On this week’s episode, Greg speaks the couple of words of French he learned on vacation.
Marlene talks about mentor/mentee relationships and Sheryl Sandberg’s discussion on how the #MeToo era places an external strain on promoting these relationships. Marlene touches on the three founders of Black Women Talk Tech, Esosa Ighodaro, Regina Gwynn, and Lauren Washington, as well as Sophia Amouruso and others on the importance of mentoring.
Greg also covers the Google year-long study on “psychological safety” of having trust between team members, and somehow connects airport malls to Bob Ambrogi’s recent interview of LegalZoom’s Chaz Rampenthal. (Listen to follow that line of thinking.)
This week’s guest is Lisa Rush, Director of the Travis County Law Library in Austin, Texas. She is on the front-line of Access to Justice issues by streamlining processes within the civil, and criminal courts. Lisa’s work is solving a huge issue many courts face.
Marlene Gebauer 0:23
Welcome to 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 0:32
And I’m Greg Lambert. Bonjour, Marlene. So I am back from France. And that’s about the extent of all the French I learned on my vacation last week. But I had a great time and man, what a beautiful place. I hope to get back there soon. But I had to tell you, I was glad to get back. We had a layover in Austin yesterday and I took advantage of the brisket and pulled pork while I was there something that they don’t do very well in France. So I’m also glad to be back in my bed. So
Marlene Gebauer 1:07
two on one tour East. We all right, well, enough of vacation stories. Let’s get down to business. I read an article in l see, I know French too. And there was a spread on mentorship. And they interviewed some notables regarding their ideas around mentorship. Sheryl Sandberg wrote that, particularly in these times of me two men need to get out there and mentor women. Now her position is that if you separate mentorships strictly by gender, you just continue to prevent women from quality relationships that can lead to advancement. Now if you think perhaps this isn’t a real problem, and there are plenty of opportunities, Sandberg cited a survey which highlighted how uncomfortable men are engaging with women in the workplace. One of the stats was that half the senior level men who responded were uncomfortable traveling alone with a junior level woman so Sandberg is taking a step to help women and men through some of these challenges. Leonin has launched a campaign. This was launched in February called hashtag mentor her, which provides tips on how to be an effective mentor to women and why it matters. Another point I liked was made by the three founders of black women talk tech Isaura. I go Darro, Regina, Gwen and Laura Washington. What they said is not only the mentee benefits from the experience of the mentor but the mentor also benefits from knowing what’s going on and ground level from the mentee. There were two other points that I wanted to cover. So Sophia Amoruso, Girlboss, founder, her advice was to be proactive. There’s no Fairy Godmother out there. And she also suggests to crowdsource your mentors, you don’t need to rely on just one last toe Dakota and Savannah Guthrie, say make yourself indispensable and develop relationships. So then it’s not just you asking for help, you’ve already helped the mentor so they’re more likely to want to help you.
Greg Lambert 3:05
That makes sense. So you know, I just happened to catch one of the unbelievers marketplace yesterday or the day before, and had the director Susanna Fogel for the new movie, the spy who dumped me
Marlene Gebauer 3:18
and just saw that I just saw it
Greg Lambert 3:21
was funny. But one of the things she said was, when you look for mentorship in Hollywood, the mentors tend to be the old men. And she said, one of the things that has happened in the era of me too, is that there’s been more of a reluctance for these older men to mentor the younger women, there’s been kind of a closing of the of the ranks on there just because there’s fear going on.
Marlene Gebauer 3:48
Yeah, she just seems to go right back to what what Sandberg is saying, and I mean, you know, I were going to have a link to the L spread on three geeks. And I would definitely encourage people to sort of check out the overview of the survey. I mean, it was just it was it was concerning, because, you know, I think she’s got a pretty good point that, you know, if people are afraid to talk to one another, it just exacerbates the problem that we currently have. And you know, doors continue to be closed. So we, you know, we got to get through this, you know, I’m hoping that her mentor, mentor, her project really takes off.
