Dentons Nextlaw LabsMaya Markovich understands that rational lawyers would observe market dynamics and client pressures to weigh the costs and benefits of adapting their behaviors to survive change, stay employed, and make their work more fulfilling. But, people don’t always make rational decisions. And, law firm’s economic structure incentivizes lower efficiency as a method of obtaining higher revenue. 
Wordrake‘s Ivy Grey thinks that firms need to stop thinking of short-term gains at the expense of necessary long-term changes that will help lawyers create more value with their time. This shift really helps clients with their overall legal needs, not just the immediate need.
Join us as we walk through issues of change management, behavioral science, ethical fading, and legal industry business models and where Markovich and Grey believe the industry is headed in the not too distant future.
Check out Maya and Ivy’s three-part blog series:

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Information Inspirations
It’s the legal innovation’s Oscars time of the year. Many of our friends and colleagues have made the list of this year’s Fastcase50 and College of Law Practice Management Fellowships. Congrats to them all!!
Legal Innovators have some habits they need to change. Victoria Hudgins addresses those in her article on CIOs Reveal 4 Mistakes Every Law Firm Innovation Leader Should Avoid.
Speaking of bad habits, Zack Needles discusses the very bad habit of law firms who want to bring in the hot new CINOs (Chief Innovation Officers) to help advance innovation within their firms, but cannot see past the yearly budget, revenues, and profits to let the innovators try things that may fail before they succeed. Needles worries that this will cause a revolving door for CINOs with little chance of being given enough room to actually bring about innovative change in the firms.
Listen, Subscribe, Comment
Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. You can email us at As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

Marlene Gebauer  0:00

As we adjust to the new pressures of a post pandemic legal industry, boom,

Greg Lambert  0:04

well done,

Marlene Gebauer  0:05

hit it.

Marlene Gebauer  0:12

Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.

Greg Lambert  0:20

And I’m Greg Lambert. So Marlene, I’m excited to have two of my favorite forward thinking colleagues in the legal industry on the show this week, we have Maya Markovich, from Dentons and Ivy Grey from Wordrake, and they both come on to expand upon our discussion on human behavioral science, change management and ethics in the legal industry. So I always love listening and reading to what both Maya and Ivy had to share about these topics. And we take a deep dive this week on the discussion.

Marlene Gebauer  0:51

Yeah, they’re always great. And this is a really great interview. So stick around for that. But now let’s get to this week’s information inspirations.

Marlene Gebauer  1:04

So Greg, it’s award season, and I’m not talking Oscars, Emmys or Grammys

Greg Lambert  1:09

don’t have to play the music to get them off the stage?

Marlene Gebauer  1:13

So first, congratulations to the 2021 Fastcase50 winners. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this award, it honors lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, judges, law librarians, Bar Association executives, and essentially people from all walks of life whose innovation, technical prowess, vision or leadership have made a significant impact in law. And we know just a few of these people, some of whom we consider friends and some who we’ve had on the podcast, and also consider friends, such as Haley Altman, Brad Blickstein. Joe Borstein. Patrick Fuller June Liebert, Katherine Lowry, Rick Merrill, Holly Ricco, Nick Rishwain, the late Anita Carr Shapiro, Nikki Shaver, Evan Shankman, in Nelson, Jennifer Wondracek. Breathe. The list goes on. And we celebrate all the winners. Yeah, you know, Greg, this looks like a good list review for some new guests. What do you think?

Greg Lambert  2:12

That’s exactly what I was thinking, and in fact, since we’re recognizing these these friends and friends of the podcast, let me add my inspiration for the College of Law Practice Management, where they recently announced its fellows for the class of 2021. And it also includes a few people that we’ve had on the pod as well, including Nicole Braddock, Felicity Conrad, Andre Davison, Christian Lang, Olga Mack, Scott Mozarsky,  Ian Nelson, Nikki Shaver, and Alycia Sutor. So, you know, it’s just such a great group of people and well deserved as entries into the as fellows into the college. And you know, and I agree with you The nice thing about both these Fastcase50, and College of Law Practice Management list is that it gives us a list of people to bring onto the show and it makes our job a little easier.

