Hello! And welcome to the inaugural post of our brand new “Dan and Jane” series here on 3 Geeks.

At a conference recently, a fan mentioned that she missed our old Elephant posts.  We loved getting outside opinions and ideas, but frankly it was a lot of administrative work and we’re not really administrative people.  Well… actually, we are administrative people, but only in our day jobs.  We don’t want to do it in our free time too.  We’d rather spend our time writing our opinions than cobbling together a whole bunch of different opinions.  So, we’ve decided to split the difference with our Dan and Jane posts.

These will be the written equivalent of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the style of Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtain’s Saturday Night Live Point/Counter-point sketches.  (Oh, c’mon children. Google it.) We will hit beneath the belt and above the intellect. We will have Dan and Jane tackle big controversial topics that you or we, probably wouldn’t write about under our own names.  We have a couple of examples lined up in the next few days, but ultimately, we want you to submit topics and arguments for Dan and Jane to discuss.  Don’t worry about being funny or insulting, we will take care of that.  Send us your tired and poor arguments, your huddled whiny complaints yearning to be published.  We’ll sufficiently tart them up and put them in Dan and Jane’s voice.  And if you want it, we’ll even give you full credit.

UPDATE: You can submit topic ideas for Dan and Jane to DandJ3Geeks@gmail.com.

For those of you not wanting to fully enter the Dan and Jane fray – feel free to voice your opinion on whether Dan or Jane wins the day, or if you think they are both completely off point. Leave a comment, or just vote in the box to the right.

Episode One finds Dan and Jane arguing about whether change is possible in BigLaw…


Image [CC] – Kili

DAN: Listening to everyone harp about how stupid BigLaw is, or even how stupid lawyers are in general, has got me thinking lately. First – I grow tired of hearing about it. Second – we (as an industry) are not that stupid. The industry may be risk-adverse, or even at times fully risk avoiding. However, stupid is not usually on the list. Things HAVE Changed and I have proof.

JANE: Well, Dan, it’s about time that you’ve finally started thinking, but I’m wondering what kind of mushrooms you had on that hemp burger at lunch? Nothing has changed and to my eyes, yes, we ARE that stupid. Richard Susskind has been telling us for fifteen years that the legal world was changing and warning that we had to adapt, but still many firms are following the path so deftly blazed by Dewey and Howrey.  Whatever “change” you’re about to pull out of your butt wouldn’t buy you a cup of coffee.
DAN: Too bad we’re not checking yours for change, Jane, I could probably buy a Buick.  Lawyers are adapting.  Admittedly, not in big ways yet. However, they are absolutely changing the way they deliver their services. Some of these changes are due to direct client demands (ala no first year associates). Others are being embraced much more directly, in response to market demands. It’s good ole market forces in action.
JANE: Lawyers couldn’t find a market if they wanted to buy tomatoes. The only forces “in action” are the “Oh $#&!, they’re going to dump me if I don’t cut my rates” forces.
DAN:  As usual, you’re as wrong as you are ugly, Jane.  More and more lawyers are creating budgets for matters. Some (or likely many) of these are simple, high level budgets, but they are budgets nonetheless. Five years ago – not so much. And these budgets are starting to matter more and more, even when they are only internal targets.
JANE: Budgets?! Budgets!!  That’s your freaking change? Lawyers finally start doing something every seventh grader learned to do in Home Economics and you’re ready to throw a doo-dah parade.
DAN:  I AM about to start throwing something… Also, staffing of matters is MUCH tighter. In part based on client demands, but also driven by budgets, lawyers are limiting the number of people billing on each matter. 
JANE: No longer billing for the janitor’s time, huh?

DAN: This approach drives cost savings and drives some minimal project management. With a limited number of team members, it means resources have to be allocated more thoughtfully.

JANE: No more “matter parties”, where every associate in the office gets drunk and naked and bills a couple of hours to the client they pull out of a hat.

DAN: Look, you smarmy little cynic, perhaps it’s not full-on project management, but it is a greater focus on managing to budgets. And that IS a definite change from the way they used to do things.

JANE: You…

DAN: Will you shut the heck up and let me finish!  Lastly, there is much more interest in new technologies. Prior to 2007 any technology that cut the number of hours on a matter was not very popular. Now, there is a clamor for these types of tools. Admittedly there is limited adoption, but the mere fact that opinion has swung around so hard is a sign of change.

JANE: I’ll tell you what’s swinging around hard… The idea that this interest in new technologies is in any way related to a real change in the mindset of lawyers. The only thing driving new legal technology is the iPad. You just try selling a new time-saving project management tool that doesn’t have an iPad app.

DAN: Jane, you ignorant sludge monger. That is simply not true.  There is real change going on and I am seeing it at all levels of the market. Just last week I heard about a small firm (20 or so lawyers) utilizing AFAs and efficiency approaches. Granted, much of this change is a refinement of the old way of doing things.

JANE: Much of this change is masking the old way of doing things.

DAN: I still think the legal market needs to embrace deeper, more structural changes. However, to say lawyers are stupid and not changing is missing the real picture.

JANE: Dan, PEOPLE are stupid and you’ve just proven it. To the extent that lawyers are people…well.

DAN: Change is occurring!

JANE:  Whatever.

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Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal and CEO at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy helping law firms with innovation strategy, project planning and implementation, prototyping, and technology evaluation.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than…

Ryan is Principal and CEO at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy helping law firms with innovation strategy, project planning and implementation, prototyping, and technology evaluation.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 2 decades. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, Ryan was a Legal Tech Strategist, a BigLaw Innovation Architect, a Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Help Desk answerer, a Presentation Technologist, a High Fashion Merchandiser, and a Theater Composer.