Greg Lambert 4:25
So I read this nice summary article about a one year study that Google did on successful teams, there are a number of factors that contribute to a team’s effectiveness, but the single greatest factor was the team members felt something called quote, psychological safety, unquote. So and this is a perception by the group of members that other members in the group are always looking out for everyone’s best interest. In short, there’s a trust among the group members. And so this allows for the free flow of ideas, no matter how risky or outside the box, these ideas are. And so it reminds As we have that meme, you’ve probably seen it says something like whenever you’re afraid to share your ideas with your team, just to remember that someone wants spoke up suggesting to make a movie where sharks are flying out of tornadoes. But I think that kind of cross overs with your discussion in that one of the things that’s going on when it comes to mentorship is when there’s mentorship, there’s got to be a certain trust level. And when that trust level is not there, then it really can hamper the the mentor mentee relationship. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be an internal issue that’s going on with trust. It could be an external it could be a fear of misperception of what’s going on, you know, need to you need to make sure that we’re fighting that
Marlene Gebauer 5:44
I agree with that you will cripple the mentor mentee relationship as you were pointing out, you cripple the team relationship it can really just stop work and productive time like dead in its tracks.
Greg Lambert 5:57
Yeah, I agree. Well, I’m gonna I’m gonna switch gears on my second topic and that with my all my travel in the last year, I’ve noticed something that has really stood out to me. You know, I’ve heard over the years about how there hasn’t been a new American shopping mall built in something like 20 years. But I’m guessing that they’re not counting airports when they do this because man when I go through these airports now these are more like upscale malls that have an airport on the side, you know, you see lots of personal health and beauty shops and high end retail. So I was in Paris, listening to Bob Ambrogi, his recent podcast with his legal zooms Chas, ramp and thought and wondered if there’s a business plan for setting up a lawyer referral service in one of these malls. You know, he come in you do a legal review checklist and you refer customers to lawyers, backhand in their own jurisdictions, and yeah, I’m just tossing it out there. But I’m happy to entertain any VC money if anyone wants to toss, toss it. My wife on that idea. Hey, Greg, what’s that? Marlene,
Marlene Gebauer 7:00
you know, I think we should really make a movie where sharks are flying out of tornadoes. There you go.
Greg Lambert 7:14
This week’s guest is Lisa rush. And Lisa is the director of the Law Library for Travis County, here in Texas, which includes Austin. Lisa is someone with a she’s got a small voice, but man, she’s got big ideas. And she does some terrific work in Austin. And you know, we mentioned thinking outside the box, she absolutely thinks outside the box. So I don’t know if you’ve ever had a chance to talk with him, Marlene, but she’s got some great ideas on on some things to do at the local level.
Marlene Gebauer 7:51
So I have not had the chance to talk to her. And I’m really excited to hear the interview that she did.
Greg Lambert 7:56
All right. Well, let’s jump right into it. Very good.
Greg Lambert 8:05
I know you do a lot of work there outside of traditional law library functions. One of the things that we hear a lot of is a self help center there in Travis County. Can you walk me through what the self help center does? Specifically the walk in family law case review?
Lisa Rush 8:21
Okay, well, family law case review, we first let me say that their attorneys who work for the library, there are seven attorneys in total, and two of them are full time the others are part time. And we have run two clinics in within the library. One is the family law case review. And that’s every day in the morning. And the we call them reference attorney. Fairly low reference attorneys sit down with self represented litigants who are going to have uncontested cases in family law at our uncontested docket. So Travis County Court civil court, they have a daily uncontested docket That’s twice a day. And they have now made it mandatory that if you are not represented by an attorney, you are going to present your case at that uncontested docket, you must come to the library first, for the reference attorneys to review your paperwork.
