[Ed. Note: Please welcome guest blogger, Sam Harden, from the Florida Justice Technology Center. – 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.

Listen, Subscribe, Comment 
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!
When mega-legal publisher, Thomson Reuters, acquired regional legal publisher, O’Connor’s in January 2018, there were many Texas lawyers and law librarians who worried about what would happen to this very popular publisher. Greg sits down with former O’Connor’s Vice President, Jason Wilson, and talks about the history of O’Connor’s, why they focused on information design, and the plain English style of writing of their books. Wilson says the secret to good publishing, is spending a good amount of time preparing the material, and a systematic approach to organizing the material in a way that makes sense to the attorneys. While O’Connor’s has be gobbled up by Thomson Reuters, Wilson thinks that there is still a lot of room for small and regional legal publishers. In fact, he says it makes perfect sense for large publishers to license some of their more regional or niche materials to smaller vendors so that they can give it the attention to detail those topics need.

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Information Inspirations
In a world where you can’t swing a swag back at a legal conference without hitting a vendor claiming to have AI which will transform the industry, is ROSS Intelligence pushing it a little too far when they claim that they’ve pulled legal research out of the “dark ages” and that they’ve eliminated the need for humans to compile information found in traditional secondary sources (AKA treatises)? Greg suggests that when you read PR like this, have your law librarian test it to see if it really is transformative, or if it is purely PR speak.
Thomson Reuters recently published a white paper called The Next Gen Leadership: Advancing Lawyers of Color (pdf). In a legal industry which is 85% white, and 64% male (compared to US stats of 76.6% and 49.2% respectively), TR sets out to interview 23 attorneys of color across the country to find out what they see white/male attorneys are doing to advance and retain lawyers of color. There are three themes picked up by TR in the interview which cover:

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 48 – Jason Wilson on Small and Regional Legal Publisher Survival in Today’s Market

One of the things we hear a lot in law firms is that each firm has its own culture. Leaders within the firm strive to maintain that culture. Lateral recruiting focuses in on making sure that new hires understand the importance of the firm’s culture and that they fit in with that culture. Growth plans are centered around whether or not the plan will change the culture. We all know the Peter Drucker quote that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” The problem of giving firm culture an almost cult-like status within the organization, is that it can be used as a weapon against the people the firm needs the most. Those are people who are great at what they do, but may have different life experiences from what the firm’s culture expects.

The question to ask ourselves is “are we unfairly judging others based on the concept of how well they perform under our idea of firm culture?” Is that an honest way to evaluate people, or does it create an implicit bias which sets people up to fail simply because their life experiences are different from those who established the culture? This idea of unfairly judging people with different life experiences with the concepts of following firm culture hit me like a ton of bricks when I was listening to an episode of Thi$ is Uncomfortable called “Crying at Work.Continue Reading Are We Using Culture to Help Others? Or Judge Others?

Ian McDougall is the General Counsel for LexisNexis, as well as the President of LexisNexis’ Rule of Law Foundation. According to the Foundation, The Rule of Law is made up of four parts:

1. Equality Under the Law
2. Transparency of Law
3. Independent Judiciary
4. Accessible Legal Remedy

For there to be a true existence of Rule of Law, all four parts must be present in the governments which rule the people. McDougall says that no country has mastered the Rule of Law, and that ideals like democracy and justice can cause significant barriers to the Rule of Law. Without the Rule of Law, there is no true access to justice. Without the Rule of Law, commerce doesn’t flow. McDougall is working with partners, including the United Nations, NGOs and corporate operations to establish stable environments, for people, as well as commerce.

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Information Inspirations:

We live in an age of massive data, analytics, business intelligence tools which allow industry leaders to gain insights on their organizations, industry, and competition. With all these resources, data, analytics, and insights at their fingertips, Deloitte’s recent survey of over 1,000 industry leaders exposes that a majority of these leaders still desire the simplicity of spreadsheets. To borrow from Henry Ford, they desire a faster horse. Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 47: Ian McDougall on LexisNexis’ Rule of Law Foundation

On this episode of The Geek in Review, Anusia Gillespie, the US Head of Innovation at Eversheds Sutherland, sits down with us this week to discuss what she refers to as the “New Big Law” market’s inverted approach to innovation. In a market filled with problem solvers, sometimes the innovation we create solves a problem first, and then sets out to find the problem for this solution. Gillespie finds that innovation is disciplined and structured in its approach, but broad and creative in its thinking. Innovation definitely doesn’t live in any one discipline. Innovative solutions might require technology expertise, but it could just as well only require professional development expertise or strict legal expertise. She’s convinced that we need to move away from this type of anchoring bias to ensure that, in this time of rebuilding law into New Big Law, legal innovators finally design and implement correct and smart solutions. With the various professionals needed to identify problems, and create solutions, you need leadership, structure, a bit of fun mixed in, and a champion-forward approach. We dive into issues ranging from an overview of how Eversheds defines innovation to case studies of Gillespie’s publication on smart solutions for lateral recruitment and lateral onboarding.

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Information Inspirations
There are five very good podcast recordings from Legal Talk Networks “On the Road” series from the American Association of Law LIbraries (AALL) conference in Washington, DC. Interviews include a number of AALL members, such as, DIana Koppang, Jean O’Grady, Steve Lastres, and Catherine Monte, and other innovators like Dean Sonderegger, Gabe Teninbaum, and others. Check it out! Subscribe to it (and to The Geek in Review whle you’re at it!!)

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 46: Anusia Gillespie on the New Big Law’s Innovation Confusion Disorder

The Geek In Review Podcast – Episode 45

After a week of Washington, DC heat and humidity, we are back to discuss all things legal information with a slant toward technology and management. We have a recap of the American Association of Law Libraries annual conference, #AALL19, where Marlene runs through her packed schedule of events which she attended, presented, or wished she’d attended. Greg was just happy to rotate off the AALL Executive Board, which he’s been a part of for most of this decade. Don’t worry…. there’s still plenty of other AALL work for him to do.
On this episode, Marlene and Greg go international for the topics. We talk with Lluis Faus and Masoud Gerami of vLex about the recent merger of Gerami’s longtime foreign legal information platform, Justis. Faus and Gerami tell us the story of how they were able to blend the two platforms together, and the process of how they are able to pull together information from over 30 different countries, all with different levels of transparency and access to their legal information.

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Information Inspirations
France recently outlawed the use of judicial analytics which allows for the searching and identifying the names of the judges. We reached out to Tara Tubman-Bassirian, a French lawyer practicing in the UK, about the reasoning behind France’s criminalization of judicial data. Tubman-Bassirian says that the reasoning rests somewhere between the country’s effort to protect its Civil Law structure and the anonymity of the judges, and a flat out fear of what technology might be bringing in the ways of analytics, AI, and other unknown advancements.

Continue Reading Ep. 45 – vLex’s Lluis Faus and Masoud Gerami on Foreign Legal Research – France’s Judicial Analytics (Over)Reaction – AALL Recap