Three law school innovators, three law firm innovators, a law student, and a BigLaw Partner meet on a podcast… this podcast… and share thoughts on how to improve law students’ tech skills before they arrive at the firm. That is the setting for this episode of The Geek in Review.
Nikki Shaver, Director of Innovation and Knowledge from Paul Hastings got this conversation started on Twitter when she discovered that most of the New Fall Associates (NFAs) did not take any technology or innovation courses while in law school. This is not an uncommon story. There seems to be little incentive, either on the law school, or law firm side of recruiting which stresses tech competencies. But just because that’s the way it has always been, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. There is definitely room for improvement! So we wanted to get a group together and do just that.

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We asked Vanderbilt Law School’s Cat Moon, Vermont Law School’s Jeannette Eicks, and University of Oklahoma Law School’s Kenton Brice to cover the law school innovation perspective.
Nikki Shaver, Marlene, and Greg cover the law firm innovation perspective.
We also asked Jackson Walker Partner Matt Acosta, and Michigan State University Law School student, Kanza Khan to jump in and share their experiences with the expectations for legal technology skills.
We take a deep dive into the topic ranging from what law schools are actually offering students, what are law firms expectations for tech skills, and are law firm recruiting, and law school placement incentivizing students to be more proficient with tech before they arrive as NFAs?

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 55 – The Legal Tech and Innovation Pipeline – Can Law Schools and Law Firms Better the Process?

The past week I had the pleasure of presenting at the 13th Annual Ark Conference Competitive Intelligence in the Modern Law Firm.  I am totally blown away that this one day conference is in its 13th year and still going strong. The quality of the presentations was outstanding. There were new and different speakers and sponsors (thanks to Legal Monitor and LAC Group) and all around it was a fantastic day.  I am buoyed by the energy in the room, the passion for the profession and the commitment to the industry despite all of its many challenges.

Some of the key messages coming out of the conference (with my own commentary) were:

  1. Embrace data, data is everywhere and has transformative powers for competitive intelligence as well as for firms in general.
  2. Due Diligence and CI are similar, you can increase your awareness of both in the firm if you measure twice and cut once. Do the work once and share broadly across the firm about clients, and prospects for a variety of reasons, proactively and reactively.
  3. Inter-operability in this new data savvy world is critical.  Get your systems talking to one another, find a Platform.  Whether using AI, or data visualization getting Intel into the hands of decision makers is crucial to success. Capture attention, go on a charm offensive (HT to @CISteph for that great turn of phrase).

For my part, I cannot stress how much I truly believe now is the time for CI to shine in firms and push long standing conservative cultures forward.  I’ve been doing this for close to 20 years and I have never felt more like CI in firms has finally matured in process, structure and delivery.  CI as mix of art and science, data and HUMINT, and CI has the opportunity to sit at the centre of everything firms are doing in support of the practice and business of law as well as the culture shifts that are happening. CI can help firms plan and respond to all three of the major pressures in firms, from bottom up pressure of new associates with different priorities that the traditional law firm model, the top down client pricing pressures and technology assaulting firms from the sides, CI can ease the pressure by anticipating for the future, avoid surprises and providing a strategic way forward.  As firms strive to be more balanced, more focused on wellness and diversity, CI should the centralized function to collaborate on data, gather HUMINT and implement technology that makes organizations coordinated, efficient, balanced, motivated and competitive.  And course, CI can bring the human element to bear as Data Doesn’t Make Decisions.  CI can and should be part of the cultural changes in firms that is paving the way for the firm and the industry of the future.

 

It turns out that the West Coast doesn’t have a lock on law and tech innovation. On this episode, we talk with four guests who are involved in the upcoming NYU Law and Tech: Impact on Innovation, on October 15, 2019.  Our guests today are Felicity Conrad is a NYU grad and CoFounder and CEO of Paladin. Michael Weinberg is the Executive Director at the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU. Christian Lang, Head of Strategy at Reynen Court. And, Anna McGrane is also an NYU Law alum, and is the Co-founder and COO of PacerPro. Each discuss their individual experiences with legal tech innovation, and how the NYU campus is a  launching point for many of its grads toward the legal technology and innovation community. From start-ups to meet-ups, our guests believe that NYU is showing that innovation can have a definite East Coast flavor.

