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Marlene Gebauer: Welcome to the Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert: And I’m Greg Lambert. Well, welcome to October Marlene, or as I’ve been calling it, the eighth month of March this year. True.
Marlene Gebauer: Yeah
Greg Lambert: Well at least we’re closer to the end of 2020 and I think most of us will be glad to get get this year in our rearview mirror.
Marlene Gebauer: Well, you know, it’s actually been very cool here and by that I mean 80 degrees.
Greg Lambert: Houston cool.
Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, Houston cool, which, which I’ve been enjoying and you know, in the 60s in the morning, now. Northerners will get a kick out of this, that I have seen men in turtlenecks already.
Greg Lambert: Yeah, but I was just testing that out.
Marlene Gebauer: It was just a look. Look.
Greg Lambert: Yeah, it Oh, it’s a look. Oh, well. This week’s guests are, I think a perfect follow up from last week’s episode with Olga Mack and her reference to transferring your individual skills as you progress through your career. So we have Jeff Marple and Bob Taylor from Liberty Mutual along with Gabe Tenenbaum from Suffolk law school. And they join us to talk about the upcoming Boston Legal Design Challenge which is happening on November 13.
Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, we really are suckers for design and innovation challenges, aren’t we?
Greg Lambert: Hey, you know, they’re interesting.
Marlene Gebauer: they really are.
Greg Lambert: We have a great conversation with Jeff, Bob and Gabe. So stick around for that. But first, let’s go ahead and jump into this week’s information inspirations.
Greg Lambert: Sometimes Marlene, you just want to get back to the basics. And this week, I wanted to start off with a great video tutorial on Microsoft Word shortcut keys and macros from Deborah Savadra at Legal Office Guru, and it was posted on the Attorney at Work website. So for anyone whether you the only shortcut you may know is Ctrl C and Ctrl V.
Marlene Gebauer: I know those.
Greg Lambert: Or you’re, you know, you’re super experienced with creating macros, kind of kind of like I am. This is just a seven and a half minute long video, and it has something for everyone. So as much time as we spend in our word processing documents, the more we can create efficiencies and the better off we’re just going to be. And one of the biggest ways to create efficiencies, as many of us know, is to keep your hands on the keyboard and off of the mouse. So shortcuts and macros are the best ways to keep those fingers moving. Go check out Deborah’s instructional video. And I bet that even the most experienced of you will learn a few things.
Marlene Gebauer: Privacy articles were at the top of my feed this week. So I combined three of them for this inspiration. So which browsers protect privacy more than others? Well, Safari, Brave, and Firefox all seem to have a better privacy profile than, say, Chrome, which is pretty terrible in this regard. Despite building a privacy sandbox. Trackers embedded in websites really highlight the privacy issue. Google is the worst with trackers installed on 75% of the top million websites. Facebook is second at 25%. And Twitter comes in third at 10%. There are ways to protect your privacy even with the worst of browsers like turning off password and search engine autofills and disabling location tracking. Or you can use my favorite browser extension DuckDuckGo. And shifting a bit to apps. Signal, which is an end to end encrypted message app has become the go to for organizing protests.
Greg Lambert: How soon before that one’s banned?
Marlene Gebauer: Yeah. Well, signal works similarly to WhatsApp. But it is owned and operated by a nonprofit, not a corporation. And it has more security. Edward Snowden is actually quoted in this article as stating that he uses it all the time. And it seems now that regular people are to.
Okay, well, we definitely know it’s going to be banned.
Marlene Gebauer: Snowden.
Greg Lambert: Great, great.
Marlene Gebauer: I know it’s like Wonderful.
Greg Lambert: Well, my second one is and I watched this actually today, there’s this fantastic video of a roundtable discussion on the issues of microaggressions directed at Black attorneys. You know, this is a really difficult issue to cover. And the panel of Loreal Arscott, Moy Ogilvie, Catherine Smith, and Trelvis Randolph, along with moderator Gordon Weekes, they discuss their own personal experiences of being a Black lawyer in America and the issues that they have faced. It was just fascinating to listen to it. You know, the term microaggression may make people think that the that the issues that they’re facing are minor or small or insignificant, but it’s like the old death by a thousand cuts. issue. This is an issue that my friend and fellow former WCW president Ron Wheeler has covered for a number of years. This was just a great discussion, and I highly suggest that everyone take the time to watch this roundtable discussion.
