RETIREMENT UNTETHERED

Retirement needs rebranding. When people asked me when I plan to retire, I told them that I intend a paradigm shift in a year or two. I do not intend to retire from life.

I entered this transitional state where retirement just seems to be on the horizon. This state feels different from working and different from actually being retired. Change can be exciting, so I wrote about my experiences in this changing state of life.

We met up with a couple of long-time friends. Not old friends. Not in their minds. She had retired last year and a work acquaintance asked her what it like going from 60 to 0? I am surprised my friend did not give the person a bit of smack upside of the head and ask what that was like. She only did that figuratively.

Our retired friend has not slowed down. If anything she is moving at the same speed. When we retire, we still go the speed limit, or perhaps a bit faster. We are just on a nicer, less crowded highway.

 

#retirement #life #inspiration #motivation

Lawyering the COVIDA LOCA: Contact Tracing

woman in formal clothes disinfecting steering wheel of car
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

COVID-19 Contact Tracing

 

Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you

 

The Police-Every Breath you take

 

Now that the COVIC-19 dust appears to be settling, the question then becomes how employers can open their offices. The virus can certainly resurge at any point in time and no one appears to be anxious to have a redo on all of the isolation most of us have undergone in the past few months. Of course, an employer has a workplace health and safety requirement to provide a safe work environment.

 

If an employee comes back into the workplace and unknowingly introduces the virus into the workplace, what sort of steps can an employer take to reduce the overall impact?

 

One good way to minimize risk will be through contact tracing. This process identifies, educates and monitors individuals who have had close contact with someone who carries the virus as these individuals face a higher risk of becoming infected themselves.

 

In Ontario, they have started the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative. Here if you have the virus, or have had contact with someone who has the virus, a provincial health officer would contact you to ensure you are following requirements, to check in about your symptoms, and to connect you with additional supports.

 

However, how do you determine what staff went in and out of the office and may have had contact with the potential carrier? You do not have to go through law school to know how faulty memories can be.

 

Companies could bring back the old stamping time clock method. I did this for a number of companies that I now look around and see no longer exist.

 

You might totally recall the tracking device that Arnold Schwarzenegger had to pull out of a nasal cavity back in one of his movies. A smaller and less painful approach involves radio frequency identification tags. The RFIDs are generally inserted into the meaty part of the hand between the thumb and forefinger. Kevin Warwick used the first wearable RFID back in 1998— to open doors and turn on other technology. He used the RFID for several days and now it is in the London Science Museum. I inserted hundreds of tags into fish dorsal fins during my time in fisheries. But I digress.

 

An even better, being less invasive, approach is using a smart phone. Employers can purchase programs that can track an employee’s cell phone. The employee can then download the necessary app as required onto their phone.

 

Our company is just starting to use Simple In/Out. This downloadable app allows our company to track an employee as they enter and leave the building. Fortunately, the Orwellian aspect actually ends there. The app does not track your movements outside of the building or track exactly where you are inside of the building.

 

The administrator for the program uses GPS to draw a simple shape around a point to determine the extent of the virtual boundary called a geofence. Part of the framework uses Blue tooth which is a low energy wireless transmission and easy on the phone battery. Crossing the geofence surrounding the building merely keeps track of when you enter and leave the building area. They might circle the nearest pizza joint, but that would be a bit invasive and unnecessary.

 

If the employer learns that an employee has the virus, then reports from the tracing program indicate who may have been in the building at the same time and potentially infected.

 

Authorities intend to develop further legalities surrounding geofencing. As you can imagine, geofencing has numerous applications beyond simply tracking employees and forms the basis for location-based advertising. Massachusetts just passed a law objecting to its use. The AG blocked an ad campaign set up by a Christian organization that set up a geofence surrounding women’s health clinics. The program would push out anti-abortion ads to those within the geofence area.

 

Canada has a number of privacy laws that apply to workplace monitoring and you have to determine what jurisdiction is governing your workplace. There is a common law right to privacy that protects ‘a biographical core’ of personal information that individuals would like to maintain. The Saskatchewan Court of appeal suggests that information ‘tending to reveal intimate details of the lifestyle and personal choices of the individual’ falls within this. The biographical core description would likely not include a situation where an employer merely tracks when an employee crosses an ethereal type of fence.

 

Employers should establish reasonable grounds for the collection of the information. Contract tracing which helps protect employees would certainly fall within this reasonableness category.

 

Employers should disclose monitoring activity. Once again, this is not an issue since employees must download and activate the app. This also covers the concept that if an employee downloads the app, he consents to the monitoring. A company needs to create a policy for program implementation and information use.

