One of the modern realities of consumerism is the requirement of arbitration clauses. The idea is that consumers and businesses can settle their disagreements without going to court, and instead have an arbitrator negotiate a settlement between the parties. For many of us, it is viewed as a part of doing business, and that the arbitration process is weighted heavily in favor of the corporations. Teel Lidow and his online tool, FairShake, is working to make filing an arbitration much easier for consumers and to actually show that many corporations are quite easy to approach when it comes to handling arbitration disputes. Time Magazine recently awarded FairShake with its award for The Best Inventions of 2020: 100 Innovations Changing How We Live, and we talk with Teel about his reasons behind creating FairShake.

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Information Inspirations

The pandemic crisis is allowing law firm management to reevaluate staffing needs, and once again, positions that are tied to a physical space are on the chopping block. However, positions that are viewed as “Knowledge Workers” are fairing much better as we look to a post-pandemic work environment. The key is those staff who understand the business and can work with clients and attorneys and function under pressure are going to thrive.

Check out the excellent i.WILL workshop on Courage & Emotional Durability tonight (12/3/2020 at 5:30 PM ET). Dr. Carli Kody leads a workshop based on Dr. Brené Brown’s research and Rising Strong™ methodology.

No matter how hard you think the Bar Exam is, Brianna Hill’s taking the bar during a pandemic, while in labor, having the baby and coming back to finish the bar the next day, and then finding out this week that she passed the bar, is much, much harder. While Hill is superhuman, she’s not the only one who had to struggle this year to take bar exams.

Our friends at Legal Innovators are collaborating with Bechtel Corporation (PDF Press Release) to provide junior lawyers to assist with Bechtel’s internal legal departments. This seems like a win-win for both companies.

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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. 96 – Consumer Arbitration Made Easier with FairShake’s Teel Lidow

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics

As with everyone else in the world, the pandemic destroyed my morning routine. My thirty-minute drive to the office is literally just rolling out of bed and putting up a green screen in front of the computer at the foot of my bed. It took me a long time to find another process of finding time for myself, and not just jumping straight into work, or begin doom scrolling social media. And again, like many of you, that meant getting out of the house and going for a walk around my neighborhood. It was in that walk this week that I ran out of my normal podcast episodes and began scanning something that I would hope would be interesting to fill the next hour or so.

One of the podcasts that I listen to during times like this is from one of my fellow Houstonians, Brené Brown, and her Unlocking Us podcast. It was the 19th most popular podcast, so it’s not exactly a hidden gem that I uncovered, and it’s not the first time I’ve listened either. There’s a great episode from a few weeks ago about the TV show Ted Lasso that was great and made me binge all ten episodes with my wife that same day. But this week’s episode was with Dolly Parton, and that’s just a must listen in my book. I was expecting Brené to talk with Dolly about her typical topics of shame, empathy, vulnerability, and courage. But, it was the unexpected business advice that Dolly lays out in the interview that caught my attention. Since this week is Thanksgiving here in the US, I thought I’d take a personal privilege with the blog and share this with you.

Dolly Parton runs a multi-million dollar organization and a brand that is practically priceless. She has a great personality and presents herself as just a nice person. And, to all accounts, she is. But, you don’t get to where she is in life and in business by being soft in business. She mentions that there have been a number of people over the years who have mistaken her kindness for softness, and she’s called them out on that.

Here are a few takeaways from Brené’s interview on management and leadership from Dolly Parton:

As a Leader, What Pisses You Off?
People not being on time. It shows a lack of respect, not just for the leadership, but for everyone else who is affected by it.

Employees are hired to get the job done. If someone can’t do what they said they would do, or get it done when they said it would be done, then there’s a problem. You’re being paid to do a job, and if you don’t take it seriously, or you think you can get a better job, then go somewhere else.

Being a Leader
As a leader, it is important to know when it is your responsibility to be the one who lets someone go (after all, you have managers of departments for a reason.) It is important to be honest and sincere. It is okay to be empathetic toward the person who is being let go. In fact, when you don’t find yourself feeling compassion for a person who is about to lose their job, it may be time to look at yourself and why you’ve lost that empathy.