Marlene Gebauer: Since the first presidential debate was last night and there are a couple more coming up, I thought this inspiration would be timely and useful. The link that I am sharing is a nice starting point to several articles from NPR, 538, AARP, the Conversation, The Verge, and one on Vox written by a misinformation superhero librarian that highlight how to spot fake news, and how some sorts of fact checking are more effective than others. It also links out to articles that cover why we are susceptible to misinformation, and how misinformation spread in the 2016 election. And this is a very cool graphical site by the Knight Foundation. I encourage everyone to take a look. There are also links to fact checker.org PolitiFact and Verified, stay informed folks.
Greg Lambert: Yeah, although I hear debate number two is just going to be a knife fight out in the parking lot.
Marlene Gebauer: Just like Jersey,
Greg Lambert: I think it is in Jersey.
Marlene Gebauer: And that wraps up this week’s information inspirations.
Marlene Gebauer: The fourth annual legal design challenge brings together a collaboration between Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Suffolk law school in Boston to give law and other graduate students the opportunity to learn design thinking skills and a real hands on way to rapidly develop and pitch big ideas within the legal industry. We asked three masterminds behind the challenge to talk with us and tell us more.
Greg Lambert: We’re joined by a trio of innovators out of Boston today. Returning to the Geek in Review is Jeff Marple, Innovation Director at Liberty Mutual. Gabe Teninbaum
, Assistant Dean of innovation at Suffolk University Law School. And Bob Taylor, Vice President and Senior Corporate Counsel at Liberty Mutual. We tried to also get the Liberty Mutual spokesperson Doug and the LiMu Emo out. But apparently they were busy shooting that commercial in that beautiful 1971 Dodge Duster that they they drive around.
Marlene Gebauer: Well, welcome everyone. The three of you are collaborating on the Boston Legal Design Challenge. Jeff, would you mind telling us a little bit more about what the design challenge is?
Jeff Marple: Sure thing Marlene. The design challenge was an event that the three of us sort of conceived over lunch probably about five years ago, in Boston. It’s a hybrid event between both a competition and an educational event. We spend the day doing a little bit of lecture, but also a tremendous amount of exercises, hands on exercises, to law students. And it’s like a hackathon. But instead of developing code, law students are trying to come up with ideas around the next great legal service or legal product. We organize a series of exercises for the different teams, those exercises sort of channel, the the participants ideas towards a presentation at the end of the day, and they have a very short time period to present at the end of the day. Very pithy, sort of quick, rapid fire presentation. And the winning team gets a cash prize. We also have
Marlene Gebauer: Nothing wrong with cash.
Greg Lambert: How much cash are we talking about?
Marlene Gebauer: Like, is it rude to ask how much cash we’re talking about?
Jeff Marple: It’s not rude ask. We’re not prepared to release the amounts just yet. I can tell you though, that it will probably be larger than last year, I believe last year’s first prize was $3,000 for the first prize team. So we we hope we’re hoping to exceed that.
Greg Lambert: Hey, for a law student as that’s not chump change.
Jeff Marple: No, that’s not bad for a day’s work.
Marlene Gebauer: For me. That’s not chump change.
Jeff Marple: Yeah. We have. And for those Iron Chef fans out there, we have a hint of Iron Chef in there. We give them a secret ingredient at the beginning of the day, either a type of technology or a domain that they need to work in. And they don’t they’re unaware that until they get there. So we don’t want teams necessarily working ahead. We want everyone sort of starting from the same spot. At the end of the day, I talked about the their pitches. We’re extremely proud of the our judging panel this year, we have I think what five time participant on this podcast, Cat Moon, from Vanderbilt, will be on the panel, as well as Bob Ambrogi, who if you follow legal tech at all, you know who Bob is. And then we have Jason Barnwell from Microsoft to give us a corporate perspective. We’re really excited about it. We’ll, we’ll have about 10 teams of five people per team. So if you’re out there, and you’re listening, we want you to register soon. And you can do that by going to lmi.co/bldc. So LMI stands for Liberty Mutual Insurance company. Dot co slash bldc. Boston Legal Design Challenge.
Marlene Gebauer: We’ll put that up on the on the site too.
Jeff Marple: That would be fantastic.