 

A question arises if an employee refuses to download or activate the program or simply refuses to charge up their phone. Again, better to get independent legal advice, but we could likely safely assume that the health and safety of staff are paramount and an employer could initiate a progressive discipline action against the staff person that refused. The employer’s duty to maintain a safe workplace supersedes an employee’s right to privacy when simply accessing the workplace.

 

The new normal seemingly does not include overwhelming Orwellian overtones.

 

#law #lawyer #covid

More COVID-19 behaviours

pexels-photo-696287 barberStill getting used to the new normal.

My wife and engaged in a new activity for the first time. I guess all new activities are first time activities, and there is a bit of redundancy there. But all in fine.

She actually cut my hair. And not with the dog grooming razor. A real human being razor. I had this grooming kit back from when I had a beard, for the second time. All I can say is that I don’t want to talk about it further. At least further than I already have.

Admittedly, I took the first run at it. Mainly doing the back and sides. I had longer hair in collage, but that was the seventies. Being almost in my seventies has a whole different connotation. I did a lot of by feel, and constant repetition.

She was slightly bemused at the result. So she took pity on me and smoothed out the rough edges. Of which there were many.

I am not sure we intend to do this on a go forward basis to save money. As they say, the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is two weeks of self-isolation.

I didn’t offer to do my spouse’s hair since a bad job would set me up for 4 weeks of quarantine.

 

Photo by Pexels

New COVID-19 Behaviours

pexels-photo-1005638 cartHow does the new normal feel? Are you starting to fall into a groove, or does it feel more like a ditch with no ends?

I’m starting to get the hang of things. In our local grocery store, they are sterilizing all of the cart handles. This causes a socially distant line up outside during the weekends. So I go during the week.

All of the aisles have a one way direction on the floor. So if you see that rare batch of yeast just a few feet in an aisle, but you have to go the wrong way, what do you do. Do you take the risk and do the right thing and hurry down one aisle and go up properly on the yeast aisle. But how many of you have simply gone backwards and backed up to the yeast for example. How many times have you seen this happen.

It would be faster to simply abandon the cart for a moment and simply walk forward the wrong way in a one way aisle? Or you try to hope no one notices as you try to back up?

Is it easier if no one is in the aisle? How far are you prepared to back up. It seems four feet is easy to do. Forty feet seems way too far. So somewhere between those two numbers you could seemingly get away with it.

All bets are off if you have to pass someone doing this. They will look at you with a steely gaze hoping to freeze your heart. The braver types will likely say something.

I have to say that I personally would back up a total of 14 feet backwards only if no one else was in the aisle. That seems like a good compromise.

 

 

photo by Pexel

Never let a good crisis go to waste

pexels-photo-4031818 woman on computer

Never let a good crisis go to waste.
—Winston Churchill

Churchill recognized the basis of good change management. If you needed to get something done but couldn’t under normal circumstances, then a good old-fashioned crisis usually allows you to get the changes you want.

Another aspect of change management includes looking at changes on an enterprise, organizational, and finally an individual level. For the future of law, we are looking at how the education, the delivery, the institutions and the law itself will likely change after COVID-19 has rampaged across the globe. No one really knows for how long COVID-19 intends to affect the overall global socio-economic environment, but March 15, 2021 looks like a good bet. (A bit of a stretch, perhaps, but Johnson & Johnson have a promising vaccine lead with human trials starting in September and likely emergency distribution in early 2021.)

Change management includes a number of best practices you can follow, namely starting at the top, getting engagement from stakeholders, finding champions, scoring some initial wins, and issuing communications. But a sometimes forgotten component is developing a sense of urgency. And COVID-19 supplies this.

Law schools, for example, were already at the forefront of change; they have been slowly incorporating online classes for years. The American Bar Association guidelines released in February indicate that over 150 law schools have moved to an online course format. This should have the added benefit of reducing costs and overall debt load of students.

Whether the online format is as good or better than the traditional classroom format that most lawyers are familiar with remains to be seen; but most learning may have taken place when you were reading on your own in any event. To confirm which format is better, a multifactor comparison in a peer-reviewed journal with replicated examples would be required to show the difference between online and traditional schools. Which is a long, polite way of saying it will probably never be confirmed.

The online learning model fits in well with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education’s Practice Readiness Education Program (CPLED PREP). PREP, which will launch this June, is a nine-month program with four phases involving interactions, transactions and simulations. This is a new way of promoting other forms of competencies, such as professional ethics and practice management, which would nicely compliment an online law school. The old-fashioned articles may be the next thing to go. Up online, I mean.

We have all likely been experiencing this more cloud-based style of law firm. Most of us have had experience working remotely. I volunteered to give up my office almost a year and half ago. There may have been a day and a half of regret right at the beginning, but it has been smooth sailing since then.

