Marlene Gebauer has been after the writers on 3 Geeks to produce a Podcast. After months… (years?) of talking about it, we finally decided to do it. So, let me be the first to invite you to listen to the new “The Geek In Review” podcast:
The inaugural episode covers Marlene’s attending a law firm management conference and my take on some of the strategies legal information providers are implementing on exiting the book business, and creating a de facto operating system for legal information.
Zena Applebaum and I conducted a phone interview where she talks about her recent post, My Non Life.
We’ll try to do these on a regular basis. If you have any suggestions… just let us know. We are really excited about launching this extension of 3 Geeks!
We’ll also get the podcast on other platforms, so stay tuned.
Special thanks to Kevin MacLeod for his original music made available via Creative Commons.
Marlene Gebauer 0:04
Welcome, everybody to the inaugural episode of The Geek in Review, the podcast designed to cover the legal information profession with a slant toward technology and management. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 0:14
And I’m Greg Lambert. Many of you will know us from the long running blog three weeks in a law blog and our involvement in the legal information and Law Librarian profession. The Geek in Review is a brainchild of Marlene, and has been something that’s been in the works for a number of months now.
Marlene Gebauer 0:28
So the idea behind The Geek in Review podcast is for Greg and I to bounce some ideas off of each other. Take a look at current happenings in the legal information field and engage with others in the legal industry.
Marlene Gebauer 0:39
And just as with three geeks, it’s really going to be about things that we find interesting, and we hope you’ll come along for
Marlene Gebauer 0:44
the ride. So enough of the introductions, Greg, let’s just jump in and start the show.
Marlene Gebauer 0:48
That sounds good to me. Let’s get this thing started.
Marlene Gebauer 0:58
For those of you who don’t know us very well, I’m coming to you from Houston, Texas.
Marlene Gebauer 1:02
And I’m joining from a small town in New Jersey, New Jersey
Marlene Gebauer 1:05
girl. And on Twitter, you can follow me at G Lambert or Lambert that’s
Marlene Gebauer 1:11
the best twitter handle ever. I mean, yeah, you can’t beat that. clamber. Yeah,
Marlene Gebauer 1:15
I love it. It’s one of the advantages of being an early adopter. And in fact, Marlene, today is my 10th anniversary of actually being on Twitter.
Marlene Gebauer 1:26
Well, that’s very impressive. Greg, do you get a prize? Do you get confetti anything?
Marlene Gebauer 1:32
Yeah, you know what I got? I got nothing. I got a little note in my Twitter account that today was like 10th anniversary and there you go. Well, but the last five years at least have been very enjoyable because I don’t you and I’ve talked about this uh, you know about it, but maybe those listening in is Lambert’s are also the name of people that are fans of the pop star Adam Lambert. So they’re all glamour, it sees fronting queen right now. Oh, man, when they find out that it’s a you know, a 50 year old dude. That’s not nearly as good looking or suave is Adam. They have a fit. And so I’ve been I’ve been having fun with that.
Marlene Gebauer 2:16
Yeah, I bet. I bet.
Marlene Gebauer 2:18
So tell tell the listeners how to get a hold of you. Sure.
Marlene Gebauer 2:21
Mine is not nearly as interesting, but it’s @gebauerm and I’ll spell it that G E B A U E R M. And of course, we both blog at three geeks and a law blog.
Marlene Gebauer 2:32
Yeah, that’s, that’s kind of our bread and butter besides our day jobs. That’s true. All right. So those of you listening in, you know, we’re very new to this whole making a podcast thing. So we’re learning as we’re going and I think you’ll probably see that when you listen to my phone interview with Zena later on.
Marlene Gebauer 2:50
It’s like yeah, please, please, please be kind to us. There’s a few pops and things and maybe some rustling paper. So paper wrestler, Hey, your paper wrestler,
Marlene Gebauer 3:00
I edited out most of the paper rustling too.
Marlene Gebauer 3:03
So if any of you are techies out there and have any thoughts and want to and want to give us some help on that,
Marlene Gebauer 3:10
just reach out to add gave our M
Marlene Gebauer 3:14
because I’m the only one who’s gonna read it. So Greg has has a phone interview with Zena Applebaum and discusses her recent blog post on being a non in the legal industry. For those of us who work in law firms as well as others in the legal industry. This is really somewhat of a sore point for many of us. And Zena will be talking about the benefits of having so called nons involved in your legal teams.