Marlene Gebauer: So that people can do that. Yeah, that sounds like an incredible program and an incredible panel. I’m very excited to see where this goes.
Greg Lambert: Yeah, and Bob Ambrogi is like my third favorite podcaster so…
Marlene Gebauer: Are you starting something? Why are you starting something?
Greg Lambert: Bob says I’m his third favorite podcaster too. So we’re on equal terms here. So Bob Taylor, you know, why do this why does a P&C insurance carrier host a design challenge with a with the law school?
Bob Taylor: Yeah. So when we were at Back Bay Harry’s, you know, which no longer exists. And we were having some sandwiches and truffle fries, my co conspirators here, we’re talking about that, like, what is the really reason why we would want to do this? And, you know, first, it’s not easy making insurance seemed cool. I know, that may seem as a shock to you. But you know, no one really ever ends up in insurance on purpose. I mean, certainly I didn’t. But one of the things we wanted to do was give law students an understanding of what it might be like to work within the confines of a Fortune 100 legal department. And then also to understand that working within you know, an insurance law department can be a very rich and varied and diverse experience as opposed to just dealing with auto matters all day long. Right. So you know, one is to give the students an interesting perspective on on what it’s like. The other is and why we also connected with Gabe and Suffolk University and their innovative approach to legal education, is to make sure that we are communicating with educational institutes out there about what kind of pipeline we’re looking for in terms of new talent, and within our legal department. And many people have this conception that all we do is hire six, seven year lateral partners or, you know, associates into our law department. And, quite frankly, we’re looking for students that have T-Shaped skills and that have the kind of diversity of thought and and design thinking skills that are going to help us solve problems, not just the way that law is being practiced today, but the way it’s going to be practiced tomorrow. And so this is a nice way for us to, to do that. And also, quite frankly, it helps us scratch a little bit of an itch. I mean, you know, Jeff and I, and I know Gabe loves this, too. We’re big devotees of design thinking and trying to solve difficult problems in unique ways. And, you know, if you want to learn something well and become good at it, try teaching it to 50 people at once. Right? So it’s, it’s a fun event for us, we really enjoy it. Quite frankly, I think I can speak for the other people involved. When you’re interacting with the students, you get a tremendous amount of energy and the excitement that they have and getting involved in this. So it’s not a one way street, we get a lot out of this as well.
Greg Lambert: Well, I can tell you if if two people can make insurance calls is definitely Bob and Jeff, right.
Jeff Marple: No tall order.
Marlene Gebauer: So you know, we we’ve heard the the the corporate side of the story here from Bob and Jeff, and what the benefits are. So Gabe, what’s the benefit that Suffolk gets by working with Liberty Mutual?
Gabriel Teninbaum: Well, you know, at the end of the day, we’re in the education business. And traditionally, in law schools, that meant being in the classroom, and then over the years that got extended to things like experiential courses and clinics. But the reality is, is that this sort of opportunity is exactly what we do. We’re in the business of educating our students and giving them really amazing experiences. And this is truly one of those really amazing experiences, that is really hard to attain in any other way.
Marlene Gebauer: And it seems to be pretty unique, too. I mean, you know, I don’t know of any other programs like this.
Gabriel Teninbaum: It’s about the only show in town. And you know, when you can get folks like the people from Liberty Mutual, who are so deeply engrossed in this sort of content to come and spend some time with students, it leads to these really remarkable things. And the other thing that’s cool about it is that we’ve extended, of course, beyond just being Suffolk law students. And having attended for the last several years, one of the real pleasures is watching students from different law schools, or from different programs outside of the law school work together and team problem solve using the things that they’re learning about in school with mentors from Liberty and other places who really have experienced this in practice. And then the third reason is, it’s just fun, and it’s joyful. And the reality is, is that there is not a lot of joy in law school unless you’re…
Greg Lambert: What? No…
Gabriel Teninbaum: I’m sorry. Look, there’s no
Marlene Gebauer: You didn’t enjoy law school, Greg?
