Most of us in the legal industry did not think of the employment market as being anything close to stable in 2020. However, as we are witnessing from the AmLaw 100/200 firm revenue numbers being released, many firms had record revenue and profits. In fact, recent reports show that the industry actually added some 5,000 jobs recently. Geoff Zodda, Chief Solutions Officer of IT Search at PearlCare Search Group, talks with us about what happened in the legal market surrounding the technology, information, analytics, and knowledge workers in 2020, and the projections for these types of professions as the industry refashions itself for a post-COVID economy. For those who are flexible, can wear multiple work hats, and can analyze data, the world may be your oyster.

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Information Inspirations

If a human adds some words into a computer, and that computer uses AI to produce art based on that human input, who owns the rights to that art? Charlotte Kilpatrick from ManagingIP talks with three experts to answer that question.

There is a topic that a lot of us avoid and that is succession planning First, it is uncomfortable, second it is uncomfortable.

We have discussed T-Shaped and Delta-Model lawyers in the past. However, easyJet is making its outside counsel show how O-Shaped they are by creating innovative questions on their request for proposals and law firm pitches for business.

Ken Crutchfield points out some of the traps that innovators fall into when they don’t listen or interpret customers or seek feedback. His experience showing his father about the Trapper Keeper when he was 15 helped him understand what customer feedback meant for success.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. 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. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 106 – Geoff Zodda on Legal Industry Employment Trends in a Post-COVID World

For the first time since the beginning of the year I have some quiet time to reflect and write.  I feel like the end of 2020 and early into the new year, there was a deluge of stimuli on the daily.  Between traditional press and social media, something was always buzzing somewhere. There were cases before the courts, nonstop talk of COVID numbers and mitigation, Tik Tok challenges and the US election. Sometimes I read what’s happening, sometimes I don’t and I when I think about why that is, it’s the same reason we read some Legal Blogs and ignore others…it’s about trust and influence.  Trust is not something that comes easily, it’s earned, it’s rewarded, and in some cases, it’s very hard to achieve and sustain. But at its core it’s a point of connection.

Last week, I hosted a webinar about the legal issues in addressing social media in the Workplace for the ACC in Alberta.  Most of the issues surrounding social media pitfalls revolve around trust and the strength of relationships between employee and employer, relationships which are built on trust.  You have to trust that employees will use technology appropriately. You have to trust that social media will be used for good and not evil, that firm provided technology will be used to connect rather than to detract. And you have to believe that there is a social contract that is the general baseline of suitable social conduct.  As we’ve seen in many examples over the years, social media has the power to influence.

Yesterday, I participated in the Canadian Lawyer –  Women in Law Summit on a panel discussing the role of mentors, champions and allies in directing the careers of women in the legal industry.  There is nothing scarier than putting your trust and career in the hands of the people who stood before you and hoping that they will usher you to success. Mentorship too is about influence and trust, it’s about being able to be vulnerable even when you feel like you might not fit in or find your place and hoping that someone else will help you define your value and champion your progress. In the legal industry especially, that’s a lot of trust.

Trust and influence in the legal industry goes beyond social media and mentoring to upholding the rule of law. To effectively practice law, you need good sources to help you reference and research the law along with secondary research and citations. You need to trust in your sources and the data you have on hand to build your arguments and draft contracts with conviction so you can influence, build trust and persuade.  With information parity in the internet age, leading to information ubiquity and eventually information overload, how do you know what sources you can trust?  How can you establish the veracity of the information you seek/need?  The last several months with people sheltering in place it has been too easy to stay isolated and to access what you know and love without asking too many questions. But in good intelligence practices (for the legal industry and beyond) it is incumbent upon us to ask lots of questions of the sources we read and of the information we share and use on a daily basis. I know many of my librarian colleagues would agree that especially now, trust in information is mission critical.

So how can we be sure? What can we do to make sure the sources we use are trustworthy? If trust is hard, how you test information credibility can be easy. It’s all about the A, B, C’s – Authority & Accuracy, B – Bias & Beneficiary, C- Currency & Coverage .  It’s really quite simple, but not really. Trust is hard. Accuracy is hard. Coverage and Currency are hard, but Bias is the most difficult part and the part for me that bring its all together.  Trust and being a positive influence are ultimately about the seeing past bias or removing it completely; bias is a strong actor that plays the most important role. Bias, especially our own, is the thing we can’t see or measure that makes us think it is ok to share photos online that should be kept private, bias is the unseen hand that encourages us to support and mentor some while others are left to struggle alone, bias is what makes reporting fairly difficult.   The awareness and ability to check bias is what builds (or breaks) trust.  The rule of law should be free from bias, making it easy to trust. So too should the news that we read and the sources that we cite be free from bias. Finally, the ways in which we encourage others to matriculate through the legal world should too be free from bias as we develop and strengthen the legal industry with positive influence one story, one mentee, one social media or blog post at a time.