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Information Inspirations

The Return of FREE PACER!!
Northwestern University’s Interdisciplinary team, which includes seven law faculty, including our previous guest, Tom Gaylord, was awarded a National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator Grant this month. The $1 Million grant will be used to advance Northwestern’s AI-Powered data platform which interfaces with the federal PACER system. The Northwestern Open Access to Court Records Initiative (NOACRI) Team includes lawyers, journalists, economists, and policy makers across the different schools at Northwestern, and they are working to create tools needed to make the data locked in PACER available, and then link that data to public information about the litigants, judges, lawyers, and the courts. We wish them luck!!
Can Congress Regulate Algorithms used in judicial processes?
California Representative, Mark Takano has introduced the “Justice in Forensic Algorithms Act of 2019.” The idea is to create a standards for these algorithms that make them more transparent, especially to the defense teams, not just for the results, but for the entire process. Algorithms used in the courts will also not be able to hide behind trade secrets to prevent those affected by the algorithms from understanding how these results were produced. Can the government actually pull this off? It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses.
Encouraging Law Students to Learn Tech Isn’t Just on the Shoulders of the Law Schools
We added a quick bonus inspiration on what law firms should be doing to encourage 1L’s and 2L’s to learn more about technology while still at the law schools. We hope that this will be it’s own episode soon!
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Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. We’d love to hear any ideas you’d like us to cover in future episodes. Also, subscribe, rate, and comment on The Geek In Review on your favorite podcast platform.
As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca, thanks Jerry!

Makerspaces are becoming very popular in libraries, and today we talk with two librarians who are ready to bring the collaborative thinking and working spaces into the law school library environment. Ashley Matthews is at George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Sharon Bradley is at the University of Georgia School of Law. Both believe there is a great benefit in carving out spaces within the law school library to allow students and faculty the ability to tinker and experiment with their creative sides, and potentially come up with the next big idea in the legal market.

Matthews recently wrote an article on makerspaces entitled “Teaching Students to ‘Tech Like a Lawyer’.” While some of us may see ‘tech like a lawyer’ as a way to stop technology, Matthews and Bradley think that the law school library environment can be the perfect place to teach law students the analytical skills they’ll need in their practice to truly understand how a legal issue can benefit from technology, and how to issue spot, reason, analyze, and resolve legal issues more effectively with technology.

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Information Inspirations

The Dangers of Categorical Thinking

The human mind is build to categorize the things we see and do in the world. It just helps us make sense of the world, whether it’s the fight or flight between seeing a stick and a snake, or the business decisions we make in selecting the perfect candidate out of a pool of ten qualified applicants. We group the hard skills and the soft skills. In this Harvard Business Review article, the authors warns not to be so caught up in the larger categorical picture, and lose sight of the details and nuances that really make the difference in the end. Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 53 – Makerspaces in Law Schools with Ashley Matthews and Sharon Bradley

Our fellow 3 Geeks’ contributor, Zena Applebaum is leading the upcoming Competitive Intelligence program in Chicago on Friday, October 18, 2019. The American Association of Law Libraries is holding this CI Foundations Course entitled, Superior Intelligence = Strategic Decision Making.

In this course you will learn to be the person who defines, gathers, analyzes, and distributes intelligence about products, customers, and competitors at your organization. You will also better understand how to establish and maintain a strategic competitive intelligence (CI) function–from development to implementation.

 WHO SHOULD ATTEND

Law librarians and legal information professionals seeking to learn how to build a competitive intelligence strategy at their organization (including firm, academic, government, and other organizations).

Early-bird pricing is available until September 20. So, register today!!

 

 

[Ed. Note: Please welcome guest blogger, Sam Harden, from vLex. – GL]

I used to watch a lot of Star Trek TNG – every episode it seemed like some super complicated futuristic technology was an instant solution to an intractable problem the crew was facing. Can’t find the cloaked Romulan ship? Modulate the tachyon pulse beam transmorgifier! I didn’t know this at the time, but things like that had become so common in the series that the script writers wouldn’t even bother coming up with the technical jargon when they were writing the script:

“It became the solution to so many plot lines and so many stories,” ST:TNG writer, Ron Moore said. “It was so mechanical that we had science consultants who would just come up with the words for us and we’d just write ‘tech’ in the script. You know, Picard would say ‘Commander La Forge, tech the tech to the warp drive.’