This time in their remote offices has given lawyers ample experience in using the full capability of the digital platforms that their IT departments have (ideally) been working on for the past few years. These capabilities would have included video conferencing not only with staff but with clients as well. Lawyers have also had the opportunity to learn all about the security protocols that IT has been talking about in order to access secure documents from any location.

Necessity being the gender-neutral parent of invention, our organization has seen how Microsoft Teams teleconferencing has been a tremendous way to view and speak with members of one’s team. Documents for a team meeting are easily loaded and located. Chats can be posted and followed as comments are collected.

After a couple of weeks of working in this manner you can see how a law firm might transition to become virtual. Meeting with clients could be conducted over video conferencing right from the start as clients accessed the law firm’s web site.

It is even easier to see how numerous new firms could come into existence as virtual right from the start. Once again, CPLED PREP uses the format of a virtual law firm for students, where they meet clients online and all the firm lawyers and staff operate remotely.

This training allows new lawyers to see how a law firm would operate as it works on various files. Newly licensed lawyers would see the immediate benefit in this and may no longer be driven to join a traditional law firm. Some traditional leverage may soon be lost.

The virtual firm becomes even more enabled by the Federation of Ontario Law Associations guidance of March 20 on how to close real estate transactions remotely. Video confirmation of document signing can be acceptable. At least on a temporary basis.

The U.S. Supreme Court, for the first time since the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, has suspended oral hearings. Courts in Canada have begun moving various functions online. No doubt the need to observe witnesses’ demeanors in person will continue for some time, though.

Probably the greatest change to the legal profession will be the clients. These past few weeks have enabled clients, and people in general, to try new things. All of the professions have reached out and demonstrated that they are prepared to meet with clients in a virtual manner. Using Zoom to set up a meeting with one’s lawyer or accountant no longer seems awkward, and the savings in time and cost has greatly increased the value proposition of many professionals. Client expectations will evolve over a very short time.

We should note that clients do not necessarily request professional advice to be delivered in a new fashion. But if they see it happening elsewhere, they are likely to drift to where they can take similar quality advice better and faster.

The type of legal advice provided has changed greatly over this present and urgent timeframe. A good portion of lawyers appear to be operating on a just-in-time provision of legal services. COVID-19 has become so topical so quickly, and the demand for answers so immediate, that there has been an incredible amount of free legal advice provided on blogs and other sites. This no longer seems like the standard identification of legal risks and the follow-up of ‘please come see our firm,’ but rather, ‘you can see some very concrete advice on how to deal with various COVID-19 related legal issues.’

All of this has also raised clients’ expectations, and in the future they will want to see practical and immediate legal solutions to their problems.

But as Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

 

 

#legal #covid #motivation #changemanagement #law

Covid-19

pexels-photo (2) pantry

Covid-19 requires serious action. But, admittedly, there are the occasional lighter aspects.

After our BC board meeting, we decided to fly over to phoenix to see some friends just for a few days. Of course, after we arrived then the talk about shutting the border came up, so he headed home. I’ve always used the hand sanitizers at airports, but now they seem to be set at jumbo discharge. I struggled to wipe it all over my hands. With all the foam still covering my palms and back of my hands, I felt I couldn’t walk away from the hand station since I am sure everyone would be askance as  to whether foaming at the cuticles was a new symptom. I resorted to cleaning up to my elbows.

After travelling out of the country, we self-isolated. This is sort of like retirement. Twice the husband and half the income. So of course I organized the pantry.

An idle mind is the devil’s play ground. I thought about organizing items according to ability to open them. Perhaps cardboard on one level, bags on another and cans on a different another. Using mind-mapping, I decided on three levels. The first level would be food regardless of packing material. Salmon and pasta. The next level would be stuff you put on food. Tomato sauces, panko crumbs. The top level would be stuff you put on food, but probably shouldn’t. Things like syrup and jams.

Fortunately, my wife only laughed. Retirement looks positive!

 

#covid-19 #inspiration

Adversity

pexels-photo-313690 stress
 The great psychiatrist Dr. Lucy tells the hapless Charlie Brown that “Adversity prepares one for the things of life.” Charlie Brown quizzically asks “What things?” and the good Dr. says “More adversity.”
A little non-sensical, but this has remained with me for several decades. We can even bring in The Princess Bride when Wesley says that “life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
One writer lists over 6 different types of adversity such as mental, physical, spritual, financial, social and emotional. To think that we could be hit by 6 different planes of existence all at once can be overwhelming.
Ultimately one hopes that can there can be more than simply pain for pain’s sake. But everything we read says that adversity can be a force for good since it can bring out the best in you.
But I leave you with Albert Einstein who said that adversity introduces a man to himself. We are not what our problems are, but how we react to them that counts.