Marlene Gebauer 3:38
Gotta love the nones. Yeah, it’s a great interview. She is such a great person. I’m glad we were able to get her up for Exactly, yep. Marlene, I understand that you have a short ride from small town, New Jersey into the big city of New York this week and attended something cool.
Marlene Gebauer 3:53
I did. I did. I took the very long train ride into New York City and you know, from the country. And I was attending the hbsc and Sandpiper future of law firm management conference. And had they had a great presentation yesterday. You know, one of the takeaways I had was one of the nice things about these events is that you get to have a large group of people the same caliber in the same room talking about you normally don’t get. So we had a lot of CEOs from, you know, some some big law firms, which were and they were talking about client needs and the industry and you know, what some of the challenges are and how they see them coping with them. Part of what was interesting is that you you know, you often think, oh, big law, you know, they’re all kind of handling stuff the same way but
Marlene Gebauer 4:43
obviously asked by somebody doesn’t work.
Marlene Gebauer 4:47
And you know, what you find is that yes, while there yes, there are similarities, which you know, I’ll highlight. There’s definitely differences. There’s definitely different approaches that were discussed. You know, some of the firms were taking very, you know, top and bottom line approach, looking at it that way where you know, where their growth was where their growth wasn’t. And, you know, really just focusing on the growth areas and sort of scaling back in other areas, you know, some of them were looking at more local markets, really building up local markets, in areas where they the local market actually needed something, some were saying, you know, you know, what we do with the clients want, you know, we serve as our very top clients, those are the ones we focus on the most. And so whatever they want, we do that for them, they do pay most of the bills. That’s true. You know, it was an interesting point, and something that kind of kept going around, because folks are saying, well, you know, if you’re working on those top 25, if there’s other ones that you know, that you don’t want, we can, we will be happy to take them. That was another point of discussion, clients are less loyal. That was the that was kind of the impression that there’s a lot of opportunity for clients who are, you know, air quotes, dissatisfied, to be able to move around? That was another key factor in terms of strategy.
Marlene Gebauer 5:57
Well, competition is always good. I think, you know, the old days of the handshake on on the golf course, and you’re forever my client are dead and gone. Nuts, it has still doesn’t happen, because it does, but you know, good. It’s good that clients are more mobile and are willing to pick up and leave if they’re dissatisfied. So great. Well, that sounds like on time, in the big city was rockin
Marlene Gebauer 6:16
So, Greg, you mentioned to me that you had yet another epiphany this week with a trend toward legal information providers. So why don’t you tell us about
Marlene Gebauer 6:26
it? And probably when you hear it, it’s less of an epiphany than it is more of a, oh, why didn’t Why didn’t I realize this before? So I was I was on the phone talking with Lexmark. And as Josh Becker, a great guy, we were talking about analytics. And halfway through the conversation, it just really dawned on me about some of the things that the legal information providers are doing. And I know you’ve got a good interview coming up. And we’re going to talk about this more in depth. But really, there was two things that really just came to light with me. And one is that print is finally being killed off by the vendors. And they are working extremely hard to get out of the book business. So I think you see that a lot with Bloomberg BNA. I think you’re you’re gonna see it more with Thomson Reuters with with LexisNexis. So we’ve we’ve been talking about everything is online, and print is dead for probably 28 years now. But we’re starting to see it right, I’m seeing a big shutdown of print. And so I don’t want to jump into your area of expertise that you’re going to be talking about and watching. In another episode. The second thing that popped into my head was what the vendors are doing now is essentially creating an operating system for all of their products. So you can think of Windows Apple’s Linux with almost in the same way that you think of Thomson Reuters, Alexis Bloomberg, and that they are really making an effort to create a single platform. And all of these products that they are acquiring are moving into this platform and away from secondary sources away from or secondary platforms, or individual platforms into this really centralized system. Now, again, probably shouldn’t be that big of an epiphany, but it’s really come to light on how hard these vendors are working to create a uniform platform to to sell all of
Marlene Gebauer 8:26
their products, a really interesting thought because, again, you know, part of my upcoming interview with Gino Grady, we’re gonna be talking about this, you know, this, this this business model in terms of tying everything together and looking at it as a, you know, an operating system as opposed to a bunch of individual things really kind of unique, and you have to be able to use this one platform in order to use all of the content and new content that’s coming out. Yeah, it’s
Marlene Gebauer 8:51
going to be a definite paradigm shift for us.
Marlene Gebauer 8:55
And you got and you gotta wonder how that’s gonna play into the discussions that we’ve, you know, been having, you know, at least in the library community about soul vendor and moving in that direction.