I’m serious.

Some Context:

I’ll come back to this concept of ‘teching the tech’ in a moment, but first let me lay some context. vLex has me doing free consulting sessions with anyone who wants them. So far I’ve done a good number of interviews – all legal professionals, either practicing law or working in the legal sphere in some capacity. Continue Reading Don’t Obsess Over the Details… Just ‘Tech the Tech!’

While we could talk all day with the husband and wife team of Andie Kramer and Al Harris about being BigLaw Partners, it is their work on women’s conflicts and bias in the workplace which brings them on the show today. Andie and Al recently released their second book, It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace: Women’s Conflict at Work and the Bias That Built It. And we jump in with both feet to discuss how the workplace environment, even at law firms (or maybe, especially at law firms), is designed to place women in adversarial roles against one another. Andie and Al have mentored women, conducted speaking consultations, and have written books on the subject of gender communications for over 30 years. Because they bring both the female and male perspectives into this very difficult conversation, they pack a one-two punch for their audiences and definitely grab their attention. When we asked Al Harris how important it was for him to bring in men into this conversation, his answer was, “in a word… VERY!”
We take a deep dive into the issue of gender bias in the workplace, and the environment which contributes to that very bias. You can learn more about Andie Kramer and Al Harris, including a question guide to their books, at their website, andieandal.com. Definitely check out the website after you listen to this week’s interview!

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What Does Your Family Think You Do??
We have one more story this week about a family member who thinks that being a library manager is a glorified file clerk job. We imagined that Thanksgiving that year was a little awkward. If you have a story to share, leave us a message at 713-487-7270 or email us your story at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com.

Information Inspirations

Come on men… it’s 2019!!
The Pence Rule of a man not being alone with a woman in the workplace, or attending a social event with alcohol without having a man’s wife present is affecting work environments, including law firms. American Lawyer senior columnist, Vivia Chen’s article, #MeToo Backlash Is Not Going Away, shows how men are less likely to work in one-on-one situations with women at a higher rate in 2019, than in 2016. This is having a significant effect on the ability for women to have equal access to opportunities and advancement. Vivia puts it best when she says “Considering it’s 2019, it’s frick’n unbelievable.” We couldn’t agree more.

Continue Reading The Geek In Review Ep. 52 – Andie Kramer and Al Harris on Their New Book, It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace

Andre Davison was literally a sixteen year old student when he began his career in law firm libraries. Now the Research Technology Manager at Blank Rome’s Houston office, Andre has taken a leadership role both within his firm with technology and diversity programs, and has been rewarded for his efforts with multiple awards. Andre was awarded his firm’s Nathaniel R. Jones Diversity Award for his diversity efforts, and he was the American Association of Law Libraries’ Innovation Tournament winner for his Seamless Access to Secondary Sources (SASS) which enabled lawyers and others at his firm to dive into the portions of research materials directly, and without having to worry about usernames, passwords, or client numbers. Previous TGIR interviewee, David Whelan, has a great summary of his experiences as a judge for the AALL Innovation Tournament.

Andre’s work expands past his award winning efforts at his firm, and he has taken on leadership roles on the local level with the Houston Area Law Libraries (HALL) as the current President. The local chapters are a wealth of professional development, and local community efforts which he says brings a family-like environment to him and his peers.

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How does your family describe what you do?

Speaking of family, we share stories of how our families describe to others what we do for work. As might be expected, it doesn’t always match the reality of the situation. Greg thinks that it might have been easier on his family if he worked at Walmart. We’d love to get more stories to put on the show of what it is that your family members think you do. Leave us a voicemail at 713-487-7270 or email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com and share your story!

Information Inspirations

How Should Law Schools Adjust for Gen Z?

Continue Reading The Geek In Review Ep. 51 – Andre Davison – Winning with Diversity and Technology

Welcome to the 50th Episode of the Geek in Review!!

