Futures: A way forward; Notice of 2018 Annual Meeting

By CBA/ABC National Winter 2017

Futures: A way forward; Notice of 2018 Annual Meeting


The CBA Legal Futures Initiative has issued its final report. Here are the highlights:


Created in 2012, CBA Futures set out to identify factors likely to change the legal market and the work of lawyers in 2020 and beyond so CBA could help members adapt. In 2014, it issued a report containing 22 recommendations addressing the structure and organization of the profession and legal businesses; education of the next generation; and professional regulation.


Provide specific tools to help lawyers adjust to the future:

  • Delivered the CBA Futures Readiness and Self-Assessment Tool for members to use to kick-start innovation in their practices;
  • Published Richard Susskind’s Guide to Strategy for Lawyers; hosted Canadian launch of his recent book, The Future of the Professions, with exclusive access for CBA members;
  • Published Jordan Furlong’s Do Law Differently: Futures for Young Lawyers guide detailing emerging career paths and skills needed in future legal marketplace; facilited presentation of DLD to seven law school/young lawyer sections across the country;
  • Partnered with Professor Noel Semple on research paper about finding the sweet spot between access to justice, quality of legal services and profitability in personal plight practices.

Take a leadership role in promoting innovation:

  • Delivered 86 presentations to groups in Canada and abroad, reaching at least 4,600 people in person; hosted 22 Twitterchats, reaching an average of 53,120 Twitter accounts;
  • Hosted the first national legal innovation competition, The Pitch: Where legal start-ups state their case, at the 2016 Canadian Legal Conference (The Pitch 2018 is scheduled for the CCCA National Conference and ICW Summit on May 1, 2018, in Toronto.)

Maintain an ongoing discussion with law schools:

  • Hosted invitation-only workshop with law students, young lawyers, legal educators and employers on education and training challenges identified in the Futures Report. Ideas from 14 thought leaders in the legal community and beyond were published in September in a special issue of the Canadian Bar Review.

Champion access to justice and diversity:

  • The CBA and the Ontario Bar Association worked together to advocate for amendments to federal judicial appointments process to promote diversity on the bench (changes recently made).

Follow up with dedicated groups:

  • Workshops with Young Lawyers and Law Students sections led to development of Do Law Differently and the CBA Connect Strategy (CBA Connect site for young lawyers and the Connexions program offering guidance to new young lawyer members.)


The steering committee recommends:

  • Creating a CBA Centre for Expertise and Information as a central repository of data on the legal profession to help identify opportunities and trends, support decision making by stakeholders and better serve clients;
  • New resources and updated tools. Coming soon: A Do Law Differently innovation guide for small and solo practitioners; a guide for students and young lawyers on new career options and the skills required to succeed.

For more information, visit cba.org/CBA-Legal-Futures-Initiative


It’s only been three years since the report was released, but some of the predicted changes to the legal marketplace are already under way. For example: In-house counsel have more influence in the delivery of legal services;

  • Technology-based processes and other suppliers are being used for routine legal services;
  • Some lawyers are getting more entrepreneurial.


  • Most lawyers are still risk adverse;
  • The profession lacks diversity;
  • There’s an absence of good data about the profession;
  • There is no collective culture of innovation.

Notice of 2018 Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting of the Canadian Bar Association will be held at 1:00 pm EDT on February 15, 2018, at the Delta Ottawa City Centre Hotel (Ontario). Remote access will be available to all CBA members, including hub locations across Canada to be announced. Information about the agenda and meeting logistics will be posted on CBA.org, no later than January 16, 2018.

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