Law360 has long been an excellent resource in covering the news when it comes to legal issues. In January, they expanded to also begin looking internally at the legal industry and the business of law. Rachel Travers, Law360 Vice-President, and General Manager joins us to talk about the recent launch of Law360 Pulse. This news coverage of large and mid-sized law firms, in-house corporate counsel happenings, as well as regional coverage of the legal industry is giving many of the established news outlets some new competition. Travers mentions that Law360 Pulse will also release additional industry rankings as well as comprehensive industry surveys. In addition, the integration of Law360 Pulse along with Lexis+ will create unique analytics tools by connecting research and news resources.

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Information Inspirations

We mentioned Coca-Cola’s memo to their outside law firms last week, but Bob Ambrogi sat down with Coke’s GC, Bradley Gayton for a LawNext Podcast interview to dive deep into the reasoning for the memo and how Gayton’s own experiences lead him to press his law firms, and even his own department to push for more diversity.

When it comes to concise writing in the military, BLUF is the word. Bottom Line Up Front. The Harvard Business Review covers some rules that the military uses for email precision that gets right to the point.

The Beverly Hills Police Department is using some unique methods to try to prevent Instagramers from live streaming interactions with police officers. It happens to involve copyright protections.

The National Network for Safe Communities released a study at the recent American Society of Criminology’s annual conference which stated that 50% of community crime may be linked to 1% of the community’s population. That finding made them come out with some suggested changes to how communities are policed.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. 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. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 105 – Rachel Travers on the New Law360 Pulse

No alt text provided for this imageIf you’ve listened to The Geek in Review podcast the past couple of weeks, you heard that Marlene and I are enjoying the discussions we’ve joined on Clubhouse. Well, we are going to each host a room this week, and we’d love to have the readers of 3 Geeks and the listeners of The Geek in Review join us.

So grab your iOS devices and listen and discuss the following topics this week:

For those of you not on Clubhouse yet, here’s a few suggestions we have for getting on the platform, and finding good content.

  • It is iOS only, so if you have an iPhone or iPad, you’re good. If you have an Android, you’re out (for the moment.)
  • While it is an invite-only platform as of now, we suggest that you download the app and sign up. It puts you on a waiting list, but if you have friends that are already on, they will generally invite you in within a few minutes.
  • Follow people you like.
  • Follow people who have similar interests.
  • Join groups that discuss your interests, and then find people within those groups to follow.
  • Meet new people!!
  • Don’t be afraid to start your own discussion room. (That’s what we did!!)
  • Raise your hand to be invited on stage when you want. Don’t be afraid to just sit back and listen as well. If you get invited to speak but don’t want to, just decline. It’s okay.
  • Don’t be afraid to click the “leave quietly” button if the topic isn’t to your tastes.

The biggest thing is to try new things, and see if something interests you.

We hope you try our sessions this week. See you there!!

When it comes to what clients spend on legal services, there are savvy purchasers who look to manage their legal spin based on value and data-driven analytics. And there are those who simply just pay the invoice. Alex Kelly, co-founder, and COO of Brightflag talks with us about how they use AI and data analytics to help savvy corporate counsel and in-house legal teams make better decisions on how they purchase legal services. Brightflag recently announced a $28 million funding round from OnePeak, and Alex, along with co-founder Ian Nolan is looking to expand the team at Brightflag and help their customers with monitoring and controlling their legal spend and identify ways to focus on the value they get from their outside legal counsel, rather than just the hours of work.

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Information Inspirations

Coca-Cola is apparently tired of its outside law firms not improving their diversity numbers. Since the firms won’t do it on their own, Coke is laying down the law to force them to diversify their attorney ranks or lose out on Coke’s business altogether.

While many law firms are announcing record profits, that isn’t stopping some from using the pandemic as a reason to restructure their workforce and begin reducing salaries and cutting jobs. The restructuring wave looks like it will continue through 2021.

While we see some value in the new social media platform, Clubhouse, Brian Inkster from The Time Blawg gives 12 reasons why it really isn’t for lawyers.