Have Boundaries
It might hurt to tell people no, but you have to learn to say no. Understand when those around you are infringing upon your boundaries, and make sure that they know what the boundaries are, and make sure they do not cross those.

While I don’t think that Dolly Parton had any earth-shattering advice in her discussion with Brené Brown, sometimes you need to hear someone with her stature and humility talk about what it means to be a leader. It’s gratifying to hear from someone who has great success who also has some of the same issues with leading others as most of us have.

We live in a society that cannot seem to come to an agreement on what is truth and what are lies. People are seeking out stories that back up their beliefs rather than seek out the truths which may undermine those beliefs. We particularly see this on social media, but there are other sites out there which pass themselves off as local news organization which is really just biased sources designed to play upon the needs of people to have their “truths” backed up with like-minded articles. We asked Dave Boitano, a veteran reporter and creator of Science In View, and Loyd Auerbach, an experienced newscaster, author, and Knowledge & Research Consultant for LexisNexis, to come on the show and discuss the current state of news at the local levels in the US.  While the current situation may seem unique to the 21st Century, there are actually parallels to a previous news era over a hundred years ago. Boitano and Auerbach help explain those similarities, and how information professionals, and readers of “news content” can protect themselves from sources which attempt to present information from a biased view.

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Information Inspirations

Just because you may have access to great information doesn’t mean you can do anything you want with it. A current lawsuit brought by the Center for Workplace (CWC) against the Labor & Employment firm of Littler is an alleged example of this. CWC claims that a couple of lawyers illegally took their Intellectual Property and claimed it as their own. Now there’s an ongoing $1.65 million lawsuit to take it back. Librarians and Information Professionals can use this example to remind others of the limitations of how we can license and use information properly.

Apparently, a reporter may give up their writing, but they won’t give up their podcast. A recent episode of Press Box talks about the Substack model where readers pay directly for content, and writers like Matt Yglesias split from writing for Vox and publish on Substack.

There are a couple of other podcast episodes that we touch on in this episode. The bias of local news isn’t just a right-wing or just a left-wing concept. To learn more on this topic check out The NY Times’ The Daily episode on Brian Timpone’s Metric Media Brand (A Partisan Future for Local News?) and Freakonomics Podcast episode on Tara McGowan’s ACRONYM Digital Media (Why the Left Had to Steal the Right’s Dark-Money Playbook.)

On a side-note, Loyd Auerbach’s book, Near Death, was released recently.

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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. 95 – Spotting Bias and Politicization of Local News Sources – Loyd Auerbach and Dave Boitano

We talked about Dr. Jacqueline Walsh’s Initio Tech and Innovation Clinic in a previous Information Inspiration segment. We were so inspired by her work that we asked her to come on the show and tell us more. The Initio clinic is set up just like a law firm. In fact, it is actually recognized by the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society as a law firm. Dr. Walsh uses a combination of law students, articling clerks, and the local community to help create a great experience for her startup clients, and as a result an enjoyable and authentic experience for the students in the clinic. While the clinic isn’t self-sustaining, it does charge startups for legal services. This is another unique aspect of the clinic in that it offers ad hoc services or a subscription-based service to clients. The idea is to train startups to understand that legal costs are part of doing business and that if they are serious about their business, planning, and budgeting for legal expenses is another part of their business.

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Information Inspirations

Bryan Parker and Jon Greenblatt from Legal Innovators have a new podcast called The Law in Black and White where they give their views on certain topics facing the legal industry from their own unique perspectives.

The Innovation Hub podcast discusses how COVID has impacted public schooling, and how innovative and creative parents are finding ways to work around those schools who are not adjusting fast enough to handle the needs of these parents and their children. It’s an interesting look at how adapting to change is happening on all sides, and those who are slow to adjust may have unforeseen competition.

