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The future global legal industry.

Passing through Canada soon? Plan to check your electronic messages at the door.

The Canadian anti-spam legislation, which may be fully enacted by July, likely impacts the marketing materials that law firms, companies and nonprofits send to clients and contacts. The law--CASL for short--has been tweaked, may be tweaked again and is broader than its American cousin, the CAN-SPAM Act, which specifically addresses email messaging.

CASL is designed to encompass more than email.

"It's really now about how to do electronic in Canada properly," said Kris Klein, a partner at nNovation LLP, a small boutique that specializes in privacy, data collection and information-access issues from offices in Ottawa and Toronto.

"(CASL) addresses delivery of electronic messages Period," Klein said, noting that commercial messages that "pass through in Canada" fall under the law's purview.

Whether a message--including email, software downloads, "cookies," video clips or mobile apps--originates inside or outside of Canada, law firms and other organizations will need to comply with CASL's broad scope and business communications focus or risk up to $10 million in penalties.

Another Canadian expert, Martin Kratz of Bennett Jones' Calgary office, highlighted transition issues, including CASL's opt-in, express consent provision, a key difference between CASL and CAN-SPAM, which is opt-out focused.

Kratz noted via email that "express consent will need to be sought during the three-year transition period to continue sending commercial electronic messages beyond that point in time."

Piece of cake, right? Well, maybe not.

"You cannot obtain express consent electronically," Klein said.

Even if attorneys personally collect business cards at a conference, they won't necessarily be able to send a nicely branded, follow-up email to expressly ask for opt-in consent Instead, firms may need a non-electronic process to gather--and document for Canadian regulators--a client's or customer's explicit permission in advance of e-communications.

So, one of the keys to CASL, as it were, is its "extra-territorial effect," a term Kratz used. Fail to adhere or pay up and legal marketers from Kazakhstan to Kansas soon may be locked out at the Canadian border.

Alycia opened this issue of Strategies talking about transformational change, and our peers then presented their international perspectives. When combined, these two themes parallel one of the best conversations that occurred at the Leadership Conference in Chicago last fall: "Throughout the next 10 years, what changes can we expect for in the global legal industry? And, as a result, what will the industry look like in 2022?"

More importantly to our organization, however, is the question of what involvement will legal marketers and the Legal Marketing Association will have in 2022. The conversation suggested a key role for us because most of the changes ultimately centered on the business of law and law firm revenues. The LMA Strategic Plan, as approved in October 2008, lists four primary goals, two of which point toward the future of our industry: to create a cohesive global legal marketing community and to be a respected thought leader.

Consider these international possibilities:

* Law school curriculums may change to two years, plus an apprenticeship Additionally, loud calls for transparency in tuition costs and student loans in relation to real job opportunities are here to stay

* The United Kingdom made a huge leap forward with its proposal in 2011 for non-attorney ownership How soon will U.S. firms follow suit?

* Once non-attorneys have ownership stakes, sales and client teams will once and for all answer solely to the numbers. Those numbers will be restricted by the exact volume of legal work to be had worldwide, as determined by the numbers.

* Globalization of law practices continues with unification of laws and regulations. Accounting and audit standards continue to become more unified every year. Similarly, laws in different parts of the world head closer to one another as public policy, language, knowledge and experience are shared.

* With federal and state budgets in dire straits, many anticipate that the "loser pays" philosophy of some countries will finally make it to U.S. shores. Also tied to court costs, some predict reduced access to justice via courts and the greater use of alternative dispute resolution.

As marketers, we could adjust once the changes happen or we could be a part of creating the new legal industry. We hope this issue will broaden your perspective and give you a few "strategies" to lead your organizations through transformational change and into 2022.

Steve Conley, 303/877-8577, SDConley@gmail.com.

Dave Poston, 404/875-3400, Poston@postoncommunications.com
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Title Annotation:Exit Strategies
Author:Conley, Steve; Poston, Dave
Publication:Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing
Article Type:Industry overview
Date:Jan 1, 2012
Words:741
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