Marlene Gebauer  3:05

You know, it’s working smart, that’s what it

Greg Lambert  3:07

  1. It’s working smart. Exactly.

Marlene Gebauer  3:10

And, and I have a few more friends that also got awards. So, Lucy Curci Gonzalez and Eugene Giudice also won awards. So Lucy is the executive director of the New York Law Institute. She won the SLAs community Librarian of the Year Award, and Eugene, won  AALLs Advocate of the Year Award for his work in keeping the community connected during the COVID lockdown. Now, we just had Eugene on the last podcast to talk about this so you know, hashtag trendy. So, if I missed someone, it was not intentional, and I’m happy to correct it on the next pod if you let me know.

Marlene Gebauer  3:49

My next inspiration is Victoria Hudgins. From law comm just dropped an article, CIOs reveal four mistakes every law firm innovation leaders should avoid. So here they are, number one, not being able to say no, don’t say yes unless it aligns with firm’s strategy. Number two, not developing a client centric strategy. There’s a lot you can do in the innovation space. Make sure it revolves around the client needs. Number three, failing to secure dedicated resources. Have your own budget dammit.

Greg Lambert  4:25

You can’t just use the marketing budget?

Marlene Gebauer  4:27

No. And last but not least, number four, thinking too much like a lawyer. It is very important for lawyers to have a better understanding of operational management.

Greg Lambert  4:40

That sounds like for good, good things to point out

Marlene Gebauer  4:44

very practical,

Greg Lambert  4:45

Especially for the new chief innovation officers. And my inspiration is related that it’s a related law comm article from Zach Needles, where he’s discussing something that this episode guest hit on and that is the structure of law firms can make it very difficult to innovate and truly innovate. Because there’s really no stomach for failure in law firms, who still narrowly look at the yearly numbers over the long term gains. In his trendsporter article this week, needles zeroes in on the buzz around innovation. And he states that and I’ll quote from from the article, the word innovation means something different to every law firm. But the one unifying principle of innovation in any context is that success requires failure. Often, a lot of it. For too many firms, however, failure is not an option. And because of this, there remains the possibility that some law firm leaders and in a partnership will grow impatient with the CINOs, that’s the chief innovation officers, who don’t seem to be immediately delivering a clear return on investment, similar to the way that we’ve seen firms cycle through marketing and business development leaders without ever giving them the support that they need to operate effectively. So you know, innovation, it means trial and error, and sometimes it means failing a few times before finding some type of success. And I think Zach Needles quotes a number of players in the industry, including Zach Abramowitz and Patrick DiDomenico. And, you know, he sees the trend in bringing these chief innovation officers, and that that means giving them enough rope to fail in order to eventually succeed.

Marlene Gebauer  6:39

Well, I think I think that’s spot on assessment. Let’s let’s, let’s see if it has an impact.

Greg Lambert  6:45

Yeah. Yep. And, and I liked how we were kind of on the same wavelength this this week with our no inspiration. So good. Good job. And that wraps

Marlene Gebauer  6:55

Good job to you, too.

Greg Lambert  6:56

Yeah. Well, thank you very much. And that’s it for this week’s information, inspirations.

Marlene Gebauer  7:07

Today’s guests have worked on a three part q&a series on change management, and we wanted to bring them on to discuss that, as well as their individual experiences over the years and better understanding issues like behavioral science, ethical fading, and where they see the industry headed as we adjust to the new pressures of a post pandemic legal industry.

Marlene Gebauer  7:28

We’d like to welcome Ivy Grey, Vice President of strategy and business development for Wordrake, and Maya Markovich, Chief Growth Officer at Nextlaw Labs. Ivy and Maya, welcome to The Geek in Review.

Maya Markovich  7:38

Thank you.

Ivy Grey  7:39

Thanks for having us. I’m excited to be here.

Greg Lambert  7:41

Ivy, you’ve been on the show before and Maya actually did an interview last year with me for the occlusion podcast. And I had been talking with my recently about our interview with Dr. Caitlin Handren about law firms using human behavior scientific concepts and techniques and found out it actually Maya you’ve been doing something very similar at nextlaw Labs in applying these techniques. And in addition to that, it turns out that Ivy and you have done a three part q&a article on change management and human behavior. So we definitely wanted wanted to get you back on on the show both of you.

