The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org and we take a deep dive into the issues in this matter. Kyle Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard University, and Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase have strong opinions in this matter, and were both involved in submitting Amicus Briefs on behalf of Public.Resources.Org. Join us for this engaging and informative conversation as we look at what the arguments are from both sides, and how Justices’ questions may shape the outcome of this case.
For more information on this case, check out the oral argument transcript [PDF], or listen here, and a primer with supportive materials from Ed Waters’ on Medium.
We also catch up with Emily Feltren from the American Association of Law Libraries to hear what else has been going on in Washington, DC in regards to legal information (we skip the impeachment stuff.) Believe it or not, there are things actually getting done in DC despite all the obvious gridlock.

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Information Inspirations

Our very own Toby Brown is the inaugural guest on the new podcast, Pricing Matters. Toby is well known for his contribution to the establishing of pricing professionals within large law firms, and he gives us a peak behind the curtain of what he has accomplished over the past decade and a half. He even gives us a parallel story of how pricing issues resemble actions taken by HGTV’s Chip and Joanna Gaines. Check it out!
KM Is Dead… Long Live KM. It turns out that if you want to be innovative in law firms, look no further than what your Knowledge Management team has been working on for some time now. There’s been a big boost lately in how KM is helping innovative law firms move forward with a 360 degree view of their knowledge, and better understanding their clients.
Sometimes we inspire ourselves. Greg recently read about an Australian law firm going through an identity crisis on whether it should see itself as a law firm, or as a professional services consultant on legal issues. The story line fits almost any company, industry, or organization where there is a paradigm shift in what they do. Check out his LinkedIn article where he reworks the story to fit nearly anyone facing change.
Is Data Science dying? Marlene says no. However, firms trying to implement data science techniques are finding that dirty data and antiquated ideas are limiting its results and driving data scientists away from working for them.

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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. You can email us at As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 61 – Deep Dive on State Copyright Issues with Kyle Courtney and Ed Walters

I recently attended a conference that included both law firms and clients. One of the clients had a slide showing his company’s savings by bringing work in-house. It was the classic approach of comparing billing rates for law firm lawyers to hourly compensation rates of equivalent level in-house lawyers. Even though this lawyer was not a client of my firm, I still held my tongue on critiquing his math, since that would have been bad-form.

So I am doing it here.

That math is a poor representation of the situation. It is not very thoughtful and a bit lazy. But hey – I’m sure it looks good for the CFO. Here’s what it initially leaves out:

  1. Benefits (medical, dental, vision, life insurance, etc.), which add about 40% to the hourly comp number.
  2. Basic Overhead (offices, phones, computers, etc), which probably doubles the comp number
  3. CLE requirements costs
  4. And probably a few other costs I am forgetting

This approach also ignores a number of other costs that should be there, but aren’t. At a law firm, lawyers have a significant amount of support (f.k.a. overhead) that allows for more efficient and effective work by the lawyers. But in-house teams can’t or don’t provide this. This includes:

  1. Library and research services
  2. Knowledge Management
  3. Professional Development
  4. Legal Project Management
  5. Pricing
  6. Legal specific technologies
  7. Support from Finance
  8. Presentation support (e.g. trial support)
  9. E-Discovery support
  10. And on and on …

Think about all of the operational support a firm provides its lawyers that an in-house team can’t and you will realize that lawyers without this support will be far less efficient and effective. And think about all of the newer investments in innovation that firms are now making and will be making in the near-term. This all means the cheaper hourly rate comes at quite a cost.

Finally – a very important resource these in-house lawyers loose is the support, oversight and mentoring of seasoned partners. Clients prefer to hire associates away from firms at the 5-7 year mark precisely because they have been learning from these same partners. So they indirectly acknowledge this is very high-value stuff.

Basically clients hiring trained lawyers from large firms are buying a very nice car with a full tank of gas, but not giving much thought to who will be taking care of this car (that has no warranty) going forward. And then they brag about how owning is much cheaper than renting.

Admittedly, law firms also have a profit margin. But they receive this when they earn it.

My prediction is that we are reaching the peak of the trend of client bringing work in-house. This has historically been a cynical trend and with the predicted recession approaching, having large head-counts will lead to other problems for in-house departments.

On top of all of this is one of my other rants. This same client went on about how rates for senior associates were way too high, given their skill level. Having recently rebuilt a house, I find this a bad place to give your attention. Instead of focusing on the cost of inputs, you are far better off talking about scope, outcome and total cost. A focus on input costs may well drive you to compare hourly costs such as this client did, leading them to think they are getting more for their dollar when they may not be. Clients who want to truly get more for their money will be far better off partnering with the law firms to develop innovative ways to accomplish this.

