financial system and greater economy compares poorly to what I have witnessed in Asia for years now.  But we still have the relative advantage of trust law to keep us prosperous, right?  Perhaps, but so does everyone else, or they’re trying to develop it.  At least in theory, just about every major Asian jurisdiction purports to have some legal structure supporting the creation, operation and regulation of trusts.

Australian trust law is unsurprisingly advanced, being a fully English-speaking (sort of, anyway) Common Law jurisdiction.  The great former British colony and global trading port of Hong Kong boasts a highly-developed trust law framework based on the Common Law.   This legal system has been wisely preserved by the PRC, and is in the process of a major overhaul.  Mainland China itself has recognized the utility of trusts and passed its first trust statute.  Another former British colony, Singapore, sports a highly-developed trust law with a judiciary that pragmatically relies on Common Law developments from all jurisdictions to keep with the times.  Japan is characteristically inscrutable, but apparently recently revised its trust legislation.

Of course, it is probably incorrect to equate the mere presence of a legal structure with its widespread use.  Nevertheless, trust law is spreading, at least superficially, faster than zebra mussels.

The second thought in my mind was that a 14-hour flight, followed by 5 days of jet-lagged, dazed "vacation" on 12-hour time change, followed by a return flight just as jet lag from the away flight has worn off, followed by more jet lag from a 12-hour reverse, is not something that will be repeated any time soon.








25 Aug

Finding Legal Information Online

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An abundance of legal information is available online and a new customized search engine that searches for content from law firms has become available. We often begin a search for online information by searching Google or a similar general search engine. Fee Fie Foe Firm is a Canadian law firm search engine that searches content from law firm sites. It allows you to search for articles, newsletters, bulletins, case commentaries, and other legal information produced by law firms in five jurisdictions.

This research tools joins two other free services, Lexology and Mondaq as a way to access publications from multiple law firms in a simplified way. Both these websites provide notification of new commentaries released by law firms by jurisdiction and topic in one daily email to the subscriber.

The growing sophistication of search engines highlights how much easier it has become to find specific information online. Last week, the federal Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart addressed reporters at a meeting of the Canadian Bar Association about her office’s concerns that private information contained in federal tribunal rulings is being spread through the internet and suggested the possibility of anonymizing federal tribunal rulings. She promised to revisit the issue in October when the Privacy Commissioner releases their report on the Privacy Act.

Thanks for reading,


Diane Vieira

15 Jul

A Look at Law Related Podcasts

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As you probably know, Hull and Hull LLP produces two weekly podcasts that discuss issues related to the estates area and estate and succession planning. Podcasting has certainly grown in the last year and there is a lot of content out there. To learn more about our firm’s use of this social medium, read Suzana Popovic-Montag’s and Ian Hull’s blog on podcasting.

Other Canadian legal podcasts include Osler Audio Reports offered by Osler, Hoskin, & Harcourt LLP that discuss a variety of business legal issues. The Canadian Bar Association provides PracticeLink Podcasts offering practice management information to its members. Law is Cool is both a blog and podcast produced by and for Canadian law students. (Podcast Episode No. 8 features an interview with Ian Hull).

Law schools are also providing a tremendous amount of information through the podcasting medium. The University of Ottawa’s Law and Technology Program was one of the first educational institutions to utilize podcasting and make classes available via podcasts. Through podcasts, many American law schools are making special lectures available to the public. Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation produces PONcasts offering advice on negotiation skills.

On a slightly different note, BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action is a half hour weekly podcast from the UK that discusses legal issues in the news.  

These are just a few of the legal podcast choices out there. Whether it is for education or entertainment purposes, there is a lot of information out there.  

Have a nice day,

Diane Vieira

24 Jun

Tech Toys

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Being somewhat of a late convert to the idea of taking advantage of the myriad of small-scale technological devices invading the business and legal milieus, I get to enjoy innovations long after other people have become blasé.

The ability to work from home through gotomypc is, I think, my favourite.  For the uninitiated, the program allows for users to access their network over the internet, so that what you see on your home PC is the screen you would see at work.  By providing the mechanism to catch up at home, it takes away the need for brutal hours in the office.  In my case, it means I can go home at a sensible hour, spend time with the family, then finish off some tasks once the kids are in bed.

It also allows for a break in the day, since my brain tends to start to get tired around 4:30pm, or so and after a few hours of offtime I can think clearer anyway.

Combining the gotomypc facility with saving file documents on a network by scanning them means that, for me at least, working at home has become more efficient than at the office.  It also allows for access to a file from offsite, whether in Court, a day-long mediation or somewhere else.

All of this, to my mind at least, allows lawyers (and others) to provide better more timely service, at least given a little time and patience at the outset.

Thanks for reading.

Sean Graham

28 Apr

Practice Management Blogs: A Source for New Ideas

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I recently came across two entertaining and informative blogs about practice management for lawyers and law firms.

David Bilinsky is a practice management advisor and staff lawyer with the Law Society of British Columbia. He writes and lectures on the subject of legal practice management and his blog,  http://thoughtfullaw.com covers topics such as record management, technology, and law firm strategies.

This month, he wrote a series a blogs on the security of electronic documents that many lawyers will be interested in reading.

Allison Wolf’s insightful blog, www.thelawyercoach.com, discusses business development and legal marketing ideas for lawyers. Wolf, the founder of her own company that coaches lawyers on business development, offers her advice and links to the most recent articles on this subject.

Both blogs also comment frequently on personal development of lawyers and what lawyers can do to renew themselves and their legal practices.

Thanks for reading,

Diane Vieira


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