We all know that the incentive for diversity within law firms can run counter to the profitability goals of the firm. Former BigLaw partner, Elizabeth Korchin thinks one way to align these incentives and goals is to blow up the billable hour. She thinks it can be done by 2030. Our fellow 3 Geeks’ blogger, Toby Brown, takes another angle on the incentives/goals approach and suggests that clients need to push firms to achieve more diverse teams, but that clients also need to put their money where their mouths are and make sure that they pay appropriately for these diverse teams.

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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. 94 – Helping Startups Get Their Start – Dr. Jacqueline Walsh

The Answer: Pay for it.

Recently I saw a marketing email from a company that sells its services to in-house legal departments. It was titled something like “Steps to Improve Diversity.” To be honest – I didn’t read it. However, this topic has been top-of-mind for me for some time now so it generated this post.

More and more clients are implementing Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programs in order to get their firms to not only hire diverse lawyers, but also to make sure they are engaged on that client’s work. These programs range from rewards (e.g. bonuses) to very punitive ones (a.k.a. You’re Fired).

Of course this is a highly laudable goal, but it is proving to be quite challenging to implement and report on. There are limited standards in the market for what constitutes “diverse” and each client has some variation on what is included and not. As well, clients are asking for more and more complicated diversity reporting. For example, one client recently asked for a full report not just on the work being performed on its behalf but also on D&I at all levels of its outside firms. The result is that D&I teams at firms are spending a considerable amount of time responding to surveys, versus implementing D&I programs.

[A side, but relevant note to clients: Clients keep adding required work to the list that they want done for free by their firms. They should realize they are driving up costs for their partner firms.]

So you might think the moral of this story is that clients should give bonuses to their firms for meeting and exceeding D&I goals. It’s not. It’s actually something more useful and ultimately better for diverse lawyers. If clients truly value D&I they should pay full rates for the lawyers they qualify as diverse. I can tell you if they do that, not only will law firms respond actively, but they will be promoting and advancing the careers of these diverse lawyers.

Currently a lot of the clients pushing for diversity are also pushing for bigger discounts and lower rates. Given that diverse lawyers are a limited resource, by doing this they are driving an unintended consequence. This consequence means diverse lawyers are realizing lower effective rates for their work. And the result of that is diverse lawyers are actually having their careers negatively impact by these actions due to reduced economic performance.

With a growing number of clients requiring diversity in their work, law firms are running out of diverse lawyer resources to meet those demands. At a point, they will be driven to focus those resources on the clients that truly value them.

So … back to my main point. Clients – if you value diversity, pay for it. You will meet your goals and you will directly be promoting the hiring, retention and advancement of diverse lawyers across the spectrum.

A couple of episodes ago, we had Richard Hsu discuss the need to eventually bring as many of our lawyers back to a physical office in order to have a successful working environment. Stephen Embry of LegalTech Crossroads Blog reached out to us after listening and wanted to argue that while he understood Richard’s argument that in order for there to be a level playing field for all lawyers in the firm, that there were actually ways to create a successful environment where lawyers could continue to work remotely. In fact, that with the right strategy, training, support, and flexibility, that it would actually attract better talent and lead to better satisfaction from not just the firm’s own lawyers, but also from the firm’s clients as well.

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Information Inspirations

Halloween is the weekend, and like any good legal nerd, you’ll want to know where to find some law review articles on the topic. Our friends at the Ohio State University Law Library have curated a list just for you.

While our guest today talks about the value of online depositions, Above the Law recently wrote about one lawyer’s desire to get back to the good old days. Which we will probably never see. But, he can keep wishing.

Dalhousie University Law School in Halifax, Nova Scotia is working to help startups in Eastern Canada work through some of their basic legal needs. This subscription-based service is designed to get the startups some help, but at the same time, not actually compete with law firms. Read more about the initio Technology and Innovation Law Clinic and its Director, Jacqueline Walsh.

Is the US Supreme Court forever going to be surrounded by the political whims of the other two branches of government? Probably. But, under the right circumstances, it may not need to be.