Ivy Grey  8:19

Yeah, it’s an exciting topic. And I think it applies to so many things. So I’m excited to talk about it.

Marlene Gebauer  8:26

Ivy, you’re working on a blog series for Wordrake. And you interviewed my regarding change management. Who knew that behavioral science and law were so intertwined, right? So you know, Ivy, let’s start with you. What sparked your interest in this area of understanding how people in the legal environment behave, especially in your focus on ethics and behavior, which you know, you’ve written about over a number of years?

Ivy Grey  8:51

I was an anthropology major and undergrad. So my entire adult life, I’ve thought about how society and culture and the values that we share, how are they developed? When I went to law school and became a bankruptcy lawyer, I had this thought in my head, and it was a reason to just keep caring. While I was a bankruptcy lawyer, and even in training, I was involved in the cases where we were studying these huge financial failures that were just wrapped up in fraud. So I worked on everything from Enron, to Dewey and Leboeuf. And I kept asking, How can these people who should know better who seem like they are good people keep making such huge errors in judgment? Why is this happening? And why do people not realize that it’s wrong? and over and over again, the answer was ethical fading. And once I found that answer, I had to know more. So I just, I kept digging. So for the people who haven’t read my work ethical fading is the process by which the ethical aspects of a decision are diminished until they don’t exist anymore. And so you think of a decision that you’re making as a purely business one, what’s the ROI? What’s the cost benefit analysis? And it seems fine. But there’s an ethical aspect that if you noticed it, you would probably make a different decision. I got really into it. And I think that we are experiencing some ethical fading in law with bill padding and churning and just adding point one here or there rounding so that you end up having more than 24 hours available in a day. And I care about those things. I don’t think that people are making these choices on purpose. I think they just don’t see that there’s an ethical aspect at play.

Greg Lambert  10:49

Yeah, when you said ethical fading, it reminds me of when people talk about all of a sudden, tweaking things a little here bending the rules a little bit doesn’t seem like like a bad thing. Is that is that kind of what what you’re talking about with ethical fading?

Ivy Grey  11:05

Yes. So think of the Ford Pinto, for example. They’ve done all of this work to get the Pinto onto the production line, they’d really rushed it. And they discovered pretty late in the game, that the that the gas tank would blow up with rear impact. And they would only cost like $11 to fix it. But it would have delayed production, a long time. And it just seemed like too much. And then on top of that, it turns out that when you get into a car accident, and the Pinto, the doors also stick, so you can’t get out. And those two problems were considered separate. So now you’ve got a gas tank that explodes and then people trapped in the car. But if you keep them separate, and you think only about the cost of delaying production, then it all makes sense. And that I think, is a really good example of ethical fading. We’ve seen it in so many things. And cars are probably the things that we see most. So it’s not just like being socially unacceptable. It’s it’s actually hiding the ethical parts of a decision behind something else that seems logical.

Greg Lambert  12:23

So Maya, in your interview with Ivy, you start off with the topics of change management and behavioral economics. Let’s talk a bit about the change management part. And I know that when I hear people talk about change management, I normally kind of grimace and think well, you know, good luck with that, especially in this specific industry. What exactly is change management? And why do you think that It is that my first instinct is to grimace when I hear the phrase? Is it the legal industry? Are we unique to finding it hard to change? Or are other industries just as hard headed as we are?

Maya Markovich  13:03

Well, you know, what is change management? Essentially, you can think of it as, you know, proactively managing the points between the idea and the outcome of some kind of initiative. So I’m not sure why it makes him grimace when you hear it applied to legal COVID. I hear is

Marlene Gebauer  13:18

Because nobody likes it. Nobody likes change.