Rant complete.

We all love our pets and think of them as part of our families. Even though we might love them as much (or more) than we love people, the legal system does not allow them the same protection. That doesn’t mean that there are no rights for animals, in fact, there are many specific laws designated to protect them. In this episode of The Geek in Review, we bring on four experts in researching Animal Laws, not just in the US, but worldwide. We talk with the following members of the American Association of Law Libraries’ Animal Law Caucus:
  • Alex Zhang – Law Library Director and Professor of Practice at Washington and Lee University School of Law
  • Stacey Gordon Sterling -Law Library Director and Professor of law – Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana
  • Katie Ott – Reference Librarian – Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford University
  • Sarah Slinger – Reference Librarian and Lecturer at Law – University of Miami Law Library
Whether it is legal issues ranging from which parent gets the pet in a divorce, or how an orangutan is granted “personhood” in Argentina, to animal testing on cute beagles (yes… that’s still going on in the US), our experts from the Animal Law Caucus cover these issues and more.

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Information Inspirations
There is a lot of tech opportunities in America, but one of the unrealized places are on Native American Reservations. The Make Me Smart podcast talks with a Native Financial Officer about the upcoming Wiring the Rez conference.
One Texas Federal Judge asks if you submit a brief more than 10 pages long, that you make a recording so he can listen to it, rather than read it. Sounds like an opportunity for some talented legal podcasters with better voices than Greg.
Despite some of the best efforts to make things better, even allies can come up short when it comes to racial bias in the workplace. One leader in the Social Justice non-profit area shares her story, and it mirrors some of the same situations we see in the legal industry.
To understand Algorithmic Bias, you must first understand the different types of discrimination, and how they apply to the bias. It’s very complicated, but here’s a primer to get your started.

Continue Reading The Geek In Review Ep. 60 – The AALL Animal Law Caucus: Acknowledging and Researching Animal Rights in a People-Centric World

We have discussed the concept of the T-Shaped Lawyer on previous episodes, but we jump into a new concept this week called the Delta Model. Alyson Carrel from Northwestern Law School joins returning guest Cat Moon from Vanderbilt Law School’s Program on Law and Innovation to discuss this intriguing idea of helping lawyers understand the pyramid of skills surrounding understanding the law, business & operations, and personal effectiveness.

We suggest taking a look at this primer from Carrel, Moon, and other members of the Delta Model working group (Natalie Runyon,  Shellie Reid, and Gabe Teninbaum) from Bill Henderson’s blog, Legal Evolution. This model of three principles, along with the ability to shift the center of importance for each skill set, helps explain, and guide the overall needs of the legal industry. Carrel and Moon give us an insider’s view of the model and explain why this concept will help with the holistic training of law students as well as practicing attorneys.

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Information Inspirations

In the article, Innovation, Disruption, and Impact: Should We All Jump Aboard the Legal Tech Hype Train? by Peter Melicharek and Franziska Lehner, the authors talk about the need to unwind the PR from the actual technology in the legal industry. The primary benefit of technology is to assist in achieving results by eliminating mundane tasks, and assisting in getting to better legal results, faster, and cheaper. Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 59 – Alyson Carrel and Cat Moon on The Delta Model

Ian Nelson is no stranger to introducing the legal industry to as-needed training on legal topics. He was one of the first US employees of Practical Law Company (PLC). After PLC was acquired by Thomson Reuters, Ian stayed on for a while as PLC transitioned into the Thomson Reuters portfolio of legal resources, but his days of finding better ways of presenting and teaching legal concepts were not behind him. Recently, he and his co-founder Chris Wedgeworth (anther PLC alum) created Hotshot. Hotshot is an online Professional Development resource which uses short videos, quizzes, and more to train lawyers, and even law students, across a growing list of legal, business, and technology skills. Essentially, they’ve brought digital learning to the legal industry.
Ian joins us to talk about Hotshot’s short video training concepts work with adult learners ranging from attorneys, to law firm staffers, and even helping law students quickly understand complex legal topics.
Congratulations to the newly elected board members for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL)! In other AALL news, time is running out for members to sign up for the Leadership Academy to be held in Chicago next March. Registration ends on November 11th.