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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. 93 – Stephen Embry – The Future of the Law Office Won’t Need Everyone to be in the Office

For most of us, meetings are unavoidable, uninspiring, and an overall waste of everyone’s time. But, they don’t need to be. Douglas Ferguson, the founder of Voltage Control discusses how we think of meetings as passive ways to convey information when in reality, a meeting should be the place where we take action and get things done. The way Douglas and Voltage Control look at meetings is in much more of a diagnostic method. What works? What doesn’t? Can we borrow from one approach to make another work better? By applying a good design process, the meeting ends up being the place where we actually accomplish projects more than just handing out action items to hopefully complete before the next meeting. In fact, meetings should become mini-retreats and action items replaced by commitments from members of the team who come to a meeting with the understanding of what the mission and goals are, and are already taking ownership of a part of the outcomes.

If you are not satisfied with the way meetings are run at your firm or company, then Ferguson’s discussion is a great place to start. There are a number of templates and guidebooks on the Voltage Control website as well to get you started.

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Information Inspirations

As many in the media and information fields worry about disinformation/misinformation, one acronym to think about when reviewing the credibility of information is “EMAIL”. (Yes, everyone knows it is a terrible abbreviation, so we’ve pitched “MAILE” (pronounced my-Lee) as an alternative.) Think of the Evidence, Motive, Activity, Intent, and Lables surrounding the information you have. Is it questionable, or too good to be true? Both reporters and information professionals rely upon credible information and sources, or we lose our own credibility. For more on this, check out the New York Times The Daily podcast about the issues surrounding the NY Post’s release of what they thought was the October Surprise, but what we ended up talking about was the process of how reporters verify possible hacked and leaked information.

Speaking of elections, it is very easy to get caught up in the emotions this political season. The Five Thirty-Eight Blog helps both calm some of those fears and gives you some tips on how to handle the stress everyone is feeling in 2020.

Large law firms are still finding ways of creating safe and productive work environments for their lesbian, gay, and bisexual attorneys and staff. While many have updated policies and procedures to protect sexual orientation, they are still way behind when it comes to gender identity for Trans and Queer attorneys and staff. If you’re behind on those policies, now is the time to start updating them as there will certainly be more professionals who identify as gender nonconforming entering the legal industry. Whether it is trans partners making equity status in firms like Goodwin Proctor, or a partner from Patton Squire Boggs identifying as nonbinary, there will be more people coming out in the years to come. Time to prepare.

One problem with propaganda is that once you release it into the world, it can take on a life of its own. While many may think that “Fake News” is a modern phenomenon, the Woodrow Wilson administration actually used these tactics in 1912 with the Committee on Public Information. Seems that history does have a way of repeating itself. Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 92 – Douglas Ferguson on Doing the Work in the Meeting

We all know that the hybrid workplace is coming to our law firms. That is, where some lawyers are working every day from their office spaces, while others continue to work remotely. Many believe that this will be the permanent workplace of the future, and there is a Pollyannish attitude from some in the industry who think that the past seven months prove that we can do as much remotely, as we can from the office. Richard Hsu of the recruiting firm Lindsey, Major, and Africa is not one of them.

While Hsu understands that there is a paradigm shift in how legal services are provided to clients and that having a swanky office in a high-rent downtown district is not required for top-notch services, young attorneys need structure in their training and experiences. That upbringing of the next generation of talent cannot take place effectively in a remote environment. The current situation, where nearly all of the attorneys are working remotely is giving us a false sense of security that we can continue this success in a hybrid model. Hsu thinks that it will actually be the hybrid model that will accelerate the desire to get all of the lawyers, by and large, back to the office full time.

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Information Inspirations

Jerry David DeCicca, who provides the fantastic music you hear on this podcast, has a new album coming out on October 16th. Go check out The Accidental Optimist and His Domestic Adventures on Spotify or Bandcamp.

The legal tech industry is not lacking for tools, but it has lacked for a good method of finding the right tool for the right task. Nikki Shaver and Chris Ford talked with Bob Ambrogi about how they created a resource to help solve that problem. The LegalTech Hub is a searchable database of legal technology resources which allows customers to search for the tools they need, as well as developers and vendors to put their resource information on the site for free.