Maya Markovich  13:22

Yeah, I mean, you know, I think maybe it’s because it’s just another buzzword that people are starting to throw around and legal without really realizing what it what it truly means, or how it really applies to long lasting transformation. But in reality, it’s been around for a long time. I mean, I started my career in change management consulting, chain, assessing change readiness and developing plans for implementation and mainstreaming new tech and processes once the decision had been made to adopt and it it really does lend itself naturally to what we’re seeing right now in legal. It doesn’t really have to be a rigid discipline. And really, the core of it is an understanding that changes really tough for humans. As for the legal industry, you know, I think despite the mindset that lawyers and their work are completely unique in every way. It’s a common human phenomenon. You know, change is hard, because it can feel threatening to one’s current identity, legitimacy, control routine, like you name it. And people throw up defenses against that kind of thing. I’d say, though, that, you know, legal is even more susceptible to these dynamics, because, you know, it’s designed on to stand on precedent. It’s set up for lawyers to run as a business rather than being client centric first.

Marlene Gebauer  14:34

And it’s hierarchical too.

Maya Markovich  14:36

Exactly right. And, yes, and it’s often really a matter of pride that that lawyers work is impossible to replicate or automated in any way. So there’s this very strong psychological and economic stake in maintaining the status quo. So if it’s hard for one person, you know, to overcome fear of change. We’re really dealing right now with an entire industry that’s going through the process simultaneously.

Ivy Grey  15:00

Yeah, I think one of the things that makes it even harder is that our incentive structure incentivizes not changing what we’re doing. And I think a lot of people don’t want to talk about that. But it’s a real contributor.

Marlene Gebauer  15:15

Well, sure, I mean, anything that’s going to tamper with how work is done now is going to impact those who are, you know, reaping the benefits of that, and there’s considerable benefits to be, you know, to be gained to be reaped. So they don’t, they don’t want to tamper with that at all. Ivy, at Wordrake, you focus on improving the document creation process. And you know, drafting documents is one of the most critical aspects of what lawyers do. And we’ve had great advancements in technology in the past 25 to 30 years. And I don’t think many would want to go back to the typewriter days. I know I won’t. But I think some lawyers still long for the days of WordPerfect 4.2. And it’s revealed code functions, you know, how do you approach these behaviors from lawyers and change the way they think about how they create documents?

Ivy Grey  16:08

So just like with any change, you have to identify the pain point and solve the problem that causes the pain. And if people don’t recognize that they’re in pain, or that they shouldn’t be in that much pain, then I need to help them identify that pain before they can solve it. So I usually try to do three things to move this along. I try to demystify the surprisingly bad outcomes from what seems like good work. And I’ll come back to these but just getting them on the record first. So demystify the surprisingly bad outcomes that come from what seems like good work. Demonstrate the business costs have continued bad practices, even if the clients are okay with the work. And show other ways that they could make just as much money and produce a better work product with less pain and more value. So when I talk about the mystifying outcomes of good hard work, I think about you spending all this time on a document, and then the client still isn’t happy, or you still don’t win the case or something happens. And you can’t figure out why because you did all the good lawyer things. And it’s not right. And then we’re always rushing toward the deadline, we’re always feeling overwhelmed. And that just doesn’t seem to let up. So I tried to ask what is it about our processes that we could change to avoid those outcomes and those feelings with no loss in value, but perhaps an improvement? It’s just really important for me to say like, Yes, you’ve done this thing. But you could do this thing better with with less pain. And then I try to show what it costs for the business. Attrition is a huge thing in law, we’ve come to expect it. But it is an incredibly expensive thing. And a lot of attrition comes from people simply being overwhelmed or feeling nitpicked. And the document creation process has a lot to do with that. So I think that if we can alleviate those strains, it will be better for the business overall. And everybody likes more money. Finally, I try to show that using tools like wordrake or perfectIt or duck style to more efficiently create documents will actually create more effective documents and you won’t lose any money by being more efficient, you will just shift your time to doing the things that have more value. And clients will want to pay for those things. Rather than asking for a discount when they see that you’ve tinkered with a document that had no substantial difference for hours and hours. So I think all of those things will actually get people to approach legal work and legal document creation differently, at least I hope so.

Marlene Gebauer  19:01

What about basically selling people on the notion that, you know, look, this is just gonna sort of insert, you know, as part of your existing process that basically, you know, they don’t need to really learn anything or do anything differently? I mean, do you find that that’s a compelling argument for a lot of people?