Greg Lambert 9:18
And I imagine that the judges have liked that how how’s that improved? When the litigants come back to the courts
Lisa Rush 9:26
means they get done in a couple of minutes. You know, before you had the judge who had to review a lot, and you had people showing up unprepared with their without their paperwork filled out. And then when they got there, it took a good deal more time at the court time. I can imagine now this county is unique in that we don’t make yourself official or begin to wait behind the bar. There’s no preference given to the bar in the order in which things get done. So bar members were having to wait behind self represented litigants to that’s interesting, one of the reasons that you haven’t gotten the pushback from the bar, you know, that could have gotten through this program
Greg Lambert 10:10
makes sense? How long does it take on average for a research attorney to go through the paperwork and make sure that that the pro se litigants are are ready to go?
Lisa Rush 10:22
I recommend to 28 Depends on whether it’s the case with no children, no children divorce, or case with children. No children divorce or name change, or gender marker change or something like that. You’re talking just 20 minutes is not long, when there’s children, and there’s particularly children from a different relationship in the divorce than in that can take 45 minutes or longer.
Greg Lambert 10:49
Okay. How many of the pro se litigants do you come through the law library?
Lisa Rush 10:56
They get about 8000 A year 8000 here, but that’s the people coming in. And they can come more than once, of course, and also, often with self represented litigants. It’s not just the litigant coming in is the litigant, the children and grandma. It’s the whole family.
Greg Lambert 11:17
Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. Sorry, I kind of interrupted you. So that was a family law case review. What was the other clinic that you have
Lisa Rush 11:26
a driver’s license clinic in Texas? Why did you drivers lose their license. And they’re not able to drive, often by something called a surcharge program. And it is a tax on poor people. So easiest way to describe it. And if you drive without a license, you are charged with driving with license and valid is the same as if you drive without insurance Cabarrus County, you get licensed to drive. If you get your license reinstated, or you get an occupational driver’s license, the underlying charge will be dropped. So the criminal court asked the library to create a program where we help people to either find out figure out how to get their license back reinstated, what they need to do, or get an occupational driver’s license, so that they become free go to drive again, we go to drive again means they have a valid license. And they the car is insured.
Greg Lambert 12:23
That’s a very interesting program. So what it’s doing what it sounds like, to me it’s doing is it stopping that cycle of or that you know, that downward spiral of where someone gets in trouble, and then they can’t get themselves out? And it just it? It can’t get worse? So did the criminal courts come up with this? Or was this something that you had suggested that the library could could help with?
Lisa Rush 12:46
The Criminal Court, ask for help. And then we showed them came in and took them a tour at a Family Law Review clinic. And we showed them how the reference attorney there filled out a golden check a golden ticket. And that is a checklist that shows the judges that all this has been checked on the documents. And so they said yes, we want something like that. Well, it couldn’t be exactly like that. But it is similar. And in the service in that the reference attorney helps the litigant when they’re finished, they can go back to court.
Greg Lambert 13:21
Very interesting. So there’s a phrase I use a lot when I talked with other librarians and that’s that we’re here to solve other people’s problems, not the not the law libraries problems. So it sounds like you’ve really done a good job on putting that into action. So so well done. Is there any advice that you would give other county law librarians out there that are looking for ways to, you know, either increase funding or improve the way that the law library impacts their local court and the community as a whole
Lisa Rush 13:49
driver’s license program is funded by general fund money, because it’s something that we do for the criminal court, that supplements our budget. The reference attorney who goes to the daily uncontested docket, his salary is paid from general fund. Part of my salary is paid from general fund. I’m split funded, because of that service that I supervise the reference attorney that serves the court, one of our tech services librarian is because she manages the online contracts and the books that support the court. So that’s what worked out for us as well. So that means that the remaining library fund is used to fund the librarians who work here and the materials we can offer our patrons.
Greg Lambert 14:39
Very cool. So very impressive.
Lisa Rush 14:43
We’re hoping to add a function reference attorney but we were funded to add an assumption reference attorney in October.