American Lawyer Media Reporter, Dylan Jackson, joins us this week to discuss two of his recent articles which focused on the mental health of law firm staff, as well as the persistent caste system which still exists in the large law firm environment. Jackson talked with a number of people within law firms regarding how firms view the mental health of staffers, what firms are doing (or not doing) to address the issues, as well as how firms value their staff’s contribution to the success of the firm. While the days of having a chair tossed at you by a partner might have faded in the past couple of decades, the stress placed on staff to handle more work, and to take on much more strategic missions for the law firm has significantly increased over the past ten years. Jackson found that it is still difficult for even the most senior of staff to get a seat at the table within the law firm, and that old barriers still exist to separate lawyers from the professional staff. In the end, these professionals need to be recognized for their contribution, and they want to be treated with respect.

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Information Inspirations

The Dark Side of Personality Tests

Many law firms are conducting personality assessments on their lawyers and staff. The idea is that if we better understood each other’s personalities, we can communicate better. Author Quinisha Jackson-Wright points out in a New York Times piece a significant flaw in personality tests when other use it to “fix” the other person, rather than adapt their own behavior. It’s important that workers don’t feel like they are being “outed” by being a certain personality type. (Plus some extra reading) Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 50 – ALM’s Dylan Jackson on the Issues of Mental Health and Overall Value of Law Firm Staff

Most of us learned that if you set goals, those goals should be measurable. Sameena Kluck, Vice President of Business Development at Paladin, PBC, sits down with us this week to discuss how Pro Bono goals should also be measurable. While Pro Bono work is primarily viewed as a way for lawyers to do “good work,” it has a larger impact than just on those receiving the work. We anecdotally know that Pro Bono impacts professional development, business development, recruiting, retention, attorney morale, marketing, branding, and more. However, there hasn’t been a very good way of actually quantifying how Pro Bono works affect the law firm. We’ve measured our work by the hours we put in (pretty typical for a law firm), but that doesn’t really tell us all the story. Sameena walks us through some of the metrics that she and Paladin are measuring to show the true value of Pro Bono work and how it benefits much more than just the Pro Bono client.

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Information Inspirations:

AI for the Business of Law

Jennifer Roberts, our Data Science Superhero from Ep. 26, has an article in LegalTechNews this week which says that the AI Hype Cycle might be in full swing when it comes to work that lawyers are doing, but that cycle is still in it’s infancy when it comes to the business side of the law firm. Specifically in the Business Development and is the Risk Management departments of law firms, AI is just getting started. Roberts lays out examples of ways which AI tools can identify client traits. Predictions and modeling on client’s likelihood of attrition, or forecasting client’s financial viability, or the buying patterns of clients are just a few things that AI can assist business development professionals. When it comes to conflicts, Roberts writes that AI can reduce the time it takes to clear conflicts by up to 80%. There’s definitely some value-add which AI can bring to the business side of the law firm table.

OKRs in Team Meetings

We talk a bit in the interview today about OKR (objectives and key results) to remain focused on your goals. Marlene found a great primer article to help you if you find yourself wasting time in meetings where OKRs can help. Bringing in OKRs can help your team stay focused on the goals, keep the motivation high, and allow the team to adjust course when necessary. Henrik-Jan van der Pol’s article, “Use OKR to make team meetings more focused, effective, and meaningful,” is a great place to start if you’re looking to tighten up those meetings, and stay on target for your team’s goals. For additional reading, check out the difference between OKRs and KPIs.

The 1619 Project and Howard University Law Grads

The New York Times Magazine launched an amazing expose on the 400th anniversary of slavery in the United States. One section focuses in on four recent law graduates of Howard University. It is a powerful piece which describes the journey of these families starting with their enslaved ancestors, and travel the path through today, and the lawyers’ plans for the future. There is also a 1619 Podcast launching this week as well.

Accelerated Learning

Mission.org provides concise summaries of management writings, and Marlene points us to one of her favorites. “131 Actionable Ideas from Ten Books I Wish I Had Read Ages Ago.” Author Louis Tsai walks through key takeaways of ten management books. In about 10 minutes, you should be all up to speed.

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Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. We’d love to hear any ideas you’d like us to cover in future episodes. Also, subscribe, rate, and comment on The Geek In Review on your favorite podcast platform.
As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca, thanks Jerry!