Greg Lambert: Oh man
Gabriel Teninbaum: People do not want to leave this thing by the end of the day. And you know, this is a long day. And it’s the longest day is for Bob and Jeff and their team. And you know, they’re they’re in there when the sun comes up, setting up the event and the students rolling at breakfast time. And it goes all day with you know, appropriate breaks and, and they do a great job of setting up in a way that it doesn’t feel like work, but they’re really working all day. At the end of the day. Students don’t want to leave the room and they want to just grab more of it. And some of it is they want to spend time with Bob and Jeff and the other people involved because they they want to gather more knowledge from but it’s just like a joyful experience. It’s fun to do. So that’s what’s in it for us. And I you know, I’m so glad we’re able to do this with with Liberty Mutual. It’s just wonderful.
Greg Lambert: Yeah, well, and enough about the what’s in it for the three of you, what are the students getting out of it? And and I would also like to know, other than joy. But, you know, what are they getting out of it? And one other thing is you mentioned that there are students who may not be in law school, what other types of students show up for this, this sort of event?
Gabriel Teninbaum: Well, in the past, we’ve had MBA students, we’ve had students from other law schools, which we certainly hope to have this year.
Greg Lambert: Are there other law schools in Boston?
Gabriel Teninbaum: I’ve heard about a couple but I don’t know.
Jeff Marple: I think there’s one across the river.
Greg Lambert: I think one out of every five residences in law school in Boston.
Gabriel Teninbaum: There’s no doubt about that. But listen, you know, the students, the students at Suffolk law get this and I expect that we’ll have a lot of Suffolk law students you know, we have a long history and legal innovation and technology. We launched our program way back in the dark ages of 2013, which made us pretty much the first program if not the first program in the country. You know, we’ve been ranked number one by National Jurists, so we’re starting to get some positive attention to momentum. And we have a really good groundswell among our students, a student body that wants to think about design thinking and other sort of non traditional bits of legal work. One of the ways that we advertise this event among our student bodies with our legal innovation and tech Student Association, which has about 250 members, so our legal tech Student Association is larger than like a quarter or a third of law schools in the United States, you know, the students are fired up about this. And what they see is that this is an opportunity to learn a real skill to try a thing and to be able to create a product, but also to be able to go out to future employers and say, Hey, I have some experience, or I have some interest in design thinking. And to try to parlay that into some of their work or for it to become their job,
Bob Taylor: I would just add on if I could to look at the saying about what the students get out of it. I want to make something you know, maybe known to anybody who might be thinking about registering for this event, that people that have participated in this event, we’ve had three different summer law clerks come through and interview and qualify and be accepted into our competitive summer law program at Liberty Mutual, and one of the main impetus is for them applying for the program. And one of the ways that they were able to get in was their participation in the design challenge. So it was three or four?
Jeff Marple: I think it was I think it’s actually four Bob.
Bob Taylor: Yeah, four, yes, four. And even one of those students also now is in our attorney development program, and graduated from the law clerk program into the attorney development program. So there’s no guarantee obviously, of, you know, getting into the department that way, but I will tell you that it does help you differentiate yourself with employers. And that’s proven out by the fact that they’ve been able to get hired into our program. So I guess I’d like to say that only because we don’t just talk the talk, we we try to walk the walk in and put people in a position to succeed in their professional lives as well.
Jeff Marple: And I can tell you that all four of those law clerks are coming back to help us be facilitators this for this year event, which is fantastic. So happy.
Marlene Gebauer: That’s very cool. And I mean, that differentiation, I mean, I think that’s, that’s really key right now, where, you know, jobs are scarce. And and, you know, people really have to showcase themselves, you know, and, you know, highlight how they’re different than than the rest of the of the pack, if you will,
Greg Lambert: Yeah, before we get to the next question, Marlene. Yeah. Last on our last episode we had Olga Mack on and one of the things that she said that stuck with me that I think is relevant here is that you’re giving the students here a skill set that they’ll take with them. And that’s something that, you know, they’ll always have, and she had mentioned that no matter what job you have, you take your skill set with you. And the more skills that you have, the more viable you’ll be to to land that next job. So legal design thinking is not easy. And anything you can do to help them kind of understand the concepts and build on that is, is good for them.
Bob Taylor: Yeah, you know, you say something that’s really critical that we talk about all the time at Liberty Mutual, which is skills over knowledge. In that knowledge is a commodity, but skills are durable. So when you talk about delivering a skill to someone, we think a lot about that, and and our own development programs for our own lawyers within Liberty Mutual as well. So point well taken.
Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, so since we’re speaking about viability, you know, how viable are the ideas that that the student teams come up with during the challenge?