Marlene Gebauer 9:06
Well, and quite frankly, this is a direct response to the single provider. Oh, I do want to say that. My library school professor was very happy that I was able to work in paradigm shift
Marlene Gebauer 9:20
into the I got I was impressed. I was impressed.
Marlene Gebauer 9:23
I know. I haven’t I haven’t used that in a long time. So Well, speaking of the interview with the Zena, I’d say, let’s let’s roll into I
Marlene Gebauer 9:34
think that’s a great idea. Let’s go
Greg Lambert 9:44
Joining us today is Zena Applebaum, Zena is one of if not the leading competitive intelligence professionals in the legal industry, Zena lives in Toronto, but is joining us today from Chicago, welcome to The Geek in Review. Zena.
Zena Applebaum 9:58
Greg Lambert 9:59
You wrote a heck of a blog post last week and talked about my non life. For those of us that work in law firms, we totally understand what it is to be a non. But really I wanted to give you a chance to define. So what do you define as a non?
Zena Applebaum 10:16
So I mean, it’s really something that was defined for me, I don’t think I thought of myself as a non until I started working in law firms about 16-17 years ago and really nones or anybody who is a non Biller, so a non fee earner, somebody whose time is not built out to the clients, and even some people whose time is built out to the clients, like librarians, for example, their time might get written off or what have you, but you’re sort of a non anybody that is described or doesn’t come with a legal degree. And there’s even this gray area of people who are knowledge managers or legal practice management type people who are non practicing lawyers still get defined by that non verbiage.
Marlene Gebauer 10:55
What do you think that is? Why are we why are we defined as nons?
Zena Applebaum 10:59
I mean, I think historically, they were the people who helped the firm run and maybe but weren’t critical to what law firms were actually trying to do. But I think, certainly since 2008, and even before then, that culture has completely shifted, I think law firms as, as we know, from three geeks in a law blog, but also from the myriad of other law blogs and pundits out there, the legal industry is completely turning on its head right now, the nons are actually playing a much more critical role in the success of law firms.
Marlene Gebauer 11:29
So I hear a lot of times they can compare, say, the medical industry to the legal industry, where they they’re not called non doctors, you know, they’re called administrative staff. They’re called nurses. They have a number of different titles out there. But I’ve seen especially in the legal press, where we get defined as quote unquote, non usually the term is non lawyer whenever they define something that they can’t wrap their heads around it, and can’t can’t and is not a biller. So, but it’s not just about being a non lawyer, is it? I think your article goes a little bit a little bit further in there. What other nons are there out there?
Zena Applebaum 12:05
Yeah. So I mean, I think for me, it’s been really interesting. Being a competitive intelligence professional, which, in and of itself is sort of something that sits at the intersection between strategy, business development and knowledge management, I have been very influenced by the libertarian community or the knowledge, the information management professions, and they’re, I’m a non librarian. So I spend a lot of time saying to people, no, I’m not a lawyer. No, I’m not a librarian. And every single time I say it, I kind of get a funny look like, well, what are you doing here? And, and, and, you know, it’s on the one hand, it’s funny, and I shouldn’t run away a long time ago, but my fit my skin is a little bit thicker than that. And I’ve actually managed to have a pretty good career as a result of having a different perspective, which is really what the article was all about.
Marlene Gebauer 12:49
Yeah. And I think back to the time when I was sitting in on a practice group meeting, and it was part of the strategy to have our research staff in there to find out what was going on within the practice groups, and watching one of the attorneys look around, say, Well, why is the librarian here? We’re here, we’re here to help you make sure that you’re doing a good job. So you stay sometimes, let me let me quote a piece from the article itself. I really liked you state that quote, being a non can sometimes get lonely. And occasionally it can feel like you are the only one who sees what should be so obvious to everyone else around you, unquote. What do you think gives the non the ability to see things that lawyers librarians, technologists can’t see,
Zena Applebaum 13:34
I think that you’re not mired in it the same way. I think sometimes we’re lawyers in particular, and the legal field, but also librarians in their own way. And technologists to get very myopic, they get very focused on what’s in front of them, and they forget that there’s a world beyond what they’re looking at. So, you know, I shake my head at the fact that I sometimes want to hit my head against a wall at the fact that, for example, clients and law firms, despite everything that’s being written, despite everything that’s being said, despite all of the pushes for innovation, and all of the people being named to the College of Law, practice, management, firms are still not turning on their heads, the innovation is still really slow. The change away from hourly billing is really slow on the client side, as much as on the law firm side. It’s a model that doesn’t work. It’s a model that’s failing. And yet, we’re still letting in associates after associates after associate into this failing business model. And nobody’s really standing up and making a change. Now I understand the economics of it. I understand that for partners who are currently in leadership roles, there isn’t really an incentive to make that change. But for clients, there is an incentive and so I can’t help but wonder why nobody is actually trying to make that change on a broader scale. And it’s a very similar thing with librarians. And a similar thing with technologists too. I mean, technologists tend to get wrapped up in how amazing the technology is to change the world, but they forget that they’re talking about people under the human element, and you can’t just implement technology and walk away and assume that adoption and user user habits will change. And so all of these very articulate professions kind of forget that there’s a world beyond what they see in front of them.