Goodwin Proctor LLP is just the latest law firm to find itself exposed to a data hack. This time it was through a vendor, and we may not have heard the last of which other firms might be affected.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. 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. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 104 – Brightflag’s Alex Kelly on Using Data and Analytics to Make Better Legal Spend Decisions

I couldn’t find the original comic that I saw once upon a time, but I went to a meme generator and reproduced it to the best of my memory. If you manage employees, you have probably been in one of these management meetings where the big boss or the HR staff conduct a brainstorming session on how we can help our employees deal with stress. On the surface, these meetings are structured with the idea of our employees are struggling with some external/internal stress (currently, of course, that would be work from home and COVID). In reality, these meetings are called to help our attorneys and employees to reduce stress in order to improve their productivity at work. Happy workers are productive workers.

Your workers see your true motivations behind these programs. You’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise.

There is a need for programs within the workplace to help guide the people who work there to identify the good stress that helps motivate you to focus on the task at hand, and there is the bad stress that distracts you from those tasks. The structure of many of these wellness programs are set up to do just that, but the way the programs are rolled out and marketed misses this point. Stress is a part of the job. Stress is a necessary motivator. The wellness programs aren’t there to eliminate stress, they are there to help workers manage stress. Unfortunately, that message doesn’t always get through.

One example of this mismarketing of wellness programs is meditation.

Meditation is marketed as a way to take time to yourself, to reflect, to calm the body and mind. That is true. But the biggest effect it has on improving work and reducing the bad stress of your work is that it trains you to understand that your mind will wander. In other words, while you are meditating, it is natural for you to start thinking of other things. Do I need to pick up some eggs and bread from the store? Did I pay the kids’ tuition? When did that crack in the wall appear?

These are natural occurrences because the brain, your brain specifically, was trained to always be thinking. In the legal profession, this is exponentially more prevalent because we are all trained issue spotters. Our brains are constantly searching for problems to solve.

What meditation training teaches us that this is fine. It is natural. Don’t try to stop the mind from wandering, but gain an understanding of when it does. And by understanding that your mind is wandering, meditation teaches you how to bring it back to the task at hand.  It helps you push away the bad stress and brings you back to the good stress. And by doing so, the time you spend on the task is reduced. For management, the result is more productivity. For the worker, the result is a reduction in stress levels. So everyone is rewarded.

Wellness programs have an important role to play in the workplace, but the messaging behind the “why” of wellness programs sometimes gets lost. As managers, it is important to understand the real reason we want these programs for our workplace and to communicate the entire reasoning to the workers of what’s in it for the organization, as well as the workers.

 

While lawyers probably hear every day how Artificial Intelligence is going to change the legal industry, many are still uncomfortable discussing it simply because they don’t understand what exactly AI is, and if it is going to be a good thing or a bad thing for them personally. Kira Systems’ Noah Waisberg and Dr. Alexander Hudek are releasing a book on February 3rd that addresses these issues. AI For Lawyers: How Artificial Intelligence is Adding Value, Amplifying Expertise, and Transforming Careers walks through the questions and gives some easy to understand explanations on how AI is being used in the legal industry. Whether it is document automation, e-discovery, legal research, or a myriad of other legal issues, AI is becoming normalized across practically every task a lawyer or legal professional does. As with most advanced technologies, AI may sound scary, but eventually, it becomes ubiquitous.

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Information Inspirations

The Strategic Knowledge and Innovation Legal Leaders Summit (SKILLS) went online this year using Shindig, and it was a great experience. The audience and presenters found ways to interact, and while LegalWeek may not have happened this year, it was nice to still be able to seek out our conference friends online. Speaking of friends, our fellow 3 Geeks contributor Ryan McClead from Sente Advisors, along with Nicole Bradick of Theory and Principle won the video presentation at SKILLS for their new Map Engine software.

Early podcast guest, Jae Um has a five-part series on what to expect in a post-pandemic era for the legal market. It is a must-read.

We thought that last year’s bar exam was a bit of a mess. Turns out it was more like a mean game of musical chairs. There were definitely winners and losers.

The University of Texas Center for Women in the Law is putting on a free CLE featuring Nina Totenberg and four former clerks of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to celebrate the beginning of their Ginsburg Initiative.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. 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. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

Transcript

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 103 – AI for Lawyers with Noah Waisberg and Dr. Alexander Hudek

Nicole Morris is the Director of the TI:GER Program and Professor in Practice for Emory Law School in Atlanta, Georgia. She joins the podcast to discuss the upcoming TI:GER Innovation Conference on January 28, 2021. This free (yes FREE!) online conference on “Advancing Equity in Innovation” is focused on addressing the needs of women and people of color in technology. Not just legal technology, but the overall scope of issues affecting them from STEM education, to Patents, and to the lack of Venture Capital funding. The top tier presenters of the conference include BigLaw attorneys, Managing Partners, Tech Entrepreneurs, Patent Officials, and Startup Advisors. The TI:GER Innovation Conference is a must-attend for women and people of color in the tech field, and for those looking for ways to be better allies to the underrepresented community in technology. Registration for this FREE online conference is available here.