Ivy Grey  19:21

it’s somewhat helpful, but they still need to remember to make that click, even if it’s only one click. And it is a new habit to make that click. So we want to make it as easy as possible to get there. But it does need to be part of something that they do. And eventually, you need to take away the ability to even do it the old way. Because as long as the old way is available whatsoever. People will fall back on it when they’re stressed and they’re rushed. And, you know, it’s just got to be filed right now. People will always fall back to their old processes. I feel like Maya has a lot to say on that.

Marlene Gebauer  20:02

nice segue.

Greg Lambert  20:05

So Maya, I will turn it over to you What? What do you have to say on that?

Maya Markovich  20:10

Well, I was, you know, I mean, I basically I think I’m in complete agreement. It’s a very difficult it takes time is really all I’ll say about it. And then patience and an understanding of, you know, trying to be in the other person’s shoes. It’s hard to do that when you’re a lawyer, and you’re under pressure. And, and you’re working with tight deadlines and and the kind of the responsibilities that come with representing someone else’s interests. But I think that heart It’s something that it’s a practice, essentially,

Greg Lambert  20:43

yeah, well, one of the things and I say, especially over the last year, we thought that with the pandemic, we were going to have a real impetus to change. But what we ended up with, I mean, outside the forced experiment of working remotely. The issue is, is most of the large law firms had record years last year, in sometimes you can be a victim of your own success. And so, now I’m seeing a lot of pushback when it comes to some firms on actually implementing some permanent change, rather than just going going back and doing business as usual. Do you think that law firms that they feel the pressure to change what they are doing now? Or because they’ve had such good years, do you think is just going to be doing more of the same going forward?

Maya Markovich  21:36

I mean, for one thing, I think it is starting to be clear, kind of at the macro level, which legal services organizations are going to come out better than they were right before the pandemic? I think right now, it is very easy to almost be distracted by the fact that, that law firms had, you know, just did did really well, last year. I think, number one, let’s remember that it was an outlier of a year, at least, let’s hope so. And secondly, I have yet to see interest. And I would love to see numbers around whether or not you know, those are including the savings that were had, you know, for the travel, that wasn’t done and for in office lunches, and, you know, all those kind of events and, and kind of bonding and cultural matters. So I think that I’m not really sure whether that’s going to be sustained next year, I do know that there’s been a lot of research done about the kinds of organizations in general that come out better than they were before a big crisis. And a lot of it includes not shelving, but simply putting on pause and thinking through the new implementation methodology, perhaps, of big transformation initiatives. And I think that there’s no doubt that the legal industry is is changing so dramatically all the time, mainly based on client pressure. And I think that I don’t see that letting up. And so I do think that while there may be a little bit of a moment here, where they think, you know, the status quo has been going really well. I don’t think that that is going to be sustained, at least by the folks that really see where the industry is going long term.

Ivy Grey  23:16

So Maya mentioned client pressure. And I just want to piggyback on that I think that outside factors are going to do much more to change things than internal factors. And the more power and that those, especially financial power, that those outside actors have, the more we’ll actually see change. So if clients say, I’m not going to pay for that, then law firms will respond. But I think the problem with clients is that they only know their thing. So it’s kind of a nebulous request.

Greg Lambert  23:47

Yeah. We kind of heard that with the billable hour, 11 years ago, that law firm saying, Oh, we would love to stop the billable hour. We’re just waiting for the clients to tell us to do it. And yeah, we’re gonna change and sure know, the client who only knew knew the billable hour, you know, had a hard time asking us to change when they when they don’t know what the change is going to be.

Marlene Gebauer  24:12

Yeah. They don’t know what they don’t know.

Ivy Grey  24:14

Exactly. So I’ve been thinking about who, who can pressure law firms to do something where they will have that asymmetrical knowledge. And judges, fee examiners, malpractice insurers, all of them actually have a lot of power. And we keep looking to the clients. And I think maybe we should start looking to these other parties, because they see all of the law firms or they see a lot of the law firms, and they can push and I hope to arm them with enough information to do that pushing.

Marlene Gebauer  24:46

Yeah, and it’s almost like is it pusher or is it educate? You know, they’re, they’re really in a position to be able to give all parties the information that they need to, you know, potentially come up with With new ways and new approaches,

Ivy Grey  25:02

I think it’s a little bit of both. And I’m happy to be part of either one.