Greg Lambert 15:21
We’ll be back in a minute with part two of our interview with Zena Applebaum, RCI guru, talking about my non life, where we’ll talk more about diversity, and not necessarily the kind of diversity that you immediately think of. I’d like to take a few seconds and encourage the Legal Information Professionals listening to this podcast, come and join me in Baltimore from July 14 through the 17th for the American Association of Law Library’s annual conference. As you probably know, by now, at least, I hope you know, because I’m about to leave. I’m the current president of double A double L so do me a personal favor and make an extra effort to get out to Charm City this year. If you don’t want to do it for me, that’s fine. I do because we have an awesome keynote speaker, Mr. John Waters, so I’m certain that John will bring a lot of excitement to the room on a Sunday morning. So visit AE L L net dot o RG slash conference for more details and registration information come to Baltimore where we will definitely strive to meet this year’s theme of going from knowledge to action. And now back to part two of our interview with Zena Applebaum. So sometimes we’re successful, in spite of ourselves, I guess, totally, I really only use like one quote from Richard Susskind. And I use it over and over and over again. And that is sometimes it’s hard to tell millionaires that they’re doing something wrong.
Zena Applebaum 16:43
Totally. I think what’s really telling is that this one, I mean, I write for the blog all the time, and I usually get some great feedback. But this one post has gotten pretty crazy, which says to me that it’s resonating with a lot of people, it says to me that a lot of people feel like they have a different perspective. And then it’s time for those different perspectives to be heard. One of the lines, or one of the the elements that I touched on in the piece is around diversity and inclusion, which has become a very serious topic, and one that should not be ignored in law firms and libraries. And everywhere else, even in technology companies, you know, we’re pulling from a different generation. And we need to acknowledge all of that diversity, and we need to include people. But I think it also goes as far as including a diversity of thought and making sure that when we’re building out teams, and that we, you know, we want to be successful, that includes bringing in people who you maybe don’t think are obvious choice to bring into your organization. And that education and having, you know, the only difference between me and a lawyer, to some extent is that they went to school for four more years. And really, if you consider my master’s degree, they didn’t go to school for four more years, they maybe went to school for two years longer.
Marlene Gebauer 17:51
I think here in the States, they just have to go for three years. So
Zena Applebaum 17:55
yeah, so you know, I think diversity and inclusion should include diversity of thought. And we need to remember that we need to remember when we’re running businesses, and maybe that’s one of the problems with both librarians and lawyers is that they forget they’re actually running businesses and that they’re part of businesses. But a big part of being successful in that realm is making sure that you’re getting different perspectives, making sure that you’re not just following your unconscious bias, that you’re actually looking beyond what you see in front of you
Marlene Gebauer 18:24
like the thought process there that it’s not just diversity, things that you normally think of the rather diversity in thought, diversity and experience, coming in with your own business acumen, being able to apply that into an industry which is, you know, run run by some pretty good lawyers. But being a really good lawyer doesn’t always equate to being a really good business person. So
Zena Applebaum 18:48
no, and, yeah, we need to move at the pace of change and the pace of change since 2007, certainly from a technology standpoint, and that’s impacted everything else. It’s been quite rapid. And so I think law firms are starting to feel that pinch and I think libraries to quite frankly, in terms of some of the transition they’re going through with more digital transformations and more information, being ubiquitous and available to all kinds of people.
Marlene Gebauer 19:12
So what’s going to tip the scales because I can, I can almost assure you that the clients are not going to be the ones arguing for this because that’s what was supposed to happen after 2009 was the clients. It was a client’s market. And they were going to tell us how to run our business. And we’re now 10 years, almost 10 years out and not much has changed. I mean, there’s there’s been some tweaking around the edges don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think that there’s been any significant change in the market itself. So who’s who’s going to tip the scales? Is it going to be up to the nones to come in and kicks out and say I’d say it’s our turn?