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Information Inspirations

There are conspiracies that may be true, and there are conspiracy theories that are usually not true. The Culture Analytics Group a the University of California, Berkeley developed an AI tool to distinguish between the two.

ILTA launched a five-part podcast series featuring ILTA’s Influential Women in Legal Tech Honorees to discuss their experience and insights on how they’ve addressed legal innovation. Part one and part two are out now.

Many believe that misinformation is something that the “other side” is tricked into believing. Unfortunately, a lot of the misinformation is willfully consumed, not just by the other side, but by many of us. The consumption is so widespread that the Washington Post stopped publishing its Internet fact-checking column because people simply didn’t care. Sean Blanda expands on this human behavior of willfully accepting false information in his Medium post, “The ‘Other Side’ Is Not Dumb.”

The audio-only social media tool Clubhouse is becoming popular in the business community. While it is still an invite-only, Apple iOS-only tool, Clubhouse is gaining traction in the community. We will check it out, and see if the reporting is true in that it might be a great platform to do a live-podcast. If we do it… we’ll let you all know.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. 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. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 102 – Nicole Morris on Emory Law Schools TI:GER Innovation Conference

We conclude our discussion with Jennifer Bluestein, author of the book Stepping It Up: A Guide for Mid-Level Law Firm Associates, and talk about how associates mature into their roles as lawyers with law firms. As these second to sixth-year associates begin to take on more substantial legal roles, as well as leadership, mentorship, and allyship among their fellow lawyers, the stress of the job can become overwhelming. Bluestein talks through a number of examples of how mid-level associates can handle the increased workload, improve communications with partners at the firm, and realistically plan for their future. During the COVID era, associates my struggle with their work, feel depressed, or have other troubles adjusting to a disrupted work environment. Bluestein says that law firms need to address these issues by observing behavior and constant communication with associates who need help. Our clients are still in need of their lawyer’s counsel, and now more than ever, associates are really a necessary part of the law firm’s business.

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Information Inspirations

The Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Institute published the 2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market. Beyond stating the obvious, that 2020 was an extraordinary year, the report suggests that the pandemic may be the tipping point for law firms and how they practice law going forward.

Summize is a new contract lifecycle product that claims to be a lightweight solution for contract review. There a number of interesting things it does, including how it summarizes the contract for easy review and exportable to MS Word and Excel.

Greg was on the other side of the interview this week when he sat down with Chad Main, host of the Technically Legal podcast. If you want to learn more about Greg on a professional and personal level, go check out the episode: Greg Lambert on the Importance of the 21st Century Law Librarian.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. 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. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 101 – How Mid-Level Associates Can Thrive at Law Firms – with Jennifer Bluestein

Welcome to the 100th episode of The Geek in Review. We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to the podcast as much as we’ve had in making it.

We talk with Jennifer Bluestein, Chief Talent and HR Officer for Perkins Coie in part one of a two-part interview. Jennifer’s new book, Stepping It Up: A Guide for Mid-Level Law Firm Associates helps associates, partners, HR, and professional development personnel better understand the needs of those second to sixth-year associates as they move from learning how to practice law to learning how to practice law, while managing up and down the associate ladder. In part one, we discuss the basic challenges of a mid-level when it comes to communication skills, and knowing when to delegate, and when not to delegate. We also cover the issues with understanding partner evaluations of associates and what the difference is between a coaching moment, and what is a performance issue.

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Information Inspirations

The American Bar Association reports that being a judge can be stressful.

If you’re looking for a great curated newsletter on all the mergers and other happenings in the legal tech industry, Nate’s News, curated by Nate Schorr, may be just what you are looking for.

AI bias is something we’ve all heard about. Recently the bias appeared in how the COVID vaccine is being distributed. At least that was how it was reported. Karen Hao from MIT Tech Review thinks it may be more of a people problem than an Algorithm/AI issue.

And speaking of AI, Sheppard Mullins is the first law firm to sign the EqualAI pledge, with the hope of reducing AI bias in the practice of law.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. 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. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

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Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 100 – Jennifer Bluestein on Stepping It Up: A Guide for Mid-Level Law Firm Associates