Greg Lambert  25:07

You know, if I, if I can throw my opinion in there, and I will, I think it’s more push. I think it’s, it’s I think the education has, you know, we’ve tried educating for a decade. But I don’t, I don’t know that necessarily just educating someone is going to do it, I think there’s got to be that pressure to really change and not just tell them that they need to change and why.

Marlene Gebauer  25:32

No, when I was saying educate, I mean, basically these new sort of the new parties that Ivy’s mentioning, coming to the table, and Okay, yeah. And being the educators and they have, they have significant not only do they have the knowledge, the knowledge and the information, they have significant influence. So you know, I guess there’s, there’s your push there. Alright, so this brings me to the human behavioral part of the interview, law firms talk a big game when it comes to innovation. We’ve even come up with new CIO roles where, you know, the “I” stands for innovation. So in preparing for this interview, my I mentioned that in behavioral economics, people don’t always act rationally or in their own best interest. How does this type of irrational behavior show up in the legal industry?

Maya Markovich  26:20

There are so so many examples.

Marlene Gebauer  26:22

So please share.

Maya Markovich  26:25

No, I mean, like, for example, you know, right now, a rational lawyer would observe market dynamics, and in an increase these increasing client pressures, they’d weigh the costs and benefits and adapt their behavior to not only you know, survive those changes, and stay employed, which is obviously your basic economic incentive, but also recognize the opportunity, you know, to do fewer repetitive tasks to get more embedded with their clients to do more fulfilling work. But you know, people often don’t make rational decisions, you know, they’re influenced by their, you know, very conflicting social and psychological and emotional factors that really override these economic incentives and kind of the way that you would expect a “rational person” to behave. So in legal Of course, this is all exacerbated, as we’ve kind of talked about already by this productivity paradox, right. And this counterintuitive influence and incentive of lower efficiency leading to higher revenue.

Greg Lambert  27:27

So Ivy you work with a group on creating best practices and workflows when it comes to document creation. And I imagine that one of the obstacles that this group faced was the, you know, changing behavior from the way that it’s always been done, or in moving that to, this is the way to do it effectively and efficiently. So you even call this the Effectiveness Project. So what was the process that this group developed in order to change the behavior of lawyers, when it came to drafting documents,

Ivy Grey  28:03

Well we are still in the process. So I and I remain hopeful that we will actually change behavior and create new habits. But I, this was my idea. And after I’d been speaking about ethics for a while, and I went to LTC4, with the idea, and I said, Would you like to collaborate to make this new thing? Who else can we bring from the legal world to figure it out? Because there’s a lot that we don’t know, how can we fill in those knowledge gaps and make something that’s useful enough that people actually will embrace it and use it? And I determined that vendors might actually be the best people to ask and vendors had been kept away from the table for most of the time. But when you look at who is aggregating information, and working with a lot of people and attempting to improve a process and build tools that fix those broken processes, those are vendors. So bringing in vendors, even vendors with competing interests, to work on this project was my first step. And then from there, I asked, Well, how do we know what we don’t know? And why should we ever bother changing? And we went round and round on a lot of those things before we even started doing the project. From that we broke the project up into drafting stages, looked at what pieces might be modular and and move from one stage to another, or be reshuffled and done in a different order, and defined those things, figured out what what parts were important that people were either resisting or skipping, and then gave people the tools to do those things better. One thing that was really important was that we wanted to provide a in an essentially free way to do it. So if you already had Microsoft Word, you should be able to do it without spending more money. And then also offer a faster way to do it with a professional add in, created for lawyers. It was really important to me to do it both ways. Because we couldn’t say that being ethical or being efficient, was directly related to the size of your wallet. So we made sure that there would always be some sort of built in way some other tool where you didn’t have to spend more money to do what we were suggesting that you do. The approach was, we didn’t lay blame on anybody, it was more of a, you might not know this, you might think that this other way works. But this is why it’s fraught, consider this. And here’s how, and then here’s how to take it to the next level. And then we designed a document that could be chopped up into lots of little pieces and use and lots of different ways. So a law professor could use it to teach, a trainer could use it to train, a lawyer could use a piece as a checklist, when they’re just getting started on a document or at any point. And then, you know, the examiners and judges could also look to it and say, This is the best practice for how it’s done. And if you’re ignoring these best practices, then you might need to rethink what you’re doing. So we tried to come at it from a lot of different ways. But I think that I think we did something really good.