Zena Applebaum 19:52
Yeah, so I think it’s gonna be you know, to some extent the nons are going to shed the light although it’s like you like you quoted Siskin it’s hard to tell millionaires, they’re doing something wrong. But I think the millennials and generation Zed are really going to change things because I don’t think they’re going to work the same way. They’re already not working the same way. The Boomers in the generation before them work. They don’t have the same partnership aspirations. They don’t have the same sense of the business model. And I think that’s really when we start to see them in GC roles and we start to see them in heading towards the holy grail of partnership. I think we’re going to see a diverse or a diversion rather of tactics. I don’t think that that resonates with them. I don’t think that lifestyle resonates with them. And I think that’s where the diversity of thought even amongst lawyers and amongst librarians is really going to change the face of lawyering.
Marlene Gebauer 20:42
I totally agree with you. I like the fact Milbank is now throwing $190,000 at incoming associates, I think that’s just just the last to last ditch effort of trying to fit this new square pegs into the old round holes. So
Zena Applebaum 20:59
yeah, so we’re seeing it with law schools being pressured more and more to provide business acumen courses to provide the business of law not just the practice of law, you know, you’re seeing it at Cornell, you’re seeing it with with Ryerson is new approved Law School up in Toronto. It’s coming. I think the new generation is going to be a big part of the story.
Marlene Gebauer 21:16
Alright, senior partners. You’ve been warned. It’s coming. Thank you, Zena for joining us. You can follow Zena on Twitter at Zapple CI that’s z Apple CI. That’s a great twitter handle there. So thank you again for joining us. And hey, Zena, you know what, you’re our first guest. So if the podcast fails, you know, it might be all your faults, so no pressure. So thanks. Thanks again for joining us, and I’ll talk to you later.
Zena Applebaum 21:45
Perfect. Thanks, Greg. Have a good one.
Marlene Gebauer 21:53
Well, that does it for the first episode, everyone made it through and one piece I thought it was fantastic, very thoughtful. Zena offered some some really critical points that we should all take away and think about.
Marlene Gebauer 22:04
Yeah, once again, Zena shows that she’s much smarter than I am.
Marlene Gebauer 22:07
Marlene Gebauer 22:10
Yeah, thank you. So I will tell you the highlight of the interview for me it was this. When Zena went totally Canadian on me and said generation Zed that I know as soon as she said that she was on the other end going oh, god, he’s probably over there. Just just giggling you wish you were here? And I
Marlene Gebauer 22:27
was on the inside? Yeah, I’m like, I would say the Canadian anthem. But I don’t know the words.
Marlene Gebauer 22:34
It’s an it’s in French, isn’t it? And that starts with Oh, Canada, and then that’s right, rest,
Marlene Gebauer 22:40
you know, but I did want to actually make a real point about the interview, I think that clients are going to have an impact on the non coming into play and getting more involved in work and decision making, but maybe not in the way that we’ve heard in the past. Clients are always saying in RFPs, and conferences and whatnot that you know, they want innovation, they want a good price, they want efficiencies, it’s going to be up to the firm’s to figure out how that’s going to work, they’re not going to tell us how that’s going to happen. And the needs of the business model are going to encourage the change.
Marlene Gebauer 23:17
So I knew I was going to get some grief, probably not just from you, but from from other people about my comment about, we’re still waiting for the clients to tell us what to do. But at the same time there there are a number of things that have been going on, you had the ACC value challenge, which I think is kind of ebb and flow a little bit but now you’ve got clock, which is going just getting very high and people are really riding that train. And so maybe it will come from the clients that but I think you’re right, it’s it’s not you know, we had this vision I think for the last decade that until the clients squeaked they must be okay. And I think that you’re right that’s, that’s yeah, it’s
Marlene Gebauer 23:57
gonna give us a lot of opportunity for for creative thinking and creative solutions. So I think that’s great.
Marlene Gebauer 24:02
Hey, Marlene, we just finished our first book. I know well, depending on how many people actually listen to it. This might be the the inaugural edition and the finale. So we’ll see how good thanks for joining us on our inaugural episode of The Geek in Review. I’m Greg Lambert
Marlene Gebauer 24:20
And I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 24:21
Alright we’ll see you later.
Marlene Gebauer 24:24
Greg Lambert 24:24
Bye. This has been The Geek in Review Special thanks to Zena Applebaum for joining us today. Also thanks to Kevin MacLeod for his original music, which he made available via Creative Commons. Thank you Kevin.