Bob Taylor: Yeah, so in fairness, I think a lot of the students lack context for what it is that they’re working on. And that’s not their fault, they just haven’t had the experience yet. So the reality is that, very few of the concepts or ideas there end up kind of emerging out of the design challenge itself. Oftentimes, those ideas are very similar to existing products. But maybe that’s only to validate that they’re good ideas in the first place, right, and that somebody has taken that idea and advanced it. But the truth of the matter is, you know, Marlene, we don’t go into this with the expectation of getting the next great idea out of it. Now, if something comes out, and the students want to continue to evolve it and pursue it, we encourage that. Or if it’s something that is interesting to us, we might pull the string on that a little bit. But it we really don’t go into it with that expectation. And I would encourage anybody who runs these events, and I think it’s true for people that run standard hackathon events, that if you go into it with that expectation, I think you’re you’re oftentimes let down the idea with this particular event that it’s experiential, right? And that you’re going to have an experience and that’s really what you’re taking from this and anything else beyond that really is kind of the cherry on top.
Jeff Marple: Just add on, you know, design product is like exercising the muscle. A lot of times this is their first time out, doing exactly that. So you can’t expect to deadlift a million pounds, your first time out. You got to Go to the gym a lot. Right? So this is this is like intro to the gym?
Greg Lambert: Yeah, so they’re going to be sore the next day, right?
Jeff Marple: That’s right,
Greg Lambert: Their brains gonna be sore. Well, Jeff, normally this type of event, you would bring everyone together in one location, but it’s 2020. So nothing is normal anymore.
Jeff Marple: Understatement of the year there Yeah.
Greg Lambert: Since this is going to be virtual, what are what are some of the challenges that you’re you’re going to run into with an all virtual event?
Jeff Marple: So traditionally, as you said, this was an in person event. And right out of the gate, we had some real sort of tactical challenges to figure out. We did a tremendous amount of work with sticky notes and dry erase boards and paper and pens, and physical tactile experiences. So obviously, that’s not going to work. So we started to look around at different solutions in this area that could help us get us that same, that same feeling, and then that same result, but to try to do it virtually. And as it turns out, there are some products out there. We’re going to use a product called mural.co, which is fantastic. It’s a fantastic product, it allows folks to have a big whiteboard that they’re posting stickies to. And you can all work at the same time, which is really a nice refreshing change. If any of you that have been on a Zoom call, like this one, or one person can talk at a time only one person contribute at a time. You know, I find so often now that we’re on these calls, and we’re so often leaning back and listening, this event promises to get people leaning forward and working together. And that platform helps facilitate that. So that was one of the things that we had to think about, we had to solve for that. We’re thinking a lot about Zoom fatigue, and you know, video conferencing, fatigue. So we’ll be doing a lot of breaks. And again, not a lot of listening this, there’s going to be a very small amount of lecture. And the exercises themselves will be designed to teach where in the past, we might have talked a little bit more about why this is important, or what we’re going to do here, the exercises should be pretty self explanatory about what folks will be doing. And then the other thing is, and I’m sure you guys have both felt this, it sometimes it feels like, you know, if you’re working in the same room with someone, you have a very strong connection with them. Because they’re right there, you can see the body language, you can see the room, you can see their faces, you can feel the energy in the room. When you’re working with someone virtually It feels like you’re sort of like, you know, that’s like a little string, that’s a delicate string that’s connecting you and that string can be cut very easily, or people can sort of get distracted, that kind of thing. So we’re we’re really looking to put these exercises on rails to really guide the participants through the different exercises. So there’s, it’s very easy and easy to understand what they have to do next. And that should drive their product design towards the end towards their pitch. Now, those are all the challenges. The positives of this, right? You know, when this all hit, Bob and I were talking and he’s like, Hey, you know, we wouldn’t really be innovators if we just let you know, the fact that we’re going virtual stop us from doing this event, we can’t cancel the event. So we had to figure out a way to do it. So we did. And we’re trying to make some lemonade where there’s lemons. So before we were very geographically restricted, right, folks had to travel to come to Suffolk in order to participate. Well, you don’t have to travel anymore. So we are really pushing this out nationally, we hope to have national representation. And by national representation, I’m hoping, you know, a team from every time zone would be fantastic. And so that’s kind of the good side of this. Is that really able to open this up to many more people?