Greg Lambert 14:49
What kind again expunction Oh, expunction
Lisa Rush 14:54
I want to you know, I don’t invent any wheels. I just steal the hubcap. This attorney technologist in Philadelphia, his name is Michael Hollander, and I just want to steal every hubcap he ever had, but particularly one called an expunction generator. And that is where he combined data extraction from a form data analysis. From a program he wrote, he used to be in Silicon Valley, and then forms automation. And he took the process of an attorney helping someone with expunging criminal record from two hours to 15 minutes.
Greg Lambert 15:34
That’s quite a bit of time. Wow.
Lisa Rush 15:36
That’s a huge thing. Yeah, how many more people Michael Hollander can help. And then they go one further, and they collect the data to show the legislature that 98% these expansions of expunctions are approved by the courts of a certain type. And they say, Well, why do we make people go through an extensive judicial process? If 98% are approved, let’s just make it automatic. And that was passed in the legislature. So now, if you have kept your record clean, your your past old misdemeanors can be automatically expunged. Of course, you want to go ahead and spend your money you can do that.
Greg Lambert 16:17
Well, that’s a brilliant idea. And so you’re you’re working toward getting something like a like this, or you’re, you’re looking for another research attorney to help you. But you’re you’re also looking at more automation as well. So,
Lisa Rush 16:32
yes, do you see do you see baby librarians that come out of library school these days, they’re brilliant. They are they understand that is the mindset of a library. And the information should be free and available, and in the format that the user needs. And then they also understand the technology. And so our tech services librarian is developing, developing this for us. And Mr. Hollander has been very open with what he does. And helpful.
Greg Lambert 17:01
Excellent. Well, that’s, that’s pretty cool. How did how did you? How did you find him? And how did you reach out to him?
Lisa Rush 17:06
I went to the Equal Justice Conference. It was a pre conference on expunction.
Greg Lambert 17:11
Well, Lisa, thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time here. Talk to me. This was Lisa rush. She’s Law Library Manager at Travis County in Austin, Texas. So thanks again, Lisa.
Greg Lambert 17:32
Marlene, that was a very interesting interview there. And I think again, Lisa has taken what I always say Isn’t that it we’re not here to solve library problems. We’re here to sort of solve the problems for our organization. And she has taken that to heart and has really gone full blast on it. And I applaud everything that she’s doing there in Travis County,
Marlene Gebauer 17:54
I was really interested in what she’s doing and applying skills of project management and process management to solve some of these these problems. You know, she’s she’s basically streamlined people moving through the the court system where there’s, you know, uncontested cases. And basically, when you’re looking at expungement, of records, being able to basically look at certain requirements, and if they’re met, you know, being able to do that very quickly and not getting an all clogged up in the court system.
Greg Lambert 18:24
Absolutely. And I think it also benefits with the fact that the bar does not leap ahead of the pro se clients there in Travis County, so everyone is treated equally in the court. So there’s a motivation on both sides to streamline the process. Well, and plus it, this must be just a, you know, victory for the judges there to take a very complicated situation and turn it over to the talent in the law library there and streamline that whole process. So again, well done, Lisa.
Marlene Gebauer 18:55
Yeah. I also want to say I think it’s brilliant that she’s also managed to get funding as a result of some of these initiatives, because she’s she’s helping out in terms of, of the work performed. So well done. Yes.
Greg Lambert 19:09
So again, you know, we talk a big game about access to justice for those of us in large law firms and those in academics, but the ones that are down on the the court level Bravo for those of us that are actually moving things along, so absolutely. All right. Well, you know, what, Marlene? What, Greg, I think that wraps up another show. So I want to thank Lisa rush as director of Travis County Law Library and Austin, Texas, for being our special guest today. Thank
Marlene Gebauer 19:37
you, Lisa. This has been another episode of The Geek in Review. And once again, thanks to Kevin MacLeod for his original music.
Greg Lambert 19:45
Alright, I’ll see you next week. Marlene,
Marlene Gebauer 19:47
all right. See ya
Greg Lambert 19:49
of La the Texan goes to Paris