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Information Inspirations

We have some new, and new to you podcasts to suggest this week.
First up is the new Law360 Explores: Legalization which investigates all of the legal hurdles of marijuana between the states which legalized it, and the federal government which still sees it as illegal drug dealing.
Hustle and Flow Chart is one of Marlene’s favorite digital marketing podcasts which has tips and tricks for your daily work routine.
Junior Economist is a brand new podcast that gives the Millennial perspective on pop culture and current affairs, but through an economic lens.
Beyond the podcast inspirations… if you’re looking for a speaker on generational diversity within law firms (there’s a 60+ year span between your youngest associates and your oldest senior partners), Greg suggests looking at Chris De Santis. The methods of achieving work goals differ between Boomers, Xers, and Millennials. The more we understand how each generation works, the better we work together.
And finally, Greg is still slightly depressed about the Houston Astros losing in the World Series to the Washington Nationals, but Marlene finds the silver lining by geeking out over sports and graphical data representation. Whether it is the amazing SkyCam view of Cordarrelle Patterson’s kickoff return, or strike zone view in baseball, there’s a lot of opportunity to add graphics and data to sports, especially baseball.

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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. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca, thanks Jerry!

If you are a current American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) member, and are in a leadership role, or looking to be in a leadership role, then this program is for you. Expand your leadership skills while networking with your peers. The AALL Leadership Academy is designed to prepare you with core leadership skills and tools to help you excel at your organization.

Leadership Academy – Apply Today

March 27-28, 2020
Hyatt Lodge

Oak Brook, IL

  • Registration Fee: $699
  • Open to current AALL members only
  • Deadline: November 11, 2019

 Become an effective leader by attending the 2020 AALL Leadership Academy. Discover how to expand your personal leadership style while networking with your peers. The AALL Leadership Academy is an intensive learning experience designed to prepare you with core leadership skills, strategies to handle leadership challenges and tools to grow your career as an effective leader. The next leadership academy will be held in 2022. Don’t miss out! The deadline to apply is November 11.

Anne Tucker

Wouldn’t it be cool if a law school and a business school could collaborate on issues of legal analytics, entrepreneurial opportunities in the law, and collaboration between the university and the local business and law firm industries? We talk with a couple of professors at Georgia Statue University (GSU) who are turning this ‘cool idea’ and making it a reality. Anne Tucker, Professor of Law, Legal Analytics & Innovation Initiative, and Ben Chapman, Executive Director, Legal Analytics and Innovation Initiative join us to discuss the details behind The Institute for Insight at GSU. The Institute brings together professors from different backgrounds of Engineering, Computer Science, and Statistics and with this type of cross-pollination with business and law, the professors are looking at applied analytics 

questions and bringing in their own unique skill sets to understand and solve these issues. 
Ben Chapman

This mashup of law, business, data science, risk management, statistics and more isn’t a purely academic endeavor for the Institute. Following in the tradition of GSU being an urban school, the Institute works with well known players in the Atlanta business and legal community to put the ideas into real-world situations. This gives the Institute’s professors and students the opportunity to work side-by-side with the business and legal leaders to help identify, study, analyze, and potentially solve issues facing the business and legal industry. This is one of the many values which Tucker and Chapman see for not just preparing students for the practice of law, but also for the business of law.

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Information Inspirations
While Greg was busy playing guitar in his law firm’s band, Marlene was speaking at the DLaw Summit in NYC last week.
Competitive Intelligence guru, Kevin Miles from Norton Rose Fulbright gives us some nice checklists on different CI topics along with some templates designed in MS Word to help start you on the CI path at your law firm.

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 57 – Anne Tucker and Ben Chapman on Georgia State University’s Law & Business School’s Collaborate on The Institute for Insight

This week, we bring on Kevin Clem, Chief Commercial Officer for HBR Consulting. Kevin discusses the HBR Law Department Survey which has become a staple in the industry over the past 16 years. There is still a bit of a Family Feud between the in-house and the outside counsel ranks, but the survey is showing that there are lots of opportunities for the two sides to communicate and collaborate, rather than keep the status quo in the relationship. GC’s are wanting their outside firms to help them beyond their legal issues, and really get to understand their business needs and pressures. Whether it is laying out strategy and pricing, or assisting the law department with their understanding of legal tools or knowledge collection, there are needs which law firms need to help with, or someone else may fill that void.
Clem has used the platform of the TV game show, The Family Feud to show his audiences of corporate counsels how they see their relationships. And the survey says… it’s not great. Some 87% of GC’s he had surveyed found the relationship to be either okay, or needing help. It’s a great conversation, and we cover a number of topics, and the one thing that we all agreed with, is that Richard Dawson was our favorite host.

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Information Inspirations:
Pepperdine’s online course makes a PR push for “nons.” Greg thinks maybe they should find another term. After all, hospital administration professionals are not referred to as non-doctors. Marlene suggests that TGIR listeners call in with suggested terms you’d like to see.
There’s some inspirational tweets out there ranging from why it’s okay to talk about your projects at conferences, to how great a brother (and customer service provider) Levi is.

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 56 – And the Survey Says… Kevin Clem on the HBR Law Department Survey

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.