Greg Lambert  31:31

Good. So this question I wanted to direct to both of you, you know, we’ve we’ve kind of touched on this a little bit with change management, behavioral science and, and the billable hour in law firms. And, you know, we’re just kind of wonder, is it possible in this environment to be innovated to be created to be efficient, and yet still build by the hour? So Maya I want to kind of turn to you how well first, do you think it’s possible? And two, how do you approach it where you are with Dentons?

Maya Markovich  32:02

Sure. Yeah. I mean, you know, it is an interesting question, because I think it really ties into the inherent business model of the legal industry, which is, you know, based on this cash in cash out at the end of each year, with until recently really zero incentive to put any effort into multi year initiatives or RNDs, or, you know, that kind of thing. So, this really creates this inherent tension, because even though firms have the most to gain by taking new approaches to to their work, and, you know, on the other side of the coin is, of course, are at the greatest risk, if they don’t, rationally, it makes sense to do things differently, right, including more efficiently and win more business that way, there’s going to be a short term dip in earnings. That’s nearly impossible for firms who are full of people just doing things just fine the old way for decades, really, to wrap their heads around. So I really think it depends on leadership. And ultimately, the firm’s that adapt and legal service providers that are built on completely different models like ALSPs will thrive because I think that’s what clients are asking for, you know, more efficiency, more strategic creative advice, that kind of thing. You know, at Dentons, you know, what we recognize is that firms need internal mechanisms to recognize and reward these activities that help the firm separate itself from the competition, right. So one way to plug this gap, at least temporarily, is to introduce something, which at Dentons is called an innovation hour as credit towards the billable hour requirements. So in some regions that Dentons attorneys can spend time on activities like, you know, playing with new technology, thinking about new ways to streamline their routine tasks, talking with clients or you know, internal folks about finding new ideas for incremental revenue streams, new services, that kind of stuff. So and assigning real value in the way that the plugs into the current structure is as rewarding them and acknowledging them at the same level, as traditional client work really sends the message that change is not only good, but it’s rewarded. So when that happens, you’re going to see more grassroots enthusiasm, psychological safety, and comfort. You know, with trying and failing without judgment, it’s really not a complete solution by any means. I’m more of an advocate of blow everything up. But it really does get us a little farther down the road of the cultural shift that we really need.

Greg Lambert  34:22

Yeah, imagine the blow everything up as a hard sell. So Ivy, you know, how do you sell the concept of an innovative, creative and efficient tool like you have their Wordrake to a lawyer who bills by the hour?

Ivy Grey  34:39

As I said earlier in the podcast, I think that it’s about convincing them that they will shift their their time to more valuable work that clients will also appreciate and that will improve outcomes. So I think that we will all work up until the last minute, no matter what I say that every project expands to fill all available time. And I believe that that’s true. I don’t think that anyone’s going to stop working on something at 5pm. If it’s not due until midnight, I just don’t think that’s a reality. But if instead of tinkering with format, by formatting by hand, we’ve done all of that stuff. And now we’re saying, well, have we met all the clients expectations? Can we protect the client in this other instance that we hadn’t thought about? Can we make it clear so that this document is actually a guideline for a healthy relationship between our client and the counterparty? And we can do that if we aren’t running around dotting i’s and crossing T’s and playing with formatting. People are happy to pay for that type of work, I don’t think that efficiency necessarily means that you’re going to make less even in a billable hour structure, it just means that you’re going to do more or create more value with the time that you have.

Greg Lambert  35:58

That makes sense you use more of your lawyer brain then then your technology or formatting brain, I

Ivy Grey  36:05

think, exactly.

Greg Lambert  36:06

Well, to wrap this up, I want to ask you guys a question I asked a lot of guests, and that is to pull out your crystal ball and peek into the future for me. And so my house, I’ll start off with you, what do you think is going to be one of the biggest drivers of change over the next few years?