Today’s guest isn’t the only one who seems to think that remote work isn’t the best method. A Wall Street Journal article mentions that many business leaders also think that even a hybrid work model isn’t sustainable. Marlene has a few thoughts on why those leaders are being too narrow in their thoughts on the work model which may be around for years.

One other “feature” of the current work model is the need to work while wearing a mask. Harvard Business Review has a number of suggestions on how to make your work environment function clearly, even when your voice is muffled. Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 91 – Richard Hsu on Why Law Firms Will Need Lawyers to Return to the Office

In order to measure what matters, it is important to have the data available to help. Sarah Lin is the Information Architect & Digital Librarian at RStudio, PBC, and is also a law librarian. RStudio wanted someone to help them manage their digital morass and to Marie Kondo their digital information. Is there anyone better than a law librarian with some tech skills to do just that?
Sarah discusses what the R Programming language does, and how she got interested in the profession of statistical computing. While some may not see a direct link between being a law librarian and an R programmer, there are actually a number of skills librarians possess which make them well suited for data analytics. One skill is our ability to understand, clean, and organize information. For RStudios, the Chief Scientist, Hadley Wickam created Tidyverse which helps in handling the clean data tasks. And there are also resources like Shinyapps.io to help organize. Throw in a law librarian to have it all make sense and tell a story and you have a fantastic combination of skills and tools. And we should mention that it is free open-source software.

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To learn more about the R language check out:
 
Information Inspirations
Roy Sexton from Clark Hill lays out what law firm marketing does as opposed to what law firm business development does in the latest episode of Steve Fretzin’s Be That Lawyer. Roy’s advice of the “Rule of Three” when it comes to promoting yourself and your marketing products makes this a must-listen episode.
Adam Smith, Esq. covers the new initiative by our friend Phil Flora and Leopard Solutions on ranking law firms by their vitality and resilience, not just once a year, but in real-time.
Feeling the effects of COVID, the election, the environment, or the hundred other stressors in your life? Maybe take Prof. Eric Janssen’s advice and put down your phone and go for a walk.
Did you know there was a Pirate who was a 17th Century Anthony Bourdain? Marlene teaches Greg about this culinary outlaw and also teaches him about breadfruit.

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 90 – Using Data Analytics to Tell Your Story with RStudio’s Sarah Lin

A few years ago, Robert Taylor and Jeff Marple of Liberty Mutual Insurance, along with Suffolk Law School’s Gabriel Teninbaum sat down at Back Bay Harry’s and hatched a genius plan over some truffle fries and sandwiches. The idea was to leverage Suffolk’s law school technology training for students along with Liberty’s desire for the law schools to help students actually learn how to address the issue of design thinking and how it applied to real-world legal issues they were facing. And while the truffle fries were still hot, the Boston Legal Design Challenge was born. On November 13th, 2020, the 4th Annual Challenge takes place, this time in a virtual setting.
Fifty participants, making up 10 teams of five students from around the country will learn more about Design Thinking, identify an issue within the legal industry which needs addressing, and at the end of the day, pitch that idea to a blue-ribbon panel made up of Cat Moon, Bob Ambrogi, and Jason Barnwell. The winning team walks away with a few thousand dollars, and all of the participants end up with significant new skills to differentiate themselves from their fellow students. The competition is not just limited to law students, or to those people within Boston. Bob, Jeff, and Gabe are looking for diverse teams made up of different schools, disciplines, and geographical regions.
Enrollment is open now, so go to LMI.co/BLDC to sign up.

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Information Inspirations
Sometimes efficiency comes from small improvements in processes. One basic efficiency for word processing is to keep your hands on the keyboard, and away from the mouse. Deborah Savadra at Legal Office Guru has a short 7 1/2 minute video showing how you can use shortcuts and macros to reduce the use of your mouse, and just be a better user of MS Word.
We’re all concerned about data privacy whether it is the type of browser, search engine, or messaging app we use. 

Continue Reading The Geek in Review Ep. 89 – The Boston Legal Design Challenge with Jeff Marple, Robert Taylor, and Gabriel Teninbaum