3/12/15

Hsu Untied: Interviewing Lawyers About Their Side-Hobbies

via Maya Hsu
My former colleague, Richard Hsu, is at it again. You may remember Richard, and his talented daughter, Maya, from my posts about his One Page Blog, and HsuTube blogs, and the really interesting videos he and Maya produced. I talked with Richard this week and caught up on what he's up to these days. His new site, Hsu Untied, is Richard's dive into the audio medium where he records podcasts of lawyers and special guests about their hobbies outside of their daily legal grind. Although Maya is now almost 16 and no longer interested in helping her Dad make topics like "Assignment in a Change Control" actually interesting, she did produce the artwork for the logo on the new site.

Hsu Untied gives Richard a chance to sit down and talk with interesting people about their interesting hobbies. In some cases, the hobbies are now their full-time jobs. When I was talking to Richard, I could really hear the enthusiasm in his voice of how much he enjoyed this new endeavor. For those of us that blog, or podcast, or other types of social media productions, we don't do it for the fame, or the money, or the business it drives to our 'real jobs,' we do it because it is a lot of fun.

For Richard, he told me that he has always wanted "to be an interviewer like Charlie Rose or a Terry Gross" and this allows him to do so, as he calls it, "on a micro scale." Currently he has around 36 podcasts up and running on his site, but has almost twice that many recorded and ready for production. Because he's interviewing based on outside interests, there's no rush for the recordings to go out, so he compiling and releasing them over time.

When he started out, Richard thought he'd be lucky to interview a handful of people. As of this week, however, he is approaching his 100th interview, and it doesn't look like he's slowing down. In fact, while talking with him, I immediately thought of a good friend of mine that he should interview, and I have since connected them for a future interview. Richard also mentioned that he gets a few attorneys to contact him directly for interviews, but that his librarian in his office keeps him informed of potential interviewees. Once again, what would lawyers do without a good librarian to keep them up to speed??

So far, Richard has covered a wide range of hobbies including skydiving, mountain climbing, oil painting, magic, astronomy, opera singing, winemaking, boxing, chess and ballet and others. In addition, he has interviewed some Special Guests who left the legal profession to become things like a best-selling author, Editor of the NYTimes Crossword Puzzles, the drummer for Train, and a Professional Poker Player. That's a pretty good list of very interesting people, and there are so many more lined up in the future.

I asked Richard how long he thought he would keep doing these interviews, and he said that he plans to keep doing it as long as he's having fun. Well... let's hope he continues to have fun for a long time.


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3/5/15

Bloomberg BNA Launches Big Law Business Community Website

Toby Brown and I got a sneak peek yesterday at Bloomberg BNA's new Big Law Business community site, and we liked what we saw. We all know that Big Law is big business, but there are very few resources out there from vendors that cover current stories and trends of the business side of a large law firm, and even fewer that promote a community to comment and contribute. Most of us have relied upon bloggers to fill the gap, but a resource like this coming from Bloomberg Law is a welcome new addition.

The site is free to access, but content contribution will be limited to those of us that work within large law firms (AmLaw200), in-house counsel, thought leaders within the industry, and vendors within the industry that want to contribute useful content to the community through articles, white papers, videos, and other (non-commercial) type content.

BBNA's David Peikin gave us the tour and said that "[T]he community enables legal executives to share best practices leveraging the insight and wisdom of those in similar roles at other firms and supports peer-to-peer engagement with focused, role-based content areas for managing partners, in-house counsel, technologists and marketers."

There are no walled communities within the site, so everyone can see all the content regardless of what type of role you play within your firm.

The site is now open, so go check it out and see if this is a community you'd like to join. Bloomberg BNA's press release on the Big Law Business site is below.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
David Peikin
703.341.5900
dpeikin@bna.com

BLOOMBERG BNA LAUNCHES BIG LAW BUSINESS, 
COMMUNITY WEBSITE FOCUSED ON THE BUSINESS OF LAW

Arlington, Va. (March 5, 2015) — Bloomberg BNA today announced the launch of Big Law Business, a first-of-its-kind online community that helps law firm executives and in-house counsel be even more successful in addressing opportunities and challenges created by accelerated disruption in the legal market related to the business of law.  Big Law Business enables legal executives to learn how to better manage day-to-day business, finance and technology issues while also sharing best practices.

Big Law Business helps legal executives and professional managers better serve their internal and external clients through access to a wealth of targeted content — perspectives, news and insight, data, and resources — created by Bloomberg BNA editors and thought leaders in the legal market.  The community also supports peer-to-peer engagement in focused, role-based content areas for managing partners, in-house counsel, technologists and marketers and also will offer related online and offline programs.

“Big Law Business provides access to a wealth of robust content, including timely news on the business of law from our dedicated editorial staff and the rich data and in-depth analysis the market has come to rely on from Bloomberg BNA and Bloomberg Law,” said Scott Mozarsky, President, Cross Platform Businesses, Bloomberg BNA.  “Big Law Business features articles, podcasts, videos and white papers, enabling legal executives to stay on top of the latest trends affecting the business of law.  And the community will provide visitors ample opportunities to engage with those in similar roles at law firms and corporations and benefit from shared insights and wisdom.”

You can follow Big Law Business on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Bloomberg BNA
Bloomberg BNA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bloomberg, is a leading source of legal, regulatory, and business information for professionals. Its network of more than 2,500 reporters, correspondents, and leading practitioners delivers expert analysis, news, practice tools, and guidance — the information that matters most to professionals. Bloomberg BNA's authoritative coverage spans a full range of legal practice areas, including tax & accounting, labor & employment, intellectual property, banking & securities, employee benefits, health care, privacy & data security, human resources, and environment, health & safety.