Maya Markovich  36:27

Yeah, you know, I mean, I think that I’ll give you two examples. So first, I’m anticipating increasing consolidation on a few fronts, I think the biggest firms are going to continue to get bigger, and aim for more market share serve their clients globally. And something that we’re seeing client demand for which you know, as we know, as the ultimate driver of change in our industry, I also really anticipate consolidation in legal tech itself. You know, there’s nearly 2000 legal tech solutions that exist now, up from 75, when left next law labs was founded five years ago. And they’re each solving for mostly solving for very specific use cases. But the target market really can’t absorb or even understand the options within a landscape like that. So I think we’re gonna see more platform providers and larger legal tech companies become increasingly acquisitive, rolling up the players and addressing those needs across you know, broader legal functions and geographies. Also, I would just say, with the mainstreaming of legal tech and tools and technologies and the advent of these new legal service providers, and as they grow with their market share, I think the corners are really going to get carved off of the base of the traditional pyramid kind of legal industry structure, leading to more of a diamond structure with fewer new lawyers, administrators, paralegals at the base and like a broader middle, I really I always like to say, though, is that I think the work is not going away, right? It’s just going to be done differently. And I think the net result may be fewer hires into big law, but more career paths for those who are embracing technology and new business models.

Greg Lambert  37:58

And IV, what is your crystal ball, say?

Ivy Grey  38:01

Like Maya, I do expect consolidation. But I expect that consolidation not to happen as much through acquisition. But instead, through collaboration, I think that the walls are going to come down where and people who we want viewed as competitors are now going to be collaborators to capture more of the market. I think that’ll happen with law firms and with legal tech solution providers. I also think that more players are going to get into this world and start pushing over the course of this pandemic. A lot of groups that didn’t think they had power before I have discovered that they do, in fact, have power to change how things happen. And I think they’re going to start exerting that. Courts definitely saw that they had more power than they thought they did. Courts thought that their job was just to decide cases. And I and courts and judges now see that they have the power to influence how legal work is done, and I think they’ll start doing it.

Greg Lambert  38:56

Excellent. Well, IV gray and Maya markavitch. I appreciate you both taking the time to come on and talk with us.

Maya Markovich  39:03

Thank you so much, Greg. I’m a huge fan that’s really honored to be part of it.

Ivy Grey  39:07

Thank you. I love this podcast. So I’m excited to be part of it again.

Greg Lambert  39:10

Marley Marlene, we covered a lot with Maya and Ivy on the show. And one thing that I didn’t mention yet was the fact that during the recording, I was actually traveling. And I did this recording literally inside my vehicle by siphoning off the Wi Fi from a Walmart news, Texas. My car so you sounded pretty proud of myself.

Marlene Gebauer  39:36

You really you really sounded great. I have to say that but no, I was like,

Greg Lambert  39:40

Wow, it’s like Yep, yep. And I had two kids behind me that were traveling with me and they had to listen to just my side of the the interview but but it was you know, it was really good. Having Maya and Ivy on the show and sharing their perspectives like like I said at the beginning of the show, I really enjoy reading and listening to what they had to say.

Marlene Gebauer  40:04

Yeah, I mean this this this definitely broaden my perspectives about the areas of behavioral science and I mean, like ethical fading, I didn’t even know what that was until we had this conversation. So I, you know, I love that they’re sort of bringing new concepts and things to think about, you know, two to all of us in this space.

Greg Lambert  40:23

Yeah. And and I’ll take my as advice and learn not to shutter when I hear change management. We’ll see

Marlene Gebauer  40:31

we’ll get like a little tick. People

Greg Lambert  40:35

say it like I do I do. So well, thanks once again to Maya Markovitz  from Dentons and Ivy Grey from word Greg for joining us.

Marlene Gebauer  40:45

Yep, thank you both. 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 at de Bauer M. Ord clambered or you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 or email us at geek review. And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David de Sikka. Thank you, Jerry. Thanks, Jerry. Alright,

Greg Lambert  41:17

Marlene, I’m going to get in my car and do the next episode.

Marlene Gebauer  41:22

All right, go. Go find a Starbucks to get the Wi Fi from Bye bye.