Bob Taylor: Yeah, I mean, we don’t want to call anybody out, you know, directly on this podcast, you know, around the country for registering teams, but Margaret Hagen better get a team in from Stanford or there’s gonna be an issue, I think. But no, we love Margaret.
Greg Lambert: Not to name names, Margaret, but…
Bob Taylor: Not to name any names. No, I don’t know. Gabe, did you want to call anybody out on this?
Gabriel Teninbaum: You’re You’re nicer than me. I’ve been calling people out for weeks on Twitter.
Bob Taylor: Yeah, if you haven’t seen those tweets, if you haven’t seen those tweets, you should take a look. They’re there. They’re pretty good. I have to say,
Marlene Gebauer: Alright, so I’m gonna go check that out. And I will tell you that I have used Mural before for a design sprint, and it works incredibly well. And we were all over the place. And you know, we were able to sort of break out into rooms for our different groups. You know, once we, we chose, you know, the ideas. I think it’ll I think it’ll be great for you guys.
Jeff Marple: Right? I’m glad to hear that.
Marlene Gebauer: It does work. It can work.
Jeff Marple: Well, we run a few internals smaller much smaller events and had great experience on it. So Good, good. You know.
Marlene Gebauer: so this all sounds absolutely fantastic. So you know, not to put you on the spot Bob. But you know, do you actually do anything this interesting and exciting externally at Liberty Mutual?
Bob Taylor: Well, we do.
Marlene Gebauer: Very good
Bob Taylor: Because insurance is cool.
Marlene Gebauer: We know it is now.
Bob Taylor: For those of you that didn’t know, insurance is cool. We Do do stuff like this internally, we do a number of cultural type events during the year that help people think differently and bring together diversity of thought. And people with different disciplines to help solve thorny problems. And so we do this event internally. Internally, it’s a day and a half event, it’s a little more immersive. And also, it gives people the legal department that come from all over an opportunity to pitch in front of senior leaders and legal firm, including our chief legal officer. And, and I do want to mention that Jim Kelleher, our chief legal officer is insanely supportive of what I call legal R&D, he understands that there’s a need to invest in this kind of thing and prepare our folks for the way that law is going to be practiced and keep our practice groups modern, and moving forward. And so it’s been a great experience. We’ve been oversubscribed, every year, we’ve run it internally, we have to limit the total number of people. So it is competitive, actually, to get into it. It’s competitive to get the T shirt that we hand out internally. So it’s really been fun to run this event internally. One of the nicest things about the internal event is that people comment, not only do they love the experience and have a new skill leaving it, but they often are paired up in groups of people that they have usually interacted with, or didn’t get a chance to interact with normally.
Marlene Gebauer: I was going to ask.
Bob Taylor: Yeah, and so you might have a lawyer from London, interacting with a lawyer from Seattle, with a paralegal in Boston and a compliance person out of Plano, Texas, and that kind of conductivity, like that connective tissue that you create at the event tends to be sustainable after and it makes us a better organization. So it’s it’s kind of fun to see what happens with those.
Greg Lambert: Just out of curiosity, have you ever thought about doing something like this for your outside counsel, bringing them in?
Bob Taylor: You know, we’ve we’ve given it some thought we haven’t run an event exactly like this, we do run events for our outside counsel, that helped them understand about the culture of Liberty Mutual, so we’ll bring them in. And we’ve given some talks about innovation. And we’ve actually featured several of our law firms, in front of their peers and about the innovative things that they’ve done in their practices, in a way to create maybe a little FOMO, with the firms that maybe aren’t participating, right, and to spur a little action. But we are definitely trying to push culturally into our law firms. This type of behavior.
Greg Lambert: Yeah, yeah, firms don’t like to miss out on things. So
Bob Taylor: No.
Greg Lambert: Gabe, you know, there’s a, there’s a few of these innovation tournaments and things like that going on in different law schools across the country. Now, what makes this challenge different than then some of the other challenges that are out there?