###

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3/2/15

Movin' On Up!

The legal market consolidated a bit more today in Canada as DLAPiper LLP announced that Davis LLP will be joining the Swiss verein's North American arm as its newest member firm in April 2015.  The Am Law Daily, summed up the change in Canada over the past few years the best:

"DLA Piper is just the latest firm to expand north, always with struggling mid-tier firms. Two other firms organized as international vereins—Dentons and Baker & McKenzie—were more successful in absorbing groups of refugees from the dissolving Heenan Blaikie last year. Dentons had already entered the market in 2013, combining with 560-lawyer Fraser Milner Casgrain.

Norton Rose was the first, sealing a deal with 450-lawyer Ogilvy Renault in 2010. Calgary-based Macleod Dixon joined it in 2011, and Fulbright & Jaworski in 2012, bringing yet another U.S. firm under the same global umbrella with a Canadian one."

Rich in natural resources and backed by a stable banking and finance industry, Canada is ever more attractive to companies and law firms alike. As a resident Canadian amongst the 3 Geeks, I wanted to share and reaffirm that there is more to Canada than hockey, beer, Coffee Crisp and ketchup chips and I am not the only one who is taking notice.

 

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2/27/15

RELX: Reed Elsevier, Lexis?? Wait... What??

Okay... it's Friday. It's snowing in Dallas, and it's a bit slow around the office. But, when I saw that Reed Elsevier was going to change its name to RELX, I thought maybe it was a joke to draw attention away from the black/blue vs. gold/white dress discussion. Apparently not.

I'm sure there was a big Think-Tank of Marketing Gurus involved in this decision, but on the surface it looks like it was a room of Gen Y's that had never heard of the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood... otherwise, they would have seen snarky posts like this one... or this one... or this one, coming.

Not sure what CEO Erik Engstrom is trying to pull off here, but I think for the next few weeks, he's going to catch a bit of ribbing for this decision.

Does R E L X stand for:

R: Reed
E: Elsevier
LX: LexisNexis??

If so, then maybe those of us in the legal industry can RELX... I mean, relax. The RELX Group, plc became official on February 26th, with the official, and final move to the name coming on July 1st this year. The relxgroup.com website is already active. Quite Frankie... I mean, frankly, it's a bit confusing.

As we find out more behind the decision to change the name to a four-letter acronym, let me leave you with some great lyrics to a great song, and see if Mr. Engstrom is up to make making it his intention, and keep scheming those schemes.

But shoot it in the right direction
Make making it your intention-ooh yeah
Live those dreams
Scheme those schemes
Got to hit me
Hit me
Hit me with those laser beams
 
 
Good luck getting rid of that earworm.


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2/10/15

The Profession is Doomed

Image [cc] slworking2
Recently I participated on a panel on the future of the profession for the National Conference of Bar Presidents and walked away thoroughly convinced the profession is doomed.

For those of you unfamiliar with how bar associations make decisions, I offer the following story:

If someone asked for permission to go to the bathroom, a bar would form a task force (or commission) to fully examine whether going to the bathroom was a good idea and to highlight all of the pitfalls around bathrooms. After 18 months they would issue a report stating that going to the bathroom is generally a good thing and should be promoted to those who need to go, but only if all of the potential negative impacts have been understood, limited and communicated to those considering bathroom breaks. The report would not actually authorize the request to use the bathroom. It would be left to the Bar Board to actually enact a rule permitting said activity. The Board rarely follows up as they are busy forming the next task force and would not want to take any heat for authorizing such a dramatic change.

In the meantime, the guy who made the original request either went, or died.

The presentation panel actually offered a real-life example, that broke this mold - at least in some fashion. The panel participant from Washington, discussed how they are implementing Limited Licensure Legal Technicians (LLLT). That effort began in 2001, culminating in the first licensees coming online this Spring. But in this circumstance, the Supreme Court actually pushed this through, against the wishes of the bar. The result was one small change to the market that took 14 years to implement.

And here is where things got ugly - the audience focused in on the details of the LLLT program, trying to poke holes in it. This audience was made up of Bar Presidents and Executive Directors. These people are well positioned to drive change across the profession. But instead of talking about how they could adopt similar changes in an accelerated fashion, they were looking for ways to kill it.

I sat there as long as I could listening to this. Finally I could take it no longer and interjected. I "suggested" that a failure to drive disruptions would lead to others moving in and taking over the legal market. With some internal fortitude, I was able to avoid using swear words.

After the presentation a number of attendees from state bars sat down to chat with me about all of this. A universal theme was that whatever they might do to disrupt the market and drive innovation will be met with strong resistance by the bar membership. As I see it, bar associations have little to gain by pushing on this issue, even though they have a lot to lose by doing nothing. Their members will not abide any efforts short of turning the clock back. I gave numerous suggestions for how a bar might drive change to the group. All were met with exacerbation and a recognition that any efforts will be met with broad and strong resistance.

For a long time I have held out hope that the legal profession would step up and address the needs of the market: for both lawyers and clients. After this experience, I have come to the hard conclusion: That is not going to happen. As smart as lawyers are, their training and experience have made them a reactive and dogmatic group. In their minds, the way they have been doing it is the only way to keep doing it. Anything else is a threat to the profession and their practice specifically.

This all saddens me. Lawyers hold a sacred duty to the rule of law. Their inability to act means the rule of law will be handed off to someone else - someone without that obligation. As a society we will all be worse off.

If the medical profession is any indicator, we should fully expect insurance companies and or perhaps banks to become our future legal service providers.

Welcome to the future.

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