Posts tagged The Law Offices of Michael McCubbin
Going Rogue: year two in the life of a new call who started his own firm.

Gone rogue sticker Last week I introduced you to Michael McCubbin, a young lawyer who, after articles, took off on a four month trip around the world, and returned to Vancouver to start up what has become a successful law practice in Gastown. If you find yourself on this page and you haven’t read part one of his story, I highly recommend heading here to check it out. Year one at The Law Offices of Michael McCubbin is not a story you want to miss out on!

As I mentioned last week, by the end of his first year Mike was running a successful law practice, but the problem was he spent too much of his time doing just that: running the practice. That and learning the unspoken rules of each practice area of the wide range of cases that came through the door. Needless to say, he was ready for some of that to change.

So this week I’m going to share with you some of the strategies he employed to get the business side of his law practice functioning more efficiently. As Mike explained, “the second year was the business learning curve.”

Narrowing his practice areas

Turning a profit came with the added benefit of no longer being required to take everything that came in the door. (And here’s where the knowing what you want becomes important yet again.) He began referring things out, weeding out practice areas that weren’t of interest, and keeping the ones that were.

Mike told me his main interest is public law. He wants to do work that is socially and politically important to the community. He wants to do work that matters. He began to carve out a practice in three different areas of law that often have a public law component: criminal; employment and human rights; and general civil litigation (all plaintiffs’ side).

When I asked Mike if doing plaintiff’s work was a conscious decision, or whether it was just easier to build a plaintiff’s side practice, he said it was definitely conscious. He told me that his practice is very individual oriented because he is very individual oriented.

Although having many small clients may be more difficult than a few bigger ones, Mike told me that he wouldn’t consider switching sides. “I identify with the little guy, he explained. “Everyone deserves to have someone stand up for them.”

Doing less admin work

Focusing his practice areas eased, what I can only imagine must have been a feeling like he had to know everything, but Mike still wanted to eliminate (or reduce) the four hours of admin work he put in per day. As a sole practitioner hiring a full time assistant was not financially viable and he was on the lookout for other options when a solution came to him over a phone call (there seems to be a trend emerging – maybe I should have asked Mike to share that secret – how does he get good news to come to him over the phone?)

As I mentioned earlier, Mike was becoming quite comfortable with referring cases out to other lawyers. On one such occasion, in the hopes of referring out a particularly unruly criminal case, he called up Neil Chantler (counsel for the families of 25 of the missing or murdered women in the Pickton Inquiry) to see if he wanted the case.

Ultimately, Neil declined to take it on, but countered with his own proposal: office sharing and (key for Mike) a shared administrative assistant.

And just like that Mike moved in at 58 Powell Street, and began sharing office space and an assistant with Neil Chantler and Cameron Ward (, and they continue the arrangement to this day.

Office sharing has given Mike the ability to hand off a lot of those administrative tasks that were bogging him down, but it also came with a host of new responsibilities, including learning how to be an effective employer, and dealing with difficult situations, such as hiring and firing (both of which he’s now had experience in).


Office sharing also gave Mike something else: connection. Someone to bounce ideas off of; someone to talk through a difficult issue with; someone to share a laugh with when the day would otherwise be overwhelming or lonely. Mike told me that he had mentors in the legal community to reach out to when a tough issue would come up, but nothing compares with the ease of being able to walk down the hall and ask a quick question.

Office systems

He took the time he gained doing less admin work, and began focusing on more high level business development. He started with document handling procedures internally, and has done some research to find out what’s out there in terms of new legal software and technology – including software that allows clients to sign in and see what work the lawyer is real time. (What? Yes, this really exists. See for example, Viewabill.) He explained that although it’s not a financially viable option for him at the moment, he knows of at least one lawyer in Vancouver who uses it, and would keep it in mind for the future.

And one more office management tip that Mike threw out there for any of you thinking of starting a paperless firm, or in a firm thinking of going paperless in Vancouver – a great off site printer is Resolution Reprographics:, conveniently situated a block from the Courthouse.

And those are some of the ever developing business strategies and tips from year two that Mike was kind enough to let me in on. I hope you will find them of value.

So where is Mike going next?

Well, he’d like to narrow his practice areas a little more. He says he likes the variety of his three current practice areas, but he still feels kind of like he’s dabbling and that he would further increase his confidence if he were more specialized.

Right now he’s following his own advice and taking stock of what’s important to him. Getting clear on what he wants and where he sees his future going. “Maybe I’ll partner up,” he told me, “maybe I’ll take on an associate, or maybe I’ll even become an associate.”

The future is wide open.

All I can say is, wherever Mike’s going, I have no doubt he will continue to do GREAT things. And I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of him…

So to sum up the moral of this story in six words…

 DREAM it. PLAN it. LIVE it.

Here’s to us all living a little more in that spirit.



Sept 18, 2013 Event Recap

dreams lights It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams. - Gabriel Jose Garcia Marquez

Everyone has dreams. Sometimes we just lose sight of them. Sometimes we actively suppress them. Sometimes we are just too busy to even take the time to figure out what they are.

I've been guilty of all three.

What I've learned is we just need a little space for dreams to grow. And to be surrounded by people who allow you that space - people who not only encourage you to let them grow, but actually believe that you can achieve even the craziest of dreams, and offer what they can to help you get there.

And that's what last night's TYS IDEAL Work Arrangement Event was all about.

dreams grow here

We started things off by getting clear on our IDEAL work arrangement. We met new people and shared our ideas and dreams for our ideal type of work, work schedule, and work environment. We brainstormed strategies for overcoming the barriers we saw to getting to our ideals.  Everyone came to the table with different challenges, and different ideals, and in the end it is those differences that enabled us to offer each other good advice and a different perspective.

In the second part of the event we heard from two amazing guest speakers: Michael McCubbin and Sarah Kalil.

Mike is, a young lawyer who started and continues to operate his own successful law practice The Law Offices of Michael McCubbin. He talked to us about why he decided to start up his own firm right after articling, what it all involved, and some of the challenges he faced. He spoke of the importance of knowing what you want, and creating a plan to get there. He offered practical advice to anyone thinking of going out on their own and after many well-answered questions the crowd was left in silent awe (seriously). If you want to learn more about Mike's story check out last week’s feature interview: Going Rogue.

Then Sarah spoke and livened the crowd with her amazing positivity. Sarah is former young lawyer turned leadership coach / digital media entrepreneur. She talked to us about her decision to follow her dreams out of the practice of law, and the challenges and excitement she's experienced along the way. She highlighted the importance of knowing your why (especially when your dreams involve getting outside your comfort zone) and put to the crowd some thought provoking questions. You can learn more about Sarah and all of the awesome things she is up to here -

The advice and inspiration from Mike and Sarah was a perfect transition into creating a plan to get to the IDEALS we had been dreaming about all night, and everyone was given some practical worksheets to take away so they could start putting their dreams into plans and actions.

Everyone was sharing and  talking excitedly. Relationships were formed, and something else too, hope.

I could see it happening everywhere. In every conversation, every thought, every smile. That's what I loved most about the night. We were allowing ourselves to dream. And by the end of the night I could see not only dreams, but unlimited POSSIBILITY.

So thank you to Sarah and Mike and to everyone who came out for making the night a great success!

And to all of you (and me included)...

do the impossible

Keep BELIEVING. Keep DREAMING. Keep seeking what you LOVE.



Image credits 1, 23