Gabriel Teninbaum: Well, this one’s wonderful in a few different ways. One of the things that’s really cool about it is, of course, that we’re doing with Liberty Mutual, and they’re a great company, and they’re a great team. But the thing that’s really special is they actually come in and they share their experiences with students, and help them get trained up to think about the process that we teach them, the way that they’ve actually done in the wild and had been successful. So that’s, that’s a really wonderful thing. Next is its design thinking based. So there are a number of innovation related activities that are going on at law schools, including competitions nowadays. But it’s really hard to run a design thinking event, simply because it’s a hard set of skills to teach. And it is hard to gather people together in a format where it makes sense. I mean, this is an intensive, long, but enjoyable day. And we’re able to do that using the design thinking template. And then third, and finally, it’s not just a competition, it’s not like a moot court competition, where you walk in the door and you compete. And the judges, you know, maybe give you some feedback after. This is actually instructional we have a design thinking course. But most of the students in the competition haven’t taken the course. So when they show up, you know, they’ve read some of the materials, they have a broad sense about what’s going to happen. But they’re not only competing, they’re learning. So that’s a real special thing, because it becomes sort of a self contained day where you show up, you have some fun, you learn some skills that are transferable down the road, and then you actually compete it to practice those skills.
Bob Taylor: Yeah, I would just add to what Gabe is saying in that it’s very much experiential, and you kind of come into it not really knowing what to expect, and you kind of stretch yourself a little bit. You see, we see it every year where you know, there’s all this energy right at the beginning. And then you see this major dip where the students are doubting themselves, they don’t really know and they get confused and frustrated, and they may be arguing and then all of a sudden, right out of all of that difficulty, confusion and frustration with a little bit of guidance, then they start to coalesce and come together and then the pitches are typically fantastic. And so that kind of journey that the students go through I think makes this event you unique and I think we’re gonna do our best to recreate that in this virtual environment.
Greg Lambert: Sounds like a microcosm of law school.
Bob Taylor: Right? Yeah. 1L to 3L right, and everything in between?
Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, well, I mean, I like the fact that you have this along with sort of a design, you know, thinking class. And this is just this is just another way to get more students familiar with the concepts and teach and teach them the skills. I’d like everyone to chime in on this one. But we’ll start with Jeff, is there a message that you’re trying to send to students or to the industry?
Jeff Marple: Yeah, the thing that I always come back to is this, it’s kind of like the reason I do it, right, which is, I always can try to figure out and this is probably arrogance, mostly. But I always try to think about like, a better way to do something like, Is there a better way to do X or a better way to do Y, you know, like, like, what are the issues with this? And is there a better way to do that? And can we just maybe not even do this anymore, like, let’s just skip that and go on to the next thing and, and sort of evolve us? All right, the work that we do. And, like spoiler, I usually end the day talking about this precisely. And the reason I like to do that is just because it’s fun. It’s really fun. And like, there’s a tremendous amount of fun to be had in doing this kind of work. That’s kind of the message that I’m sending out there, like, dare to be different. Dare to think about things differently, dare to shake things up and change things up. Because you know what, you might have a lot of fun along the way. And you know, job satisfaction, it’s an important thing. That’s kind of the message that I’m personally trying to send through this event.
Marlene Gebauer: And I’ll pitch it over to Bob.
Bob Taylor: So this may come as a little bit of a challenge to Gabe and his colleagues. Though Gabe has already taken up this challenge. I think one of the messages that we’re trying to send to the marketplace, especially to law schools, is the type of talent that we value or the type of skills that we value from graduates. We’re really trying to get law schools to think differently about their training. If you had said to me 10 years ago that law school students need to take statistics courses, I might be like, Yeah, I don’t know. But today, I’m absolutely convinced that they need to be taken crossover courses, and how to consume statistics and practice data driven law. Right. And that goes along with some of the innovation and technology thing. So what we’re trying to do is signal to the legal marketplace, what it is that we value as a Fortune 100 company. And I think what other Fortune 100, and Fortune 500, you know, large law departments appreciate in the talent, the kind of talent that we need. And the other is, you know, to signal to people that are out there that are interested in potentially working with Liberty Mutual, it’s a signal to, you know, people that are thinking about in house, they’re not really sure whether or not that’s a career path for them. And that we want them to think of Liberty Mutual as an employer of choice. And that, you know, we do more than just look at insurance policies all day long. We look at autonomous vehicles, you know, we insure drones, you know, there’s all kinds of different we have a, you know, amazing partnership with MIT and looking at AI and that all of those things need legal support, and that you can have a very rich and interesting career and very career with Liberty Mutual. So that’s the other signal I think we’re trying to send.
Marlene Gebauer: Okay, and I’m sending it to you Gabe.
Gabriel Teninbaum: You know, law students get traditional law, job exposure, starting on day one of law school, they’re pressed to do OCI and apply for summer internships and clerkships at traditional law firms. And I see my job in large part as getting law students to recognize all of the other opportunities out there beyond the traditional roles. And doing events like this legal design challenge is fundamentally what we want to do. We want to get students understanding that there’s so many opportunities out there beyond the traditional, and this is one way in a single day to get students involved. And for many of them, it’ll be the start of a really cool journey. For others, that will be a one day thing, where they just say, now I have some more exposure to what else can be done, and a different way to problem solve. And it’s just always been a win. Because even when students just view it as a one day experience, they carry on that experience with them after.
Greg Lambert: So what are you guys doing to make sure that you’re pulling from a diverse group of students for this event?
Jeff Marple: So I’ll go back to one of the things we talked about earlier. In the past, we’ve been extremely limited by geography. And I would say that, you know, New England probably has maybe one of the less diverse populations in the United States. With the ability for us to go virtual, again, we are opening this up to schools that may not have had the ability to compete in the past. So that is just one of the ways that we’re thinking about ensuring that diverse participation.
Bob Taylor: Yeah, and I would also say the most successful teams that I’ve seen In this event as we’ve been running it, both internally and externally, tend to be teams that are filled with people that have diversity of thought. And that diversity of thought often comes from diversity of backgrounds and culture and all of that, and, and diversity of their professional experience. And so, you know, one of the years, I think it was Northeastern, Jeff, that one and they had a really nice balance of law students and MBA students that were able to bring different perspectives. So I think it’s in the team’s interest that registered to have, you know, kind of that diversity of thought and and and we encourage it, because we think that sometimes the best creativity and the best outcomes come from teams that are assembled that way, and we believe that also within our own work at Liberty Mutual and we are very intentional about staffing up our teams, you know, within Liberty Mutual, that with people that have diversity of thoughts, that they can be more creative in their problem solving.
Greg Lambert: All right, well, Gabe Teninbaum from Suffolk, and Jeff Marple and Bob Taylor from Liberty Mutual, I want to thank you all three of you for taking the time to talk about the Boston Legal Design Challenge. Jeff, what day is this going to be on?
Jeff Marple: Sure it’s November 13. And if you want to sign up, you’re going to go to LMI.co/BLDC. I encourage you to sign up soon. Space is limited. We’re limiting to 50 participants and 10 teams this year. So go ahead and sign up. We’ll put the I’m going to ask Greg and Marlene hopefully to put the link in the show notes. And we hope to see you on the 13th
Greg Lambert: All right. Thanks, guys.
Marlene Gebauer: Thank you very much.
Jeff Marple: Thank you.
Gabriel Teninbaum: I apprecate it all.
Bob Taylor: Thank you.
Greg Lambert: Marlene, I can’t wait to hear how this thing goes. You know, I like the theme that consistently came across in the way that Bob, Jeff, and Gabe described the challenge as intensive, thought provoking, challenging, and fun. So you know that every one of them mentioned how much fun that they’ve had, and the competitors have had as well during this competition.
Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, I really look forward to hearing the lessons of how this actually works virtually because this could really be a model for the future.
Greg Lambert: Yeah, I think you’re right. So I don’t know about you. But the whole time I was talking to Jeff and Bob. All I wanted to say was liberty.
Marlene Gebauer: Liberty. You know, we had to get that in. We knew we had to get that in.
Greg Lambert: We had to get it in there sometime. All right. Well, thanks again to Jeff Marple and Bob Taylor from Liberty Mutual and Gabe Teninbaum from Suffolk law school for coming on the show today and good luck to them and the competitors in this year’s Boston Legal design challenge.
Marlene Gebauer: Yep, good luck, everybody. Before we go, we want to remind listeners to take the time to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Rate and Review us as well. If you have comments about today’s show or suggestions for a future show, you can reach us on Twitter at @gebauerm or @glambert, you can call the Geek In Review Hotline at 713-487-7270 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DiCicca.
Greg Lambert: All right. Thanks, Jerry. Okay, I’ll talk to you later Marlene.
Marlene Gebauer: Alright, bye, Greg.